Kauai in Photos

Monday, May 21st, 2007

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.


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.

J. at the lookout.

Fern.

Flower.

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.

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.

Donkey at the beach in Waimea.

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.

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 their, 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.

Cows on the south shore.

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.

Me kissing my nuts.

See the full post with photos right here.

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