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Kohala  -  2015 Spring

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In Hawai'i 3/12 to 4/7  (26 days - 456 total)


Mar 14th, 2015  -  First three days

This will be our ninth trip to the big island of Hawai'i to take care our little friends Rajah and Rufus, the Papillion puppies that belong to Dennis and Donna Brown. They all live at 2,100 feet elevation on the west side of Kohala Mountain. We look after the pups and the house while the Brown's take a cruise to points unknown. Actually, today we got word that they are in Singapore, waiting for embarkation day.

We awoke on the first day and caught a driver service to San Jose Airport for a 9:30 a.m. flight on Alaska Airlines to Kailua-Kona. The flight was a bit rough, with some ups and downs, mixed in with some side to side action. We were fighting a headwind, and that made the flight 5.75 hours, a little longer than 'normal'.


There's our destination. The island of Hawai'i. The right side of the picture is toward the north, and the sun sets at the top of the picture. By the way, those white streaks are clouds and not waves. I snapped this from the window as we were approaching the... OK... I'm lyin'. Donna found this image on an  Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park website, and it was actually taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station as it flew over Hawai'i earlier this year.

Imagine the center of the island is the center of a clock face, with 12 at the top of the picture, three to the right side, six at the bottom, and nine pointing to the left, or south. At twelve you are between the location where Captain Cook landed (and died in a skirmish over the locals stealing a landing craft to get the iron) and Kailua-Kona and the airport where we landed. Kona means "west" in Hawaiian. At three o'clock is a protrusion to the north that has a bank of clouds on the west side. That is Mount Kohala, the oldest mountain (volcano) on the island. It last flowed 120,000 years ago and is considered to be extinct.  The Brown's home is on the west side of that mountain, under where the cloud cover is in the picture.

This There are six mountains/volcanoes on this island. This is the newest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago, and the volcanoes on this island go from the oldest at the north end to the youngest at the south side. The large volcano near the center of the image is Mauna Kea, which is considered dormant, with the last eruption over 4,500 years ago. It is just a few hundred feet higher than Mauna Loa, and is just short of 14,000 feet above the sea level. If you measure the height from the ocean floor, this is the tallest mountain in the world, from base to peak. It contains at least eleven celestial observatories from all over the world, and a newer, larger one is about to get started, as soon as the weather permits traffic up to the top.

Next to the town of Kailua-Kona is Mount Hualalai, considered active, with its last eruption only 215 years ago. Just to the left of it is Mauna Loa, with a bit of white snow (similar to Mauna Kea). Mauna Loa is considered to be active, and the last eruption from its peak was 35 years ago.

At the 8 o'clock position you can see two columns of smoke. The one closer to Mauna Loa is Kilauea, which is currently erupting and has been since 1983. The other column is Pu'u O'o, which is considered a vent from Kilauea. This is where lava is currently flowing and threatening the town of Pahoa, located on the point that protrudes in the 7 o'clock direction.

In the 9 o'clock position is South Point (Ka Lae), the land that is the furthest south land in the US.

Donna met us at the airport and 'leid' us, and took us 'home'. It was raining on us on the drive to the Brown's home, and cold. We are lower than 70 outside, which is cooler than we expect when we come here, by fifteen degrees.  We enjoyed the evening with a nice turkey dinner Donna cooked for us, and we were up early Friday for the drive back to Kailua-Kona Airport to take D&D to their plane.

In this image, Rosalee and I are returning to the house, climbing up the side of Kohala, when the two white mountain tops came into clear view. With the clouds behind them it is hard to see them, but Mauna Kea is the blue mountain above the left end of the guard rail, with the snow peak just above the blue at the bottom of the white clouds. Mauna Loa is the blue mountain above the right end of the guard rail, with it's own snow cap.

Here they are again, viewed from the Master Bedroom in the Brown's home.

Dennis and I ordered one of the new 4-foot long LED lamps that replace florescent lamps from Lowe's in Kona. We were able to pick it up after dropping our hosts at the airport. We also did our initial grocery shopping and found the Oceanic Time-Warner office to turn in the Brown's internet modem that was acting up and got a new one. Friday evening I connected the new modem and believe it or not... it worked. LOL. It carries their internet and their phone. Their TV comes through a cable and also through a satellite dish system, and they were working fine. We keep our own cell phones turned on as well.

