In the kitchen, Katja is perusing catalogues, something she normally enjoys. Not so much, today. Little did we know that wholesale shopping for this stuff involves long phone conversations, red tape, and wading through these depressing tomes where, to add insult to injury, things were not necessarily cheap. Siobhan quickly bailed on this task. They had a real Soviet feel. But somebody had to do this awful job and Katja, having already survived ice bucket shopping, took on the task. Products to try!
And here the village part of the story begins. Our friend Jan was visiting from Nebraska, and she became part of the deliberation process in the kitchen—where most of this story takes place, come to think of it , weighing in on two crucial questions.
* DIFFERING AGES FAIL THE TEST *
The first was, which product? One decision down. But another awaited: to order conditioner or not? Plus she was being cheap. Jan to the rescue again. We ordered conditioner. Our housekeepers had joined us in the sniff-and-vote fun, and liked our choice. But our head housekeeper Leah fretted about the potential waste. Not knowing how to solve this problem, we shelved it for now, but stuck to our guns — after all, most other inns and hotels handle this issue somehow, and so would we. The old products had been placed on the ledge below the bathroom mirror.
But these looked so nice; we wanted them to pop! So guess who had to head back to the Soviet-style catalogues? Phase Two involved a ruler and lots of discussion about heighth and depth of potential containers. They were cool looking: hooray! We kidded ourselves for a while but finally had to face the fact that the products were rolling around in the metal baskets and needed something underneath them, to prop them up and show them off, as it were. And Katja knew the repellent catalogues had nothing like that.
We were so excited; here was our solution, and a nice cheap solution too. We rolled and folded and proudly showed the baskets to our housekeepers. She pulled a towel out. People will pull them out and use them! Hands up: who predicted that Leah turned out to be right? Leah is a brilliant fabric-worker: dresses, batiks, you name it. And she became determined to solve the product-basket problem, with a fabric-based solution.
But Leah had got a hold of this idea and, we now learned, once she decided she would solve a problem, by gum she was gonna do it. And she did. The solution? Though she did find one out in one of the bedrooms one day. Rick stayed with us one night in April and of course he had to hear the Product Saga. If you have read this far you deserve a medal. April 28th, by camdenmotel. Everyone is more interested in the end of the season— fall foliage — than in the beginning of life here in spring.
And everyone knows Maine had winter. Many even think that Maine still has winter in spring — or at least mud season. But it also has a lot more spring than we expected! Mainers can be pretty cynical about spring, and not just in order to scare newcomers like us. They include:. We start looking at the gardening catalogs, fully believing that somewhere under all that snow is a lawn waiting to come back to life, and flower beds ready for planting.
True — the natural harbingers of spring can be a bit slow here. We have yet to see a tulip, other than in the form of potted plants, and daffodils are still in full bloom at the end of April. But considering that it was the coldest winter on the Maine coast since , spring is doing a pretty decent job. On the 11 th of April we were wearing shorts and working outside around the inn all day.
It was pretty amazing how effectively we both kept finding outdoor chores and postponing indoor ones. And then there are the human signs of spring — where spring fever is even more noticeable. Restaurants have been re-opening or come back from their short March vacations — Long Grain re-opened April 10, Saltwater Farm is serving dinner again, on weekends; Atlantica is back with new menus, and Fresh has new and wonderful! Lots of our regulars love this place — and have even been known to ditch our continental breakfast for some serious eggs or pancakes there.
Go Owl and Turtle! One of our housekeepers has been bringing us large bundles of forsythia, which bloom in almost no time. One bunch was recently transformed into an outdoor Easter bouquet with decorative eggs. It shares the table outside the office with our first pansies, which have taken over the basket that still housed a wintery pine arrangement three weeks ago.
And, in anticipation of summer afternoons eagerly awaiting guests, we finally put up the new hammock seat we got at Once a Tree during Christmas by the Sea! Somehow we see ourselves doing curb-side check-ins this summer. Speaking of whom: our recent guests have been a fun and diverse bunch; from spontaneous spring walk-ins to boat people gearing up for the season, from builders and contractors working on local projects to island people coming for errands and getting stuck because of weather or ferry schedules, or just because they want to.
We even had some guys coming to buy elver eels during the elver eel harvest this week. Innkeeping can be very educational indeed. At least half of Camden seems to be working on projects to get ready for summer. We still have a few makeovers going on ourselves, big and small — stay tuned for details in our next newsletter and blog post!
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And do come visit in spring sometime — just because mother or teenage? When else can you have your first ocean-going guest a recent Australian visitor of ours the same week as another quarter inch of sleet and snow? April 5th, by camdenmotel. For Everyone who already misses winter anyone out there?? Many of these guys, we heard, have been coming to the championship for years if not decades, and almost as many have stayed here at Towne Motel each year.
Especially after the quiet weeks of January. Some called to say they might get here later than planned, but no one canceled — massive outages back home be damned or escaped. These guys and gals just HAD to be here for Toboggan weekend, and they were. These guys drive serious cars — all trucks and jeeps and Explorers; none of that winter sensitive stuff without four wheel or all wheel drive.
So they, together with us, parked in the back, in random, haphazard, diagonal fashion not quite like parking and driving in Rome — if only because our cars were bigger — but close. The parking lot felt very important and muscular that weekend — all that vehicular testosterone. After all, toboggans had to be transported, along with cleaning and winter supplies, and whatever else is needed for a partying championship weekend in freezing temperatures.
We watched a video of it on YouTube last year — it felt as crazy as it felt cold. Before we could, though, we met our tobogganers. Two couples from Pennsylvania, the PA state champions and their toboggan virgin friends, were among the first to check in on Thursday, and the last to leave on Monday. The first morning, they showed us their two beauties — all splayed out across the bed in their first floor room good thing they had placed their own blankets underneath, wisely preventing any house- or innkeeper heart attacks : shiny, polished wooden specimens, with colorful cushion upholstery for comfort.
They looked good enough to win again, but what did we know about toboggan design?? But actually, by Sunday afternoon, many of the eliminated teams and their supporters had left, so there was plenty of muddy parking. But there was also still a lot going on, especially in Tobogganville, a little makeshift snow village of food stands, hot cider vendors, a bonfire for warm-up, a cell phone charging station, musicians, sponsor tents, and truck beds selling toboggans and related items.
The final races for the 2 person teams had just begun, so we watched, listened, took pictures, and climbed up to the launch area to see the beginnings of launches and not just the fast zoom through the chute. We concluded that the quick drop to the chute, followed by a rattling ride would probably not be good for our backs.
The Toboggan weekend is full of offbeat people and events. While the Olympics in Sochi were having their opening ceremony, Tobogganville had its happy hours: the Down the Chute beer and wine challenge from 3 to 7, nicely wrapped around the optional 2 and 3 person division first runs, which were from 4 — More than teams competed this year, most of them not too seriously, at least if their names and costumes are any indication.
And yes, they are about testosterone. Entertaining as it was to watch the different styles of barreling down the chute, it was also cold, so we needed to get moving. And what better place to take a walk than a frozen lake? Hosmer Pond, where the tobogganers end up at the bottom of their runs, was frozen solid, and if we had had any doubts, the many trucks and SUVs on the lake reassured us. There were snowmobiles, winter bikes, skis, and pretty much any wintery type of transportation you can imagine.
