Biggest Ball of String

Our road trip adventures, quirky roadside attractions, generally in the United States or Canada (and with occasional travel off the mainland into Hawaii, Alaska, Caribbean and Europe – so far)

North Kohala Coast and Waimea

Once upon a time (1878),  Thomas R. Gould, a sculptor from Boston, living inKing Kamehameha I Florence Italy, sculpted a statue of King Kamehameha I.

Now, the way I heard the story is that there was a debate over where the statue should be placed – the people of the Big Island wanted to for North Kohala, where King Kamehameha was born.

The Government Seat, though, is in Honolulu, and the plan was for the statue to be placed there.

Well!  Mr. Gould forged the sculpture in Italy, and sent it off to Honolulu by ship.  The ship sank somewhere around the Falkland Islands, near Cape Horn, and the statue was lost at sea.

Mr. Gould made another sculpture and sent that one, again, to Honolulu. That one arrived safe and sound and was erected in in front of Aliiolani Hale (Hawaiian State Supreme Court), and dedicated in 1883.

Pololu ShoreBUT THEN, in 1912, the original statue was recovered, restored, and guess where it now sits!  North Kohala, in a little town called Kapaau.

I don’t know which town is which, when I remember them, but there’s Hawi and Kapaau, and they are only  about 2.5 miles apart.  So, if I tell you all about it, and you get there and it’s not how I explained, just go on to the next town.

Here’s what I know: there’s a little boardwalk, quirky art stores, galleries, and ice cream parlor and patio, some yummy little restaurants, and a grocery store.  I think, technically, you Hawicould spend a whole day walking that 2 block strip and going in and out of stores, and stopping for coffee and lunch.  (I think it’s Hawi.)

Pololu Valley OverlookBut, we (each time) have been passing through – to and from Pololu Valley Lookout.

  Actually, this year is the first year that I’ve hiked down INto Pololu.  Totally worth it. Take water.  (And your inhaler, if you need one.)

Pololu PathWPololu Pathway

Pololu Valley is like the sister valley to Waipio Valley, and in fact, you can see the jut-out from Waipio if you look way beyond Pololu.

It is about 1000 feet deep and cuts into the Kohala Mountain, and the Pololu Stream runs through it.Pololu Valley 3   (By the way, further inland, Pololu Valley is Privately Owned, so you need to stay near the Shoreline.  I guess there are tours, too, that can help you navigate properly.)

Hmmmmm.  There was a tour and trail that went to, and around, Kapaloa Falls.  Apparently, the waterfall dropped 300 feet above and 200 feet below the trail! However, the trail was destroyed in Hawaii’s big earthquake a couple of years ago, and there’s no access anymore… Keep your eye out, though. Maybe someday it’ll be re-opened?

It’s ANOTHER spectacular view from the Pololu Valley Overlook and I completely forgot to add it to my Top Favorite Views on the Island. (Obviously, the almost entire Island is beautiful and my list of “Absolute Favorite View” is growing…)
Pololu Valley 2Pololu ValleyPololu Valley 1

Enroute, between Waipio Valley and Pololu Valley is Waimea, also known as Kamuela. (“Kamuela” was adopted later (because of some confusion with the Postal Service) in honor of a resident named Samuel Parker, but Waimea is the original name and means “reddish water”. )

We haven’t spent a lot of time there, but always like driving through the little town of just over 9,000 (according to the 2006 Census).   It’s a “western” town, partly made up of Hawaiian cowboys (Paniolos) who work on Parker Ranch, and the Stop Signs say “Whoa” instead of “Stop”.  🙂

It’s a good place to stop for lunch or dinner, or to pick up your supply of Parker Ranch beef at the local grocery store.  (For non-meat eaters, the veggies and fruit are generally locally grown too, and high quality.  It is Hawaii, after all.)

Just down the road (30 minutes South of Hawi and 20 minutes West of Waimea) is Hapuna Beach.  I’ve talked about black sand and green sand beaches.  This is the WHITEST sand beach I’ve ever seen!

HapunaThere is now a $5 entrance fee for non-residents, but not only does that include almost 62 acres of fine, white sand, but it has restrooms, drinking water, lifeguard services and is right beside the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, which has restaurants and lounges, and, of course, accommodations.

