creative ramblings & reverie

Friday, July 9, 2010

Kona Notebooks


All the palm trees were trimmed yesterday by a worker who skinnied up the stems with a machete and whacked off all the coconut clusters, blooms, and lower fronds, leaving just spray at the tops. Carts hauled away the great piles of debris and tidied the lawns and newcomers won't know what happened. Other gardeners are constantly busy trimming bougainvillea, watering with set hoses or by hand, picking up leaves, fallen fruit and blossoms, and generally keeping everything groomed.

They drained the salt-water pool a couple of days ago, and yesterday hosed and swept the sand and gravel—and some baseball-sized rocks—down to the deep end, shoveled it away and scrubbed the whole pool. A tremendous job, really. Some time in the evening they started filling it with water from the fountain-falls intake. By 9 pm it was filled up to about the 5-ft mark, and this morning it is still not completely full, although the lounges are out and I do see a towel on one of them. A fisherman has been casting from the rocks at the north end of the pool yesterday and this morning early. Maybe we can swim there today and get more laps in with less effort because of the buoyancy. The freshpool is shallow and oddly shaped and less sunny, as well as less buoyant.

Yesterday we saw a wedding at the new chapel in the north gardens beside a mini-lagoon. The couple walked alone in leis and a blue mumu & Hawaiian shirt matching down the path to the tiny square raft-like float with a rail, and stood in the prow while a single gondolier poled them from the little belvedere to the church itself, where they debarked and walked in alone. We had seen a priest in surplice at the door earlier, and two guests or tourists in shorts followed them in. It was very simple and touching.

Last night we had dinner at La Bourgogne, a 12-table French place with Ris de veau and Opakipaki and spinach salad and chef's paté and chocolate mousse. They have been there since 1981 and make a nice contrast to the other restaurants. We had been to the Kona Inn the night before and still find its view the greatest. They were out of ono but the ahi was good and June had a nice slab of calamari. Sig was our waiter, and at La Bourgogne the chef himself did much of the serving, a small trim fairly young Frenchman. Good ono and chips at La Vista for lunch.

For the first time in three days, there was hardly a cloud in the sky at sunrise. We tried to drive to Hilo one cloudy day, and turned back at Honokaa when the fog and rain got so heavy that driving was nearly impossible, with 40 miles yet to go. Good thing; the paper said later that it rained hard for 12 hours in Hilo. Getting back to Waimea-Kamuela was bad enough. The road was flooding badly from the runoff, and crews in yellow oilskins were working with bulldozers and shovels to divert the water or clear ditches. We could have drowned out the motor, but got back to the Edelweiss for lunch of Wienerschnizel and hot potato salad.

The unpleasantness there was a young guy who objected to our smoking, one of those paranoid fanatics who are incensed by the mere sight of a cigaret, whether they smell it or not. The waitress brought us an ashtray and said the law was so worded that there really was no non-smoking. The guy came in later, glared at June and said, "It's your privilege to be inconsiderate." He did not ask us to quit, or say he was asthmatic, or in any nice way suggest it bothered him.

The second rainy night we had a bottle of Chandon in our room before dinner. The little refrigerator in the bathroom holds the bottle upright on its door. We had big wine glasses we had picked up in the hall, and it was very good. For breakfast in our room we have bananas or papaya and sweet rolls with our drip coffee. The grocery store takes checks and has a deli that makes take-out sandwiches on a roll, all wrapped.

It took a day to drain the salt-water pool after the high surf, a day to clean it, and another day to fill it. It is almost too cold for swimming, but I have kept at it, even in the rain. Today looks promising. I prefer the buoyancy of the salt water; you don't work as hard staying afloat.

We have noisy neighbors now. The bratty little boy starts screaming and hollering anytime after 6:30 a.m., and his bigger sister is almost as loud—both totally out of hand, maybe army brats. One rainy afternoon we suffered them for hours while we were trying to read. For some reason, certain sounds come through the walls as if there were no walls. Of course the lanais adjoin, but they are seldom out there.

Yesterday we had lunch at the Hilton, and it is still nice. The wind was rather strong, so we ate in the dining room rather than on the lanai. Egg fu young— which is more an omelette with shrimps, but very good. The Love Boat was anchored just out from us, and is still there. We shopped all afternoon at Hilo Hatties and King Kamehameha and Liberty House, and later at the Keauhou Beach Hotel clearance outlet for Liberty House. We each bought a shirt. The waitress at the Hilton was a little Thai or Vietnamese woman from whom I may have bought my fish shirt in '81. She had strange eyes that looked frowning or pouty, but she was very chatty & friendly. A lot of local airline people seemed to be eating there, and one group of 6 apparently from Love Boat, pale and bored to tears, 3 fat men and 3 women, typical loud tourists, unaware of fine points. June went to her coral jewelry shop and couldn't get Christie's fixed, so bought another.