Check it out if you never have; you might just get hooked! February 24th, by camdenmotel. On a very cold Sunday a few weeks back, we experienced a uniquely-Midcoast Maine form of winter fun: the 10th Annual Pies on Parade, in nearby Rockland. As is our usual M. Not so. But through an insider contact, whose identity will remain secret, we scored two last minute tickets.
Did we mention it was cold? Like, really cold; and the sidewalks were icy. At —the start time for Pies—those sidewalks were pretty empty except for the ice. Wrong again. The crowds built and built, and by three, every pie-donating business was packed and we had to struggle through a sea of down coats to reach the next offering.
Ken shared some fun stories about Towne Motel more on that in another post and it was great to meet them and see their beautiful property. We read later that 60,odd pieces of pie had been consumed. Totally believe it. The Rockland inns were booked solid for the weekend.
Rockland provides a shuttle for the event so maybe we will too: to quote the innkeepers who organize Pies, no one should be driving under the influence of pies! Many, many pies. February 5th, by camdenmotel. The Towne Motel may not offer the most luxurious digs in town, but we are convinced it has the best group of housekeepers any inn could wish for. Not only were these guys patient, generous and courageous enough not to run for the hills or up Mt. Battie when their two new employers rolled in from New Jersey, they also continued to do their jobs just as well, reliably, professionally, and honestly as they did for the wonderful previous owners.
Or any other week, for that matter! These guys are fun, collaborative, super clean, detail-oriented or, as Gale says, obsessive , and — most of all — they are proud of their work and seem to care as much about this place as we do! They knew the building long before we did, all its nooks and crannies, all the little differences between one room and the next.
They almost never need to be told what to do; if anything, they used to tell us what to do and sometimes still have to. We started here in the end of September, so we had the pleasure of getting to know and work with all five of our steady housekeepers for a good month. One of our magical helpers is Gale, who is low key, fun and never has a complaint. Her hilarious dry humor sneaks up on you when you least expect it, like in shop talk about towels.
Unlike most of the others, who are either on healthy diets or tired of seeing sweet breakfast leftovers, Gale indulges us and often has a muffin or a piece of coffeecake. But most of all, she just makes us happy we have her, and cracks us up. There is also Aini, who is the sweetest and sunniest blonde girl you can imagine — plus smart. She is young, has kids, a lobsterman partner and the lobster expertise to go with it, at least one other job, and a lot of family responsibility. But she never complains about any of it, not even indirectly.
She can do phones and check-ins, too, which comes in handy on a super busy day. Tibby let her pet him the second week she was here. Another smiling face is Andrew, our lone male housekeeper and semi-handyman. It was fun to see them wrap up air conditioners for the winter together. Andrew can even help shovel snow and clean all the outside walls. One day he agreed to stay late to help us move a piece of furniture we thought would easily fit up the staircase. Andrew used to get here by bike, from Rockland, but now he tools around in a red sports car! Kendra is Ms. Super-efficient and eagle-eyed.
She spots the tiniest stains and smallest strands of hair; she trains new staff, and she works fast and independently. Kendra figures things out even before we tell her, and she always puts other people, whether at work or at home, ahead of herself. In October, she did a fun daily countdown to her birthday on the laundry room blackboard. She is willing to drive far even in the winter to do just 2 or 3 rooms. She thinks of things that need to be done in addition to the usual routine.
And she double-checks all the rooms at the end of the day, just to catch any potential missed detail such as a wrinkle on a bed scarf. And so does the rest of the team! And then there is Leah, a tough, independent Mainer whose hard work and seriousness are complemented by a wicked sense of humor. Oh no, we used to think now we just say it - what do we have to brace ourselves for now? Leah is, for all intents and purposes, our head housekeeper. Leah has shown us that housekeeping is both an art and a science.
Leah is an artist herself: she sews dresses from myriad different materials, often matching them with pieces of jewelry. She works with fabrics the way others work with stone, metal, clay, fictional characters: listening to them to find out what they need and what they want to be. If we continue to practice, maybe we will actually be able to make a bed as well as she and this team can! Posted in Housekeeping! January 28th, by camdenmotel. As regular readers of this blog might remember, we have three cats, two males and one female, all of them years old, none of them entirely sure about our new lives as Camden, Maine innkeepers.
When we move from one chore to the other right in front of them, they tell us in no uncertain terms that we either need to stop hustling and bustling, or if there is really no way to take a break we need to make cat time a regular item on our list of chores. How would it be, if they took turns filling in for us as innkeepers for a few weeks? Cancel breakfast in the breakfast room, and deliver scraps of some sort, or some canned breakfast foods, to the rooms instead.
Why should they eat better than the cat innkeeper? Guests also need to stick to their own room territories instead of invading cat innkeeper territories. Their eyes, if possible, should stay out of these territories too, meaning the garden view windows of rooms will be boarded up. The fence of outdoor cat innkeeper territory will disappear, enabling more productive feline exploration. On Sundays, shredded squirrel could top the Specials Menu. Breakfast will be early, as will checkout time, to accommodate cat innkeeper exhaustion after all night breakfast procuring and delivery. If inn really needs a housekeeper, keep only K, who always keeps a respectful distance.
Once all current guests and guests with reservations have left, put up the No Vacancy sign, and leave it up for good. This severe illness has cast a great gloom over our circle of six, and Mr. Two of the gentlemen not only show the utmost tenderness as nurses, but possess a skill and experience which are invaluable.
They never leave him by night, and scarcely take needed rest even in the day, one or other of them being always at hand to support him when faint, or raise him on his pillows.
It is not only that the Nevada is barely seaworthy, and has kept us broiling in the tropics when we ought to have been at San Francisco, but her fittings are so old. The mattresses bulge and burst, and cockroaches creep in and out, the deck is so leaky that the water squishes up under the saloon matting as we walk over it, the bread swarms with minute ants, and we have to pick every piece over because of weevils. Existence at night is an unequal fight with rats and cockroaches, and at meals with the stewards for time to eat.
The stewards outnumber the passengers, and are the veriest riff-raff I have seen on board ship. At meals, when the captain is not below, their sole object is to hurry us from the table in order that they may sit down to a protracted meal; they are insulting and disobliging, and since illness has been on board, have shown a want of common humanity which places them below the rest of their species.
The unconcealed hostility with which they regard us is a marvellous page: 14 contrast to the natural or purchasable civility or servility which prevails on British steamers. Our most serious grievance was the length of time that we were kept in the damp inter-island region of the Tropic of Capricorn. Early breakfasts, cold plunge baths, and the perfect ventilation of our cabins, only just kept us alive. We read, wrote, and talked like automatons, and our voices sounded thin and far away.
We decided that heat was less felt in exercise, made up an afternoon quoit party, and played unsheltered from the nearly vertical sun, on decks so hot that we required thick boots for the protection of our feet, but for three days were limp and faint, and hardly able to crawl about or eat. The nights were insupportable. We used to lounge in the bow, and retire late at night to our cabins, to fight the heat, and scare rats and kill cockroaches with slippers, until driven by the solar heat to rise again unrefreshed to wrestle through another relentless day. He is a most interesting animal, something like an exaggerated bat.
