If it wasn't raining, our plan would be to see Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site at Kawaihae. If it was raining, we would head upcountry to Parker Ranch.
Well, it was windy and rainy when we arrived in Kawaihae. Hunger dictated lunchtime. We thought we remembered a good restaurant in a small shopping mall. When we got to the mall, the whole lower level was closed. We drove to the upper level and found one restaurant, Cafe Pesto, out of business. In the middle of the strip mall was a hole-in-the-wall place with very limited seating called Kohala Burgers and Tacos. The line was long inside with almost nowhere left to sit. This looked like the place to be.
|Decor at Kohala Burgers and Tacos|
|Kohala Burgers and Tacos|
Both of us ordered yellowfin tuna fish sandwiches, root beer, and a small order of fries to share. We took the last table for two and in a few minutes our order was out. Both of us bit into our fish sandwiches and the "yums" kept coming out of our mouths. Best. Fish. Sandwiches. Ever. The fish was baked or grilled, not deep fried, and was moist and flaky. As we say in Hawaii, the sandwiches were "ono" (the best).
As we were leaving, the couple from the table next to us told us they drove all the way from Kona (an hour south) to have the burgers and they loved them. The couple was visiting Hawaii from Australia.
From Kawaihae, we drove up country to Parker Ranch. Rain poured on us and the wind was fierce.
Parker Ranch is a very interesting place. At one time the ranch was the largest single-owned ranch in the United States. Today, it is the fifth largest in the U.S.
How did Hawaii, out in the middle of the ocean, come to have the largest cattle ranch in the U.S., you might ask? Here's the story from the "Parker Ranch Self-Guided Tour" brochure:
"In 1809, an enterprising young ship's clerk, John Palmer Parker, arrived on the shores of the Big Island. At that time, Hawai'i had few foreign settlers, but Parker had had enough of the open seas. He hid in a thicket, and watched as his ship sailed away without him. He was 19 years old.
"Befriended by Kamehameha I, who was impressed with his energy and vision, he set out to make the most of his remarkable new home. He learned the Hawaiian language and adopted many of the Hawaiian ways, continuing to look for opportunities along the way.
"In 1815 he found his first opportunity. Maverick cattle roamed the cool upper plains of Waimea. These were the descendants of the five head given to Kamehameha by Captain George Vancouver more than 20 years before. After showing Kamehameha his American musket, he was granted the right to hunt the herds which had always been kapu [forbidden]. The beef, tallow and hides, along with the taro and fresh vegetables grown on his small parcel of land in Hamakua, became sought-after commodities to both visiting ships and locals.
"In 1816 he married Kipikane, granddaughter of Kamehameha, and together they founded the Parker Ranch dynasty."While at the ranch, we toured two historic homes, Puuopelu and Mana Hale, part of the estate of the legendary Parker family of Hawai'i. Puuopelu is the larger home which houses the collection of Richard Palmer Parker Smart, 6th generation Parker. Richard Smart traveled the world and had items shipped to Hawai'i to be installed at Puuopelu. Puuopelu has a great room with fireplace, living room, dining room, and bathroom. No photos are allowed in the big house.
|Mana Hale Main Room|
|First floor bedroom|
|Second floor sitting room|
|Second sitting room|
The sky had cleared enough to see Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa which were now capped in snow!
|Mauna Kea with snow|
|The snow-covered top of Mauna Loa|
|Richard Smart's mausoleum|
|This 150-ft. tall Cook Pine was|
planted in 1862
|Water lilies in bloom|
|Another shot of Mauna Kea's snow|
|Love the stormy cloud formation above Mana Hale|
|The lush green hills around Parker Ranch|
Most of the 125 horses on the ranch are Quarter horses. They are all bred and raised on the ranch and selected for good temperament, cow sense, and ranch usability. The 12 paniolo (cowboys) each have eight horses assigned to them, and each individual must shoe and care for his animals.
|Tunnel of trees to get to Parker Ranch HQ|
|Verdant hills of up country Big Island|
|Part of Parker Ranch's paddocks|
Historic markers about Parker Ranch and Camp Tarawa are below.
After touring Parker Ranch, we went to the grocery store in Waimea to buy snacks for the ride home. Inside the common area at the strip mall we found interesting things...
Below is a commemorative boot celebrating the centennial of four Waimea paniolo who reigned as World Champion Steer Ropers in 1908 at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo in Wyoming.
This concluded our visit to Parker Ranch and Waimea. It took us almost two hours to drive back to Kailua-Kona. When we returned, we stopped to have dinner at Royal Thai Cafe, just up the hill from the Kona Coast Resort.
After dinner, we headed to the timeshare. From 7-9 pm, I watched Project Runway. It was nice to relax after a long day!