Archive for the ‘Kauai’ Category

Hurricane Iniki, Coco Palms Resort, and Feral Chickens

February 17, 2019

Kauai trip, Jan. 2019 – Part 3 …

Woke up this morning to find that, sure enough, it’s still winter.

Idaho Falls, 10 am Sunday, Feb 17, 2019 –

Whereas in Kauai I would be listening to the sounds of ocean surf and Albatross mating calls, here in Idaho it’s the whirr-whirr-whirring of snowblowers:

Next door neighbor at 10 am this morning.

Not that Kauai doesn’t have its fair share of storms. On February 10, 2019 – just a week ago, a potent storm slammed Hawaii with 191-mph winds and 60-foot waves, and even dropped snow on Maui. Here check out this Washington post link on the storm!

The most famous storm to hit Kauai was hurricane Iniki. It struck the Island on September 11, 1992 at peak intensity with 145mph winds and gusts up to 225mph. There is still evidence of the hurricane today, with feral chickens running everywhere

Which begs the question: “Why did the chicken cross the road?”

You’d think in Kauai, free-range chicken would be offered ‘cheep-ly’ and abundantly in the grocery stores.

But just try to catch a feral chicken! Then if you do, try to cook it for proper tenderness, which reminds me of a joke Victor likes to tell:

“How long do you boil a Kauai feral chicken?”

“Boil a rock, and when you get it tender enough to eat – that’s how long you boil a Kauai feral chicken.”

Kauai had been home to underground cock-fighting and thus, when hurricane Iniki hit 26 years ago, many chicken coops were blown apart, freeing the chickens and roosters on the island. Except there are no mongooses or other natural predators to hunt them or eat their eggs and so their population has exploded since the hurricane.

Feral pigs and goats proliferate as well, and provide great incentive for hunting. Here we passed some hunters with their kill – a wild pig. Laying on top of the caged hunting dogs – good job, dogs! (At least four dogs? – with proud expressions.)

Jan 27, 2019

We ran into a guy on one hike who was off hunting with his rifle for feral goats.

In my previous blog I talked about the 48-inch rain that hit the north shore of Kauai last April, and how a section of Kuhio Road is still closed today, nine months later, from the damage. Well, you might have heard of the Coco Palms resort in Kauai. It was built in 1953, on 32 acres, including a 17-acre coconut grove of over 2000 trees that had been planted in 1896 by a German named William Lindeman.

The Coco Palms Resort became a popular hotspot among royalty and stars. Scenes from the 1958 movie South Pacific were shot at Coco Palms. Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby were regular visitors, as were the Von Trapp Family Singers. It was a favorite hang-out for Elvis Presley. They filmed the wedding scene in Elvis’s movie Blue Hawaii at this resort. By the early 1970’s the hotel had grown to over 400 rooms, and hosted over 500 weddings a year. It had been a Hawaii landmark for 40 years … until Iniki hit…

A blog (link here) written by Daniel Thorne – contains some very interesting information – he toured the resort in 2008 and provided photos and this map of the original resort in his blogpost (thank you Daniel):

On January 27, 2019, David, Eric and I drove right past the Coco Palms resort. I had seen this blocks-long abandoned concrete structure on previous trips and didn’t know what it was. Well, my friend, it’s the Coco Palms Resort – what’s left of it – still standing untouched today, 26 years after it was destroyed by hurricane Iniki.

Coco Palms resort – Wailua, Kauai

The Coco Palms resort sits on the mouth of the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai, about seven miles north of Lihue, which also happens to be an ancient site of Hawaiian royal property that has been in dispute since 1866. Roadblock after roadblock has deterred progress on repairing or re-developing the property. Ownership groups battled insurance companies (already bankrupted by Iniki) and struggled to get the money to rebuild. Local cultural activists continued to lobby against redevelopment to protect the sacred Hawaiian ground. Anyway, there have been several attempts at redevelopment. Here is a fascinating article about Coco Palms entitled “Abandoned Kaua’i Jewel – the Coco Palms” and a book has been written about it, ‘The Story of Coco Palms Hotel,’ by David Penhallow, who was a good friend of Grace Guslander, the creative force and engine behind the hotel’s original growth and success.