His wings are formed of a jet black membrane, and have a highly polished claw at the extremity of each, and his feet consist of five beautifully polished long black claws, with which he hangs on head downwards. His body is about twice the size of that of a very large rat, black and furry underneath, and with red foxy fur on his head and back.
His face is pointed, with a very black nose and prominent black eyes, with a savage, remorseless expression. His wings, when extended, measure forty-eight inches across, and his flying powers are prodigious. He snapped like a dog at first, but is now quite tame, and devours quantities of dried figs, the only diet he will eat. We crossed the Equator in Long. From that time we have been indifferent to our crawling pace, except for the sick man's sake.
The days dawn in rose colour and die in gold, and through their long hours a sea of delicious blue shimmers beneath the sun, so soft, so blue, so dreamlike, an ocean worthy of its name, the page: 16 enchanted region of perpetual calm, and an endless summer. Far off, for many an azure league, rims of rock, fringed with the graceful coco palm, girdle still lagoons, and are themselves encircled by coral reefs on which the ocean breaks all the year in broad drifts of foam.
Myriads of flying fish and a few dolphins and Portuguese men-of-war flash or float through the scarcely undulating water. The Pacific in this region is an indolent blue expanse, pure and lonely, an almost untraversed sea. In spite of minor evils, our voyage has been a singularly pleasant one. The condition of the ship and her machinery warrants the strongest condemnation, but her discipline is admirable, and so are many of her regulations, and we might have had a much more disagreeable voyage in a better ship.
Captain Blethen is beyond all praise, and so is the chief engineer, whose duties page: 17 are incessant and most harassing, owing to the critical state of the engines. The Nevada now presents a grotesque appearance, for within the last few hours she has received such an added list to port that her starboard wheel looks nearly out of the water. Oahu in the distance, a group of grey, barren peaks rising verdureless out of the lonely sea, was not an exception to the rule that the first sight of land is a disappointment.
Owing to the clear atmosphere, we seemed only five miles off, but in reality we were twenty, and the land improved as we neared it; It was the fiercest day we had had, the deck was almost too hot to stand upon, the sea and sky were both magnificently blue, and the unveiled sun turned every minute ripple into a diamond flash.
As we approached, the island changed its character. There were lofty peaks, truly—grey and red, sun-scorched and wind-bleached, glowing here and there with traces of their fiery origin; but they were cleft by deep chasms and ravines of cool shadow and entrancing green, and falling water streaked their sides—a most welcome vision after eleven months of the desert sea and the dusty browns of Australia and New Zealand. Nearer yet, and the coast line came into sight, fringed by the feathery cocoanut tree of the tropics, and marked by a long line of surf.
The grand promontory of Diamond Head, its fiery sides now page: 19 softened by a haze of green, terminated the wavy line of palms; then the Punchbowl, a very perfect extinct crater, brilliant with every shade of red volcanic ash, blazed against the green skirts of the mountains. The surf ran white and pure over the environing coral reef, and as we passed through the narrow channel, we almost saw the coral forests deep down under the Nevada's keel; the coral fishers plied their graceful trade; canoes with outriggers rode the combers, and glided with inconceivable rapidity round our ship; amphibious brown beings sported in the transparent waves; and within the reef lay a calm surface of water of a wonderful blue, entered by a.
And beyond the reef and beyond the blue, nestling among cocoanut trees and bananas, umbrella trees and breadfruits, oranges, page: 20 mangoes, hibiscus, algaroba, and passion-flowers, almost hidden in the deep, dense greenery, was Honolulu. Bright blossom of a summer sea! Fair Paradise of the Pacific! Inside the reef the magnificent iron-clad California the flag-ship and another huge American war vessel, the Benicia, are moored in line with the British corvette Scout, within yards of the shore; and their boats were constantly passing and re-passing, among countless canoes filled with natives.
Two coasting schooners were just leaving the harbour, and the inter-island steamer Kilauea, with her deck crowded with natives, was just coming in. By noon the great decrepit Nevada, which has no wharf at which she can lie in sleepy New Zealand, was moored alongside a very respectable one in this enterprising little Hawaiian capital. We looked down from the towering deck on a crowd of two or three thousand people—whites, Kanakas, Chinamen—and hundreds of them at once made their way on board, and streamed over the ship, talking, laughing, and remarking upon us in a language which seemed without backbone.
Such rich brown men and women they were, with wavy, shining black hair, large, brown, lustrous eyes, and rows of perfect teeth like ivory. Everyone was smiling. The forms of the women seem to be inclined towards obesity, but their drapery, which consists of a sleeved garment which falls in ample and unconfined folds from their shoulders to their feet, partly conceals this defect, which is here regarded as a beauty. Some of these dresses were black, but many of those worn by page: 21 the younger women were of pure white, crimson, yellow, scarlet, blue, or light green. The men displayed their lithe, graceful figures to the best advantage in white trousers and gay Garibaldi shirts.
A few of the women wore coloured handkerchiefs twined round their hair, but generally both men and women wore straw hats, which the men set jauntily on one side of their heads, and aggravated their appearance yet more by bandana handkerchiefs of rich bright colours round their necks, knotted loosely on the left side, with a grace to which, I think, no Anglo-Saxon dandy could attain. Without an exception the men and women wore wreaths and garlands of flowers, carmine, orange, or pure white, twined round their hats, and thrown carelessly round their necks, flowers unknown to me, but redolent of the tropics in fragrance and colour.
Many of the young beauties wore the gorgeous blossom of the red hibiscus among their abundant, unconfined, black hair, and many, besides the garlands, wore festoons of a sweet-scented vine, or of an exquisitely beautiful fern, knotted behind and hanging half-way down their dresses. These adornments of natural flowers are most attractive. But where were the hard, angular, careworn, sallow, passionate faces of men and women, such as form the majority of every crowd at home, as well as in America and Australia?
The conditions of life must surely be easier here, and people must have found rest from some of its burdensome conventionalities. The foreign ladies, in their simple, tasteful, fresh attire, innocent of the humpings and bunchings, the monstrosities and deformities of ultra-fashionable bad taste, beamed with cheerfulness, friendliness, and kindliness. Men and women looked as easy, contented, and happy as if care never came near them.
Outside this motley, genial, picturesque crowd about saddled horses were standing, each with the Mexican saddle, with its lassoing horn in front, high peak behind, immense wooden stirrups, with great leathern guards, silver or brass bosses, and coloured saddle-cloths. The saddles were the only element of the picturesque that these Hawaiian steeds possessed. They were sorry, lean, undersized beasts, looking in general as if the emergencies of life left them little time for eating or sleeping.
Every now and then a flower-wreathed Hawaiian woman, in her full radiant garment, sprang on one of these animals astride, and dashed along the road at full gallop, sitting on her horse as square and easy as a hussar. In the crowd and outside of it, and everywhere, there were piles of fruit for sale—oranges and guavas, strawberries, papayas, bananas green and golden , cocoanuts, and other rich, fantastic productions of a prolific climate, where nature gives of her wealth the whole year round.