Hapuna 1

OK! So if you’ve been looking at a map at all, you will know that we’ve gone around the whole island, and are now coming down the stretch to the Kailua-Kona area.

Many would say I saved the Best for Last 😀 (refer to my Kona vs. Hilo blog!) I love both sides for different reasons.  But, for a certainty, without bias, Kona-side as ALOT to offer!

We are going to talk about… the Seahorse Ranch next. And, Petroglyphs, I think.


GlobalFest Calgary

Every year for the past 5 years, and not because it’s a holiday, not because it’sFireworks 3 the Calgary Stampede, and not because the Calgary Flames won the Stanley Cup (heh), I can hear the “pop pop pop” of fireworks in the distance – AND if I climb on my roof, I can see some of those that shoot high into the air.

Fireworks 4

What’s happening, you wonder? in the middle of August?Fireworks 8

Calgary’s Globalfest.

It’s a 5 day International Fireworks competition.   Teams come from around the world to display their Fireworks show, and compete with other countries.Fireworks 16

This year, I finally made it! (Thanks to Jessica for getting the tickets!)

We went on opening night and watched the display from China, which, I’m certain, has to be the most spectacular, since didn’t they invent them once upon a time?

Globalfest is kind of a “picnic” atmosphere – bring a blanket or lawn chairs (beach chairs are better than lawn chairs, really – better angle and nobody angry behind you…) We had GREAT “seats” – thanks to Amanda, who went at 6pm when it opened and set up camp (we showed up around 8:30.
seating 2)seating

There are cultural food and other display pavilions set up around the Park4 buckets please (Elliston Park) where you can sample different items… we had Mini Donuts … because we could!  mmmmmm sooo yummy! pavilionsThanks to Chris, who stood in line for who knows how long to get buckets of donuts.  And entire bucket (35-38) for $13!  (Plus, the bucket came with a lid, so that’s handy, too, when you are sitting on a sloping hill.) 

Fireworks 15There’s also the OneWorld Cafe and International Bar, which serves alcoholic beverages from around the world.  (Didn’t have a chance to try this out – after Fireworks 2walking to the Park, we just wanted water!)

Speaking of walking to the Park – parking is atrocious in the vicinity of GlobalFest.  There are places that advertise that you can park in their parking lots from $5-$20, for the convenience.  And that might be a great deal if you are in a position that you are unable to walk (health reasons maybe?) but if you can get there on foot, it’s better to park further away and walk.

The City shuts down the main road (17th Avenue) going passed the Park, and it remains shut down until the streams of people in the street, coming and going from the Fest, have cleared.  Which means those who are parked nearby are stuck in that parking spot for a long, long, long time after. Fireworks 20

I’m not going to say where we parked, but we found good, safe, legal parking, for free, 12 minutes walking distance away…

As mentioned, we went on the night China represented, but other countries participating this year are/were France, Great Britain, and the United States.Fireworks 9  (The Grand Finale is this coming Sunday – August 25th.)

Speaking of Sunday, more about Hawaii – the North Kohala Coast of the Big Island.


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Hamakua Coast and Malasadas

Not quite as tall as the Hi’ilawe Falls, and not as ummm… petite… as Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls stands out.  It fallsAkaka Falls straight down 442 feet (129 meters), and you can semi-easily get to it’s Overlook.  (“Easy”, in that there are pathways right to it, and “semi” in that there’s a lot of stairs, so if you need your inhaler, take it with you.)

Hiking to Akaka Falls is a nice walk through bamboo forests, passed Kahuna Falls (100 feet), oversized trees and huge flowers.

There is now a $5 parking and access fee (for non-residents) , which was a big surprise to me, but still worth going. (The parking area is about 11 miles North of Hilo, and through a cute little town, Honomu, where we stop each time to buy water (which we always forget), ice cream, and browse through antique bottles displayed at one of the shops.)
Akaka Walk

Akaka Falls is on the Kolekole Stream, and just past the turn-off is Kolekole Beach Park.  You can see the beautiful scene from the bridge that goes overhead, but it’s gorgeous inside the park, with bridges and trees covered in moss, a waterfall off to KoleKole Beach Parkthe side… it’s a bit isolated, though, in my opinion – even though you can see it from the road… and people live in the trees in tents… I mean…maybe they were just camping, but they weren’t excited that we were there… Although, one of my friends who lives on the Island says it’s sKoleKole from under Hwy 11afe, so it probably is… Beautiful, anyway – if you just want to take a peek….

