Monday, October 12, 2009

Hawaiian Adventure Day 8: Akaka falls, woodwork and the best breakfast in the USA

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.


Lene Andersen said...

gorgeous, breathtaking and you sliding down the banister is also gorgeous and breathtaking (but this time because it made me nervous).

Neil said...

What, no zip wire to the falls? And only 56-80 steps? Very well done, dears, you actually managed to relax!! (Okay, facetious mode is now set to OFF.)

Seriously, you three, that is an awesome view, and more than worth the effort, I'm sure.

While we voyeuristically sit here at our computers around the world and enjoy your trip for you, we chide you for being so reckless. But I'm sure we all realize why you're doing it, and I salute you for the attitude behind the recklessness.

While some people go to Japan or Hawaii for the trip of a lifetime, each DAY is a trip of a lifetime for you, whether it's in a restaurant on Hilo, at the tip of a manga shop in Kyoto, or sitting in your apartment trying to stay alive.

I may get upset with you for your reckless behaviour, Beth, but to be honest, the only thing I would change about your trip across the lava is that I would dearly love to have been there with you, to help get you back in fewer pieces. Well, that and I would have the police actually help instead of just watching you. That was pathetic on their part.

Linda and Cheryl, you deserve far more recognition for helping Elizabeth with her daily life, and special commendations for helping keep (or hauling) her out of trouble on trips life this one.

Beth, I know how much you hate the "I-"word, but you are inspiring. And your refusal to stop for those signs only shows what someone with determination (and a touch of recklessness?) can do. Your trip should also be a lesson for many governments' departments of tourism. (Dudes, if you make your tourist sites accessible, you wouldn't need to spend so much on maintaining and replacing those signs that Beth is collecting!)

Beth, thank you for taking us with you like this. And while I'm not giving you permission to repeat yesterday's stupidity, thank you for attacking your trip with such enthusiasm.

Now, go find someplace that's on ONE LEVEL, and enjoy it. And get some rest! PLEASE!!!

Love, respect, and manymany zen hugs,

rachelcreative said...

Beautiful flowers. And I am not usually a sucker for flowers. But those wild ginger are gorgeous.

Enjoying reading your travelogue very much. Wishing the road was a little easier!

FridaWrites said...

How on earth did you get back up those stairs? I love the falls--very different foliage around them from the falls I've seen.

That waffle looks yummy. My grandmother grew hibiscus--a nice flower to wake up to.

wendryn said...

Beautiful pictures! The box definitely looks like something worth putting a deposit on, and I'm really glad you found the lotion. A friend of mine is from Hawaii and had some years ago, and it smelled amazing. I'd forgotten about it.

Now I'm hungry... :P

I'm really glad you got to see the waterfalls! *hugs*

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth, thank you so much for the beautiful flower pictures, the ginger was lovely. You know i love flowers & was reminded of times when I saw wildflowers in forests & on hillsides & made me hope that I will one day do so again.

I was also intrigued with the master weaver & basket maker. I used to weave & make baskets. Wove lots of baskets from natural materials, even of palm fronds.

So glad you made it to see the waterfall & thankful there were steps. I was worried the you'd rock climb down & up a cliff to see it! (ha).

More photos of native flowers please, if you can. More rest for all of you too!


SharonMV said...

PS - the box is beautiful! And you should have it.


Raccoon said...

What, no pictures of your trashed shoes?

Thinking back to your adventure on the lava flows, two things: at least it wasn't hot enough to melt your tires; and, since the lava is constantly extending the flow, then it would make sense that it took extra distance to reach a viewing point. When they first took their measurements, it might have only been a quarter of a mile. But since the end of the lava continues to be further away from the starting point, then it makes sense that the location of the viewing would have to be moved...

I would say that going down the stairs could have been easier, but the steps didn't look wide enough for the chair.

Window glass from 1820? Remembering that glass is a liquid, how much narrower was it at the top of the pane than the bottom?

Linda, remember to get their address so that you can mail order it! You know, the precursor to online commerce?

Uhm. Maybe the glow that Cheryl and Linda are showing is from too much sun?

Baba Yaga said...

from day 6 to day 8. I do believe you took a day off blogging. congratulations!

good to see you all enjoying yourselves. I think you're all quite mad, but clearly you wouldn't be yourselves if you weren't. & it's yourselves we relish.

