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There Be Giants in Hilo!

Updated on November 1, 2013
Formidable Hilo Giant
Formidable Hilo Giant | Source

Halfway Through My Walking Program for 2013

Days Walked
Elapsed Days
% of Days Walked
88
181
48.6
Miles Walked
Goal
% Towards Goal
513
1000
51.3
Weight on 01/01/13
Weight on 07/01/13
% of Weight Loss
228
212
7.0

WiFi Flop

During a recent trip to Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai'i, I had an opportunity to stop in at a local Starbucks coffee shop. Immediately upon entering the bustling java oasis, I spotted a lone table close to an outlet in the wall.

Perfect, I thought.

5 minutes later, I realized I had been premature in my assessment of the situation. Apparently, the reason why this table situated in a prime location in the shop was empty was because it just happened to also be in a dead spot, inaccessible to WiFi.

I needed to document some impressions for an article I was working on, so I decided that my best option was to hoof it on over to the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort where some of my family members from Kaua'i, my father and his wife from Maryland, and I were staying. The walk, I estimated, was about two miles away. I had memorized a few key landmarks and was confident that by connecting the dots, I would find the hotel without any hitches.

The Two-Mile Path from Starbucks to Naniloa Volcanoes Resort

show route and directions
A markerStarbucks Coffee Shop -
438 Kilauea Avenue, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
get directions

B markerWailoa River State Park -
Wailoa River State Recreation Area, Piilani Street, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
get directions

C markerLiliuokalani Gardens -
Lihiwai Street, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
get directions

D markerNaniloa Volcanoes Resort -
93 Banyan Drive, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
get directions

Wailoa River State Park

Ten minutes after leaving the coffee shop, I came across a huge public park. Located on the banks of the Wailoa River between downtown Hilo and Hilo Bay, the Wailoa River State Park is about 132 acres and is managed by the Hawai'i Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The park surrounds Waiakea Pond, an estuary fed by natural springs and host to several saltwater species. While strolling through the area, I saw a handful of walkers and joggers taking good advantage of the roads and walkways along the lush green lawn while reveling in the picturesque and tranquil ambiance of Waiakea Pond.

A Statute of King Kamehameha the Great at the Wailoa River Recreation Area
A Statute of King Kamehameha the Great at the Wailoa River Recreation Area | Source

Warrior Giant

Holding vigil over the park is an ornate 14-foot tall statue of King Kamehameha the Great, founder of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. Princeville Resort on the island of Kaua'i had originally commissioned the statue. However, when the Garden Island locals proudly pointed out that Kaua'i was the only major island that had never been conquered by Kamehameha I, a change of site was in order. In 1997, an alumni group of Kamehameha Schools raised funds to have the statue transported to the Big Island. In 1997, the statue was put on display in the Wailoa River State Park. Seven years later, the statue was restored in gold leaf.

In the background, the tall coconut palm trees stood like stoic sentries ready to fight to the death for their beloved ali'i, Kamehameha.

Who am I? I thought in the midst of this royal gathering.

Taro Plants
Taro Plants

Yesterday's Roots Embedded in Today's Soil

When I left the statue, heading north towards Hilo Bay, I came across three senior citizens tending to a small garden bed of transplanted taro plants. The leaves, when boiled, are reminiscent of spinach. The tubers, or large roots, of the taro plant can be boiled and eaten like potatoes. Or, true to the ancient Polynesian ways, the taro roots are pounded and mixed with a minimal amount of water to form the staple delicacy known as poi.

South Side of Bridge at the Intersection of Kamehameha Avenue and Lihiwai Street
South Side of Bridge at the Intersection of Kamehameha Avenue and Lihiwai Street | Source
North Side of Bridge
North Side of Bridge

The thought of poi triggered thoughts of the wonderful feast that awaited us at my sister's home an hour or so later. Even with a heavy backpack, I picked up my pace as I headed north towards Kamehameha Highway.

Once I got there, I turned east. After a few hundred yards, I came to a bridge just before the intersection I needed to turn east on. I took a couple of photos here--first, of the boats moored along the south side of the bridge, and then, once I had crossed the street, one of the north side of the bridge.

Deep sea fishing is plentiful off the coast of Hilo. Fishermen bring in hauls of ahi (yellow fin tuna), aku (bonito), mahimahi (dolphin), marlin, and a host of other ocean species to this particular area of the bay.

