Day 30: Kona to the South (and back) - Grampies Hawaiian Escape (with brief 2019 update) - CycleBlaze

February 9, 2016

Day 30: Kona to the South (and back)

With our more usual 90 day tours there is time to forget the chores or cares of home, then to get really into the trip, and finally to start thinking about home and then be really ready to go home. But with this 30 day version, things are compressed and confused. Right now, we may be sort of ready to go home, but only because we have circled the Island, achieving the goal. But are we ready to leave the warm days and cool nights, the flowers, and the surf? Eerrm, no!

Today we set a very easy goal, Kahaluu Bach Park - only about 10 km south, down Alii Drive. Kahaluu was correctly said to have myriad reef fish and calm, not too deep waters. Before setting off, we sent me up to the Sack n Save, looking for Hawaiian style pancake mix. Sack n Save did not have much, but by also checking the nearby KTA, I came up with a small selection. I also threw in some Lion Brand coffee, which does not even claim to be Hawaiian. I just like the lion.

A stash of pancake mixes, plus some Lion Brand Coffee. For some reason, pancakes are a legitimate Hawaiian souvenir.
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Again before setting off, we had a look at the swimming possibilities right off the pier in downtown Kailua Bay. Indeed, there is a nice little beach on one side and another even nicer one by the hotel - the King Kamehameha. We put these on the list or tomorrow, and sailed off down Alii. This of course is the main tourist walk. That does not mean sidewalks, and bike shoulder space kind of comes and goes at first. Fortunately traffic moves sedately in this area.

The beach by the pier in Kona town
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This whole Kailua Kona area is built on lava, and would have little vegetation except for landscaping and development work over the years. Still, the Bougainvillea, Plumeria, and other flowering trees and shrubs seem to like the warm and dry climate. As we cycled, knowing we would soon be drop kicked out of here, I was trying to absorb as much of it as possible.

One of 36 resort hotels along Alii Drive - the Royal Kona Resort
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Flowers to remember along Alii
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Look at the colour of the tree stump
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Another resort along Alii
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And more flowers to remember
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Kahaluu has several different sections - better for surfing, better for snorkeling, with lots of coral to avoid damaging, etc. However a fine and dandy section is accessible right off the washrooms and tables, so we just went for that. The water, which was at low tide, was at no more than four or five feet and quite calm. Below the surface, it was all true - fish as if one were in an aquarium. I immediately saw all kinds of iconic species. The humuhumnukunukuapuaa, the orangespine unicornfish, the raccoon butterflyfish, the moorish idol, the yellow tang, etc. It was really something. One disappointment was that Dodie, with her glasses, could only peer down into the water and see a hint of what was swimming below.

When we left the water we discussed the glasses problem with something called the Kahaluu Bay Education Centre. a volunteer group working out of a trailer, to counsel reef protection but also to rent snorkel gear. They suggested a boogie board with a window in it, called a view board. We rented one, and quite liked the brand name - the Poi Pounder. Unfortunately it did not work very well, so on the next try Dodie only got a peek at some fish.

As we sat at a picnic table in the covered shelter, there was a Chinese family at the next table, including some grandparents, their daughter and son-in-law, and maybe some further grandkids. The son-in-law got a nasty gash on his hand and all but the grandparents hustled off to the emergency clinic. The grandparents sat and waited for a long time, longer than we were there, and we spoke to them a little. They were from Beijing. We ended with an invitation to drop in on them next time we are in China. That is very unlikely to happen, but it was still fun to make contact across cultures, at this halfway point, in the Pacific.

The snorkeling pond at Kahaluu
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There were many varieties to be seen - these are Moorish Idol
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and Humuhumu
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Yellow Tang
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Orangespine Unicornfish, and many more kinds
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Dodies "Poi Pounder"
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The Chinese grandparents
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A parting look a Kahaluu
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On the way back we stopped at a little marketplace that included in addition to the usual clothing and jewellery vendors, a wood dealer. We were impressed by a photo of the owner sitting on a large hunk of KOA. He said it had been bought by a mainland guitar maker for $10,000, an amount he felt the buyer would recover from the first few guitars made. Today there we a few lumps of KOA lying around, and we were surprised to find that the prices were about 1/4 of those at Aloha Woods. This is a source to remember, especially if we feel like building a few guitars!

Tomorrow is our last day here, and we thought about keeping the bikes together for one last morning ride. But it will make us nervous to not be packed, so we are likely to pack tonight, including the bikes, and continue tomorrow on foot (and fin).We will try to absorb as much sunshine as possible then, before being presumably doused with cold water back in Seattle.

$10,000 hunk of KOA
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Hunks of Koa for sale. The small bit in the front was $10
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Today's ride: 19 km (12 miles)
Total: 1,010 km (627 miles)

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