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Sunday, December 20, 2015


Excited, elated, thrilled, I arrived in Hilo and staked out my space in the Hilo Seaside Hotel. Then I immediately went to bed and slept for three days. that worked out fine because it wasn't exactly the kind of weather where I could work on my tan right away.

This was the view from my hotel window. There were often some ducks here, and I also saw sandpipers, nene, and a heron.

What is a nene? It's a goose indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. The webbing on its feet is shorter than most geese and ducks, leaving the toes and claws out so that it can more easily climb rocks and rough terrain. (It is pronounced "nay-nay" in case you were wondering. And if you were just about to say "neen" or "nee-nee," just  don't.)

 This photo from National Geographic shows the webbing on the nene's foot.      [ROBERT SISSON/National Geographic Creatve:]

Here is the heron:

The monkey pod trees in Waialoa River Park, downtown Hilo, are so big that I mistook them for hills before I got to know my way around. 

Lunch.  Actually, half for lunch, half for dinner. The avocados are gigantic, the papayas were three for a dollar. Groceries are expensive, but if you just eat fruit from Farmers' Market, you can dine fairly inexpensively. The mandarin orange in the photo with the papaya was picked from a tree at a rental house I looked at. There is so much fruit here, that people sometimes leave it lying on the ground under the tree:  oranges, tangerines, coconuts, bananas, and persimmons are the ones I have seen lying around in peoples' yards.

Feral chickens aren't ubiquitous like they are in Kaua'i, but there are a lot of chickens.  Here on the Big Island, they are kept by people in their yards and allowed to wander around the neighborhood. Something I don't understand, though, with chickens all over the place, is why local eggs are hard to find. I read that demand has exceeded local supply since the 1970s. I haven't found any articles that talk about salmonella or any other disease in Hawai'i eggs, only that suppliers can't keep up with the demand. Eggs at the grocery store hover around $6 per dozen, and most of them say "MAINLAND SHELL PROTECTED" on the carton. Maybe the demand is high because of the Hawai'ian dish "loco moco," a recipe that uses every fatty and high-cholesterol food that exists served together on a plate. Anyway, so far I have refused to pay travel costs for eggs.

During my first week here, it was cloudy every day. But now and then it clears up and I can see Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa--just not usually at the same time.  Here is Mauna Kea.

 The view is deceptive, especially for someone like me who lived near the Rocky Mountains much of my life. Mauna Kea is over 13,000 feet/4205 meters above sea leve, and when it's clear enough to see from Hilo, you see it 30 miles away and from sea level! You can see a couple of the observatories near the crest in the photo below.

Here is Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I'll write more about the volcanoes in a future post.

I took this photo of the moon from a parking lot near Starbuck's the week of Thanksgiving at about 7 PM. . . wearing flip-flops and no sweater, by the way. It's why I am here and it makes me so happy.