At the Suisan Fish Auction located just a stone's throw to the north of the ship with the tall mast in the photo to the right, local fisherman gather to sell their fresh catch Monday through Saturday mornings at 8 AM.

The Giants of Banyan Drive

Source

Gentle Giants

The massive trees that give Banyan Drive its name loomed up ahead like emerald atomic mushroom clouds. There was a curious feel to this section of Hilo--a balanced contrast, if you will, between the ominous presence of these gargantuan entities and the surprising comfort of their benevolent protection while walking in the midst of them.

I was a stranger in their neighborhood--an interloper, at worst; a friendly tourist, at best. This was their home, and I wanted these magnificent creatures to know that my temporary passage under their canopy was pure and honorable.

My thoughts turned to the devastating tsunamis that have wreaked tremendous havoc in this particular area over the last century. One would never know by gazing upon this picturesque community, however, that it has borne the brunt of nature's maritime fury on multiple occasions. Time after time, true to the tough and enduring survival instinct of the ancient canoe-borne mariners who first inhabited the Hawaiian Islands centuries ago, the people of Hilo have persevered and collectively, like a Polynesian phoenix shaking the ashes from its feathers and once again taking flight, rebuilt their port city.

I walked at a brisker pace, anticipating my arrival soon at the Naniloa. Hilo Bay to my left afforded a lovely breathtaking view, even at ground level, of a large body of water in the shape of an inverted U kissing the densely populated coastline. Far across the way, the other side of Hilo was steadily losing its color to a black and white effect as charcoal clouds, pregnant with raindrop infants eager to be born, dimmed the now forsaken afternoon sun.

As if in cued response to my ambling meditation, the first drops of rain fell like kamikaze dive bombing mosquitoes upon my head, face, and arms. I quickly gave thanks for the magnificent banyan trees, inherent allies now as they buffered me from the liquid onslaught. That which made it through the chlorophyll giants was nothing but a sweet mist, a spritz of leaves mixed with floral fragrance. On a humid day in Hilo, the effect was both refreshing and exhilarating.

Source

Baby Giant

I managed to return to the Naniloa without getting drenched, thanks to the banyan Goliaths, with just enough time to plug my laptop in at one of the simple dining tables just off the lobby area and do some writing and eBay work prior to dinner. In addition, I took three last photos with my cellphone of the grounds and a bit of Hilo Bay from the veranda.

In keeping with the theme of giants, I think it only fitting to include the obvious fact--underscored, of course, by even the most perfunctory glance at a map of Hawai'i.

The very island I happened to be on--the youngest of the Hawaiian archipelago--is itself the baby giant of its siblings. I assign it infant status because it's still in the midst of tremendous growth spurts, the kind that we humans see happening in our own species from infancy through adolescence. Careful assessment of these photographs reveal subtle evidence of this process--what the locals refer to as vog, a heavy atmospheric film of volcanic ash that permeates the entire island and even rides the southeasterly jet streams to some of the neighboring islands.

Essentially, the island is alive and growing and reminding its inhabitants (and the rest of the world, for that matter) that new land is vomited up from the wretched bowels of the earth in the here and now.

I acknowledged the island giant...and the other giants of Hilo as well...as I sat there tapping away at the keys on my laptop. As much as I needed to be mindful of that singular moment, reveling in a celebration of a two-mile walk in which I had metaphorically ascended the beanstalk and found the giants to be friendly and benevolent, I was also aware of a heavy vog in my heart...

All too soon, I would have to say goodbye to this island paradise and my beloved family of origin.

Welcome back anytime! Aloha!
Welcome back anytime! Aloha!

Comments

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  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Pamela Kinnaird W

    My time on the Big Island was memorable. Perhaps the biggest giant I encountered was this huge and sometimes formidable sense that I had once been part of this aesthethically pleasing picture, had stepped outside of the frame for a moment in time, and now was almost like an intruder simultaneously gleaning bits of nostalgia with the filter of an aspiring HubPages writer. Surreal and bittersweet. Thank you for stopping by to share this giant moment with me. Aloha, Pamela!

    Joe

  • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

    Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona

    I enjoyed this piece so much -- especially the last two paragraphs starting with 'I acknowledged'....

