Archive for February, 2017

Larsen’s Beach, Kauai

February 24, 2017

Today is Friday, February 24, 2017. I just stepped out our front door and snapped this photo.

Ugh

Ugh

Southeast Idaho weather forecast calls for, uh, basically, February going out like a lion and March coming in like a lion. We’re not even getting above freezing during the day for at least a week. Never mind night-time temperatures.

No matter. How about we head back to Larsen’s beach in Kauai! My previous blog left off with the magnificent Albatross nesting on a bluff above the shoreline along Larsen’s Beach.

We’ve parked the car at the end of Koolau Road, a dirt road, and have reached the trailhead to the beach:

Deadly unseen currents have killed how many?

Deadly unseen currents have killed how many?

Okay, okay we won’t go swimming! Larsen’s beach is a remote and undeveloped north shore beach. So remote, that a section of it is a nude beach. One link I read said “if you are interested in sunbathing nude on Kauai, Larsen’s would be your first choice, followed by Secret Beach.” You know, FYI, if you happen to be a ‘naturist’ and find yourself in Kauai.

I took this photo of the view of the beach from the trailhead.

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And here is a panoramic youtube video of Larsen’s beach you might enjoy, as if you were standing near the trailhead right now, taking in the view and sounds of the ocean. (You’re totally there at this moment, right? How could you not be?)

Our destination is to make it about two miles to the arch that sits on an outcrop of lava rock. You hike about 1/3 mile down a steep path through a brushy landscape to get to the beach. A bit further and you run into naturist sunbathing monk seals. To be honest here, at this juncture I had lost my flair for taking photos, on account of Eric now had an iPhone and he was even more maniacal about getting “just the right photo” then I ever was. So, for example, whereas I stood back a bit from the seals, Eric went right up to one, and startled it, and it spit at him just as you would expect from a Llama or angry redneck or something. So here’s my photo:

Monk seal spits at Eric

Monk seal spits at Eric

Eric also beat me to the punch of advertising our Kauai trip by posting his photos on Facebook, the very day he took them. Here is his photo of the monk seal (I jacked it off his FB page), which is outstandingly more fabulous than mine

Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species

Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species

And then, HIS photos of the sea turtles we encountered just a few feet further along the beach:

Eric's photo of sea turtles

Eric’s photo of sea turtles

Aha, but, I’m the one who captured the video – a live action video of sea turtles on the beach. Granted they move slightly faster on land than say, snails, so maybe the idea of watching a 54-second ‘action’ video of beached sea turtles is not your idea of how you’d choose to spend precious remaining time in your life that you’ll never get back. But hey, just trust me on this one: (Eat your heart out, Eric)

When we made it to the arch of course Eric and I were both in a frenzy trying to capture the best view of the waves crashing up along the rocks at the best moment. Here’s my photo, a pretty darned good photo in my opinion:

Pretty darned good photo of waves cresting around the arch

Pretty darned good photo of waves cresting around the arch

But Eric had to one-up me by climbing down on the rocks, dragging David along, to zero in for a closer photo:

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No, but even that’s not good enough. Here in this video you see him directing David, “Let’s move over there for a closer, more direct view”

Eric gets the purr-fect photo of the arch

Eric gets the purr-fect photo of the arch

Yeah, well how about taking a video of me right now chewing the cuticle off the circumference of my middle fingernail. Look behind you, Eric! One rogue wave could come crashing up and carry you off to join the sea turtles, which, by the way, contrary to what you might see in a movie, a turtle isn’t going to rescue you from drowning and transport you safely back to shore on its back.

Eric is heading back across the lower rocks now… with the arch in the background

Here’s a couple of photos I took of the north shore coastline as we begin our hike back…

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Plus one extra photo of these two macho dudes, David and Eric, whom, I’m grateful to report, survived Eric’s quest to capture the world’s most infinitely awesome photo of the arch along Larsen’s Beach.

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However, when all was said and done, it was David who proved himself the most macho.

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The Day of the Layson Albatross

February 16, 2017

Sunday, January 22, 2017 – our third full day in Kauai. It’s cloudy and blustery today.

