Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thinking About Time Travel

There’s a lot to be said for the modern conveniences of air travel these days. But no matter how global our lives have become, no matter the planes are hundreds of times faster than they were 100 years ago, it still takes one heck of a long time to get to Hawaii and back. The first leg of last nights trip was 5 ½ hours. You can say “ well that’s not all that bad but we’re working against time here. There’s two hours difference between HI and CA. Our morning started at 8:00 AM on Friday Hawaii time. That would be 1:00 PM here. Our flight left at 11:00 PM out of Lihue which would have been 4:00AM in Boston. We did hit it lucky in LA, getting off one plane, walking 5 gates and walking right onto the next flight, another 5 hour flight crossing against a 3 hour gain. While we arrived in Boston at 3:40 PM on Saturday afternoon,  our internal clock was saying it was 10:40 AM on Saturday and in reality we had been up and moving for just over 26 hours. While most people put their head phones on and close their eyes, falling asleep in just minutes, it takes me more than an hour to relax. I did actually sleep for a few hours on the first flight but nothing on the second. Carl was a bit more successful on the first flight but also couldn’t fall back to sleep on the second flight. Long story, shortened a bit, we caught the bus and arrived in Concord in good time. Our truck was surrounded by snow thanks to last weeks big storm. It could have been way worse. We agreed to drive as far as Tilton for the night. I couldn’t see pushing all the way home and then having to return to Plymouth on Sunday morning for space rotation at Artistic Roots. So here I editing photos and writing my blog while Carl has already fallen into a deep sleep. The photos posted to face book today will be of that last day on the island and I have tried very hard to find out names of these beauties. I may have some not quite right but others I haven’t been able to find at all. I’m beginning to feel a bit like Charles Darwin must have on the Galapagos finding so many finches looking similar and yet very different. That’s the way it is with Hibiscus and Plumeria.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Odds And Ends And Farewells

Wouldn’t you know it, today we have to leave and the weather is beautiful. But there is some sense of order to the universe in spite of the meteorite crashing into Russia. The trades are blowing in some really unsettled weather and it could get downright miserable on Monday. Of course, I will be back at work on Monday so what do I care about the weather in Princeville? We vacated our unit by the required time of 10:00 AM and drove slowly towards Lihue. We stopped in Kapa’a and wandered through the permanent craft fair, picking up a couple of t-shirts in the Authentic Red Dirt Shirt Outlet. For those of you Mike Rowe fans, he came to Hawaii a few years ago, washed windows on Oahu and then came to Kauai to play in the mud. All of the outlet stores are running that footage. We did purchase one of those shirts a few years ago for our son. You have to be real careful for the first ½ dozen washes or so but after that the color stays put. From there we headed to Koloa and had lunch at the Kauai Food Truck before making a second visit to The McBryde National Botanical Park where we managed to kill another hour. One of the places I’ve always wanted to check out is Akuhini Landing at the mouth to Hanamaulu Bay so we spent some time there as well. There was one native with a net, checking the water for fish. I waited about ½ hour for him to throw that sucker but no dice. Either he was camera shy or there was nothing for him to throw it at. And finally one last trip into Walmart was needed for our return flight snacks. We didn’t get so much as a bag of peanuts from the airline on the way out. Our grand tour from one end of the island to the other felt as if we were saying good bye for a few years to an island we have become quite comfortable with. Our rental car returned, we found ourselves at the Lihue Airport by 5:00 but that still left us with a huge chunk of time. We figured to check our one bag, clear security and then relax in the lounge area until supper. Even that didn’t pan out for us since the American Airlines Ticket counter doesn’t open until 7:40 PM. That’s almost 3 hours of sitting on the concrete half wall which given the alternative of no seats, I’ll take the wall.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

We Fly Tomorrow

Today is our 42nd anniversary and we spent the day “at home”. I know it’s not very romantic but the day involved showers, laundry and cleaning up all of the food left in the refrigerator. It can make for a couple of strange meals, I have to say. For instance, tonight we had the last of a store rotisserie chicken, the last of the mahi mahi , the left over carrots and the last of the potatoes. Carl finished up the milk minus enough for his morning tea because he doesn’t want to open up a new bag of coffee and I am trying to finish up the bottled water and cans of Coke Zero. I think Carl will have to leave three beers because we cannot bring them home, even in our checked luggage. As it is, we have a box of tea, a can of turkey Spam and a back of Knorr rice pilaf to fit in somewhere. Our breakfast in the morning will consist of the last two eggs, two bagels, 4 oz. slice ham lunch meat and the last of the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter plus two apples. We will have to throw away about ¼ cup of light mayonnaise and about ½ cup of brown mustard. See, we’ve done this a few times and sometimes we over buy and others we get it just right. This time it was just right.    