Strange fishes, strange in shape and colour, crimson, blue, orange, rose, gold, such fishes as flash like living light through the coral groves of these enchanted seas, were there for sale, and coral divers were there with their treasures—branch coral, as white as snow, each perfect specimen weighing from eight to twenty pounds. But no one pushed his wares for sale—we were at liberty to look and admire, and pass on unmolested. No vexatious restrictions obstructed our landing.
Blog - The Towne Motel (Camden, Maine Mid-coast)
A sum of two dollars for the support of the Queen's Hospital is levied on each passenger, and the examination of ordinary luggage, if it exists, is a mere form. From the demeanour of the crowd it was at once apparent that the conditions of conquerors and conquered do not exist. On the contrary, many of the foreigners there were subjects of a Hawaiian king, a reversal of the ordinary relations between a white and a coloured race which it is not easy yet to appreciate.
Two of my fellow-passengers, who were going on to San Francisco, were anxious that I should accompany page: 24 them to the Pali, the great excursion from Honolulu; and leaving Mr. M— to make all arrangements for the Dexters and myself, we hired a buggy, destitute of any peculiarity but a native driver, who spoke nothing but Hawaiian, and left the ship.
This place is quite unique. It is said that 15, people are buried away in these low-browed, shadowy houses, under the glossy, dark-leaved trees, but except in one or two streets of miscellaneous, old-fashioned looking stores, arranged with a distinct leaning towards native tastes, it looks like a large village, or rather like an aggregate of villages. As we drove through the town we could only see our immediate surroundings, but each had a new fascination.
The air was heavy with odours of gardenia, tuberose, oleanders, roses, lilies, and the great white trumpet-flower, and myriads of others whose names I do not know, and verandahs were festooned with a gorgeous trailer with magenta blossoms, passion-flowers, and a vine with masses of trumpet-shaped, yellow, waxy flowers. The delicate tamarind and the feathery algaroba intermingled their fragile grace with the dark, shiny foliage of the South Sea exotics, and the deep red, solitary flowers of the page: 25 hibiscus rioted among dear familiar fuschias and geraniums, which here attain the height and size of large rhododendrons.
Few of the new trees surprised me more than the papaya. It is a perfect gem of tropical vegetation. It has a soft, indented stem, which runs up quite straight to a height of from 15 to 30 feet, and is crowned by a profusion of large, deeply indented leaves, with long foot-stalks, and among, as well as considerably below these, are the flowers or the fruit, in all stages of development.
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This, when ripe, is bright yellow, and the size of a musk melon. Clumps of bananas, the first sight of which, like that of the palm, constitutes a new experience, shaded the native houses with their wonderful leaves, broad and deep green, from five to ten feet long. The breadfruit is a superb tree, about 60 feet high, with deep green, shining leaves, a foot broad, sharply and symmetrically cut, worthy, from their exceeding beauty of form, to take the place of the acanthus in architectural ornament, and throwing their pale green fruit into delicate contrast.
All these, with the exquisite rose apple, with a deep red tinge in its young leaves, the fan palm, the chirimoya, and numberless others, and the slender shafts of the coco palms rising high above them, with their waving plumes and perpetual fruitage, were a perfect festival of beauty. In the deep shade of this perennial greenery the people dwell. The foreign houses show a very various individuality. The peculiarity in which all seem to share is, that everything is decorated and festooned with flowering page: 26 trailers.
It is often difficult to tell what the architecture is, or what is house and what is vegetation; for all angles, and lattices, and balustrades, and verandahs are hidden by jessamine or passion-flowers, or the gorgeous flamelike Bougainvillers. Many of the dwellings straggle over the ground without an upper story, and have very deep verandahs, through which I caught glimpses of cool, shady rooms, with matted floors. Some look as if they had been transported from the old-fashioned villages of the Connecticut Valley, with their clap-board fronts painted white and jalousies painted green; but then the deep verandah in which families lead an open-air life has been added, and the chimneys have been omitted, and the New England severity and angularity are toned down and draped out of sight by these festoons of large-leaved, bright-blossomed, tropical climbing plants.
Besides the frame houses there are houses built of blocks of a cream-coloured coral conglomerate laid in cement, of adobe , or large sun-baked bricks, plastered; houses of grass and bamboo; houses on the ground and houses raised on posts; but nothing looks prosaic, commonplace, or mean, for the glow and luxuriance of the tropics rest on all. A soft air moves through the upper branches, and the drip of water from miniature fountains falls musically on the perfumed air.
This is midwinter! The mixture of the neat grass houses of the natives with the more elaborate homes of the foreign residents has a very pleasant look.
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As we emerged on the broad road which leads up the Nuuanu Valley to the mountains, we saw many patches of this kalo , a very handsome tropical plant, with large leaves of a bright tender green. Each plant was growing on a small hillock, with water round it. There were beautiful vegetable gardens also, in which Chinamen raise for sale not only melons, pineapples, sweet potatoes, and other edibles of hot climates, but the familiar fruits and vegetables of the temperate zones.
In patches of surpassing neatness, there were strawberries, which are ripe here all the year, peas, carrots, turnips, asparagus, lettuce, and celery. I saw no other plants or trees which grow at home, but page: 28 recognized as hardly less familiar growths the Victorian Eucalyptus, which has not had time to become gaunt and straggling, the Norfolk Island pine, which grows superbly here, and the handsome Moreton Bay fig.
But the chief feature of this road is the number of residences; I had almost written of pretentious residences, but the term would be a base slander, as I have jumped to the conclusion that the twin vulgarities of ostentation and pretence have no place here. But certainly for a mile and a half or more there are many very comfortable-looking dwellings, very attractive to the eye, with an ease and imperturbable serenity of demeanour as if they had nothing to fear from heat, cold, wind, or criticism.
Their architecture is absolutely unostentatious, and their one beauty is that they are embowered among trailers, shadowed by superb exotics, and surrounded by banks of flowers, while the stately cocoanut, the banana, and the candlenut, the aborigines of Oahu, are nowhere displaced. One house with extensive grounds, a perfect wilderness of vegetation, was pointed out as the summer palace of Queen Emma, or Kaleleonalani, widow of Kamehameha IV. Oahu, at least on this leeward side, is not tropical looking, and all this tropical variety and luxuriance which delight the eye result from foreign enthusiasm and love of beauty and shade.
The fines are sometimes twenty feet high, with handles twelve or fifteen feet long, covered with tortoiseshell and whale tooth ivory. These insignia are carried in procession instead of banners, and used to be fixed in the ground near the temporary residence of the king or chiefs. At the funeral of the late king seventy-six large and small kahilis were carried by the retainers of chief families. At that height a shower of rain falls on nearly every day in the year, and the result is a green sward which England can hardly rival, a perfect sea of verdure, darkened in the valley and more than half way up the hill sides by the foliage of the yellow-blossomed and almost impenetrable hibiscus, brightened here and there by the pea-green candlenut.
