Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Monday, December 5, 2016

Rain, Cattle Ranching and Snow - Thurs., Dec. 1, 2016, Part 2

With the seahorse farm in the rear-view mirror, we headed north on The Big Island, past Kona International Airport and the big resorts of Waikoloa Beach Resort, Mauna Lani Resort, The Fairmont Orchid, and Mauna Kea Beach Resort. It was pouring rain on most of the rest of the island, but we thought if we headed north, we would be in the drier area of Kohala. 

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 is the smaller home where they lived. The interior of the home is native koa wood. The first floor of the home consisted of a main room, bedroom and side room; the upstairs had a second bedroom and two sitting rooms. In keeping with the old ways, all cooking and toiletries were done outside the house. 
Mana Hale Main Room
First floor bedroom

Second floor sitting room
Upstairs bedroom

Second sitting room
The whole time we were in Mana Hale, the wind was howling outside. By the time we went back out it had stopped raining so we walked around the grounds.

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
Parker Ranch is now about 130,000 acres, down from its all-time high of 500,000 acres. The ranch owns about 150,000 head of cattle, made up of Angus and Charolais. There is also a commercial (cross-bred) herd of approximately 9,000 breeding cows.

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...
Stained glass

Paniolo sculpture
In the small stream behind the strip mall, we could see how much rain had fallen by how swollen the creek had become.

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!

Good night.

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