KoleKole Beach Park shore

Before you get to the turn-off to Akaka Falls, though, pay attention to the small sign on the right side of the road (coming from Hilo ) that identifies the 4 mile scenic loop.  It might say “Onomea Bay Scenic Route”…I can’t remember. (Coming from Hilo is the best angle because you are on the outside lane, overlooking the cliffs and Ocean.)4 mile loop

Don’t assume that you can just zoom down the road in a few minutes – be prepared to pull over on the side of the road for random hikes and photo opportunities.  There are roads that take you down the side of the cliff, right to the shoreline. (One such road also takes you to the back gate of the Botanical Garden. They have a gate with a gate keeper – you can’t (and shouldn’t try) to sneak in.  However, you can get a nice glance at the Gardens – enough to consider paying the price to go in.)

It’s normally open 9am to 5pm, everyday, and is only $15 for adults!  It’s approximately 40 acres and contains over 2000 species of tropical plants.
Tropical lily?Botanical Garden

About 1/2 way between Hilo and Honoka’a (which is our final destination on this particular blog) is Laupahoehoe, and I have to tell you – the view is MAJESTIC!! (Especially if you are coming from the Kona-side, through Waimea.)

On our very first trip to Hawaii, we landed on the Kona-side, which is beautifuLaupahoehoel, but more…dry…and doesn’t smell like greenhouse… and wasn’t exactly as I had imagined Hawaii to be.  BUT, as we drove around to the other side (through rolling hills and fields of pear cactus) and then came around this corner and there in front of us was a view of Laupahoehoe, I actually gasped out loud because of it’s beauty!Laupahoehoe, I think

(This same gasp triggered a …uh… reprimand… from Peter, who was driving, and thought something had jumped in the road – or some other disasterous event which might initiate a “GASP”!)

Amazing view! Amazing!  On my Top 3 on the Island!  (The top 3 really are all tied for #1. I can’t really say which is the most spectacular… but, there’s Laupahoehoe, Waipio Valley, and the view of Whittington Park, near South Point, especially coming from Kona.)

Speaking of Waipio Valley, Honoka’a is the Gateway to Waipio Valley.

It’s a cute little weather beTex Drive-inaten town, which I love.  BUT it’s BIGGEST claim to fame is TEX DRIVE IN!!

What is so great about Tex Drive-in you wonder?  OK! I am not exaggerating when I tell you that they have the world’s GREATEST Malasada!  (I confess – I’ve never had them anywhere else, but I am convinced that there is no way that they could be any better than they are here!)  They are so good and so appreciated in Hawaii, apparently, there is Malasada Day! (I just learned this, just now.)

Have you tried Malasada? Wikipedia defines: “a Portuguese confection, made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulated sugar.”  … Basically, they are like… a light airy doughnut, without the hole in the middle, and often filled with something yummy, like strawberry, or chocolate, or lilikoi.  Mmmmmmmmm…
Malasadas freshly madeMalasada

They make them in the morning, and you really should be there FIRST THING!  They open at 6:30am.  The earliest I’ve made it there was 9am, and they had already sold out of their most popular flavors.Not the normal way to eat Malasada

(I found a recipe for “Tex style malasada” on  I’m 100% positive they won’t be as good if you try to make them, but don’t let that discourage you!! I might try, too, because I’m CRAVING THEM now!!)

Not sure what we’ll be talking about next week – I think the North Shore of Hawaii… for now, all I can think about is Malasada!

(Or, I might interrupt my Hawaii theme with a short blog about Global Fest, here in Calgary.  I totally forgot I have tickets to go, so it depends – might write something for Wednesday…)

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Rainbow FallsHi’ilawe Falls (and it’s twin, Hakalaoa) are the tallest waterfalls on The Island (not the tallest in the State (Olo’upena Falls, which is  2,953 feet (900 meters), but it is the 138th tallest in the world.

