Previously: Happy Anniversary
Our days were starting to blend into each other at this point: wake up with the birds, shower, read, lounge around, read some more, find food. There’s nothing wrong with this schedule at all, especially when one is on vacation, but I am a very fast reader, and I was soon done with all the books I had brought.
I was starting to go stir crazy.
We headed down the coast to Kailua-Kona (a 2-hr drive) to find Kona Bay Books, a used bookstore that has an ad in almost every tourist pamphlet I had picked up. John Cleese was not much help AGAIN because he didn’t recognize the address. But I did manage to find the cross streets, so I had him direct us to the correct intersection, figuring we’d find the shop pretty easily from there.
John Cleese led us to an industrial park, and we were pretty sure he must have led us astray again until we saw a large sign saying “BOOKS” off to the side of one of the buildings, almost hidden in a parking lot.
They weren’t kidding; they had books, alright. This was one of the largest used bookstores I’d ever been in, with stacks and stacks to rival a library. They gave me a good trade-in value on my books, and I walked out with a pile of books almost as large as the one I had gone in with. (We actually went back a couple more times during our trip because I am such a voracious reader)
Ray’s plan was to drive down to South Point for the day (another 3-hour drive south from Kailua-Kona), but I was starting to get tired of sitting in the car — we had already been doing a lot of driving on this trip! — and I had a mini-breakdown, which surprised Ray, I think. But I was quickly mollified when we made plans to take a coffee plantation tour on the way to South Point, so back on the road we went.
There are tons of coffee plantations in Kona, and one can actually spend an entire day just going on a coffee tasting tour of all the major plantations (like the wine tasting tours in Napa Valley), but we still needed to get to South Point, and Ray doesn’t much like coffee, so I figured it was best if we just found a plantation that was close to Highway 11 (the main road going along the coast).
That’s how we got to Greenwell Farms, one of the oldest plantations in the Kona Belt. The original plan was to go to Mountain Thunder, because it was the largest organic coffee plantation (and besides, that’s where Mike Rowe filmed an episode of Dirty Jobs) but it was on the other side of the road, and in the end, we opted for convenience rather than fame.
The tour itself was somewhat disappointing (”These are the coffee plants; this is the growing and harvesting cycle. Over here is our drying process. We supply most of the Kona beans in the world. Okay, now you’re done. Please buy some coffee on your way out.”), but they did mention that all the fruit grown on the plantation was no longer sold, but given to food banks and guests for free. We were given permission to take any fruit we found lying on the ground (so I ate an orange) or in the bins by the store (so I took an avocado).
Oh, and I got to buy coffee for myself and friends, which I had planned to do anyway, and the free coffee samples were tasty (as I knew they would be). I also got a taste of a raw coffee cherry (the fruit picked right off the tree before it gets processed into the bean we all recognize) . That kept me awake for the rest of the day!