Saturday morning we woke up to strong 20+ mph winds and 65 weather. There is no heating unit in this home. They don't 'need' them here. I would have lit one this morning if it were here. We did notice a small plug-in heater in the Master Bedroom that we have never seen before.

This is a 'crash' day... sorta. I did end up installing the LED lamp in the pantry as it was dark in there. It went in nicely, replacing a four-foot florescent lamp fixture. It is bright... works well!

With the extra rain they have been having the yard is not being watered. They were pleased to get their water bill this month, and found it to not be the usual $400 to $500 dollars but only $49. I think Hawai'i is getting California's usual water. But they have earned it... they are breaking a seven-year drought we are told.

March 21st, 2015    First Week


Our first Tuesday was the day for the house cleaner, so we try to get out of her way. We went into Waimea to check into the Anna's Ranch Museum that we were not able to visit last trip over. I was too busy with the music box at the time. Before we got out of the drive way, the Buick was exhibiting the battery light and the message center on the dash was telling us that we needed to have the charging system checked out. So we parked it and took the Ford pickup instead.

The gal at Anna's was glad to see me. She said that she had knocked the pendulums off both grandfather's clocks and they were not running. The one built by a local craftsman is the one on which Rosalee and I replaced the suspension spring several years ago. We will go in next Tuesday to replace the suspension spring... again. :-) And I will instruct her how to hang the pendulum. She says that she knocks the pendulum off when she winds up the weights. !?!?!

The other GF clock had the pendulum hanging properly but it was hesitant to run, and the chime was hesitant to strike. I added a little clock oil to some of the journals and it was working ok when we left. I will check it again next Tuesday.

I spent the rest of the day reading up on the electrical systems of the 2006 Buick Lucern, and discovered that I don't want to buy a Buick. LOL. I found that the battery is under the rear seat. I'm trying to decide where I can take it to get it checked out, so it will be running to pick up the Brown's when they return. We COULD use the truck, but the rear 'bonus cab' seat is rather restricted. I went out the next day to dig into it and see if I could see anything obvious. Without special tools and instruments, I did not feel this was a job that I could tackle, considering all of the computer involvement in the systems. Nothing looked obviously out of place, and everything looked rather nice. So I fired it up, and... the light went out. The message board was 'clean'. The Great Kahuna must have fixed it overnight.

We do drive down to the front gate to get the mail and the paper every few days (6.5 miles one way and 2,100 elevation) so we took the Buick to 'try' it, and it worked fine. We will try it when we drive into Waimea Tuesday and see if it is all right.

The rains and the cold weather have pretty much pulled out and the sun has come out. It is nice... not too hot, and the wind is only now and again. Last night we got a bit of rain. Not much. But as the sun set, it looked like a 'big one' was blowin' in, but alas, it tended to miss us almost entirely.


March 30th, 2015

The life here is pretty calm and quiet. Without having anyone else here, we become quite lazy. It is not like there are things to see that we have not seen several times, or things to do with others, so we just go into town to pick up groceries, do some banking for Donna, maybe pick up a tool or some supplies to do a little job.

The Master Bathroom shower uses a mirror, some shelves, and a soap dish that all are plastic and use a 2" suction cup or two to attach to the ceramic tile walls. The suction cup on the soap dish was getting old, and with the dish close to the opening to the shower, it got knocked off and the suction cup broke. Being soft, pliable plastic, I did not anticipate finding a glue to repair it, but when we were in town, we found that the whole line of devices were available from the Ace Hardware Store. Score!

About our second week here, when we vacated the house so the house cleaner could do her work, we planned on stopping at Anna Ranch again, which we try to do each year, but missed last year. We usually check out the clocks and music boxes to make sure they are functioning properly. They display them in their tours of the old ranch house. Both long-case clocks (grandfather clocks) had been messed up by the caretaker (she told me she did it). We planned to come the following week when she would be there and fix the clocks. Fortunately I brought some clock-making tools with me from home. I also brought an assortment of suspension springs which support the pendulum, which was broken on the smaller clock. Rosalee and I replaced that one several years ago.

