Archive for February, 2016

Back to Reality

February 27, 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016, our last day on vacation in Kauai. How about we do one last lunch at Kalypso in Hanalei? It’s jammed with folks watching the NFL play-off game between the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. It’s hard to maintain conversation over the raucous Patriot fans as Tom Brady, paired with Ron Gronkowski on offense, combined with their defense, beat the Chiefs 27-20.

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Yeah, Eric, but do you know what the kitty on your shirt is doing?

Innocent Kitty

Innocent Kitty

Alert kitty

Alert kitty

Sniper kitty

Sniper kitty

"Oh no!  Danger danger!"

“Oh no! Danger danger!”

Yeah, well, just trying to keep the mood light. Stave off melancholy on our last day in Paradise. Take a minute to be grateful that we no longer have Eric leading us over streams, darting ahead across the rocks on his cat paws

Hey, we didn't agree to this

Hey, we didn’t agree to this

We have to follow, of course…

Not funny, Eric

Not funny, Eric

You feel the melancholy of our last day too? Well, here’s one last image of Paradise that you could affix in your mind, as I have – a ‘happy place’ you can go to

Paradise

Paradise

It’s overlooking Sealodge beach, just before you hike down. And how about a video of the waves crashing on the rocks at the bottom of the hike at Sealodge:

I must post two more photos of Paradise I took at Secret Beach

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Secret Beach

Secret Beach

With the Kilauea Lighthouse in the far distance.

Aloha, Maholo, Kauai!

Yeah … transition to … Sunday morning, January 17. We have landed at the LA International Airport at the end of our Red-Eye flight from Lihue. The plane lands, you force your body up out of the frozen seated position you’ve been in for the past six hours. Shake some blood into your lower extremities. Deplane in the emerging twilight en masse with the hoard of passengers in a zombie parade. Squish into a line to catch a bus that will transport you to your next terminal (hopefully the right one). We’re on the bus now. I snap a photo out the window.

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Who takes off next, our bus or that plane? Guess my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders yet.

Well, we do make our next flight – to Salt Lake City. I capture photos of the frozen landscape:

Over the Sierra Nevada's?

Over the Sierra Nevada’s?

You know, to entertain me, because I can’t sleep:

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Nearing our descent into Salt Lake City:

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We’ve landed. Making the 4-hour drive from the airport north on I-15 to Idaho Falls now, with David at the wheel, Eric up front, me shivering in the back…

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Yep! Northern Utah in mid-January.

It's called 'winter'

It’s called ‘winter’

Crossed the border into Idaho now…

The Abominable Snowman could be there somewhere

The Abominable Snowman could be there somewhere

We’re starving, of course. When did we last eat? We pull over at the Gas Station/Burger King/ pit stop in Malad.

Welcome to Malad, Idaho!

Welcome to Malad, Idaho!

“Shop Malad this Holiday Sea on.” “Sea On” – actually makes sense, as in … Sealodge Beach, Secret Beach, Larsen’s Beach… in that ancient parallel Universe.

So what kind of shopping do you do in Malad, Idaho?

We found out when we ordered Whoppers and grabbed one of the last available tables. All kinds of folks filled tables around us, couples, families, groups of men, groups of women, young and old, unrolling and scraping wads of … lottery scratch tickets, filling in long pink scraps of paper … Powerball tickets! The last Powerball drawing had occurred this past Wednesday, yielding 3 winners that split a 1.6 billion dollar jackpot. Folks in here today are filling out tickets for the next Powerball drawing. We’re witnessing lottery pandemonium in this little pit stop in Malad, Idaho. But why so many people in this little town in the middle of nowhere? Ah, perhaps because there’s no gambling in Utah? Malad happens to sit right on the Idaho/Utah border. Welcome to Malad, Idaho, your Utah lottery ticket headquarters. Buy your tickets here!

Your Utah Lottery ticket headquarters, complete with ATM!

Your Utah Lottery ticket headquarters, complete with ATM!

