Lazy procrastination or adoption of 'Hawaii time'? - you decide.
Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 8:04PM
Michael Amstein

I was recently reminded that it has been two full months since my last blog post. It is amazing how fast the time has been flying by. Although we have been spending the time doing a whole lot of nothing, we have also accomplished a significant amount of sight seeing and poked our heads into almost every nook and cranny on this Big Island. On a personal note, Colleen and I have been through several gyrations regarding our future on the island and what is next for us (more on that in a future post) but for now, sit back, relax, and enjoy this photo blog on the last several weeks of our adventures. 

I promise (myself) to try to be a little more diligent about updating this little mind dump of mine - it is nice to get these random thoughts out on virtual paper if for no other reason but to have something to look back on in a few years. I must admit, however, the 'apopo mentality (mañana for us southwestern folks) is very contagious. It is experienced most readily here when visiting the DMV. The fine government folks on the island are very nice, but most definitely on Aloha time.


One of the fun things we recently did was visit the Hawaiian Chocolate farm and factory. This is a little place very close to Kona where a guy has about 10 acres of Cocoa trees and (according to him) is the only place in the US, where you can get 100% US grown and produced chocolate. He and his little staff of 7 have a small production facility where they grow, process, ferment, temper and mold some pretty good chocolate. - not that I frequently experienced BAD chocolate - 


 This is a shot of one of the cocoa pods freshly plucked from a tree. Apparently the pods ripen continuously throughout the year and the trees had lots of pods in various states of growth. The trees are harvested every other week or so. Inside the Cocoa beans are covered by a slimly, sucrose based mucus layer that the local gecko's absolutely love. As soon as he cracked it open on the table, the little guys literally came out of the woodwork to grab a bit and then scurried back off for a yummy breakfast.

The covered beans are put into a sweat box, where natural fermentation occurs and as a result the temperature increases significantly. This melts off the sucrose layer leaving behind the bean.


Once out of the sweat box, the beans are dried on open tables


They are then ground, mixed with vanilla and tempered before being molded into yumminess.


Next stop, we head over to a little place called the Paleaku Gardens. It is a very interesting hybrid of several influences. Initially a Buddhist temple, it has morphed over the years to include influences, and separate, but combined, side by side homage to many different religions, including Islam, Christianity, and even Atheism. One of my favorite areas is the Carl Sagan galaxy garden. a spiral shaped flora layout with many arms that you can wander in-between intermixed with fountains and secluded benches. At one point, on one arm of the galaxy, there is a little baby sign stuck in the ground that says 'you are here'


There is a display of several of these Buddhist sand paintings. This one took two monks, two weeks to complete and has no glue or mold. Should a small tremor from Pele choose, (frequent here) it would be lost.


The flowers here are unusual and vibrant


there were probably 10 different types and colors of hibiscus.


These pacific pines are one of my favorite


You can't help but feel tranquil when walking among the gardens


This is the majestic main walkway


and one of the cooler trees


this little guy was about 3 inches long and had spun an amazing web, about four feet across. Colleen was less enthused with the handiwork.


Just down the street from the gardens is the painted church. Its pastel frescos with a tropical theme lend an entirely different take on church art. I imagine this is what Michelangelo would have produced, had he consumed a couple two many Mai Tai's


Moving randomly across the island now, and not fitting into any particular category are some notable things like this driveway gate found along Alii drive.


A cool old rusty jeep that lives next to an outhouse and random old gas pump.


And the ever present horde of gecko's that invade every lanai space on the island. In this case, someone had put out one of those little while jelly packets, leading to a steady stream of amped out Strawberry Jam filled "Freddy's"


One of the pervasive flavors on the island is Liliquoi (passion fruit) - and they can be found growing wild along the side of the road.


I have often spoken of the work I have been doing while here with Advocats. This is one of the feral's in a colony that I feed. We have named her Beba 2 (after our Cat Beba that is now living with a friend on the mainland and looks - and acts the same - they are both also very well fed…..


One of the best things about living here as been the steady steam of visitors who have come to visit - Here is my Stadium EMT partner Sara, and I on the summit of Mauna Kea


And, of course, just hanging out and doing nothing. In this case with the most beautiful woman in the world, sharing a lava bowl full of sangria at the Lava Lava beach club at A-Bay.


A- Bay ( or Anaeho'omalu bay for the locals) be we can't pronounce it, always has turtles on the beach. This one appears to have missed the cleaning station on his way in for an afternoon nap.


