Iselle and Julio

The weather reports and warnings about Hurricane Iselle and Tropical Storm Julio approaching the Hawaiian Islands are worrisome. It’s a rare double threat for the Hawaiian Islands. These two tropical cyclones present a back-to-back risk within as few as 10 days apart.

Meteorologists say that they have to go back to 1949 to find a case when tropical cyclones with direct impact to the Hawaiian Islands were 10 days apart. These two storms are predicted to hit Hawaii within two to three days. “Unprecedented in the satellite era,” is how Kevin Roth, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel, described it.

In travels to the Islands of Hawaii, the one word that always comes to mind is peaceful. So, this forecast warning residents and visitors to prepare for a state of emergency makes my heart break.

The Big Island will be affected first. The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for the entire state of Hawaii from 4 a.m. on Thursday until 6 a.m. on Friday. This means that conditions on all islands may develop and lead to dangerous flash flooding.

One would have to go back more than six decades to find a case of two tropical cyclones with direct impact reaching the Hawaiian Islands—and they were 10 days apart.

In 1994, there were three storms that passed the Hawaiian Islands—Daniel, Emilia and Fabio. Two out of the three, however, had fizzled out quite a bit before they hit land.

The current models predict that there is a 50 percent chance of tropical storm force winds affecting Hilo on the Big Island, a 44 percent chance of tropical storm force winds in Kailua-Kona and a 42 percent change for South Point between Thursday and Friday.

My thoughts are with the residents of the Hawaiian Islands—and the visitors.

Below is a photo of a sacred place on the Big Island—Waipio Valley. This photo was taken from the Waipio Valley Lookout in March of this year. Waipio means “curved water” in the Hawaiian language. Wishing all in beautiful Hawaii safety from the storm.

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Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo on the Big Island

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On Baynan Drive in Hilo on the Big Island, you will find a 30-acre garden of serenity in the Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens. The park, which was originally built in the early 1900s, is reportedly the largest such gardens outside of Japan. You will find koi ponds, pagodas, bridges and other Japanese garden fixtures.

It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch or a nice stroll, no matter what the weather. Hilo is often known as the rainy side of the Big Island, and this rain makes for some of the most gorgeous, lush scenery you will find on the Big Island. Lush, serene, tropical and beautiful.

Orchid memories

IMG_6110It’s May 1 and we are once again bracing for a winter snow, sleet and slush storm. Yes, another winter storm in spring.

The forecast is for six to nine inches of snow. Yes, it’s May 1 and the tulips and daffodils in the Upper Midwest were just starting to make an appearance. Poor things. So, instead of snow, I’ll dream of orchids.

These photos are from March at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The Garden has a fantastic collection of orchids.

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To see orchids in a natural garden setting instead of potted is a thing of beauty—something to hold onto until spring decides to arrive.

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Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

IMG_6089In the Onomea Valley in Papaikou, on the Hilo side of the Big Island, you will find the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, described as a garden in a valley on the ocean. It’s difficult to describe the beauty of this Garden. You must visit to experience this nature preserve and sanctuary. Over the years, we have taken many photos during our visits, so I plan to do a series of posts on this Big Island treasure.

IMG_6100When you visit, you feel as if you are on the edge of the earth. Along the trail you will discover an orchid garden, an anthurium corner, the Onomea waterfalls, a blowhole, an amazing monkey pod tree and so much more. The boardwalk entrance is 500-feet long and you will want to stop and take it in during your time along the 1.25 miles of Garden trails.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden was founded by the late Dan Lutkenhouse. His wife and co-founder, Pauline Lutkenhouse, continues to be involved and serves on the organization’s board of directors. There is a plaque when you enter the gardens, which describes the vision, mission and dedication of these two individuals to preserve and create such a beautiful setting and world-class attraction for others to enjoy.

IMG_6118The Garden website describes how they discovered the beauty of Onomea Bay while on a vacation in 1977. For 8 years, Mr. Lutkenhouse would spend the days clearing paths by hand, and cleaning and restoring the property without disturbing the environment. The website history states that all of this was done by hand; no tractors were involved to ensure that tree roots and natural plants were not destroyed. I cannot fathom the work involved in restoring this tropical paradise.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden opened to the public in 1984.

A newsletter I picked up on a visit in March of this year describes the founder’s vision that the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden be a self-sufficient entity so that visitors from around the world would be able to enjoy its natural beauty. It is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit entity and the Gardens have never asked for or received government funding of any kind.

IMG_6125The newsletter also reports that they have welcomed 87,000 visitors from across the world in the past year and they have 1,256 members, who help sustain and preserve this treasure. I am always amazed at what can be accomplished by vision, dedication and hard work. To protect Hawaii’s natural beauty is truly something to be admired.

IMG_6134The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is located about 7 miles north of Hilo off Route 19 off the Scenic Route, two miles down on the left. From Kailua-Kona, the drive is approximately three hours. But, it is a lovely three hours with many interesting stops and sights along the way.

What’s Shakin’?

IMG_6077Craving the best smoothie of your life? Made with organic ingredients grown locally, right on the grounds of the most adorable little stand ever? Then it’s time to head over to What’s Shakin’ on the Hilo side of the Big Island.

What’s Shakin’ is located at 27-999 Old Mamalahoa Highway, the 4-mile scenic route, in Pepeekeo. It’s a great place to stop on your way to the Hilo side of the island, or to make a stop if you are staying near Hilo. Earlier this year, we stopped on our way to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden for lunch. We had a smoothie for lunch and split the most delicious ahi tuna wrap with fresh avocado. This is one of the freshest, most delicious lunches or snacks you will ever find.

IMG_6087They also sell the organic fruit they grow right on the grounds. Yum.

The smoothies? I highly recommend the Bananarama or the Peanut Braddah (banana, peanut butter and chocolate and milk, but I ordered it up with mac nuts). I might need to go back to eventually try all of them.

As if the 4-mile scenic drive wasn’t enough after the drive over from Kona with its twists and turns through gorgeous gulches and views, you make the turn to the scenic drive and suddenly, there you are—at the What’s Shakin’ stand just in time for lunch or the perfect afternoon snack.

IMG_6076The service at What’s Shakin’ has always been friendly. They have picnic tables for you to leisurely enjoy your smoothie or lunch. The view? Well, how about the lush green of the Hilo side along with flowers and the ocean off in the horizon? Doesn’t get better than that.