Hawai'i One-3, Day 8: Hawi Doin'

We awake on another day in paradise, but even in paradise we feel the need to keep in shape; so we decide to check out the exercise room at our hotel and see what kinds of equipment it has.

The exercise room is actually a repurposed ground floor hotel room, and not exactly a large room at that, so there isn't much they can do with it -- there's a treadmill, an elliptical, a recumbent bicycle, some free weights, a small bench, and a couple Pilates balls.  Lucie starts off on the treadmill and I give the bicycle a go, but quickly find that as with most exercise bicycles I can't adjust the seat to where my leg doesn't bend to the point of pain when pedaling, so I move to the free weights.  We work out for a half hour or so, with Lucie moving to the elliptical and bicycle as I focus on the free weights, utilizing the Pilates ball for wall squats, and opening the sliding door and planking using the lanai wall facing the ocean right in front of us.  It's not the best exercise setup, but we certainly can't complain about the view while we're working out.

After exercising, we head back to our room and prepare for the day.  During our last visit to the Big Island, we had wanted to stop by Hawaii's favorite celebrity chef Sam Choy's new restaurant Kai Lanai; however, the construction had been running on Island Time and didn't open on time before our arrival, so we missed out.  This time, however, the restaurant has been open for a while (not surprising, as it's been over two years since our last vacation) so we figure we can try them out for an early lunch before heading up to Hawi... but due to our being maybe a little too casual and relaxed on our vacation we don't bother to check out the restaurant's hours before we drive there, so we end up arriving about 45 minutes before they open for the day.  D'ohh.

No worries -- we decide to try them again some other time, and instead of waiting around until the doors open we opt to drive up to Hawi and have lunch at one of the places up there that we've read about.  We head up along the Kohala coast highway one more time, much like we did for the Hilo trip; however, at the point where yesterday we headed inland toward Waimea staying on highway 19 we instead turn left and take highway 270 along the coast.  It's a beautiful drive, hilly and mostly straight, with an outstanding ocean view almost the entire way.  It's pretty windy, but seeing as we're in a convertible with the top down the wind doesn't really matter to us.  This stretch of road is what they use for the bicycle portion of the Ironman Challenge, which definitely gives us a huge amount of respect for the athletes for not getting distracted by the scenery and riding off the cliff and falling a hundred feet into the ocean.  Oh yeah, and maybe that whole healthy lifestyle thing too, but mostly it's the willpower not to ride off cliffs.

We eventually arrive at the small artist colony town of Hawi, find a parking spot, and wander the stores for a bit.  Our first stop is at the Kohala Coffee Mill (surprise -- a coffee store!) where we grab a refreshing coffee beverage, and head upstairs to the kava and fudge shop located on the second floor.  We don't bother with the kava -- not for us, thanks -- but we do get some fudge for later.  I get the Mexican chocolate, a dark chocolate flavor with cinnamon hints, and Lucie goes for the tiger stripe, a sweeter and more intense version of the Reese's peanut butter cup with peanut butter in white chocolate.  With the fudge threatening to put us into a sugar coma there's really no need for kava anyway (not that it's something I'd ever drink regardless.)  Needing something more savory after sampling the fudge, we look for one of the restaurants we'd read about before our trip... unfortunately, though, the popular local spot Bamboo isn't open on Mondays, so that's out; and we hear from one of the coffee mill employees that the Lighthouse Deli, home of what is supposed to be a downright fantastic reuben sandwich, suddenly closed about two weeks ago without any notice.  Bummer.  We decide to find someplace further up the road, so after one more walk up down the main street through town (lots of blown glass and lampwork jewelry, ridiculously expensive carved koa wood furniture, and the entertainingly-named-but-has-nothing-that-fits-me store Alohaman) we get back into Betty and drive a few miles into the small artist colony town of Kapa'au.  Lots of small artist colony towns in Hawai'i.

We park at the North Kohala Civic Center in the center of town and visit the main attraction, the original statue of King Kamehameha I (originally made for Honolulu but lost at sea en route near the Falkland Islands in the 1880s; the replacement is in Honolulu but the original statue, found in 1912 and restored, is in Kapa'au near Kamehameha's birth place.)  It's shortly after noon when we arrive and the statue is on a small hill facing west at the top of a set of stairs, so it's a bit of a challenge getting a good picture of the statue without the sun blinding you, but I manage.  The statue itself is impressive, historic, and (sort of) appeared in an episode of Hawai'i Five-0 this season, but apparently is too aloof to sign any autographs or anything, but that's okay; we still pay our respects to the bronze dude, and to another nearby memorial for Hawaiian veterans, and also to the King's View Deli across the street for a cold drink and small bite to eat before looking for a real meal to satisfy us.

We find lunch at Fig's Mix Plate, where we share a loco moco.  The burger patty is ground beef perfection, crunchy char on the outside and smoky flavor, roughly the size of a hubcap; the macaroni salad is a bit too heavy with the mayo but otherwise good; and the plain rice is raised to new heights by the best stinkin' soy sauce ever, Tabasco brand spicy soy sauce, which I desperately try to find at every store in Hawai'i for the rest of our trip but am unable to procure.  We belatedly realize that this might actually be the first real mix plate we've eaten on vacation, which is surprising as well as a kind of nice indicator that we're willing to branch out with our culinary endeavors.
Heading back along the coast, we make a few stops at scenic points we saw on the way up, most notably at Mahukona Beach Park... this is a state park without an actual beach ("mahukona" in Hawaiian is "false harbor"), an old port with an abandoned building nestled amidst picnic tables; a former property of the Kohala Sugar Company.  Back in the late 1800s it was a railroad stop and sugar mill, and became one of the busiest ports on the Big Island despite being destroyed by a storm in 1911, and which was shut down and eventually abandoned during WWII.  There's still a run down but impressive building behind a safety fence, a concrete pyramid lighthouse, and parts of the sugar mill and even a sunken ship that can be seen by snorkelers about 25 feet beneath the waves.  It's not much of a beach per se, and snorkelers need to climb up and down a ladder to get into the water to avoid the lava rocks along the shore, but the scenery is outstanding.  We relax for a bit, take a few selfies, listen to the waves and watch the rock crabs scuttling around the water's edge, and then get back on our way.

A bit further down the highway, we take another stop at the Mauna Lani Resort and Rich Person Storage Facility, where we take a brief walk down to the water at Holoholokai Beach Park and dip our feet into the ocean (much more accessible than at Mahukona Beach Park) but opt not to take the half hour hiking path out to see the petroglyphs they have there.  Another few miles down the highway we also drive around the Waikoloa Resort and Secondary Rich Person Storage Facility, through the shopping centers they have, and I find myself entertained by what could be perceived as the gender-biased difference between their Queen's Marketplace (featuring shops such as Lids, Starbucks, Crocs, and Sunglass Hut) and their King's Shops (with the much more costly Coach, Luis Vuitton, Tommy Bahama, and Na Hoku Jewelers.)  We don't actually want to shop here -- and in the case of the King's Shops probably couldn't afford to anyway -- so we continue driving along the coast back to our hotel.

We spend the remainder of our day in full-on relaxation mode, watching the sun set from our lanai, then heading down to the mai tai bar for a drink, then getting a couples massage from the hotel's spa, and finally having another drink or two at the bar before heading upstairs to bed.  the tropical drinks are sweet and potent, the massage is therapeutic (though a bit too vigorous in Lucie's case), and the sunset is, though obscured by clouds at the horizon, still beautiful.

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