Streamlets leap from crags and ripple along the roadside, every rock and stone is hidden by moist-looking ferns, as aerial and delicate as marabout feathers, and when the windings of the valley and the projecting spurs of mountains shut out all indications of Honolulu, in the cool green loneliness one could image oneself in the temperate zones. The peculiarity of the scenery is, that the hills, which rise to a height of about 4, feet, are wall-like ridges of grey or coloured rock, rising precipitously out of the trees and grass, and that these walls are broken up into pinnacles and needles.
At the Pali wall-like precipice , the summit of the ascent of 1, feet, we left our buggy, and passing through a gash in the rock the celebrated view burst on us with page: 30 overwhelming effect. Immense masses of black and ferruginous volcanic rock, hundreds of feet in nearly perpendicular height, formed the pali on either side, and the ridge extended northwards for many miles, presenting a lofty, abrupt mass of grey rock broken into fantastic pinnacles, which seemed to pierce the sky.
A broad, umbrageous mass of green clothed the lower buttresses, and fringed itself away in clusters of coco palms on a garden-like stretch below, green with grass and sugar-cane, and dotted with white houses, each with its palm and banana grove, and varied by eminences which looked like long extinct tufa cones.
Beyond this enchanted region stretched the coral reef, with its white wavy line of endless surf, and the broad blue Pacific, ruffled by a breeze whose icy freshness chilled us where we stood. Narrow streaks on the landscape, every now and then disappearing behind intervening hills, indicated bridle tracks connected with a frightfully steep and rough zigzag path cut out of the face of the cliff on our right. I could not go down this on foot without a sense of insecurity, but mounted natives driving loaded horses descended with perfect impunity into the dreamland below.
This pali is the scene of one of the historic tragedies of this island. Kamehameha the Conqueror, who after fierce fighting and much ruthless destruction of human life united the island sovereignties in his own person, routed the forces of the King of Oahu in the Nuuanu Valley, and drove them in hundreds up the precipice, from which they leaped in despair and madness, and their bones lie bleaching feet below. The drive back here was delightful, from the wintry height, where I must confess that we shivered, to the slumbrous calm of an endless summer, the glorious tropical trees, the distant view of cool chasm-like valleys, with Honolulu sleeping in perpetual shade, and the still blue ocean, without a single sail to disturb its profound solitude.
Saturday afternoon is a gala-day here, and the broad road was so thronged with brilliant equestrians, that I thought we should be ridden over by the reckless laughing rout. There were hundreds of native horsemen and horsewomen, many of them doubtless on the dejected quadrupeds I saw at the wharf, but a judicious application of long rowelled Mexican spurs, and a degree of emulation, caused these animals to tear along at full gallop. The women seemed perfectly at home in their gay, brass-bossed, high peaked saddles, flying along astride, barefooted, with their orange and scarlet riding dresses streaming on each side beyond their horses' tails, a bright kaleidoscopic flash of bright eyes, white teeth, shining hair, garlands of flowers and many-coloured dresses; while the men were hardly less gay, with fresh flowers round their jaunty hats, and the vermilion-coloured blossoms of the Ohia round their brown throats.
Sometimes a troop of twenty of these free-and-easy female riders went by at a time, a graceful and exciting spectacle, with a running accompaniment of vociferation and laughter. Among these we met several of the Nevada's officers, riding in the stiff, wooden style which Anglo-Saxons love, and a horde of jolly British sailors from H. Scott, rushing helter skelter, colliding with page: 32 everybody, bestriding their horses as they would a topsail-yard, hanging on to manes and lassoing horns, and enjoying themselves thoroughly.
In the shady tortuous streets we met hundreds more of native riders, dashing at full gallop without fear of the police. Many of the women were in flowing riding-dresses of pure white, over which their unbound hair, and wreaths of carmine-tinted flowers fell most picturesquely. All this time I had not seen our domicile, and when our drive ended under the quivering shadow of large tamarind and algaroba trees, in front of a long, stone, two-storied house with two deep verandahs festooned with clematis and passion flowers, and a shady lawn in front, I felt as if in this fairy land anything might be expected.
This is the perfection of an hotel. Hospitality seems to take possession of and appropriate one as soon as one enters its never-closed door, which is on the lower verandah. There is a basement, in which there are a good many bedrooms, the bar, and billiard-room. This is entered from the garden, under two semicircular flights of stairs which lead to the front entrance, a wide corridor conducting to the back entrance. This is crossed by another running the whole length, which opens into a very large many-windowed dining-room which occupies the whole width of the hotel.
On the same level there is a large parlour, with French windows opening on the verandah. Upstairs there are two similar corridors on which all the bedrooms open, and each room has one or more French windows opening on the verandah, with page: 33 doors as well, made like German shutters, to close instead of the windows, ensuring at once privacy and coolness.
The rooms are tastefully furnished with varnished pine with a strong aromatic scent, and there are plenty of lounging-chairs on the verandah, where people sit and receive their intimate friends. The result of the construction of the hotel is that a breeze whispers through it by day and night. Everywhere, only pleasant objects meet the eye. One can sit all day on the back verandah, watching the play of light and colour on the mountains and the deep blue green of the Nuuanu Valley, where showers, sunshine, and rainbows make perpetual variety.
The great dining-room is delicious. It has no curtains, and its decorations are cool and pale. Its windows look upon tropical trees in one direction, and up to the cool mountains in the other. Piles of bananas, guavas, limes, and oranges, decorate the tables at each meal, and strange vegetables, fish, and fruits vary the otherwise stereotyped American hotel fare.
There are no female domestics. The host is a German, the manager an American, the steward an Hawaiian, and the servants are all Chinamen in spotless white linen, with pigtails coiled round their heads, and an air of super-abundant good-nature. They know very little English, and make most absurd mistakes, but they are cordial, smiling, and obliging, and look cool and clean. The hotel seems the great public resort of Honolulu, the centre of stir—club-house, exchange and drawing-room in one.
Its wide corridors and verandahs are lively with English and American naval uniforms, several planters' page: 34 families are here for the season; and with health seekers from California, resident boarders, whaling captains, tourists from the British Pacific Colonies, and a stream of townspeople always percolating through the corridors and verandahs, it seems as lively and free-and-easy as a place can be, pervaded by the kindliness and bonhommie which form an important item in my first impressions of the islands.
The minister whose scheme it was seems to be severely censured on account of it, but undoubtedly it brings strangers and their money into the kingdom, who would have avoided it had they been obliged as formerly to cast themselves on the hospitality of the residents. The present proprietor has it rent-free for a term of years, but I fear that it is not likely to prove a successful speculation either for him or the government. I dislike health resorts, and abhor this kind of life, but for those who like both, I cannot imagine a more fascinating residence.
This sum includes hot and cold plunge baths ad libitum , justly regarded as a necessity in this climate. McGrew has hope that our invalid will rally in this healing, equable atmosphere. Our kind fellow-passengers are here, and take turns in watching and fanning him. Through the half-closed jalousies we see bread-fruit trees, delicate tamarinds and algarobas, fan-palms, date- page: 35 palms and bananas, and the deep blue Pacific gleams here and there through the plumage of the cocoanut trees. A soft breeze, scented with a slight aromatic odour, wanders in at every opening, bringing with it, mellowed by distance, the hum and clatter of the busy cicada.
