Tag Archives: Kailua Kona

Before and after

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘In Transit.’ See more responses here.

Here in Hawaii, tourism is our number one industry. In normal years, more than 30,000 visitors arrive in Hawaii every day. Currently, the number of daily arrivals is around 1,500. In this topsy-turvy world that precipitous decline is a good thing.

In the U.S., states don’t have the authority to regulate flights; that’s a federal matter. But Hawaii was able to require that people arriving in the state had to quarantine for 14 days. This effectively killed tourism. Why visit Hawaii for two weeks if you have to spend every day of that visit confined to your hotel room? This 14-day quarantine even applied to inter-island travel. Because of these restrictions, Hawaii has had a very low infection rate and very few deaths. Here on the Big Island, there have been less than 100 cases and zero deaths. Next week, the inter-island quarantine requirement will be lifted, but it will be retained until at least the end of July for visitors from out of state and abroad.

So the reason for the similar-looking photos? The top one is from a previous year and shows one of a procession of planes landing at Kona airport. The photo below shows a recent photo of a plane flying overhead, which was noteworthy because it was unusual. The planes aren’t there. The skies are quiet. Currently, the daily number of passenger flights arriving at Kona airport can be counted on one hand. The number of visitors is in the 20s or 30s. When and if those numbers return to previous levels is anybody’s guess.

Pinkhead smartweed

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘The Color Pink.’ See more responses here.

Pinkhead smartweed (Polygonum capitatum or Persicaria capitata) is a groundcover that hails from western China and the Himalayas. It’s variously known as pinkhead knotweed, pink knotweed, Japanese knotweed, pink-headed persicaria, or pink bubble persicaria. I use pinkhead smartweed for the very good reason that I like the name. It sounds like the name of someone pretentious, but slightly seedy, from the alleged upper crust of society.

In this bounty of names, a couple of elements stand out. One is ‘pink,’ the other is ‘weed.’ This is a very pink plant and, in Hawaii and elsewhere, an invasive weed. Drive eastbound over Saddle Road (officially Hawaii Route 200, the Daniel K. Inouye Highway) and, once you cross the saddle and begin your descent, this plant will become obvious very quickly. It lines the road on both sides for several miles with very little in the way of other plants competing for that space. This is because pinkhead smartweed will grow in poor ground and lava fields fit that description.

This is also a stretch of highway that, relatively recently, was converted from a narrow, winding road, that rental car companies routinely forbid their clients from driving on, to a wide, smooth thoroughfare, the only place on the island where you can legally go 60 mph, and where you can expect to receive a ticket if you go 80 mph like everybody else.

Redoing the road left verges of rock and gravel and very little else. Pinkhead smartweed was quick to move in and colonize this unpromising territory so that now the descent toward Hilo begins with pleasing pink borders.

The top photo shows the rugged kind of ground pinkhead smartweed can grow in. To the right, bees appreciate the flowers of this plant growing at an elevation over 5,000 feet. Below, the collapse of a lava tube has left a shady hole where pinkhead smartweed, an endemic amaumau fern, and an ohia tree have established a good foothold.

Pu’uanahulu jacarandas

Pu’uanahulu is a small community midway between Kailua Kona and Waimea, on the upper road between those two communities. I don’t drive that highway much, except when I go to hike up Pu’u Wa’awa’a. Last time I did this, driving through Pu’uanahulu, I noticed that the jacaranda trees were in bloom alongside the road. What I hadn’t realized is just how many jacaranda trees there are in this area.

These photos are taken from the northern slopes of Pu’u Wa’awa’a. The bottom photo shows the general area with the purple jacaranda flowers of Pu’uanahulu clearly visible. The top photo shows a closer view of part of the community and the abundance of flowering jacaranda trees.

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.

Hydration station

This week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Working Together.’ See more responses here.

The Ironman World Championship race is held here every year in October. Last year, there were nearly 2,500 competitors so it’s a huge event. An army of volunteers helps make the race happen, involved in everything from setting up the course to numerous activities on race day to cleaning up afterwards.

This photo was taken at the turnaround in Hawi, roughly halfway into the 112 mile cycling course. It’s the top of the bike course with it being mostly downhill back to Kailua Kona. Of course, this being cycling, there’s a good chance the wind, which can be fierce here, will be in the cyclists’ faces on the way up and on the way back down.

At this turnaround, volunteers hand out water and food to the competitors. It’s a tricky business making the handoff since the cyclists keep moving and there’s a steady stream of them. In this photo, I like the movement of the volunteer handing off the water as well as the echo of the action in the strong shadows.

Also posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

C-17 plane over Kohanaiki Park

Kohanaiki Park, just north of Kailua Kona, is a popular park which provides a great view of the sunsets, has a good surf break, has protected pools for keiki to paddle in, and has all the facilities needed for a good barbecue.

If there’s a downside to the park, it’s that it’s just south of the airport. It’s not O’Hare, but planes come and go with some regularity. It’s also used by the military and planes, such as this big C-17 transport, practice touch-and-goes with some frequency. So it’s not the most relaxing beach on the island, that’s for sure, but with white sand, blue water, and hot sunshine, it has a lot going for it.

Signs: Donkey crossings

A few miles north of Kona Airport is a stretch of highway where these signs can be seen – the written warning in the foreground and a handy image in background for those who don’t know what a donkey looks like. Not that they’re going to find out here. There are no donkeys.

The signs hark back to when there were a number of wild donkeys roaming the island and this was, apparently a place where they crossed the road on a regular basis. But donkeys crossing a major road travelled by many speeding vehicles is not a tale that ends well, for the donkey or the vehicle. So the donkeys were all rounded up and put out to pasture, as it were, in domestic situations. Only the signs remain.

Except … I’ve been told that not all of them were captured. Unaccountable braying has been heard, though no donkeys have been seen, but do you want to take that chance speeding past these signs only to see, too late …

GE Propulsion Test Platform

I saw this plane when I was out walking one day, near the northern tip of the Big Island. It was flying quite low, unusually so for a big plane, as it headed south toward Kailua Kona.

The plane is a Boeing 747-400, formerly owned by Japan Airlines, but now used by GE to test jet engines. Apparently, it was operating out of Kona Airport for a week, performing warm weather engine tests.