My 2014 Retirement Trip Hawaii travel blog

Getting ready for my guided tour to Liliuokalani Gardens

Kukui nuts

Australian paper tree

Our instructor Rob McGovern explaining the formation of the area

Yellow Beaked Cardinal

This palm tree is native Hawaiian. But it is endangered because rats,...

St. Thomas orchid tree

Flowers on the St. Thomas orchid tree

Depth of past tsunamis

New growth coming voluntarily from the lava (not planted by man)

We began the day with breakfast at 7:00 am at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel. The Roads Scholar group all ate together. Because Perry asked I will describe the all-you- can-eat brunch. The hot options included white rice, scrambled eggs, very seasoned fried potatoes, sausage and gravy, bacon, what I think was Portuguese sausage sliced in rounds (not our traditional link sausage), pancakes, french toast and oatmeal with various topping options. On the cold side there were various pastries (including a wonderful, dense carrot cake without raisins), toast, bagels, croissants, fresh fruit - melon, prunes and pineapple (imported from the Philippines) and canned fruit - peaches and pears, yogurt and dry cereal. They offered guava, orange and pineapple juices. I mixed all three - Yummy!! There were also a few things I wasn't too sure about. There was what looked to be clear chicken broth with only green onions and what looked like tofu. This hotel had many Oriental tourist staying there.

While I am on the topic of food I'll say I have seen the very best lettuce salads I've seen anywhere - a nice mix of greens, all bright green and crunchy with no hard yellow parts in it. The dressings offered are almost all creamy - not a whole lot of oil based. White rice has been served with every meal. Twice I've had a dish of chicken thighs with a sweet teriyaki glaze. Once it was very good. The other time not so much.

After breakfast we had an orientation meeting and each participant was provided a receiver and earpiece to hear our guide during our excursions. Then we began our guided tour of the area near the hotel. I have already posted picures of the banyan trees and Banyan Drive. Our guide explained the area had been formed when the volcano erupted about 400 years ago and created new land by lava flow. For many years only scrub trees grew here and the area was used as fishing camps for the people living in Hilo. Eventually developers cleaned up the area and built the hotels in the 1920's.

Then we crossed the street and went into Liliuokalani Gardens. The gardens were named after the last queen of Hawaii. These gardens are a Tokyo style garden, the first outside of Japan.

During the walk the guide identified several items in the pictures I posted yesterday. I have edited the captions of those pictures so check those out again. (Angela, the bird is an Australian dove.) Our guide explained there were very few species of anything originally on the islands prior to the arrival of tribes from the Marquesas Islands in about 300 AD and the Tahitians in about 1441 AD. There were no ants, mosquitoes or cockroaches until ships came beginning with Captain James Cook in 1778. Many things that were brought here adapted to its new environment and changed to such a degree that the species is now endemic to Hawaii (not found in its current form anywhere else in the world.)

Below are details of the accompanying pictures:

1.) Me - ready for the walk

2.) Kukui Nuts aka Candlenut - the seed is very hard and can be highly polished and used to make jewelry - it's oil was used for lighting by the earliest Hawaiins. It is also used as a seasoning in cooking. It has also been used as a medicine similar to castor oil.

3.) Australian paper tree - sheds its bark (and at the same time parasites) as a defense mechanism.

4.) Our guide and group discussing lava flow creation of the peninsula on which hotels and the Garden has been built.

5.) A yellow beaked Cardinal.

6.) A Hala (Pandanus) tree - important all over the Pacific Islands. Used to make baskets, sails (pound the leaves and add water and turns to a material with texture of rubber). Also eats the fruit the tree produces.

7.) A St. Thomas Orchid Tree - flowers look like orchids - the sap is white which means the sap is poisonous at least to some degree

8.) Flower of St Thomas Orchid tree.

9.) Tree between the coast and my hotel showing depth of tsunamis in the past: 1957, 8'; 1952, 12'; 1960, 15' and 1946, 26'.

10.) new vegetation coming growing from the lava - this was not planted by man - it is "volunteer" vegetation - the seeds blew there or were deposited by birds.

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