Day 1


Miles Today – 36 Total Miles – 36

Kona,HI to Kawaihae,HI

(-stayed in b&b in Hawi,HI -)



I awoke after a good-enough night’s sleep and felt surprisingly strong.

The sending out of the journal notes when without a hitch through the

hotel room phone. I retrieved e-mail, too, of course. There were several

business-related notes among the 25 or so messages, but one mentioned about a

fellow Optimist who had died. His son e-mailed me about it. Jack Moriority

had a wonderful smile in front of deep blue eyes, and firm handclasp. I wrote

back that I would miss the wonderful guy, and that I’d pause by the Pacific

and send out some thoughts about him.

My mile run took me to the bike shop where I found the bike on the stand

and finished ready to go… I enjoyed meeting the fellows from the bike shop

who I had chatted with on the phone. I especially wanted to meet Joel, of c

ourse. Jason who I first met there, took me around through the store which

was being renovated to the little office where Joel was chatting amiably on

the phone. 20ish and unshaven, he had a great friendly smile. He was at the

desk and I noticed a brace on his leg. Like I usually do for folks in braces

or casts, I asked him in a friendly way what had happened to him. And then I

wanted to fall through the floor when he swiveled his chair around and I

noticed he had no leg. As I apologized for the gaffe, he was good humored

about it and said that he was born without the leg. He had one of those great

metal prosthesis things that allowed him full movement. It was something that

clearly didn’t slow the guy down, and I was very impressed about that.

After checking in at the bike store to put some unneeded gear in the bike

box to go home in 9 days, I crossed the street and had a couple bean tacos at

the Taco Bell. (By-the-way, one of the first things at the airport in

Honolulu to smack me in the face, and now as I biked through town was Wendy’s

and Starbucks. And Walmart. And Radio Shack. These and other known brand

stores dotted all over the city.)

After consuming the food, I stood outside as a little blond girl of about

5 watched bemused as I doused and smothered myself with sunblock. Then I set

off north on Route 19 under partly cloudy skies that alternately splashed

sunlight on the road mixed with grey.

The Big Island of Hawaii is a microcosm of a multitude of little

weather systems. I’m told I’ll be heading north on the sunny side, and then

round the corner to the rainy side. As you’ll read on, it didn’t quite work

out that way for today…

This is nothing like the ride I expected today – most especially the

scenery’s barren landscape. But at 14 miles out, when I saw the sign “Donkey

Crossing – Beware between 6 and 7am”, I knew I wasn’t in Havertown anymore!

Started out into a small spurty headwind mixed with occasional tailwind.

It was good riding over slightly rolling terrain.

At about 12:15pm a tiny sprinkle started to fall. I went for while longer

before doing some modest covering of my bags.

At about 1:30pm, at 17 miles out, I stopped to suck from my water bottle

and to cover the gear as the slow drizzle was picking up to a steady staccato

tattoo against the bags. I had seen a sign on the lava field to the left, and

as I looked through it with my binoculars I also saw part of the ocean

behind. There was some splashing I noticed, and then when I trained my

binoculars in that direction, much to my amazement I saw huge pillars popping

out of the water, and then came the realization that those were humpback

whales doing their thing, and lunging toward the sky. Majestic. Awing.

Certainly one of the more amazing animals I’ve seen on any bike trip.

I stood in the drizzle and wanted to shout to the cars passing by, “Hey,

look what you’re missing!!!!!” After I came back the 25 yards or so, I was

standing by the bike when a speedy racing cyclist buzzed by and startled me.

He said, “You all set?” I guessed that was his way to ask if everything was

okay, but he was gone before I could say anything… I stared for awhile

longer toward the whales before taking off along the highway….

