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)

Welcome to Kona

on September 15, 2013

Ironman TriathleteWhen you hear the name “Kona”, you might automatically think of the world-class Ironman Competition. Or the world-famous best-ever Kona coffee.

One thing is certain: it is the hub of tourism for the Big Island.   I mean, many people come to see the Volcano, but that’s just a day. The rest of the time, most people visit Kona-side.

And why? well, for one thing, the weather is pretty perfect, and normally predictable.

The weatherman says, every day, something like: “Today will be 83° with a few minutes of mist around 3pm.”  And guess what? Every day is 83°, and every day, there’s a mist, around 3pm. Rarely a pelting rain. Rarely a “cool” day.  (83° Fahrenheit is 28° Celsius.)

You want to be able to count on certain things (like good weather) when you are vacation. Especially if it’s your first trip to Hawaii.

Our first trip to Hawaii happened to be the same weekend as the Ironman Competition, coincidentally.

We were coming to visit family, so they “warned” us of the Ironman and got inner-Island flight tickets for us at Kama’aina rate.  (At that time, there were no flights from Calgary directly to Kona, so we’d had to fly into Honolulu, which will be the topic of another blog sometime.)

Along the Ironman route“Kama’aina” basically refers to an actual resident of Hawaii, and the rate is generally very worth-while.  It’s pronounced “Comma-eye-nah” (kind of) and often you have to ask for the rate (Shop people don’t ask you if you are eligible) but you must have proof of residency to get the discount.  (To tell the truth, on the Hilo side, I sometimes can get kama’aina rate, because I blend in better there…)

Anyway, we managed to get onto the Big Island during the Ironman World Championship, one of the toughest triathlons.  Not only do athletes have to complete a 2.4 mile (almost 4 kms) swim in the Ocean, followed by a 112 mile (180 kms) bicycle race (still covered in salt water residue?), and then a 26.2 mile (42 km) run/walk/crawl to the Finish Line, they also have to deal with thick humidity, the hot sun over an ancient lava field, and cross winds.

The morning of the Ironman, I was blasted out of my solid slumber by the sound of the Starter Pistol – from our view, we could see a sea of bodies heading out into the Ocean .

By the time we got down to Ali’i Drive (the main street on the wharf in Kailua-Kona and great for experiencing all-things-Kona, including restaurants)MmmmmmMai Tai for breakfast, the triathletes were zooming by on their bikes.

And, after a day of overall relaxation and laziness, and just breathing in the thick humid air, scented with Plumaria, we settled in for dinner and mai tais near the Finish Line, and watched those amazing athletes finding their way to the finish line!!

After months and months of what I can only assume is grueling training, athletes must first qualify and be accepted to run. It’s not like you can just show up and participate.  Rigorous training (an average of 7 months, according to the Ironman website) including weekly swimming (7 miles/11.3 km), biking (232 miles/373 km), and running (48 miles/77 kms).

This year’s Ironman competition is October 12th, and approximately 1800 athletes are expected.

Amazing! I would like to say that I was inspired, but… well, I can say I was “awed”.

Coffee Shack, Plantation in backgroundSpeaking of “awe” about things I won’t be doing – one of my friends (who also happens to be family) decided to make her own coffee.  And, not just “make myself a cup of coffee”, but since she happened to live on a coffee plantation at the time, and since Kona coffee is, after all, world famous, she decided to start from scratch.

She went out and picked coffee berries from the bushes.  She followed all of the intricate steps in between, and then roasted the coffee beans. Then she ground them.  She made 1/2 a cup of coffee. … It was DELICIOUS!

But NOT worth doing again…

It’s a good thing, then, that you can buy coffee EVERYWHERE.  You can buy it at kiosks on Ali’i Drive. You can buy it at Walmart.  You can buy it straight from the Coffee Farmer. You can even buy it on line.  I’m not saying it’s all the same quality, and you have to watch for “blends”, but it is available.My Kona Coffee

You can also tour some of the Coffee Plantations. One of them is Kona Joe Coffee.  (They also have a nice lunch and an amazing view.)

Normally, coffee plants are bushes or shrub-like, but at Kona Joe Coffee, they have mastered a way of growing coffee on trellises, like grapes in vineyards.

From what I can understand, the advantage of trellis raised beans (or, as I’m reading, coffee cherries, not beans) is that they have a more dispersed exposure to the sun, and that enhances the quality.

I’ve tried Kona Joe Coffee, and it is GOOD!  I’d have to do proper taste testing to determine which method is my favorite … I love coffee! I love trellised coffee…and I love “shrub” coffee…

One thing is for sure! I LOVE KONA COFFEE! any which way.

Kona SunsetSomething else for which Kona is famous: THE MOST Brilliant and Amazing Sunsets! (Will discuss those more later..)

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2 responses to “Welcome to Kona

  1. Hi! I nominated you for the Liebster Award. If blog awards aren’t your thing, that is perfectly okay. Just please take the nomination as a compliment.

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