The nights are glorious, and so absolutely still, that even the feathery foliage of the algaroba is at rest. The stars seem to hang among the trees like lamps, and the crescent moon gives more light than the full moon at home. The evening of the day we landed, parties of officers and ladies mounted at the door, and with much mirth disappeared on moonlight rides, and the white robes of flower-crowned girls gleamed among the trees, as groups of natives went by speaking a language which sounded more like the rippling of water than human speech.
Soft music came from the ironclads in the harbour, and from the royal band at the king's palace, and a rich fragrance of dewy blossoms filled the delicious air. They seem to welcome us to their enchanted shores. Everything is new but nothing strange; for as I enjoyed the purple night, I remembered that I had seen such islands in dreams in the cold gray North. So I thought one moment. The next I heard a droning, humming sound, which certainly was not the surf upon the reef. It came nearer—there could be no mistake.
I felt a stab, and found myself the centre of a swarm of droning, stabbing, malignant mosquitos. No, even this is not paradise! I am ashamed to say that on my first night in Honolulu I sought an early refuge from this intolerable infliction, in profound and prosaic sleep behind mosquito curtains. Church bells rang, and the shady streets were filled with people in holiday dress. There are two large native churches, the Kaumakapili, and the Kaiwaiaho, usually called the stone church. The latter is an immense substantial building, for the erection of which each Christian native brought a block of rock-coral.
There is a large Roman Catholic church, the priests of which are said to have been somewhat successful in proselytizing operations. The Reformed Catholic, or English temporary cathedral, is a tasteful but very simple wooden building, standing in pretty grounds, on which a very useful institution for boarding and training native and half-white girls, and the reception of white girls as day scholars, also stands.
This is in connection with Miss Sellon's Sisterhood at Devonport. Another building, alongside the cathedral, is used for English service in Hawaiian. Lunalilo, the present king, has cast in his lot with the Congregationalists, but queen Emma is an earnest member of the Anglican Church, and attends the Liturgical Hawaiian Service in order to throw the weight of her influence with the natives into the scale of that communion. Her husband spent many of his later days in translating the Prayer-Book. As is natural, most of the natives belong to the denomination from which they or their fathers received the Christian faith, and the majority of the foreigners are of the same persuasion.
The New England Puritan influence, with its rigid Sabbatarianism, though considerably worn away, is still influential enough to produce a general appearance of Sabbath observance. The stores are closed, the church-going is very demonstrative, and the pleasure-seeking is very unobtrusive. The wharves are profoundly quiet. I went twice to the English Cathedral, and was interested to see there a lady in a nun's habit, with a number of brown girls, who was pointed out to me as Sister Bertha, who has been working here usefully for many years.
The ritual is high. I am told that it is above the desires and the comprehension of most of the island episcopalians, but the zeal and disinterestedness of Bishop Willis will, in time, I doubt not, win upon those who prize such qualities. He called in the afternoon, and took me to his pretty, unpretending residence up the Nuuanu Valley. He has a training and boarding school there for native boys, some of whom were at church in the morning as a surpliced choir.
The bishop, his sister, page: 39 the schoolmaster, and fourteen boys take their meals together in a refectory, the boys acting as servitors by turns. There is service every morning at 6. Early risers, so near the equator, must get up by candlelight all the year round. This morning we joined our kind friends from the Nevada for the last time at breakfast. I have noticed that there is often a centrifugal force which acts upon passengers who have been long at sea together, dispersing them on reaching port.
Indeed, the temporary enforced cohesion is often succeeded by violent repulsion. But in this instance we deeply regret the dissolution of our pleasant fraternity; the less so, however, that this wonderful climate has produced a favourable change in Mr.
The mornings here, dew-bathed and rose-flushed, are, if possible, more lovely than the nights, and people are astir early to enjoy them. The American consul and Mr. Damon called while we were sitting at our eight-o'clock breakfast, from which I gather that formalities are dispensed with. After spending the morning in hunting among the stores for things which were essential for the invalid, I lunched in the Nevada with Captain Blethen and our friends.
She was loading with oranges and green bananas up to the last moment,—those tasteless bananas which, out of the tropics, misrepresent this most delicious and ambrosial fruit. There was a far greater excitement for the natives, for King Lunalilo was about to pay a state visit to the American flag-ship California, and every available place along the wharves and roads was crowded with kanakas anxious to see him. I should tell you that the late king, being without heirs, ought to have nominated his successor; but it is said that a sorceress, under whose influence he was, persuaded him that his death would follow upon this act.
When he died, two months ago, leaving the succession unprovided for, the duty of electing a sovereign, according to the constitution, devolved upon the people through their representatives, and they exercised it with a combination of order and enthusiasm which reflects great credit on their civilization. The spectacular effect of a pageant here is greatly heightened by the cloudless blue sky, and the wealth of light and colour.
It was very hot, almost too hot for sight-seeing, on the Nevada's bow. Expectation among the lieges became tremendous and vociferous when Admiral Pennock's sixteen-oared barge, with a handsome awning, followed by two well-manned boats, swept across the strip of water which lies between the ships and the shore.
Outrigger canoes, with garlanded men and women, were poised upon the motionless water or darted gracefully round the ironclads, as gracefully to come to rest. Then a stir and swaying of the crowd, and the American Admiral was seen standing at the steps of an English barouche and four, and an Hawaiian imitation of an English cheer rang out upon the air. More cheering, more excitement, and I saw nothing else till the Admiral's barge, containing the Admiral, and the King dressed in a plain morning suit with a single decoration, swept past the Nevada.
The suite followed in the other boats,—brown men and white, governors, ministers, and court dignitaries, in Windsor uniforms, but with an added resplendency of plumes, epaulettes, and gold lace. As soon as Lunalilo reached the California, the yards of the three ships were manned, and amidst cheering which rent the air, and the deafening thunder of a royal salute from sixty-three guns of heavy calibre, the popular descendant of seventy generations of sceptred savages stepped on board the flag-ship's deck.
I was turning homewards, enjoying the prospect of a quiet week in Honolulu, when Mr. Damon seized upon me, and told me that a lady friend of theirs, anxious for a companion, was going to the volcano on Hawaii, that she was a most expert and intelligent traveller, that the Kilauea would sail in two hours, that unless I went now I should have no future opportunity during my limited stay on the islands, that Mrs.
Dexter was anxious for me to go, that they would more than fill my place in my absence, that this was a golden opportunity, that in short I must go, and they would drive me back to the hotel to pack! Such an unexpected move is very bewildering, and it is too experimental, and too much of a leap in the dark to be enjoyable at present. The wharf was one dense, well-compacted mass of natives taking leave of their friends with much effusiveness, and the steamer's encumbered deck was crowded with them, till there was hardly room to move; men, women, children, dogs, cats, mats, calabashes of poi , cocoanuts, bananas, dried fish, and every dusky individual of the throng was wreathed and garlanded with odorous and brilliant flowers.
