S: Hawai'i 2012
BC: DEPART | Hawai'ian Islands | 5 AUGUST 2012
FC: HAWAI'I | DEPART SEATTLE | JULY 22, 2012 | A summer trip to Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai'i, and Princeville, on the island of Kaua'i
1: THE BIG ISLAND OF HAWAI'I
2: July 22nd We are finally here in Kailua-Kona, on the big island of Hawai'i! It was a long flight, of course, during which I played word games on my iPad, talked with Dave, read or snoozed. I knew we were getting close to the islands when the attendants announced they would be coming down the aisle with our complimentary mai tais. Dave doesn't drink, so I took his mai-tai off his hands, as well. After all, I am on vacation! Soon the lush coast of Maui was below us, and we could see Haleakala popping up through the clouds that covered a good part of the island. Then it was back out over the ocean for a bit... Dave and I were taken by surprise when the coast of the Big Island appeared - instead of a lush, green landscape, we were over a huge black lava field. Not what we expected at all! Folds of black lava rock, a rugged coastline and very little plant life except for a few palm trees. It was quite hazy - the air appeared 'thick' to me. Any plants we did see were scraggly and dry-looking, not like the Hawai'i I'd seen. And it felt so hot - probably only about 85 degrees, but coupled with the humidity it seemed hotter. We threw our luggage into the rental car and headed south to Kailua town. I have to admit that, at first, I wasn't very impressed with what I was seeing. Everything looked so, I don't know, I guess hard, dry and not very tropical. The land on our left sloped gracefully up into the clouds. We know there's a volcano up there, but we sure couldn't see it. Would those slopes be where the Kona coffee ranches are?
3: After about ten minutes of driving through black lava fields, we turned off the highway toward the ocean and came into old Kona. Yes! This was more like what we were expecting! The small two-lane road through the village curved along with the coastline on the right, and waves were gently lapping on the rocks against the small sea wall. We drove under banyan trees hanging over the roadway, passing restaurants and markets and little tourist shops tucked in here and there. There was an old stone church dating back to the early 1800s on our left, smack in the middle of town. Further down on the ocean side is the Kona Inn, which dates back to the 1920s. There isn't much that's new here; all of the buildings are dated and I got the impression that nothing has changed here in a long time. It's quite charming. We found the Billfisher, our condo complex, on the south end of town. It's a a bit dated, containing only the basics, however after unpacking and taking a walk into town for dinner, we realized that it fits right in with Kona - it's simple and basic, just like the town. After dinner, we did a little grocery shopping, then headed back 'home' to settle in and talk about the week ahead of us.
4: KAILUA KONA
5: July 23rd Aloha! Got up before Dave this morning, and while he slept in I woke up with a cup of tea on our balcony. All the haze from yesterday afternoon was gone and it was beautiful! Dark clouds had rolled in overnight and a fine mist was falling. The sun popped through here and there, though, and across the sky was painted a vivid rainbow. Have you ever heard the doves in Hawai'i? Wonderful morning! | After some fruit and a bowl of Cheerios, Dave and I took a walk to the Kailua pier and back. By the time we arrived back at the condo, the clouds were gone and the sky clear as could be. We stopped in at Jack's Dive Locker and Dave signed up for a two-tank dive for tomorrow morning. He tried to talk me into snorkeling with them, but I think I'll probably spend my time checking out some local history.
6: With the rest of our day unplanned, we hopped in the car and drove through south Kona past all the coffee farms to the small town of Captain Cook, then down to Kealakekua Bay, another area that hasn't seen change in years - in fact, I think that's true for many of the small towns on the Kona coast. The drive was stunning, with this part of the island more lush and green. The road is quite high on the slope of Mauna Loa, and the views to the coast are breathtaking.
7: When we pulled up at the dirt parking lot at Kealakekua Bay, we found the place occupied by quite a few local fellows offering kayaks for rent. I'm not sure that the young Hawai'ian we rented our kayak from had any insurance; in fact, I doubt he had more than one kayak and dry bag, but he was a heckuva salesman! He snagged us as we drove in and practically had the kayak rented to us before we parked the car. It was an interesting spot... it looked like there had once been a large building where the lot was, and the cement foundations and some of the walls were still in place by the water. Our young friend took a rope and lowered our kayak over the side of one of these walls, which was covered with soggy carpet remnants to keep us from scraping our bellies as we lowered our bodies down the side to the kayak. Every time I smiled and asked our friend how he really expected me to get in the kayak, he just grinned and
8: said, "Don't worry, I'll take care of you." Yeah. Because I asked, he also gave us a cursory history lesson on who Captain Cook was, but it was rather incomplete and quite embellished (I'd read a brief history before we arrived). I got a kick out of him when he said the captain was, he thought, a Spaniard. I mentioned that the name didn't sound very Spanish, and he shrugged and said, "English, maybe?" Well, at least he tried! I admire the tenacity and confidence of these young salesmen.
