On the Road Again . . . Finally!

by Bob Sparrow

Kona Country Club

“It is not a good time to travel to the islands.  We know that the visitors who choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect when they visit Hawaii.” Hawaii governor, David Ige   Aug 24, ‘21

Given that there are a lot of places that I’m not welcome, Governor Ige’s admonishment meant little to me, and as I parsed his statement more closely, it was clear he was saying that we shouldn’t come, not that we couldn’t come.  We had already cancelled one trip to Hawaii last year, not again – Aloha Big Island!

Getting There is Half the Fun

I’m here to tell you that, in today’s world of travel, getting there is not ‘half the fun’ – it’s not even a small percentage of the fun.  We wore masks from the minute we stepped into the airport in Long Beach, until we reach the Big Island in Hawaii. We kept it on while we waited for our luggage, kept it on as we waited for the bus to take us to the car rental location, wore it on the bus, wore it while we waited in line for the rental car agent and the car.  Finally, in the car . . . mask off – whew!!  I felt like I was holding my breath that whole time!  But . . 

The gang (minus Linda Sparrow who took the photo) at the Malasada truck

It was all worth it as we (the ‘we’ on this trip was Chuck & Linda Sager, Ed & Stacie Hunter, John & Judy VanBoxmeer and Linda & me) finally inhaled that heavenly tropical air, saw the palm trees swaying in a gentle breeze, and actually had the feeling that . . . we had escaped.  There was one drawback, and that was that everyone in Hawaii had to wear a mask, inside and out – it’s was one of the only things that Governor Ige could still control.  But . . .

No masks on the golf course!!  Our first round was at the beautiful Mauna Lani Golf Course, with several holes right on the water – one of the most spectacular being #15 on the South Course, where it is said that more photos are taken there than any other golf hole in Hawaii.  Not sure who’s counting, but in spite of us taking our photo there, you’ll find that it didn’t make the cut for this blog.

In Search of Malasadas

Chuck, who is like a local in Hawaii, had introduced us to Malasadas (which roughly translates to ‘Portuguese Fried Dough’ – basically, they’re fancy doughnuts, but better!) when we were last here and so the next morning the men got up and headed down the road for where the Malasada truck & trailer usually park.  No truck.  We drove a little further with the thought that perhaps the ‘Malasada lady’ parked somewhere else today.  I’m not sure we were looking for her or whether we were just killing time as we visited the resorts of Mauna Kea and Hapuna, then returned to ‘the Malasada spot’, but no Malasada truck, no Malasada trailer, no Malasada lady!  It was a holiday (Labor Day), so maybe she wasn’t laboring this day.  Nonplussed, we drove to the local market and found packaged Malasadas – not bad, but definitely not the same.

Island green at Makani

Dear Diary

What I had written here about our week on the Big Island, sounded too much like a very detailed, boring diary as I reread it.  So, I’ll save you the agony of reading it.  There was lots of golf, eating and drinking – not necessarily in that order

For golf . . .

  • The hidden gem of a mountain golf course that I touted as one of my favorite golf courses of all time, Makani, lived up to all expectations
  • The 15th hole at Mauna Lani is spectacular
  • Another golf course gem, also introduced to us by Chuck Sager, was Kona Country Club, with several scenic oceanfront holes

For eating . . .

Fredricos at Mauna Kea

  • We did eventually find the Malasada truck – which I’m blaming for the several extra pounds gained
  • The ‘Cheeseburger Sliders’ at Tommy Bahama’s in Waikoloa were delicious!
  • Lunch at The Fish Hopper on the water in Kailua-Kona, good food, great view!
  • Dinner at Roy’s – it’s Roy’s!

For drinking . . .

  • Not sure, but . . . Volcanos? Hawaiian Mai Tais?  Pina Coladas? Bikini Blonde Beer? I vaguely remember a Fredrico, a new drink to me – I think it was delicious, but for some reason it all seems a bit fuzzy.

Rainbow Falls – which we didn’t see!

I was hoping to tell you about my adventures to the ‘Five Favorite Waterfalls’ on the Hilo side of the island that I had researched and planned a trip to, but alas that trip got scrapped for either golf, food, drinking or all of the above.

Maybe next time.