Hurricane Iniki caused an estimated $1.8 billion damage (in 1982 money value) and left residents without power for up to 3 months. Over 1400 homes were completely destroyed and another 7200 were severely damaged. Iniki hit Kauai shortly after Hurricane Andrew leveled south Florida, so Americans were a little hurricane-weary at this point where sympathy and aid were concerned …

Another interesting tid-bit from the article above, “Abandoned Kauai Jewel: The Coco Palms” – Stephen Spielberg and 130 members of his cast and crew were in Kauai filming Jurassic Park when Hurricane Iniki struck. Luckily they were able to find safe refuge in a hotel.

Oh, and by the way, you can still tour the Coco Palms today through Coco Palms Tours and Tees (link here) run by Bob Jasper. And you can also get married (or renew your vows) at the Coco Palms through Blue Hawaii Weddings. (Send resident caretaker Larry Riviera an email: LarryRiviera@hawaiian.net ) The massive coconut grove must still be there.

According to the same article above, by the late 2000’s the resort rapidly disintegrated, despite efforts of various interested investors to try and save it. Meanwhile, copper thieves, ornament hunters and vandals have nearly completely stripped the buildings. In February 2013, thieves broke down hotel walls and made off with four of the resort’s original 8-foot-tall doors, weighing 200-300 pounds each, hand carved from solid Koa wood, valued at $50,000 each, but to the collectors and fans of the Coco Palms they are priceless.

As late as August 2013 a group of Hawaiian investors developed plans to purchase the property. Reconstruction was announced to take between 12-18 months, beginning in 2014, restoring the resort to look very similar to what it was pre-Iniki. But now in 2019, it is clear no progress has been made.

So I dunno – there may be a 32-acre Real estate property available on the Kuhio Highway that sits on the mouth of the Wailua River on the eastern side of Kauai, about seven miles north of Lihue. A 17-acre coconut grove with over 2000 trees is included.

Of course, did I mention that it also sits below the flood plain?

Kauai’s Epic Rainfall, April 14-15, 2018

February 10, 2019

(January 2019 Kauai Trip – Part 2)

Imagine you are visiting or living on the north shore of Kauai near Hanalei in the middle of April, 2018. You wake up on Friday, April 14, 2018 to a hard rain. Forecast calls for a major storm, so you hunker down inside your residence. The storm hits about 5 am but it’s ever more fierce than you imagined. It’s raining HARD, and continuously, throughout the day and into the night. You just can’t believe the persistent pounding on the roof and surfaces outside. Finally in the middle of the night, Friday night, you go out and capture a video: (take a little time here to listen – the sound of rain (albeit in small doses) can be a bit relaxing …)

Video taken Saturday April 16,3:30 AM by Theriault Brigette

Finally by 5 am Saturday the rain begins to subside. This storm turns out to be epic – dumping an average of 2″ an hour in Hanalei – 48 inches in 24 hours! Residents emerge to discover widespread damage and devastation – washed out roads, upturned vehicles, homes on the verge of collapsing or washed away, people stranded. Landslides.

You venture out, manage to get down along Hanalei Bay and witness the aftermath, maybe capture some respectable photos and video of the devastation. Here’s a video from (what must be) a drone, where one can see that Weke road – which runs between multimillion-dollar houses along Hanalei beach, near the dock, is clearly destroyed. So are several houses…

April 2018 Flood-posted by Aaron Feinberg

Rescue teams disperse in helicopters, rafts and jet skis. 152 people are evacuated by helicopter. Flooding sweeps a herd of buffalo away at a nearby ranch and buffalo are stranded in peoples’ yards and in Hanalei Bay. Buffalo stranded in Hanalei Bay? Yes. Someone captured a video of Hawaii cowboys, “Paniolo” on jet skis catching stray buffalo in Hanalei Bay:

Hawaii Paniolo catching buffalo

30 campers are stranded on the Kalalau Trail along the now-isolated Napali Coast. Bad timing for a backpacking trip! Turns out the Kalalau trail and Napali Coast are cut off because the only road going there, ‘Kuhio Highway’ has sections that are completely washed away.