9: Well, somehow we managed to get into the kayak without losing our balance, sunglasses or the camera, and had a nice paddle out to the monument marking the spot where Captain Cook lost his life in 1779. The water was so clear and blue, and along with all the colorful fish and coral in the waters below, we saw dolphins. | When we returned, we had to exit the kayak in the same manner... I'm afraid I was none too graceful as I clambered up the soggy carpeting to the top of the wall. | Kealakekua Bay
10: I have to mention that our friend called his business 'Haole Boy', after his white Pit Bull. Dave and I wore very used life jackets with 'Haole Boy' scrawled on them in permanent marker (I wondered if he'd found them in a dumpster, because above 'Haole Boy' he had scribbled out the previous owner's name with the same permanent marker), as well as paddled away in a 'Haole Boy' kayak marked in the same manner. Our friend chuckled when I told him I had the haole part down, and he reminded me it was nothing personal. | Further south is Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park (and if you think I typed that from memory, you're mistaken!), the Place of Refuge. It was established in the early 15th century and provided refuge for breakers of kapu (religious law). Dave and I spent an hour or so wandering around the beautiful grounds, taking in the history. Much of this park was considered sacred, as it was the residence of Ali'i (royal chiefs).
12: We were hungry, so we headed back to the town of Captain Cook for lunch at L&L Drive-Inn (yes, they spell it that way). Because our friend, Mary, had treated me to an authentic Hawai'ian meal before our trip, and these are the only Hawai'ian dishes I know the names of, I confidently ordered kalua pig, lau lau, as well as an order of Spam musubi. Dave enjoyed it all, even the musubi, which I decided wasn't for me. It was fun sitting outside the drive-in, eating local food. It started to mist again, but no matter - it was warm and we were full and happy. | On the way back 'home' we made a quick stop at the Painted Church, more specifically, the Catholic Church of St. Benedict. What a lovely little wooden church, situated on the slope of Mauna Loa with lush gardens, a cemetery full of white crosses and statues draped with shells and leis. It was one of the most beautiful cemeteries I've ever seen. The church has been there since the 1800s.
13: It was a busy day! We ventured down into town for an appetizer and to watch the sunset, but returned home for the rest of the evening. Dave's got an early morning dive.
14: July 24th Aloha again! I was on my own most of today because Dave went on a couple of dives from 8:30 am until about 3:00 pm. Sounds like he had a great time, the only exception being that he lost his dive watch during the second dive. After I dropped Dave at the dive shop, I headed to the coffee stand in the Kona Inn Marketplace and bought a cup of Kona. You can't be in Kona and not have Kona coffee, right? Then I proceeded on my morning walk, came back 'home', gathered my things together and headed out to the Kona Historical Museum down near Kealakekua. It was closed. The brochure listed it as open on Mondays through Thursdays; even the sign in front of the museum indicated that. Dang! I snooped around a little bit, peeked in windows and eventually found the office. I was told their hours had changed and they are now only open Thursdays. I will be back. | As I headed back to the car, I noticed a sign that read "Coffee Tours" with an arrow pointing down behind the museum. Down I walked! A tour group was just finishing up, there was no one else there waiting, so Kawena took me on my own personalized tour of the Greenwell Coffee Farm.
15: Greenwell Coffee Farm
16: The farm itself has been there since the mid-1800s, but it was a cattle ranch until the mid-1900s. It was an enjoyable and informational tour. I learned that the coffee plant is in the same family as the gardenia and, like the gardenia, the coffee plant has a wonderfully scented white flower. I also learned some fun facts about banana trees, but I don't want to bore you with the details here... you'll have to ask me another time and keep your fingers
17: crossed that I remember. The thing I found most interesting was that other than the computer tucked away in a little alcove in one of the buildings, the whole process of picking the berries, taking off the skins, drying and otherwise processing the beans isn't much different today than it was a hundred years ago. I headed back 'home' on a narrow road that was listed as a 'Heritage Corridor'. It was a great little drive! Passed a road named 'Old Poi Factory Road', which I may have to go back and explore, if I have time. I quickly walked through the stone Congregational church in Kailua town, Moku'aikaua Church, the first church founded in the state of Hawai'i, dedicated in 1837. Dave and I had a nice dinner 'in' this evening. I liked hearing about his dives. One dive involved a lava tube called 'Suck 'Em Up', and the other dive was out near the continental shelf. He said he could see the ocean floor falling away into deep nothingness! Glad he enjoys that - it would terrify me!
18: July 25th Today was the day we set aside to drive from Kona to the east side of the island. Dave and I woke early, put a change of clothes in our backpacks in case we ended up staying the night in Hilo, threw the packs in the car and walked to Java on the Rock for a quick breakfast ("If coffee was a religion, we'd be a temple!"). The table and chairs are in the sand, so you can kick off your flip-flops while | Java on the Rock
19: you sip your mai tai - oops, I mean coffee - as you gaze out over the ocean. On this morning, there was a huge cruise ship anchored offshore - we could see the shuttles loading up with hundreds of anxious shoppers. We were thankful we picked today to leave Kona! We were traveling north along Mamalahoa Highway by 7:30. This road climbs steadily along the slope, first through a residential area, but soon we were driving through the old lava flows and scrub brush. Amazing anything can grow through the lava! Bougainvillea plants grew sporadically, wildly and colorfully here and there on the road- | side. Looking downslope on our left was the blue water of the coast, and to our right we looked up at Mount Hualalai, the source of all the lava we were driving over. The landscape was dry and harsh; we even saw clumps of cacti growing in the brush. Suddenly, as we crossed into the Parker Ranch area of Waimea on the north end of the island, the hills and fields around us became greener and lush. When I say suddenly, I mean it changed like that (she said as she snapped her fingers)!
