Day 5: Captain Cook to Place of Refuge (and back) - Grampies Hawaiian Escape (with brief 2019 update) - CycleBlaze

January 15, 2016

Day 5: Captain Cook to Place of Refuge (and back)

We briefly joined the traffic jam of cars headed in the direction of Kona town. The photo is slightly misleading because just ahead is some road construction. On the other hand, the number of cars on the road is incredible, and that seems to apply to all times of the day. This time we were soon able to take a turn and begin to head down toward the water.

Joining the Kona commuters
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We soon came across a truck that we jokingly said had been in the traffic jam for a long time. In fact it was just one of many derelict vehicles that we saw along the roadside. It is surprising that the police allow these things to just sit there. Ok, for all we know they are actually listed as vacation rentals on Air BnB.

The traffic jam was too long for this truck
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There are a lot of vehicles like this all over
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Heading for the water entails a drop of 1500 feet. The cliff is quite abrupt in this area because, it is said, a section of mountain broke off in geologic time and slid towards the sea.

The major appearance of the landform to us, though, is of a quite steep ridge, followed by a relatively flat km or so leading to the sea. This looks mostly like the flat bit was formed by lava flowing down from the high mountain and perhaps creating land at the sea.

We quickly got a nice view of Kealakekua Bay. It's a fairly compact bit of water, but famous. This is the place where native Hawaiians killed Captain Cook in 1779. There is a Cook monument on one side of the bay. We also read somewhere that Kealakekua is a Hawaiianization of "Captain Cook". The bay is also known for excellent snorkeling, and we did see two people giving it a try, though it was very early, and actually still a bit chilly.

Looking down the cliff at the lava shore
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Kealakakua Bay from above
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A sign beside the bay describes the Spinner dolphins that live there, but advises snorkelers not to bug them. Apparently the dolphins work at night and need to rest during the day.

Just standing by the water's edge we were able to make out Yellow Tangs, a fish famous with Dodie from her hours of playing Hawaiian Go Fish! with Violet. Even more exciting was a turtle, just hanging out by a pier. This was the first of several turtles we would spot during the day.

The pier featured a sign prohibiting the launching of boats, but we watched a tour group launch a half dozen sea kayaks there. The lucky paddlers would be heading across the bay for a look at the Cook monument, and no doubt some further moseying along the coast.

Lots of datura inthis region
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The Captain Cook monument across the bay
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Th story of the Spinner dolphins
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ID on this yellow bird,anyone?
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The kayakers
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This turtle was just by the pier
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The best shot I could do of many yellow tang below the surfact
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A really nice turtle themed gate along the way to Place of Refuge
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We ourselves set out the other way (south) along the coast, heading for Pu'u honua Honaunau National Historic Park. The road crosses the lava field that we had surmised from above to exist here. It must be hard on road building equipment to push a way through this rough rock. We also noticed water lines running along the surface - obviously easier than trenching in rock.

Lava based plumbing
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The Place of Refuge road
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Pu'u honua Honaunau encompasses a religious/royal site known as the Place of Refuge. The pre-contact Hawaiian political system included brutal repression and autocratic rule by royalty. Commoners could be ordered executed on a whim, and were also called on to participate in frequent battles. However if someone being chased down by royal warriors, or wanting to avoid joining in a battle could make it to a Place of Refuge, they would be safe.

Under the supervision of the National Park Service, there is a nice gift shop and self-guiding map/brochure. The admission is a reasonable $3 per person, but the fee attracted a big dose of Grampie ire. The problem is that the $3 fee applies to anyone walking or biking in, but a vehicle admission is just $5. So three people in a car get in for $5 total, including free parking for their hunk of metal. We should have taken a lift for 20 feet in a car to pass the entry kiosk, thereby saving $6. Instead we wrote a nasty letter to the superintendent of the park.

The park was hosting several hordes of school kids, for whom stations had been set up where they could play traditional Hawaiian games. The park staff were being run ragged managing this. It's an annual one day event, but due to a large number of sign-ups this was the second day. Poor rangers.

The site included a big wall, made entirely of lava rocks with no mortar, and a wide and tall platform also made entirely of hefty lava chunks. Like with the pyramids, it's always fun to imagine how people achieved such construction with barely a John Deere machine in sight.

Out by the ocean we encountered three more turtles, one with a really beautiful shell. It's hard to make a photo down into water, but we tried. There were also some shallow salt and fresh water ponds, with small fish that we also tried to photograph. Violet, do you know what these ones are?

