Thursday, June 30, 2011

Our Last Day On The Big Island

Bear with me as there will be quite a lot of the story of King Kamehameha I, the warrior and statesman, in this final entry about our trip. 

Jan in front of the "original " King Kamehameha I statue

Sunday, was our last day and night on the Big Island of Hawaii.  My friends, Jan and Sherb, had generously scheduled an extra day on the Island so that they could show me more of the sights of this birthplace of the Kingdom of Hawaii.  

Early Sunday morning, we set out to visit the secluded valley where Kamehameha I was raised and to drive through the area where he was born and finally to visit the “Temple on Whale Hill” where his quest for a united kingdom began.

We set out North on State Highway 19 from Hilo to visit the great canyon where the coast road turns inland at the Waipio Valley because of the rugged terrain of this part of the island.  

We passed through beautiful pine forests shortly before we stopped at a 1950's style drive-in restaurant for a breakfast of hot, cinnamon sugared "malasadas." 

Breakfast on our last day - Sherb and Jan

A Malasada pastry - this photo taken during the Annual Punaho School Carnival
Malasadas are Portuguese style pastries fried in deep fat and then coated with different flavorings and spices.  They are a favorite morning pastry on all the Hawaiian Islands.  I ate only 3 of them!  Or, was it four??

Our route was North along Hwys. 19 & 270 and return.

On our way to the Valley, we passed through the area where Kamehameha I was born. We turned-off the highway to take a look at the North Kohala airstrip.  

I have just learned, as I research for this entry, that at the airstrip we were just 1.6 miles from Kamemhameha I’s birthplace at the large, ancient Mookini (MOO-key-knee) heiau (hey-OW) (temple or sacred site) that was dedicated to human sacrifice.  We did not visit this site.

There are photos and a story about the birth at the North Kohala area’s webpage.  Click below.

There is a very informative article in Wikipedia about King Kamehameha I’s life in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia Article about King Kamehameha

Panoramic view of Waipio Valley from the overlook

Traveler Al at the Waipio Valley overlook

It requires a 4 wheel-drive vehicle to descend to the floor of Waipio Valley on a very steep, narrow road that passes the valley overlook.  

Black sand beach at Waipio Valley

It is a beautiful valley with a black sand beach.  I believe that there is a campground just back of the beach, but I could not be certain.  Some farm buildings are visible a mile or two inland from the beach.  

The valley is the Southern border of a part of the big island that is very isolated and rugged.  Access is limited to rough 4 wheel drive trails and fire roads.

King Kamehameha ! - Warrior & Statesman

The birth of the child,, Kamehameha I, was the fulfillment of prophecy by the Kahuna (kah-WHO-nah, or priests) that a “King Killer,” a great warrior king would be born who would unite all the Hawaiian islands into one kingdom rather than the four or five holdings of constantly fighting chiefs on the various islands.

Young Kamehameha in training

Park Service explanatory sign about the Islands' Early Power Structure

At birth, Kamehameha I  was immediately in danger from his enemies. The infant was taken by runners to be hidden – ultimately in Waipio Valley.  The story of the journey is similar to the stories of the flight of Mary, Joseph and the infant, Jesus fleeing Herod - out of Israel to Egypt.

Kamehameha means “The Lonely One” because of the isolation of his early life.

After visiting the Waipio Valley, we made a rest stop at a very pleasant café for some excellent pineapple upside down cake and sodas at the town of Kapaau (Kaw-paw-Ahh-oo)

Cafe across from the "original" statue in Kapaau

Kapaau town was named (where the blanket was in the water) after an incident during the flight from his birthplace; when the infant’s tapa cloth wrap was splashed while crossing a stream as the infant was taken to Waipio Valley.

The Main Street in Kapaau
The “original statue of King Kamehameha” that was intended to be placed across from the Iolani Palace in Honolulu now stands in the town of Kapaau.  The ship carrying that original statue sank on its way to Honolulu.  A duplicate statue was made from the molds and successfully placed in Honolulu.   In 1912 the original statue was raised from the sunken ship and then placed in the town nearest Kamehameha I’s birthplace.

