Chapter 1.1: In-person visit

As I mentioned in the last post, I had to come to Kona in person to see the condo that I want to rent. I think this is actually a great idea, and was able to plan a quick visit here for a couple of days. I’m a die-hard Hawaiian Airlines flyer, but due to the quick turn around time, I decided to look into Alaska Airlines and the non-stop flight from my local airport to Kona. My verdict: color me impressed. I’m sure I could have gotten a cheaper flight if I’d had more planning time, but that’s not something I could really control. The flight started loading early, we left a bit early, and the service across the Pacific was pretty great. In the future, I’ll try to get a seat not so close to the back, so that there is less chance of them running out of the meal that I want. I do enjoy HA serving meals at no cost, but Alaska had some pretty good options for a reasonable price. I’m a huge fan of the outlets in each seat back for USB and standard plug charging. Just be aware that when you fly over an ocean, you don’t get wi-fi service (no towers, yeah?). Just over 5 hours after takeoff, we landed in Kona in time for brunch. I’ll definitely fly Alaska Airlines again, and even signed up for the credit card on the flight so I could pick up bonus miles. I’ll probably use my HA miles for my one-way flight when I move, but Alaska Air will be a backup for return visits to the mainland.

Sunday was spent being a sorta-local, and hanging out with my friends. The US vs Portugal FIFA game was on at noon, so my friend and I headed to a divey bar in Kealakekua to watch it, and partake of the summer-fest BBQ they had available. Those ribs were so tasty. It’s definitely a locals place, but everyone is very nice. My friend and I have been there several times and it’s always a good time. After the game, we headed over to the Aloha Performing Arts Company (www.apachawaii.com) for a performance of “Waiting for Godot”. I have absolutely no idea what that show is about, but the actors were completely amazing. I’ve been to other performances (notably “Young Frankenstein”) and have to say that it’s really a great small company, and I’m strongly considering getting back into the theater community by volunteering there. It’s a great way to get involved in the local community, and meet the people who matter. Also, theater people in general kick ass. 🙂 I was able to meet some of the staff and actors after the show, which is always a great opportunity for networking and making new friends.

After the show, I headed over to L&L Hawaiian BBQ to meet some other friends. The plan was to grab some dinner and take it to White Sands Beach for dinner and sunset. I’ve been to L&L on the mainland and always enjoy it, but I’m glad to see it’s not something that was just imported as a touristy-type thing. That L&L in Keauhou was BUSY with lots of locals getting their ono grinds (delicious food). My favorites are the chicken katsu and kahlua pork with cabbage. If you get the plate lunch, you’ll get a protein, 2 scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad. Seriously, your scale will hate you but your belly will thank you. It’s at least two meals, so it’s a great way to stretch the dollar. I had the kahlua pork with cabbage rice bowl, and it hit the spot.

Once we all had our food, we headed down Ali’i Drive to White Sands Beach (aka Magic Sands) to watch the sunset and eat dinner. The place was filled with lots of people hanging out, riding the waves on boogie boards, playing in the surf and watching the sunset. It’s really one of those magical times every day, when everyone takes a few moments to watch and marvel at the beauty of nature. I have at least three friends on Facebook who regularly post “Kona sunset porn”, and it’s hard to not resent them. I choose to be grateful that they still take the time to stop and savor the gifts of this island town, as do so many others. For every tourist couple who snagged a table along the edge of the lanai at Sam Choy’s for pupus at sunset, there are 4 or 5 locals gathered on a public access beach watching the waves and the sun going down.

I was seriously exhausted after dinner and headed back to the condo to crash, as my body was three hours ahead and I only got about 4 hours sleep the night before. I wish I could say that I slept better, but I can’t. That meant that I was able to be up nice and early to catch some work emails and get some yummy Kona coffee from Green Flash Coffee. I asked the employee what the special coffee of the day was, and she said it was Costa Rican. I snorted that it was just silly to come to Kona and not have Kona coffee, that those people are philistines. By 8:15 a.m. my friend was on his way to work, I’d finished my coffee and it was time to start the day. Breakfast was at Java on the Rock, with some tasty smooth Three Stone coffee and The Florentine breakfast. I love this place in it’s breakfast incarnation and when it flips over to Huggo’s on the Rocks for lunch/happy hour/dinner. This is where most of the tables are set in the sand, so you take off your slippahs, and sip your Mai Tai or Longboard and just dig your toes into the sand while you look out over the water. There are great deals for pau hana (happy hour) and it gets very crowded for sunset. They have local entertainment most nights, frequently including hula. Breakfast is relaxed and quiet (at least, it is at 10 a.m. which is when I arrived) and you can just sip your coffee and gaze into the distance. I can’t do that too often because Kona coffee is deservedly pricey, but it’s nice when I’m on “vacation”. The rest of today, I’ve mostly piddled about: swung by the Z condo, stopped at the BoH up in the KTA to get info about setting up a new account (and probably making all the BoH employees and other customers nervous because I completely missed the “please wait here sign” and wandered about). The reason that Bank of Hawaii was recommended to me is because there is a location near my putative rental that is in a KTA grocery store, which means it is open 7 days a week. There are no mainland banks on the island, and the credit unions are some distance away. I’m pleased with the options available to me, and will likely get a new account started tomorrow. I read the “West Hawaii Today” and noted the great classified section; many locals have told me to check CraigsList and West Hawaii Today online for leads on furniture, jobs and used cars, as well as housing.

Tonight, I’m taking my friend to Sam Choy’s for pupus at sunset, because I have to go have the poke. Tomorrow is the meeting with the rental agent where I will see the unit and officially apply for it, open the BoH account, and do some last minute gift shopping before I fly back out (non-stop again). It feels really good to be taking these steps, and know that if all goes well, I’ll have an island address by next week. Next step: assuming I get approved for the rental, I need to decide what to ship here to outfit it, and what to buy on island. I think those pre-paid shipping boxes at the post office are going to be my new best friends.

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