Here is a better view of A Bay


One of our favorite things to do is head up to the resorts and hang out on their beaches. Because all the beaches on Hawaii are actually public, all the gated resorts have to let you in to access the beach. Many have incredible facilities that nice to spend the day at. They make their money, however, and we always partake in their pool side bars, that serve icy cold albeit it a tad expensive local barley pops.


When we are not gallanting around the island, we also spend a bunch of time around our complex infinity pool. Here we have met several other fun folks, and have enjoyed several dinners with other complex residents.


It is a good thing we found this particular vegetation growing on the Hilo side in the Botanic garden. 


This is also were you can sit and ponder your thoughts, while listening to an amazing waterfall……  try it (below)

30 seconds of tranquility


Also while in Hilo we headed up to Rainbow falls. The falls themselves are actually not that spectacular. what is, however is this Banyan tree. The picture does not really show the perspective very well, but I could not reach the lowest branch (yes it's that big)


Down in the Puna district there is some amazing vegetation and small, single lane roads covered with vegetation like these really tall trees that completely canopy the road.


We also hit Volcano national park again. Here is the caldera at night, under a full moon


and one of my favorite parts, the Thurston Lava tube.


This is the overlook, over the Kilauea iki, a section that erupted in 1959. Now you can hike down and walk across it (although we have not done that yet)


We did manage to hike over to one of the more interesting sections of crater rim drive (now closed to cars) but you can still hike along it for about a mile to the area of a bunch of ribbon craters, that last erupted in 1984, and covered the existing road.


What do you call a selfy, that includes your wife? a couply?


one of my happiest accomplishments thus far was to both find the old road (not easy) then accomplish the trip, to the top of the old twin cinder domes next to Kua bay (commonly referred to as the Butt, because that is what it looks like, sticking out of the landscape). One of the most difficult 4-wheel drives I have made thus far, the sand and gravel are deep and at one point I had Jethro up to his differentials. But I made it!


Sitting on top of the world, or at least my little works for the moment, enjoying the view of Kua bay below


In May, Colleen headed back to the mainland to help our oldest move into her new place. Meanwhile I got a little lazy with taking out the recycling.


However that week I did participate in a charity walk…..


with my AdvoCats peeps (yes, it is true - I have officially turned into a crazy cat lady)


Also, while Colleen was away, I spend the requisite time going through the online classes at Padi and became certified to dive. The local dive shop, Jacks diving locker was great and I have now logged 5 dives. It's funny. I really thought I would like it more. However, my overall take on the experience has to be summed up as  …. meh 

I'm glad I did it, and I  want to dive with the manta rays still, but what is all the fuss about? - I guess I was not destined to swim with the fishes, for I really just don't enjoy the experience that much. Check it off my list as been there done that…. Next?


The next week Colleen returned and soon after my baby Taylor was here. - I loved spending a week with my little girl showing her our favorite beach.


THIS, is why we moved here.


Tay met a local honu at A-bay


…. and got a 'tako' on her leg (… just henna)


One of the best waterfalls on the island is Akaka falls near Hilo


One of the other things that is amazing about this island is the diversity of geography and geology. Like this black sand beach on the South side.


I tried - but could not even accomplish my artwork before a wave came and already started to claim it back.


Tay and Colleen at cocktail hour…. Buggy is coming in July!


We also spent the day one recent Saturday volunteering for the Ironman Honu half triathlon. The athletes are amazing - and a little bit nuts. The fastest pro did it in 4:06 with average folks taking 6-8 hours.  The whole Ironman in October should be very cool to watch.


We helped out at the swim / bike transition.  Here is a shot of the calm before the storm, while most of the athletes were still in the water.


After the race, we spent the afternoon at the Fairmont Orchid, soaking up the sun and again, patronizing the beach bar.


This is actually a shot of a piece of art from our condo. I'm not sure why it speaks to me, but it does….


Again, - we spend the day at Kua bay, now outfitted with a new Tommy Bahama umbrella!


On a recent hike along the shore we came a cross this rock in a very remote place. - not so remote, however, that someone hauled a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the day.


Also of note are these pieces of rock / coral scattered about that appear in interesting shapes - this one like an engine block?


The island teams with ocean life. On a walk along the shore recently we came across this crab, now we know it to be called a 7-11 crab for its spots. It was huge.



Well - thats it for now - Apologies again for the long post - but that takes us through the beginning of June. - Still on the bucket list while we are here; to see actual lava flowing into the ocean. - Also brewing in my head, more thoughts about island fever - a potential job / career opportunity and what is next for us in our Hawaii adventure.





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