Kauai in Photos

Looking around at the slobbering and hunched passengers on this vessel, I am filled with intense jealousy. I wish I could sleep on planes. But when my mind isn't occupied by anything, it tends to get worked up over the truth at hand: I'm miles in the sky, flying over open ocean halfway between nowhere...in the dark. And they are playing the movie "Bridge Over Tarabithia." More like "Bridge Overly Boring Piece of Bullhshitia," in my opinion. I had hope for this movie until the boy protagonist began talking to other people in a way penned by an overly sensitive and educated screen writer that eats too much Ben & Jerry's. I can be harsh because the same criticism applies to my only children's book manuscript. The whole thing comes off as an exercise in how mature a story I can create for children, when the dialogue just seems false. And if the reality of the story fails, then the fantasy aspects will fail even harder. Because when the shit hits the fan, it's not a boy overcoming hardship; it's just a character.

Kauai was everything I hoped it to be, as well as everything I feared. On one island are fish-filled waters as clear as a swimming pool, miles of clean beaches, verdant high-walled canyons and waterfalls, more green and flowers than seem possible in any given spot, tropical fruits littering the road, friendly locals. Trouble in paradise: tourists and tourist shops, bad restaurants, prices. The prices are understandable considering that the island is dependent on importing almost everything. And although I'm a tourist, I resent masses of tourists because of the generic business they support. And yes there are ugly condos and a few resorts on the island, but I understand them. I would want to live there too. But all of the fineries and unauthentic elements stick out dramatically. It's just not the kind of island for order and progress; it's too wild for that.

The island seems like another country. The locals are like a mix between a cowboy and a parent. The transplants are a crusty mix of a surfer and dreamer. Everyone is just a little more flexible and relaxed about things. If an old car dies, why not just leave it to rust on a little traveled dirt road? To lazy to mess with processing credit cards? Just take cash in advance for a room. There are obviously a lot of guavas on the trees. Take whatever you want, we just sell the rest to Ocean Spray. We ran out of compact cars, why don't you just take one of the convertibles over there? Well, these chickens are kind of cute; we might as well let them run wild all over the island. Do we need to sign out this snorkel gear? Nope, and keep it as long as you want.

It's an attitude that I'm grateful for and terrified by.

Rather than get long winded about the week, I'll let the following clump of photos do most of the talking. They are in chronological order.
5 hours over open ocean.
Close to landing at Lihue airport. A tanker ship and tug heading out to sea.
Palm trees at sunset at Waipouli Beach in Kapa'a.
The street our first hotel is off off in Kalaheo.
Bananas growing outside the hotel with J. in the background.
The back of a derelict plant store in Kalaheo.
Waimea Canyon in its permanent overcast state. It's a visual mix of the Grand Canyon and a jungle.
The view from Pu'u o Kila lookout point towards the Na Pali coast and ocean.
Lush unbrush the trail.
Grassy trail.
Radar station as seen from grassy trail.
J. at the lookout.
Two of the many roosters and chickens that run wild all over the island. Their only predator is the car, and its squash attack can be seen every couple of miles. These roosters were prancing around at one of the lookouts in Waimea Canyon.
Stoplight to nowhere.
Our sweet ride, a free upgrade to a convertible. Other than a 4-wheel drive jeep, there's no better way to experience the island on wheels (except maybe scooter).
One of many scrapped cars hidden to rust in the brush. The salty air makes short work of any metal.
Hilarious markings on an abandoned car.
Modest cemetary in Waimea.
Donkey in a field across from the cemetary.
A delicious dinner made with tuna poke and vegetable. Poke is a mix of raw fish and other seasonings, in this case green onion, seaweed, ginger, garlic, and soy. It's not supposed to be cooked, but we did just to be safe. Eventually we ate some raw from a takeout counter. Good stuff, like flavor-blasted sashimi.
Abandoned sugar mill in Waimea.
Milling equipment.
Art Deco feeling market.
Long pod of unknown name.
Mango tree dripping with unreachable mangos. Fortunately, mangos are growing all over the island at the side of the road, falling and getting crushed under cars and picked on by chickens. We've eaten some amazing mangos from the dirt so far, especially they taste sweeter when accompanied by a beautiful view next to the tree.
Empty sugar can field with exposed red soil and the ocean in the background.
J. swimming in the clear water of Polihale State Park.
To get there, we had to drive down a 3 mile dirt road that was so bumpy we had to keep the car cruising at about 5 MPH. Locals lucky enough to have 4 wheelers, could make the trip quickly and with gusto, driving right up to the water over the sand dunes and getting their tail gate on.
Me with the edge of the Na Pali cliffs in the background.
Green coffee beans on the bush.
One view of the 5 thousand acres of coffee growing in the Kauai Coffee Plantation.
View of a church hidden in sugarcane fields.
The sugarcane church.
The road.
Dead-end road on the south shore.
Cows near the dead-end.
Bull kept farther down the road.
Vista overlooking an ancient Menehune fish pond.
A commemorate marker covered in ivy.
J. in a field of grass behind Wailua Falls.
Me in some grass.
One of many dried frogs you find stuck to the roads.
J. in the vines.
Kilauea Lighthouse.
View west from a 3 mile hike in the hills near Wailua Falls.
View east from the same hike.
J. walking along the trail on the return trip.
Opaeka'a Falls.
Me kissing my nuts.
Visual vomit curtain and bedding pattern at the Kalaheo Inn.
Wailua River looking west.
Guava orchard on the east shore.
Free fresh guava.
View from the abandoned beach of Moloa'a Bay. To the right is the start of a reef full of tropical fish, sea cucumbers, and crabs. This was our first snorkeling experience on the island, and it was pretty amazing.
One of many sea cucumbers in the tide pools.
Dogs waiting for their master to get done surfing.
A coconut grove on the east shore.