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We’re hanging out at Steph and Vic’s house contemplating plans for the day, when we hear a racket outside on the golf course. Albatross!

There’s three of them. One is waddling alone near the back patio

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While two more are engaged in an elaborate synchronized mating dance. I capture some of it on video:

The pair carried on for several more minutes. What a treat it was to witness! According to this link, Albatross courtship is unique among seabirds, both in its complexity and its duration. Males and females engage in a coordinated dance, facing each other, and what you are witnessing in my video is bill “clappering” (in which the bill is quickly opened and closed repeatedly); “sky calling” (in which the bird lifts its bill to the sky, uttering a call like the “moo” of a cow); and fanning the wings while prancing in place. These displays are performed in repeating cycles for up to an hour each, numerous times per day. This behavior allows potential mates to evaluate each others’ suitability as long-term partners.

Albatrosses appear to bond for life. After the initial courtship phase is over, the elaborate courtship rituals are much reduced or abandoned altogether in subsequent years. Researchers believe that this mating dance functions more in choosing a mate than in the long term maintenance of the pair bond.

Here is a youtube video with a closer view of the mating dance taken on Kauai on Valentine’s Day, 2015. Hmmmm. Considering the 50+ percent divorce rate in America, (higher for second and third marriages), maybe we should mimic the mating ritual of Albatrosses. Instead of lavishing our heart’s desire with valentines, chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and expensive dinners on Valentine’s day, we should engage each other in a face to face mating dance involving synchronized hoots, flings, grabs and bends, claps, slapping our teeth, strutting, and skyward calls in hour-long sessions, repeated throughout the day. You know, to test our compatibility with a new love interest. Plus, think of the added bonus of counting each step on our fit bits!

I Googled “Albatrosses on Kauai’ and came across this very interesting blog by Cathy Granholm, “My Albatross Diary” , documenting current news about the Layson Albatrosses in Princeville, Kauai. Cathy lives in Princeville from November to July. She has had an albatross nest in her yard for three years in a row. She monitors the Laysan albatross nests in yards and on golf courses throughout the community of Princeville. Her last blog was published on Jan 2, 2017, featuring Kirwan, the most photographed Albatross in Princeville. I wonder if my photo of the solitary albatross is Kirwan?

On the afternoon of that same day, Eric, David and I decided to take our favorite north shore Island hike, to Larsen’s Beach, home of a large nesting area for Albatross. The nesting area sits atop a rock cliff and is off limits to humans. We saw many Albatross flying overhead and I caught several photos. Whereas Albatross waddle and look clumsy when they walk, they are magnificently graceful sea birds when they fly. Here’s some of my photos of Albatross in flight:

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Of course, Larsen’s beach is also a napping spot for endangered monk seals and sunbathing sea turtles. We met both of these magnificent species on the beach as well. I have photos. And action videos. (Of napping monk seals?) You betcha. And of sunbathing sea turtles. Here, I’ll give you a teaser:

Okay, well, not a lot of action there. And the sea turtles will have to wait. Somehow their introduction here would pale against the captivating life-force of the Layson Albatross.

Kauai – 1-21-2017

February 10, 2017

Saturday, January 21, 2017 – Our second full day in Kauai. Forecast: Wind and high surf. Sustained winds expected throughout the day at 40-60 mph. Wind chill? In southeast Idaho that would translate into a minus 45-degree instant deepfreeze. But in Kauai? Hey, we’ll take it!

Started the morning out with a walk in Princeville, around the fountain, and alongside the Golf course. We plan to do this three-mile walk every morning. This morning we passed a flock of feral chickens and two tangling roosters – in a cock fight! The roosters were too far away to photograph or video the first time we passed them, but then a good twenty minutes later on our return trip, there they were – still at it! and close enough to capture a photo:

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Don’t leave a good fight unresolved! Their stamina was quite remarkable. I wondered if roosters actually fight to the death. This Chicken Run rescue site provides some interesting insight: The rooster’s mission is to protect and serve the flock. Alpha rooster is boss, enjoying first position in everything from liberties with the hens (hmmm), to fighting incomers, to “leading the pack” and settling disputes in the flock.

