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Kohala  -  2017 Spring

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In Hawai'i 4/22 to  5/27 (36 days - 520 in Hawai'i- 353 in Kohala)

This is our eleventh trip over to do our 'job' in Kohala (Ko haw' law), at the northern end of the island and county of Hawai'i, in the state of Hawai'i. We find everything pretty much the same as before, but everything a little more grown over. It is neat to have watched the yard plantings around the house mature over this last decade. That makes us feel a little more 'connected' to the area.

The weather is a little cooler, and the winds are here, but they are off and on, and not a constant blowing. That helps to have the little 'breathers' between the heavy winds.

Dennis has a 'job assignment' for me: the main v-belt that connects the two blades under the lawn mowing machine is wasted and he has ordered a new one. It should come in maybe a week or so. This is the same mower that I have done a lot of physical/mechanical/electrical work on in the past. I don't mind doing that. Anything that may be a little difficult for Dennis to accomplish, and I have tools here to use to do the job, I don't mind doing. It helps him out and 'pays' for my room-and-board. LOL.

Donna and Dennis have a flight out of Kailua-Kona (Kaw  ee lew ah   Koe nah) Sunday afternoon, and after we dropped them at the airport, we went the next nine miles on down (south) toward town to do some shopping that will enable us to maintain our "Paleo" diet that we started several months ago.

We stopped at Safeway for supplies, and stopped at Costco for their packaged Fillet Mignon to freeze for our evening meals, some Salmon to do the same with, and they did not have the Cod that I like, but they had their wonderful Scallops that I love.

We had lunch in 'Kona', and headed back 'home'. We moved our things from the guest room into the Master Bedroom, and settled in for the month.

The second week, Rosalee's childhood neighbor and friend, Marilyn (Bray at that time) and her husband Jim who live in Pismo Beach, California, were coming over to spend a few days with us, and then they planned to rent a car and spend most of the week discovering the island together.

Aloha  -  Jim & Marilyn

They had a long flight... they flew from San Luis Obispo to Phoenix and then to Kona... nearly 8 hours in the air. San Francisco to Kona is 5 1/2 hours... not nearly as bad as their flight.

We had a nice visit together... this was their first time to the island. It is always a joy for us to show others 'our' island, which this has come to be, considering we have been in the state for more than 500 days.

One adventure that we had planned on was a trip down into Waipio Valley (Wah ee pee oh). It is one of our favorite locations on the island, and because of the popularity of the trips, we reserved our time weeks in advance. Rosalee and I have visited the valley twice before, during 2009 when Kent and Linda were visiting and again in 2014 with Rosalee's niece and nephew, Ed and Andi Myers, when they visited. You can re-visit the valley if you click on "Kohala 2009 - Fall" and "Kohala 2014 - Spring". I will include some images taken this time below.

Waipio Valley Overlook

That beach down there is the "Longest Black Sand Beach In Hawai'i" we were told, and it is nearly a mile long. It does not look that long from up here. There are six more of these valleys along this coast, and the only access to them, other than from the sea, is by a small walking and horse/mule trail over that hill.

We were not pleased with the tour this time, in that the guide was supposed to pick us up at a little store but he was nearly a half hour late. On the tour, he was so soft spoken, no one could hear him if they were more than a few feet from him. The fact that he left the sliding side door or the van open all the way to the valley floor and back up did not help with the road noise.

But the valley is beautiful. Just don't ride with Bob.

Views From Waipio Valley Floor
This is one of the homes that was along the road to the store where we started our tour. This is not in the valley, but along the northern coast of the island, which is called the Hamakua Coast (Haw maw kew' ah), and stretches from Waipio Valley down to Hilo (Hee low).

Hamakua Coast Home

Something that we have noticed from the first time we visited Hawai'i is that when planning on building here, the materials that you use are a critical choice. The rule to remember is this: "Regardless of what you build with, it will rot, or rust, or the critters will eat it within a very short time." Most roofs here that last at all are metal, but they are powder coated from the factory, so that they cannot rust. Concrete works rather well, and one home we saw in Kauai  (Kaw oo ah ee) looked like a thatched roof, which is made from grasses normally, but it was actually fiberglass. This roof in this image is clearly regular galvanized roofing. As you can see, it does not last forever. More expensive homes are covered with clay tile that is fired and they have a glazed surface that looks like ceramic tile. That should last.

