“New” Bus Terminal and More at Mo’oheau Park February 26, 2013Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
“New” Bus Terminal and More at Mo’oheau Park
When the Hawaii County Bandstand got some minor improvements a few months ago, it merely set the stage for a larger project next door. Now the bus terminal has been thoroughly renovated, and there’s more work in the offing to improve Mo’oheau Park on the Hilo bayfront, across from the Farmers’ Market.
The bus terminal had been showing its age for years, but steadily increasing patronage was overtaxing it. Besides serving many of the County’s Hele On bus routes, it’s a drop-off/pickup point for tour vehicles. The Hilo Information Center is in the middle of the terminal; that’s where the Downtown Improvement Association (DIA) provides bus schedules and informative maps and pamphlets about the Big Island. The terminal also has the only public restrooms in the vicinity, and they were certainly showing their age, too! So improvements were made to the curbs and sidewalks, the roof, the restrooms, the seating areas and the Information Center. The $664,000 upgrade also included mobility enhancements, so the entire facility is now in ADA compliance.
The DIA just produced its annual Chinese New Year festival close by, in the park – a festival that had traditionally been held in Kalakaua Park, a few blocks away. But it was moved to Mo’oheau Park this year because, as DIA Executive Director Alice Moon said: “We have more space here! We could accommodate only 21 vendors in Kalakaua Park. This year we had had 35 vendors, and we still have room for more. We also have a DIA office here. And of course, the bus terminal is here, and it has new bathrooms.
“But there’s another reason for the move,” she added. “Just as we did in Kalakaua Park, we brought a ‘positive’ activity to what had been a run-down park that attracted ‘problem people’ with bad behavior – a place where you just didn’t want to go. Now you want to go there! I have to say that these free community events cost the DIA money – and we’re still accepting donations (at www.downtownhilo.com) to help cover the Chinese New Year festival. But events like that are proven to make our parks better places, for the benefit of everyone in Hilo.”
Next up for Mo’oheau Park is another much-needed improvement. If you have ever driven around and around the parking lot there, searching for an empty slot, especially on a Wednesday or Saturday – the biggest Farmers’ Market days – you will appreciate this change. Between now and the start of Merrie Monarch Week, on March 31, the grassy medians in the lot between the bus terminal and Haili St. will be altered or removed – their trees will be replanted at the Panaewa Zoo – and the lines will be repainted, yielding 40 more stalls. (The lot between Haili and Kalakaua St. will get a similar treatment, starting in April.)
There is open space in Mo’oheau Park, notably the big fields used for soccer and football practice, where a few small fairs are also set up during the course of the year. But Hilo has no shortage of green parkland: the whole bayfront between Ponahawai and Manono Streets, all the way up mauka to the County and State Buildings, was turned into open space after the devastation wrought by the 20th century’s two giant tsunamis. So Mo’oheau Park is not needed as (nor is it intended to be) a green oasis. Rather, it serves as a reminder that some city parks can also be much-needed urban amenities: in this case, a utilitarian bus terminal, a clean fairground, a vintage bandstand and, yes, a big parking lot.
Warming the Big Island for 30 Years October 29, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Featured Listings, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND, Updates , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
Warming the Big Island for 30 Years
“You’ve got a fireplace? In Hawaii?” People might be incredulous, but think about it. Very few houses here have insulation in their walls; none, certainly, have a boiler or any source of heat beyond sunlight through the windows – and those are generally single-pane windows, not the heat-retaining double-glazed kind. But even here, where there is no snow and ice, there is great joy to be found in just sitting around a fire . . . it strikes a chord deep in the human psyche.
Fireplaces here in Hawaii have been Jeffrey Mermel’s business since 1979, when he bought two wood stoves, put one in his house, and sold the other. His shop is called the Fireplace & Home Center; but for Jeffrey, the word “fireplace” is a relative term. It means not only a built-in or freestanding stove, but a “fire feature” for the home, that burns LP gas or (the newest thing) bio-ethanol, which needs neither a gas line nor a chimney. There are even electric fireplaces! “Well . . .” he admits, “an electric fireplace is really a piece of furniture that displays an image of a fire.”