20: Waimea is beautiful country! At this point, we've climbed in elevation to somewhere between 4,000-5,000 feet, and the climate was cooler. As I said, this is Parker Ranch country. The ranch covers 225,000 acres and was started in the mid-1800s. Sometime in the past, eucalyptus trees native to Australia were brought here to be milled. For whatever reason, they were never milled and still thrive in large masses along the roads and fields. With horses and cows grazing in the fields, the eucalyptus trees and the backdrop of Mauna Kea and it's white observatory buildings on top, it's hard to find a place more picturesque.
22: We continued driving around the north side of Mauna Kea until we were heading in a southwesterly direction toward the town of Honoka'a. My friend, Mary, had told me to keep an eye out for the Tex Drive-In so we could try the malasadas there (sort of a Portuguese doughnut). She was nice enough to give us a map of the island on which she'd scrawled some notes for our trip, including the word "yum!" and an arrow pointing to where this drive-in is. Well, being the very literal person that I am, I thought that Tex's would be pretty close to where her drawn arrow ended on the map. With map in hand, I navigated as Dave drove and we aimed right for the arrow tip! We came to a closed gate, however it was not locked and a sign said it was okay to go through, just be sure to close it so the cows don't get out. Now, this road had a double yellow line down the center - it looked just like a regular road. Dave hopped out, opened the gate, we drove through, closed the gate, and continued on, trying to miss the cow pies that had been dropped here and there. There were homes; people lived here. We turned onto another road, and soon onto another. I was thinking it might be a good idea to go back the way we came, but Dave wanted to see what was around the next corner. As a landmark so we'd know where to turn on our way back, we chose the green | rock and the big black cow standing next to it (who seemed to be thinking "What the heck are you doing here?"). Well, there was nothing around the next corner, so we turned around, came to the green rock, waved at the cow as we turned, opened the gate, drove through it and closed it, and headed back to the highway, going through Honoka'a. At this time I was thinking that these malasadas better be good. Dave and I ended up in the little town of Pa'auilo, where a very nice woman told us, "Oh, you just missed it!" and gave us directions back to Tex Drive-In. It was right there on the main highway, between where Dave and I had gotten off the highway before the town of Honoka'a and where we'd gotten back on the highway after the town of Honoka'a! Just another example of how we can turn a very simple task into something complex! The malasadas were delicious!
23: Back on the highway, we headed south to Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park. We'd come back down in elevation and were on the coast now. This park marks the site of a tragedy that occurred as a result of the tsunami that hit this side of Hawai'i in 1946. There was a school at this site and, apparently not understanding why this would happen, a teacher took her students down to the beach to look around when she noticed how the tide had greatly receded. There is a monument at the park commemorating the 24 students and teachers that perished at the site. It's a lovely park now, with a big lawn and a beautiful but rugged and rocky beach.
24: Laupahoehoe Point
26: We'd heard much about 'Akaka Falls and decided to hike in to see them. They're very pretty! We ran into a lot of tourists here, though, and made a quick trip of it. I think the plants in the area grabbed my attention more raptly than the waterfall did. This side of the island is very lush and tropical, and the large trees | have philodendrons and pothos climbing up and around and all over them. Dave made the observation that the plants on this side of the island seem larger than life, almost prehistoric. The bromeliads grow big and strong and very colorful. | 'Akaka Falls
27: We decided at this point we might as well go all the way to Hilo, so we headed back to the highway. Just before we got to the highway, we passed through the little town of Honomu. Not much there, a few vacant storefronts, a couple of shops selling Hawai'ian stuff and a place to get ice cream, but it was such a cute and colorful little town! Each shop was painted a different pastel color - blue, pink, green, yellow - it reminded me of a tropical version of Charleston's Rainbow Row!
28: We drove a few more miles and the road wound down off the cliffs. We crossed the Wailuku River and were in Hilo. It wasn't what we'd expected... it struck us as just another city and it lacked charm. We drove around a bit, but didn't see much we wanted to explore. I know there's some interesting history in Hilo, and maybe we missed the attractive part of town, but after lunch we hopped back in the car and headed north again. Maybe we just didn't give it a chance, but Dave and I decided the best thing about our visit to Hilo was getting there. | Hilo
29: We drove the same highway home, only stopping in Waimea to poke around a bit. I think that's one of the loveliest parts of this island. Wide open ranch country, with that beautiful volcano as a backdrop. It was a long day, but the drive was beautiful. As we came down the slope back into Kona, the cruise ship had just pulled up anchor and was heading out to its next port of call with all its anxious shoppers on board. We sure timed that right!