 There are lots of photos from our recent trip to Kauai at my other face book page

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Loose Ends Before Leaving

Today, we were up before the sun. We found ourselves on the Hanalei Pier waiting for Mother Nature’s morning wake up show. Sadly, although the surf on the bay had settled down, the cloud cover messed up the brilliant colors we were expecting. After almost two weeks here, we have figured out the weather patterns here. Each morning, the clouds are thick, threatening and sometimes even delivering some rain. By 10:00 the sky most always clears and remain so until about 4:00PM when the clouds begin building once more. So, to fill in the rest of the day, we revisited some of our previous sites to retake what I considered to be some uninteresting photos. Then it was back to the unit for lunch until it was time for us to change. Today was the Dinner Theater at the Kauai Beach Club to see their production of “South Pacific”. The buffet was less than stellar and the production, while entertaining, was chopped up to the point of confusion to anyone not familiar with the original storyline. We did have an entertaining bus ride to and from and learned some local history, Hawaiian phrases I can’t remember and a couple of mildly interesting jokes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Afternoon Off

It started raining sometime in the night and ruined our plans for sunrise shots at Hanalei Pier and spending the day browsing the shops in Hanalei.  As it turned out, it also put a hefty damper on the rest of the day. I did a load of laundry and Carl cooked supper. We called it an early night. On Tuesday, Carl dropped me off at Princeville Center, the shopping plaza, for me to browse the shops and pick up a couple of things for supper. Then I walked back to the unit while he continued on to Kapa’a to catch his fishing charter. He was like a little kid. He so wants to bring home supper. Although there are always trade winds in the islands, it has also been on the humid side. With all my friends and family still shoveling the effects of the latest nor’easter, I almost feel guilty complaining about the sticky weather here. Oh, and there is an upside to this entry. Although the fishing sucked and only one mahi mahi  was caught, every one on the boat got a piece and it was delicious broiled with a pile of fresh carrots.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sandy Shores

This morning I have a mission, to find Secret Beach. It should be easy enough. It’s on the map and I can read maps. The issue is lots of the roads aren’t marked and some are glorified cart paths. We have been told to take Kalihiwa Road and turn right onto Pier Road, drive to the end, park and take the path to the beach. On the way, I saw the sign pointing to Anini Beach Road so we turn down this dead end to find one of the more pristine and protected snorkel sites on the north side. And sure enough, the huge waves are breaking several hundred feet off shore. The reef that protects this beach is also responsible for the abundance and variety of marine life. All beaches are public in Hawaii but some, with services like lifeguards, rest rooms and propane grills are run by the county who can implement certain rules. The big one seems to be no pets allowed. I can understand that. No one wants to stretch out in the sand where a dog has done his business. So, people with pets choose less choice spots for pet recreation. We cam upon a lady, her two children and their two puppies in a quiet cove almost in site of Anini. The down side- no amenities and very little beach but the up side was a quiet tidal pool the children could play in and the dogs had free range to be, well, dogs! We found another place overlooking the outlet to the sea of the Kalihiwai River into the bay of the same name.  There, the surf was breaking a bit more reliably and there was a number of boards in the water. Another hour found us finally at the path to Secret Beach after three more dead ends and a turn down into two more quiet coves. But, oh the beach was incredible. It’s a two mile crescent broken at low tide by several lava benches jutting into the ocean. Absolutely no one was in the water and with good reason. The waves here were huge and I could tell by the way they were breaking, there was a massive rip tide and untold amounts of reef beneath the surface. The sun sparkled off the Kilauea Light up on the bluff and I think I took another 100 or more photos. I found it hard to leave. Each wave seemed larger than the one before and it may have been so. We were watching a rising tide. Before our return to Princeville, we drove another mile to Kilauea town to photograph the Christ Memorial Episcopal Church, built from stone and dedicated just one month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. We had lunch at the Chevron Station in Princeville which is reputed to have the best pizza on the north side. I passed up a slice for $7.00 and change to have the local Princeville Pride Beef in the form of a Holo Holo Burger. I’m pretty sure that means with the works as it came with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. In fairness to the price of a slice, I have to mention a slice is ¼ of the pie. The day ended with a visit to those Hanalei Taro fields we viewed earlier in the day from the overlook. After crossing the one lane bridge over the Hanalei River and taking a hard left, Carl found a safe place to pull of the one lane road so I could do my thing. The only accessible field is the first one on the right and even that one has signage to prevent theft or damage to the crop. That’s all well and good but I want photos that are unencumbered by fences, signs, and anything that screams of modern convenience like cell towers and power lines. I found a comfortable position on the ground just close enough to the water but not so close I was in danger of trespass. Taro is a staple of the Hawaiian diet and not just something to serve Haole tourists at luaus.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Big Waves