Susan in Waimea has a lovely wall clock that we repaired last year, but I made it over to Hawai'i without my clock oil, so I arranged to stop by to lubricate her clock. Meanwhile, Susan had given my name and e-address to another lady in town, Marcia, and she asked if I could stop and look at her clock... a Grandmother Clock actually, which is a little smaller than a Grandfather clock. She is widowed and it was a Christmas gift to her from her late husband, and this is the first that it had ever quit.

We did the two clocks at Anna Ranch, then joined Susan and lubed her clock. She treated us to lunch at a restaurant that we were not familiar with in town, and will likely go there again if we have company with us. After lunch we found Marcia's home and worked on her clock.

It was rather straight-forward. One of her three weights that hang on chains came off its chain. The weight consists of a 5 to 7 pound lead weight inside a brass tube with a cap at each end of the tube. A long bold goes the length of the weight through the center with a nut and washer and cap at each end. The nut at the top is in the shape or a hook so that it can hang on the end of the chain. Marcia's clock has been moved and handled enough that the top nut on the weight became loose and turned enough to slip off the threaded bolt, allowing the heavy weight to drop down into the base of the clock. We were able to retrieve it, and amazingly we found all the nuts and washers to put the weight back together.

Marcia had the clock near her front door, against the wall, covering the electrical breaker panel for her apartment. She was trying to hide it from view, but that meant someone had to move the clock every time they had to service a breaker. So we set the clock up in a different position. l

She had another triple-chime mantle clock in her bedroom which was a retirement gift from Bank of America, but she was afraid of 'over-winding' the springs, a common fear of many. I instructed her on how to wind it to it's natural strongest tension poiint and got it running for her. She was overjoyed to hear her old 'friends' talking to her again.

We try to drive down to the front gate every two or three days, usually planning it around another trip. We don't like to drive the vehicles any more than necessary. They are not our vehicles. We are very appreciative of the vehicles being available to us when we are here.

We got a call from Marilyn, the neighbor to the north of us, saying that she had one of Donna Brown's letters in her mail so I walked over her direction and met her and "Captain Morgan", her dog, who greeted me with licks and kisses. Marilyn is doing well... last year she was laid up with surgery on her foot.

Dennis has a composter/shredder that is an 8.5 HP Chraftsman engine that does not run. It has not run to my knowledge since we first came here eight years ago. I have encouraged Dennis to use it and to set up composting here to use up the massive amount of cuttings, and to help control the water consumption on the property. He asked me to see if I could get it to run.

I went out to the garage to check it out, and learn what the controls were and how they worked, and looked to see if there was anything obvious keeping it from going. The fuel tank looked and smelled like it was empty, so I put a little fresh gas in it and gave it a pull... and it would not even turn over. I worked a little with it and I got it to spin over, but it is like starting a car. It takes a really hard pull to spin it.

I checked out the fuel and it was getting into the carburetor float bowl, and I pulled the spark plug and spun the engine over and I was getting spark, so I dripped a bit of fuel into the cylinder, replaced the plug, set the choke and throttle, pulled the cord and it fired. I ran it about ten minutes. It sounded great.

I shut it down but it was not going to re-start. I even dropped more fuel into the cylinder and it would not start. Probably because the cylinder was too warm and the fuel almost immediately evaporated. I waited until the next day, and it would not start on its own. A little fuel in the cylinder and it fired right up. Not sure what the problem is. One thing sure... I can't spin the engine very fast to start or to draw fuel up from the carburetor, because I am spinning the heavy chipper wheel with it.

I found the factory manual for it and read through it, but there is no place that allows me to disconnect the chopper while you start it. Bummer.

Both mountains still have snow on them. It is much lighter cover, as the weather has been nice. We are getting more wind, but we are having some nice days.

Today I went down to the lower gate to meet the lady that is a Notary Public that was sent out to see us by Bank of America. Rosalee did not feel confident when talking to her on the phone to tell her how to get here from there. Plus the gate keeper needs someone to vouch for her to come into the communiry. We are renewing our open loan that BofA has carried for years. We wanted to get it taken care of because we have some expenses coming up right quick here. Fifteen K for a new Heat Pump when we get back, and we have finally gotten our solar man active on our solar system.