    I've only been to the Big Island once. Spent ten years between Oahu and Maui -- and only a day in Kona. Thanks for bringing the place to life for me. Voting way up.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Ah, such lovely and gracious words from a beautiful woman! Thank you so much, my friend. There certainly is a rhythm to this world. I will never think of the earth as being inanimate. At the risk of sounding pantheistic--because I'm not--my perception is that everything dies and then experiences rebirth through a common medium--the earth. Therefore, God uses the earth in a very cyclical and rhythmic fashion to restore and renew and re-invigorate. I can think of no better way to become intimately acquainted with Mother Earth than to literally walk on her while figuratively dancing to the rhythm of her symphony. Aloha, dear teaches!

    ~Joe

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

    You have such a creative way with words and readers can picture what your write so well. I felt as if I was there with you. I love trees and was so drawn in by your description of them and the vog. Aloha and God bless!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Maggie, I'm so glad you got a taste of the islands back in '81. I'm originally from the Kapa'a area of Kaua'i, and I'm partial to my home island. Even so, it was great to be with family back in March and enjoy the ono food. Thanks for stopping by and for your gracious comments. Aloha, and have a wonderful weekend!

    Joe

  • Maggie Bennett profile image

    Maggie Bennett 4 years ago from New York

    This was entertaining and informative. I had never heard of vog before and loved the way you explained it. The inclusion of the video from the Tsunami of 1960 really illustrated your point about the resiliency of the Giant Banyans.

    I visited Oahu and Kauai in 1981 and it was one of the best vacations I ever had. Going back would be real nice.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    My pleasure, Lisa!

    And I mean that with all sincerity. There is virtually no stream of income for me here on HubPages, so the only reason I write is for the pure pleasure of the craft itself AND the amazing connections I make with excellent writers...like Lisawilliamsj!!! Have a great day, my friend! Aloha!

    Joe

  • Lisawilliamsj profile image

    Lisa Williams 4 years ago

    This was awesome! Between your beautiful descriptive words and the gorgeous pictures I feel as if I have visited a new place! Thanks I voted up.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hey, Heather!

    And you know, I didn't find one penny or one thing I could sell on eBay! Those islanders keep their streets clean, I tell ya! At least, that was the state of things in Hilo! With all those giants to look up at, though, I could have missed what might have been right in front of my toes. LOL! Thanks for stopping by! Good to see you again! We done missed you, girl! : ) Aloha, and have a great evening!

    Joe

  • Mommymay profile image

    Heather May 4 years ago from Ohio

    Okay..WOW. You know sometimes you find such beauty when you put away the laptop and get outside. I ave never been to Hawaii but you always do such an amazing job of documenting the scenes that I feel like i am there! Sometimes you just need to be still and absorb. Looks like you had quite a walk!h

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Angel!

    I never realized until I began seriously walking this year the umbilical connection between walking and writing. You're absolutely right on when you mentioned how beauty inspires one to write elegantly. There is a rhythm one picks up, more than just the cadence of each stride, that is in tune with the universal hum , compelling a writer to search for creative expression. Needless to say, some of my favorite writing occurs after a long walk and a nice shower. Thanks for stopping by and sharing in this hub experience. Aloha, Angel, and have a wonderful rest of the week!

    Joe

  • angel115707 profile image

    Angel Ward 4 years ago from Galveston, TX

    wonderful work hawaiianodysseos! Sounds to me like the beauty inspired you to write elegantly and its inspiring to me! Now I want to go out to my lil "dirty" gulf coast island that I love and adore my muse! ha ha!!!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Stephanie!

    The difference between Kona and Hilo, weather-wise, reminds me of the difference between eastern Washington and the Seattle area during the autumn months. Hilo surprised me with lots of sunshine the first few days we were there, but near the end, it rained. I mean, it really RAINED! LOL! I was thankful to get these pix taken before the rain showed up in full force. The Big Island is simply awesome. I would love to backpack through the smaller towns like Waimea and write about my impressions, sipping delicious Kona coffee and talking story with the locals. Ah, maybe someday!

    So very nice to hear from you again, my friend, and I'm grateful that you picked this hub to read tonight. Aloha!

    Joe

  • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

    Stephanie Launiu 4 years ago from Hawai'i

    Mahalo nui for this beautiful hub. Makes me homesick for Hilo! I do miss those huge banyan trees and the early morning rains of Hilo. Thanks for the great photos too! Keep on writing and I'll keep on reading. Tweeted and pinned. Aloha, Stephanie

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you, Rajan, for taking time from your very busy schedule and sharing in my hub experience. Yes, the sights there were beautiful and historical. So much to write about with all that inspiration surrounding an individual. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!

