Archive for January, 2016

Kuilau Ridge Hike – January, 2016

January 31, 2016

My brother Eric was always poring over the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook finding new hikes.

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On Wednesday morning, Jan 13, Eric found some obscure waterfall and convinced David and me to take off with him on a trail head looking for it…

So far so good …

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Uh oh. Looking a little rough

Just add rain to make this really fun

Just add rain to make this really fun

“We’ve lost the trail, Eric.” Uh, where’s Eric?

Find Eric

Find Eric

Thank goodness for his girly-girl back pack. See the pink and blue dot? There’s a method to his madness.

“We’re turning around, Eric.”

David leads the way back out.

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We bailed on the waterfall hike – decided at this point to return to the Kuilau Ridge hike that we had already partially explored with Steph and Vic on Sunday, three days ago.

The complete Kuilau Ridge hike consists of two trails that start at opposite trailheads and meet to form a 5-mile arc: The Kuilau trail and the Moalepe trail.

To hike the whole trail at once you’d have to park a car at each end. The Kuilau Trail hike is the shorter, more popular trail of the two. There is a picnic table near the summit.

Steph, Vic, Eric, David and I hiked the Kuilau trail to the picnic table and back three days ago, Sunday, Jan. 10. It’s 2.5-miles round-trip. Let me take you back now to that Kuilau Trail hike three days ago with Steph and Vic. I’ll start with us trying to park…

I snapped a photo of the parking lot. Note the Brown Sign posted at the edge of the lot:

“Do not block gate.” it says

"We're not blocking the gate"

“We’re not blocking the gate”

Furthermore, ‘Do not block car blocking gate’:

Not blocking car blocking gate

Not blocking car blocking gate

The parking lot accommodates about 6 cars. Needless to say, it was full.

You have to park? Oh, too bad.

You have to park? Oh, too bad.

We managed to park alongside the road, off the curve enough to be safe but not get stuck in the mud. We found that ‘two left wheels on pavement’ works okay if there hasn’t been a recent rain. Just don’t get run over getting out of your car.

It’s a gorgeous hike.

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Kuilau Ridge Hike

Kuilau Ridge Hike

When Steph and Vic, Eric, David and I arrived at the the picnic table on Sunday it drove Eric nuts to know there was still 3.5 miles of unexplored trail in front of us, where Kuilau Trail joined with the Moalepe Trail.

So, fast forward three days, to today, after our failed hike to the ‘waterfall’ – Eric coaxed David and me into hiking the Moalepe trail from its trail head at Olohena Road, to the picnic table, and back – a 6 1/2 mile hike round trip. If we do it we will have hiked both trails, and covered all 5 miles over the ridge from trail head to trail head.

We are driving to the Moalepe trail head now. It’s a bit of a challenge finding Olohena Road, on account of the main route to it is closed. Next thing, we hang a sharp right on this road…

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through a residential section. I was sure glad I didn’t have to give verbal directions … ‘Hang a right here! on … uh, Ka-nee-poo-oo-noo-ee Road!”

With David driving and Eric as navigator we found the trail head on Olohena Road just fine.

It was totally worth it! Here are more photos of our hike:

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At the picnic table now.

Eric setting a new male fashion trend in backpacks

Eric setting a new male fashion trend in backpacks

With our spirit guide. I snapped this egret’s photo from about 4 feet away.

'Oh boy, another annoying tourist'

‘Oh boy, another annoying tourist’

Headed back down now…

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I mean, up … this spot is really slick after a rain. We know this because Steph fell on this muddy slope four years ago, the only other time we’ve done this hike.

We stopped where the Kuilau and Moalepe Trails meet – took photos of the signs:

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Soon we hiked past this big ol’ ancient tree

'Moss does not grow fat on a rolling stone'

Moss does not grow fat on a rolling stone

and jungle foliage

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We arrived back home a collective hot, sweaty and exhausted mess. But it was nothing a hot shower and Kauai sunset couldn’t remedy.

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Eric was so happy by the end of the day he broke out in song and dance.

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To his favorite Garth Brooks tune, “Friends in Low Places.”

Yeah, I know. I’ve no idea who he’s referring to.

Jurassic Park! (uh, in a video…)

January 28, 2016

Last year Eric, David and I did the ‘Jungle Hike’ – and I wrote a whole blog about it – on February 8, 2015, here’s the link to that blog post if you want to learn all about our trip last year. What gave us bragging rights is that we walked through the original gate to Jurassic Park. I’ve the photos to prove it! Here’s the Gate (in case you did’t see last year’s blog). Just the posts are still standing:

Jurassic Park Gate

Jurassic Park Gate

Here’s Eric and David walking through the gate:

Proof that we entered Jurassic Park

Proof that we entered Jurassic Park

Well, it’s a super ordeal getting there – heading inland from Wailua on 580 you drive several miles on this rutty dirt road dodging all manner of puddles, ruts, pot holes, ditches, and exposed boulders. We drove through a pond last year, after David got out, waded in it to make sure our vehicle could clear it. (I posted a photo of David knee-deep in the murky pond.)