JaneB said...

glorious! (and I hope you enjoyed sliding down bannisters - it's SO much fun to ignore childhood rules sometimes - even if it's a necessity). Hope you are all having a wonderful time still

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth,
thinking of you - hope you are doing OK.


PS: I'm actually feeling better the last 2 days & have a little energy today. Now my willpower can exert itself again & I will be able to make stuff & do some things! Maybe even go somewhere?
Today is our wedding anniversary.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Up the stairs was Linda moving my feet up two steps and me pulling my torso up on the banister. It was difficult but I was too tall to use both bannisters to swing my legs up or drag them, and I didn't want to do the bump-bump-bump, one step at a time thing. It was quicker but had quite an exhaustion aspect.

I didn't mention the name of the shop lest you go and pinch my lovely handmade little cupboard (which as it is in the US, she will post for $7). I will email her with the deposit once I am home, I had overspent my overspending (too many stores getting supplies for the postcard project!).

I will try to post pictures of the missing day, snorkling in the pools off the ocean and such tomorrow.

Congrats Sharon on your anniversary! I hope you do go places, I have been reading the IVIG magazine and am sure it is for me, maybe the time away gave me conviction to attack the problem once more (I come back to the headline VIHA to cut services for $45 million in debt - oh, yeah, that's going to be good...not)

The window glass was the boxed glass, not the single pane of the post Coloniel Period, I think that there may have been just openings which were filled in the 1920's with the new boxed glass (I am not sure when the box glass first originated).

It was a really nice falls and they did SAY it was wheelchair accessible, just because the information was wrong doesn't mean I wasn't going to MAKE it wheelchair accessible. I will say, as much as I enjoyed the 'true' Hawaii of The Big Island on the West Coast where things were wilder and no one cared about liability, it was really, really physical, some stairs if they were wider I did do in my chair both up and down. But to give you an example, we went to the only internet cafe which the store was selling antiques, radio sets, things from the 1900's and I ask the woman far in the back, "Is THIS the internet cafe?" and she says yes, and moves a projector from 1960 school (you know, the ones the AV club used to bring to classrooms), as well as a carved bench out of my way so we can get to a computer and do the four things we forgot to do. The Macademia Nut Factory had four flights of stairs for a tour (or working there) but the woman in the gift shop, which had exclusive items you could buy only there, had Lupus. So a sort of mix like that.

I was however the ONLY wheelie I saw the entire week we were there, and the airlines had never seen a rigid chair which collapsed before - or a rigid wheelchair. Very much a taste of being somewhere exotic and foriegn and yet still USA.

e said...

Hi Beth,

Your pictures are fab and so are all of the adventures. I'm still catching up on reading...I hope the trip home will be smooth.

This was an awesome trip and thanks for sharing!

(I'm wondering how you "folded" your rigid frame or did you take it all apart???)

SharonMV said...

Dear Beth, thanks for the good wishes and the update. This was going to be me my "Ok, I'm officially worried comment" if I had not heard from you.
Yes, I am happy to be getting better - the last couple of months have not been fun. So happy to hear more about the falls & your activities (and I always enjoy the vicarious shopping). Looking forward to pictures of the snorkling when you have the time & energy to post them. Are they giant tide pool? or permanent pools?


FridaWrites said...

Snorkeling?! And pictures of it? When you have time, of course! Hope you're doing well.

Victor Kellar said...

Sorry, haven't been commenting but Collette and I have been following along, love the pictures, hope Linda heels and what a great adventure you're all having!

Anna said...

sounds wonderful most of it:)

Dawn Allenbach said...

What an amazing adventure! Seriously, I'm rethinking my ability to travel, thanks to you. I just need to find my Linda and Cheryl clones, and then LOOK OUT!

I'm so happy the three of you got to do this. I hope you are well, and I hope to see a post from you when you are up to it.

(I'm jealous of that koa/zebrawood chest, by the way)

FridaWrites said...

Worried about how you guys are doing--hope to hear from you soon and that all is okay.

Neil said...

Okay, we wanted you to rest, but we also wanted news. It's Sunday evening in darkest Saskatchewan, and I'm getting worried about you, Beth. I'm beginning to wonder if you've stopped having good adventures. Could Linda perhaps post a brief update?

Love, zen hugs, and positive energy,

フォースクエア said...