His shop also offers grills, both gas and charcoal, from small portable units to big outdoor-kitchen size. He has pizza ovens that come as a kit, with firebricks placed on a Styrofoam mold. (One customer in Kohala mounted the oven on a trailer, as a snack wagon, to make pizzas along the roadside.) Jeffrey’s wood stoves are popular all over the island, but especially in the higher elevations, like Waimea and Volcano, where winter temperatures can fall into the 40s or even the 30s. (No insulation, remember?) And he also represents a line of saunas, from Finland, that use infrared heat, for “all of the health benefits of a traditional sauna, but at lower temperatures.”
Jeffrey came to Hilo in 1976 from San Francisco, where he had been a photographer. Here he met and married Sally, who owned a gift shop on Keawe St. “I married a retailer,” he says, “and became one myself.” (By the way, Sally also liked fresh-brewed coffee, but couldn’t find a decent cup near her store; so she started Bear’s, which is still in the coffee business there on Keawe St.) But Sally didn’t give up working when she married Jeffrey. They moved both of their enterprises together, twenty years ago, into the split halves of a single storefront on Kamehameha Ave. in downtown Hilo.
Sally’s half is called The Most Irresistible Shop in Hilo. And what is so “irresistible” about it? A variety of merchandise that can realistically claim to offer something for everyone: jewelry, toys, books, shirts, decorative art, hats, souvenirs, lamps, Christmas gifts, tea and saki sets, kitchenware, pareus (sarongs), tee shirts, scarves, postcards, purses, spices, sauces, candies, and locally-made soaps. “She’s got ‘the eye’ for things!” Jeffrey says proudly.
Jeffrey sells his “fire features” statewide. So, you may be wondering (as I did): How many fireplaces are there, here in Hawaii? “Enough,” says Jeffrey with a smile, “to put our two kids through college!”
[Me (on the right) with my friends Jeffrey and Sally Mermel, in front of their store on Kam Avenue in Hilo.]
… and these two businesses are now for sale! Both adjacent businesses are being sold together. This is a rare opportunity to step into a business venture with a long and positive track record. Jeffrey and Sally have done the hard work building a solid positive reputation for both businesses, and they are also willing to train Buyers during the transition period.
To see all the details and virtual tour, click here:
Southbound (Part 2 of 2) October 24, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Hawaii Travel, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND, Scenic Drives , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
[Part 2 of 2 – Click here for Part 1]
No place in Ka’u is more compelling than Ka Lae: literally “the point,” but popularly (and on road signs) called South Point. This is probably where the first voyaging Polynesians made landfall in the Hawaiian Islands. You might not think its barren lava, rocky bays, wind-blown sand dunes and incessant currents would make for an inviting anchorage, but after months at sea in a double-hulled canoe, it must have seemed sheltering indeed.
[Graffiti artists made this “signboard” at Ka Lae.]
Those famously brisk winds are why two wind-turbine “farms” have been built along the road to South Point. The first, erected in the 1970s, was later dismantled – you’ll see the segments of its towers piled up like giant abstract sculptures. The newest wind turbines, though, are fully up and twirling, and contributing their share to the island’s electrical grid.
[Cliff-jumpers and lookers-on gather at Ka Lae. Wind turbines in the distance contribute to the Big Island’s electricity grid.]
At the end of the road, you’ll want to see two sights: Ka Lae itself, the southernmost point in Hawaii, and the bizarre “green sand” beach.
[At the end of the trail , the first glimpse of the green sand beach in Ka’u, with its eroded cliff of layered lava and sand.]
[Looking down on the green sand beach from the clifftop above it.]
A panorama, seen from the green sand beach: its rocky shoreline and the beach itself ….
A panorama, seen from *above* the green sand beach ….
At Ka Lae, and especially on weekends, a few vendors will be opening fresh coconuts for drinking, or selling other snacks; and there’ll be a pair of porta-potties as well. But what you’ll remember best is the sight of youngsters jumping off the high cliffs into the sea, and climbing back up ladders and ropes so they can plunge in again and again. The guidebooks are right: don’t try this if nobody else is doing it, and even then, be very careful.
[A video of how it’s done at Ka Lae: you stand on the wooden platform on the cliff top, then step off ... ]
[Young women jump off the cliff at Ka Lae ...]
Four miles away, however, is Hawaii’s most unusual beach. To get there, drive one mile east from Ka Lae, park where other cars are parked (lock yours, too), and be prepared to hike three miles over lava and sand. Lather on the sunblock; there are no trees and no shade. Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots; there isn’t much groundcover vegetation to cushion your feet. And pack in whatever you’ll want to eat and drink – there are no vendors, no services, no water and no toilets.
