Premier Hula Festival

Merrie Monarch festival is usually scheduled in April of every year.

The week-long event features a hula competition, arts & crafts fair and a grand parade in downtown Hilo. Our home is a short 5 minutes away! The festival honors the legacy of King David Kalakaua (reigned 1874-1891) who inspired the continuation of Hawaiian tradition, especially music and dance. Except for the Hula competition, all events are free. For more information, check out

Merrie Monarch Dancers

Merrie Monarch Dancers

Our Hilo Home
27-1993 Enoka Place PapaikouHI96781 USA 
 • 415-252-7123

speaking of the sky… video of rotating asteroid

NASA has a new video of an asteroid rotating in space. Just posting for to satisfy the geek in me and anyone reading. Though it is amazing, viewing from the top of Mauna Kea isn’t going to let you see this  :D

Seeing stars in the cold

It’s cold up there.

Not the Milky Way, but the Mauna Kea Visitors Information Center. So, if you are planning a trip up, definitely dress warmly. In the summer the nighttime temperatures get down to 40 and sometimes lower. You are packed and ready for spending time in temperatures in the 80′s, it’ll be hard to be dressed warmly and you’ll notice it if you go up in shorts or even just a jacket. So we have a suggestion: Goodwill or Sally’s thrift store (next to the farmer’s market in Hilo). Go there and buy a sweatshirt and knit cap, perhaps some long sweat pants. We did this Saturday before our trip to the visitor center, 4 sweatshirts, 4 caps, 2 sweat pants set us back 24 dollars :D and it made a whole world of difference in our enjoyment of the stars. After using them you can either re-donate them back to Goodwill or Sally’s, take them with you if you have space in your luggage, or if you are staying at our place, you can leave them there. The next guests might appreciate it. Speaking of which, the ones we bought Saturday are there for your use. There are sizes ranging from a 4-year-old to a tall 9-year-old, to a large male adult. Try them before going off to buy some more.

Check out a previous post on a suggested itinerary to the stars, and here are some tips and things to remember:

* The visitors center is 9,400 ft up as you are driving up to the observatories. It’s worth a visit alone without seeing the observatories.

* There are always telescopes at the visitors center for viewing every night, but Saturdays have special programs that might be of interest. The first saturday of every month has a special lecture “The Universe tonight.”

* There is coffee and hot chocolate there to keep you warm, and a few snack items and souvenirs. Don’t expect to buy warms clothes there though, they have them, but they ain’t cheap.

*If you don’t want to spend the $100-200/person for one of the tours from a permitted commercial company (which can be great, btw), and you have or can rent a four-wheel drive, you might want to check out the visitor center’s free escorted tours on Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm. They escort you up to the observatories from the visitors center and give a tour once there.

* Remember, children under 16, pregnant women and anyone with respiratory problems are not permitted up to the observatories. They can go to the visitor’s center at 9,400, but the observatories at 14,000+ can wreak havoc with your lungs. The sudden rise from sea level to 14,000 is a lot to handle.

* If you can make it at a new moon like this last Saturday, not only is the viewing absolutely amazing, but there are many more amateur and professional telescopes set up at the visitor’s center.

We had a great time. The milky way was amazing to see at this altitude and unobstructed views (a couple of parents told their kid that they were sorry there were so many clouds, when the women next to them remarked… those aren’t clouds, that’s the milky way, they were astonished). Also, through the telescopes we saw Saturn, nebula and twin stars.

Roadside food (and flowers)

ripe guava rotting (or about to) ready for picking :)

And I’m talking really roadside :D . As I talk my walk every day (or what should be everyday), I start to notice there are a lot of fruit trees growing semi-wild along the roadside. Fruit trees that are not any anyone’s yard and obviously are not being harvested. So far, within a mile down the road, I’ve picked up limes, passion fruit, avocados, guava and papaya. I’ve also noticed bananas and mangos but they were either not ripe or too hard to get to (high up in a tree deep down in a river gorge).