    Aloha!

    Joe

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    Joe, a pleasant read and walk this! I love your descriptive imageries of the surroundings, makes me feel as if I'm there experiencing it myself. Lovely photos and views. Thanks for sharing this beautiful walk.

    Voted up.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Mary!

    Thank you for your gracious comments, my friend. I read voraciously as a child, and I learned at an early age that good writers had this ability to transport me magically from wherever I was onto Huck Finn's raft or Sherlock Holmes' flat on Baker Street or a ride on Meg's and brother Charles' tesseract. Words are powerful tools, and it is always challenging for me to find ways to wield those tools delightfully. If I'm having fun in the crafting of my sentences, I like to think that my readers, too, will want to pay the admission price of their time and come along for the ride.

    Your comments, therefore, mean the world to me! Aloha, Mary!

    Joe

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hey, Tom!

    Yes, still walking but not as frequently as I would like. So when I do go out, I walk for longer distances. An ideal schedule would be more about daily walking with shorter mileages and a long one every few days. Still, I managed to chip away at over half of my annual goal of 1000 miles, and I'm thankful for that. The weight is slow in dropping off, but maybe slow and steady is better at my age. Thanks for dropping by, and I wish you a memorable week as well, my friend! Aloha!

    Joe

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

    Have you read the comments before me? You truly are an amazing writer my friend. "charcoal clouds, pregnant with raindrop infants eager to be born, dimmed the now forsaken afternoon sun." Really...what a great line. Not only full of imagery but just so creative. Your mind is just so full. You see everything with a new and thoughtful eye that searches out the beauty. Not bad for an old man ;)

    I am thankful you go on walks and even more thankful you've taken me to Hawaii because I know I'll never get there physically.

    Your pictures are beautiful and punctuate your thoughts. Keep em coming my friend.

    Aloha hoapili.

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    Hi my friend interesting adventure,enjoyed every wonderful moment of reading it. Nice to hear you are still walking and good luck with losing some weight. Hope your Sunday is a peaceful and relaxing one, and have a very awesome week my friend !

    Vote up and more ! :-) Loved all the beautiful photos too !

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thanks, walking buddy! Kathryn, weather patterns all over the world are changing, signs of a planet growing old, I suppose. For me, walking is a great adventure, literally and figuratively grounding us with Mother Earth and linking us with so much of its splendid history and the vast library of mankind's lore. As writers, we're like literary conductors of this information. It comes rushing up through our soles to our minds, filling us with a sensual feast and compelling us to share what we've learned with others. Writers are sensitive conduits--you'll pass other people that are fixated in getting from point A to point B and thus missing the lessons along the way. We have a compelling responsibility, therefore, to tell the story. And the cool thing is, you'll see it in your own unique way, so the story is always fresh and invigorating. You have that raw talent, and you are so young. I wish I had not buried mine under a rock decades ago. Still, I am happy to have unearthed and given new life to it, simply by doing it! Honestly, my friend, my writing made a quantum leap the moment I started walking on January 1st of this year. Aloha!

    Joe

  • Kathryn Stratford profile image

    Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

    Joe,

    I didn't get as much walking done lately as desired, due to hot weather and rain. But I plan on getting my butt out there despite the weather this week. Walking is the most fun and sense-stimulating exercise to do.

    I have thought of writing a hub related to walking. Yours are always so beautiful, and although I have a different style than you do, it would be fun.

    Yes, the "buddy system" is very encouraging and motivating. Actually, reading hubs like this makes me want to get out! Good luck with your weight loss goal. With all of the walking you do, I really think you can do it!

    Have a wonderful Sunday, and when I walk I will think of you!

    ~ Kathryn

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Pearl!

    Thank you for the specific references in your feedback. It helps me to know what elements of my writing are working or need to be developed further when fellow writers comment on my work. I am very grateful for your attention to detail. I miss Hawai'i, and I miss my family of origin. Yet I love being wherever He sees fit to have me be. I, the writer, am privileged to provide a chronicle of my experiences and my impressions and thus give thanks for this season on earth He blessed me with. Aloha, my friend!

