Category Archives: Better Days

Better Days: Noak Dom

Places and things that have seen better days are likely to be vandalized or tagged with graffiti. On the North Kohala coast, there’s an old fishing shack with a couple of derelict vehicles nearby. At some time in the fairly recent past, the scene has been accessorized with a paint job. I think Noak Dom is the name of the graffiti artist who painted these.

Better Days: Eel on the hook

I hope this photo doesn’t ruin anyone’s breakfast, but I run it for a couple of reasons. First, a lot of people fish around the island and most of them don’t like eels. Snag an eel on your line and there’s not much to be done. The eel will wrap itself in knots and the only way to be rid of it is to cut the line. The person fishing could try removing the hook and releasing the eel, but even if they were so inclined, the feeling is, ‘why release an eel so that it can tie itself in knots next time you throw a line in?’

And that brings us to the other reason for running the photo, and which also explains another reason no one wants to remove that hook. Look at those teeth! Rows of them, front and back, side to side. Reach for that hook and chances are you’re going to get bitten. This is also why it’s not a good idea to mess with anything in the water. Even little fish that look harmless can have a powerful bite, or sharp spines, or some other nasty surprise.

Better Days: Kona Village Resort

Looking across Kahuwai Bay toward the Kona Village Resort
The sign on the fence says it all.
Some of the damaged buildings lining the shore.

On March 11, 2011, the northeastern part of Japan was jolted by an earthquake registering 9.0 on the Richter scale. While the quake caused extensive damage, the resulting tsunami was even more destructive. Water surged up to six miles inland and flooded more than 200 square miles of land. Perhaps the best known result of this tsunami was the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, after it was overrun by the surging waters.

Here in Hawaii, a few hours after the earthquake, tsunami waves washed up on shore. The waves were up to 10 feet high, but the damage was not as great as was feared. However, along the west coast of the Big Island, there was flooding and damage to coastal properties.

One of those properties was the Kona Village Resort, situated to the north of Hualalai Resort. Damage to the resort’s properties was sufficient to force its closure. The property then sank into the swamp that is insurance settlements and financial shenanigans. During this time, the buildings deteriorated.

Originally, the resort was supposed to reopen this summer, but that was pushed back a year, then more. Currently, sometime in 2022 is the planned reopening, but this being Hawaii, that date shouldn’t be taken too seriously. When I walked the beach past the site, work was going on, but I saw only a handful of workers and a couple of active machines. It didn’t appear to be a project going full-steam ahead.

The current work site, lots of orange netting but not much action.
At a casual glance things don’t look too bad, but the roof thatching is mostly gone, the buildings are open to the elements, and there’s other damage in and around the area.
It’s still a beautiful setting and the beach is enticing.

Better Days: Swamped boat

Yesterday, in certain parts of the island, the wind was honking. 20 miles south, there was a fresh breeze, but up around Kawaihae it blew a steady 40 knots with many higher gusts. Walking into the wind I had to lean forward at the kind of jaunty angle that would have seen me fall on my face on a calm day.

In the late afternoon, I made my way to Kawaihae harbor to see the waves and get a free skin treatment in the form of sandblasting. The very sheltered harbor was roiled with whitecaps from the whipping offshore wind. Most of the boats were bouncing up and down on the choppy waves, but I noticed something amiss. One of the boats wasn’t bouncing because it was mostly underwater. The outboard engine was the most prominent part to be seen.

I suspect that when the wind drops, the boat will still be barely afloat. But it should be able to be salvaged, pumped out, and ready to go again in fairly short order, so long as it doesn’t get taken out on a day like yesterday.

Better Days: Abandoned car

Abandoned vehicles are something of a problem in Hawaii. The root of the problem is that it’s expensive to responsibly get rid of an old car. So people leave them by the side of the road or on undeveloped property by the highway. I’ve posted before about one such vehicle here.

This latest one was sitting alongside the road just north of Kawaihae. At first, it looked like an older car that had perhaps broken down and was awaiting a tow or for the owner to return and fix it. But after a few days, it was clear that wasn’t happening.

If a vehicle sits unattended for a few days, people move in. Wheels are often the first to go. Then the hood goes up and anything useful in the engine compartment gets removed. There’s also a good chance that someone will tag the vehicle with graffiti.

What else can they do? Why not set it on fire. That’s what happened to this one. When I took these photos, the car had been sitting there two or three weeks.

About a week later I saw a police car parked behind it. The policeman wrote out a notice warning that the car will be towed at the owner’s expense if it was still there the next day. It should not come as a surprise that no one reacted to this notice, but neither was the car removed.

Another week passed and some traffic cones were placed around the burned-out hulk. There was good reason for this. The car was low to the ground and, with all the color burned off, it blended into the road. Someone could easily not have seen it, especially at night, and run into it.

Another week passed and then, one day, the car was gone. Only the traffic cones remained surrounding a small mound of ashes. Another week later, the cones and ash mounds area still there, but one day those too will disappear and that stretch of road will be ready to accommodate the next abandoned vehicle.

Better Days: Half a trumpetfish

I was swimming one day when I came across this. At first I thought it was a bit of wood, but then I saw the distinctive mouth of the trumpetfish, then the eye. It looked like it was once a good-sized trumpetfish until it encountered something that reduced it to its current state.

I swam around it taking a few photos, until I noticed a large barracuda swimming along with me. I thought, perhaps, it wasn’t a good idea to be near part of a dead fish with an apex predator in the vicinity, so I swam off, leaving the barracuda to make what it wanted of the remains.