Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hawaii: Day 4 ~ 40th B-day, Big Island Tour

Day 4 was my 40th birthday.  A couple years back, I realized I'd be turning 40 soon and thinking it would probably hit me harder than 30.  30 didn't seem all that significant, but 40 seemed old!  I wanted to make it fun somehow.  The topic of bucket lists came up.  I was tickled by the idea of making a bucket list and starting it on my 40th birthday.  At the same time, we were planning our next big vacation for the same year and seriously considering Hawaii.  Several relatives were interested in meeting in Hawaii and unintentionally set a date that encompassed my birthday!  It got moved a week or so back, but we wanted to go a second week anyway.  We decided to visit the Big Island the first week and join family in Oahu the second.  Of course, the first item on my list was to vacation in Hawaii.  And of course, I forgot to print the list during the hectic last week of planning.  But it was still a great day!  And I still have my list, which I plan to keep adding to and hopefully crossing items off.

I started the day reading birthday wishes on Facebook.  :)  Great way to feel loved!  I also scheduled a major activity, a 12 hour private tour around the island.  Our guide was a sweet gal who grew up there.  We got to ride in her comfy van with AC and hear about Hawaiian history and culture.  No getting lost!  No stress!  We asked her lots and lots of questions and heard great stories, like how she and her friends had rotten guava fights as kids.  Or was it papaya?  Anyway, they'd throw rotten exotic fruit at each other!

Our first stop was a coffee farm.  We sampled fresh Kona coffee, and they do NOT provide sweeteners or milk!  That would dilute the taste!  Since my coffee is usually sugar and milk with a little coffee, I choked down the lightest roast and quickly spied out a tray of honey samples.  It had a sign stating implicitly that the honey was not to be used in the coffee samples, but I figured I'd be OK since I already finished my coffee.  Although I felt a bit guilty, like I was getting away with something.  I was messing up the unique aftertaste of the coffee sample.

Our guide was a kind, spunky old guy with a great sense of humor.  We sure enjoyed his presentation.  He wasn't one of the owners of Greenwell Farms, but he said he hoped they'd adopt him.  :)  A real character.

We were given background history and introduced to the original grandparent trees that started it all.  They are still cherished, though they don't produce much.  He said after 40, they are no longer in the prime of life.  Their production goes down, etc.  I thought about asking him to repeat that part so I could record it.  Hilarious.  He had no idea I'd just turned 40.

By comparison, here is a younger tree.

Rows of coffee trees.

When the beans are ripe, they turn red and are called cherries.

The tan areas below are coffee beans drying.  The Kona area is perfect for coffee, because the weather is incredibly consistent.  There is a short rain shower at 4 p.m. every day.  He said in a whole year, it will rain early on 4-5 days, and they will need to cover the beans early.

I couldn't leave without purchasing a few small bags of Kona coffee (Kris, you got one of them!  Happy 40th!  Let that coffee remind you that you're no longer in the prime of life!  Same boat as me!) and some chocolate covered espresso beans.

Look at this view through the windshield!

I took a lot of pictures through the windshield, because it wasn't practical to pull over every two minutes.

Our next stop was  the:

We bought several doughnuts and shared them.  Delish!

Next, a quick stop by a black sand beach to see turtles.

An orchid store, which reminded me of Grandma.

They had orchids that smelled like chocolate and vanilla, and orchids in every size, shape, and color.

This picture is dedicated to Grandma.  I took this picture for you, Grandma, because your favorite color was pink and you adored orchids.  The only thing I remember you talking about when you came back from Hawaii was the orchids.  I miss you, Grandma.

I considered buying one of these cute little magnets, but I was worried it would break during travel.  They look so fragile!

One of the employees pinned an orchid in my hair.  We made sure to pin it on the correct side to show that I was not single or available.  !!

We told our guide we'd like to eat somewhere with traditional Hawaiian food.  I had loco moco, a common meal on the islands.  It usually consists of rice and a hamburger patty with gravy and sometimes macaroni salad on the side.  Can't believe I didn't get pics of my boys' food!  I must have been hungry!  Either that, or they were hungry and didn't want to wait for pics!

We stopped by a chocolate store. (Our guide must have been listening when I told her I'm a foodie.)

The displays were incredible.  A feast for the eyes.  Lots of free samples too.

We could see the process of hand-dipping through a glass.

Our next destination was Rainbow Falls, named for the ability to see a rainbow when the light hits just right in the morning.

Greg and Kylen took a path that got them closer to the falls, which they really enjoyed.

You see the tree, but do you see the man?

Their second view of Rainbow Falls.

On our way out, we got a glimpse of another feral cat.

Stopped at a couple of great viewing spots.

We took these from a wooden bridge.

An ice cream pit stop.  :)  I'm guessing Kylen already finished his ice cream.  He's a fast eater.

We saw another spectacular waterfall at Akaka Falls State Parks.

Greg and Kylen took a longer alternate trail back, and that was Kylen's favorite part of our vacation on the Big Island.

A roadside stand for coconut water out of the shell.  Kylen loved it, but it wasn't sweet enough for me.  We also tried fresh sugar cane.  It's quite fibrous.  You just chew the sweetness and spit out the pulp.  Our tour guide remembered her father cutting off pieces of wild cane when she was a kid and giving it to her and her siblings.

It was a long full fourth day.  Time to make the drive home, enjoying conversation and scenery.