For more than 22 miles out of Kona there wasn’t a sign of a building

anywhere. There were some probably 20 miles away to the right up on the

mountain right outside of Kona, but that was it. Just that scrabbly lava rock

with the sandstone rock letters put there presumedly by kids spelling out

sweetheart’s names and various other things. At first outside Kona I thought

the that scrabbly rock and dirt was just the earth having been turned over

by big earth-moving machines – perhaps preparing the land for some kind of

building or something. But shortly and for most of the rest of the day the

moonscape terrain was ever-present on the side of the road so I was sure

there was something else at work here. To the left beyond the lava field in

the distance was the Pacific. To the right beyond the lava field was a small

range of mountains – for most of the day ringed with clouds that ranged from

grey to ominous black. For part of the time before it hit me, I could see the

rain showers coming towards the highway.

Behind the main bulk of today’s rain came an amazingly fierce headwind –

and rolling hills. Well, it was hard just ROLLING down them… The wind began

at 1:30pm and caused my quick progress to come to a grinding slow-down. I

went from my effortless 18 miles-per-hour to a tortoise-like 4-7

miles-per-hour as the constant breezes began hitting the loaded touring bike

like a it was hitting a wall!

Around 2:30pm I spied two touring cyclists coming toward me. Dave and

Sandy were from Santa Rosa,CA, and I pumped them for info about the road

ahead, and also got a nice shot of them overlooking a bay. Sandy recommended

a little B&B in Hawi (pronounced “Havi”). The two middle-aged+ folks were

headed toward accommodations at a big hotel not far, and then the next day

they would be heading into Kona for their flight home.

At 3pm I rolled over 30 miles – still trying to slice my way into a

blizzard of headwind.

I stopped at a state park but was told that I couldn’t camp there because

I had no registration. The friendly fellow recommended an illegal place a

little ways away. I was considering it, but then went to town for a little

dinner. It was about 4:30, and there being nothing along the way I had

subsisted on sunflower seeds and a power bar all day since the tacos.

A red-eyed guy in a scuba diving-tour store put me in touch with Bobi who

owned the B&B that my friendly bikers had told me about. After much

consternation, and thinking of many options, I elected to get a ride with a

friend of Bobi’s, to her place, and then get a ride back to this spot

tomorrow to continue the ride.

While waiting for the ride to the B&B I pedaled the hundred yards or so

to the Shipwreck outdoor diner. Cute little place. I wasn’t very hungry

though. And I didn’t have much choice in the selection. Finally settled on a

veggie sandwich without the cheese or onions, and some french fries to go

with it. It came to only $7. I ate half the sandwich, then stared at the

other half for awhile wondering if I had enough energy to each it. Had a

couple of the fries, a couple bites of the sandwich and two cans of some

Hawaiian canned stuff which had papaya and some other tropical fruits in it,

and proudly proclaimed to be made here…

Rick finally arrived in his pickup truck. He and his girlfriend Si,

worked together on construction jobs. On the way up the hillside it began to

really rain hard. But before that I got view of my first Hawaiian rainbow.


I met Bobi at the door of her place. She was in robe and bedroom slippers

and was very friendly and talkative in a kindly kind of way. As the rain grew

harder, I put the bike in a nearby rec-room, and brought my bags to the room

where I was to stay… We chatted a little, but soon I was tucked in the

roomy kitchen with the i-book on the kitchen table. I plugged in, and with

i-tunes rolling out the tunes, I listened to my little tape recorder and

pieced together today’s journal entry.

Bobi would pop by once in awhile with the weather report – and to say the

winter has been ‘crazy’…. seems there has been an awesome amount of rain

down near Hilo, and the first lightening strike she has ever heard of in

these parts. Part of the road is washed out and closed into Hilo! We

discussed a huge number of options for my ride tomorrow.

I sat about 2 hours enjoying the music, the typing, the reviewing of the

day and the strong Pacific breeze blowing in on me. The rain was coming down

in gales – and pounded against the windows and the roof for most of the two

hours. (I was glad I was not camping.) I typed in my sweaty filth until I

could type no longer and my shoulders were stooped with weariness. And then,

after transferring the day’s images from the camera to the computer, and

sending out e-mails, I went and took my shower and went to bed.

Picture of Kona North Views

Author: Joel Perlish

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