To give you an idea of where this epic rain occurred, here are a couple of maps of Kauai. This first one is of the whole island –

Island of Kauai

This second map is a closeup of the North Shore where the April flood hit the hardest: Hanalei, and Napali Coast…

North Shore

The section of road in red is the Kuhio Highway that connects you to the Napali Coast – Ke’e Beach, Kalalau trail, Lumaha’i Beach… The road is closed because of extensive April 14-15, 2018 flood damage.

So when David, Eric and I visited a couple of weeks ago (Jan 17-31, 2019) we hung out on Hanalei Beach and then decided to take the Kuhio highway over to our favorite beach of all time, why of course, – Lumaha’i Beach! We weren’t even through Hanalei when … What ??

Kuhio Highway

Wow! Nine months after the flood and the highway is still closed? Is there no way to get to Lumaha’i Beach?

Nope. Not unless you have a permit to go past the barrier – and only as part of a convoy that enters and exits the area every 1 1/2 hours. If you live past the barrier, then you get a pass, but you still have to enter and exit the area with the convoy. Say you are a contractor, building a new house or or something past the barrier. You have to get a new permit every Monday (in Lihue) to enter the area for that week, and exit, with the convoy.

We learned much of this from talking to the locals. The Kuhio Highway had literally been washed away in places off the edges of the slopes of the Napali Coast. After removing debris they have to ‘slope scale, stabilize and reinforce’ the road – it’s a massive construction project. Here’s a link with lots of information about the ‘Project Status’ of the road repair – (for you engineering types who would likely find this fascinating):

Project Status as of 12/28/18

The town of Hanalei is fully alive, however, with businesses open and doing fine. Eric even successfully persuaded David and I to walk with him to the end of Hanalei Beach and then further along the rocky coastline to see if we could get to Lumahai Beach on foot. Sure Eric, why not?

We didn’t get too far till we had to turn back!

The end of the beach at Hanalei Bay

Directly parallel to us, off to our left is where the convoy begins. David counted 60 cars that lined up to go through at about 12:45 in the afternoon, January 26, 2019.

Here’s a couple more photos I took of Hanalei Bay as it looks now:

Hanalei Bay

The dock

And a couple of the houses on Weke Road along the beach near the dock that were severely damaged on April 15 and still standing, as if they haven’t even been touched since the flood (insurance settlement issues?? Too unsafe???):

Now dear reader, if you have any time, energy or inclination to look at another April 15, 2018 Kauai flood you-tube video – this last one is really quite interesting. It was posted by a local woman – obviously someone who lives or has lived on or close to the beach here where the flood took out these houses. Anyway, she provides close-up coverage of the flooding around the houses on the beach and interesting commentary about the building of these (multi-million dollar?) houses in this unfortunate location:

Weke Road Flood update Hanalei 5-2-18- Felicia Alongi Cowden

And lastly, wouldn’t you still like to get to the fabulous Lumaha’i Beach? Dang! Well, you’re in luck because I can take you there. Here is a video of the beach I took on a previous trip to Kauai, way before the flood – posted in one of my previous Kauai blogs – link here.

Although my video doesn’t hold a candle to a video I found on You tube of the same spot: click on this video by Cyndi Totti – taken on January 20, 2016, during record high surf with an added bonus of lots of girls in bikinis diving into the crashing waves (You’re welcome).

Aloha! Now you understand why my brother Eric was coaxing David and I to walk with him along the treacherous rocky coastline beyond the barrier to get to Lumaha’i Beach!