The start of an 11 mile, 6.5 hour long hike along the Napali Coast. The scenery changed from woods to craggy cliffs to lush underbrush to dried grasses and back to woods again. It was a varied landscape.
Ferns along the trails.
A vertigo filled view from the trail down the cliff and into the valley below. It's hard to see in the photo, but the drop is about 2000 feet to the river and ocean below. In this photo, there is a family of goats on the middle crag.
Here's a view of the billy goat from my binoculars.
Another view into the valley. The ocean and rest of the coast can be seen in the upper left corner.
Me standing at Lolo Vista, one of the side trails leading to the edge of the ridge. We had a lunch break here as it started to rain.
J. standing at the same edge.
J. at the edge of the world.
A section of trail that passed through a maze of head-high dry grass on the edge of a cliff.
From the dry grass, the trail turned into a lush, flowery woods.
View from the south of Waimea Canyon.
Below the above view was a lonely little farm.
A weird shrine of soggy stuffed animals in the town of Waimea.
Two sad animals that had fallen into the storm drain.
Near the end of the trip, we stayed on the north shore. On the way there, we passed by this famous view of the taro fields in Hanalei Valley.
The Taro growing in pools of water.
A creepy pink growth on many of the plants.
In the town of Hanalei, we stayed at a bed and breakfast in walking distance from the bay and Wai'oli Beach. Heres a view down the pier.
Gecko on the car.
Me boogie boarding for the first time. As I am afraid of water, the conditions here were perfect as the water was clear and very shallow until about 30 feet out. Plus, despite the currents, the waves were fairly mellow.

Lumaha'i river.
One of many small one way bridges on this side of the island. The first person to reach the bridge gives right of way to that side until all the cars pass. Then the other direction can go.
River water.
Our second day in the north shore brought us to an amazing reef protected beach called Tunnels. The snorkeling here was amazing, as the reef came up to the shore in a maze of coral and fish.
View west from Tunnels Beach.
I didn't have an underwater camera, so here one from the internet. Basically it looked like this, only a little less lush.
View of Ke'e beach at sunset.
Steady footing was necessary to navigate the exposed roots on the trail.
The Napali Coast as seen from Hula Heiau lookout at the start of the Kalalau Trail.
Another fine day comes to a close.
The second to last day on the trip we went kayaking up the Hanalei River. It was a long, sunny paddle under palms and between taro fields, ultimately ending when the river narrowed and we had to start walking the boats to much. We also found a spine in the water. I hope it was a dog's.
Triple coconut palms.
Towering tree above the river.
J. in front on our way back from journey to the ocean's edge.
Papayas growing at the side of the road.
Mangos littering the ground. Due to fruit fly problems, none of Hawaii's mangos can be exported, but they are so delicious. If we had been on the island a few weeks later, all of the trees would have been ride. As it was, only certain strains were ready to eat.
Sunset from Wai'oli Beach Park.

View of Nukoli'i Beach.
Wind blown tree.
One last view of a rooster at the beach before heading to the airport.
A view from one of the open air walkways at the Honolulu airport. A whole article could be written about this airport; it's one of the weirdest. The architecture is frozen in some unknown era when exposed concrete and Helvetica were the marks of progress. Imagine a normal bustling airport, but without air conditioning, and full of sun stoned chunky Midwesterners. Then add weird hallways to nowhere, weird outdoor jungle courtyards that sometimes have pagodas, an excessive amount of intercom speakers in the ceiling, miscellaneous artifacts on display, whole terminals that appear abandoned, sturdy counters seemingly hewn from single blocks of wood, wheelchairs and broken furniture stored in oddball locations, large islander women crammed into airline uniforms, little asian women scuttling around with hunched backs, all set to calm Hawaiian music. It's a trip.
Our homebound vessel.

I will go back to Hawaii. It's more than coincidence that Aloha means both goodbye and hello.