Jim is a retired college professor and pastor, so he was intrigued by the thought of attending church Sunday in the "Oldest Christian Church In Hawai'i", or at least that is the claim that is made. It is the Mokuaikaua Church in Kailua-Kona. That's Moh - koo- ah - ee - kah - oo - ah.

We attended this church in 2008 with Walt and Janet Jameson when they were here with us, so we were familiar with it. This image was taken then, but the church has not changed at all. It was threatening rain when we visited this time.

The message was good, and the congregational singing was excellent. It is wonderful to hear a beautiful hymn sung in the beautiful Hawaiian language. The service was entirely in English, but the one song was done in Hawaiian by the choir.

The congregation of the church dates back to 1820, and the church was completed in 1837, The walls are solid volcanic rock and mortar and are about three feet thick.

Captain Cook, who is credited with being the earliest European visitor to these islands landed a mere twenty miles from this location in the late 1770's. It was after his landing here that Christian missionaries came to the islands and brought Christianity to the islands, as well as a written alphabet and the start of their written history.

Cook, incidentally, was killed in a skirmish with the natives over their stealing one of his rowboats because they wanted the iron fittings. Iron was unknown to the locals before the sailing ships came to the islands.

After the service was over, we walked down Ali'i street, which is the main street of Kona. Ali'i (Ah - lee - ee) street translates in Hawaiian to God. We went into a nice restaurant that we have enjoyed in the past. We rejected a table outside that was next to the water, since it was sprinkling. We chose another table next to the water, that was mostly under a canvas overhead. Before our food came, we decided to move to the table next to us, that was more inside the building, because the wind had come up and was blowing the rain in under the canvas.

The wind came up rather suddenly, and everyone started moving inside. The 'wall' of the restaurant was a series of folding doors that we pulled closed, but they could not 'legally' latch them when they were open for business, so Jim and I sat our chairs to try to hold the doors closed. The wind was winning on that one.

Not five minutes had passed since we had moved from our original table before we had our meals served, but before we could eat it, we heard a loud crash. Looking over at the table where we were sitting we saw this:

An Oceanside Table For Tree...

This ancient tree that has stood forever came crashing down on the railing along the table where we were first sitting. The man running the restaurant said that he was closing, but to go ahead and finish our meal. That is the beautiful Kailua Bay in the background. Cruise ships that visit the Kailua-Kona area anchor off-shore and the cruisers are tendered into shore to visit the stores and restaurants. Jim and Marilyn said they came back to this restaurant to eat on their last day before leaving Hawai'i. We ate here several times, the last time being last year with Darlene when she came over.

We seem to offer a lot of interest to our 'guests' that join us here... last year when Darlene was coming over, there was a hurricane watch that was grounding a lot of flights in and out of the islands, but her United flight came through. Now this, with Jim and Marilyn here... we learned later that a business near where we were eating lost a roof in that little gust of wind.

When we walked out to the front of the restaurant, Ali'i street was flooded from the quick and heavy downpour while we were eating.

Ali'i Street In Kona After The Storm

Within a few minutes, this water had all drained away. I was surprised it drained that quickly.

I did get the new drive belt for the lawn mower in a UPS delivery, so I went out and attached it. About an hour was all that was needed. The most difficult part was figuring out which little lever (that holds the loose belt from flying off the pulleys when you disengage the belts) had to come off, to allow the new belt to be put on.

Dennis has been having trouble maintaining the battery for this mower for years. I suggested a small battery charger some years ago, and it has been working, but not as well as it should. This time I recommended a maintainer device that not only charges up the battery, but it cycles the charge so that the battery will not sulfate (go 'stale' for lack of a better word) when it is not being used. The lawn only needs mowed every couple of weeks, and the mower has a built-in alternator to charge the battery, but it does not run very long when cutting the lawn.

The maintainer came, so I wired it into the battery permanently, and it has a disconnect that allows the charging part be left in the garage when mowing the lawn. I also found out that the positive lead of the battery was loose, which can also be part of Dennis's 'engine-starting' problem.