The town of Kapaau near King Kamehameha I's birthplace

Our drive circled the dormant Kohala volcano as we followed the road around to its end at another grand valley and canyon, the Pololu Valley.  This area is frequently used along with Waipio Valley to make movies and TV shows.  

Panormic view of Pololu Valley Overlook, the Northern Border for the Kohala Forest Preserve and frequent filming location.
I am including a photo of an off shore island near Polou Valley that was used as the background in many aerial shots as the “Island of the Lost Boys” in movies about Peter Pan and Captain Hook. 

Island used for the "Lost Boys Island" in Peter Pan movies

This area is  ranching country and reminds me of high, wind-swept areas of the Pacific Coast Highway in California.

Back Country Mule

We passed a few oddities as we drove along the lonely coast roads; a tree adorned with empty beer bottles, a beautiful home with lots of acreage and an interesting modern sculpture in the backyard.

Beer Bottled Branches

Large home with a modern sculpture

We made a short stop at a secluded State Park on the shore where the small beach is littered with many rocks.

Rock littered state park beach

We now started our return trip by joining Highway 270. As we proceeded to the Southeast along the coast, the terrain changed to very dry, windswept, rocky, grass and brush filled hills along the ocean.  It looked like a hard place to eke out survival, yet it was the location of populous villages in ancient times.  We were able to stop to see one of those ancient seaside sites.

Ancient Village Site

The type of shelter used in ancient times.
 We continued towards Kawaihae (Kah-WHY-ee-hay) Bay that was once a busy sugar-port but is now a quiet, small town with a lovely State Beach.  

National Park Service sign about Kawaihae Bay

Sugar mill (in background) at Kawaihae port - panoramic view
State park at the beach in Kawaihae

There is a small railroad station dated 1930 at one side of the pier. The railroad on the island lost its financial support when the great days of Hawaiian Sugar ended in the 1970’s.  

Abandoned railroad station and offices
We had a very late lunch in Kawaihae.

The Temple on Whale Hill or Pu'ukahola Heiau

We then visited the Temple on Whale Hill or the great Pu’uokahola Heiau  (Poo-EWW-oh-KAH-hole-ahh).  I will let the photos of the National Park Service’s descriptive signs explain the site.  My thanks to the Park Service once again for their excellent materials.

Sacred since prehistoric times

The forms of a heiau

About the name of the heiau

What was the heiau like?

Test stones to try to lift - No Thanks!, Too heavy for my bad back!
Artist Herb Kawainui's concept of what the heiau looked like

Kamehameha's Struggle for Power
A sea battle prior to foreign influence

Foreign influences aid Kamehameha I 

The final battle in Kamehameha I's consolidation of the Hawaiian Islands
Our apartment is under three miles from the site of the battle at Nu'uanu - Pali (High cool place - cliff.) 

The cliffs of Nuuanu-Pali now.

We spent an hour or so at the great heiau before heading back to Hilo. We passed through the busy town of Waimea.  

We made a stop by the ocean to view the site of a tragedy caused by tsunami waves sweeping away a small seaside community back in 1946.  More than half of the victims were children and young teens.

Once again we retired early to make it to the Hilo International Airport for our 6:30AM flight back to Honolulu on Monday morning. 

My thanks to my friends, Jan Medeiros and Sherb Valli, for a very busy and interesting 5 days attending the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival and for showing me the many great places to see on the Big Island of Hawaii. I will also say “Thanks” again to our hosts, Sharon and Robert, for the comfortable place to stay during our visit.  

I learned a lot about Hawaii, King Kamehameha I and Hula in a short time.  I hope that my writings and photographs have helped you to learn some new things as well. I encourage everyone to visit the magnificent State of Hawaii.

Please share the links to this blog with your family and friends and feel free to make comments - they are what keep me going.