Fast forward 2 hours… we’re approaching our driveway now. There’s Eric’s van…

Oh goody, we're home

Oh goody, we’re home

Time to dig out…

Eric still in his shorts from the ancient parallel Universe

Eric still in his shorts from the ancient parallel Universe

'Brrrrr!'

‘Brrrrr!’

David shovels out the driveway first thing.

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Yes, we’re back home in our winter Paradise.

All shoveled out, Jan 17, 2016

All shoveled out, Jan 17, 2016

Contrast the two Paradises,

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Paradises from two parallel Universes. It’s a stretch, but I’m going with it.

You know, anything to stave off melancholy.

Ka’aka’aniu (Larsen’s) Beach

February 20, 2016

Say it with me, “Ka-ah-ka-ah-nee-oo” Beach.

Okay, “Larsen’s Beach.”

Geez. You’re still in Kauai? Isn’t this like, your 8th blog about your dumb January 2016 trip?

Yep.

We’re about at the end of our trip, though, I promise. (Sigh)

If you’ve read all 35 of my previous Kauai blogs covering our past five January trips to Kauai, then you might recall one of our favorite beaches, Larsen’s Beach. (Sure, Jody.) I blogged about our first visit to Larsen’s Beach two years ago. And again last year.

David, Eric and I returned to Larsen’s Beach this year, too, on Friday, January 15.

Larsen’s Beach is full of surprises. First of all, it’s a surprise to realize how hard it is to find Larsen’s Beach. Located in a secluded area on Kauai’s northeastern shore, it’s accessible only by dirt road. From Princeville you travel south on Kuhio Highway and just after mile marker 20 you hang a left onto Ko’olau Road. Travel on Ko’olau Road for about a mile and the road forks. Take the left fork onto a dirt road, Larsen Beach Road. Follow the dirt road till it ends. You will likely turn on at least one wrong dirt road before you find the right one.

Hint: The dirt road ends. You park. Walk toward ocean. You’ll know you’re at the trailhead to Larsen’s Beach when you come to this sign:

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Which brings us to Surprise #2: ‘Swimming is less than ideal.’ Unless you’re suicidal. Deadly unseen currents have killed how many? ‘Strong currents channeling through the reefs exist even in perfectly calm conditions.’ One site I Googled said, “If you go in, wear a rash guard to protect against prickly sea urchins and sharp coral on the bottom.” Oh joy. Rash guard? Well, unless you’re a full-blown masochist and/or enjoy cutting yourself.

Ah but the water is so perfectly calm and beautiful!

Dip your toe in

Dip your toe in

Larsen’s Beach is about a 2-mile narrow stretch of sand backed by brush and trees. Including a Surprise # 3 – Nude beach. I mean, Naturalist beach (uh, Naturist beach, corrected per comment below). We discovered this on our first visit two years ago: January 25th, 2014. We were walking along the brush and trees, minding our own business, sat at a picnic table to rest, when we noticed a bare bronzed bather. I photographed and blogged about the experience (zoomed an i-Phone photo to make sure my eyes weren’t tricking me). Here’s the link to the blog for those of you with a dirty mind, uh, I mean an appreciation for the beauty of the naturalist human form. Actually if you click on the link, scroll down to the end of the blog. No! Don’t click on the link! Oh, come on, you want to! Stop being so decadent, Jody. Who cares anyway? CLICK ON THE LINK! (and scroll way down to the bottom).

Surprise # 4:

Darth Vader Bumble Bee…

Looks like a bumble bee

Looks like a bumble bee

I had never seen such a bee in my life. You can see it has really fuzzy legs for pollination. Upon further research I learned that it is a female Carpenter bee. They are quite fascinating creatures. Carpenter bees are solitary bees. Females live alongside their own daughters or sisters, creating a small social group. They enjoy kaffeeklatsches (Ha, just kidding). They make nests by tunneling into wood. Each nest has a single entrance (very neat), almost always a 1/2 inch diameter near-perfect-circle. The entrances may have several adjacent tunnels. (Cozy!)

Female Carpenter bees have stingers but they are docile and rarely sting unless handled or provoked.

