Day 1, The Day After Christmas – We rose up early on the day after Christmas to catch our flight out of LAX heading for Kona, HI. We had our warm weather clothes, and snorkeling gear, packed and ready to go. Warm water and sunny beaches beckoned from 5 hours plane travel away. Our family group consisted of Gretchen (the master planner), Darwin, Axel, Megan, and myself. We were only short Kris. He had to work unfortunately.
At LAX we had to check our bags at Terminal 2 and then walk to Terminal 3 to catch the Delta Airlines flight. It was pretty early, but all of us managed to survive the long bag check line and the trek to the other terminal where we rejuvenated ourselves with coffee. Soon we were on the plane, plugged into our various electronics, and on our way to Kona.
We arrived just before noon to beautiful weather. I love the tropics. There is a feel to the air you that always reminds me of warm thunderstorm afternoons, salt water, and fun.
However the fun would have to wait until we succeeded in getting our rental car from the Hertz compound. The combination of too many customers, a shortage of ready cars, and counter personnel with misplaced priorities slowed us down. Eventually the line cleared and we were in possession of a large Nissan Quest minivan that I came to think of as the Silver Whale. I will admit that I was not fond of this car, but it faithfully hauled us all the way around the island. For such a large car, we were surprised by the lack of storage space, and the sight lines around the forward windshield pillar and large rear view mirror were atrocious.
Finally, loaded into the Whale, we turned left out of the airport heading north to the Waikoloa Resort and the condominium that Gretchen had rented as our base camp for the next 5 nights. The resort is amazingly large and built upon an extensive lava field. Evidently, in the 1970’s an enterprising developer discovered that you could grind up lava, mix it with some soil, pour vast amounts of water on it, and come out with a lush, green resort. It stands in stark contrast to the surrounding black lava, and is a little like visiting Disneyland without Space Mountain.
Our first destination was lunch. It would set a pattern of us having late lunches for most of the trip. So, around 2 pm we pulled into the Tropics Alehouse. I would say the food was ok and it gave us a nice place to unwind from the flight, and car rental, and enjoy a beer. After lunch we stopped in the local grocery store to stock up on essentials and more beer. Then it was off to our condo, about 5 minutes away.
We settled into the condo, sorting out the rooms and the bags, Gretchen set out to get our condo clubhouse pass, while the rest of us lazed about reading or internet surfing. Around 5pm, we made the short trek to the clubhouse to take in the view, swim in the pool, and have some drinks. Sunset was around 5:50 and the club has a sunset and sunrise ritual of blowing a conch shell to the 4 cardinal compass points. I have assumed that this is derived from Hawaiian tradition. Somehow there is also a bagpipe involved. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know.
While at the club, Gretchen struck up a conversation with a woman named Jennifer. Jennifer has spent a large part of her life visiting the area with her parents. She was at the clubhouse with her kids and mother who we ran into her. She gave us some hot tips of things to see and do while in the area. Her first tip was to visit the pacific island art displayed at the Hilton next door. The second tip was to eat a the Lava Lava Restaurant. And the third tip was to visit the Kona Coffee plantation (something we never got to). Jennifer – We had a great time seeing the art and eating at Lava Lava. Thanks!
We eventually made our way back to the condo in the dark where I cooked a simple dinner of pork chops, salad, and bread. By that time it was 11pm Los Angeles time and past my bedtime.
Our plan the next day was to eat breakfast when everybody was up, go snorkeling at ‘Anaeho’omalu Bay, eat lunch, and then do the Dolphin Encounter at the Hilton in the afternoon.
Aloha. The story continues tomorrow.