The women's record marlin, 580 lbs., hangs in the Kamehameha near the birthing carved whale.

At Drysdale's 2 last night we had a waitress from Wales who kept calling us Luv.

The blue sightseeing boat from the bay just pulled out loaded, with sails rigged, bright blue, green & yellow. No swimmers off the bay, as there were all during the high surf. Hardly any wind now, and we're off to the salt-water pool.

Have been watching "Lonesome Dove" with great interest, and not getting much reading done. It's rawther grim, rawther good.

Made it to Hilo today. Lunch at the Hilo Hawaiian, with 3 dancing girls, a singer, and a musician at the entrance, and a table singer with ukelele inside. They try harder. The dining room is very pleasant; food so-so. But the 3 fat dancers were lively, slapping gourds, and it was friendly Hawaiian. They had lunch later, next to our table.

Waiakea Village looked dismal. $800 a month rooms, but I doubt its quality. Couldn't find the anthurium gardens. Skies cloudy. Lots of snow on peak of Mauna Kea in a glimpse of it.

In our gardens tonight they are having a luau. Round tables beautifully set for 10 each, brown cloths, blue napkins, pineapple decorations. Tiki lights lit with conch horn drums & torch ceremony. Love Boat sailed at sunset. Outrigger (red) on the bay. Lovely view of all from our lanai. Luau pig covered with ti and banana leaves and burlap, over hot lava rocks. Polynesian show in about 45 Hawaiian minutes—interfering with "Lonesome Dove"? Aroma of roast pig now wafting into our room. 6 hours of roasting. Mynah birds chattering in their night tree.

Rain. So heavy last night that it did not come in drops but steady streams like a shower head.

In addition to a Gideon Bible, our night stand contains "The Teaching of Buddha," donated by Buddhist Promoting Foundation, Japan, and supplied by The Sudatta Society, P.O. Box 17006, Honolulu, HI 96817. The text is in English with Japanese on the facing page.

The ISSA is having a convention here now. International Slurry Seal Association. It isn't as catchy as AAASS, but even more esoteric.
We were not in Pele's Court last night, but had a first-hand account of the accident from a lady who was. Some elderly female newcomer drove up the ramp to the main entrance, somehow revved her strange rental car instead of braking, and drove straight through the railing, ending up with the two front wheels hanging over the falls and pool at the back of Pele's. Looks like a bummer, and no doubt was.

We saw a double wedding at the chapel, where we were chatting with a local couple who have a daughter in Anchorage. The daughter grew up here, but has been in Alaska for 6 years. This winter caught them flat-footed without a heater for their carpart car, and they couldn't get it started. The couple who witnessed the Pele accident were from Ohio, and he works for NASA. The chapel was open and lovely—polished marble floors, 8 pews on each side seating 3 apiece, and a clear glass cross in the wall behind the altar. The 2 very young Asian couples had no attendants or guests, but were served champagne in the gazebo afterwards.

Not much sun at the pool this morning, but clear and beautiful this afternoon. A milkshake and sandwich on the lobby patio for lunch, from the ice cream shop. Some heavy breakers and lovely white breakers at the edge of the light & dark blues.

A man swimming alone across the bay for his morning constitutional. 500 yds? 1,000 yds? Water temp 75 degrees? 80 degrees? Small boats coming & going all the while. Some evenings a 12-man outrigger will row up the bay and back. Snorklers in black wet-suits sometimes in the evening.

At 8:30 am the blue & white boat with yellow, green, blue & red (lavender?) horizontally-striped sails takes off. On windy days, no sails. June comes in with a fresh red hibiscus for our black mink & pincushion protea bouquet. Solitary swimmer still going back & forth across the bay.

Betty Wistrand reported to have been kicked out of Gretchen's guest house on the bay at the end of the Surf gardens, because she wanted to stay on permanently. Small world. Small people.