But, hey, the weather is drier this year. and David rented a bigger SUV. ‘Let’s do it again this year!’ Eric pressures us. ‘Victor, you and Steph have to see the gate to Jurassic Park!’

So, this year, on Sunday January 10, we all pile in the SUV – drive down the east coast of Kauai to Wailua – enter Wailua River State Park. Cross two spillways. Drive on that dirt road again – Kuamoo Road. The road has clearly deteriorated since last year. The potholes are wider, protruding boulders bigger, and deep dry ditches traverse the road. David finally pulls over. “Let’s walk from here…”

A couple in a Jeep roll by – they had 4-wheel drive. A few minutes later here they come back – the road was too rough – only passable by ATV or motorbike. Dang it! We walked the last few hundred feet to the pond we drove through last year – and turned around and returned to the SUV.

I snapped one picture only (hey, I couldn’t sit still enough to take a photo in the bouncing SUV). When we got back to the SUV I turned around and took this photo of the impassable road that leads to Jurassic Park. Hey, wait a minute. Do you see what I see? A vortex.

Kuamoo road swallowed by a vortex?

Kuamoo road swallowed by a vortex?

It appears Kuamoo Road has been sucked into a vortex. Could this be the real reason why it’s impassable? This could also explain the origins of Eric’s shirt that he wore yesterday – you know, the crazed kitty fluorescent psycho vortex shirt. The vortex sucked Kuamoo Road in and in so doing, blew Eric’s shirt out.

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It’s just a theory. How else could you explain the origins of such an indisputably hideous shirt?

Well, I think everyone should be able to get to the Jurassic Park Gate. Last year I found this youtube video of the Jungle drive/hike through the Jurassic Park Gate. Someone videotaped the whole drive on Kuamoo Road through the Gate and beyond. They filmed it on February 5, 2012 – 4 years ago, when the road was in much better shape (and obviously before the vortex). I posted it on my blog last year, and will do so again now because it’s really cool (and the Hawaiian music really helps relax you and take your mind off your body being tossed around like a rag doll as you drive).

You can fast forward the video – at the 2:15- minute place you will get to the pond we drove through last year but turned around at this year. You will go through the Jurassic Gate at 5:09 minutes.

Well, that about wraps up this blog. I don’t want to start wandering around now worried about vortexes, well, okay ‘vortices’ around any next corner, waiting to suck me in. Although it might help explain those driving situations like today where I hit every light red through the downtown and progressed toward home so slowly it actually felt like I was driving backwards.

Kauai 2016 – Part 2

January 24, 2016

Blizzard of 2016 slamming the U.S., burying most of the east coast in at least a foot of snow?

Let’s go back to Pila’a Beach! This next photo was among the photos I had taken at Pila’a Beach and blogged about in my last post. I had left this photo out! – The ancient banyan tree near our picnic spot …

Find the Buddha

Find the Buddha

A perfect place to meditate. I showed the photo to David. This picture got left out of my last blog! I said. “All that’s missing is the Buddha,” is what he said.

Sit with the photo for a bit …. ‘Ommmmmmmmm…’ Can you find the Buddha? ….. um …..ommmmm …..uh, …. mmm …

Yes? No? Yeah, well, this is the image that greeted us at breakfast, bright and early the next morning:

Why don't you drive us insane, Eric, with your shirt?

Why don’t you drive us insane, Eric, with your shirt?

It’s brother Eric, wearing his crazed kitty shirt, or fluorescent whirlies kitty vortex migraine headache shirt, or something. Geez, Eric. Isn’t the Kauai sun bright enough for you?

One of our favorite hikes is to Sea Lodge Beach, which we walk to from Steph and Vic’s house just by crossing a couple of holes on the golf course. Eric, David and I visited Sea Lodge Beach several times. Steph came with us once. Here we are, on the golf course.

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(You can also drive to SeaLodge Resort and park near the trail to the beach, but that’s just too … sensible?)

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David is watching like a hawk for golfers tee-ing off and flying golf balls. He leads the way along the edges of the course, and we follow. Notice the signs posted at the trailhead to the beach

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Caution – this trail is extremely dangerous. It is steep, slippery and hazardous…Use at your own risk….

Eric has already started down…

We crossed a little creek and then entered a banyan tree mini-jungle.

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An elevated rocky narrow path takes you along rock cliffs to Sea Lodge Beach. We only made it to the beach once. A couple of families with young children made it too.

