After making it up Mauna Kea, I relaxed for a few days while recovering from the cold. On the drive back to Hilo on June 1st, I stopped at few touristy places along the way.
In Kona, there are dozens of small, independent coffee farmers who cultivate their crops largely by hand. The place I stopped is Lions Gate Farms, a small plantation with coffee and macadamia nut trees. Like everywhere, they offer free samples of their products, and I’m sure many of the tourists (who aren’t backpackers with no space) go home with some tasty foodstuffs. I really liked the dark chocolate covered coffee beans, might order some online later – muhahaha.
Here’s a shot of the farm:
And a close-up of some coffee beans on the branch, for those who’ve never seen ‘em before:
Coincidentally, I am eating Kona coffee glazed macadamias as I write this.
Driving north from Kona toward Volcano takes one through some areas that look a bit alien.
I guess these are recent lava flows from Mauna Loa (though there are several active volcanoes within an hour’s drive). There are miles of this strange scrub-brush & lava moonscape.
Next stop was to be my lodging at Pineapple Park Volcano (a fantastic place with a really interesting owner – just not very many guests there). But I got distracted on the way by Akatsuka Orchid Gardens:
My first thought was, okay, what… $20 to see some orchids… but no, it’s free! This is really a big store, where you are welcome to just walk around and take pictures (as I did) without buying. There were almost as many orchid varieties as I saw in the Singapore botanical garden, just placed on tables for sale instead of planted in gardens along winding paths.
Here’s a $20,000 orchid, prized for its symmetry:
At the end of the day I had a yummy slice at Pizza Hawaii and Deli. The proprietor is actually from Richmond, VA, and used to live about 3 blocks from my house on Ellwood Avenue! The California Gourmet and Bacon Ranch really took me back to Brick Oven in Charlottesville (Helen of Troy and Johnnycakes), so this place is now in my Top 3 pizza restaurants in the world. Next to Brick Oven (the best pizza restaurant in the world), and the Pacific Crest Grill in Truckee, CA.
Everyone seems to have internet ordering nowadays. You can order Lions Gate coffee & mac nuts, Akatsuka orchids, and even Pizza Hawaii online! Now, if only Pizza Hawaii delivered to Munich. (Or Auckland, where I sit as I write this).