Meanwhile, back at home in Idaho at the moment …

Sunday, Feb 10, 2019

Yeah. Nature pretty much gets her way.

No worries. We’ve hired a crew to shovel us out. They’ve just pulled up in front of our house

Sweet!

Young strapping males

Feb 10- 5 PM – Yes!!

Oh, BTW- After every hike on the beach at Hanalei we do have the option of refreshing ourselves with a round of Iniki Mai Tais at the Kalypso Restaurant in Hanalei.

Kalypso, Jan 21, 2019 3:15 pm

And feed off of my brother Eric’s infectious energy.

Although look at those eyes. What new mischief is he up to? Devising another lawless scheme to get us past that barrier over to Lumaha’i Beach? Hmmm. Seems likely. What do you think?

Oh, and by the way, click on this link if you’d like to give to the Kauai Relief and Recovery Fund through the Hawai’i Community Foundation.

Winter Albatross

February 8, 2019

February in like a lion

Thursday, February 7, 2019 – Southeast Idaho News headline:

Snow event declared in Idaho Falls, move your vehicles

What? Out of the garage? We have to shovel first!

I snapped a photo of David a few minutes ago, shoveling off our back deck

Thursday, Feb 7, 2019

You know, to help us cope with this problem:

Rudy wants in!

I don’t know about you, but I need a tropical vacation. It’s only February and the extended forecast calls for more, uh … Well here, nothing says it like a photo – a screenshot of our extended forecast:

just deal with it

Winter blahs, anyone? Hey, I know! Let’s jet off to my happy place! Kauai!! David and I travel there every January to visit my sister Steph and husband Victor who own a house in Princeville, where they live about half the year. David and I, and my brother Eric have visited Steph and Vic in Kauai every January since 2011 – we returned from our latest trip just a week ago – February 1st. I’ve blogged about our trips every year (45+ Kauai blogs!). So this year I thought, what the heck, forget the blogs. Enough already!

Except, how to get through February? I know of no other way but to jet back to Kauai. Are you on board?? Ready for takeoff…

Uh, not there yet. We’re still on our 6-hour flight from Denver to Lihue, Kauai. My legs have gelled into tingling blobs from sitting so long … looking for scenery now, besides ocean… Oh look! An Island!

Not sure what Hawaiian island this is, just great to see land

Yes! Mid-afternoon, Thursday Jan 17, we’ve landed in Lihue, rented the SUV, driven about an hour to the north shore, and are circling the familiar fountain – Princeville! – just blocks away from Steph and Vic’s house now.

Fountain in Princeville

I don’t know about you, but it takes me a day or two to decompress and relax into vacation. Take in the views, tropical foliage, fauna, and smells. Soak up the sun. Let the ocean breezes caress your face… Breathe in … Release… Relax into your happy place!! Here, let me take you there …

First of all, sit on the patio in a reclining chair, stretch out your legs. Take in this view overlooking the golf course to the ocean:

Paradise

Notice the albatross. Albatross? Yeah, that huge bird out there in the grass – one of the most magnificent birds on the planet. They have to run along the ground, into the wind, to take off but they are highly efficient in the air, using dynamic soaring to cover great distances with little exertion. According to this article, they are capable of traveling 10,000 miles in a single journey and circumventing the globe in 46 days – they manage to fly without expending almost any energy.

Sit a while, and they’ll fly overhead, dip and glide parallel to the ground, swirl back up, here you will see two …

and maybe just maybe, they will land a few feet in front of you.

Adolescent albatross engaging in mating dance

The Layson albatross is a large seabird that ranges across the North Pacific. They fly south from Alaska and the Arctic and arrive on the north and west shores of Kauai in mid-November each year, some to mate and some to nest and have their young. They stay on the island till Mid-July. Kauai is the only place in the world where albatross can be found in residential areas and on golf courses. They are enormously entertaining!