The solar folks are promising to have us 'online' within two weeks of our return home. The system we have selected will be a 10.35 Kwh system using 31 panels. It should cover everything that we will need for electrical use in the home and the shop. It will cost us $3,000 per Kwh to install. With absolutely no Gas & Electric bill ever again, it should pay off in about 8 years, and then those utilities will be absolutely free, unless the sun dies.

Lee next door had them install his system some three years ago. Ed had them do his last year, and Kent had them do their a couple of months ago. They are all reporting a minimum fee from the utility company that pays them to keep the account open. It amounts to about five dollars a month.

Our location here does not offer us pretty sunsets very often. Mauna Loa is a good 80 miles to our left and Maui is to our right, and that is the usual path of the vog coming from the volcano. That messes up the late sunset sky for us. We have had enough wind lately however that the air has been somewhat cleared up. I was able to catch this nice sunset yesterday.

April 5th, 2015   Easter Sunday

We are wrapping up our stay for this session. We have had beautiful weather, but last night we had some terrific winds, clocking up over thirty mph. A quarter after midnight we felt a tiny earthquake that turned out to be a 3.8 or so, centered on Kohala Mountain... that is where we are. The dogs felt it and Rosalee was out of bed. She always feels even the tiniest of shakers. Another hit around 0315 but we felt it much less. They were not much more than a plane breaking a sound barrier, although they don't do much of that around here.

The winds are really strong today. Pretty much kills the idea of doing anything outside. The UPS man came here for a delivery several years ago and he told us that these winds and weather we feel here are not felt a thousand feet elevation above or below us. Seems we are in the "wind belt" for this area.

We took our final trip into Waimea (Kamuela) yesterday and we walked past this fellow with this bike. The tires on it are humongous. It is built like a "mountain bike" but the tires are much wider than they use. Makes me think of those "swamp buggys" that have extra wide tires for running in bogs and mud. But we don't have swamps here. Perhaps it is built this way for running on the sand?

I doubt that I could propel that thing across the level parking lot.

The 'boys' have a new brother. Or sister... not sure. I looked underneath and could not tell. It is an iRobot Roomba, a maching that turns itself on and runs around the floor sweeping up dog hair and dust bunnies. Watch out Easter Bunny!

The dogs literally pay no mind to it, unless it bumps the leg of the chair they are sleeping on, and they they get concerned. When it is running on the floor they don't even give it a wide berth, They just step over it or around it paying it little attention.

The gadget goes just about anywhere it wants. It adjusts to clean hardwood, tile, carpet, anything it runs on. It has a little bag and HEPA filter to hold its goodies it picks up. When it is done you tell it (or the programmed schedule tells it) to go home and it finds its charger base and parks itself, charging up while it sits. It has a voice that hollers at you to tell you when it needs help, suggesting what needs to be done. It tries to extract itself from most situations, but if it can't, it beeps and yells for you to come to its rescue.

We always enjoy coming here to Hawai'i, no matter what the weather or what needs to be done. This was an especially quiet time due to our not having guests over. We pick up D&D tomorrow in Kaiulua-Kona, and then we fly out the next afternoon. We have a new heat pump coming the first week back and the following two weeks should see the solar system coming in for the roof of the Carriage House. After those are done, we make doors for the Carriage House, and then maybe I can clean it out and organize things. Right now it is a respite out of the rain for that which needs to be p;rotected, but without the doors, water still gets in throug the front.

Rosalee's nephew Ed helped us place a camera in the Carriage House so that we could keep an eye on it from Hawai'i. Shortly after we were over here we were noticing a fairy or a ghost in front of the camera now and again, but were unable to identify it.

That almost looks like an angel hovering over Big Red. The visitation time is around 1700 hours. Is it a bird? What is it?

There are several cameras hanging in the Carriage House as we were experimenting with what worked best, so I remotely turned one cam up to view this cam that this diaphanous dream seems to like. This is what we found.

It is some kind of a winged insect, similar to perhaps a Damsel Fly. The camera is about six inches long, so that gives you an idea of how large this little guy is. It appears he or she enjoys the heat from the Infra-Red LEDs that light up the Carriage House.

Home Tuesday. Back to work. No more playing with the dogs. :-)


                                Ken & Rosalee


















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