All were talking and laughing, and an immense amount of gesticulation seems to emphasize and supplement speech. We steamed through the reef in the brief red twilight, over the golden tropic sea, keeping on the leeward side of the islands. Before it was quite dark the sleeping arrangements were made, and the deck and skylights were covered with mats and mattresses on which natives sat, slept, or smoked,—a motley, parti-coloured mass of humanity, in the midst of which I recognized Bishop Willis in the usual episcopal dress, lying on a mattress among the others, a prey to discomfort and weariness!
What would his episcopal brethren at home think of such a hardship? There is a yellow-skinned, soft-voiced, fascinating Goa or Malay steward on board, who with infinite goodwill attends to the comfort of everybody. The Kilauea is a screw boat of tons, most unprepossessing in appearance, slow, but sure, and capable of bearing an infinite amount of battering.
It is jokingly said that her keel has rasped off the branch coral round all the islands. Though there are many inter-island schooners, she is the only sure mode of reaching the windward islands in less than a week; and though at present I am disposed to think rather slightingly of her, and to class her with the New Zealand coasting craft, yet the residents are very proud of her, and speak lovingly of her, and regard her as a blessed deliverance from the horrors of beating to windward.
She has a shabby, obsolete look about her, like a second-rate coasting collier, or an old American tow-boat. She looks ill-found, too; I saw two essential pieces of tackle give way as they were hoisting the main sail. There is a stern cabin, which is a prolongation of the saloon, and not in any way separated from it. There is no ladies' cabin; but sex, race, and colour are included in a promiscuous arrangement.
I would not change her now for the finest palace which floats on the Hudson, or the trimmest of the Hutchesons' beautiful West Highland fleet. Miss Karpe, my travelling companion, and two agreeable ladies, were already in their berths very sick, but I did not get into mine because a cockroach, looking as large as a mouse, occupied the pillow, and a companion not much smaller was roaming over the quilt without any definite purpose. They looked capable of carrying out the most dangerous and inscrutable designs. I called the Malay steward; he smiled mournfully, but spoke reassuringly, and pledged his word for their innocuousness, but I never can believe that they are not the enemies of man; and I lay down on the transom, not to sleep, however, for it seemed essential to keep watch on the proceedings of these formidable vermin.
I noticed, too, that there were very few trunks and page: 46 portmanteaus, but that the after end of the saloon was heaped with Mexican saddles and saddlebags, which I learned too late were the essential gear of every traveller on Hawaii. At five this morning we were at anchor in the roads of Lahaina, the chief village on the mountainous island of Maui. This place is very beautiful from the sea, for beyond the blue water and the foamy reef the eye rests gratefully on a picturesque collection of low, one-storied, thatched houses, many of frame, painted white; others of grass, but all with deep, cool verandahs, half hidden among palms, bananas, kukuis, breadfruit, and mangoes, dark groves against gentle slopes behind, covered with sugar-cane of a bright pea-green.
It is but a narrow strip of land between the ocean and the red, flaring, almost inaccessible, Maui hills, which here rise abruptly to a height of 6, feet, pinnacled, chasmed, buttressed, and almost verdureless, except in a few deep clefts, green and cool with ferns and candlenut trees, and moist with falling water. Lahaina looked intensely tropical in the rose flush of the early morning, a dream of some bright southern isle, too surely to pass away. The sun blazed down on shore, ship, and sea, glorifying all things through the winter day. We called at Maaleia, a neck of sandy, scorched, verdureless soil, and at Ulupalakua, or rather at the furnace seven times heated, page: 47 which is the landing of the plantation of that name, on whose breezy slopes cane refreshes the eye at a height of 2, feet above the sea.
We anchored at both places, and with what seemed to me a needless amount of delay, discharged goods and natives, and natives, mats, and calabashes were embarked. In addition to the essential mat and calabash of poi , every native carried some pet, either dog or cat, which was caressed, sung to, and talked to with extreme tenderness; but there were hardly any children, and I noticed that where there were any, the men took charge of them.
There were very few fine, manly dogs; the pets in greatest favour are obviously those odious weak-eyed, pink-nosed Maltese terriers. The aspect of the sea was so completely lazy, that it was a fresh surprise as each indolent undulation touched the shore that it had latent vigour left to throw itself upwards into clouds of spray. We looked through limpid water into cool depths where. Even the imperishable cocoanut trees, whose tall, bare, curved trunks rose from the lava or the burnt red earth, were gaunt, tattered, and thirsty-looking, weary of crying for moisture to the pitiless skies.
At last the ceaseless ripple of talk ceased, crew and passengers slept on the hot deck, and no sounds were heard but the drowsy flap of the awning, and the drowsier creak of the rudder, as the Kilauea swayed sleepily on the lazy undulations. The flag drooped and fainted with heat. The white sun blazed like a magnesium light on blue water, black lava, and fiery soil, roasting, blinding, scintillating, and flushed the red rocks of Maui into glory.
It was a constant marvel that troops of mounted natives, male and female, could gallop on the scorching shore without being melted or shrivelled. It is all glorious, this fierce bright glow of the Tropic of Cancer, yet it was a relief to look up the great rolling featureless slopes above Ulupalakua to a forest belt of perennial green, watered, they say, by perpetual showers, and a little later to see a mountain summit uplifted into a region of endless winter, above a steady cloud-bank as white as snow.
This mountain, page: 49 Haleakala, the House of the Sun, is the largest extinct volcano in the world, its terminal crater being nineteen miles in circumference at a height of more than 10, feet. It, and its spurs, slopes, and clusters of small craters form East Maui. West Maui is composed mainly of the lofty picturesque group of the Eeka mountains. A desert strip of land, not much above high water mark, unites the twain, which form an island forty-eight miles long and thirty broad, with an area of square miles. We left Maui in the afternoon, and spent the next six hours in crossing the channel between it and Hawaii, but the short tropic day did not allow us to see anything of the latter island but two snow-capped domes uplifted above the clouds.
I have been reading Jarves' excellent book on the islands as industriously as possible, as well as trying to get information from my fellow-passengers regarding the region into which I have been so suddenly and unintentionally projected. I really know nothing about Hawaii, or the size and phenomena of the volcano to which we are bound, or the state of society or of the native race, or of the relations existing between it and the foreign population, or of the details of the constitution.
This ignorance is most oppressive, and I see that it will not be easily enlightened, for among several intelligent gentlemen who have been conversing with me, no two seem agreed on any matter of fact. From the hour of my landing I have observed the existence of two parties of pro and anti missionary leanings, with views on all island subjects in grotesque page: 50 antagonism.
So far, the former have left the undoubted results of missionary effort here to speak for themselves; and I am almost disposed, from the pertinacious aggressiveness of the latter party, to think that it must be weak. They apparently desire to convey the impression that the New England teachers, finding a people rejoicing in the innocence and simplicity of Eden, taught them the knowledge of evil, turned them into a nation of hypocrites, and with a strange mingling of fanaticism and selfishness, afflicted them with many woes calculated to accelerate their extinction, clothing among others.