On yesterday’s walk I picked up two avocados that were ripe and fallen on the road and ate a passionfruit, also one that had fallen to the ground. I have certain criteria when picking fruit from the roadside: 1) can’t be in someone’s yard or obvious land or garden and 2) not being harvested

Avocado on the road, ripe for avocado pie

(which you can usually tell from all the over-ripe fruit on the ground) and 3) already fallen (though I make some exceptions if 1 and 2 are really really obvious. Even with these criteria, there are a lot of fruit for picking.

There are also an amazing array of flowers, one of the things I love about Hawaii. Those I _never_ pick. Even if they aren’t in someone’s yard, they add to the beauty and everyone’s enjoyment in a way a rotting fruit on the ground doesn’t ;-) . Below you’ll find a few flowers that I took photos of on our road.

I’m going to take the avocados from the road (and some from our yard) and make avocado pie.

Our yard has a few fruit trees (lime, lychee, avocado, mangosteen), but not enough. It used to have a few others (papaya, guava), but those are gone. And though our yard does have some flowers (ginger, etc), we’ve always thought it didn’t have enough. We are going out this weekend to look for some more to plant. We’ll definitely get some papaya trees, guava and probably a mandarin. We’ll see what else. haven’t decided on flowers yet. I’ll let you know after we’ve done the planting.




Baker Tom’s & malasadas


Alas, Baker Tom’s is closed. I do sorely miss it!! For great malasada’s you might have to do some searching. There are some in Honoka’a apparently, at the interestingly named “Tex Drive in“. So stop there if you are driving up the coast.

“Hole in the wall” and “Mom and Pop” are both descriptors you could add in front of Baker Tom’s. I’m sure some people might add less flattering ones. It’s not much more than a counter with a couple cheap tables and chairs with papers and ‘stuff’ strewn about. They serve a few lunch items like ‘indian tacos’, chili, pizza, beef teriyaki and a few others. They recently added hamburgers and chips also. I’ve had the chili and the beef teriyaki. Nothing to write home about, but made for a decent quick lunch.  What you really need to try are the malasadas. Malasadas are a traditional Portuguese pastry.  The Portuguese settlers brought them from their homeland and Hawaiians have made it their own. From Wikipedia:

malasada (or malassada, from Portuguese ”mal-assada” = “light-roasted”) is a Portuguese confection. They were first made by inhabitants of Madeira Island. Malasadas are made of egg-sized balls of yeast dough that are deep-fried in oil and coated with granulatedsugar… Traditional malasadas contain neither holes nor fillings, but some varieties of malasadas are filled with flavored cream or other fillings…

In MadeiraMalasadas are eaten mainly on Terça-feira Gorda (“Fat Tuesday” in English; Mardi Gras in French) which is also the last day of the Carnival of Madeira. The reason for making malasadas was to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lent… This tradition was taken to Hawaii, where Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 19th century, the resident CatholicPortuguese (mostly from Madeira and the Azores) workers used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasadas.

The Malasadas at Baker Tom’s are great and there are a wide variety from the original unfilled to various fruit-filled ones, peanut butter and jelly-filled and even a really good jalapeno ones (filled with peppers, cheese, onions.. no sugar coating). If you are staying at our home, you might want to walk or drive down (just up Mamalahoa Hwy about 1/2 mile) to Baker Tom’s and try out a few for breakfast or desert (and you don’t have to wait till Shrove Tuesday!). Maybe you should walk… back and forth a few times… because you’ll need it to burn off the calories :D .

Hawaiian Words

We are slowly (over the last years) learning the Hawaiian language, or well, at least words and phrases. If or when we move here permanently, we’ll definitely take a course. If you are a first-time visitor to Hawaii, you’d be surprised how many Hawaiian words have found their way into everyday usage here on the islands. Here are a few that I hear or read often in everyday living:

aloha (of course)
lanai (patio, deck)
ohana (family, but often used to refer to a small mother-in-law type house or apartment)
keiki (child)
mahalo (thank you)
hale (house)
pupu (platter of appetizers)

There are others too. You don’t have to learn these, but if you use aloha and mahalo and Hawaiians of all stripes will smile and be appreciative. The others are good to know just to understand what some people are talking about.