30: July 26th Dave made arrangements to dive again today, so we were up early. Headed down to Java on the Rock and had a scone and coffee. I'm getting rather used to waking up with my coffee while sitting in a chair on the sand with my shoes off, listening to the waves lap gently on the rocks, gazing out at the ocean. | After my morning walk to the pier and back, I decided to head south to the Kona Historical Museum. What a wonderful place! I was lucky enough to be the only one there, so got the grand tour. A very knowledgeable older woman, dressed in mid-1800s era clothing (whose name I unfortunately didn't get) sat down with me outside under a covered area and started off with a very complete history of the Greenwell family, the people who owned the property and ran the general store the museum is housed in. The history was interesting; non-native people who came here back in those days were very brave to do so. It was a very big deal. The family's home was on the property, as well, but it had been dismantled in the 1960s. All that's left are the lava rocks that made up the foundation. However, the family's general store, also made of lava rock, is still standing in very good shape, and that's where the hostess took me next.
31: Back in the 1800s, many Portuguese came to this area to work on the cattle ranches, a big industry in this area. On the ranches they would build stone 'hornos', or ovens, in which they baked bread. In the pasture below the museum on Thursdays, volunteers light up a horno and make Portuguese bread. The fun part is that you can help! I had to observe from the sidelines, though, because there were a bunch of kids sitting at the table kneading dough. I did buy a tin of the bread to take home for dinner, however. People were coming from all around to purchase the bread - it must be a great fundraiser for the museum. | Inside was everything you'd find in a general store from the 1800s - canned food, bags of beans, sugar and salt, shoes, fabric, harnesses, halters, lanterns, tea, toiletries, etc. I was given a shopping list such that Mrs. Todd, the lady who ran the boarding house down the road, would bring in. I was Mrs. Todd, and I was shopping! So, as I asked for each item, the hostess would bring it to me, all the time telling me little factoids about the item I was purchasing. It was fascinating! The hostess and I had a good conversation about running a small museum. If you ever find yourself in Kona and have an open morning, I highly recommend the Kona Historical Museum. Sounds like they have an extensive collection of photos and information, oral histories and such in their archives.
34: On my way out of the museum, I bought a couple of Kona history books. After I returned to Kailua, I took myself out to lunch and read them. I picked Dave up at the dive store around 3:30 and we walked through the marketplace in town, then came home. We had dinner 'in' this evening, including the delicious Portuguese bread! | July 27th Something we were really looking forward to was a visit to Volcanoes National Park. We were up early this morning because it's a bit of a drive. We had breakfast at the Manago Hotel, south of the town of Captain Cook, an old hotel that began as a business in 1917 and is still run by the descendants of the Manago family. The hotel is right on the highway and looks very plain. Inside it is also quite simple, but warm. The dining room is large, with a hardwood floor, furnished sparsely with old wood or chrome tables. A big glass case contains all sorts of depression glassware that I assume was used back in the day, however we ate our breakfast off of something like Melmac. Breakfast was no-nonsense! We had our choice of eggs and how we wanted them, bread that was either white or wheat, with sausage, ham, bacon or Portuguese sausage served with either a slice of papaya or juice. I overheard someone say the dinners are no-nonsense, as well, and while they are not exactly gourmet fare, they are inexpensive, good and served family style. Great pork chops are what the Manago is known for. We'll have to wait for our next visit to try them.
35: After breakfast, we drove south past coffee farms and macadamia nut farms (and a zebra and two very long-horned bulls) and into a dry, brushy landscape of low-growing trees and shrubs. We also passed through a lava flow. We were on the slope of Mauna Loa. Dave made the observation that no matter where we were headed on this island, we were driving along a slope. It was always downhill to the ocean and uphill to the clouds (or, we assumed, volcanoes). | I think the pit bull should be the state dog of Hawai'i. You see them everywhere! Kids walk with them through town. I've seen some on the beach, and in the backs of trucks driving down the road. Dave and I remember seeing many Pit Bulls on Maui, which were used to hunt the feral pigs on that island. Maybe we should thank the Pit Bull for the infamous pork chops at Manago's and the wonderful Kalua Pig at L&L and various luaus here on the Big Island?
36: As we rounded the southern tip of the island, we descended off the slope and entered into a nice green valley and the towns of Na'alehu and Punalu'u. Yet again, our friend Mary suggested a good place to stop for a treat - the Punalu'u Bake Shop! I'm not sure whether to thank her or complain about how tight the waistline of my pants are getting. We should definitely thank her, as it was a great place to pick up some sandwiches for a picnic lunch. We needed a package of the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, too. We did, however, pass on the malasadas.