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They scrambled across that narrow ledge along the rocks, hopped down onto the beach and were immediately in the water, snorkeling. The beach is quite secluded.

Sea Lodge Beach

Sea Lodge Beach

Walking back now – here’s David navigating the narrow path along the cliff.

Wouldn't do this after a rain!

Wouldn’t do this after a rain!

There’s a beautiful spot on the rocks along the way where you can sit and enjoy the crashing waves, which is where we usually hiked to.

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On our way back up now:

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We met several roosters and hens with half-grown clutches, cock-a-doodle-do-ing, clucking and pecking.

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And a lizard. There is one in the picture below. Can you see it?

Find the lizard

Find the lizard

… Near the center of the photo. Pretty well-camouflaged. The top of its head is orange. Still can’t see it? Look where the branches form a ‘Y. Yea!

Back up on top now near the trailhead taking in the view:

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We hit our favorite place in Hanalei for lunch – the Kalypso- and ordered a round of their killer Mai Tai’s, called Iniki’s – named after the 1992 killer Hurricane Iniki, the worst hurricane to ever hit Kauai, that freed the chickens (and pigs, and goats, and…) on Kauai.

I captured brother Eric’s state-of-ecstasy expression once again (see last year’s blog)

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after our round of Iniki’s was delivered. (Just kidding Eric, I was in a state of ecstasy too – those drinks are fantastic!)

After lunch we drove to Lumaha’i Beach, on the north side of the island just above Hanalei. It’s just off the road. It has the finest sand and a very impressive surf. Here we are, walking the beach:

Lumaha'i Beach

Lumaha’i Beach

Well, David, Eric, and Victor are walking the beach. That’s Stephanie walking along the shore where the waves are crashing.

We stop to rest and take in the action and sounds of the waves

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And of female voices and laughter

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More Mermaids? But of course, certain male members of our group insist we stick around on Lumaha’i Beach a bit longer to investigate…

Kauai!! January, 2016

January 23, 2016

What? Again?

Yes, this is our fifth trip to Kauai – five years running! – to visit Steph and Vic at their second home in Princeville, Kauai (and yes, I’ve blogged about all of them – you can read my previous 28 Kauai blogs under category – Kauai). My sister and her husband escape to Kauai for most of the Boston winter. Paradise!

But what’s an experience in Paradise without company? Enter, my brother Eric (a.k.a. ‘Cuddles Cutes’ or ‘Mountain Goat’) and David and I! (Pinch myself)

It’s a bit of an ordeal getting there. First, I arrange companions to stay with Megan (and Rudy) for 11 days. We hit the road from Idaho Falls late afternoon Wednesday (Jan 6), then drive to Salt Lake, stopping for dinner at Red Lobster in Layton, Utah…

Red Lobster - Wed. Jan 6, 2016 - Kauai here we come!

Red Lobster – Wed. Jan 6, 2016 – Kauai here we come!

We stay in a motel, and rise at 3:45am for 6am flight to Los Angeles. Of course, we hardly sleep before the flight. And I can’t sleep on the flight. So I take pictures. Here we are above LA – descending for a landing!:

Los Angeles - Beautiful photo!

Los Angeles – Beautiful photo!

‘Hey, anyone can take an ugly photo like that!’ You say. Yeah, but do they?

Our flight from LA to Lihue was about 6 hours. Over the Pacific Ocean. I actually paid attention for once, when the stewardess gave her spiel about a crash and how and when to put on oxygen, how to find flotation device, where the nearest exit was and not to inflate my rubber vest until sailing down the slide toward the water. (Okay, so we’re goners at this point.) I allowed myself about 5 seconds to think about that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people aboard, that disappeared from radar, went missing, and presumably now lies somewhere on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. (Stop it Jody, you’re on vacation! Try going to sleep!)

45 minutes before scheduled arrival to Lihue, and islands come into view!

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Then more islands!

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Hawaii!!!

We arrive in Lihue about 2pm, Thursday, January 7, rent a car and head over to Princeville, on the north side of the island. Settle in at Steph and Vic’s.

Our first hike is on Friday – Pila’a Beach in Kilauea.

There was a bit of a hike down to it. Hike would have been slick after a rain but was dry and safe today.

Overlooking Pila'a Beach

Overlooking Pila’a Beach

Then we cross a stream….

Eric leads the way

Eric leads the way

Picnic under a giant coconut palm tree

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A fallen coconut has sprouted a baby tree

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already putting down roots!

Visiting any beach in Kauai usually involves climbing over rocks

Pila'a Beach

Pila’a Beach

Oh look! (Eric noticed it first…)

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A mermaid!

A stop at Paco’s Tacos to pick up (local wild caught) fish tacos

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Then off to the organic grocer’s to pick up ingredients for Victor’s dinner at home.

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Here one day, and we’re already 500 per cent healthier!