Nowhere near the tallest (it’s “only” 80 feet tall (24 meters) but estimated to be one of the most photographed waterfalls in the world, is Rainbow Falls (Waiānuenue, which means “Rainbow Water), in Hilo.UpRiver from Rainbow Falls

The Falls is really beautiful, but probably the main reason that it’s photographed so often is because the parking lot goes right up to it, so it’s very easy access.

There’s a nice little walk upriver from the parking lot, and if the water level is lower, you can climb along the rocks shaped and carved by the swirling water.

Nearby, are The Boiling Pots and Pe’e Pe’e Falls.Pe'e Pe'e Falls

First of all, it’s pronounced something like: “Pay-ay Pay ay”, just so you know.

Fed by the Wailuku River, Pe’e Pe’e Falls is runs along, finding its way through and around old lava tubes, creating rapids and careening through pools that make the water look like it’s boiling.

Which brings me to the “second of all”: the Boiling Pots aren’t hot – they are more “roiling” than “boiling”.  (Just thought I’d clarify, since there’s so much volcanic activity – thought it could be a No Swimmingsurprise to find out that the water is cold.)

There are warning signs and swimming is not allowed… that being said, the first day I went, I witnessed this:
Boiling Pots
TERRIBLE Idea – but people do it. There’s a bunch of things to keep in mind (in an effort to talk you out of it): Depth of the water (or lack of depth), speed of water, the fact that this pool dumps over a steep cliff immediately, into another deep, fast-moving, pool, and the fact that there’s more than one ledge you have to clear, even before you hit theMy Cronies meal water…

We always kick off our Hilo-visit with a trip for lunch at Cronies Bar and Grill – I get popcorn shrimp and a Hilo Hula drink every time.  I’m always really hopeful that someone else will order their Bucket of Onion Rings, and then be willing to share, because they are SO GOOD!!

Cronies is right on the main strip alongside the wharf, near the farmers market, the Kava bar, and Cafe Pesto.

Cafe Pesto is YUMMY! And entirely different atmosphere than Cronies – they serve such foods as Smoked Salmon Pizzette, Wild green salad, and chicken and wild mushroom risotto.  (I think that’s what I had – can’t find my pictures…)

Awa JuiceKava Bar

If you go to Hilo at the right time of the year (April), you should go to the Merrie Monarch Festival.

The Festival is a week long, celebrating Hawaiian arts and culture. It includes art exhibits, performances, a parade!Merrie Monarch Exhibition and a 3 day hula competition!  Tickets to the Competition are hard to come by (and by “hard to come by”, I mean “almost impossible”), but there is also one day that is a hula exhibition that is free to the public.

However, it’s so popular, you have to line up hours in advance (we, fortunately, had a friend who was willing to sacrifice his day to stand in line – thank you Don), and then hope that you can get in! (There’s limited space, so chances are – you could stand in line and still not get in…)

The seats are REALLY uncomfortable (concrete bleachers), and the show is really, really long, so maybe bring a pillow or something to sit on.   (I was sad we couldn’t stay till the end…. no pillows… next time!)
Merrie Monarch Exhibition 1Merrie Monarch Exhibition 2
If you meander down Kalanianaole Avenue (starting at Ponds Hilo Restaurant), there are many snorkelling and kayaking and beach opportunities – we’ve only driven by, but will eventually give some of the places a try.  We were told to go to Richardson Beach Park, but there’s also Leleiwi Park, Wai O’lena Beach Ponds EntertainmentPark, Carlsmith Beach Park, Kealoha Beach Park, Onekahakaha Beach Park, Reeds Bay Beach Co Park, and Keaukaha Beach Park… Seems like a good selection!

Ponds Hilo “Restaurant on the Edge” is on the corner of Kalanianaole Avenue and Banyan Drive, which I discussed in my last Hilo blog.  For years, I’ve been wanting to go there for dinner, and finally made it this year! Not only was the food DELICIOUS!! but they also had live entertainment – jazz, the night we were there.
Tiger Shrimp FettuciniAlmond Joy maybe?

