Day Four: Since all I had for dinner the night before was about half a bag of potato chips, I actually managed to make two full trips to the buffet for breakfast this time. I hadn't had whole milk in ages so I allowed myself a generous ladling of it when it was anahola granola time. At 9:00 a.m., we met up in the lobby for the garden tour of the resort's grounds. Our guide, whom I dubbed Groundskeeper Willikikihamawananameha even though he had neither a Scottish accent nor a Hawaiian name, greeted us, expressed his astonishment at the huge size of the group (there were eight of us), and led us outside. He pointed out the majestic Royal Palms ($20,000 a pop to transplant from Cuba), the stumpy Dwarf Date Palms, and the fake-sounding Cardboard Palms, all imported from lusher lands. He drew our attention to the fuscia-colored Bougainvillea, the intoxicatingly fragrant Singapore Plumeria, the awesomely-named Monkeypod Tree, and the always attention-grabbing Bird of Paradise:

I tucked a fallen plumeria blossom the behind my ear, watched a boy capture a chameleon and hold it out for all to see whether it would change colors, and accepted my last mosquito bite (note to self: vegetation = pain).

*grabs tennis shoes, shakes fist into the air, and passionately proclaims "as God as my witness, I'll never get bitten (in Hawaii) again!"*

The beach was closed this day because the undertow was too strong. As a result, the cabanas were free (normally, they require a reservation and $30) and y'all should know by now how we love free. Sat in the shade of the cabanas for a while, sat in the sun for a while, got up too fast, forgot about low blood pressure, almost fainted at the edge of the edgeless pool, quickly laid down in the cool grass under the cabana near Mom, felt better, and went inside for a nap.

For lunch, we all went to Arnie's Clubhouse located next to the Arnold-Palmer-designed golf course. The tasty meal was healthy and shot an eagle. We avoided the water hazards by enjoying the refreshing, signature Arnold Palmer drink (half iced tea, half lemonade). However, the vanilla, all-butter pound cake with ripe berries and fresh cream scored a hole-in-one! Wow, that was a corny dining review. Oh well. Fore! I mean, yum!

We tucked TP back into bed to nap off his traditional "I was on an airplane and therefore automatically caught someone's germs" cold and headed down to Kona for some strolling and shopping. The area which we were visiting was very different from our neighborhood: filled with souvenir shops, sporting a stingy strip of beach, and crawling with tourists. At Country Samurai Coffee Company, we were given a brief tutorial by the rather no-nonsense owner on how his coffee beans are picked, washed and dried, husked, roasted, and graded. Gotta say, after downing shot after shot of espresso in Italy and France, Hawaii's Kona coffee is pretty tame. The thin, weak coffee the hotel gave us in the room, we found out later, was only 10% Kona. The 100% stuff is smooth but kickless. We meekly purchased some of the samurai's Extra Fancy blend and then hightailed it out of there before he went all Kill Bill on us.

Returned to rescue TP from boredom, watched Alias (why do I keep watching that show and where the shaq is Sark?! interrostud!), and discussed the merits and pitfalls of going on a helicopter ride over the island.

Next up: a bright and intelligent attorney tries to open a coconut with a big rock.

In other news, I'm almost finished with The Known World (thx, oz!), I invite you to cast yer ballots on the blogpoll to your left.

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