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Friday, January 3, 2014

THE POLYNESIAN CULTURAL CENTER AND VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

Last night I went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, a themed-park which first opened in 1963, more than fifty years ago.  I was there later that year, and  haven't been back since.  However, my brother and part of his family are in town, so they picked me up on the drive to Laie, which is 35 miles and an hour from Waikiki.

The Center is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, occupying 42 acres near Brigham Young University - Hawaii, which supplies 70% of the 1,300 employees.  There are eight simulated tropical village:
  • Hawaii
  • Samoa
  • Fiji
  • Tonga
  • Tahiti
  • the Marquesas Islands
  • Aotearoa (New Zealand)
There is an IMAX theater and a multicultural Polynesian show titled Ha-Breath of Life.


There are two dinner options, prime rib and a luau.  Ann/Stan, Diane/Ivan and I went to the prime rib side and the buffet was pretty good.  Diane particularly loved the Tahitian Marinated Raw Fish:


The show, Ha--Breath of Life, was mildly entertaining for me, but a bit noisy.  The music was all original, save for three songs, one of which certainly sounded like Edith Piaf's If You Love Me.    The audience was large, responsive and loved the performance.


This morning I embark on a three day trip around the Big Island, then on to Kauai.  I'll be accompanying niece Diane and  her husband Ivan.  Later today we'll be staying at the Volcano House.


Plane left Honolulu and approached Diamond Head:


We landed at the Kona Airport, located near the Kaloko-Honokahau National Park on the left side of the Big Island above.  We first stopped by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii and had a nice chat with Neil Sims, who runs Kona Kampachi, then to the visitors center:


Dia and Ivan at Guy Toyama's hydrogen motorcycle.  We then took the lower route and had lunch at the 97 year old Manago Hotel.   My pork chops, for which they are famous:


Excellent!  Our next stop was in Naalehu where I first met Pearl.  We spent 5 years in this southernmost community of the USA:


Then up the Big Island to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where we checked into the Volcano House, very spiffy now after a $7 million facelift.  Then on to visit Kilauea Volcano.  Here are Dia and Ivan at Halemaumau:


After talking to one of the rangers I now need to adjust my story about 3January1983.  The old version was that we were golfing at the Volcano Golf Club that day, the ground shook, and several hundred yards away we saw a stream of magma fountains.  That was exactly 31 years ago.  After analyzing some maps, the ranger told me that I was at least 10 miles away, but the first fountains went up to 1700 feet, 450 feet higher than the Empire State Building, so it could have appeared that I was closer.  This volcano is still erupting today, which is causing all that haze, seriously affecting the Big Island, but also regularly suffocating Honolulu.

After some rest we enjoyed a Royal Hawaiian sparkling rose with a night view of Halemaumau:

Then dinner at the award-winning Ka Ohelo Dining Room, where the view is magical, with the red hue from Halemaumau.  The meal began with an assortment of raw fish, featuring Neil Sims' Kona Kampachi:


I then had a Caesar salad:


Far too many croutons.  Diane and Ivan had taro chips with avocado:


The chips were exceptionally good.  We had two Volcano Winery bottles, a Pinot Noir which was okay, and a "Red" which tasted great, but smelled terrible.  This was because of the Jaboticabo berries, which formed 15% of the mix, the others being Ruby Red Cabernet, Carrigan and Symphony:


I then had their Kona Kampachi special with potatoes.  Neil (here with a Kampachi), two kampachis in one meal for me:


My room had the following night view of Halemaumau:


A truly wonderful day!

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