When we awoke things had changed.  A wind had come up from the southwest and it was different than the gentle tropical trade winds that swept the island from the northeast then slipped around the edges of the mountains and breezed down the coast from the north much diminished in velocity.  I looked down and saw the tops of the palm trees that we had been photographing the evening before now bent over and quaking.  The ocean sported new colors too and it was dotted with white caps.  The big cruise ship had left for calmer waters on the other side of the island and the smaller boats moored in Kailua harbor were on a roller coaster ride.  Tonight was luau night and I watched the smoke from the imu pit blowing low to the ground.  We took a swim in the pool which had waves in it.  The day was sunny and beautiful but the wind added a sense of wildness to the usual laid back ambience.

We walked downtown to Aki’s for breakfast and it was a hang-on-to-your-hat walk.  We were disappointed to see that Aki had closed his outdoor tables but we could see why.  With the wind coming from the south it was headed right for Aki’s and the waves were washing up over the roadway and splashing all the way across the street.  He had his umbrellas lashed down and the windows shuttered.  The good food and atmosphere dispelled our disappointment with losing our view.

Walking back to the hotel, the coming storm seemed to have transformed Kailua.  We stopped off at the Farmers Market near the picturesque Catholic Church but the wind was wreaking havoc with the booths and their canvas roofs.  Mark was having a terrible time trying to keep his windsocks and streamers from turning every which way.  He said he was closing early.

Back at the room we watched the effects the wind had on the water, boats and trees.  John did t’ai chi on the lanai and I downloaded pictures from my camera to the laptop.  We watched with some amusement and amazement as the staff tried to set up for the luau in spite of the intense wind.  Tablecloths were flapping, Styrofoam cups were flying and leaves were blowing everywhere.  It was hard to believe they were still going to go through with the luau.

Then we headed out to the windblown town.  We decided to drive over to Border Books and buy some CDs.  Mark had recommended a Hawaiian slack string guitar player, John Keawe, and I had heard of a Hawaiian hula master, Keali’i Reichel, who did some good vocals, chants and native drumming.  So we browsed there for a while picking up those two CDs and a great John Abercrombie album.  The next time we took a drive we would now have music to listen to.  Then we went over to the Kailua KTA market to stock up on fresh fruit, juice, sake and water.  Now that we knew we weren’t going to have to move, we figured we’d settle in.  On our way home, we drove past Aki’s and a huge wave splashed over the car.  We hoped that there would be some rain with this storm to clean the salt off our roadster.

Back at the Royal Kona, we walked through the throng of people waiting in line for the luau.  The power of the storm was increasing and the clouds had an ominous look to them.  I couldn’t imagine how those people, many of them with young children, were going to be able to enjoy their luau outdoors.  When we got to the Beach Building, our arms filled with our purchases, we pushed the elevator’s button and waited and waited. Finally, someone walking down the stairs told us that the power had just gone out.  The building had an emergency generator which worked for just some of the lights but nothing else.  The Beach Building is built like a square doughnut with a lovely open courtyard in the center of it with a fish pond, plants and a host of tall palm trees with their heads poking out above the building.  Those palms were now thrashing in the wind.  There is an outdoor stairway in that courtyard and we had often used it instead of the elevator as climbing to the sixth floor was a good workout.  Carrying a load of groceries made it even more so.

With the power off, there was no air conditioning either.  But the mighty wind kept the air circulating well enough.  When we got back upstairs, we saw that the power failure had finally made them cancel the luau or maybe they moved it indoors.  Even above the roar of the surf, we could begin to detect the sound of thunder offshore.  We settled in on our lanai to watch the storm and it proved to be the best seats in the house.  If we had gotten the corner room we had wanted, we would have taken the full brunt of the wind with nothing to protect us and we would not have been able to sit out on the lanai.  As it was, we had a wall to sit behind and a roof over our heads.  The air was warm enough to sit outside on our lanai and watch the fury of the storm while sipping sake.  As night fell, we saw that the entire town to the north of us was in the dark but the lights were still on to the south.  The darkness made the flashes of lightning, some of them horizontal and some in a series of vertical bolts, seem even more stark and brilliant.  There was a small boat that had come into the harbor right across from the hotel that afternoon.  Every now and then I would see a flashlight onboard go on to check on their mooring.  I imagined what a ride they were getting out there and was happy with our safe haven.  I thought of the dog that we had found out on the rocks a few days earlier and I wondered how it would survive this storm.  We watched as a steady stream of planes took off from Keahole Airport into the wind, then turn to the west then north and head out.  We wondered if they were moving the planes to the Hilo airport on the other side of the island for protection from the wind.  There was no let up in the wind and now there were some smatterings of rain as well.  We could see the white lattice fencing that they had put up against the sea wall below us being ripped away and the astro-turf carpet on the Boom Boom deck being torn up.

We talked of driving south where the power was on and eating at the Royal Thai but decided to skip dinner and just watch the storm, taking in all of its intensity.  Living in western Oregon, we are familiar with powerful Pacific storms but we’ve never had the opportunity to sit outside in shorts and shirtsleeves and enjoy Nature’s full power so close up.  We were used to storms with 100 m.p.h. gusts that uproot giant fir trees and we wondered if this was a bad storm by Hawaiian standards.  By the time we went to bed, the rain was coming down hard, washing the salt from our Sebring.  We had to leave the slider opened because the air conditioning was off and the rain came in along with the deafening sounds of surf and storm.  We slept wonderfully.


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