And a grand adventure was had by all. Or at least me. Which is what's important, really.
So Griff turned out to be not an axe murderer and, if anything, even more fabulous than advertised. We went to dinner at Wasabi's, which I can safely recommend. Amazing sushi, edamame, tempura, iced tea, ice cream, sizzling poke... everything we ordered was delicious. We sat in the restaurant and talked and talked until we were the last ones there and I started to feel bad for the staff, and then we wandered around in the wild dark of downtown Kailua-Kona and talked and talked, and drove back to Magic Sands and sat on the beach and watched the moon setting pumpkin-orange over the water and talked and talked. We talked about books and dogs and family and food and writing and in five and a half hours we never ran out of anything to say, and it seems that we agree with each other about, like, everything. I'm really glad I made the time to drive over and meet her; I had a super good time, and the drive was lovely both ways, bopping along to the radio in the hazy South Kona afternoon and the starry Mauna Kea night.
For your future reference, no, it is not easily possible (if possible at all) to find a gas station in Kona that is open after midnight, and yes, it is possible to make it from Kailua to Hilo on a smidge less than half a tank with gas to spare, especially if you coast in neutral all the way from the Saddle to Komohana Street.