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A Wondrous Walk Through Hilton Waikoloa Village
Even If I'm Snoring, Please Don't Wake Me Up!
Living a Dream on Hawai'i's Youngest Isle
Within a two week span beginning March 19 and ending April 2, 2013, I had the privilege of walking through three different states--my present resident state of Washington; my neighboring state to the south, Oregon; and my island state of origin, Hawai'i.
This article is a summary of the events that enabled me to be in the Pacific Northwest one day and flirting with the Pacific Ocean tradewinds by sunset the very next day. The photographs are a compilation of two early morning walks on the western part of the Big Island that were more about sermons indelibly etched into my soul than mere physical exercise. Somewhere in the middle of these media complements, I hope to convey to you the awesome joy and gratitude that enveloped me like the fragrance of gardenia in the menthol crisp of volcanic island splendor.
Come along with me now as I retrace my memorable meandering through a veritable oasis in the midst of hundreds of square miles of lava fields.
You (Lava) Rock, Big Island!
A Closer Look
How Are Wheat And Lava Similar? And How Did I Get Here in the First Place?
In Washington and Oregon, there are places where one can literally stand and be surrounded in every direction by nothing but wheat fields.
Similarly, in some areas of the Big Island, miles and miles of lava rock encompass you in every direction.
Just as one warms up into an early morning walk, I wanted your senses to start off at an easy pace and take in the natural setting of the land before we revel in what man can do in even the most arid and bedrock of environments.
And while we're taking it nice and slow, and our breathing adjusts to the increased demand on our cardiovascular system, allow me to share with you how I got to be here in the first place.
Several months ago, my sister on Kaua'i suggested that we celebrate our mother's 80th birthday with a family reunion. We have another sister on the Big Island whom I hadn't seen for about 15 years, so we discussed the possibility of everyone meeting there instead of on Kaua'i. I'd been to the Volcano Isle only twice before, the last time as a 19-year-old, so I was 41 years overdue for another visit.
My wife, unfortunately, could not make the trip due to her work schedule, but she lovingly gave me her blessing to be there for Mom's special occasion. My better half had recently lost both of her parents, and she was very sensitive to the notion that we just never know at what hour our designated bells toll. I love and appreciate my wife for being so understanding.
My sister and her retired husband are blessed with a sweet combination of frugality and hard-earned affluence. She assured me that they would simply ask the resort hotel for a roll away bed for me, and I could share a room with them and my niece, her significant other, and their baby.
With that issue resolved, all I had to do was come up with airfare.
Through a combination of miles earned with an Alaska Airlines Signature Visa Card and the balance of miles purchased from my wife's card, my round trip plus baggage fare came to an amazing $255. This indeed was a far cry from the ballpark $1000 airfare I would otherwise have had to come up with.
Long story short, some of my eBay earnings for the month paid for my trip to and from Paradise. (If this doesn't make you perk up and pay attention to my eBay niche hubs, nothing else will!)
And that's how I got there!
SOME OF THE CLASSIC ART PIECES THAT GRACE THE HILTON WAIKOLOA VILLAGE (Hawaiian Odysseus Photos)
A Moment of Reflection
The Hilton Waikoloa Village is a major hotel unit that comprises a good deal of the total real estate of the Waikoloa Village Resort. It is located at the furthest point from the entrance, approximately two miles in, following a slightly winding road that takes you past two major shopping centers, a huge lake, the Seven Pools of Waikoloa (gorgeous man-made waterfalls), condominiums, hotels, a golf course, a large parking lot, recreational and scenic walkways, and several species of abundant flora and foliage.
An energetic and enthusiastic group of handsome young men dressed in fancy aloha shirts and long shorts greet you and help unload your vehicle. A bellhop comes by with a large cart to whisk your luggage to your room(s).
In the lobby, personnel at two customer service desks and the formal check-in desk assist you in resolving any issues, answering questions about the lay of the land, and assisting you with any other accommodations.
The senses reel at the enormity of the hotel lobby. The loud screeching sounds of a brilliantly multi-colored parrot and the accompanying reactions of excitable children reverberate throughout this hub building as the adults simultaneously attempt to finish their paperwork while attempting to monitor their little ones. Our ohana is a large one in need of three rooms, so the check-in takes longer than usual.
It suddenly dawns on me that I've forgotten my reading glasses in one of our two rental vans. But a quick inquiry at the customer service desk and a notification at the valet desk outside result in a surprisingly quick retrieval of my eyeglass case. I take this opportunity to speak with one of the young valets and learn that he has lived on the Big Island all of his life and that he graduated from Honoka'a High School.
