Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hawaii-Journey to the Big Island Part 1-Hilo

We decided to circle the Big Island (natives refer to it as a Holo-holo). We began our trip in Hilo, one of the larger cities in the State and the largest on the Big Island (Hawaii).

We landed at 9PM local time which was really midnight our time in Santa Fe (or 2AM in New York). The humidity was the first thing that greeted us. The open-air area of baggage claim reminded us of times when we landed in Central America. Claiming our rental car (it took nearly a half hour since there was only one person at the Hertz counter and he was having problems with a couple who did not have reservations.Our hotel was listed as the Castle Hilo Hawaiian. We drove on Banyon Drive, but found no such hotel. The hotel at the address given was the Hilo Hawaiian-Oh well. The reception was fine and all was in order. We got to our lovely room, unpacked some things and went to bed.

We gambled for breakfast and found a fantastic place, Ken’s Pancake House. (IHOP should come and take note. This place is superior in so many respects.) The menu features pancake variations we had never seen or imagined. I ordered the Macadamia Nut Pancakes and JoAnne ordered the Coconut ones. We were both very satisfied. After eating we drove to a Farmer’s Market. It was colorful and full of native food and wares. JoAnne had a lively talk with artist Eide Hansamut who was selling prints of her fun paintings. We bought a bag of raw Macadamia Nuts that lasted the next six days.

The University’s Imiloa Center for Culture and Astronomy had received glowing reports from others and we decided to make it our next stop. They are developing a garden of native plants, but it is rather eager at this time. A charge of $17.50 per person, $15.50 for seniors, includes the exhibits (make sure to get a guide, no charge) and one show presented on an hourly basis. We chose the National Geographic presentation on weather in the solar system. That show and the accompanying display of the Hawaiian sky were impressive. I was mainly fascinated by the science exhibits while JoAnne focused more on the cultural ones.

Back to the hotel, I was tired from walking and standing. JoAnne ventured to an adjacent Japanese Garden (Lili-ukalani) and sketched for over an hour. Upon returning and reciting its splendors, I took my camera and shot many scenes of the Garden. On returning to the hotel, I noticed that each Banyon tree had a plaque of a prominent person, such as Cecil B. DeMille, Senator Richard M. Nixon, for cabinet personalities like James Farley and many others. I wondered whether they were there when the trees were planted.

The Hilo Bay Café was our destination for dinner located in a shopping center near an Office Max and Wal Mart. The setting is an unlikely place for the quality of the food and service. The recommendations it has received on Trip Advisory were deserved and we enjoyed a yummy dinner.

The next morning we checked out of the hotel, had breakfast again at Ken’s, and drove north to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The drive, itself, is worth the journey. While the entrance fee of $15 is pricey, the area is loaded with native and non native plants including many varieties of orchids. One descends on a short steep path, eventually reaching the orchid garden. A golf cart can be hired ($5?) to take one to the base of the trail or up to the start if one is not up to the steep decline. We spent two hours exploring and snapping pictures of the varieties of flora.

Finishing our time in Hilo, we set off for Volcano (next Blog).

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