The animus appears strong and bitter. There are two intelligent and highly educated ladies on board, daughters of missionaries, and the candid and cautious tone in which they speak on the same subject impresses me favourably. Damon introduced me to a very handsome half white gentleman, a lawyer of ability, and lately interpreter to the Legislature, Mr. His conversation was eloquent and poetic, though rather stilted, and he has a good deal of French mannerism; but if he is a specimen of native patriotic feeling, I think that the extinction of Hawaiian nationality must be far off.
I was amused with the attention that he paid to his dress under very adverse circumstances. He has appeared in page: 51 three different suits, with light kid gloves to match, all equally elegant, in two days. A Chinese gentleman, who is at the same time a wealthy merchant at Honolulu, and a successful planter on Hawaii, interests me, from the quiet keen intelligence of his face, and the courtesy and dignity of his manner.
I hear that he possesses the respect of the whole community for his honour and integrity. It is quite unlike an ordinary miscellaneous herd of passengers. The tone is so cheerful, courteous, and friendly, and people speak without introductions, and help to make the tone pass pleasantly to each other. The Kilauea is not a fast propeller, and as she lurched very much in crossing the channel most of the passengers were sea-sick, a casualty which did not impair their cheerfulness and good humour. After dark we called at Kawaihae pronounced To-wee-hye , on the northwest of Hawaii, and then steamed through the channel to the east or windward side.
It would do these Sybarites good to give them a short spell of the howling horrors of the North or South Atlantic, an easterly snowstorm off page: 52 Sable Island, or a winter gale in the latitude of Inaccessible Island! The night was cloudy, and so the glare from Kilauea which is often seen far out at sea was not visible. When the sun rose amidst showers and rainbows for this is the showery season , I could hardly believe my eyes.
Scenery, vegetation, colour were all changed. The glowing red, the fiery glare, the obtrusive lack of vegetation were all gone. There was a magnificent coast-line of grey cliffs many hundred feet in height, usually draped with green, but often black, caverned, and fantastic at their bases. Into cracks and caverns the heavy waves surged with a sound like artillery, sending their broad white sheets of foam high up among the ferns and trailers, and drowning for a time the endless baritone of the surf, which is never silent through the summer years.
Above the cliffs there were grassy uplands with park-like clumps of the screw-pine, and candle-nut, and glades and dells of dazzling green, bright with cataracts, opened up among the dark dense forests which for some thousands of feet girdle Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two vast volcanic mountains, whose snow-capped summits gleamed here and there above the clouds, page: 53 at an altitude of nearly 14, feet. Creation surely cannot exhibit a more brilliant green than that which clothes windward Hawaii with perpetual spring.
I have never seen such verdure. In the final twenty-nine miles there are more than sixty gulches, from to feet in depth, each with its cataracts, and wild vagaries of tropical luxuriance. Native churches, frame-built and painted white, are almost like mile-stones along the coast, far too large and too many for the notoriously dwindling population.
Ten miles from Hilo we came in sight of the first sugar plantation, with its patches of yet brighter green, its white boiling house and tall chimney stack; then more churches, more plantations, more gulches, more houses, and before ten we steamed into Byron's, or as it is now called Hilo Bay. This is the paradise of Hawaii. What Honolulu attempts to be, Hilo is without effort.
Its crescent-shaped bay, said to be the most beautiful in the Pacific, is a semi-circle of about two miles, with its farther extremity formed by Cocoanut Island, a black lava islet on which this palm attains great perfection, and beyond it again a fringe of cocoanuts marks the deep indentations of the shore. From this island to the north point of the bay, there is a band of golden sand on which the roar of the surf sounded thunderous and drowsy as it mingled with the music of living waters, the Waiakea and the Wailuku, which after lashing the sides of the mountains which give them birth, glide deep and fern-fringed into the ocean.
Native houses, half hidden by greenery, line the bay, and stud the heights above the page: 54 Wailuku, and near the landing some white frame houses and three church spires above the wood denote the foreign element. Hilo is unique. Its climate is humid, and the long repose which it has enjoyed from rude volcanic upheavals has mingled a great depth of vegetable mould with the decomposed lava. Rich soil, rain, heat, sunshine, stimulate nature to supreme efforts, and there is a luxuriant prodigality of vegetation which leaves nothing uncovered but the golden margin of the sea, and even that above high-water-mark is green with the Convolvulus maritimus.
So dense is the wood that Hilo is rather suggested than seen. It is only on shore that one becomes aware of its bewildering variety of native and exotic trees and shrubs. From the sea it looks one dense mass of greenery, in which the bright foliage of the candle-nut relieves the glossy dark green of the breadfruit—a maze of preposterous bananas, out of which rise slender annulated trunks of palms giving their infinite grace to the grove. Woods and waters, hill and valley are all there, and from the region of an endless summer the eye takes in the domain of an endless winter, where almost perpetual snow crowns the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa.
Mauna Kea from Hilo has a shapely aspect, for its top is broken page: 55 into peaks, said to be the craters of extinct volcanoes, but my eyes seek the dome-like curve of Mauna Loa with far deeper interest, for it is as yet an unfinished mountain. It has a huge crater on its summit feet in depth, and a pit of unresting fire on its side; it throbs and rumbles, and palpitates; it has sent forth floods of fire over all this part of Hawaii, and at any moment it may be crowned with a lonely light, showing that its tremendous forces are again in activity.
My imagination is already inflamed by hearing of marvels, and I am beginning to think tropically. Canoes came off from the shore, dusky swimmers glided through the water, youths, athletes, like the bronzes of the Naples Museum, rode the waves on their surf-boards, brilliantly dressed riders galloped along the sands and came trooping down the bridle-paths from all the vicinity till a many-coloured tropical crowd had assembled at the landing.
Then a whaleboat came off, rowed by eight young men in white linen suits and white straw hats, with wreaths of carmine-coloured flowers round both hats and throats. They were singing a glee in honour of Mr. Ragsdale, whom they sprang on deck to welcome. Our crowd of native fellow-passengers, by some inscrutable process, had re-arrayed themselves and blossomed into brilliancy. Hordes of Hilo natives swarmed on deck, and it became a Babel of alohas , kisses, hand-shakings, and reiterated welcomes. The glee singers threw their beautiful garlands of roses and ohias over the foreign passengers, and music, flowers, goodwill and kindliness made us welcome to these enchanted page: 56 shores.
We landed in a whaleboat, and were hoisted up a rude pier which was crowded, for what the arrival of the Australian mail-steamer is to Honolulu, the coming of the Kilauea is to Hilo.
I had not time to feel myself a stranger, there were so many introductions, and so much friendliness. Coan and Mr. Lyman, two of the most venerable of the few surviving missionaries, were on the landing, and I was introduced to them and many others. There is no hotel in Hilo. The residents receive strangers, and Miss Karpe and I were soon installed in a large buff frame-house, with two deep verandahs, the residence of Mr.
Severance, Sheriff of Hawaii. Unlike many other places, Hilo is more fascinating on closer acquaintance, so fascinating that it is hard to write about it in plain prose. Two narrow roads lead up from the sea to one as narrow, running parallel with it. Further up the hill another runs in the same direction. There are no conveyances, and outside the village these narrow roads dwindle into bridle-paths, with just room for one horse to pass another. The houses in which Mr.