I'm a bit uncomfortable being a former local and playing tourist in the here and now. As if to reduce the disparity of that seemingly socioeconomic imbalance, I feel compelled to reach out to every employee and thank them for the great job that they're doing. I know full well that it stems from a level of anxiety--maybe even guilt--that I'm feeling. I want to shout out loud, Hey, everyone! I'm a local just like you! I'm no richer for being here! I'm just a humble eBay seller! I just got lucky!
But I suppress the urge, my rational mind finally catching up with my impulsive nature, and I tell myself, Easy now...they enjoy their job. A long time ago, you were in their shoes in your capacity as a Hawaiian Airlines employee. This isn't about you. Tourism is the pivotal core of the island economy. Look around you. There are no sugar cane fields. There are no pineapple fields. There's only megatons of lava rock. This megalopolis of a hotel resort is the best thing going for this island community.
Be still and know it is what it is. Relax and start creating some wonderful memories.
Liquid Veil of Introspection
Images Captured During My Walks
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
~ John Muir
An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
~ Henry David Thoreau
I came to the Big Island with different expectations and goals than did my family members from Kaua'i. They came to relax and swim and soak up the sun. The older ones were happy to just get away.The young parents and their little ones were eager to make both mental and digital memories.
My mother was not with us. She had flown to Hilo to spend a few days with the younger of my two sisters, and it would be a couple of days before we would see her and the Hilo ohana.
As a last minute surprise, my father and step-mom had decided to make the trip to Hawai'i as well. We picked them up in Kona the same day I arrived and so now they were here at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the quality talks and wholesome reunion time spent with both Dad and his wife as the younger set swam and played in the humongous hotel pool.
Honoring Mom on the occasion of her 80th birthday was my primary reason for making the trip. My secondary intent was to make peace with and pay my respects to my beloved state of origin. While Kaua'i was and always will be the island that I hold dearest in my heart, the Big Island was an adequate representation of my Pacific roots.
I knew no better way to reconcile my long estrangement from Hawai'i than to become intimately reacquainted with her. And I knew no better way of accomplishing that in a quick and reverent manner than by walking her.
Respectively, then, for the next two days, I went on a five-mile and a four-mile walk.
If I had any illusion of having awakened at an early enough hour to be a solitary stroller, it was quickly dashed. Dozens of walkers, joggers, runners, and cyclists were already on the two-mile driveway, some even already returning to their starting points.
It was amazing, exhilarating, and inspirational to see so many middle-aged and older seniors engaged in cardiovascular exercise. An important point that came to mind as I continued to walk briskly as well as jog for a short spell was that the highway running past the entrance to this resort area was the site of the marathon portion of the world-famous Iron Man Triathlon. No wonder, then, why so many of the tourists who stay at Waikoloa are fitness-oriented.
On the second and final day of my walks there, I journeyed from the hotel lobby to the highway. While standing near the entrance sign, I pondered whether to continue walking along the highway for a bit. I quickly determined that it was too dangerous, given the speed of the traffic and the narrow skirt along the edge of the road.
So I turned around, but instead of following the driveway back, I turned right at the first driveway I came to and followed its wide arc, hoping that it would circle back to the Hilton Waikoloa Village.
I was amazed at the sight of even more condominiums. To conclude that there was a ton of money invested in this huge expanse of real estate would have been an understatement. This piece of the rock was indeed the fulcrum on which the island economy pivoted.
Earlier in my walk, when I was still on the main driveway, I saw dozens of cars and busloads of employees passing by in either direction. Three shifts times thousands of employees meant that a lot of money was flowing through this hotel complex. I'd heard that hotel laborers traveled to and from work each day from as far away as Hilo, about an hour and a half bus ride or drive each way.
In one section, huge mansions lined up in orderly fashion behind closed gates with posted signs stating that these premises were videotaped. People actually live here all year 'round. What is it that they do, or did, to afford such luxury? It boggled the mind of this simple island boy, now transplanted to southeast Washington state, to consider the enormity of wealth I was looking at.
As my pace naturally quickened, I could see in the distance that I had indeed circled back and that I would soon be arriving at my starting point. I thought of doing another mammoth lap but then decided to take a detour to the shopping center that I had not yet strolled by. In so doing, I reasoned, I would end up with four miles of walking. Certainly not enough to burn the calories of the horrendous amount of island food I was eating, but just enough to keep my guilt at bay.
And with that thought punctuating the tail end of my walk, I made a beeline for the Kona Brothers Coffee Shop where I wasted no time in purchasing a tasty pastry and a cup of delicious Kona coffee to wash it down with.
As I was eating like food was going out of style, my sister and brother-in-law showed up and said they had just bought breakfast from the local McDonald's. Egg McMuffins, no less!
Well, I reasoned, it was going to be a long drive later in the day to Hilo, and I needed all the energy I could get.
So bring it on, Mickey D!