There is a great site to learn to pronounce these words and to learn more: Check it out.

We are in Hawaii

We are in Hawaii after nearly 11 hours of flight time (we were flying in from DC after visiting family). Of course that means our 1 bedroom apartment is occupied for the next couple weeks, but the good news is that this gives us the chance to get a feel for what improvements the apartments need, and things we could add, for future guests. I’m starting a small list already.

*We are going to plant some more fruit trees. We’ve got avocado, figs, lychee, banana and lime on the property.  Our papaya trees got past their prime so we’ll be adding some of those, and there are a lot more that could be added, perhaps some citrus fruits and some tropical fruits. We’ll let you know what we add

*I think the property could use some more flowering plants too (it has a lot, but can you have too many?)

*The kitchen needs a few small things (a new cutting board) and I’m discovering some things we have I forgot we did (board games!)

Though we are occupying the one bedroom for the next two weeks… the studio is available! And we have a timeshare in Kona we are selling if you are here this month (7/23-7/30, though I think there is a little flexibility, fewer days, etc) and would like to spend some time on the other side of the island. Just contact us for details:


Volcano July 4th parade

One of our highlights in the summer is the Volcano town July 4th parade. Unfortunately, we will arrive in Hawaii a few days late to go this year, but if you are there, you really should check it out.

It has the feel of a old-time small town Mayberry-type parade and is a lot of fun. After the parade there is a fun festival. The floats range from the local volunteer fire department to the local school. In years past there has also been that single man carrying a sign about child abuse (nothing too unfriendly, but strange). Hey, it’s all part of the quirks of a small town. Volcano is a great town. We always stand in front of a B&B we almost bought and moved to permanently 7 years ago (bid fell through).

When you go (and again, you really should), you can park along route 11 (new volcano road, mamalahoa highway) and walk a few blocks into town. The parade is along the old volcano road and turns left on Wright Rd. to the Cooper Community Center.

View Larger Map

It starts at 9am, make sure you are on time so you don’t miss anything. Definitely stay at the Cooper center for a nice market, carnival type booths and some great food and entertainment.

Its about a 45 minute drive from our house:

View Larger Map

Btw, those links in the paper I linked above are both wrong:
The Cooper Center link is:
Volcano Community Association is:

Trans-pacific voyage to Hawaii (by canoe)

Next month, we will be flying to Hawaii for our nearly annual summer stay. Well, someone else already made the voyage,

Green power will take seven traditional vaka, or canoes, on an epic expedition of re-discovery across 15,000 nautical miles of the Pacific Ocean.

Powered solely by the sun and the wind, the double-hulled, 22-meter vaka will leave their Pacific home countries over the next month and sail to Hawaii via French Polynesia in the wake of their ancestors.

The vaka make up a pan-Pacific network of voyaging societies which aim to raise awareness of environmental issues — including ocean noise pollution, acidification and anoxic waters — in tandem with recapturing traditional Pacific voyaging and navigational skills and re-establishing cultural links between Pacific neighbours.

Of course, our trip will be much faster, but they took a lot less pollution and greenhouse-enducing fuel to get there than we will :D .

You can see the map the voyage here.

You can also see a lot about ancient polynesian/Hawaiian ocean voyaging at the Imiloa astronomy center.


Hilo Restaurants

A short post. You could find it anyway, but thought I’d make it really simple: Yelp has a decent rundown of Hilo restaurants.

Want some really local food from a local chain? Blane’s. Just be forewarned, it’s not diet food. My favorite is the Korean Mix Bento (it has spam, the Hawaiian staple :D ) or the Loco plate.