37: Black Sand Beach
38: on beneath us. That and the signs everywhere about the "vog" (volcano smog), warning us that if we smell sulfur to get into our car, roll up the windows and leave the area. We stopped at the rim of the Kilauea caldera. The closest thing I can compare this to would be Crater Lake, but instead of clear, blue water, we looked down onto cooled, solid lava. | I fell asleep in the car at this point and missed the drive up the slope of Kilauea, and didn't wake up until the entrance to Volcanoes National Park. We stopped in at the visitor center briefly to get our bearings, then started off to see what we could of Kilauea. Unfortunately, at this time there is no 'red hot lava' to be seen by visitors; the closest you can come to that is to visit the park at night and view the Kilauea crater, which glows red. We headed out onto Crater Rim Drive and stopped first at the steam vents. It was unnerving to see the vents emitting steam here and there while we hiked around - a real reminder of just where we were and what was going | Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
39: Off in the distance was the actual crater, which was spewing out an enormous sulfur dioxide steam plume. We visited the Jaggar Geological Museum and viewed the crater from a couple of different viewpoints. Hawai'ian legend has it that this is the home of the goddess Pele.
41: heading toward the ocean. So primeval! It reminded us that nature is huge, it's powerful and man is no match for it; there is nothing man can do to prevent nature, or Pele, from doing what she must. It's hard to describe how small we felt. We got down to where the lava had met up with the ocean. The lava cliffs are black and sharp - there's no gradual slope where they meet the water. The waves pound continuously. It is so stark and harsh, but has its own beauty. | Dave and I headed around Crater Rim Drive, stopped to walk through a lava tube, then headed down Chain of Craters Road, which took us down the slope of Kilauea to the ocean through the most amazing lava fields. We stopped at one spot where we could look back up at a cliff of sorts. We could see where lava had come over the top and flowed down toward where we were parked. It was frozen in time, but it wasn't hard to imagine it as a river of hot red lava flowing over the edge, | Chain of Craters Road
42: The Chain of Craters Road stops here because of the lava flow of 2003. We walked out to where the lava is frozen over the road... it's eery. It did cross our minds that we would have no options if Pele started to rumble and come back to life - there's only one way in and one way out of this spot! | We never did see Mauna Loa itself, just the slope. We learned that it is the world's most massive mountain, that from it's base on the ocean floor to it's top it is 30,000 feet high. We'll have to come back and hike around in the area, to get a little closer and see a little more. We were running out of day. We headed out of the park and toward home.
44: It was nice to get back to the condo - we were exhausted! We saw so much today. Tomorrow is our last day on the Big Island and we have no plans. Dave and I are looking forward to our visit to Kaua'i and relaxing a little bit. | July 28th It's been a busy week! We slept in this morning and decided to take it easy in Kailua town all day. We wandered around, watched a couple of sea turtles playing in the water near the sea wall, shopped a little bit and had a bucket of shrimp for lunch. After that, we meandered back home, put on our suits and headed to Kamakahonu Bay at the north end of town to rent a couple of kayaks. The ocean was quite choppy, but it was fun to see Kailua from a different perspective.
46: Kailua Town
47: Kamakahonu Bay | Hulihe'e Palace
48: We went out for a nice dinner at Don the Beachcomber. I'm having a hard time admitting this, but Dave and I qualified for the early bird 50 and over dinner special! Oh well! The choices were good and the price was right. It softened the blow when we were seated at a great table outside, right on the water - it was perfect for watching the sunset and made for a nice last evening in Kona. Even if it was a senior meal. Geeez!
49: July 29th We had to be at the airport this morning by 10:00, so we were up and packing early. We had enough time to walk down to our favorite morning sport for a quick iced tea. I'll miss sitting there in the mornings... A pod of dolphins gave us a great show, jumping and twirling in the air offshore. We are now settled into our condo in Princeville, Kaua'i. From the moment we first saw the Kaua'i coastline out of our airplane windows, we could see its sharp contrast to the Big Island. After unpacking we took a drive west to the end of the road, and the feel of this area is that of being on a small, truly tropical island. | KAUA'I
50: July 30th We woke up to a light misty rain, which stayed with us most the day, yet both of us are nursing burns this evening. Hard to believe we burned in the few moments the sun popped out today! When we made arrangements to stay on this island we thought Princeville was a town, but it's really a resort community. The main road through Princeville takes tourists to the St. Regis out at the end of the bluffs overlooking Hanalei, and all along the way are resort villas and condos. We are in one of those - The Cliffs. It's beautiful here and very quiet. Our condo is lovely and very well furnished, and the grounds are perfectly groomed. This morning we were asked to attend an orientation, which was really just a way to get visitors to sign up for the tours, massages, the yoga and lei-making classes, etc., that they have to offer. A lot of people seem to enjoy this way of vacationing and all the amenities resorts have to offer, and I can see the appeal, however Dave and I prefer to vacation a little 'closer to the ground'. | PRINCEVILLE
51: for a bit. Soon we were drenched, so we threw our things in the trunk of the car and walked down the beach to see if we could find the house that was in the movie "Descendants". I would take up jogging if I thought I could run into George Clooney on the beach here! | After lunch, we packed up the cooler with water, grabbed the sunscreen (which we apparently did not use enough of) and snorkeling gear and headed to Hanalei Beach, a beautiful beach of white sand (I believe Hanalei means "crescent"). It started to rain; it had been doing that off and on all morning so we decided to stick it out | Hanalei Bay
52: We decided to try our luck at Tunnels Beach, just west of Hanalei. It looked sunny in that direction, and it's supposed to be a great spot for snorkeling and diving. We parked our chairs and cooler under some trees, but laid our towels out on the sand - that way I could lay on the towel and get a little sun, but go up to my chair when the rain started. Dave snorkeled and I read. Kaua'i is beautiful! It is truly tropical here on the north side. It's so very green, and vines grow on everything - trees, stop signs, buildings. The ever- | present mist enables plants to grow out of the tops of telephone poles! There are rugged, jagged mountains and waterfalls we can see as we round every corner. You don't see any lava; this island is too old and erosion has taken care of all that. We barbecued tonight and had a delicious dinner while we watched the Olympics and did a load of laundry. It'll be interesting to get out of the resort area and see what other parts of Kaua'i are like.