Disco at the Eclipse. We were at a table next to the booth and dance floor, the only couple in shorts. Glenn Miller, Tex Beneke, Xaviar Cugat, played at a reasonable sound level, carefully mixed, with flashing lights but not extreme. Tiny twinkling lights on the dance floor, which (floor; wooden) crackled like popping corn when the oldsters danced very capably. The music man selected carefully and kept it flowing with Sinatra and maybe Andrews Sisters, Nat King Cole. He was from Santa Monica (21 yrs there; owned home), moved here 10 yrs ago; has been at Eclipse 1 1/2 yr. Soft-spoken guy who did not look like long-haired disc jockey, but sort of reminded me of Frank Thornton with ear phones, computer-like mixers & selectors. Good food, excellent walnut tort. When we left about 8:30, he was beginning to select post-war II stuff, and probably by 10 moved into rock & roll.

Lovely red sunset at the Vista, where we had a Scotch and ate popcorn before going on to dinner. Two very fat native guys played a sing-along video there, and golfers were flocking in from the course.

Beautifully clear sunrise over Hualalai, 3rd largest volcano on island. Golf carts out. Yesterday morning a kayaker valiantly tried to go back and forth in bay but capsized time and again, always getting back aboard and still trying. Another more expert one got out of the bay into the fairly high surf, capsizing only once. Big white Love Boat in at Kailua Bay again this morning.

Yesterday evening a Jap crew was photographing a bikini-clad (pink) model in the lava tide-pool at the end of the garden, using big silver reflectors to light her in the palm shade. She held a big spray of red ginger (or something) for color effect.

Leaf blowers sound like chain saws as the gardeners clear paths.

1 January 1990
The television cable for the entire island went out during the Rose Bowl game, so we went up to Drysdale Two to watch on their special satelite. Two California builders sat at our table and rooted for June's unfavorite team. One of them had caught the champion ahi of Kona in 1982, which became the property of the boat crew and was sold for premium catch-of-the-day prices.

At Waiakaloa last week we had lunch in the Orchid Cafe, then found the restrooms literally under the waterfalls of the swimming pool. Then we rode the monorail and cabin cruisers around the place. We even walked around the dolphin pool and were surprised at how small they were. The lobby is still fabulous, and the pool bluer than any I have ever seen. They flag the lounge chairs with red numbers to show they are occupied.

"If you aren't the lead dog, the view never changes." Honolulu Evening Newscast

Keahou Beach Hotel breakfast guest: Heavy-set North Dakota farmer, 50 or so, with a dead white forehead eternally protected by a hat, apparently; white T-shirt with wide black suspenders holding up long levi trousers, and Ramso slippers on his feet, having a hearty breakfast with a large glass of milk; then he shouldered his video camera and took long shots of the dining area, the pool, and finally the ocean. Had he won a local Albertson's or car dealer promotion prize of a week in Hawaii? Or had a good crop?

Sign at the Convention Center: "Backpackers please check your backpacks with security personnel." What concert? What backpackers? Anti-Thermal project that would destroy a rain forest here on the Big Island.

Three days of rain on this dry coast. This morning an Australian mother and her two kids were happily swimming—what else?—the Australian crawl in the salt-water pool in the rain. But we went downtown to the Sibu Cafe and had Indonesian food—a good curry and Balinese chicken with peanut sauce.

Runway lights are out at the airport—a generator problem. No traffic in or out after 5 pm or before 7 am. Really a freight and mail problem, as well as tourists.

Two outriggers, with 6-man crews, racing in the bay.

Lunch at Poo Ping, a Thai place. Good red curry and ginger chicken and tempura.

Mumm's Cuvée Napa champagne on the lanai, with a bouquet of red hibiscus and 6 farolitos. The lights on the coast and hillside from here to Kailua look like the Riviera. The Cuvée Napa is dry and excellent. Sunset was pastel with interesting scattered clouds, but the sun only a faint red ball as it sank in the ocean. Warm and muggy; no breeze.

Last night there was a 4-piece combo and dancing in the garden till 11 pm. Anthony Pools Convention; their hospitality room in the ocean-view suite adjoining our room. A lovely new cusp of moon.

Lemon grass & mint tea with Thai style chicken curry stew at Sibu Cafe for lunch. Fried rice with raisins and cucumber-onion-peanut-sprout salad. Peanuts in stew, too, and hot red (dried) & green (fresh) chili topping.

Good papaya seed salad dressing as house dressing at Kona Inn last night.

Tiki lights amongst the foliage, all over the coast. Conch shell calls occasionally, especially for weddings.

—Boyd Cochrell

[The smell of cigarettes still lingers on the yellow lined pad, all these years later. Blood has soaked through eight pages.]

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