Of all things, we found ourselves in a timeshare pitch today. No, we didn’t buy another week but we did get a $75.00 American Express gift card and a VIP discount card which we are actually able to use on the dinner theater production of South Pacific on Wednesday night and Carl’s fishing trip on Tuesday. This killed a huge chunk of time between the orientation breakfast and the promotional tour so after lunch at the unit, we hit the road for just a bit. We headed north on Rte 56 to the end of the road at Ke’e beach. The high surf advisories weren’t joking and the waves were pounding in. Lifeguards have closed most beaches to all water activity and if you should be stupid enough to enter the surf zone and get into trouble, I hope you have deep pockets. It actually took us longer to find a parking spot than it did to take the 100 + photos. The spot is very popular, beautiful sandy beach, facilities and normally some snorkeling. It’s also one end of the 11 mile long Kalalau Hiking Trail. On a scale of 1 to 10, most people say it’s a 14 in the degree of difficulty. But it’s the only way other than by boat or air to see the most pristine part of the island, the Na Pali coast. Pali means cliffs in Hawaiian and they are humdingers. Razor edged peaks rise from the ocean more than 3,000 feet in some places. I saved some memory card for other waves and we headed for the world famous Tunnels Beach. Here we found a collection of tents complete with smoldering campfire, occupants having a beer and waiting for the word to hit the waves. And those waves certainly seemed much larger here than they were at the north facing Ke’e Beach. I would have loved to stay longer when those campers turned into surfers but the light was fading. On the return home I counted the11 one way bridges, all very narrow, our guest relations staff told us about.

Friday, February 8, 2013

One Week In The Sunshine

February 3-8, 2013

While travel to Hawaii isn’t new to us, this trip is a bit different than others. Our first week will be spent at our “home” resort of Lawai Beach on the south side of Kauai. Our second week will be on the north shore in an area called Princeville, a part of the island we haven’t spent much time exploring. And no matter how smooth the ride or how much extra leg room, vacant seats or great movies there are, it’s still a very long plane ride. All together, we flew 14 hours in 3 different planes.

This first week has been quiet which is the way I like a vacation to begin. We have driven as far west as we can to Polihale Beach, revisited old friends like Spouting Horn, Wialua Falls and Opaekaa Falls and quaint villages named Waimea, Koloa and Hanapepe.

We have experienced two different food trucks, one serving Mexican and the other Hawaiian food. This is Carl’s new thing after having watched The Great American Food Truck Race for the last three years. They both served okay food but neither of these dining experiences left me wanting to revisit.

We stopped by a local Farmer’s market in Koloa on Monday. This was a new experience too. The rules were even more strict than the market held in Littleton, NH. The crowds began gathering at 11:30 but were held until exactly 11:55 when the throng of shoppers were led to the vendors in one large group so no one had an extra advantage. No sales were allowed before 12:00. The place was mobbed, some vendors sold out in the first 10 minutes and I found myself holding my breath for fear of fender benders or parking lot rage due to the shortage of open spaces. We also noticed the produce went for higher prices than the local super market. We paid $7.00 for a pineapple and found them priced at $6.00 at the Big Save.

Our last new experience centered around Kilohana, an old plantation home turned pricey tourist restaurant who offer train rides through what used to be cane fields and walking tours among their beautiful gardens. We have done the train ride but their new endeavor, started only 3 years ago, is the Koloa Rum Company. Our host, Jason offered a small tutorial on how to make rum and for those of us over the age of 21, the tasting began with their non-alcoholic Mai tai mix. To this we added what was left of our samples of the white, dark and golden rums tasted by themselves. This made a perfect Mai tai  although I’m not a huge fan of straight rum, I can tell you that I did enjoy the mixed cocktail. There will be a coconut rum joining the “family” soon.

With only one sunset under our belt and no sunrises, I’m feeling a bit of a failure as a photographer. So with that in mind I’ve decided to book a tour with a company that caters to photographers for next week. I know we’ve been to Kauai several times and driven to all of the locations the tourists know about. This tour will take us to the more out of the way unmarked beaches, panoramic overlooks and even waterfalls that have no names.

We departed Lawai Beach a day early to make the most of our north side experience.

The Move North

February 8th , 2013

The drive north was punctuated by stops at the gas station, a farmer’s market and Kilauea Lighthouse and Marine Sanctuary. Carl is now eligible for his lifetime park pass which will cost just $10.00 and never expires. Admission to the Lighthouse grounds was $5.00 per person so for us , the decision was a no brainer. Today was the day to purchase his Lifetime Pass.  We chatted with the young ranger and then continued on to the lighthouse where we observed a large pod of dolphins playing in the cove near Secret Beach. Off in the distance were several spouts indicating whales basking in the sun while their calves nursed and grew stronger. And for all the time spent in Hawaii, we’ve seen little evidence of the existence of the state bird, the Nene until today. There were quite a few on the grounds of the sanctuary along with nesting kites, red footed boobys and even albatross.

We had a bite to eat in the parking lot and headed to Princeville. Our unit wasn’t ready yet so we headed to Hanalei Bay to see the pier and what the surf was doing. You know that saying “surf’s up” . Well, it has been building for the last 36 hours. The normal tranquil bay was cloudy with silt and waves were breaking in the 4 to 5 foot range. The locals loved it, surf, paddle and body boards were everywhere. But that was just a problem for me, the bay was roiling, tons of people were all over the beach and even the pier was crowded.