53: July 31st Woke up to the crowing of a rooster. We see chickens all over the place and no one seems to know exactly how they got on the island. I wondered out loud why more people didn't take advantage of all the free chicken dinners running around, and Dave told me he read that you could throw an island chicken and a lava rock in boiling water, cook 'em and take 'em out, and the lava rock would be easier to chew. We packed up snacks and drinks for the day and headed south from Princeville and around the island toward Waimea Canyon, aka the 'Grand Canyon of Hawai'i'. Mark Twain has been credited with the name, but I read today that he didn't even set foot on Kaua'i when he visited the islands. Hmm. We passed through the town of Anahola, where you can see the profile of King Kong in the mountains if you know where to look, as well as Hole-In-The-Mountain, a hole in the mountain (duh!) where you can actually see blue sky shining through from the other side. We drove on through Lihu'e and Hanapepe on the south side of this small island. Pretty nice - the south side is the dry side of the island. Clouds seem to hover over Princeville much of the time. Hollywood discovered Kaua'i a long time ago and many movies have been filmed here. Much of The Thornbirds was filmed on Kaua'i, and Hanapepe was used as the location of the Australian sheep-ranching town in that movie. The dirt is a very red color. You see red dust everywhere - in the trees, on the siding of homes, covering the cars that drive by, literally everywhere. Tourist shops sell "red dirt shirts" that have been dyed with the stuff. It's all over our shoes now, too. | In the town of Waimea we picked up some sub sandwiches, then drove up the steep road overlooking Waimea Canyon. After a a quick stop to check out a stream and small waterfall cutting through small hills of red dirt, we came to the first Waimea Canyon lookout. We strolled up the walkway to the edge, and what we saw took our breath away!
55: Maybe it wasn't Mark Twain who coined the phrase 'Grand Canyon of Hawai'i', but whoever did was spot on! Before us was the deepest, most beautiful gorge, with the most amazing colors! Many different shades of green interspersed with the red dirt. I don't have the words to describe it! We were looking down 4,000 feet to the rivers that carved out this canyon. How can something so big occur on such a small island? | At one lookout, there was a Hawai'ian fellow dressed in a traditional grass skirt, holding a helmet made out of what looked like a gourd. He was answering questions, as well as sharing Hawai'ian legends. I find the legends fascinating - how creatively primitive societies saw the world around them, for example, how landforms or the stars and moon came to be. Dave and I ate our lunch there, picnicking on the grass along with the chickens. | Waimea Canyon
56: At the end of the road, we parked, got out and continued hiking along the Pihea Trail. I'm glad we did, or we would have missed the most breathtaking view of the day! It felt as if we were standing on the edge of the world, gazing down into the Kalalau Valley to the aqua waters of the Pacific, waves crashing thousands of feet below. I've never seen anything like it! This is the Na Pali coast, where no roads go. I hear you can kayak the Na Pali coast, camping as you go, and Dave and I both talked about what an adventure that would be... but I don't know if I'm that brave!
57: Kalalau Valley
58: After shave ice at JoJo's, we drove up a side road in the town of Waimea to see the remains of a Menehune irrigation ditch that dates back to before the current race of Hawai'ians. Archaeologists believe it was made by the original inhabitants of the islands, as the lava rocks used to line the ditch were shaped into blocks; typical Hawai'ian construction consists of stacking lava rocks together in their natural shape. The Menehune are a mythical race of people that lived on the Hawai'ian Islands before the current race of Hawai'ians. They were said to be really short and built incredible structures, always in one night. | Today, the Menehune are blamed for things that go wrong. If you lose something, the Menehune took it, or if your car won't start, the Menehune tinkered with it. | Menehune Irrigation Ditch
59: We drove north and back up the island, passed Princeville and went into Hanalei for dinner at Blue Dolphin. It rained through dinner, but the restaurant was open to the outside and it was nice to listen to it fall as we ate. Delicious fresh fish, wonderful setting - we highly recommend it! It was another long and eventful day, and we came back to the condo ready to relax.
