August 2008 Log

A photo diary of life in Hilo Hawaii






We went to 'Imiloa Astronomy Center to get tickets for the last planetarium show of the "Dark side of the Moon". It is a sound and light show with Pink Floyd music blaring. It sounded like fun, but the music was too loud for our tastes.

Since we were in the area, we filmed Astronomy row, which is a street of Observatories in Hilo, above 'Imiloa Astronomy Center. The Observatories are impressive buildings, many of them still continuing to add on office space. We marvel at the astronomy action in this tiny town of Hilo.


The 2008 Olympics is over and University of Hawaii at Hilo is back in session. We live in University Heights near UHH and so we've watched the students return and fill their belongings into the rentals in our area. The streets which were bare of cars are now lined with them. We hear their cheerful voices (usually talking on their cell phones) as they walk by our porch on the way to and from classes. It signals the end of summer and the end of putting off getting serious about things. Thinking about the last months of the presidential, state, and county political mayham makes us just want to forget the cares and worries of the world and enjoy the sun and tropical breezes.

Below is a high density photo of Kilauea Volcano (Pu'u O'o crater vents) erupting above Hilo. This is taken from the NAS pool parking lot, which is across from the old airport terminal - next to Fed Ex and the cargo plane offices. The volcano, which is huffing and puffing poisonous gas and shaking the ground, keeps everything in perspective for us.

Eruption over Hilo, Hawaii


The August weather has been glorious. Today is was so clear the telescopes on Mauna Kea were easily visible.

Mauna Kea telescopes above Hilo Hawaii

But we are fixated on the Olympics. We have cable with a box (non-HD) and our coverage has been great. Not only do we get the NBC's coverage (NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, and USA), Oceanic Time Warner has set up additional channels including an Olympic mosaic showing what every NBC channel is currently showing, and a video on demand channel of previous olympic events. In addition we get a feed from a local Chinese station and Korean station showing events of interest to them. So we have 24x7 olympic coverage - far beyond the minimal coverage we had of the Athens Olympics in California.

On the east side of the island, each area has very different coverage. Puna doesn't get all the cable channels Hilo has. We watch a lot of Japanese TV on KIKU, but folks in Keaau don't get that channel (requiring we keep them up to date on the latest Japanese dramas). Cable channel coverage is something to consider if you move to Hilo and TV is important to you.

Olympics TV coverage in Hilo Hawaii

So instead of going out and enjoying the weather, we are inside vicariously enjoying the success and defeat of the olympians in Bejing.


The Haari Boat Festival is an Okinawan cultural event in Hilo organized by Okinawan immigrants that came to Hawaii in the early 1900's. The first immigrants from Okinawa arrived on June 8, 1900. They formed an organization (Hui) in 1946, now known at the Hui Okinawa. In 1989 a delegation from Hilo went to Nago on the island of Okinawa and asked for a donation of three sabani for a Hilo Haari Festival. The 3 sabani arrived in Hilo in 1990 and were launched on the Wailoa river in May of that year. The first Haari Boat festival was celebrated in August 1990. The county built Sabani house in the Liliuakalani Japanese gardens in 1991 and the sabani are stored in the gardens where you can see them year round.

Haari Boat Festival in Hilo

The yearly Haari Boat festival in Wailoa park showcases Okinawa culture and their boats, sabani. A large variety of foods were available as well as displays and imported Okinawan food.

Haari Boat festival in Hilo

Okinawa candy in Hilo

Okinawa candy Hilo, Hawaii

Okinawa seaweed Hilo

Boat races took place in the protected Wailoa river. The Hilo weather was perfect, clear, cool and sunny.

Loading boats for racing in Hilo

Boat races in Hilo


We go to Hilo's downtown farmer's market several times a week to load up on tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, avocados and other salad fixings. But there is another farmer's market in Hilo, the Kinoole Farmers market at 1990 Kinoole street. This farmer's market takes place every Saturday morning from 7am to noon.

Kinoole Farmers Market Hilo

In addition to the local produce for sale, the parking lot setup has an area for workshops and a chi gong movement class. It is pretty amazing to find yet another farmer's market in Hilo.

Kinoole Farmers Market in Hilo



The Hilo Orchid Society had their yearly show this weekend. We went over this morning and were extremely impressed. The displays were outstanding.

Hilo Orchid show display

They society was holding continuous seminars on how to grow and take care of orchids.

Hilo Orchid show seminar

The variety and colors of the flowers were incredible.

Orchid in Hilo

Hilo Orchids

This orchid looks like an angel.

Hilo orchid at Orchid show


This is a view of the volcano from our swimming pool parking lot (near Hilo airport) this morning. Normally, you can't see the plumes of toxic gasses coming out of the vent from Hilo, but this morning the volcano was really going off.

Volcano plumes seen from Hilo, Hawaii Aug 2008

We had 5 little earthquakes this morning as well. Unfortunately, all this activity is elevating the sulfur dioxide levels in Pahala, Kau and Kona areas making it harder for the folks that live there.


Twice a year the Big Island nursery owners have a plant show and sale in Hilo. It is incredibly popular because of the variety, quality and reasonable prices for plants. We have never seen so many tropical, flowering, fruit and unusal plants as we did in the sale. There was a long line waiting to enter on Friday afternoon and by Saturday, most of the plants were gone.

Hilo Garden and Plant Show

Hilo Garden and Plant show and sale

Hilo tropical plants


The first day of August we went drove up Saddle Road to Mauna Loa, above Hilo, to go 'ohelo berry picking.
Ohelo berry picking on the island of Hawaii

'Ohelo berries are related to cranberries with a sweet - tart flavor. In Hawaii, the berries are used to make jam and sauces and cook them into baked goods.

Saddle road has improved since our last drive, but there is still some construction at about marker 18 on the Hilo side. The final part of the road construction (on the Hilo side) is very active and there were a lot of construction workers and vehicles. The clouds were low so it was very misty.

Saddle Road on Hawaii Island construction Saddle Road on Hawaii workers

We turned on the road going the opposite direction from the turn off to the Mauna Kea visitors center and drove a couple miles down a one lane road. This road goes to the NOAA atmospheric monitoring lab up on Mauna Loa. In case you don't know, Saddle road goes between Hilo and the west side of the island of Hawaii via a canyon between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea mountains.

Road to NOAA Mauna Loa Lab

After driving past a lot of' a'a lava, we found walkable pahoehoe lava. The 'ohelo bushes grow improbably in the lava.

ohelo plants in lava on Hawaii

'Ohelo plants covered the lava as far as the eye can see. At this altitude we needed coats to keep warm. Each plant had a handful of ripe berries making it a slow process to collect the berries.

Bucket of 'ohelo berries in Hawaii

We only ran into two other berry gatherers.

Nene on Hawaii eatting 'ohelo berries

Nene, or the Hawaiian Goose, are the Hawaii State bird and on the protected wildlife list due to their low numbers. It is estimated that there are less than 400 Nene on the entire island of Hawaii. Nene can't fly which makes their choice of habitat in such a remote place all the more amazing. They are not wary of people or cars and can't fly away from prey which makes it hard for them to survive. They live on leaves and berries. These two Nene had leg tags of 100 and 115. They were chomping away at the berries.

Nene on island of Hawaii

The 'ohelo crop is big this year. We picked the big fat red and brown berries, but there were many juvenile berries that will ripen over the next weeks.

Ohelo berries on Mauna Kea in Hawaii  -

Here is a movie of the Nene.

Previous July 2008 Hilo Log posts

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