Male Carpenter bees, on the other hand, are harmless. They do not have a stinger and their face may be white or yellow (face color possibly predetermined by how much and the manner in which, previous generational males handled or provoked females.)

Surprise # 5. Hawaiian monk seals:

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Hawaiian monk seals are a highly endangered species – a ‘conservation reliant endangered species,’ which is why we see them on Larsen’s Beach – we were walking near their nesting grounds. Monk Seals are the only seal native to Hawaii.

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I almost walked right by this Hawaiian monk seal without seeing it:

Don't bother me, I'm a log

Don’t bother me, I’m a log

The small population of about 1,100 individuals is threatened by human encroachment (not us, of course), limited gene pool, entanglement in fishing nets, marine debris, disease, and past commercial hunting for skins, according to this wiki-article.

We saw four Hawaiian monk seals on our round trip walk to the arch. Along the way we ran into Surprise # 6: The albatross nesting area.

Do not disturb!

Do not disturb!

The magnificent Albatross are also an endangered species. We accidentally walked right by this nest and tried to act invisible as we approached our destination…which is,

Surprise # 7: The Arch at the end of the lava rock outcropping half way down Larsen’s beach…

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the sea is roiling here:

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The surf crashing against the rocks in front of us

ooooo- David's sexy shoulder

ooooo- David’s sexy shoulder

And swirling through the arch at the end of the point

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I captured a video:

Walking back along the beach I couldn’t resist zooming in on this Hawaiian Monk seal’s face:

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Surprise # 8.

Yeah, Kauai’s spectacular Ka’aka’aniu (Larsen’s) Beach!

A ‘must-see’ – once you find the right dirt road that takes you to it!

Makauwahi Cave Reserve

February 14, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016, the five of us pile into the SUV and drive down the east coast of Kauai to the southern tip near Po’ipu (another site where Six Days Seven Nights was filmed). Past Kapa’a we come alongside Sleeping Giant:

Sleeping Giant - 'shhhhhh!' don't wake him!

Sleeping Giant – ‘shhhhhh!’ don’t wake him!

Our first hike is to the limestone sinkhole known as the Makauwahi Cave Reserve.

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It is a sinkhole within a large cave system formed in eoliantite limestone (for you rock hounds) containing the richest fossil site in the Hawaiian Islands – 10,000 years of sedimentary records.

Here is a photo of the sinkhole:

Makauwahi Cave - limestone sinkhole

Makauwahi Cave – limestone sinkhole

And a link with lots more photos of the cave.

The view from on top of the cave edge:

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Hiking back now

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Visiting the tortoises (you can climb into their fenced enclosure and visit them up close and personal):

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From here we walked along Keoniloa Bay

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The shoreline is made up of rocky cliffs

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Hey, no worry, we found a soft cushy place for a picnic

What's your definition of 'soft and cushy?'

What’s your definition of ‘soft and cushy?’

Nice view toward Gillin’s Beach

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Time to head back now

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Building up a sweat!

David - even his sweat is sexy

David – even his sweat is sexy

Hey just dive into the ocean to cool off

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Uh, maybe not.

Driving home now – back up the east side of the island. We’re starving! Stop in Kapa’a for lunch at Eastside restaurant.

Interesting artwork on the walls. Coconut spirits!

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Sign says, ‘Paul Vilja, originally from Finland, is a prizewinning woodcarver. When he retired on Kauai, he became inspired by the mystical characters he saw hidden in the coconuts. Now he releases these spirits for all to enjoy.’

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On the restaurant’s outside patio we meet this struttin’ rooster

'Struttin' cool'

‘Struttin’ cool’

Stealing the show. And the sidewalk. Don’t mess with him!

Later we’re out to dinner at the Baracuda, one of Steph and Vic’s favorite restaurants in Hanalei.

Now dear reader, in honor of Valentine’s Day, a special treat for you. From my dear brother, Eric, a.k.a “Cuddles Cutes”. A video I took of him while we were waiting for our dinner at the Baracuda.

“My heart’s beating for you.”

There. You feel just a little more loved now, don’t you?

