So, at the rental car place, PapaBear rented a handy-dandy GPS system. We named her Connie*. And she was a dirty, lying, whore. Seriously, we would ask her what places were near us to eat and she would say that there wasn't anything for 291 miles. I'm pretty sure if we drove 291 miles in a circle, we'd be right back to the exact location that we were in... But, she did serve us well a couple of times.
Well, let me back up here - the minute that we started talking about going to Hawaii, all Diddy could talk about was eating macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup (haaaaaamp). So naturally, we wanted to eat them for our first breakfast on the island. This proved much more difficult than it should have been.
Diddy started by asking the Concierge at the hotel if she knew of a place to get them. She informed him that she doesn't have time for breakfast in the morning. So you have no idea where to eat it?? I mean, really?!?! You're the concierge - this is your job!!! However, she pointed us to the bellmen - apparently they like to wake up early and consume the most important meal of the day. So PB goes to the get the car while the three of us head to the belldesk to ask about the pancakes. You would have thought that we just suggested the model for the wheel. They were like, "macadamia nuts? in pancakes? we never thought of that!!!" Really? You put coconut, pineapple, and macnuts (as they call them on the islands) on everything else, but you didn't think of pancakes???? I am not impressed by these people.
Either way, we found a place to have breakfast and it was delicious! But there were no macnut pancakes. After breakfast, we wanted to go to a coffee plantation (I use the term plantation very loosely.) So, I plug it into Connie and she leads us to Kona Blue Sky Coffee. We learned a lot about the process of picking and roasting coffee beans, but were a little disappointed that there was no tour. I'd be lying if I said PB was disappointed, but Match.mom and I were very sad - we love to learn!
After coffee, it was a loooong drive to Hilo. About halfway there, I got bored and started playing with Connie again. I typed in "landmarks" and she told us that a black sand beach was only 8 miles away. PB was on the phone, so Diddy, Match.mom, and I made an executive decision and pointed him in the direction of the beach. Let me tell you, black sand, made from cooled lava, is REALLY hot!!!! But it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen! AND - it was apparently turtle nesting season, and even though Diddy didn't believe me, I found a turtle in the water:
This was the end of the good that Connie did for us. For the rest of the trip, she was a no-good liar!
After the beach, we went to the volcano to see the lava tubes and steam vents. Very neat. At one point, Diddy asked PB, "how do they know it's safe for us to stand here." PB replied, "you're standing on top of a volcano, of course it isn't safe. At any moment this thing could erupt and we would vaporize."
Now, we had a dilemna. We still needed to go to the macadamia nut factory, but we were hungry and all of the restaurants were past the factory so we'd have to backtrack. Since Connie had done so well earlier in the day, we got her out again to find a place to eat. We typed in seafood, and she told us that Happy Valley Seafood was the closest place - so off we went. She lied!!! First, she took us in the most roundabout way to Happy Valley Chinese and Seafood... This is not what we were looking for! But, because of the trek it was to get there, we decided to go in and check it out. We start to order and I order Kung Pao Chicken - figuring that is a pretty safe dish anywhere. The waitress says, "I wouldn't order that. Not here. It's disgusting!" Needless to say, I changed my order and everyone enjoyed lunch much more than we had anticipated.
After lunch it was off to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory. A pretty uneventful self-guided tour left us wanting more. So we were browsing the gift shop and there happened to be a jewelry counter in the middle of the store. This was a little strange to us, but not a big deal. This particular jewelry counter had bowls full of oysters that you could pay to have opened and keep the pearl inside. So Diddy and I venture over there and are discussing this when the lady behind the counter started talking to us. She told us that normally it was $14.95 to open an oyster, but they had this bucket of coupons and we could pick one and maybe get a deal. So I choose one and it's 50% off. Diddy talks me into choosing an oyster. The Hawaiian lady with a very thick accent begins to tell us that we want to find and "ugly one. And make it fat at bottom." So I start going through the bowl with the little tongs and each time I pick one up, she says, "Dat one? Dat one good!" I finally decide on an oyster and she says, "Oh yeah, dat one good. Dat ugly and fat." She gets it out of the bowl and I tap it in the ritual that she tells me and then she opens it. When she gets it open - chaos erupts. She starts yelling to the other ladies in the shop to come look. She's saying, "Golden. Twin. Come see. Twin, twin." For those of you who don't know - golden pearls are aparently the rarest kind - and I have just chosen an oyster that produced twin golden pearls that were very large! We were like celebrities - all of the other Hawaiian ladies in the shop gathered around and were mesmerized.
It was quite hilarious, and we mimicked the ladies for the remainder of our trip.