I do manage to actually have a life between traveling and reading, although readers of this blog would be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Since we returned from Hawaii in early January, my life has been a mix of very quiet and very busy. It’s sometimes a challenge to balance everything. Continue reading “Interlude”
The Lost History of Stars, by David Boling: I knew next to nothing about the Anglo-Boer wars at the turn of the 19th century, so this was a welcome though difficult read. In this novel, which was inspired by the author’s grandfather’s own experience as a soldier in the war, a family of Dutch Afrikaner settlers have been forcibly taken from their farm by British soldiers and put in a concentration camp with thousands of other detainees. The camps are overcrowded and disease ridden, and detainees die on a daily basis. 14-year-old Lettie copes by reliving memories of stargazing with her grandfather, writing in her journal, and doing her best to keep her family together in the camp. Along the way, she enters into an uneasy quasi-friendship with a British guard, Tommy Maples, who has developed a distaste for the war and the camps and occasionally does her kindnesses at great risk to himself. VGR Continue reading “January 2018 Books”
This will be my last Hawaii post, which makes me very sad. It was a fantastic vacation, and I love reliving it as I write my blog posts. I posted a bit out of order, so for those of you who are interested in what the complete trip looked like, here’s a quick overview. I felt like we had a great mix of interesting activities plus downtime.
The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (mouthful) describes itself as “A Garden in a Valley on the Ocean” (another mouthful), but it is a stunning collection of plants, trees, and flowers north of Hilo.
Akaka Falls State Park is 30 minutes north of Hilo, and it’s well worth a trip to view it. There’s a short loop trail through beautiful vegetation to reach a great viewing point, but the 442-foot waterfall is also viewable from the parking lot. Akaka Falls is twice as high as Niagara Falls if that helps give it perspective. The coolest bit of info I learned about the falls is that there is a type of goby fish, ‘o’opu ‘alamo’o, that spawns in streams above the waterfall and matures in the sea. The fish have a suction disk on their bellies which allows them to climb up the rocks behind the waterfall to reach the stream to spawn. Yes, these small fish climb a 442-foot waterfall! Absolutely insane. Take that, salmon.
In addition to the Liliuokalani Gardens, there are several more spots around Hilo worth visiting. The Wailuku River (awesome translation: wai means fresh water and luku means destruction, so this is the River of Destruction) is 28 miles long and runs from the eastern slope of Mauna Kea into the Hilo Bay. One section of the river, the Boiling Pots, is a series of small falls and pools. Despite the many warnings, we saw several people swimming and playing in the area, some with very small children.
One afternoon, we took a drive along the southeast coast on 137, starting at Isaac Hale Park and ending at Kaimu Beach Park, where the newest lava fields start. There was an ice cream truck in the parking lot at Isaac Hale, and Domingos and I had a nice chat with the man running it, who happened to be from Weymouth (we were wearing Pats and Celtics shirts).
Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens is located southeast of downtown Hilo right on the waterfront. Most of the park consists of Edo-style Japanese gardens, which were built between 1917-1919. The park also has a small island, Moku ola (which has the nickname Coconut Island, despite “moku ola” translating as “island of life”). Moku ola is connected by a footbridge to the main part of the park. Lili’uokalani Gardens, named for Queen Lili’uokalani, was built as a tribute to Hawaii’s first Japanese immigrants who worked on the island’s sugar cane fields. It is the largest ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan.
To celebrate Tracy’s birthday in style, I convinced everyone that we should take a helicopter tour of the island. We used Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Company, which operates out of Hilo, and signed up for the “Circle of Fire Plus Waterfalls” tour. This was a fabulous 50-minute tour which took us over the lava fields, active volcano activity, a gorgeous view of Hilo Bay, and ended with a flight over a couple of waterfalls.
I really wanted to tour a coffee farm while in Hawaii, and even though most of them are located on the Kona side of the island, I found a small farm in Mountain View, not far from our airbnb. Hilo Coffee Mill is just 24 acres, a small family farm owned and operated by 3 older women, none of whom had a background in farming before starting their operation. They’re a small-batch custom roaster with a focus on recycling, resource awareness, and sustainable practices. We signed up for a tour through their website (tours cost $20, but if you’re on the fence about it I will say that I thought it was worth every penny of that!), and saw that they also operate a small farmers’ market on Saturday mornings, which happened to be the morning we’d signed up for a tour. We decided to go early and get breakfast and coffee there before starting the tour. The market was very, very small – it’s still quite new – but they had several different stalls with goodies to try. We bought coffee drinks inside the farm’s store, and then Domingos and I tried some fabulous wontons a woman was frying up – her business is called Any Kine Wontons, and she offers a huge array of intriguing flavors (and I hate that this is the only photo I have of her! She was very lovely but I caught her in an awkward expression here). Continue reading “Hilo Coffee Mill”