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Kohala  -  2019  Spring

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In Hawai'i 3/21 to  4/28 (39 days - 424 in Kohala - 591 in Hawai'i)

 

Superstitious? Nah! This may be our thirteenth visit to Kohala, but last year, with a water leak in the kitchen back home and earthquakes and lava eruptions on this island, we will count that year as the "unlucky" year, OK?

Donna and Dennis are headed to Spain this time... with a flight from here to Texas, and a little lay-over before a flight to Florida, where they will board a ship to Spain. They plan to see friends they have sailed with before. That is always fun. Fun days relived. And, after all, that is what sailing is all about... having fun with good people. Meeting new people. Enjoying old friends. Bon Voyage!

So, we are headed over to the islands to house/dog/sit. It is always fun to see a land mass on the horizon after five hours of blue sky, blue water, and white clouds. Below is the Island of Hawai'i, the largest and southernmost member of the island archipelago that make up the State of Hawai'i. In the upper left corner is the peak of Mauna Kea, and more to the right is the peak of Mauna Loa. Out of the picture to the lower right is the peak of Kohala, the region that is our final destination for the day. Lower center is the northeast coast, the area that is basically not available to any but the hardiest that feel like climbing a  series of cliffs, known as the Hamakua Coast (Ha - ma - koo = ah). We are flying westward, across the northern end of the island, and we will land on the western coast, at Kailua-Kona (Kah - ee - loo - ah  Ko - nah), the western airport on the island. Kona stands for "west". South of Kona is where much of the infamous Kona Coffee is grown. Spoiler Alert!! Any coffee that contains at least ten percent of the blend from the Kona area can be marketed as "Kona Coffee". Check your percentages.

After landing and finding our bags, we gave Donna a call. She was waiting in the "Cell Phone Lot" and she was soon at the curb. The island is beautiful, with excessive green vegetation everywhere. They have had an abundance of rain this winter.

The image below was taken from north of the Brown's home, looking south. Rajah is asking when we are headed back to the house. This is made from three images, so you will see a couple of 'cut' lines, at the fire hydrant and one just behind Rajah.

You can see the green which is usually pretty dry this late in the spring. On the left is Mauna Kea. Above the fire hydrant is Mauna Loa. Mid-picture is Hualalai (Hoo - ah - law - lah - ee), the volcano that looms over Kailua-Kona, which is just around the tip of land to the right, in the far, far distance... under that cloud. The Brown's home is among the cluster of trees on the left, with two other homes in that cluster to the right of the road. We are standing at the end of the road, with two homes to the left, out of the picture. Not a lot of traffic up here.

I tried a panoramic picture from my phone, and below is the result. If you 'save'' the image to a file on your computer, you can blow it up and see details. It basically covers about a 180 scan. The land to the right of the white fence is an open field that has cattle grazing. For those of you that may not have seen such a device, rhe yellow device lying across the road is a "Cattle Guard" that prevents cattle from walking on the road from one field to the next, but allows cars to pass easily. Cows are smart enough tio not try walking across, since their hooves can slip between the rails and they will be trapped or injured. Horses will not do it either. The road ends just past the cattle guard, to be extended when someone develops that field in the future. Rosalee and the 'boys' are waiting for me to head back.

A major difference that we immediately noticed is that there is no 'Vog' in the air... the combination of volcanic residue and fog. It seems that Pele' is quiet... and I'm not talking about the Argentinean Footballer. The Hawaiian ancients assigned the volcanic activities in the islands to a  deity by that name... but she is a she. Kilauea (Kee - law - oo - ay - ah), the only volcano in Hawai'i that is active (other than the one south of the islands that is rising in the ocean as we speak), had a nice long rest in the second quarter of the 1900's, but has been flowing constantly since '83... until now. She is responsible for the outbreak miles to the east of Kilauea  when we were here last May. That was a rift zone accredited to Kilauea.  This volcano has a long record of eruptions, first recorded in the late 1700's, but that was not the first eruption.

Anyway, with no current flow or emissions, the skies are clear and the sunsets are beautiful.

While I fumbled to get out my fancy, schmancy, (expensive) camera, only to learn the battery was dead, Rosalee took this image with her phone. You should have seen how red the sky was five minutes earlier than this. Unbelievable.

The dogs are looking good, even though this is their tenth year. We do notice that they are slowing down, like the rest of us are, but they still have some bursts of energy. They seem to be in good health.

Dennis showed me his new lawn mower... a real beauty. Even has a couple of extra ponies under the hood, compared to the earlier one. Cannot wait to mow the lawn. :-)

So, the first day on our own is done, we are finished with dinner, Dennis and Donna are on their way, winging across the Pacific, headed to the Lone Star State. Let's watch a little TV. And, yes, Dennis changed the entertainment center... "a little". Let's turn it on... ummm... OK... ?!