‘On location’ in Kauai

February 6, 2016

One thing to do in Kauai is visit locations where Hollywood movies and other shows were filmed. Even if you’re not specifically planning to visit movie locations, you might enter a landscape or terrain on a hike where you suddenly feel you’re in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark” or something. This happened to me on the first hike we made in the Wailua River Valley, four years ago. I seriously half expected to run into Harrison Ford and the filming crew just around the next corner. We did run into a filming crew once on one of our hikes.

We hiked the Wailua Ridge again this trip and I blogged about it two blogs ago (with lots of pictures, the picnic table near summit, the two trails that connect to form an arc…) I just now did a Google search to see if, indeed, some of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ was filmed here, and came across this entertaining 90-second youtube video entitled ‘Me at Raiders of the Lost Ark Film Locations”

It’s cute. Captures the excitement you feel imagining (complete fantasy) that you are part of a (defunct) movie set where you’re the hot shot celebrity (you’re totally un-photogenic) showing up for filming. Wait! Check your makeup and hair! Your posture! People are photographing you! (This fantasy dissipates in about 7 seconds, thank goodness, when you heave a sigh of relief that you are just an ordinary hiking and sweaty Joe Blow, and you’re not stuck in this humid location filming on set for the next 12-16 hours.)

Just to keep the fantasy going, here’s my photo of Anahola Mountain or ‘Kong Mountain,’ featured in the video above.

Anahola Mountain

Anahola Mountain

I took it Monday, January 11 – we had just pulled off highway 56 near Anahola and parked as close as we could to Papa’a Beach. Eric had convinced David and me to check out this film location from the movie ‘Six Days, Seven Nights,’ a 1998 adventure-comedy film starring Harrison Ford (once again) and Anne Heche, who get stranded on a remote deserted island after a plane, piloted by Harrison Ford, crashes. They spend most of the movie on this tropical island (Kauai) trying to get rescued, fall into a cave, jump off a cliff, etc. Near the end of the movie, at Papa’a beach, they crash a plane.

Here is a topographical map of Kauai, which shows you how remote and rugged most of the island is, and why they would film this movie here:

Kauai

Kauai

Roads travel mostly along the exterior edge, and up into interior near the west. But they do not circle the island. You travel one way and then back again.

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Six Days, Seven Nights, released June 12, 1998, was filmed in three locations on Kauai: the Na Pali Coast on the northern end of the island, Papa’a Bay, near Anahola on the northeast side, and Shipwreck Beach, on the southern tip near Po’ipu. All these locations are popular tourist destinations.

So, here we are today, Eric, David and I, checking out Papa’a Bay where the plane, piloted by Robin (Anne Heche), crashes on the beach near the end of the movie:

Papa'a Bay - just the right size for a small plane crash and beach scene

Papa’a Bay – just the right size for a small plane crash and beach scene

I snapped a photo of the beach from as about close as we could get to it. While filming the movie, ‘Six Days Seven Nights,’ the producer, Peter Guber, decided he liked the pristine beach and surrounding area so much, he bought it, 174 acres, for 7.2 million dollars. Although the beach itself is public, the access road to the beach is now private. Guber built a compound on the property that includes a 13,000 sq. ft. mansion, two guest houses, caretaker’s quarters, stables, tennis courts. He decided to sell it in 2009. The property made history for being the most expensive for sale property on Kauai when it was first listed for 45.6 million. It eventually sold for 28 million dollars.

While the owners can make it very difficult for people to access one of most pristine beaches in Kauai, they can’t keep people like me from taking photos of the mansion, zooming in on the photo to get a better look, and then posting it on my blog

Yeah have you thought about the next hurricane Iniki?

Yeah have you thought about the next hurricane Iniki?

Along with the scoop behind why the public cannot access the road to one of Kauai’s most beautiful public beaches, Papa’a Beach.

Well, there’s plenty else to see in Kauai. After this little adventure we continue down 56 near Kapa’a to Donkey Beach. Here there’s plenty of parking and a handicapped accessible paved walk to the beach. It’s really quite lovely – you pass through a tunnel of greenery from the parking lot to the beach.