Next time – King Kamehameha I’s Birthday Celebrations including a photo of the current young, Pretender Prince who is 3rd in line for the throne of Hawaii should the Monarchy  ever be restored.

Should you use my photos for non-commercial use, please give me photo credits.  Please contact me for any commercial use of my photos.  All photos are taken with a Canon G-11 digital camera.  I use a mono-pod to assist the image stabilization circuit in the camera since I am a "shaky Jake" most of the time.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Saturday – Parade and Last Day of Hula Festival

Saturday – Parade and Last Day of Hula Festival

We had breakfast at a local fast food place that the Hilo locals seemed to prefer.  We then spent the morning wandering around downtown Hilo waiting for the Merrie Monarch Festival parade to start.  
Early morning, central part of Hilo, Hawaii

Looking South - Central Hilo

Municipal Buildings in Hilo, Hawaii


A small burger place on a backstreet, Central Hilo, Hawaii

Big Island Candy Company - Great  handmade candy!

Farmers Market, Central Hilo, Hawaii


The sun was quite strong making it a warm, humid day.  I sat in the car reading quite a while Sherb and Jan wandered around the central part of the town.

Start of the Merrie Monarch Festival Parade

Parade Queens with their Pa'u (Pah-OO) mounted honor guard

Merrie Monarch Festival - The Royal Court in the Parade

Not exactly the Rose Parade, but it will do !
Later, we returned to our friend’s home to nap until it was time for the last evening of the Festival.

Once again our dinner was hot dogs or a rich beef stew that was available at the refreshment booths at the festival arena. 

Jan and Sherb at the Merrie Monarch Festival
The Royal Court was again announced by conch shell trumpeters and a herald as they crossed the stage to take their special seats and the dancing began again. (Photos of the Royal Court are on the previous blog page.)

Trumpeting the arrival of the Royal Court

This part of the competition was reserved for the less classic ‘Auana (Ahh-oo-AHN-ahh) form of hula.  You will remember that the more classic and formal style of hula, Kahiko, was performed the night before.   

And, I hope you remember that the songs or chants or stories that the dance is performed to are called “mele” and are performed by the various “Halau” – groups of dancers.

1st Place - Wahine 'Auana - Hula Halau 'O Kamuela, Oahu, HI

1st Place Winners for 'Auana Style Hula

1st place winners with a bold new move - spelling out the word "Oahu" as part of the mele. At the right is one of KITV Channels 4 and 5 camera crew

1st Place Winners - Kane (Men's) 'Auana Style Hula

The mele is a tribute to Duke Kahanamoku, a legendary surfer and Olympic Athlete. Performed by Halau Kaleo Trinidad, Honolulu, Oahu

2nd Place Wahine 'Auana - Halau Ki'alaokamaile from Wailuku, Maui

2nd Place Kane 'Auana - Halau I Ka Wekiu - from Pauoa, Oahu

2nd Place - Kane 'Auana style of Hula
3rd Place Wahine - 'Auana - Halau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniakea from Kane'ohe, Oahu

3rd Place Kane 'Auana - Halau Hula 'O Kahikilaulani from Hilo, Hawaii

Here are some un-captioned photos of contestants from other halau who competed the second night of the competition.  You will notice the striking variation in costume styles for the less formal, more contemporary 'Auana hula style.

The photos are taken using a Canon G-11 digital camera using available light.  I use a mono-pod to help the image stabilization circuit in the camera to overcome my "shakiness."

The location of the great seats that aided my photography efforts were thanks to Jan Medieros, who reserved them about 8 months before - on the first day the tickets became available!

I hope you enjoy sharing the journey and my photos.  Please share this blog site with your friends and family.  I reserve all rights to the photos for any type of publication and commercial use.  

Your comments are my pay - I enjoy receiving them.

Next time - Sunday - A drive to Waipio Valley and a view of Peter Pan's Island of the Lost Boys and the Temple on Whale Hill.  This will be the last page about my trip to the Big Island - Hawaii.