Don’t try to drive the trail yourself, even if you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The dunes have been deeply rutted, over the years, by off-road vehicles and motorcycles. So only folks who live nearby are likely to be experienced enough to know which tracks can be followed without getting stuck in sand or hung up on rocks. (Some local guys do offer rides, which you may well want to accept, one way or both; but tip the driver if you take him up on it.)
Why put yourself through the heat and exertion of trekking along this windiest, dustiest edge of the Ka’u coastline? Because at the end of the trail is a small bay whose steep beach is like no other. The “sand” there is mostly bits of olivine – a green, glassy mineral that exploded into billions of tiny fragments when the molten lava that carried it reached the cold sea. Mixed with black sand, which formed from regular lava in the same way and at the same time, olivine crystals give the beach a greenish tint that’s easy to see, but the color is surprisingly hard to capture accurately in a photograph.
Don’t even think about keeping a handful of olivine; taking any amount is against the law, and you could be fined much more than the price of a legal sample that you can buy in many souvenir shops. This isn’t a beach for sunbathing or even swimming: even more than on other Ka’u beaches, you should be cautious about going in the water if the weather is anything but pleasant, if the winds are more than slightly brisk, and especially if no one else is swimming.
Stand on the cliff top and look out beyond the beach to the sea: there’s nothing but ocean all the way to Tahiti. Turn around, and look up at Mauna Loa, and imagine how such a huge mountain must have looked to the first voyagers, and how far from anything familiar they must have felt. In Ka’u, you are more-or-less equidistant from urban Hilo and suburban Kailua-Kona – not only in distance but in feeling.
Southbound [part 1 of 2] October 11, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND, Scenic Drives , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
Southbound [part 1 of 2]
Ka’u is the biggest district on this, the biggest Hawaiian island, and you get there by driving south from Hilo, Puna or Kona. The spaces are mostly wide-open, so getting from place-of-interest to place-of-interest takes a bit of time. But spending a couple of days in Ka’u will give you new insights into why people love this most remote segment of the Big Island.
From Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hwy 11 takes you south through a dry landscape, the makai side of which is appropriately called “the Ka’u desert.” On the mauka side, Mauna Loa’s steep palis stay green the year-round in a dry-land forest microclimate where rainfall is minimal, but capturing the moisture of clouds and fog enables trees both native and man-planted to grow tall.
A Tibetan Buddhist temple nestles there too, in Wood Valley, mauka of the town of Pahala. The Dalai Lama has been there twice, and a room for him is always kept available, should he ever arrive unexpectedly.
[The Tibetan Buddhist temple in Wood Valley, mauka of the town of Pahala.]
Visitors are welcome, but leave a donation if you enter the temple. And overnight accommodations are available for folks who wish to stay for a day or two of meditation and chanting.
[Tibetan Buddhists in Ka’u are committed to world peace, and have twice hosted the Dalai Lama in their temple.]
Casual visitors to Ka’u, however, or those who are intrigued by a glimpse of an earlier era, may want to stay in one of the nearby sugar-era homes now operated as vacation rentals by Pahala Plantation Cottages. And you can take a coffee break on the way back to Pahala from Wood Valley, with a stop at the Ka’u Coffee Mill.
[After an preliminary drying on the concrete floor (right) of the Ka’u Coffee Mill, in Pahala, coffee beans undergo a secondary drying in wooden trays.]
Continuing south, the county’s Punalu’u Beach Park has a palm-fringed black sand beach that’s the widest and most picturesque on the island.
[The black sand beach at Punalu’u; looking south toward the main pavilion, on a calm day.]
When sugar production ended, in the early 1990s, the plantation owner built a resort behind the beach, but only a few of its condos survive.
[An old wooden bridge over the pond at Punalu’u Beach Park is one of the few remnants of what its builders once hoped would be a resort.]
Local folks tend to camp and cluster on the north side of the park, near a cool, brackish pond, where the trees are tallest but the beach is steepest.
[A brackish pond behind the beach and the palms at Punalu’u Beach Park most likely was first built or improved by pre-contact Hawaiians as a fishpond.]