Take a walk in Princeville and you will likely see an Albatross nesting in someone’s yard. We took a walk near Sea Lodge Beach and spotted this one:

Nesting Albatross. The egg hatches in about 60-64 days

Nearby there were several gathering. Here comes one now… Mr Big Stuff. Look at that swagger!

Adolescent males and females bond through ritualized mating dances that may take place over several years. On January 30 I happened to capture their mating dance on video:

Albatross bond for life and do not find another if their partner dies.

Albatross return to their place of birth to begin the mating dance when they are 3-4 years old. They don’t successfully reproduce (1 egg) until they are 9 or 10. The egg hatches in 60-64 days. Adults with chicks to feed take foraging trips that last up to 17 days and travel 1600 miles away from their nest. It takes about 165 days for a nestling to fledge.

Wisdom, an albatross on Midway Island, is recognized as the oldest wild bird in the world. She was first banded in 1956. Check out this link! to learn more about Wisdom who, at age 66, has hatched chicks two years in a row! (Female human’s worst nightmare.)

If you want to learn more about these fascinating birds here’s a link that poses and answers about every question you could think of to ask about the Albatross.

Also, the link to my blog I wrote a year ago about the Layson Albatross on Kauai with my photos, videos and commentary.

Oh, ahem, one last note on the Albatross, FYI, in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the killing of a ‘harmless albatross” dooms the ship’s crew.

Okay, time to kick your cardiovascular system into gear with a hike down to Anini Beach! Yes, the sign is still there…

Tourists angry. Hike too steep!

David and Eric hike down to Anini Beach, coming back up is the killer…

Anini Beach is serene. Wade in and catch sea cucumbers!

Anini Beach

Something is always in bloom in Paradise

Hibiscus and orchids


Pick mandarin oranges off the trees in your own yard

Okay, are you there yet? Relaxed? Basking in the wonders of Paradise? Good!

Back in Idaho today we did get shoveled out!

Feb 7, 2019

Me, personally? I’m looking forward to waking up tomorrow to a Kauai sunrise

And maybe checking out Hanalei Bay. Are you coming along?

Aloha, Kauai – Hello Winter

February 21, 2018

In the words of Nelly Furtado:

Flames to dust
Lovers to friends
Why do all good things come to an end?

Alas, the sun is setting on our 10-day trip to Kauai. I try to stave off the melancholy that worms its way into my consciousness toward the end of our trip. As a culminating celebration on the evening of our last full day, the five of us – David and I, Steph and Vic, and my brother Eric – always go out to dinner at the Baracuda in Hanalei. My brother Eric sits on the end of the table, to my left, and I turn to him. “Do it, Eric …”

Eric knows. It’s become a yearly ritual – his duty to cheer me up with his “My heart beats for you” routine:

There. You’re feeling better now too, aren’t you? So sad to leave Kauai.

Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll share a few last photos before we head to the airport.

A last Kauai sunrise:

And Steph and Vic’s bird feeder – which not only attracts hoards of birds, but Nene geese and an egret as well:

One Layson albatross hung out about every day behind Steph and Vic’s house, as if waiting for the swoop of an interested suitor, making the mating noises with the clapping of its beak, and the whining – one day another albatross swooped in several times and then landed and they danced together.

Often though, this albatross would wait there patiently, occasionally flap its wings and finally fly off.

The Albatross is a totally different bird in flight:

Layson Albatross in flight above Larsen’s Beach

Our last day, Saturday, Jan 27, Eric, David and I climbed the Nounou Mountain Trail East to the top of Sleeping Giant. You don’t want to do this hike under wet conditions. We had had a couple of sunny days and decided to do it. The path that takes you up on top of the Giant’s head is about 4 miles round trip with about 1000 ft elevation.

Sleeping Giant’s Head

The hike is considered moderately difficult, but you’d better wear good shoes:

David

Eric and David

Almost to the top of his head now..

You can do it!

On top!

Here’s my video of the panoramic view on top of Sleeping Giant

Eric on top:

Headed back down now.