60: August 1st After breakfast, we ventured into Hanalei for a tour of the | Haraguchi Taro Farm and Historic Rice Mill. We met Lyndsey, our guide, at the Hanalei Taro and Juice Company truck in downtown Hanalei. | She is a sixth generation taro farmer, a very pretty 30-something young woman who is probably the hardest working person I've ever met.
61: birds that make the taro farm their home, and how her family's farm is a sanctuary for endangered birds. We learned about the four or five times a year the the valley has flash floods and how it impacts their farm. I could tell right away that her work on this taro farm is a labor of love. We rode in a van over to the family farm in the Hanalei Valley and parked under a ylang-ylang tree. We heard stories about how her great-great-grandfather originally grew rice at this farm, but switched to taro after the war, and how she started in the taro fields, called lo'i, when she was just two. She started driving the tractor at age six! We got to help find the invasive apple snails and pull them out of the mud... she taught us about the anatomy of the plant, showed us how they harvest it and how they use what's left to plant by hand, one at a time, new taro fields. | After checking in, we all met up next to the juice truck, where Lyndsey introduced herself and began talking about her Korean/Japanese family and the challenges of running a taro farm. She introduced us to taro ('kano' in Hawai'ian) and how it grows, to the | Haraguchi Taro Farm & Historic Rice Mill
62: It was such a great cultural learning experience! What hard work. Seemed to me that taro farming would be a constant two steps forward, one step back operation. Then we were off to the rice mill, built by her family in the 1800s. We toured through the hand-built mill, learning about the rice and what kinds of chores the kids on the farm (her grandfather and uncles) did to help out. We were in awe of how mechanized the mill was for its time, and much of it was invented by her family.
63: That's not all! We all sat down and watched one of the farm workers peel, cut and pound some taro root into poi, husk and break open a coconut, pour us all some fresh coconut milk, shred the meat and create a delicious snack called pa'i ai (poi rolled in coconut). We liked it, and Dave doesn't even like coconut! We decided that's because he's never had it fresh. So, back into the van we went to the juice truck in town, where Lyndsey pulled together a Hawaiian lunch of lau-lau, kalua pig, pineapple juice and taro mochi bread.
64: Dave and I drove west from Hanalei to the end of the road and Ke'e Beach, the site of Camp Taylor. We had seen a book about Camp Taylor during our travels and found it intriguing. Apparently, Liz Taylor's brother owned the land in the 60s and opened it up to a group of hippies as a sort of place of refuge after incarceration or having issues with the law, or life in general. Soon it was a hippie haven, with people running around nekked and residing in rather elaborate tree houses while enjoying a very unstructured lifestyle. It is said that the puka shell necklace craze of the early 70s began at Taylor Camp when a resident made one for Liz's brother, who in turn gave it to Liz. The book we saw was a photo study of Taylor Camp and the photos were quite good, if not bizarre. The camp dissolved in 1977, the property was sold and made into a beach park. | Out and Around in Hanalei
65: August 2nd We got up early this morning to get down to Wailua by 7:45 for a morning kayak to Secret Falls. We met up with our group and met our guide, Aaron. He gave us the cursory safety talk and went over the basic strokes. Turns out we were kayaking with novices - two families with young kids - but no matter, everyone was so nice and it was great just being on the water. | The kayak trip was relaxing. The Wailua is a smooth, slow-flowing river. As we paddled upstream, we realized Aaron knew his stuff! He is a science teacher during the school year and he loves Kaua'i. He knew the flora and fauna, as well as the history of the area, not to mention the language. Along the way, he gave us a hands-on lesson about the awapuhi plant, a relative of ginger that, when the bloom is squeezed, emits a soapy, sweet-smelling liquid the ancient Hawai'ians used | Wailua River
66: to cleanse themselves and their hair. One of the young girls kayaking with us took a bloom she found on the ground to try on her hair later. I was captivated by a flower that I'd seen along every river bank here. I learned it is the sea hibiscus, or 'hau'. It's very similar to the hibiscus flower we all know, but it has an interesting characteristic - its lemon yellow bloom only lasts for one day, then changes to a lovely dark salmon color and drops to the ground. The sea hibiscus bush grows predominantly along river banks, so you'll see these pretty flowers lazily floating like little boats down the river. Aaron showed us how the bark from the bush braids into a strong rope, another thing the ancient Hawai'ians used to do.
67: After a couple miles of kayaking, we beached the boats, sloshed across the river, which was quite shallow at this point, and started up the opposite bank for a mile or so to Secret Falls. Aaron pointed out that we were walking in an ancient irrigation ditch that used to bring water to gardens in this area. Apparently, the hillside was once terraced to enable gardening. Now and then you could see bits of the rock edges of the ditch, or even see the depression in the ground. We learned much about the Hawai'ian language, too. Aaron has spent a lot of time studying the language and had a dictionary with him.