The beach on the sunnier south side has a gentler slope, restrooms, a big (rentable) pavilion and a paved parking lot. Sea turtles (honu) are an endangered species; if you see one waddle out of the sea to bask on the warm sand, look, but don’t touch.
[Look – but don’t touch – the wild sea-turtles (honu) that sun themselves on the beach at Punalu’u.]
The beach at Whittington Beach Park, a few miles farther south, is rockier and not as easily swimmable as the one at Punalu’u, but it boasts a bigger, more photogenic pond. And fewer people go there. In the 19th century it was Ka’u’s seaport, then called Honuapo, where interisland steamships anchored in the bay.
[The “beach” at Whittington Beach Park is not as easily swimmable as at Punalu’u, but fewer people go there, and the scenery is spectacular.]
Looking mauka from the water’s edge, you see Mauna Loa edge-on; yet even in that narrow profile, the immensity of the volcano will astonish you.
The town of Na’alehu, with close-by Waiohinu, is the largest population center in Ka’u. It has a supermarket, a bank, and most famously the Punalu’u Bakery – a must-stop for pastry lovers – from where you’ll also want to take home their justly famous “sweet bread” that makes a terrific French toast.
There’s more to see in Ka’u, but that should be enough for one day. I suggest you go even further south the next day, and what you’ll see there will be the subject of my next blog.
Hawaiian Sunshine Nursery – FOR SALE! October 10, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Featured Listings , 1 comment so far
Note: Featured Listing posts reflect information as of date of post. For a complete listing of up-to-date Featured Listings, their prices and details, please click here. To search all current Big Island listings, click here.
Turnkey Nursery Business! Hawaiian Sunshine Nursery
Hawaiian Sunshine Nursery (HSN) is the largest bromeliad nursery in the state of Hawaii and it’s now for sale!
Based on the island of Oahu, the operation consists of sites in both Waimanalo, Oahu (the primary facility) and Hilo, Hawaii. This successful nursery propagates bromeliads, anthuriums, foliage, flowering plants and agricultural products for their customer base across the state of Hawaii, the US mainland and Guam. They grow and export a wide variety of potted plant material to local markets, mass market stores, supermarkets, florists, hotels, landscape contractors and interior-scapers.
The major product lines include:
* Bromeliads – common and exclusive varieties.
* Hawaiian Volcano Plants – This is a specialty line that is primarily sold in garden centers, airports, hotels etc.
* Anthuriums – HSN has exclusive production rights for varieties of anthuriums, and is projecting great market growth.
* Foliage and flowering plants – Potted plants including carnivorous plants, flowering plumeria trees, crotons, and numerous others.
* Green Roof and Green Wall products – Live plants assembled to cover wall and roof areas.
HSN has production facilities on the islands of Oahu and Hawaii. The primary facility is located on two 5-acre State of Hawaii lease-hold parcels in Waimanalo, Oahu. The facility consists of 6 Quonset type greenhouses, 2.5 acres of shade house, .5 acre of gutter connected greenhouse and .25 acre of warehouse and office space.
Both facilities have forklifts, tractors, trailers, sprayers and trucks.
There is an integrated computer system, which is networked between locations that tracks sales and availability.
This property also has a 3-bedroom house and a studio unit for worker housing.
The Hilo facility is located on a 10-acre property leased from the State of Hawaii. It consists of 2 Quonset greenhouses and 2 shade houses. One shade house was constructed in 2011 and has all new benches and irrigation. There are also 10 benches outside.
Seller training possible.
View the full virtual tour and current pricing here:
A Suite Deal October 1, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Featured Listings, Moving to Hawaii , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
A Suite Deal
A unique condominium in Hilo is coming up for sale, and in the interests of full disclosure you should know that it’s not only my listing but my own. It’s the pied-à-terre that I use when I want to stay overnight in Hilo, rather than drive home sixty miles to Waimea.
It was built in the early 1970s as the “honeymoon suite” of a Polynesian-style resort hotel: a low-rise complex of two- and three-story buildings, nestled within a group of little ponds, close to where the Wailoa River meets Hilo Bay. Every room boasts a wide lanai, and faces either the swimming pool, a landscaped pond, or a view of Mauna Kea. Travel writers liked the location, which is only a few minutes’ drive from downtown Hilo in one direction and a nine-hole golf course in another. They were delighted, too, by its tropical landscaping that flowed smoothly into Hilo’s biggest park, which is right next door. But as a hotel it did not succeed financially, because it had to compete with much larger, self-contained resorts on the other side of the island.