David

We beat Eric down. I caught a picture of him coming out at the trail head.

Saturday, Jan 27, 2018

Okay, time to wash the mud out of our shoes, take a shower, get our shit together for the airport.

Wait! One last photo of Kauai – near Anahola …

And my favorite photo of Eric on Larsen’s Beach:

And my sister Stephanie with the sea turtle:

Larsen’s Beach

Stop it, Jody.

Okay. Facing the inevitable. We’re at the airport in Lihue now – waiting to board the 11:15 pm red-eye to L.A.

Goodbye, Paradise!

So sad…

Vacation’s over!

Except Eric. Eric is interminably happy.

David and Eric fall off to sleep as soon as the plane to L.A. takes off. I know because I’m wedged between them, in the middle seat, hardly able to move my arms or legs, wide awake. The plane is pitch black dark so we can sleep. But of course, I never can sleep. Or I perceive that I’m totally not sleeping. But I must doze a bit. How else to endure that petrified seated position for six straight hours?

Descending for the landing in L.A. – 6:30 am, Sunday morning:

We arrive at Gate 50 or something and just need to go to 52A to catch our flight to Salt Lake. Great – look it’s just ahead there to the left! Oh… then down this staircase…

Into a long line to an outside door to … catch a bus?

Outside now on the tarmac … Waiting for the bus…

‘Good morning, L.A.!’

Get a seat on the bus!! We did. Sat and watched the line and luggage pile in, one after another – cramming into the seats and then filling the standing room in the aisle clear up to the bus driver. I picked up my phone from where I was sitting and captured a photo:

Happy happy joy joy

It was a ten minute bus ride to our gate in the far flung American Airlines terminal. We unload and head into the terminal – oh that’s right, I remember! There is one food concession in the whole terminal. Jump in line! We’re starving.

We thought we were half nuts to get in line since we were about 20 people back. But we still had a good 45 minutes until boarding our flight to Salt Lake. No. We were totally sane. Look at the line piling up behind us! (Yes, I took photos. How else to entertain myself as the line inched forward?)

I stepped out of line and took a photo of David, with the line ahead of us –

David in line with his calm ‘whatever’ face

Then photos of the line building behind us

Eric, David and I ordered 3 ham, egg and cheese mcmuffin type sandwiches with coffee – so hot we couldn’t drink it. But it didn’t matter so much, when it cooled down enough to take a sip it was so bitter I couldn’t stomach it anyway. Not that I didn’t try. I knocked a wave of hot coffee on my leg before boarding our flight to Salt Lake.

Here we are in flight:

Flight to Salt Lake, Sunday Jan 28

11 am – landing in Salt Lake!

From here we drove the nearly 3-hour drive home to Idaho Falls.

This area of the country has enjoyed one of the mildest January’s on record. These peaks are usually blanketed in snow this time of year. In Idaho Falls the temperatures have been hovering in the 40’s, 10-15 degrees above normal.

We’re home in Idaho now. A consistent ‘Where’s Waldo’ activity keeps our minds and bodies busy in the back yard, complements of our miniature poodle, Rudy.

Find the dog turds:

There’s actually two of them, should I zoom in?

Yea, getting back into the routine. Here’s what our back yard looked like yesterday:

Feb 20, 2018 – 11:19 am

A skiff of snow hoisted on 20 MPH winds with a forecasted high of 16 degrees.

So yeah, winter in southeast Idaho is not going anywhere …

Kauai “Where’s Waldo” Brain Plasticity Adventure

February 17, 2018

Still in KauaI!

View of North Coast from Sea Lodge Beach

I have so many Kauai nature photos to share, with no cohesive story, thought I’d do a ‘Where’s Waldo’ activity of sorts – combine my “find the critter” photos into a 10-minute brain exercise, if you will … think, brain plasticity!

