Saturday, August 17, 2013

Hot Lava, Hilo, and Chickens

We went to Hilo last weekend to get some chickens. My sister lives there now so it was a chance to soak up some East side fun as well expand our animal family times four. It's nice to have a reason to get out of Kona and even nicer that we now have a place to stay in Hilo.

So we drove away from the dusty traffic and endless vog of Kona, up and over Saddle Road to my sister's cozy rental house near the university. Somehow, her house feels like our childhood home in Portland, Oregon. I don't know if it's the familiarity of her routines, the way she makes coffee at all hours of the day or the perpetual muted TV glow, but staying with her brings me back to my childhood and I wouldn't mind curling up on her couch with a cup of coffee and never leaving.

Being new to Hilo town, my sister and her fiance have been spending a lot of time getting to know the surrounding areas. They had an agenda planned for our weekend before we arrived, which as a planner-type person, made me very happy. First stop, Kilauea Lodge.

Located in Volcano Village, this restaurant and inn has rave reviews just about everywhere. My sister gushed about it as did some other foodie friends. I really want to like this place. And to some degree, I did but one can only conclude that we must have landed there on an off night. The ambience was darling, a fireplace adorned with German beer steins, painted wooden place mats, and stained-glass windows create a cozy space. The wine list was great and even our not-so-good food was definitely made from scratch, noodles and all. Maybe the chef that night was rushed, but everything was under-seasoned and well, just kind of sloppy.

Glowing lava doom in background. Cool, my face looks shiny even in the dark.

A mediocre meal is not the end of the world, in fact we were on our way to see how the world begins. Minutes away from Volcano Village is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, open 24 hours. Lava is most visible at night, think red-glowing fire, so we stopped by the active crater for a peak. I've now lived on Hawaii island for 7 years and have never seen lava, tried many times, but was never lucky enough to catch it. So seeing the glow, deep inside the crater, was special indeed. It felt like Halloween with all the people milling around in the dark, the background a spooky, glowing, steaming crater. Our dog, forever scared of everything, cowered at my knee tripping me every third step.

It wasn't until the next morning, when a 4.6 magnitude quake got me out of bed, rattling the fragile wooden frame of my sister's house, that I realized just how epic watching lava come out of the earth really is.

We drank many mugs of coffee and watched silent episodes of "Roseanne" while waiting for the boys to come home from surfing. Around mid-morning we set off for Kalapana to buy some chickens advertised on Craigslist and ended up in a remote-as-it-gets housing development along the wild Puna coastline. For every cute, well-built home in this neighborhood there was a less-cute, shanty-type home built from plywood, tarps, and screens. Alas, our chickens lived at a screen shanty with a man, probably our own age, who appeared to have never worn shoes. He lovingly gave us tips on caring for the chickens and sent us on our way with two plastics tubs of four full-grown egg laying chickens. Don't worry, there were air holes for them to breathe.

Pahoa Farmer's Market
On our way back to Hilo and eventually back home, we stopped at the Pahoa farmer's market. Pahoa is known for it's abundance of produce and hippies. This market did not disappoint in either area. What surprised me was the amazing number of prepared food choices. It being close to lunch time by then, I dove right in getting Russian potato pancakes with beets, sour cream, and a pickled egg for me and a smoked meat plate with rice and mac salad for Dustin. We shared a refreshing hibiscus tea, which I really ought to try making at home.

By the time I sauntered back to the car, the chickens were panting. This immediately broke my heart and I started to panic. I totally thought the chickens were going to over-heat and die right on the spot. So as much as I wanted to stay and admire the hippies it was back over Saddle Road for us, windows down and back gate up.

Thankfully, the temperatures really drop as you head up the Saddle because the road goes right in between two mountains and makes a hell of an elevation climb. Just as my panic began to subside, probably about half way home, we heard the fluttering wings of an escaped chicken. I caught the dog as he tried to leap for the back seat and Dustin squealed over in the emergency lane. We dove in the back, trying at once to restrain the yelping dog and grab the brave chicken. In seconds it was over, the chicken safely back in the box, and my nerves at code red.

We managed to make it home without further incident and the chickens now happily reside in their coop, made from old pallets. In a week they have already given us eight eggs. I'd say it was a successful trip.


  1. You only got 8 eggs in a week? I wonder if the stress of moving threw their laying off. You should be getting an egg a day from each one. What breed are they? They look similar to ours, but darker.And skinnier. But my husband spoils our chickens. Get ready to spend all your time watching their every move. They're so cute.

  2. So sorry your meal at the lodge was mediocre...I haven't been there in quite a while but the meals I remember eating there were quite good.

    With your sister living in Hilo now I'm glad you have a ready excuse to come over to this side more often...;-)

    1. I know, we were bummed about the lodge. Need to give it another try I think. Or am I getting too picky? That's a scary thought. We will need to get together next time we make it Hilo way!


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