 

WHICH one do I turn on? We played with it until we got the TV on and "ROKU was on the screen. That small control at bottom center says "ROKU" on it so we went from there. That gave us movies and recorded TV shows that are online from Netflix, Lifetime, and a dozen or two other sources of which we have never heard before. OK... no sound. One says Bose... and they make sound stuff, so...  try that... Bingo!  we have sound. For the first week we watched movies. Never did find "just TV". Not much there anyway. LOL.

When the house cleaner was here she laughed at the "typical man surrounded by remotes" when she saw me sitting on the couch with all these gadgets sitting next to me, but I challenged her to find out how to turn on simple broadcast TV. She spent half an hour trying... and then it showed up. Neither of us knew what the key was, but after she left, I did some "reverse engineering" to learn what was on and what was off. Surprise... to watch broadcast TV it requires EVERY ONE of these remotes to be turned 'on'.  I wrote down the instructions. One sets the volume, another changes channels. After several hours of watching, a  message comes up to say "Are you still... [fill in the blank]? Press "OK" to continue."    Um... WHICH 'OK'? Pressing all six got rid of the message.

We did manage to 'work the system', but we have mostly watched recorded 'oldies' and old movies.

We usually do a larger, major shopping trip in Kona after we drop off Dennis and Donna at the airport, since that is where the Safeway and the Costco stores are located. It is too far to drive down there too often. We purchase what we usually eat at home for dinner (fresh scallops, fresh salmon, and fresh fillet mignon steaks) and separate them into Zip-lock bags and freeze them for the month we are here.

We will make several runs into Kamuela ( Kah - moo - eh - lah), formerly known as Waimea (Wah - ee - may - ah), but when the U.S. Postal service was set up in the state of Hawai'i, each island had a Waimea town, so they had to re-name a few. Waimea is very popular in the state, and used for town names, street names, valley names, river names... Waimea translates to "red water", and there is a lot of that around here, with the islands made out of volcanic flow.

We shop at a small market that is known as the "most expensive food store in the US." We don't notice it that much, but we asked for a "resident" card and that gives us about 20% discount, and that really helps.

We noticed this bag of cereal on the shelf. Those boxes are normal size... that bag holds thirty five ounces of cereal. What do you do with that? I thought it was a  bag of pet food or bird seed. It does not seal up once opened, does not stack on a shelf, takes up tons of room... we have not seen this anywhere before.

 

About 1700 hours (5:09 pm) we got a rockin' and rollin' to keep us not needing another for quite a while. It was a heavy bang, with lots of moving, and within about five seconds... before things stopped moving, we got a second bang and more shifting. Plenty of motion. We had a couple last year, with the volcano breaking out, so we wondered if this shake opened Kilauea back up again. Turns out it was centered ten miles deep, under the volcano that is next to Kona (Hualalai), which is next door to Kilauea, but nothing has resulted from it. This time. LOL.

OK... time to try out that new mower. It has the usual "safety" devices... must sit on seat to keep it running... must depress brake to start... must disengage blades to start... cannot mow in reverse... etc.. Dennis already asked me to 'decommission' the seat switch... he enjoys that I had to do that to the old mower, due to a defective switch which no one around here sells. But, this one is more complex, tying unknown circuits into that switch. Plus, it would likely void his warranty. It does have a nice feature that allows you to turn the ignition switch to a special spot, press a button until a red light turns on, and then you can mow backwards. Not a big deal, but comes in handy doing a large lawn with lots of blind spots that you have to back out from.

You can see that the machine comes with a bagger attachment on the back. I filled both those bags up twice mowing this lawn.

I could not locate the instruction manual for the machine, so I read everything that was pasted on the dash and the floor, and got it started. I found out right off that it mows closer to the ground than the old one did, so I had to set it differently. But... she is a sweet machine and worked very well. 

 

Rosalee and the crew were hard at work... I had to snap an image of this. Rosalee usually retires well before I do, but we have been sitting here watching movies on the TV after dinner, and we usually go past midnight before we go to bed.

 

You know that I tend to put strange photos in these reports. I could not disappoint anyone this time. LOL. These large mushrooms sprouted up in the bigger lawn, and they fascinated me. Each one is larger than the palm of my hand, and the coloration was beautiful. So, of course, I took some pictures of them. Why not? LOL.

The weather was warm when we first came over this time, running in the low 80's in the day, dropping maybe ten degrees during the night. Periodically we would get a blast of rain. Looks like the lawns are getting plenty of water, with those mushrooms growing. l've not seen them here before. Then, the winds came up. So, most of our visit this time has been experiencing some heavy winds. As I type this, it is rather calm outside, and has been most of the day.