So the hotel underwent a condo-conversion in the 1990s, and – now called Waiakea Villas – it has been a popular residence address ever since. The original rooms are now studios or one-bedroom apartments, the largest being my two-story honeymoon suite, which has one big bedroom and one-and-a-half baths.
What you notice first are the cathedral ceilings and the double-height windows that frame a grove of mature palm trees. The main floor has a full kitchen open to the dining area across a breakfast-bar, and a wide lanai that overlooks one of the larger ponds, lively with colorful koi fish and water fowl.
The living area has plenty of room for entertaining, and I’ve kept the original furniture because the wide chairs and sofa are so comfortable: they fairly cry out to be sprawled upon. But lest you think this is an old-fashioned place, cable TV and wi-fi connections bring the apartment into the 21st century.
Upstairs, overlooking the living room, the bedroom is also big. Even with its king-size bed, there’s plenty of sitting-room space, plus a second wide lanai.
The master bath has a shower and tub, of course, but its best feature, certainly for honeymooners (or second-honeymooners!) is a Japanese-style hot-tub for soaking in, called a furo.
At 937 square feet, this condominium is big enough to be a full-time residence; but because the condo has hotel/resort zoning, the owner can legally rent it out to long-term or short-term vacationers. The asking price is $175,000; and the monthly homeowners’ fee of $906 covers the common-area maintenance, the basic utilities – electricity, water and gas – and the use of the pool. There’s a coin-op laundry in the building, and plenty of free parking.
There aren’t many townhouse-style condominiums in Hilo, and none that are so convenient. So if you’d like to know more about this one, let me know, and I’ll send you the full specs.
Click here for the virtual tour:
“Lost” Dog September 4, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND , add a comment
Here on the Big Island
By Kelly Moran
One day last November, friends of mine were driving up the road to their house, when a brown dog with floppy ears approached their car. He wasn’t trying to chase it; he sniffed it, and stared in at them. When my friends slowed down and stopped, they saw him do the same to every car that passed, in either direction, as if he were asking: “Are you the people who left me here?”
For dogs on the Big Island, it’s a sad fact of life that not all of them are loved, and that not all of those who are unwanted get treated humanely, or brought to a shelter. Quite a few are simply taken somewhere, and left to fend for themselves.
This dog was on a paved County road, halfway between one cluster of houses and the next; if he had simply wandered away from either place, he’d have been able to follow his nose home. My friends waved down a few cars, but no one recognized the dog. So they drove him up to their house (which took some effort – he was reluctant to climb into their car) and proceeded to search for his owners.
A month earlier, they had come home to find a lost dog on their doorstep – a mature female with a pleasant disposition, but no collar. My friends alerted their neighbors, then took her to the Humane Society, where a microchip revealed her name and ownership. She turned out to belong to a friend of a neighbor who had taken her pig-hunting that day. She’d gotten lost in the woods, found her way out, and taken shelter at the first house she encountered.
The experience made my friends think seriously about adopting a dog. They’d always had cats (there are two in their house), but neither of them had ever had a dog for a pet. They didn’t act on the idea, and had almost forgotten the incident . . . until they saw this lonely dog on the road. So they took the dog to their cats’ veterinarian to see if he had a chip (he didn’t), and give him a medical checkup. The vet found that, except for being undernourished, he was quite healthy, about a year-and-a-half old, and probably a mix of Lab, pit bull, and heeler.
Again, they phoned and emailed neighbors, and posted his picture on Craigslist, even noting that he had a V-shaped bite-mark in his right ear. But after a full week, nobody claimed him. My friends took this as proof that he was not lost, but deliberately abandoned. They speculate that he’d been raised for pig-hunting, but had either failed to hold his own with the other dogs in his pack, or that he was too affectionate by nature to tackle a pig without getting hurt. Yet, instead of giving him away as a pet, or taking him to a shelter, whoever raised him had simply dumped him.
So he’s my friends’ dog now. “Romeo” is still a puppy at heart: he wants to play with the cats (the feeling is not mutual!); and he loves to run fast (my friends joke that they could paint him gray and enter him in a dog-track). But he’s loyal: he keeps to the trails when they hike through the woods; he always comes when called; and though he’s never chained up, and spends most days outdoors, he doesn’t go roaming. But he is still very, very reluctant to ride in a car.
