So when she opened up her computer in the NEC cafeteria on another wintry mix day this March, nothing dispelled the gray gloom better than my e-mail to her with the subject line “Big Island!” On the recommendation of the Bradfords and in a carpe diem mood, I decisively had booked a vacation rental home outside of Hilo and a few days at the Mauna Lani Bay resort in Kohala for as soon as I could get out of Dodge after USC Commencement. The promise of aloha everything – the weather, the scenery, the activities, the food – kept us both going through the rest of our respective spring semesters.
The amazing feature of the place where we stayed in the Kapoho tidepool area was the ability to swam and snorkel in our own lava pool with volcanically-warmed water. This house served as our home base as we hiked through the Akaka Falls and volcano areas, bought our apple bananas, pineapple, and vegetables at the Hilo Farmers Market, and toured the nearby Mauna Loa macadamia farms and candy factory. At night we traded our new ‘ukelele between us and read our pile of books.
In retrospect, a lot of what drove our Hilo-area agenda was food: banana-mac nut-chocolate chip pancakes and a green-onion-and-Portuguese sausage omelette at Ken’s House of Pancakes, loco moco and bento at Café 100, and “house cake noodle” at Leung’s Chop Suey House. A couple of local folk insisted we try Leung’s – I thought this place which looked frozen in time from the 1960s would be dubious, like Bing’s Cathay Kitchen in Riverside we just had to visit one night when Bing was in his residency in Loma Linda. Let’s just say it was entertaining. . .very entertaining.
Mostly we loved the constant warm trade winds. Songs are rightfully written about this caressing sea breeze. It flowed through the house, along with the loud croaking of the coqui frogs and chirping of the geckos. It brought late afternoon and evening rain and rosy sunrises. And it constantly reminded us that we were far, far away in body and spirit from wintry mix and our regular routine.
P.S. Here's Akemi in photographic action as we hiked the Kilauea Iki Crater trail.