68: We arrived at Secret Falls, where there were lots of boulders to sit on and a pool for swimming. I hadn't worn my suit, but Dave had and promptly took advantage of the cool water. He stood under the falls, which weren't running too heavily. | We enjoyed a simple lunch, the best part of which was the sweetest, juiciest pineapple I have EVER tasted! After a bit, we hiked back to the kayaks, paddled our way back down the Wailua River (wai = 'water', lua = 'two') and thanked Aaron for wonderful, educational day.
69: Secret Falls
71: As we drove away from the marina, we noticed the tattered remains of the old Coco Palms Hotel alongside the road. I had no idea it had been battered by Hurricane Iniki (which means 'strong wind') in 1992. I can't believe it's still standing after 20 years! It must've been quite a place. Somebody is cashing in on the misfortune, because we noticed signs for tours of the ruined building. We headed north to Princeville, but decided we were hot and in dire need of some shave ice so continued into Hanalei to find some. Had a nice dinner 'in', watched the sunset and spent the rest of the evening watching the Olympics (like we've done almost every evening!).
72: August 3rd We decided to sleep in this morning, then treated ourselves to a breakfast out at the Wake-Up Cafe in Hanalei. We spent a little time walking through the residential part of town just to look around. We found a number of cottages we'd be happy to live in, and we definitely found the house from 'Descendants' (the house where George Clooney confronts his wife's lover). | We also were lucky enough to find a parking spot at the top of the cliff where a trail winds down to Hideaways Beach. We hiked down to see why it's considered to be one of the north shore's best bets - it did not disappoint!
73: We had lunch in Po'ipu, on the south side of the island. We followed a sign to Spouting Horn, which is not your typical blow hole. When a wave comes in, it pushes water through the hole in the lava rock into the air; at the same time, air is forced up through another hole nearby. When the air is forced out, it makes this roar of a sound, then almost gasps as air is sucked back in. It sounds like there must be some fire-breathing creature in the lava! There must be some legend tied to that blow hole - I'll have to investigate. That was our day. We just hung out at the condo the rest of the afternoon and watched the Olympics in the evening. Nice to have a down day. | Wailua Falls | Spouting Horn
74: August 4th After breakfast, we headed into Hanalei. I wanted to walk through some of the shops and Dave did not (imagine that!), so he went kayaking. I didn't find much in the shops, so kept walking and ended up at the Farmer's Market. The only thing I considered purchasing was a very intricate necklace that was woven out of shells the size of sesame seeds. It was beautiful - the shells were woven in a pattern spiraling the length of the necklace. After finding out the price, though, I moved on. There was a lot of pretty shell, bead and silver jewelry there, and all kinds of tropical fruits and fresh veggies, but since we leave tomorrow I walked away with only an opened coconut and a straw!
75: We had a wonderful last evening on Kaua'i! Our sunset dinner cruise started around 3:30 out of Port Allen on the south shore. A group of about 30 of us, with a crew of 3, headed out on a 65-foot catamaran for a tour of the Na Pali coast. There is nothing else like the Na Pali coast! 'Na Pali' translates to 'the cliffs', and these cliffs were 700-800 feet high. Old, eroded, lush... there are no roads to this side of the island, so the only way to see Na Pali is by flying over them, boating to them or hiking to them. You've seen them in the movies, but trust me, it's not the same. :o) There are little pock- ets of sand here and there at the bottom of the cliffs, and the beaches looked so secluded and inviting. We saw tents pitched on some of the beaches - what fun!
77: Na Pali Coast
78: As the evening progressed, a pod of dolphins (are they called pods?) swam alongside us for a bit. Some very graceful bids that barely skimmed the surface of the water joined us for awhile, too, and we must have disturbed a school of flying fish just below the surface at one point because they flew away from us like darts in all directions! I've never seen anything like it! We motored as far as Halalau Valley, which Dave and I had seen from the top on our Waimea Canyon drive on Tuesday. As soon as the captain turned the catamaran around for the trip back, the mai tais started flowing and the crew started preparing dinner. You know, I can't tell you how relaxed I was leaning back against Dave on that cat as it sliced through the water, with a mai tai in hand, a warm breeze blowing through my hair, the sun hanging low in the sky, and the occasional splash of saltwater from the bow of the boat. (I'm writing this as I sit crammed in a window seat of a 737, diet Coke in hand, the cold air from that little cone above me blowing away, baby crying in the seat behind me... you get the picture.) Anyway, they did a wonderful job with dinner and we filled our bellies. The sunset was the best one we'd seen in our two
79: weeks on the islands (Dave just spilled his water on me and, with eyes closed, I'm thinking back to that occasional splash of seawater...). What a fun, relaxing and romantic way to spend our last evening in the Hawai'ian islands.
82: August 5th It's Sunday, and we're on the plane jetting back to Seattle. We'll be going back to the islands; we didn't do a few of the things we wanted to do and we weren't in the water nearly enough. On this trip, I realized I want to explore more of the history and culture of the islands. Different story for Dave - he wants to do more diving and snorkeling, learning about the different fish and underwater sea life. We both would love to do more hiking. It's always kind of sad to have a vacation end, but we have wonderful memories and a gazillion photos, and it'll be good to be home and in our own bed. Aloha!