For more information about lost, abandoned and neglected pets – and especially if you’re interested in adopting one – the Hawaii Island Humane Society has full-service facilities in Kailua-Kona, in Waimea, and in Kea’au, near Hilo.
Kohala For a Day August 21, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Hawaii Travel, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND, Scenic Drives , 1 comment so far
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
Kohala For a Day
An old song says: “It’s the far northland that’s a-calling me away . . . .“ And you might hear the call too, if you visit Kohala, the northernmost part of the Big Island. There’s a South Kohala disctrict, famous for beaches and resorts, but say simply “Kohala” to local folks, and you’ll be understood to mean North Kohala.
Getting there is twenty-mile drive from upscale Waimea, yet in some ways, Kohala is an island unto itself. The Kohala “mountains” are green, verdant cinder cones – all that’s left of the geologically oldest of this island’s volcanoes. At their feet, the landscape is reminiscent of Maui’s oldest (Hana) district, with deeper, more fertile soils and thicker vegetation than anywhere else on the Big Island.
Kohala is also a cape. Small-craft warnings are regularly posted for the Alenuihaha Channel that separates Hawaii from Maui. The seas are always rough, with only one place to safely swim: the lovely little Keokea Beach (County) Park, which has a man-made breakwater to create a sheltered swimmable bay.
And there’s always a breeze: our electric utility (HELCO) purchases extra power from a “farm” of turbines that whirl in the near-continuous winds.
People have lived in Kohala since the very first voyagers came here from Samoa in the 800′s and 900′s AD. Their heiau still stands near Upolu Point, though it was later expanded by the people we think of today as “Hawaiians” – the descendents of those who emigrated from Tahiti. It was at that heiau, too, that the birth of Kamehameha the Great was celebrated. By the twentieth century, agricultural workers from Japan, the Philippines and the Azores (Portugal), came here to work in the sugar fields and mills. At the foot of Old Coast Guard Road, there’s a monument to Puerto Rican immigrants from 1901.
Kohala’s towns, Hawi and Kapa’au, developed and grew in the sugar plantation era. Today, Kapa’au remains the governmental center of the district, and retains most of its day-to-day businesses, like hardware and grocery stores, along with some innovative galleries and restaurants. Kenji’s House, for example, is the former home of a local beachcomber/diver whose seashell-and-stone sculptures are “folk art” at its unpretentious best. Just below it stands Pico’s Bistro, offering gourmet and vegetarian pizzas and salads.
Hawi is more self-consciously a visitor destination, featuring a wider variety of artistic offerings and eateries. Especially intriguing, on my latest visit, were the ukuleles and guitars, both old and new, at Hawi Gallery Art & Ukuleles; and the vintage and collectible clothes next door at Chi Chi La Fong. There’s an amazing choice of sushi, both traditional and modern, across the street at Sushi Rock, where they give a Kama’aina discount at lunch and for the first hour at dinnertime.
Even if living full time in the “far northland” isn’t on your bucket-list, spend a day or two in Kohala, and enjoy both the natural and artistic offerings, and the echoes of a quiet and rural lifestyle that once characterized the entire island.
The Palace Gets a New Crown August 14, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, Entertainment, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND , add a comment
HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND
By Kelly Moran
The Palace Gets a New Crown
A new roof is going on the Palace Theater, but most folks won’t notice because the shape will stay the same. Hilo’s last surviving “picture palace” retains much of its original 1925 appearance, from the neon sign over Haili St. to the Art Deco tiles and paint jobs in the lobby and the auditorium.
The Palace is one of three movie theaters in Hilo. There’s an eight-screen multiplex in the mall at Prince Kuhio Plaza, for 3D and mega-hits, though also for live HD broadcasts of Broadway shows and opera from the Met in New York. And there’s the Kress multiplex, downtown on Kalakaua St. where half a dozen films go after they’ve run at the mall, for only $1.50! (The next-closest theater showing movies on a regular basis is the People’s Theater, a 40-mile drive up the Hamakua Coast, in Honokaa.)
The Palace is something of an “art house” most of what’s screened are independent productions and foreign-language films, and prices fall between the mall’s and Kress’s. Surfing movies draw big crowds to The Palace, and so do outdoor and conservation pics. A special treat at The Palace, once or twice a year, is the opportunity to see a silent movie from the ‘20s, accompanied – as it was then – by an enormous pipe organ, for The Palace is home to the only surviving theater organ in Hawaii.
