After going to see the lava we played, “What more injuries?” Cheryl and I were just too punked and Linda’s hands not healed enough to take on a twisting lava road to the observatory, so that will wait until next time.
The Big Island, when I asked Cheryl and Linda to summarize it used the word, “Exotic”. With small towns having original movie theatres from the 1920’s to 1935 still in business along with the lava road, motorcycles going down the road without helmets and jungle, jungle flowers and plantations of taro, red taro, papaya, banana, and pineapple it feels like Loas, not a place you can send a priority mail box back to Port Angeles in a few days. It was another humid day, now more hot than Honolulu in the unexpected heat wave and after noting that the front of my shoes were trashed, as they were dragged, or legs dragged along the lava we headed to Akaka Falls. Here we are at the top of the trail.
We had heard that Akaka falls was paved trail to the falls and wheelchair accessible. No, we found from the master weaver Keo who sat at the top of the falls, working his art on the coconut fronds, in the same way the Haida and Salish use cedar bark, that the accessible trail to the falls was a PLAN. Keo, who has had over 500 students shows them then tells them to go get the fifth frond of the coconut tree to practice weaving 20 baskets. That, he said, is to teach them climbing up the trees as much as weaving.
Keo said that the park had closed due to fallen trees but they had just opened the park again and put in the handrails on stairs (this turned out to be VERY important). But it was still 56 steps to the falls (I think more like 80 but who counts).
I had heard how great the falls were so I went on, and used the handrails to balance on, like balancing on the back wheels of the wheelchair, then using hands as brakes, slid down the banister, just like the nuns said not to. Going down was the easy part.
As you can see, everywhere I go there are warning signs, which is why if I took each one with me, I would have quite a stack by now. Linda had been trying for the last several days to find the wild white ginger that Pat the guide from the Waipio Valley plucked and put in her hair. The wild flower comes in wild yellow ginger and wild white, and there was wild yellow all over this valley. Finding a hand lotion or shampoo with the delicate and delectable scent of the wild white ginger was so far impossible. There were some advertising products and lotions with ginger flavor, but like with bad artificial strawberry flavouring, it wasn’t the same as the real thing.
Along the way to Akaka Falls we passed some smaller falls, picturesque before the final decent to the 440 feet drop of the Akaka falls. It was just then that the sun came out of the clouds. Stunning. I’ll let the picture do the rest of the talking.
On the way back I found, wheeling along, a single bunch of wild white ginger. Too far to smell or pluck, only to take a picture (if it looks similar and hangs down, it another flower, one VERY poisonous!). Getting up those stairs was harder. Linda lifted my legs two stairs at a time and I pulled myself UP the same railings. A friendly male from New York carried up the wheelchair. Whether 56 or 80, it was a long go and I was very much a GLOW for most of the time. But if I wanted to see wild Hawaii, I needed to go a little wild myself.
Up at the top Keo was there and asked to take MY picture. He said I was the first person in all the years, and he is there every day, to ever go to the falls in a wheelchair. Gee, he could have told me that BEFORE I dragged myself up the railings (seriously without those, I don’t know how it would be possible).
Heading back to Hilo we stopped at a recommended wood shop, the best in the islands if not farther. They not only sold various carved hardwoods, like the Hawaiian Koa hardwood but also sell boards of hardwood for your own projects. As you can see they also sell amazing glass plates/platters. This was just one shop in a tiny old plantation town, the store fronts like something out of the Waltons, untouched since the 1920’s, a dozen stores on a side road. Just down the road was a building from 1820 with glass intact (yes, old 1820 glass unvandalized), it must have been a sorting station for workers now gone that the road connecting this wild side of the Big Island has come. For instance the Japanese workers created a thriving Japan Town in Hilo which was wiped out completely in the 1940’s Tsunami which levelled it leaving no place for those Japanese shipped off the islands to return to.
In this shop not only did Linda find her wild white ginger lotion but I found something that I will be saving towards, sending half of my weekly allotment towards until it is paid. As you can see it is a small three drawer 11 inch cabinet made of the hardwood Koa with Zebrawood handles and groove and tongue tight fitting – no nails. A real work of art and small enough to keep by me at the computer for medication and other needed items. Linda meanwhile was buying ONE bottle of her lotion. I asked the owner if there was anywhere else she could get this? And the owner thought MAYBE…. I asked if anywhere on the mainland, and no, nowhere off this island, nowhere in Hilo or big town. A small micro business, that smelled like the real deal and couldn’t be replaced. She hemmed and worried at the luxury of getting herself TWO bottles. So I asked her if she would get me a bottle (she steals my hand and face moisturizers shamelessly!) and she reply immediately that she would! Problem solved.
We were heading to Ken’s who for 17 years has won the Best in Hawaii in restaurants, and the USA Today Newspaper among others named as the top 10 places for breakfast in the USA. But before that we stopped at the farmers market. Here I am examining some carved jade that this seller got from her uncle in upper China. After getting our fresh produce for the stir fry tonight we all ended up with something, as for example Linda bought me a braclet with a Hawaiian petroglyph in it. But I will show that tomorrow.
At Ken's, Linda and Cheryl radiated joy just looking at the menu. Or as Cheryl said, “In a place like this you don’t eat until you are full, you eat until you are tired.” Linda ended up getting the waffles with macadamia nut on top – they smelled divine (we plan to visit a macadamia factory on the way to the airport tomorrow).
After eating, the fatigue of pulling myself up from the falls and the talking all came together and I passed out, then started a seizure cycle, so we headed home. I was conscious by the time we hit the lava road and we entered our estate to see that a single hibiscus had bloomed for us on the bush by the house. It is the state flower of Hawaii and a good place to stop for today.
6 hours ago