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Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Kailua-Kona, also sometimes just known as Kona, is a small tourist town.  The population is around 12,000 and there are no major hotels.  I'm staying at the King Kamehameha, the only national "downtown" hotel, which is now a Marriott Courtyard.  A Norwegian Cruise Line ship is moored just beyond the grounds of the King Kam (the haze comes from the still erupting Kilauea Volcano--people have left this region because of this natural air pollution):

Across the bay is the Kona Royal Resort, once known as the Hilton:

The staff here is very helpful and friendly, except, be careful how you ask the question.  I inquired, is there a store where could I buy a bottle of wine and some beer?  Yes, sure, she said, but it's a long walk.  So she gave me a map and off I went.  It was lunchtime, so I had a some coconut concoction that was far too sweet at the Fish Hopper:

Note the same NCL ship in the background.  My lunch was a clam chowder with Caesar's salad:

The view was great, lunch okay, but is this worth $35?  I then began my trek to the shopping mall.  Yes, it was a long walk, uphill all the way, and the round trip took 45 minutes, in the hot sun.  I stupidly (you'll see why) bought a large bottle of water (the in-room option cost $3) to accompany everything else, so the shopping bag (which has to be paper by law now), was really heavy.  As I got to my hotel, I noticed there was an ABC Store in the building.  Worse, the water was half the price I paid and the wine/beer prices were similar.

Kona is where two world class events are held:  the International Billfish Tournament, which was last month, and the Original Ironman Triathlon, now called the Ironman World Championship, next month.  

It was 36 years ago that Judy Collins, who worked for me on a National Science Foundation project at the University of Hawaii then, told me that she, her husband and their friends would be running the first ever race where they would swim a couple miles (Waikiki Roughwater Swim), bicycle around the island (Oahu Perimeter Relay), then finish with a marathon, all on the same day without resting.  I cautioned her that someone would die.  Judy swam between Maui and Molokai, so she definitely was an athlete.  I barely make it one lap in a pool.  Her husband, John, and his colleagues were Navy Seals.  Judy and John invented the Triathlon.  

Another reason why Kona is famous is for its coffee, Coffea Arabica.  If you don't know anything about coffee, it is that core of a red bean from a shrub.

In his later years, King Kamehameha the Great ruled from the site on which this King Kamehameha Hotel now sits.  There is a mini-museum of various artifacts and art forms just off the lobby.  Here is a painting by an unknown artist:



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