A beta male shares some duties with the alpha but must be careful not to overstep his boundaries. The alpha/beta structure in the flock is challenged all the time. The alpha male constantly reminds the beta and all his subordinates who’s boss. Authority needs to be reinforced and reasserted constantly or the structure will fall apart.

These two roosters looked completed exhausted by the time we passed them the second time – like we were witnessing the final round of a heavyweight boxing match. I caught this video.

I suppressed an urge to intervene and separate them (for about one second, boy is that a stupid idea). They were both so nearly spent. Here’s another “Backyard Chickens”, link with some interesting tidbits: Hen fights are quick and decisive. Hens will content themselves with a short pecking session before a pecking order is decided. (Ouch! Gives life to the expression “Hen-pecked”.)

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Roosters, on the other hand, take a lot more convincing. The head rooster establishes his dominance first, then the other roosters sort things out between themselves. Cock fighting, while an unnerving thing to watch, is a necessary part of the rooster pecking order. The fight only becomes serious when one rooster decides he doesn’t want another beta rooster in the flock.

As for these two roosters? Well, the very next day we walked by the flock (of maybe a dozen chickens) and there were two roosters.

So what to do on a windy day when the surf is high? Visit Lumaha’i Beach! – on the north shore, a few miles west of Hanalei. The beach is sheltered from the wind. You park along the highway and drop down into it on a short steep path. We are there now, and yes, the surf is high. I took a video. (Turn up your volume and you will hear the crowing of a rooster, at least twice… the second one crowing quite confidently at the end of the video.)

We walked the beach. Victor captured a photo of me with my arm wrapped around lonesome ol ‘coconut man’ (???) standing by himself on the beach.

Love is in the air

Love is in the air

Walking back to the car now. You can see how steep the path is:

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Life is good.

Also, today, January 21, 2017, is one day after Trump’s inauguration, and the day of the Women’s March on Washington DC. The march on DC, by itself, drew an estimated 500,000 people, protesting against the political positions of Donald Trump, advocating for the preservation of human rights. This march on DC was among the largest in American history, equivalent in size to the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations of the 60’s and 70’s.

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Sister marches for human rights erupted across all 50 US states, 60 countries, and seven continents, including Antarctica. The global march ultimately included 5 million people. Here’s an interesting link with a treasure trove of information and photos about the Sister Marches, including the location of every march. Our home town of Idaho Falls is on the list – my town made me proud!

Here’s the Wikipedia page for the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. It states the goals of the march as: “Protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families – recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.” Lastly, a link from CBS News with a slide show of the best signs from women’s marches around the world.

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Oh, and one more interesting tidbit. Just one week after this march, the world welcomed in the Chinese New Year. Out with the year of the Monkey! Saturday, January 28 began the year of the …. Rooster!

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January Escape

February 5, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017. We hit the road from Idaho Falls about 4pm – David, me, and my brother, Eric, cruising along I-15 South to Salt Lake City.

David is driving, Eric is riding shotgun, I’m in the back seat shooting photos of the winter landscape sailing past us at 80 mph.

By 5 pm we are flying past McCammon, Idaho:

McCammon, Idaho

McCammon, Idaho

The outside temperature is about 18 degrees. The snow has been accumulating for several weeks, turning the landscape into a pristine winter wonderland. We pass through Downey, Idaho, as the sun is setting:

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Downey, Idaho

Downey, Idaho

Then Malad City at 5:20:

Farm equipment in dormancy

Farm equipment in dormancy

We’ve entered Utah now. The town of Portage is peeping through the frozen landscape like a buried single strand of Christmas lights.

Portage, Utah

Portage, Utah

Fast forward 16 hours … Thursday, January 19, 10:30 am:

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The Phoenix airport (!)

We’re on our way to Kauai. On American Airlines. Caught the 6:50 am flight from Salt Lake to Phoenix. Will fly directly from Phoenix to Lihue, Kauai.

It’s a six-hour flight to Lihue. Sleep is good. Reading … Sleep … Suddenly the islands come into view.