Overnight the maintainer charged the battery up over 90% of its charge, and that was enough to start the engine six times in a row, before the battery dropping to a lower voltage than is capable to start it. That should be adequate. I suspect the battery is not totally functioning properly, as the cranking motor does not spin as fast as I think that it should. We will see how things go.

We need to pick up the mail down near the lower gate coming into this gated community, and after three days the box will become too full, so we need to 'go out' at least that often. Also we pick up the paper at the front gate. So we plan our runs into Waimea to coincide with those duties.

Also, our haircuts don't usually last as long as we are in Kohala, so we go to a beautician down near Waikoloa Village (Wah ee ko lo ah), where Donna's mother (Clyde) used to live. The beautician actually bought Clyde's rental unit that she had. While we were getting our haircuts, we went on over to the Queen's Shops to have lunch, at a Macaroni Grill restaurant that we enjoy.  After we ate, on our way out, we passed a table with a couple that were dining and he asked us how our dinner was. We struck up a conversation with them. He went by Dr. Joe, and was retired from the medical profession. He is 85 and they have lived here for 27 years. He was a team doctor for the L.A. Rams and another team that Rosalee and I both forgot the name of. They were very friendly and were a little 'welcome committee' to the islands. They enjoy doing that. We talked about the medical situation here in the islands and he said that it was much better than what we hear being told. He has had a heart attack and he told about how well he has been treated here for that and other situations that have come up. It would have been nice to spend more time with them. They seemed like good folks.

The dogs have been fine this time over. Dennis put up a bird feeder that is fun to watch. We do enjoy seeing the birds. We saw so many the first time we came here, but we suspect it was because we were broadcasting bird seed out over the lawn to feed "Turkey Lurkey". After he left, the birds seemed to be gone as well. When the dogs came, they seemed to do a number on the birds as well, as they run out immediately if they hear one fly into one of the large windows, and they usually get the bird before it can recover... if it ever could. Most don't survive a window strike. So now, with the bird feeder, many birds are back, but the hunting is good for the dogs. That is not too pleasant.

The dogs are amazing 'mousers' however. They seem to catch mice better than any cats that we ever had. We try to find the dead mice before the dogs will eat them, as the dogs do not need that in their guarded diet. Rosalee went out and found two dead mice on the Lanai (Lah nah ee) yesterday, and they were large mice. I chucked them over the fence outside the dogs' reach. We were not well liked by the 'boys' for a while. LOL. Tough nookies, boys!

They do not allow anything to go on without everyone knowing about it. They raise a ruckus, even if they hear a dog bark a mile away, no matter what time of day... or night. We have been leaving on one light and restricting their access to the outside at night... just letting them into their limited 'run' for potty purposes, and they have been much better at night. They are good dogs.

Back in 2009 Rosalee and I were privileged  to visit a couple on the south side of the island at their home. They live on 70 beautiful acres of Hawaiian jungle, which is in itself surrounded by more of the same. The access road is paved, but it only has a centerline now and again, and probably has no more than one hundred consecutive linear feet lying in the same straight line or all at one level. Crooked and hilly would be a possible description. And jungle is on both sides of you. But it is beautiful.

The family consists of Sydney Singer, his wife Soma Grismaijer, and their son Solomon. You might say that they live 'off the grid'. A lot of their electrical power comes from solar energy and they are literally self-sufficient. They grow most of their food right on the property. And yet, they are only about twenty minutes from town, and another thirty perhaps to Hilo, the largest city on the eastern half of the island. They live fifteen miles from Kilauea (Kee lah oo aa ah), the volcano that has been actively flowing since the eighties (and for eons before that, obviously). Last year, when the little town of Pahoa (Pah hoe ah) was threatened by lava flow, encroaching on the town, had it crossed the highway, this family would have been physically cut off by road. That can be rather devastating to normal life. Fortunately that threat is not currently present, or at least presently threatening. But only a fool can bet against a volcano.