But films aren’t all you can see at The Palace. A 45-minute stage show called “Hawaiiana Live” is performed every Wednesday at 11 a.m., free of charge; it’s popular with visitors, and many local folks take visiting family, to get a taste of Hawaiian mele (song) and hula (dance).
Annual festivals and unique performances are also in The Palace’s calendar. In any given month there might be a classical music series showcasing young performers, a celebration of Taiko drums, a recital by the Puna Men’s Chorus . . . even an organ concert.
And every October, the Palace hosts the Fall Musical, a production of the local theatrical community. Past shows include “The Music Man,” “The Sound of Music,” “Little Shop of Horrors” and – coming up this Fall – “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”
As I was saying, The Palace still has much of its original charm . . . but it also some of its aging infrastructure. Earthquake-bracing, modern sprinklers, and other code- and safety work has been done, so now it’s the roof’s turn. The materials will be new, but the new roof will keep the same familiar shape. It’s all thanks to historic-preservation grants, and to donations made to the “Crown” Project by local theater-goers, through the not-for-profit Friends of the Palace Theater [www.hilopalace.com].
Hooray for them!
Mango Season August 3, 2012Posted by Kelly in : Big Island Hawaii, HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND , add a comment
Here on the Big Island
By Kelly Moran
It’s mango season, the height of the season, in fact. Trees all over the Big Island are full right now; and a Mango Festival was recently held at the Keauhou Beach Resort, in Kona.
Mangoes grow on trees that are native to South and Southeast Asia, but are now cultivated in every tropical country, even in Africa. Left alone, mango trees can grow to 100 feet, producing fruits that are tiny and practically un-harvestable. So, in commercial orchards and in most folks’ back yards, they’re kept pruned to a reasonable, eminently reachable height.
There are many, many varieties of mangoes that show up in local farmers’ markets, including one that’s so elongated it’s called a “cigar.” (A poster showing 63 varieties of mangoes can be seen or purchased at: www.fruitlovers.com/MangoPosterHawaii.html)
But two varieties are the most abundant here: the large “Hayden” and the small “common” mango.
Hayden mangoes have rinds that are dark yellow to red, and flesh that’s a bright orange. They tend to grow best in drier microclimates, like Kona in West Hawaii. These are the fruits most people like to eat fresh, in desserts such as Thai sweet rice served with mango slices, and in sweet-hot condiments like mango salsa.
“Common” mangoes prevail where there’s more rain, which we have in Hilo. They’re smaller than the Hayden, and have a greenish rind and a yellowish flesh. They get sweet when they’re ripe, but not as sweet as the dry-climate varieties, and a small number of them ripen with an off-flavor that’s pine-y, like turpentine. Still, many local folks prefer those small mangoes: they pick them before they’re ripe, to make mango chutney, or to marinate them in soy sauce and spices for a savory-sweet treat.
Then, there are also the less common dwarf “Julie” mangoes, which grow in my orchard at my farm in Kamuela. The fruit of the “Julie” tree is small, averaging less than a pound in weight at maturity. Skin color is green with some crimson blush. The fruit has a somewhat unique shape that is ovate with a distinctive flattened side. The flesh is juicy and not fibrous, with a deep orange color and a very rich flavor.
There are competitors for the title, but many people consider mangoes to be the best-tasting fruit in the world. Some people, however, can not or should not eat them. If you’re hyper-sensitive to poison ivy or poison oak, eating a mango may give your lips a red rash, locally called “mango mouth.”
All mangoes have a big seed inside, aligned with the fruit’s longest dimension and shaped like a flattened clam shell. To release the flesh, make two slices with a knife, one on each side of the seed. Set those “halves” aside while you trim away the strip of rind from around the seed and slice off (or gnaw off) as much as you can of the fruit that’s clinging to it. Then take each half and make tic-tac-toe with the point of the knife, ideally without piercing the rind. At that point, most people turn each half-mango inside-out, so that the big chunks separate themselves, and then peel or slice them off.
Lately, though, I’ve been doing something different. I take a big serving-spoon and scoop out the flesh from each half in one big piece, which I can then cut up either as neat chunks or as thin slices. This technique also yields a little extra juice!