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Flying over the big Island, Hawaii …

The Big Island

The Big Island

Now Kauai!! That might be the Napali Coast? Not sure …

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We’ve landed in Kauai

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Here’s where I pinch myself. My sister Steph and husband Victor live part of the year in Princeville, Kauai, and every January for the past five years they have invited David, Eric and I to come for a 10-day visit. I have blogged about the adventures of all our previous trips, 39 blogs, total. You can find these blogs in my ‘Kauai’ category.

Princeville is on the north-central edge of the island, about a 45-minute drive from Lihue. We hop into a rented SUV and head toward Princeville. First order of business: Meet up with Steph and Vic at the Kilauea’s Farmer’s Market.

It opens at 4:30. People gather in droves and line up to shop before it opens.

Kilauea Farmer's Market - 4:27 pm - open in three minutes!

Kilauea Farmer’s Market – 4:27 pm – open in three minutes!

At 4:30 on the dot, a farmer toots his truck horn and the shopping frenzy begins …

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Sample some star fruit!

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I took a picture of this red fruit below, but don’t know what they are. They look a bit like raspberries, but they are hard, like cranberries:

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This is egg fruit:

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I sampled it – it was too weird for me.

Eric carries our basket of spoils, all of it organic

Fresh organic produce!

Fresh organic produce!

Homeward to Princeville. Princeville was named after Prince Albert, the son of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, who died in 1862 at the age of four. A Roman fountain, constructed in the 1980’s, graces the entrance to Princeville.

The fountain was made famous in the 2011 movie “The Descendents” starring George Clooney. However, the fountain is soon being removed and replaced by something more reflective of native Kauai. So I took one more picture of it:

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Our first big adventure took place on Friday morning, January 20. (No, it wasn’t watching Trump’s Inauguration.) We decided to go back to the “Hissing Dragon” – Victor had never seen it. Although it involves a bit of a trek around a ledge of rocks that lead you out to a point, the adventure that awaits you at the end renders it totally worth it.

I wore flip flops the first time Eric enticed us to go, thinking it was a walk on the beach. This is my third time and I’m wearing sensible shoes tightly tethered to my feet. And I’m too busy trying to keep my footing to take many photos. I took this one, though, of Steph, Eric and Victor behind me:

Hiking to the Hissing Dragon

Hiking to the Hissing Dragon

We hear this sucking noise on this flat outcrop of rock which turns into a blowhole when the waves come crashing in. I took a video.

As you approach the point you receive a foreshadowing of what’s to come… a dragon’s roar coming out of a large crack in the rock face. I stopped, listened, then took a video of the crack. Yes, it’s a video of a crack. But if you turn your sound up full blast you’ll hear the roar of the Hissing Dragon:

Be forewarned …

We’re at the point now. The tide is high. There’s a cavernous hole where the dragon leaps out at you. Eric beat us there. We arrived just in time to see Eric out on the rocks facing the hole with his camera, you know, to get a good shot, when a huge wave came crashing in behind him. We scream at him to move out of the way (!!) – just in time. My heart leaps out of my chest. Whew! I stood safely alongside the hole and took this video of the ‘Dragon’

But Eric did manage to get his video facing the dragon hole. He posted it on his Facebook page. Check this out!

Click on this link <a href="http://https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Feric.seneff.98%2Fvideos%2F234042560339373%2F&show_text=0&width=560“>link to see Eric’s video that he took facing Hissing Dragon’s hole.

I downloaded his video from his FB page – which I guess is why the link is so sprawled out. But you get the picture …

The Dragon almost ate him.

I took a photo of Eric – after we turned to head back. Soaked from head to toe. Even the cats on his shirt have gone berserk over the experience.

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I took some photos on the hike back…

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Victor, Steph, Eric

Victor, Steph, Eric

Needless to say, we feel we’ve earned a beer break by the time we get back off the rocks.

David

David

Uh, you might want to keep an eye on that tree to your right, David. Those giant tentacles look as though they could spring alive at any moment, reach out and grab your leg, entrap you. Then, in one stroke, pull you under that tree trunk, suck you up into some alternate realm, the tree itself, OMG!, in one hop to the left, could overtake and devour you!

I dunno, maybe I’m just a little paranoid after coming face to face again with the Hissing Dragon.