“Let’s go for a drive today,” said the Alpha Japanese Female, “It’s such a pretty day.”
We talked for a bit and decided to go up the windward side, make a stop at Kualoa Ranch, and then maybe continue around the island.
So we crossed the Koolau, the mountain range that runs down the center of Oahu. Through the tunnel, a quick left and soon we were passing by the Byodo-In Temple which was established in 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
The Byodo-In Temple on O’ahu is a small-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site, in Uji, Japan.
After leaving the Temple we continued north enroute to the Ranch. It’s a nice two lane road, just right for a slow cruise.
Traffic was light and we had the Hawaiian music station playing as we cruised past the historic Hygienic Store, a local landmark, that is famous for being the antithesis of its name. The Hygienic Store got its strange name because it was the “company store” of the Hygienic Dairy which was founded in 1907 and was once the largest dairy in the state.
Kualoa Ranch is one of Oahu’s crown jewels, a place of extraordinary beauty and deep cultural significance. It’s an important part of Hawaii’s paniolo tradition; that’s what we call our cowboys.
Ancient Hawaiians considered Kualoa one of the most sacred places on the island of Oʻahu. It was the residence of kings, a place of refuge and sanctuary – a puʻuhonua – and a training ground for royalty who were instructed at Kualoa in the arts of war, history and social traditions.
Established in 1850, Kualoa Ranch is a 4,000-acre privately held working cattle ranch that is also one of the top visitor destinations in Hawaii. Kualoa has been the site of many Hollywood films and television shows. You’ve seen them: Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Windtalkers, 50 First Dates, LOST, Hawaii 5-0 and many more. It is also a world class wedding destination.
I know the ranch well because for about two years I was a consultant to the ranch owners and then later, a ranch employee. I was the Director of Business Development which sounds high falutin’ but was not. Basically I was tasked with the development of the Visitor Center, restaurant, retail and other non-agriculture / non-livestock stuff.
The Ranch offers a lot to do for visitors. There are horseback rides, ATV rides, movie set tours, history tours, trips to a “secret beach” and an ancient Hawaiian fish pond where oysters are now grown.
For folks like Kerbey, wandering out in the wilds of Texas, a 4,000 acre property is a modest back yard but on a tiny Hawaiian island 4,000 acres is a big chunk of real estate and, in fact, the Ranch is the largest private estate property on Oahu.
Kualoa Ranch offers many diversions but somehow these activities do not sully the Ranch. It is a tourist attraction but not a tourist trap and most visitors come away from a visit impressed by the ineffable spirituality that seems to imbue the property.
As I mentioned, there is a restaurant and gift shop on the ranch. That is where the AJF, Max and I took a break to gobble some french fries and enjoy a cold drink. Then it was off to walk some favorite spots on the Ranch.
Wandering the property we met a number of the friendly animals that live there. Max was not at all thrilled to be sniffing strange scents, dodging horse apples and then being introduced to unusual animals up close and personal. The llama, in particular, was scary for the Malt although Pikachu is as gentle as can be and just wanted to make friends.
I asked the AJF to take a photo of Max and Sweet Pea the donkey. It did not go well. I heard her say, “Max, get closer to the jackass. No, not the nice donkey, I meant the two legged one.”
It took some time before I realized I was the target of that barb. That, of course , led to a series of giggles and really bad “ass” jokes as though we were a pair of 11 year-olds.
Welcome to my world. My juvenile world. I’ll spare you the recital of jokes.
Okay, just one. What do you take when your butt hurts? Assprin. I told you they were bad. Snorf, snorf. But I digress.
We wandered across the pasture areas enjoying the views of the ocean and mountains. Unlike the old days when we actually lived on the ranch we stayed close to the visitor center. Lots of memories returned of the AJF and I (pre-Malt) hiking the surrounding mountains and exploring the jungle of this special place.
It was rewarding,too, to see that many of the things I put in place at the Ranch during my short tenure remain today. Good times. Someday I’ll write a series of blogs about our days at Kualoa Ranch – the ghost stories, the animal stories, the tourist stories and all the other tales of our adventure there including the AJF’s favorite story of how to rebuff aggressive cows with an empty Walmart bag. But that’s for later…
As for the little white guy, he was happy to leave Kualoa Ranch. I’m pretty sure what really bugged him was having his butt sniffed by a llama.
After our Ranch visit we did continue on around the island and even made a stop at Maxie’s Park before returning home. It was a very full and delightful day.