When you land at the airport in Kona, Hawaii the runway is surrounded by huge lava fields.Your first reaction is you have landed on the moon or Mars. It is somewhat alarming as you have anticipated swaying palm trees and hula girls not a rust colored mountain of rubble. Then as they open the door and roll up the open air stairway you know why you came.
The first of many Alohas greet you on the way to the terminal if you can call it that. It too is open air and just a shade above functional. Who needs anything else as simplicity is the word? There is none of the glitz or opulence that dots Oahu and Honolulu. The rental cars are Mustang convertibles or Ford sedans. Just perfect for some luggage and two sets of golf clubs.
You travel down a two lane highway where people do the speed limit. Not sure why but hey, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Get used to it because the tone throughout is not lackadaisical but measured. The people are gentle and welcoming but please don’t bring your big city attitude. It just doesn’t work.
The Big Island is the largest of eight which are inhabited although the archipelago is fifteen hundred miles in length. This the heart of Oceania and the nearest land mass is over 2,000 miles away. It all started hundreds of thousands of years ago as the ocean floor started belching magma. The process continues today on the other side of the island. You have probably seen lava creeping down the hillside on TV. It is not as scary as you would think.
Of course everything from diet tonic to soup comes by boat. The distribution channels must be awesome, however impracticality does sometimes prevail. There is this crazy little thing called the Jones Act of 1920 which prohibits any foreign flagged cargo ship to travel between two American ports. So ships on the way from the Orient cannot drop off whatever on the way to the US. It has to go to a west coast port and then be transported back to Hawaii. The Donald has to get to work on that one.
This whole new version of Ted’s magical mystery tour has been conjured up to give the divine Mrs K some warmth in the winter. After a brief stop off at home we are going to continue this quest in Florida. Several questions rear their ugly head. Not the least of them is whether or not our brains will go soft or thrive in such a relaxed atmosphere? Considering the proximity of mine to senility the danger could be looked upon as imminent.
Mornings are simple. It starts off with a mega walk along the ocean path. You say hello to people as they pass and believe it or not they say hello back. This trek is not a mission to prove my athletic prowess but a chance to think about all things essential. The only big difference is we have had no time of viewing the boob tube. We check on line headlines but we have ignored the mayhem in DC and elsewhere. We are not checking out of society but seeing what other parts of our craniums need attention.
Along the way there are people sitting on the rocks or benches just looking out at the sea. I think back to our recent trips to the Cape of Good Hope in Africa or the southeastern most point in the UK. Perhaps it was our voyage across the Atlantic. Either way you get this incredible sense of the vastness of the world and sorry to say our real insignificance in the grand order of things. If you consider the Pacific with its island nations and the awesome depths of the Marianas Trench your swelled head gets taken to task.
Devoid of blabber you consider a bunch of things. You think of family and friends and especially those that are in the middle of a particular strife. I am going to write to them for no other reason than to let them know they have someone out there. You begin to ponder what is really important in life. The homes here are gorgeous but they are subdued. Rather than wowing you with glitz they open up to the outdoors and the sea. A very special place.
Not all is sleek either. When you travel across the island to the windward side there is a time warp. In Hilo the buildings are from the 1900’s and are showing their wear. There are homeless and they seem more desperate even though they never face freezing temps. Whether ravaged by drugs of a Hippie era or alcoholism they appear lost in time and space. The climate is good but the way of life gritty.
At a local farmer’s market the fruit is right form the fields. I learned how to tell if a pineapple is ripe. You smell its bottom. What else? We went to the Volcano National Park and then completed our circumnavigation of the island. I hope all tourists do this trip. It puts everything into perspective.
Pardon the travelogue. We are so fortunate to be here and I just wanted to tell you there is civilization out there if you just look. You probably can’t walk along the ocean but you can find a park or a walkway in your town or city. You can clear your head and breathe in a little bit of fresh air. You can just say as Izzy does, What A Wonderful World. “This is Tranquility Base to Denver et al, Over and out”
Ted The Great
Polynesian seafarers travelled north hundreds of years ago in outriggers with family and possessions aboard. How they found these Hawaiian Islands literally blows one’s mind? The Polynesian heritage has blended with Asians who came here in search of work.
Hawaii became a state in 1959. This was the end result of foreign and American businessman who had previously turned out the monarchy around 1900. There are those natives on the islands who would like to see it turned back to an independent nation. Non natives are not held in the highest regard and if you want to be in business you better have local as partner.
Because the islands of Hawaii are distant from other land habitats, life is thought to have arrived there by wind, waves (i.e. by ocean currents) and wings (i.e. birds, insects, and any seeds they may have carried on their feathers, in their beaks or droppings). INCREDIBLE!
Hawaii’s tallest mountain Mauna Kea is 13,796 ft above mean sea level; it is taller than Mount Everest if measured from the base of the mountain, which lies on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and rises about 33,500 feet
In 2009, the United States military spent US$12.2 billion in Hawaii, accounting for 18% of spending in the state for that year. 75,000 United States Department of Defense personnel live in Hawaii.