In spite of that, Governor Ige, we had the ‘typical kind of holiday we expected’!

 

Did You Miss Earth Day?

by Bob Sparrow

If you’re not sure, you probably did!  It was two Thursdays ago, April 22nd.  With everything else going on in our world today, don’t beat yourself up if you missed it.  But in an effort to ‘keep you informed’, as we here at From a Bird’s Eye View, are committed to doing, I’ll provide you with a brief history of celebrating the day we honor our planet (hang in there, it will get more interesting . . . maybe!).  Inspired by students in the anti-war movement, former Wisconsin Sen. Gaylord Nelson and others helped to organize the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.  It inspired about 20 million Americans to come out and demonstrate against the impacts of industrial development on our environment. OK, brief enough.

If you forgot to celebrate, worry not; you’ve probably already been doing your part by staying home this past year and thus lowering your total carbon emissions. Good for you!

While listening to the Darren Hardy’s ‘Darren Daily’ episode on Earth Day, I learned a few interesting facts about our ‘Mother Earth’ and thought I’d share them with you.

What’s in a name?  How did we get the name ‘Earth’?  While all the other planets are named after Greek or Roman gods, we get our name from both English and German words, ‘ertha’ and erde’ which means ‘ground’.  Pretty sexy, huh?

Flat Earth

Earth flat?  We all know that the earth isn’t flat, right?  Ok, there is the ‘Flat Earth Society’ that believes evidence to the contrary is fabricated by NASA and those ‘Round Earth Conspiracy’ theorists.  But the earth is not round either, it’s oval, like a squished ball – fatter at the equator.

Who’s tallest? That aforementioned ‘squished ball’ visual, begs the question, what is the tallest mountain in the world?  You’re thinking Everest, right?  But, depending on how you measure, there could be two other answers.  Everest is the tallest, 29,033 ft from sea level, but, if you’re looking for the mountain that is furthest from the earth’s center and thus closest to the moon and stars, it would be a mountain in Ecuador, Mt. Chimborazo – it’s right on the earth’s bulging equator.  However, if you’re measuring from the ocean floor instead of sea level, it’s Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, which measures 33,496 feet from the ocean floor to its summit – told you it would get more interesting!

What?! We’re not the Center of the Universe!  When asked who was the first to discover that the sun, not the earth was the center of our solar system, you’d probably respond with the name of that Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus, who published his work in 1543.  But you’d be wrong.  Did you say, Aristarchus of Samos, the Greek astronomer and mathematician, for his discovery around 270 B.C.?  Nope, but he was influenced by the first to proffer the idea that the earth was not the center of the universe, Philolaus, another Greek philosopher who lived around 400 B.C. and was the first credited with originating heliocentrism, the theory that the Earth was not the center of the Universe – much less the center of our solar system.

Mt. Chimborazo

How old is earth? The earth is approximately 4.54 billion years old – don’t ask me who was counting or when earth’s birthday is, but just to put our existence on this planet in perspective, let’s assume that the 4.54 billion years was converted to a 24-hour day.  Homo sapiens (that’s us) would have been on the earth for . . . wait for it . . . 4 seconds!

How fast are we going?  The earth is hurling through space at a speed of 66,000 miles per hour as we travel around the sun.  It is also spinning at a rate of 1,040 miles per hour.  Dizzy yet?  Thanks to a thing called gravity, we don’t fly off into space.

Land & Sea One-third of the earth is desert – the largest desert?  Nope, it’s Antarctica, it gets only about 2 inches of precipitation per year.  Seventy percent of the earth is made up of water, but only 3% of that is fresh water.

Got a light?  Lightning strikes on earth about 100 times . . . per second!  That’s about 8,600,000 per day

Earth’s largest desert – Antarctica

Free Fall: If a large hole was drilled through the center of the earth, it would take about 46 minutes to free fall from one end to the other.  You’d need a pretty good ‘fire-suit’ as temperature in the middle of the earth is about the same temperature as the sun’s surface – 10,000 degrees.

Who Owns the Most Real Estate on Earth?  Not Bezos, not Musk, not Zuckerberg, Not Buffett (Warren or Jimmy), not Gates, not some Saudi prince, but . . . Queen Elizabeth – she is the ‘legal’ owner of 1/6 of the earth’s land surface.

