Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.

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Last Day in Hawaii Looking for Whales
by Don and Peggy Doman

Sunrise in Paradise Park, Puna District - Photo.

A nearby seawater pool - Photo.The last couple of days in Hawaii had Peg shopping and packing. We visited the Hilo Market. I dropped her off to shop and then I parked the car and listened to some excellent Hawaiian music at their entertainment area under a tarp and next to a food vendor.

Although Peg had been buying presents for family and friends for some time, she could now feel the pressure of leaving on Thursday morning. She had a list and was checking it twice. Although she would confide in me who was getting what, the information just kind of floated over me as I nodded my head to please her.

The Kaleo dining room - Photo.As we drove back to Paradise Park she said, "We need to visit Mauna Loa." Since the macadamia nut farm was between Hilo and Paradise Park I agreed. We drove up their long private road past their nut trees and stopped at their visitor center for some sweet gifts. We bought some "Mountains," which were two macadamia nuts covered with milk chocolate in a box of fifteen. We bought some Hershey Kisses with dark chocolate and macadamia nuts. We also bought a bag of dark chocolate covered macadamia nuts, but I rather doubt anyone will find those under their Christmas tree on Christmas Morning. They might them on a saucer next to a cup of coffee with Bailey's Irish Cream if they stop by our home during December.

The Kaleo bathroom - Photo.I kept returning to the Keaau Village Market in hopes of finding Ma's Kitchen open and cooking pasteles. Before Thanksgiving all of their pasteles were set aside for the holiday. The next time they were open, I was only able to buy the pastele stew, which is served over rice. The last time there I was able to buy three pasteles wrapped in banana leaves. I ate two for lunch and saved the last one for Donn (to be eaten once we had gone).

I never got back to the Sunday Market between Pahoa and Keaau, for the giant pastele, but the smaller ones where just as good . . . if you count smaller as an equal of bigger and better.

The Kaleo burger - Photo.Peg wanted to see her friend Auntie at her second hand store. Peg and I had received leis from Auntie when we first met. Peg and returned and bought me two Hawaiian shirts for $3 each. She had bought other items as well. We returned this time looking for a suitcase to carry home treasures. We walked up to her entrance and there was a tip-top condition soft side suitcase for only $10. The only trouble was that it was too large. I opened it up and there was the smaller companion piece. I said, "I'll buy the suitcase for ten and give you the large suitcase back." The smaller one was perfect.

We bought a few more items and then Peg had an inspiration. She had purchased some sandals at Target in Hilo and never used them. She gave them to Auntie to resell. It turned out they were Auntie's size and were going to be perfect for her trip to Arizona a few weeks later. Auntie wouldn't let us leave without retreated to her car and finding two more leis for us. It was a pleasure doing business with her.

Our two leis from Auntie and my banana pie - Photo.We pulled out of the Keaau Village Market and drove across the street to the local McDonald's for a coke. They had a big sign in the window offering their fried banana pie for a buck.

The pie was good, not as good as their Christmas Pie from last year, but I enjoyed it. It also posed no threat to any of the banana lumpia we had eaten since arriving in Hawaii, but I still enjoyed it. It was twice the price of their apple pies which I'll buy every once in a while in Tacoma . . . but I still enjoyed it, even at twice the price.

Bruddah Waltah - Photo.When we made reservations for Wednesday evening, the waiter told us there would be entertainment. He mentioned someone's name, but I didn't recognize it, so just looked pleased. We were treated to Bruddah Waltah in addition to the name I didn't hear. Bruddah Waltah has been around for some time. He created a Hawaiian Reggae style of music. They music they played during the evening was wonderful. They sat about six feet away. Our group could talk and still enjoyed the music.

When I asked the waiter if Bruddah Waltah had a business card or CDs for sale, he just shook his head. I have since found him on the internet for CDs and mp3 downloads. I liked the soft romantic Hawaiian sound with a slight Reggae beat in the background. Peg and I tipped early to show them we appreciated their music.

The Big Island Book Buyer Bookstore - Photo.The food at Kaleo's? Fantastic. Sue had an ahi sushi without nori. The fish melted in my mouth. Debbie had the lemon chicken, their signature dish. I couldn't even concentrate on what other people had once my steak with wine reduction was delivered. The steak was cooked perfectly. When the waiter saw that all my sauce was gone off the plate he asked, "Are those tongue prints?"

We ordered three desserts to share: the banana lumpia, again, a molten lava cake with ice cream and a raspberry puree to represent flowing, hot lava, and the lilikoi cheesecake, again. I could have eaten an entire piece by myself . . . okay, to be honest, I could have eaten the entire cheesecake. Donn and Debbie had eaten there before, but never with friends to make great food even better.

Secluded clearing and beach - Photo.During our two week Hawaiian vacation we had toured the island from coast to coast, driven on the saddle road between the two big volcanoes, seen wild turkeys, the Hawiian pheasant, the nene, a mongoose, and the Honu Turtle and other wonders. In addition I had seen a glider and a bird put on an aerial acrobatics performance in the high winds above a beautiful valley cut through ancient lava. Peg and I had celebrated our 45th anniversary in-between visits to the most visited volcano and crater in the world. We had seen everything except whales.

The gray whales visit Hawaii in December and January and sometimes late November. Our plane was to leave the morning of December first. An hour before we needed to leave for the airport, Donn looked out into the ocean while he was talking and stopped in mid-sentence, "Is that a . . . yes, it is." From the lanai we could see spouts from a mother and child. In addition, spinner dolphins swam with the whales. The Irwins and the Lords had seen many whales off the cliffs of Paradise Park, but had never seen spinner dolphins with them.

Five days later Donn and Debbie returned to Tacoma, without seeing any whales other than the mother and child on December first. I guess eventually you find what you're looking for . . . if you keep on looking long enough. It must have been a sign . . . I just don't know what kind of a sign it was.

Searching the horizon in Paradise Park - Photo.

Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.

Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.

Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.

Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.

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Kaleo's restaurant, village markets, and whales on the big island hawaii.