Blah blah blah – vegetation plots, out-planting mapping, Nene re-sighting, trap checking, and even some fence maintenance. The best part of this week was the first half of my Adventure Buddy’s week-long visit to the Big Island with me!
She arrived on Wednesday night, after an exhausting day of travel across the country and half an ocean. On Thursday, we checked out the interesting parts of Hilo (really, you can do it in less than a day). Started the morning walking around Banyan drive, where the hotels are, and having breakfast at Coconut Willy’s/Baker Tom’s. Baker Tom’s makes amazing malasadas. I am not yet sure if they’re better than Leonard’s, it would require a side-by-side comparison, but they are certainly on par and come in a greater variety of flavors. In addition to sweet malasadas, Baker Tom’s makes savory ones! I got a pizza (fried dough stuffed with pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni) and a PB&J (stuffed with strawberry jam and peanut butter and covered in peanut butter icing) malasada, while she got a blueberry (stuffed with blueberries and covered in sugar). Oh my goodness, pure bliss eating those things. You come Hilo-side, you have to go there. With our confectionary perfections in hand, we walked around the Lilioukalani Park, my third visit there, looking at the birds, fish, and plants in and around the pond. We looked out across Hilo Bay. It was a beautiful morning to do it, the skies had largely cleared up after a night of rain.
For the middle of the day, we took a visit to Rainbow Falls, which was flowing quite aggressively, to really complete the standard tourist visit to Hilo. Got some pictures, checked out the flowers and banyans along the sides and above the falls. Then, we drove back down into town to check out the off-day farmers market, which is still fairly busy. We needed some produce to take up the mountain, and found a lady who was an excellent sales-person. “Here, get a few extremely ripe bananas and avocados with the not-yet ripe ones you were planning on buying.” Also, found a zucchini about the length of my forearm, but bigger around. It was impressive. For dinner, we went to Lucy’s Taqueria, which I had been hearing great things about – inexpensive, great quality, large portions, and a fun atmosphere, all of which we found to be true! It was very busy, but the staff was doing a great job of serving quickly so people could get out in time for others to take their table. My one mistake was underestimating the fried whole jalapenos. The jallies I’ve found here on the island have never been particularly powerful peppers, so I figured that fried, I would be totally safe. However, I did miscalculate the power of these seeds, and two peppers-full was a little much, even for how much I love spicy food. My stomach displayed it’s lack of appreciation for a couple hours afterwards. The tacos were absolutely delicious, though. Lucy’s claim to fame is a giant (6 lbs, I believe) burrito that I may have to consider challenging on a future visit.
Friday morning, we traveled up to Hakalau NWR with the horticulturalist, so I could get some real work out of her. That afternoon, I got to take my Adventure Buddy on a bit of a tour of the refuge. Namely, we went for a bird walk over in Pua’akala and checked out the haunted Koa cabin, and planted her personal tree, an Ohia with a beautiful tag. Saturday, the work began with helping the horticulturalist down at the greenhouse – constructing and filling a planting box for Koa seeds, to become thousands of saplings to plant throughout the refuge in the future! Fortunately, I also got an opportunity to watch the AMAZING game in Denver on Saturday afternoon – GO RAVENS! Sunday finally got the real work out of my Adventure Buddy. With the other volunteer that was up here, we went and mapped a lot of endangered plant out plantings in both Mau Lua and Pua’akala, checked traps, and did a Nene re-sight. It was a very productive day. Having her up here with me makes the work more fun and the off time far more enjoyable than reading for several hours a day. We will see if I let her return to the mainland after our trip to Kailua-Kona over the next few days.