Sitting by the gift shop to eat the sandwiches we had brought (made with Portuguese bread!) I had a man come up and say "You're the cyclist who was hit by a truck in Florida". Well, he should know, because the man turned out to be Dr. Anderson, my orthopedic surgeon from back home! Now look, I know Canadian health care is good, but to have your surgeon checking on you at Pu'u honua Honaunau is beyond the call of duty! Actually the truth is more like pretty much everyone from western Canada is down here right now. I would not be surprised to also meet my car mechanic and butcher.

Price structure of the natioal park. We will be interested to see what they make of our complaint. Experience shows they will begin by not answering.
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Some of the interesting books at the visitor centre
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Kids learning traditional games
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This is the checkers like game Konane. We will try it out with the kids when we get back.
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Temple by the water
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More kids!
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The wooden figures are called Ki'i
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This stone was the favourite resting place of Keoua, a high chief of Kona.
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One of three turtles we spotted by the temple
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Look at the pattern on the turtle shell
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Fish in the salt water pond. Violet, do you know what they are?
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Dr Anderson and me, demonstrating that my shoulder now works.
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Now we began the long slog back up the ridge. Actually it was not as bad as we had predicted, no doubt because the roads wound their way up diagonally. Half way up lies the Saint Benedict's Painted Church. You would expect most buildings to be painted, but this one is famous for fresco like work on the inside. As is normal in churches, the scenes depict bible stuff, but here the painting has a colourful and fairly primitive aspect. The painting was done from 1899 to 1904 by Father John Velge. I was taken with one panel depicting the "Writing on the Wall", since what was written appeared to be in Hawaiian. Well, what did I expect, Aramaic? Officially it should signal the fall of Babylon, but I have no idea what it actually says.

On a wall outside the church some one had placed some home picked fruit and a donation box. One of the items was some dark cherry like berries. Dodie liked them a lot - does anybody know what they were?

The St Benedict church
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Painting inside the church
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The writing on the wall
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Fruit for sale by the church
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The fruit on the wall was the beginning of us finding quite a few roadside tables, each offering fruit at reasonable prices. Our favourite was 10 starfruit for $1.

The fruit tables were found at an elevation where the foliage seemed particularly lush. We saw a lot of large banana plants, many datura, and even poinsettia, forgotten by us since Christmas. Fairly quickly, it seemed, we regained highway 11. What we regained, of course, was a lot of traffic. It is still a source of wonder to me how the driver of a careening pickup truck on a narrow road does not think to slow down even a teeny bit when passing two cyclists clinging to an 18 inch shoulder. I guess the real wonder is that this applies not just to one driver, but to hundreds. It makes me think I live in a completely different mental world from them, and I begin to question just which of us is actually crazy. (Oh,oh "crazyguyonabike" - got it).

Poinsettias
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Good price on star fruit
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One of the advantages of returning to the "civilisation" of highway 11 was the presence of possible snack outlets along the way. We stopped at Keoki's Roadside Cafe, offering fish and chips and also Donkey Balls. We could have really used a sugar boost, but $8 for 4 ounces was way out of line. We carried on, and arrived at Royal Kona coffee farm. Here they have a big gift shop, a movie about Kona coffee, many containers of coffee for tasting, and really good brownies and banana bread.

Temporarily fortified by coffee and goodies, we carried on along 11. We were still pretty tired and were asking ourselves just how much further it would be to Captain Cook town. What we came to was the Kealakekua Ranch Center. This houses the ChoiceMart Supermarket, which we had learned earlier is the current incarnation of a Greenwell store. The name Kealakekua Ranch, of course, refers to the enterprise started by H.N. Greenwell in 1881. The center also includes a Thai restaurant, and the pictures of the dishes on the outside were overwhelmingly appealing to the tired and hungry cyclists. We got a Ginger Chicken with rice, and carefully strapped it on the back of a bike. We would hoard it against the time when we would ever reach our hotel again.

We answered some questions from some more Canadian tourists. 90 percent of inquiries through the tour so far have been from Canadians. Most of them seem to live pretty much next door to us up North!

Just like that cartoon image of the castaway who after months of hardship makes a raft and sails off, only to find that he was just around the bay from Miami Beach, we came to our hotel within 30 seconds. We had been eating "cat food" in our room just seconds from a large supermarket and Thai restaurant!

It had been a great day, though, with lots of turtles, fish. and fruit, a bureaucracy to rail at, and some tough but not too tough cycling. Tomorrow, we are heading back for more banana bread!

Kona Lisa coffee, they say, will make you smile.
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Dodie and Violet's chief reference work on fish of Hawaii
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Today's ride: 33 km (20 miles)
Total: 111 km (69 miles)

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