We know this family because Sydney and Soma are the medical anthropologist team that made the remarkable discovery that the wearing of a bra has a great influence over the incident rate of breast cancer. Their first book, "Dressed To Kill"  that documented their research on the subject came out in the mid-nineties, and started the current and seemingly impossible up-stream struggle to share that information. The multi-billion dollar undergarment industry has spent untold fortunes and made unbelievable effort to stop this information from getting out. Another industry that opposes this research is the manufacturing of breast cancer diagnostic equipment such as mammography machines. Many women each day are ignoring these industry's efforts by simply removing their bras to find extreme relief and great comfort, and an immediate reduction of breast tenderness and pain, as well as a reduction of breast lumps and cysts.

We were delighted to see their son Solomon at home. He is currently doing college work that takes him away from this little bit of Heaven. Solomon is an amazing young man, which is no surprise considering who his parents are. He has lived most of his life here on this 'nature preserve', and he was completely home-schooled through his entire formal education.  Before he was seventeen years old, he was teaching others how to ride horses bareback, where they use their legs and feet to direct the horse, he possessed the highest level of licensing given by the FCC in communications, and he was instrumental in bringing the internet to that part of the island. He also possessed a private pilot's license. Since then, he ran for district supervisor, and has started his college career. He began in pre-med, which is not too much of a surprise with his parents' educations, but we were told he recently has decided that he was just too much involved in the physical engineering side of life so he is changing his direction to computer science.

I lifted this image of Solomon from a video that is on the internet that he and his parents did about their latest efforts. They are very active in the natural life of the island. They were actively dealing with the animals in the area that were recently threatened by the "vog" that was invading the area from the volcano. The animals were  in danger of asphyxiation. Kilauea, the volcano, is about fifteen miles to the west of their home.

In Hawai'i's history there were places that were called City of Refuge, where an accused person could come, eluding the accusers, and if they reached the "city" first, they were forgiven their transgressions, or able to avoid a false accusation, and there were many of those. The Singers consider their property to be that City of Refuge. The protection is not intended for people, however. It is for a little critter that is considered to be an "invasive species", like every other species that came to these islands as they formed, including the people. These little guys are called Coqui Frogs. (Ko Kee). They make a chirping call in the evening and it bothers enough people that they want to poison them off the island. Of course, they are not too concerned about all the other animals and plants that will be affected by this eradication process. And of course, it will not work. Here is the video:


In the past, (1883) Hawaiians (sugar growers) were troubled with the fact that many rodents were being brought to the islands on sailing ships. The ships' crews did not take precautions to prevent bringing the critters to the ports. With rodents invading the grain in the fields. the locals decided to bring in something that would rid the island of the rodents. They brought the mongoose. No, that is not a bird, but a short-legged, long-bodied little guy that is supposed to kill the mice.

Sadly, they did not study the situation long enough and they ended up being invaded by mongooses (yes, that is correct) in the day and mice at night... they never see each other. They now have two problems and red faces. There is more than $50 million damage annually to birds, insects, turtles, fruit, and the seriously threatened State Bird, the Nene Goose. But, the "experts"  continue to make unwise decisions and act before thinking.

Sydney took me for a ride on their six-wheeled vehicle they use to feed their many animals. We drove down into the property and he showed me some beautiful trees.



These trees are Rainbow Eucalyptus trees. They are not native to the islands, but are vary rare in number here. The bark keeps changing colors as it grows. The interior wood is pretty much white like most eucalyptus wood.

Life on this nature preserve is pretty rustic, but with the weather things are more open than most are used to. They have a pond in which they raise Tilapia fish for consumption and they have a heated pool and spa. A large exotic orchard provides fruits that you do not find at your Safeway Store, and a huge garden provides daily veggies. They pick a coconut when they want fresh coconut milk, and goats provide milk all year long.

We had the pleasure of sharing some time and discussing issues and family. It was a very nice part of our stay here. After we went home to Pleasanton, Sydney offered the opportunity to "house-sit" for them while they do a lecture tour from May to August. What an opportunity that would be. I would kill for to do that, but it would just not be feasible.  I don't think Rosalee would be up to it, but how I would love to be able to accept that challenge. Four months in a remote and extremely private Paradise. Wow!

