All in all it was a great vacation exceeding my expectations. I was a bit reticence about going to the Big Island I thought it might be too American, not wild enough, not different enough maybe even boring after a few weeks. It turned out I was very wrong, after my month stay I wished I had another month. Usually when I take a non-business holiday of any length I like to go over to Europe for culture or Asia for different way of life. This time since they had fired my business partner and I resigned I wanted to get away to clear my mind so I could come back and start something new. Sadly my business partner Gorden passed away from surgery complications one week before I returned from my trip. He was a kind and giving person (I think as the Jewish say) a real mench!
On with the trip:
The flight on Air Canada from Toronto to Honolulu with
stop over at Vancouver was long and uneventful. Which is more then I can
say for the trip back. U.S. airport customs was a surprising treat quick
and painless. Because most international flights arrive after the last
flight to the other islands you are forced to spend at least one night
in Honolulu. The wait for the airport hotel mini bus was a bit long and
the Honolulu Airport Hotel was drab and cheap looking considering the price.
Next time I will go into town even if it is a bit further the first night
is important. So of course I planned to sleep in pretty stupid considering
the 6-hour time zone difference! Up at the crack of dawn, went to airport
to see if I could catch an early flight to the Big
Island. Aloha Airlines was all booked so they
put me on standby. When they had given last boarding call I asked "what
about standby?" The person at the desk smiled and said that they had forgotten
to make an announcement but there was lots of room on the flight and they
would get me on board. To my great amazement because of years of indifferent
service by the major airlines, they held the plane and reopened the aircraft
door and put me into first class seating! A short comfortable well fed
flight later I landed at Hilo on the Big
Island. Inter Island flights are inexpensive
about $50 if you buy vouchers. Flights are so inexpensive and housing on
some of the other Islands is so expensive compared to Hilo which has some
of the least expensive housing in the whole of N. America, that people
live in Hilo and commute back and forth between Hilo and the other islands.
The Big Island of Hawaii
Lush green, sunny skies, not too humid or too hot, flowers everywhere but not quite tropical, similar to but different to Toronto on an early summer's day. Onto Avis to pick up my cheapest smallest sub sub compact which I had booked through Air Canada. The woman at the counter with a smile says that Avis in Hawaii does not rent out sub compacts so she will upgrade me but I would have to wait until one comes available (I am only 3 hours earlier then my pickup time). An hour later the car is ready but it is not a car but a 4-wheel drive small jeep type vehicle called a Tracker sold by Chevy built by Susuki. Along with the Tracker which I forthwith dub as Pepi the Mule from the movie "Romancing the Stone" comes a list of places I should not take Pepi. Pepi turned out to be the ideal mode of transport for the island and the list was the ideal list of places to visit with Pepi. Canvas sunroof, removable side and rear window, convertible top if you have the patience to raise and lower, good fuel consumption. High-low range 4 wheel drive on the fly transfer case. It was a bit tipsy at high speeds and I would have liked to have better tires and a manual transmission but these are small complaints. Pepi was faithful and only once got stuck a bit in deeply rutted sand (one of the places on the list) so all in all an excellent trade for the subcompact. I kept Pepi in good shape and the cup holder always filled with rainwater. Judging by the number of dents on the roof of other vehicals an important warning would be: Do not park under a coconut tree!
The Beginning and the End:
My first evening just past dusk driving back to my ocean
side cottage after a delicious Thai meal in Pahoa, through woods of chirping
tree frogs, past fields with exotic fragrances rising on the night airs,
when almost at my new home, an owl flies across the the front of me, circles
once as to have a look and say aloha, then she glided silently away into
Photo by Jack Jeffrey
I would like to think it was the Hawaiian Owl that visited
me, not the common barn owl. At the end of my vacation, my last two minutes
in Hilo, while my plane was taxing on the runway, an owl came out and circled
several times around and over the wing of the plane close by to my window!
It was a good bye, good luck and you will be back, a parting Aloha.
To be continued:
In the mean time here are the rest
of the pictures.