In the morning, the wind was still intense, bending the palm trees over and blowing everything not secured.  There were squalls of rain clouds that raced through mixed with occasional streaks of sunshine.  We called down to find out about the electricity.  Full power was back on but the air conditioning was broken and could not be fixed until Monday.  That would mean two more nights without air-conditioning.  We went down for a swim in the pool but it was filled with debris.  There were branches down all around, leaves everywhere and newspapers and brochures that I had seen floating on the ponds the night before were now sinking to the bottom.  We dressed and walked downtown to Aki’s.  Mark and many of the other’s with small stands had not even opened for business.  The whole town was littered with debris and there were few people out and about.  When we got to Aki’s we saw that they too had not opened.  Disappointed, we headed back to the Royal Kona.  It was the weekend so they had their breakfast buffet.  As we walked in, we rejected the buffet and decided to order something off the menu.  It took forever to seat us (one of the consistent complaints we had with the Tropic’s Café) and by the time the waitress came to take our order she said the cook had just closed the breakfast kitchen.  She was nice enough to scrounge up some stale food from the buffet for us, which made us appreciate Aki’s all the more.

We decided that day to drive upslope or mauka and check out Holualoa on the slopes of Hualalai (I just love those names and the way they slide off the tongue).  A number of the bed and breakfasts I had seen on the internet were up in that area and I wanted to see what it was like.  On our way out, we stopped at the front desk to renew our parking for the rest of the week (parking is an additional seven dollars a day at the Royal Kona).  We encountered Linda at the front desk and she was not in a happy mood.  The wind was blowing cool damp air through the open lobby and she was shivering in her short-sleeved loose fitting muu muu.  The temperature was in the mid to upper 60s, not cold by most standards, but this was Hawaii and there was a wind chill factor.  Linda told us that we weren’t booked into a room that night and that they were sold out.  John explained calmly that he had spoken to Ann and she told us that we were booked all the way through Wednesday night.  She looked further and then said we couldn’t stay Wednesday night either because they were sold out then too.  Finally, Ann was found and she came out and after a short while cleared everything up.  She even told us that we could get a weekly parking rate which was cheaper.  I could see that she was shivering as well but her sunny disposition showed through.

Our car had indeed been washed clean by the rain but mountains of leaves and branches had been deposited on it.  We drove up Hualalai Street which curved up the mountainside while listening to Keali’i Reichel sing of his love for ‘aina (land) and ‘ohana (family).  This area is well-developed with lots of lush greenery and homes of all kinds set in their own private tropical settings with lots of fruit trees.  This is where the famous Kona coffee is grown in the rich volcanic soil, cooled by morning mists and warmed by warm afternoon sunshine.  We drove up to the main road, which on the map is called Kona Belt Road but on the signs I saw it is called Mamalahoa Highway – another Hawaiian naming anomaly.  We drove north through the town of Holualoa which is predominated by art galleries and small shops.  We checked out the shocking pink Kona Hotel that Mark had raved about.  This is a thriving community of both artists and growers of coffee, papaya, mango, macnuts and bananas.  We drove north for another few miles admiring the views of the Kona coast 1400 feet below us.  We saw a real estate "for sale" sign at the beginning of a road so we drove in to check it out.  The road continued up the mountain and we passed several beautiful homes and plantations.  I could see that living up here could be desirable with the cooler temperatures and rich green habitat.  As a gardener, I could only imagine the wonderful fruit harvests one could have and year round fresh veggies.

We drove back down to the main road and headed south through Holualoa and beyond until we intersected with Rte 11.  Now we were listening to the dulcet tones of John Keawe’s slack string guitar as we drove through Captain Cook and Kealekekua.  Everywhere we drove, we saw people cleaning up after the storm.  Wherever we stopped to take pictures, the wind blew in mighty gusts.  Several miles past the turnoff to Honaunau we took a road toward Hookena Beach Park.  It was a fairly steep road down about 600 feet to the village of Hookena which was just a collection of a handful of houses with a narrow rutted one lane road.  We missed the turn to the beach which was unmarked and we turned around in a private parking area.  A Hawaiian man and his wife were sweeping away debris from in front of their house and John stopped to ask directions to the beach.  The man seemed unfriendly but his wife was happy to talk with us about the storm.  She said it was a very bad storm, that many trees had fallen but fortunately no one was hurt.  We continued on to the beach and parked the car.

Hookena Beach looked like it had been dynamited out of the rock walls that surrounded it or maybe formed by a chunk of the island falling into the sea.  The ocean was wild down there and the wind whipped up the surfYoung men watched the waves pondering their surfing chances.  John sat and talked with some Hawaiian men who were enjoying their Saturday drinking under the shade of an expansive tree, their outrigger canoes beached because of the height of the waves.  I spoke with some women who were preparing a picnic for a group of other men with chain saws working at carving up another immense tree that had been a casualty of the storm.  I could see how precious each of these trees must be for the people who frequented the beach and understood the women’s sadness.

We moved on and continued our drive south.  We both really liked this part of the island.  There weren’t any towns and only a few four-wheel drive paths leading down to the sea.  The vistas of the coastline were amazing and it was quite lush with meadows and forests.  We got as far south as the Kipohoehoe Natural Area Reserve with its beautiful o’hia tree forest.  O’hia trees, one of the few native trees to the islands, have bright orange flowers and grow quite large.  It was, however, getting late in the afternoon and so we turned around and headed back to Kailua.  This would be the furthest south that we went on the island.  I am eager to explore further on our next excursion to the islands.

When we got back to our room, we instantly opened the slider and left the hallway door open to let in some air and cool it off as it was oppressively hot inside.  We noticed that many others had their hall doors opened as well.  We hung out and watched another magnificent sunset.   We discussed dinner possibilities and settled on the Royal Thai in Keauhou where we had another delicious feast.  When we got back to the hotel, we walked around town for a bit listening to the raucous jamboree of music coming from Huggo’s, Lu Lu’s, Durty Jake’s and the Hard Rock Café all competing with the roar of the surf.   Back again in our room, we left the hall door open until we were ready to go to sleep.  This would not be an easy night.  There was the heat and humidity which reminded me of my younger days living in the eastern part of the U.S. which has hot muggy summer nights.  I hadn’t slept in conditions like that in a long while. But more than that, this was the first and only night that we had noisy neighbors.  A group of young men were in the room next to ours and they partied late, using the lanai for smoking and talking.  With the air conditioning defunct we had to leave the slider open.  Fortunately the surf continued to work its sleep magic on us and eventually the partiers next door.


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