Passing through the tunnel. Find Eric's backpack..

Passing through the tunnel. Find Eric’s backpack.

We sat and picnicked on the beach under a grove of trees.

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Practically had the whole beach to ourselves. We met about five other people.

Then we walked out to a rocky point overlooking a secluded cove, and sat a while to take in the ocean and sounds of crashing waves. Watched three whales breeching in the distance. I captured this photo. David’s profile…

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David, with his movie star good looks.

Walking back to car now

Walking back to car now

Star presence too. Eat your heart out, Harrison Ford.

Princeville, January, 2016

February 4, 2016

Sunrise!!

January 13, 6:55 AM

January 13, 6:55 AM

Over Princeville, Kauai.

Every 7am the five of us walked the golf course,

January 16, 8 am

January 16, 8 am

which is currently closed for repairs. On one section of the course we curve around the entrance to Anini Beach…

Black hole that leads down to Anini Beach

Black hole that leads down to Anini Beach

On previous years David, Eric and I would head into this black hole that takes you down about 150 vertical feet to Anini beach – you know, for a cardio workout and ‘fun’. Climbing back up is a killer. Eric and I just flat out refused to do it this year. Hey, this is supposed to be a vacation! David did it the first couple of days we were here this year, you know, to prove he could. No one volunteered to go with him.

I blogged about this black hole to Anini Beach last year and posted photos of us climbing back up:

David and Eric hiking back up from Anini Beach last year - you call this a vacation?

David and Eric hiking back up from Anini Beach last year – you call this a vacation?

I also posted a photo of the sign by the Anini Beach entrance in my blog last year. Here it is:

 David last January - starting down

David last January – starting down

Well, here’s the sign this year:

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It’s further degenerated to include the word ‘pis.’ Haha. (No. We’re not angry.)

I captured a lot of photos along the golf course of the tropical foliage and birds. For example, who doesn’t love the ‘Bird of Paradise’

It's a bird, right?

It’s a bird, right?

Or the Hibiscus, the Hawaiian state flower:

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The Ginger blossom below comes in a variety of colors

orange ginger

orange ginger

I’m not sure what this next flower is

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a Great Uncle to the Queen Emma lily? (pictured below):

Fancy bouffant hairdo!

Fancy bouffant hairdo!

otherwise known as the ‘Giant Spider Lily.’

Not to be confused with … giant spiders:

Web large enough to trap a human?

Web large enough to trap a human?

Eric is terrified of spiders and I freak out over webs so we assigned David the lead on morning hikes – especially since he towers over us by a good six inches. Carry a big stick to knock down webs before they encase your face and upper torso!

What you are seeing is the common Kauai garden spider. They’re all over the place. They spin a broad classic round orb web, usually with a zigzag band of silk running through the center. Here you see a closeup of a female, with yellow and black stripes.

Kauai's common garden spider - 'Argiope aurantia'

Kauai’s common garden spider – ‘Argiope aurantia’

And now a special bonus for you spider lovers…

Two garden spiders. Can you find them?:

There's (at least?) two garden spiders in this photo

There’s (at least?) two garden spiders in this photo

Hint: Look on opposite sides of the picture. The one on the left – you can see the zigzag band of silk running through the center of its web.

Doesn’t that just make your day?

We always see Nene geese, the Kauai State Bird (an endangered species) near the golf course

Yay, babies!

Yay, babies!

And mating Albatross,

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Two more early evening photos of the Princeville golf course,

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Jan 12, 6:19 PM

Jan 12, 6:19 PM

Driving past the Princeville fountain now…

January  2016

January 2016

To shop at the the local grocery store, Foodland.

David and Steph entering Foodland

David and Steph entering Foodland

Headed back to our car now with groceries. Not even 20 feet from the front door, on the walkway to the store’s entrance, we see this hen

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with her clutch of tiny chicks.

And inside the store they charge 8 dollars a dozen for free range eggs?

Yeah, well you just try to catch a chicken, or find their nest …