I not only saw lava from the Kilauea Volcano and Fissure 8; I realized how much of an impact San Diego is making 2,500 miles away.
Our plane landed at Keāhole on June 20. One of the locals waiting outside of the open-air airport terminal asked if I knew Rob Stone, a Lemon Grove-based rapper. I nodded my head and said that Stone was on the cover of the Reader last year.
I flew in with 14 other family members who are all San Diegans.
“I want a California burrito,” said my teen-age nephew from Clairemont.
With a quick Yelp search, no taco
shops ending with a “bertos” were available, there was although, a spot called Big Island Burritos next to our Waikoloa Beach villas, 20 miles northeast from the airport.
“It’s definitely not like our Cali burritos,” he said.
I took a bite and agreed. I noticed that they used solid brown beans rather than refried beans; went super-light on the cheese and sour cream; and had soft fries within, rather than crispy. The meat was ok but the flour tortilla seemed store bought; unlike our versions.
My nephew then said “kill it” because he was already chomping on a Spam Masubi that his lola (grandmother in tagalog), our mom, gave him.
Spam Masubi is a larger 4-to-5-inch sushi-like roll, made with rice and a slice of Spam luncheon meat rolled into seaweed. My mom and dad brought us a tray of 30 pieces from L&L BBQ, which has a franchise in San Diego.
The next morning, we went to check the surf north of our villas at Hapuna Beach. “It’s not so good today,” said my brother, who usually boogie-boards at Black’s Beach.
My sister Bee, her hubby and their kids, took us out to Kahalu’u Beach to snorkel. We saw some sea turtles, and a wildlife official warned us to back off.
The next day we went to Honl’s Beach Park, a few miles north from the snorkeling spot. It was poppin’ and there were many bodyboarders and surfers out. Gabby, our 8-year-old daughter, asked me if “the waves were nice because of the cruise liner that was posted up in the waters.” I shrugged my shoulders in doubt and noticed a surfer with a Rusty surfboard entering the waters.
“I used to ride a Rusty too,” said Loke from Pacific Vibrations Surf Shop; “now I ride a 5’6” Omni made by Firewire."
Rusty Surfboards is located in Miramar, and Firewire Surfboards is located in Carlsbad.
“They are popular here,” Loke said, “Shane Dorian, Kelly Slater and Conan Hayes surf at Banyans, by Bali Kai Resort; that’s where you’ll catch all the rippers.
“Both [Dorian and Slater] surf in Kona with Firewire boards.”
Later that day, our dad took us to the Kona Brewing Company where we sampled a few of the local brews and grubbed on some poké. The waiter suggested Humpy’s Big Island Ale House to find some San Diego brewed beers.
The next day after our Atlantis Submarine tour of the reefs and a couple of sunken vessels; I went to scope out Humpy’s, which was only a couple blocks away from the submarine tour’s boat docking area (also on Alii Drive).
Here at Humpy’s, our San Diego representation was strong. The two-story building with views of the Kona coast, had seven beers from the Ballast Point, Coronado, and Iron Fist breweries.
On Sunday, all 15 of us converged at the Hilton Waikoloa Village for the Legends of Hawaii Luau – Our Big Island Story. Here, we feasted on traditional Hawaiian food, and we elders drank Mai Tais and piña coladas — watching hula dancers and fire-performers accompanied by live music.
I met a Chula Vista family who was staying at the Hilton for the week. “I like the Big Island because it’s less crowded than the other islands,” said the father, who is stationed at one of our bases in San Diego. “Everyone here drives slow. San Diegans are not used to this and are always rushing to the next destination.”
On Highway 19, which leads to and from Kona and is surrounded by lava beds throughout; most of the drivers stay at the 55 mph speed limit. The local skateboarders we saw ripping on the downhill grades to the beach, weren’t so law-abiding.
“I got my [Sector 9 board] at the Quicksilver contest in 2005-2006,” Loke said. “I still ride it.”
Sector 9 is a Miramar-based company that’s been building skateboards since 1993. The skateboards sell at the Quicksilver store by our Waikoloa Beach villa rentals and throughout the Big Island.
“Our shop was the first to win the Quicksilver surf shop challenge and my Sector 9 was the trophy,” Loke said. “It’s adorable, it's got like a wrestling mat on, and it says 'surf shop challenge winner.'”
Our parents' property is in Hilo (closer to the Kilauea Volcano) which is on the opposite side of the island from where we vacationed. We weren’t able to see the property because many of the streets were blocked and the smoke in some areas was deemed toxic. Although on June 27, we were able to see Fissure 8, which was closer than we could ever get to the property. At approximately 9:30 p.m., during the flight back to San Diego, my sister-in-law noticed a red tint outside of our airplane windows. The pilot confirmed that it was lava from the erupting Kilauea volcano and Fissure 8.