On our way home, the Brown's Buick which they graciously allow us to drive while we are here, signaled that we had a tire inflation problem. We were just coming into the south of Hilo, with another two hours of travel over a 6,000 foot pass ahead of us. The last we wanted was tire problems with more than fifty miles between us and the next civilization. God is good... a service station and next to it a Firestone Tire Service business. The service station was self-serve and it had no air hose, so I asked Firestone and they jumped right on it and aired all the tires up. One was lower, and I ask the young attendant if he could tell if it had a leak. He listened and sure enough, he heard air leaking from the valve. A simple tightening of the valve core and it was taken care of. That light could have come on half way across the pass and it might have leaked down before we got home. I did check for the spare and it is one of those little "donut" spares that limits your speed and distance to fifty miles. That would not have been good. Thank you, God.

All the way home, however, the low inflation light was still on. It did make things uneasy. We certainly do not want to do any harm to the Buick, but the tires were ok. After we were home and had a restful night, I went out and pushed enough buttons on the dash that a message on the panel came up saying "Reset Tire Inflation Alert?" Yeah!!! I pushed and it went out. Case solved.

The Browns are in Germany, looking for information on Donna's family history. They will be coming home before the end of the week and we will be heading home. I have some roof work waiting for me there.

Coming home from Waimea yesterday we had the first clear day from the View Point along the Mountain Road that we take to get back to Kohala Ranch. I had to stop and take a picture.

You can see the old lava flows coming from the left, flowing to the right, to the western side of the island. The latest flow out there is about a hundred years old, so it is starting to be covered by plant growth. In the image, I am looking south-west. Kohala mountain is to my back, and I am literally standing on a lava flow from that mountain, but from the grass and trees, we know the flow happened long, long ago. The last flow from Kohala was about six hundred thousand years ago, so that's a pretty old flow. You can see from this that the northern end of the island is 'older' than the southern end. The oldest islands are to the north. A new island is 'growing' below the sea surface to the south. There is another 'point' of land protruding out to the right, farther away than that lava flow. It is almost at the cloud line in the image, and almost reaches the right side of the image. Around that point is the airport on the Kona or west side of the island, and just south of that is Kailua-Kona. The Brown's home is another six miles behind the photographer.

As we got to Kohala Ranch and turned into the upper gate, this is the view that we had (the lava flow in the picture above is still visible on the left half of this image. We are looking to the west, slightly south.

You can see that the area is especially green this year. They have had a lot of rain this year compared to the past decade. We have had three inches in the time that we have been here. All of that blue that is below the white clouds is ocean.  This road at this point is very sloped... it is a low-gear hill, unless you like to burn up your brakes. That is a cattle guard across the road just up ahead. We are at 3,000 feet elevation at this point, and will drop down to 2,000 feet to reach the Brown's home.

The clear weather allowed us to have a nice view of the next island over... Maui. We can see the island's main volcano, Haleakala (Haw lay ah kah lah) or Hale -a -kala  which is Hale (house) a (of the) kala (sun) pointing up above the clouds, reaching a bit over 10,000 feet elevation.

This was taken from the side of the Brown's home. This is their view to the north. I'm not sure what bird that is flying just over the roadway. I did not see him until I cropped the image. I'm not sure how far away he is, so I have no idea how large he is. I know there are no large raptors over here though,, so it is probably not too far from me. I know that Hawai'i has a large black bird that I would call a Raven or Crow, but I'm told that the Hawaiian Crow is now extinct in the wild.

And we can end this with a sunset.


When Donna and Dennis first left on this trip, Dennis was having some back problems. During their trip Donna posted that he was continuing to have back troubles, and that some of their planned events were cut back a bit. When we picked them up at the airport, Dennis was in terrible pain in his back. He seemed much better after a night's rest in his own bed, and the next day, before taking us to the airport, he seemed in good form.

A week after we were back home in Pleasanton, Dennis had some troubles and went to the local ER. He ended up having serious problems, and they flew him to Honolulu where they said that he literally died several times on the table from heart problems. It was several weeks before he was able to return home. Meanwhile, Donna needed to be there as well, so good friends and neighbors jumped in to care for the dogs.

We have since heard that he is doing well, and he is ready to travel again. They have asked if we would be available to go over the end of April and all of May, so hopefully he is feeling well and will be soon able to travel again. They do love to do that. Good Luck, Dennis.