    Joe

  • grandmapearl profile image

    Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

    Joe, thank you for taking me along on your awesome walk this morning! I felt the refreshing mist, and my stomach even started to growl as you quickened your pace toward the goal!

    I loved your picturesque descriptions, and the gorgeous photo images you shared. What a lovely and peaceful place! A joyful read, my friend ;) Pearl

    Voted Up+++ and pinned

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    You're very welcome, Liz!

    I sometimes wonder what might happen to my brain and the rest of my body if I was placed in a sensory deprivation tank. Or maybe I already have been placed in one, and everything happening to me, including my writing about it, is the result. If so, keep being a favorite figment of my imagination, will ya? LOL!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    This indeed, cvanthul, was one of my shorter walks this year, and yet it was one of my more rewarding experiences. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your sweet comments. Aloha, my friend!

    Joe

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Kathryn!

    Someday, I hope they make a movie about Kamehameha I. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be about the same height and build as the legendary warrior conqueror. Thanks for reading and sharing your sweet comments about this personal narrative. I would love to get under 200 lbs by January 1 of next year. At the rate I'm going, I may just do it. How's your walking going? I'm looking forward to hubs about your experiences. We'll think of each other as we walk and know that our buddy system will keep us encouraged and motivated, okay? Aloha!

    Joe

  • Radcliff profile image

    Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

    What a beautiful depiction of a simple walk in search of an internet connection. There's something for each of the senses in every hub you write. Mahalo, my friend!

  • cvanthul profile image

    Cristina Vanthul 4 years ago from Florida

    What a delightfully well-written hub. Thank you for sharing your 2 mile journey!

  • Kathryn Stratford profile image

    Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

    Joe, you have the most beautiful way of describing things. No boring sentences in your articles!

    This is a grand journey you brought us on, complete with stunning photos, and bits of history. I really enjoyed this one.

    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend!

    ~ Kathryn

  • jabelufiroz profile image

    Firoz 4 years ago from India

    Great hub. Voted up and useful.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you, Bill! What an eloquent commentary on this hub experience. I found these photos that I had taken back in March and wanted to write about a topic that would weave these images and my monthly walking recap together. And this is what came out of it. The short breather I took after the June Challenge was beginning to settle in like a bad habit waiting to get started. Knowing my limitations, I thought I'd better hustle up and get back to my writing. LOL! Otherwise, that good old inertia would have me back on literary couch potato status. Have a great picnic with Bev, Bill! What a great idea! I'm off to another walk! Aloha!

    Joe

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Good morning Joe!

    I love your rambling discourses on these journeys of yours....reminds me of "Travels with Charlie" by Steinbeck....this is relaxed, comfortable writing at its best, always feeding lessons to the reader while leaving them relaxed and eager for more.

    This type of writing is pure Joe....your staple....your heart and soul....and I thank you for allowing the rest of us to accompany you on these marvelous trips of yours.

    Have a great day buddy! We are going on a picnic.

    Aloha,

    bill

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Thank you, WND! I had these photos stored in my computer, and the hub was nagging at me to be written, so I went to work. Did most of it in a Starbucks coffee shop yesterday while my wife and daughter went shopping...just finished it an hour or so ago. Getting ready for my walk, and thought I'd check my email first. Good thing I did. Thank you for always showing up so promptly. Hope you and the dogs are doing well and that you all have a wonderful weekend. Aloha!

    Joe

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hi, Jack!

    Thanks so much for sharing in this hub experience. Congratulations to your son on the occasion of his upcoming marriage AND to you on the event of welcoming a daughter-in-law into the family. Kona is a beautiful place to have a wedding. Have a great day, Jack! Aloha!

    Joe

  • wetnosedogs profile image

    wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

    Aw, what beauty. I can imagine being under the trees and barely getting wet. We seem to go under the trees a lot in our back yard when it rains.

    Hawaii has beautiful trees. I am sure if they could talk, they would have many stories to tell. Your capture of the sky is magnificent.

    Looks like you are doing great with your walks. You set your mind to something and you just do it!

    Great one, and since you are the one who hubbed it, it is no surprise.

  • Jackwms profile image

    Jackwms 4 years ago

    Great hub. It brings me some nostalgia for the islands. I really loved the photos. My youngest son, Greg, a hubber, is getting married in Kona in July. I will call your hub to his attention.