Previously: Exploring North Kohala

You’d think that on our two-year anniversary here in Hawaii, Ray and I would go to a fancy restaurant or do something very cliché and romantic, but that’s just not the way we are.

When we got up, we decided to drive to Kamuela, also called Waimea (coincidentally, we got married at Waimea Falls Park, which is on Oahu, so our day trip was somewhat poetic, however unplanned). We had heard many good reviews of the Hawaiian Style Cafe (our host had mentioned that each person gets enough breakfast to feed three people), so I tried to get John Cleese to direct us to the restaurant.

This was the day that we realized just how bad TomTom’s map of the Big Island really was. John Cleese took us over the top of Kohala Mountain into Waimea (perhaps a more direct route as the crow flies, but not really from a topological perspective), but just as the time when we tried to find dinner a couple days before, John Cleese told us to go right when we should have gone left. I compared his map with the paper maps I had picked up on our travels, and directed Ray to turn left.

We made it to the center of town, but we couldn’t find the restaurant. We stopped at a grocery store and I asked the cashier, who said we were very close and that it was just down the road right past the park. We drove back the way we came and completely missed the restaurant again.

So we decided to follow John Cleese’s directions, even though he was leading us away from Waimea. But when he said, “You have reached your destination,” we were in the middle of nowhere again. Sigh. Unfortunately, it’s not like there are very many good places to turn around on a curvy two-lane road with very few turn-offs, so it was another two miles before we could reverse direction again.

Back into town we went, this time going very slowly and looking at all the building numbers and every single shop sign. “There it is!” Ray cried, pointing to the opposite side of the street. In a nondescript strip mall with only about five shops, a small sign meekly proclaiming “Hawaiian Style Cafe” and a few people milling outside the restaurant were the only two clues to the restaurant’s existence.

Even though there were people milling around outside, there were open seats inside and no hostess stand, so I figured it was a seat-yourself kind of affair. Ray and I walked right in and sat down. No sooner had we sat down than a good ol’ boy with a neck the size of my thigh who had been standing outside poked his head in and drawled, “Are y’all going to put your name on the list?”

“There’s a list?” I asked. I looked around for something resembling a list. Couldn’t see it at all.

“Yeah, that’s why we’re all standing out here.” His tone started to sound more aggressive.

“Well, there’s no sign.”

“The list is right there.” He pointed at a clipboard on a stool immediately to the right of the front door. Then he glared at us while we put our names down.

“Isn’t it funny,” I said to Ray in a loud voice, “how there’s no sign telling you what to do and nobody at the front to greet you? I wonder how people know what the protocol is.”

Good Ol’ Boy pretended to ignore me.

We only had to wait about 10 minutes before we got seated, but I was starving by this point, so I was sure that I was ready for the famously huge breakfast.

In reality, I wasn’t ready. Nobody can be ready for that much food. I ordered a veggie omelette (made with at least 4 eggs and a generous portion of Cheez Whiz), which comes with a “side” of 2 pancakes, each the size of my face. I made it about halfway through my eggs before I started to flag, but I insisted on having at least some of my pancake before I stopped. I don’t think I managed to finish either one of my plates, although I made a valiant effort.

While we were eating, we saw one of the customers approach the short-order cooks in the kitchen and tell them that this was the best breakfast he had had all vacation. “You guys are better than the chefs they’ve got at the resorts,” he said.

I wasn’t sure what he had ordered, but it certainly wasn’t the veggie omelette with cheese. Yes, there was a lot of food, but I’m not a believer of quantity overriding quality when it comes to my meals. And I was still ticked at the rednecks that had yelled at us when we had first arrived (who were seated next to us and talked to the waitress as if they were regulars).

This place was obviously little more than a diner that had gotten a reputation for large portions at small prices. They probably prided themselves on their small-town diner atmosphere and slightly rude waitresses. I get that. It’s a part of the diner’s “charm.” But the best breakfast ever? Hardly. I had been eating better breakfasts every morning so far: 1 fresh, ripe papaya + 1 bagel + POG and/or Kona coffee.

We were so full after breakfast that we couldn’t even think of lunch. But while we were in Waimea, we stopped at the supermarket (one of two we had found on the entire island!) and stocked up on some food to cook in our kitchenette so we wouldn’t have to go out for every meal.

Since we had gotten refrigerated food from the grocery store, we drove straight back to our hut (still an hour-long trip!), and spent the rest of the afternoon reading, napping, and generally lolling about. I did get up at one point to make a spaghetti dinner, which we enjoyed with Guinness (because it was St. Patrick’s Day and also our anniversary), and that was our romantic evening.

You might think I’m being sarcastic as I write that, but truly, it was a very nice night, because we were totally relaxed and happy and comfortable being with each other. We listened to the night sounds: the frogs, the toads, and the chatty geckos (Ray named them Taco, Paco, and Loco, although I’m sure there were more than 3 in our hut…there was also Cheep and Beep living in the bath hut), and we were content.

Next: Points South (Part 1)

Happy Anniversary
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