Louisiana ho-downs, lava tubes and Kalapana

Gluten Free Minestrone Soup,Kale and Quinoa Salad, who knew Chef Ted knew of such things!

A view of the Point, facing south into the Pacific. This is a gathering place for Kalani people, a 10 minute walk from campus.

It is also high season for the resort and the house is packed, with various groups such as the above. It is one of the ironies of Hawaii that the tourists come in the winter. Don’t feel too sorry for us, you people in the land of the polar vortexes: The days are usually ~85 degrees and the low at night is ~65, which necessitates a light blanket. 
But blustery and rainy as it may be at times, rainbows abound after the deluge.

Meet Amanda at a swing at the Point: 32 and originally from Mustang, Oklahoma. Amanda has spent the last decade teaching high school at inner city schools in Dallas. She recently spent a year with the Peace Corps in Cartagena, Columbia. After deciding that was not enough wandering, she spent several months at Esalen , which is another intentional community in Big Sur. I had an interesting encounter at Esalen years ago, at a wedding I was attending in Carmel, but as this blog is about new experiences, I will save that story for another time.

The story of Hawai'i is not a story of good versus evil. Nearly everyone shares in the blame of what happened to the Hawaiian people. Westerners certainly saw Hawai'i as a potential bonanza and easily exploitable. They knew what buttons to push and pushed them well.
But the Hawaiians, for their part, were in a state of flux. In 1819, immediately after the death of the strong willed Kamehameha, the Hawaiians, on their own accord, overthrew their religion, dumped the kapu (taboo) system and denied their gods.

The way they hang the flag in Kalapana. Just the way they roll.

This was before any western missionaries ever came to Hawai’i. Still, at least in these parts of Puna, the mere existence of westerners, seems to reveal a discontent, or at least a weakness with their system that had been lingering beneath the surface for a long time.

Hence, the Hawaiian sovereignty movement is strong here. I wish them good luck overturning all those violated treaties. Just ask the Native Americans on the mainland how that went.

The rules at Uncle Robert's in Kalapana are few but firm.

So four of us, Tabby from Salt Lake City, Louise a massage therapist from Prague, Amanda and I crossed this lava field to find an older lava tube under the 1991 lava flow that buried Kalapana and what was reportedly the prettiest black sand beach in Hawai'i. This hard to find tube was reportedly used in ancient times to hide children from the endemic warfare that was a constant possibility and frequent actuality.

The Big Island is crisscrossed with lava tubes. Sometimes the ceilings are thin, as more that one bulldozer operator working above one has discovered. As the margins of a lava flow cool and harden, they confine the molten lava to a narrow channel. The centralized stream may become further confined as surges of liquid lava overtop the channel banks and chill into levees. The channel at the center of the flow may also form a crust where the molten rock chills against the air. As molten lava beneath continues to flow and drains out from under the crust, it leaves behind a hollow in the crust-a lava tube. Some lava tubes are large enough that a person can walk through them, and some lava tubes are miles long. Most are very shallow, but some older tubes partly buried by younger flows extend deep into the ground as well as emptying into the sea.

Here our guide Tabby, climbs off the 1991 flow and on to the older flow; you can tell by the old growth on top of it

To find, well, this small hole/entrance. Thanks Tabby for being that guide, cause we never would have found it without you.

As first man down, I honestly was not thrilled about crawling through these tight spaces on all fours in utter darkness. Tabby kept saying that it wasn't much further, so take a deep breath dude, and get on with it.


Which led to various scrapes such as this. In this wet environment, scrapes have to be dealt with promptly, as staph infection can and does set in rapidly. We all have tubes of antibiotic lotions in our hales.

we could stand up and hike 

and the tube opened up to the sea. One step backward and one would meet their doom in a most unseemly and worrisome fashion.

Doesn't hurt to make a hopeful offering,asking for a safe passage on all fours back, in absolute darkness, to that entrance hole. 

So  after the lava tube, my new travel partner and I decided to take a road trip to Hawi. We headed north on coastal route 19, through Hilo to Waimea. This is yet another micro-climate of pastureland and coffee plantations, at an altitude of ~3500 feet. This is home to Parker Ranch, the largest ranch in all of the United States. Don’t be lulled into thinking that Waimea is a hick town; It is home to Hawaii Prep School, where my old Charlottesville Wolf Trap Road neighbor, Lindsey Barnes is the headmaster. Time did not allow a visit as we continued north on Route 250.

We had booked this cabin, which had only been on line an hour. Here owner Lance ,Lance's Kahola Crawfish pictured here in front of his house ,and his son Kanoa are getting into the rental cabin business to supplement their income from coffee and crawfish and we were their first guests. The two nights were spent around a campfire, listening to New Orleans blues and jazz on the radio show Prairie Home Companion. The second night Amanda and I fried chicken, Lance made JalapeƱo cornbread, Brother Craig fried okra and Becky made pan gravy with mashed potatoes. Lance also played the fiddle. If Scotty beamed you here you might think you were in a Gulf Coast Louisiana bayou instead of an old sugar cane field in Hawaii. We will be back.

 We went to the sleepy little town of Hawi at the northernmost point of the Big Island. Until the 1970’s this was sugar country. When Kohala Sugar pulled out, this area was left high and dry, and became sort of the land time forgot. Rather than let their towns die, resident’s opened shops and other small businesses and the area is enjoying a comeback of sorts. Lance came in 1985, from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana to, and who knew, grow coffee and crawfish off grid. Instead of surfers in aloha shirts you are more likely to see paniolos, Hawaiian cowboys. 