Check out Hilo – I think you’ll love it! Kalanianaole Ave

Next week, Hamakua Coast.


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Waipio Valley

I found a painting of a beautiful waterfall, and the Gallery Owner toldWaipio Valley Overlook me that it was Hi’ilawe Falls!

Hi’ilawe Stream empties into the Pacific Ocean right in Waipio Valley.

Waipio Valley is, in my opinion, THE most picturesque place on the entire Island!

You can see the most Amazing VIEW right from the top at the Overlook Point…which is the easiest option…

The steep cliffs are about 2000 feet (610 meters) above the Valley floor, so going IN to the Valley is complicated!

You can either:
1) drive in – which is the scariest option! You are not allowed to take in a rental vehicle, and the vehicle must be a 4 wheel drive with low low low gear.

On your way down the hill, you must yield to upcoming traffic – if they have to shift, they can possibly roll off the cliff.  When you look over the edge of the cliff into the trees, you will see carcasses of vehicles that Hi'ilawe Riverdidn’t quite make it.   Also, don’t wear your seatbelt, in case you have to jump out!

When the road in is classified as “a road”, it is the steepest road of it’s length in the United States, and maybe even then entire world (says Wikipedia), gaining “800 vertical feet (243.84 m) in 0.6 miles (0.9 km) at a 25% average grade”.

2) take a tour, which will take you in by van, recreational vehicle, or donkey

3) make friends with a Local, who knows how to drive in AND/OR who is ok with abandoning their vehicle

4) hike – which isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s so steep, it’s recommended that if you do hike in, you leave enough recuperation time before you climb back out…

We went in by “Local”.  My brother, who had been down into the Valley at least once, and who didn’t mind abandoning his vehicle – in fact, seemed like that’d be part of the great adventure!

We arrived safely at the bottom of the Valley right where Hi’ilawe Stream empties into the Pacific Ocean, after meandering through the Valley, towards the Black Sand Beach at it’s mouth.  (On the way out, we were propped up in the bed of his little pick-up truck, and it’s seriously so steep, I was practically standing against the tailgate to keep fromWild Horses sliding out!  For us, that’s the only option.  There’s no way I’m hiking in.)

There, we were surrounded by gigantic trees, with “wild” horses grazing here and there – I say “wild” because I don’t think they are owned by anyone, but they have perfect manes, so I Tiny Girl in the Land of Giantscan’t be sure. (I was TOLD they were wild, though.)

Waipio Valley is called “The Valley of the Kings” and was the home to King Kamehameha I and other royalty once upon a time.

So, remember we wanted to find Hi’ilawe Falls, and didn’t realize there was a path, so we decided the best option was to go straight up the Hi’ilawe Stream.  (This was a good idea in theory, and worked out well – but some of the Locals were keeping an eye on us to make sure we were safe (we didn’t realize this until we were safely out of the canyon) because of flash-flood warnings…)Pink Mountain Apple?

Anyway, for the most part, we were in the Stream and once in awhile, when it was too deep or the rocks were too big to climb over, we hiked right beside the River, through giant blades of grass (could be Ginger or something besides Grass, but I liked feeling like I was a tiny person in the Land of Giants), and over fairy-tale-like pink carpeting (which I’ve since learned was, I think, Mountain Apple (Hawaiian name is possibly “Ohia’ai”).

It was a beautiful hike!

Hi’ilawe Falls was impressive – it’s such a tall waterfall, it makes white capped waves when it hits it’s pool.  It’s two tiered and (apparently-reports vary) the first tier is in the 200 foot range, and the main tier drops 1400 feet!!  (Some reports say 1400 in total, and some say it’s 1600 in total… doesn’t seem like that should be that difficult to confirm…)

THi'ilawe Falls 2here’s a second (“twin”) waterfall called “Hakalaoa”, which dries up on occasion, but yay! for us! we got to see THREE waterfalls that day!

Either way, it’s REALLY magnificent!

Hi'ilawe FallsHi'ilawe Falls 3Hi'ilawe Falls 4

Next week, hopefully, back to Hilo.


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