Happy belated Earth Day!  Yeah, we’re too late for this year’s gala celebration of Earth Day, but you’ll be ready to wow them next year!

 

 

Big Island – Photos & Travel Tips

by Bob Sparrow

Six at sunset

As those who have been there know, landing in Kona at Keahole Airport on the Big Island of Hawaii is like what I imagine it would be like landing at Jurassic Park International Airport while the earth was still cooling.  Black lava dominates the landscape all around the airport and you wonder if there is really any civilization down there.  But indeed, there is.

Linda and I were invited, along with Jack & JJ Budd, to Chuck & Linda Sager’s timeshare at the Hilton Grand Waikoloa.  We arrived at the complex’s tiki bar just in time to watch the second half of the 49er-Viking game.  While the outcome pleased this life-long Niner fan; Linda, a Minnesota native and avid Viking fan, was not that happy, but looking forward to a week in Hawaii seemed to assuage the pain of the loss.

Showing rain everyday, except the day we’re leaving!

Typically, the colors of the Big Island are a mix of azure blue skies reflecting a sea-foam green ocean, contrasting with uneven natural black lava outcroppings against a variety of lush verdant golf courses, but this week Mother Nature had another color in mind . . . gray.  The weather for the week showed rain every day.  It’s no secret why Hawaii is so green!

But we were going to have fun anyway, and as usual, the weatherman was wrong, in fact aside from our first round of golf at Kalani Country Club (previously known as the Big Island Country Club) in a light rain, we never really experienced much precipitation.   Even in the rain, Kalani was one of the most simply beautiful courses I’ve played – because it’s ‘out of the way’ in the mountain and it was raining, hardly anyone was on the course so we played as a six-some – a most enjoyable welcome round to the Big Island.

As a ‘travel blogger’ of sorts, I feel an obligation to share some of the things learned on this trip; so following are a few travel tips.

Kona Country Club

1st Travel tip: Golf – If you come to the Big Island to play golf, forget the expensive ‘named’ courses like Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea (we played those and we all got across the ocean on the beautiful 15th hole at Mauna Lani and the 3rd hole, from the tips, at Mauna Kea: Big deal!) and play Kalani and the Kona Country Club (south of Kona) – great lay-outs, ocean and mountain views, less crowded and much less expensive!

2nd Travel tip: Food – Breakfast was mostly in with all of us enjoying Jack’s smoothies, some delicious bagels, some cheese eggs and some Kona coffee – although we did find some delicious banana pancakes at several locations, which I would recommend.  Lunch was usually late after golf at places like the beach at Mauna Kea Hotel which is looking a little tired these days, Tommy Bahamas in Mauna Lani, or at ‘On The Rocks’ in downtown Kona.  We BBQed a couple dinners at our condo and went to Roy’s for a nice dinner, where we met Wayne Newton.  But the best travel tip on food is making sure that you find the Malasadas truck parked along the main highway and stop and get a Portuguese doughnut or 12.  Eat them while they’re hot, they are delicious!

‘On the Rocks’ Kona

Wayne Newton asking to join the Monday Knights

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Malasadas Truck, where Jack & Chuck found a couple of tomatoes

 

 

 

3rd Travel tip: Entertainment – If you like magic and comedy, you will love the Kona Kozy Magic & Comedy Show in the Mauna Lani shopping center, next to Tommy Bahamas.  It’s a small theater, probably no more than 30 seats; we were six of about 12 people in attendance that night.  He is very funny, he does some great magic and gets the audience engaged.  You can have dinner next door at the Pele Wok restaurant like we did and bring your own alcohol to his show – I think we brought in a case of wine.  A very entertaining evening

Final Travel tip: Drink – If you’re planning a trip to the Big Island in the near future and like wine, you should plan on bringing your own, as we depleted the island of most of its supply while we were there.

No trip to Kona is complete without a visit to the spectacularly gigantic Kona Waikoloa Hilton Hotel, which we visited on our last evening there and watched a beautiful sunset – yes, the weather was clearing up just as we were clearing out.

Sunset on our last night at Waikoloa

A special thanks to Chuck Sager, who knows this island like the back of his hand and was able to get us to all the roads less traveled by most tourists.