Lance's only guest accommodations, the dragon cabin. It had only been on line an hour, when we chanced upon it. 

Brother Craig and Becky were our neighbors. 
The whole property uses solar and is seriously off the grid. They like it that way.

The nightly scenes of a Louisiana ho-down took place here. I thought I was in Hawaii? 
A side view of Lance's house. Notice how he used a old water cistern for the second floor.
Outhouse for the whole property.

Lance's coffee bushes, protected from baddies by sacred Ti leaf trees. As often happens on the Big Island, there are unexplained bursts or energy. I don't know if it some reaction between the lava beneath the earth and the Pacific sun, but how do you explain the arc of light in this picture? What a clear rainbow?

The saddle pastureland between Mauna Kea and Kohala is one of the prettiest roads in the Hawaiian Islands. The area here is dominated by the legacy of two influential men-an influential priest named Pa’ao and Kamehameha The Great. Pa’ao is said to have arrived in the 11th or 12th century and changed the islands. He was born in Tahiti or one of the neighboring islands. It is said that the islands were in a state of anarchy when Pa’ao arrived. He restructured society, introduced the concept of human sacrifice and brought other similar traditions. 

Here he built Mo’okini Heiau, where countless people were put to death to appease Pa’oa’s hungry gods. Even before we knew the gory details about Mo’okini Heiau’s history the place gave us the heebie-jeebies. We weren’t the only ones who have noticed that the area around the temple is filled with an eerie, ghostly lifelessness, and it’s the only place on the island that we like to avoid. Used for human sacrifices, the area feels devoid of a soul. The quiet is not comforting, but rather an empty void.
The walls of Mo’okini are extremely tall and thick-oral tradition says that some of the rocks were passes by hand from Pololu Valley, 9 miles away. Here in front of the heiau is the large lava slab with a slight dip in it. In front is a raised stone.

It takes little imagination to see that the slab was the holehole stone, where the unfortunate victims were laid while the flesh was stripped from their bones. These bones were then used to make fishhooks and other objects. The number of Hawaiians sacrificed here ran into the tens of thousands.

A view from the cliffs at Pololu Valley.

This ancient valley was once abundant with wetland taro when Pololu Stream carried  water from the wet deep interior to the valley floor. When the Kohala Ditch was built in 1906, however, it diverted much of the water and ended taro production. The valley's last residents left in the 1940's and the area is now forest-reserve land.

And a final stop on the way home, Akaka Falls State Park. A half mile hike through the rain forest, whose dense foliage includes banyan and monkey pod trees, massive philodendrons, fragrant ginger, dangling heliconia, orchids and gigantic bamboo groves.


The 420 foot Akaka Falls where you can swoon properly as the water tumbles majestically down a fern and moss cliff, its spray sometimes painting rainbows. 

Thanks for stopping by.


Anonymous said…
Hey Ted, I enjoyed this post a lot; great photos of you and interesting content. Alice Tor
lmm3c said…
Hey Ted, its Laura Monroe! So glad to see you are doing so well. I am going to keep following your blog. It is refreshing and inspiring to me for lots of reasons. Continue your journey my friend. You deserve this happiness.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the stories and pics. I'm thinking about volunteering at Kalani and it's great to read about your adventures.
Unknown said…
Looking trim pops. Have you been using coconuts as free weights or something??
Unknown said…
An Ironic Disdain

The feeling of disrespect from the actions of Chef Ted, is probably the same feeling of disrespect from our Hawaiian Ancestors, when their Descendents denounce; laugh; scoff; ignore; deny or mock the existence of Ko Hawaii Pae Aina (The Hawaiian Archipelago Kingdom). Why are the actions of Chef Ted more deplorable than the actions of those Persons whom disrespect Ko Hawaii Pae Aina?
As Jesus Christ said, those who are not guilty cast the first stone...
Chef Ted said…
Hello gentle readers,
The photo of the holehole stone has been removed. It was used solely as a demonstration of how the victims were positioned on the slab. No disrespect was intended. Thanks for stopping by.
Anonymous said…
Just found this randomly, but it looks like you are directly quoting from the Blue Hawaii Travel guide. Dude! Cite your sources if you're going to quote verbatim.
Chef Ted said…
Had you checked my profile, you would have found the following tedious disclaimer:

As a tedious full disclaimer, most of what I write, in no particular order, is plagiarized one way or another from the list of favorite reading material below. If you think that I am going to let the truth get in the way of a good yarn, or worry myself about where I stole it, (they say if you use one source, then it is plagiarism, five sources and it's well researched) you better not read any further; in fact, you can fuck off...it's 4th quarter folks. These adventures and impressions are not easy to sort out because they are often interlaced, blending into one another until palpable reality is no longer distinguishable from what I have thought, dreamed, embellished, invented or imagined. But adventures they have been. Gentle reader, I am truly sorry for any confusion.Favorite Books I read several books, magazines and AA pamphlets, all at the same time, with varying degrees of success: how to manuals, classics like Crime and Punishment, anything by Bill Bryson, maps, total titillating trash, Spanish newspapers and the blogs of people desultorily wandering. Pretty much anything in this blog about Hawaii has been plagiarized from the travel book Hawaii: The Big Island Revealed by Andrew Doughty and Roadside Geology of Hawaii. by Richard Hazlett. Buy them if you come here.

I also give credit in the blog entitled: Hunter and Giles Come for a Visit

Everything is plagiarism dude, but it doesn't really matter because you and I are the only ones who read this dribble.

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