The Browns continue to run their bird feeder, which is a delight. It brings in a lot of local birds. They put out a lot of food. They get two large 10-ounce tumblers full of seed each day, and it is empty most of the day. They hit it like a swarm of locusts and then it is empty. The 'straglers'... the larger mourning doves, francolins, and infant chicks who cannot fly up to feed from the bird feeder police the area below the feeder, picking up most of what the fury up at the feeder kicks out.

We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss to the Notre Dame Cathedral. We remember it well from the time we visited it, back in '93. It was a Sunday, and there was a service being held. It was so large and dark that we could easily walk into the church without disturbing the congregation. Much of the building contained buruial sites, special seating areas, designated area... the congregation only occupied a small portion of the main area.

I will never forget standing in there, with someone playing a beautiful song, which, at the time, I recognized, on a single horn. A solo. It echoed throughout that beautiful space, and I stood with tears rolling down my cheeks. So absolutely moving. Unforgettable. We are delighted to hear that many are coming up with cold cash to restore the cathedral to her former beauty. So sad to think that anyone would try to destroy anything of such beauty. And no, I do not believe it was accidental.

As beautiful as that and many other cathedrals may be, they are only a symbol of our God. This is His real cathedral... one He builds every day, and no one can destroy that.

We got word from Donna that they both were dealing with a bad, bad cold... or something. They were flying the last day all the way from Spain, with several stopovers on the way.

We went out to get into the Buick to go pick them up, and the driver's side door handle came off in my hand. It was still attached to something inside the door, but it was dangling. I could not drive with it hanging, as it could fall off someplace, and finding a new one on the island for a car older than two weeks is questionable, so I had to look to find some tape to hold it in place. Then, I had to have Rosalee to open the door from inside.

OK, we're off, a bit late, but we got to the airport before they did. Donna had said they were considering an ambulance ride from the plane to home, but instead recommended that we pick up some face masks before we pick them up. We did, and they came from the plane in two wheelchairs. They looked like death warmed over.

I am totally amazed that they were on that plane, in the condition they were in, and they were not wearing any face masks. The people on that plane were all subjected to whatever they had. We got them into their car, and I gave them face masks, but they did not want to wear them. Rosalee and I had them on, but... No way I could convince them to put them on. They are the SOURCE of the infection, for crying out loud. THEY should have had the masks on as well.

Neither of them could hardly speak. Donna was texting Rosalee from the back seat to the front seat if she had anything to say. LOL. We got to their home and they went immediately to bed. We had not eaten, but before we could do anything about it, Dennis came into the kitchen to fix some things for himself. I offered to make something for him but he wanted to do it. So... he infected the bread, the ice machine in the refrigerator, the sliced meat, reached into the pickle jar to get a pickle, coughing and hacking all the time. Then he came into the Living Room where we were 'hiding' to try to get onto his computer. He wanted me to e-mail his symptoms to their doctors. He would not let me just take them to the doctor. Donna was burning up with a fever. He could not get his computer to work, but I don't think he was thinking clearly.

After he went back to bed, we got some 'sealed' things and took them out to our guest room, which had a small refrigerator and a microwave and ate dinner out there. After all the time it took to learn how to work the TV in the Living room, the one in the guest room is a completely different system, and we gave up on that one.

Rosalee said she stayed awake all night thinking about how we were going to get to the airport the next day. We considered asking the next door neighbor if we could pay her to drive us. Neither Dennis or Donna were in any condition to make that one-hour drive to the airport. Donna wanted to call Uber... but Uber said they would not come up into the housing gated community. She called for a taxi, and they said yes, but the driver called and asked if we could meet him at the front gate... six miles from the house and 2100 feet lower elevation. The Browns could not be asked to drive us, so we talked the taxi driver into coming up the hill. He got lost and had to call us again. He finally made it, and $125 later we were at the airport, four hours before our plane.

Donna graciously insisted on paying for the taxi ride, and we found things to keep ourselves busy for the four hours. Then we had a young 'screamer' on the plane, right behind us. One of those "I'm-gonna-scream-just-to-see-if-I-can-irritate-you" screamers. The child was not hurting at all, because it was happy when someone was playing with it. So, why didn't the parents play with it all the way home... five and a half hours? LOL.  Hey... we're home. :-)

Sadly, while we were gone, our dear friend Jim Lauderback, next door, passed away at the age of 62. He will be missed, very much. After we got home, we got word that my 7th and 8th grade teacher (he moved up with us) had passed away. He was 90, and was my favorite teacher.

Welcome Home.