Day 2: Kona Heritage Corridor: Good Idea (or not?) - Grampies Hawaiian Escape (with brief 2019 update) - CycleBlaze

January 12, 2016

Day 2: Kona Heritage Corridor: Good Idea (or not?)

In the autobiographical movie "Never Cry Wolf" , Farley Mowat explains (through an interpreter) to the Inuit elder Ootek why he is trying to subsist on a diet exclusively of mice. (He is trying to prove that the wolves also can/do do this). Ootek listens and pauses for a long time. Then he has a lot to say, seemingly not complimentary. But the translator diplomatically renders all the words as "Good Idea".

Today in the corridor of our hotel we encountered some Japanese visitors occupying rooms near ours. The women had beautiful traditional kimonos, while two younger men were sporting surgical masks. One of the party was an old man, and Dodie got engaged with him in some bowing and expressions of "Good Morning". Since we were wearing our reflective clothing and leading the bikes through the corridor, the man also said "Cycling?". When assured that we were, he paused for a while, and concluded "Good Idea".

Our idea for today was to ascend the Palani Road, which runs right by the hotel. 1400 vertical feet up there is an intersection with the Mamalahoa Highway. This is dubbed the Kona Heritage Corridor. The road runs to the old village of Holualoa. At Holualoa and along the highway are coffee farms, old Japanese run general stores, art centers, an old hotel, ukelele centre, etc. etc.

Kona coffee country - our objective for today
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We knew we would have to push up Palani Road, but we were good with that. We pushed for a long time. No problem. As we gained altitude it became noticeably cooler, and the foliage seemed to become more lush. The foliage overall was probably the highlight of the day. It begins with the Bougainvillea - the flowering shrub with red and purple and oange and peach and yellow variants. But then there was plumeria - the flower that goes in leis and in your hair. It is probably the single thing that most clearly says "Hawaii". But that's not all. There was papaya, and noni, and guava, and breadfruit. There were giant mango trees (no fruit in this season), and kukui nut. For people from the temperate zone, this is all the stuff of paradise!

Along the Palani road you can see the flowering shrubs that are everywhere in this region.
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This is the same Captain Vancouver as in Vancouver BC
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The remnant of wall. Too bad it can not control the new scourge - traffic.
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Here are eight views of beautiful plants and animals along our route today.
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Plumeria
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Papaya flowers
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Plumeria
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It's dry enough on this side of the island for cactus.
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Monstera?
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A palm variant with red bark
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A female red crested cardinal, we think.
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Somewhere along the hill, Dodie found a "shortcut" on the GPS. We pushed up that too. But finally we came to a locked gate, leading through a sort of subdivision. There was room for a person to squeak through, but not the bikes. We thought to go to a house beyond the gate and to ask if we could pass through. I sent Dodie, since an old lady is more likely to get a sympathetic reception. It turned out no amount of sympathy could overcome the god of Private Property. The homeowner, just a renter, was afraid to open the gate.

The GPS showed this as a through road. We understand the owner has been trying for a long time to get Google to understand that it is not.
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So back down we went, until we could begin pushing up Palani Road again. Finally we reached the intersection at the top. Most of the Palani road had offered about a 1 foot shoulder, and we had been pushing with our bikes on the traffic side. That is, we were standing to the right of our bikes. So maybe a driver that was only a little off course would clip off our bikes, but not us. The traffic included many rather fast moving pickup trucks, but we felt ok since we were not cycling, had the bikes to the outside, and did have that expansive one foot shoulder to work with.

From the intersection we turned south and started on the Mamalahoa Highway. A sign dubbed it a narrow, winding road. Oh. We had hoped for a quiet and safe old country trail as our reward for traversing the Palani Road. A little warily we started off nonetheless.

Very soon a white SUV came behind us and hung out in the roadway. I assumed this was a (rare) driver who was waiting for a safe spot at which to pass. Looking back, I saw that the driver was gesticulating, and I assumed she was encouraging us to pull over at the next opportunity so she could even more safely pass. Not so. At the layby, the lady - who turned out to be Susy Stille - a coffee farmer along this road - explained that the road ahead was deadly. In fact two cyclists had been killed on it. Her own kids, runners, would not even run along it, she said. At the thought of the cyclists, a bit of a tear came to her eye, and Dodie offered a hug.

So yes, we turned back. Susy, if you are reading this, maybe we are still here to be writing because of you. Thanks!

We thought we were home free when we saw this.
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Susy where she stopped to warn us about the road ahead.
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It was all over for us very quickly.
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We had hoped to find a safe way down from the ridge beyond Holualoa, because Palani Road and its non shoulder sure was not it. However, we did find a road leading down. That is, down and out towards the airport. No problem, because we were still looking for a place to cycle, and airport is as good as anything, assuming we would not be going to the coffee corridor.

On the way to the airport we passed Kona Mountain Coffee, with on site roasting and free samples. We had spotted this one before, maybe from an airport shuttle. We so much want these Kona coffee places to be good, just because of all the hype, the prizes they have won, and the high prices. But in tasting after tasting they just come out "meh", at least for me. With Kona Mountain Coffee it was the same. But they did have lots of nice packages.

So many attractive packages, but true coffee yumminess seems to be missing in these shops.
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Despite the constant stream of cars, the ride to and trom the airport was pleasant, with a wide shoulder and no particular hills or wind, We saved visiting sites that are on the ocean side of the road for another time. These would have been the burial site of Kamehameha, some fish ponds, and a harbour. Instead we enjoyed watching road building machines engaged in the unnecessary double tracking of the highway.

Despite not reaching our objective today, we thoroughly enjoyed the warm and colourful ride. Tomorrow we will leave town, though, and try to actually get somewhere!

The road to te airport has lots of traffic but also a wonderful wide shoulder.
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Wild goats on the way to the airport. A little higher there are also wild pigs and turkeys.
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Look kids, these excavators spent the whole day playing on this lava rock pile.
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Blogging at Kona Mountain Coffee.
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Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 43 km (27 miles)

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