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The Programmerís View of Hawaii

This week's post is written by a good friend of mine that I've know since our early days as computer game programmers.  Noel grew up in Los Angeles and has never lived outside the city.  He's a whiz with computers but wasn't too sure about my threats to put him to work on the farm.  He was a big help both with the barn and working in the field.

Noel & Nancy

Skippy1 Skippy2
Monte1 Monte2
Well, my wife is seven months pregnant so when she says she wants to do something, the only acceptable response in her mind is "When?".  I start packing and mentally prepare myself to say good by to my rank in World of Warcraft.  So we found ourselves flying down to Kona to visit with Gary and family on the Big Island of Hawai'i.  Farmer Gary and I have known each other for a long time so I was not exactly surprised to see and hear some of the things he has done.  For instance, the moment he introduced me to Skippy, I knew it was not just a goat's name, but the embodiment of an old work associate.  Skippy, you should come visit your namesake.  The resemblance is uncanny, especially the extraordinarily hairy brown chest.  I believe Gary plans to continue with this name tradition, and I expect to see one of the dominant male wild peacocks responding to "Monte" by my next visit.

We arrived at the end of the last day of picking, so I did not get a chance to try my hand at it.  What I did do was help with loading a few burlap bags full of coffee cherry onto the flat bed headed to the mill.  I don't know about the picking, but at up to 100 lbs per bag, I was panting just loading the truck.  The mill manager was kind enough to invite us on a tour where we had the whole process of milling, drying, and roasting explained to us.  It turns out that there is a lot more to the process than one would expect.

But it wasn't all work.  Or in my wife's case, it wasn't all about laughing at the city boy trying to help around the farm.  We went around the island stopping at "Volcano".  Not "The Volcano" as an LA boy would expect, but "Volcano".  The expression confused me, but it turns out that there is a town called Volcano which is right next to the park containing an observatory, Thurston Lava Tube, and a bunch of vents.

Caldera Fumes
Steam Lava tube

The following day we continued our way around the island stopping at a nice botanical garden showing the beauty of some of the local plant life.

Flower Skippy Skippy Waterfall
Ocean Camera
Click on a picture to see the hi-res version.

Hiking We also did a bit of geocaching along the way.  Apparently geocaching involves a GPS, a long drive, and a lot of walking.  Let me tell you, the song is quite accurate, "Nobody Walks in LA."  The theory however is that someone provides GPS coordinates and various hints to the location of a " hidden" cache.  You try and find this cache, and then usually there is a log book where you can sign in and show you made it there, along with maybe swapping some interesting object of yours with someone elseís.  Mostly what this does is provide an excuse for wives to take in the view and make their husbands walk around and look at nature.  If I wanted scenery I would have turned on The Nature Channel or watched a Steven Spielberg movie.  All kidding aside, Hawaii has some of the most beautiful scenery I've seen.
After our tour around the island, we came back to Kona where we decided to get in bit of snorkeling.  With a bit of swimming around you can find the green sea turtles of Hawaii.  These guys are BIG.  Apparently they are fairly accustomed to people so they pretty much ignore you being there, even if you happen to be between where they are and where they want to go.  Now I donít think of myself as being particularly cowardly, but after hearing the great CHOMPING noise generated as they scrape green muck off the ocean rocks, you have an urge to back out of their way when they move.  That, and to count all your fingers and toes.

Sudoku On the last day we introduced Gary to Sudoku.  It's a 9x9 board which is grouped into nine 3x3 boards.  Each row, column, and 3x3 box contains one of each number 1-9.  Several of the numbers are missing and you use the rules above along with the numbers available to fill them in.  It's very much addictive like solitaire in that you can just lose hours playing it.

So Iíd like to say thanks for showing us around we had a great time there.  I look forward to seeing a completed barn and knowing that I helped a bit to put it together.  Oh, and if the thing ends up collapsing or something years from now, donít complain to me.  Itís a hardware problem.

Valerie Nancy Planes
Tree Tourists Lunch

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