I will identify where I took each photo – say, for example, in planning your next trip to Kauai, you want to avoid spiders, or something…

Like this spider I spotted on the trail to Larsen’s Beach:

Find the spider

Do you see it? It’s directly above center in the photo. Zoom in for a closer look… I know you want to:

Common Kauai garden spider

Beautiful! How many spiders in this web above our heads? Zoom in on the web and count them:

How many spiders in this photo?

You’re not that curious, you say? Ready for the answer? ……………………………………………………….

Eight.

(You seriously don’t want to be the first person in the morning breaking trail.)

Walking toward our car now, at the trailhead to Larsen’s Beach. Whoa! A big honking snail!

Find the snail

Crossing the road. Oh no! I took a video:

About as much action as you will capture from a snail…

David rescued it:

One hunk of a snail

Put it on Stephanie’s shoulder

‘Aloha’

Not shy, but surely soon dead had we not moved it to the grass…

Find the lizard:

In Stephanie and Victor’s garden

Now find the lizard, on our hike to Sleeping Giant:

Hint: upper left quadrant

Don’t make yourself cross-eyed. The sun is shining on her head and she is looking right at you. Same lizard is a bit easier to find in this photo:

See its head sticking out?

She’s just above the center of the photo.

Find the ‘Sleeping Giant’:

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

That whole mountain, Nounou Mountain, is Sleeping Giant- Local legend has it that a giant who attended a party given in his honor feasted so much that he laid down for a nap and never awoke. Follow his head, on the left, over his chest, to his feet on the right.

Sleeping Giant’s Head:

Hike to the head of Sleeping Giant

Sleeping Giant, near Kapaa, is one of the most popular hikes on Kauai. Here’s a fun, informational link about Sleeping Giant. It’s 4-mile hike (and 1000-ft elevation gain) from the trailhead to the top of his head and back. Once you are on top you can hike from the hair on his head to his ‘chinny-chin-chin.’ Here we are on top – can you find the two other hikers on top in this photo?

Easy to see one hiker, where’s the second one?

Quite difficult to find the second hiker. Here – I’ll zoom in!

‘On top of the world, Ma!’

Back down to the beach now – Aliomanu Beach. Among the ‘rocks’ ahead, which one is a monk seal?

There’s a Monk Seal?

Hard to guess. Not so hard when you practically step on it. It’s the shape furthest up on the bank. Sunning himself… Here – I took a video, brace yourself for the action:

Just enough action to prove the shape isn’t a rock

Speaking of rocks, find Eric:

Hike to Hissing Dragon – where’s Eric?

Find the horse on the trail ahead of us:

What horse?

We were hiking the Mahogany Plantation Trail. The trailhead is right at the Kileua Farmer’s Market. It is flat and beautiful. There were several horses grazing and signs that read “Do not touch the horses” – which seemed like a set-up because this horse would not move out of our way, until David swatted it on the butt.

Here’s more photos of the Mahogany Plantation hike:

Find the bird in Stephanie and Victor’s back garden:

Find the bird

‘You’re giving me a headache!” you say. Okay this one’s difficult. Hint: It’s perched underneath the bushiest blossom on the flower that’s furthest left. (Read that aloud five times for extra brain boosting.)

This one’s a bit fun: How many chicks in this video? (taken at the top of the “ANGER US CONDITIONS” trail to Anini Beach in Princeville):

I don’t know either. They really don’t want you to count them. 5?…6?

Find the way around the mud:

There isn’t a way.

But we’re on a great hike – the Kuilau Ridge trail near Wailua – a 2 1/2 mile hike through the rain forest, only muddy in places. Here’s a couple of photos I took near the summit:

Kuilau Ridge Trail

Lastly, what’s wrong with this picture?

Two highly-paid consultants

We all piled in the car in a big hurry to shop at the Waipu Farmer’s Market, near Hanalei – had to get there – quick! with the mob, when it opened. Not sure what David’s excuse is with his shorts, but Victor did put his sandals on in a hurry.

Finally, dear reader, here’s a beach video for you. To help you decompress after all that brain exercise:

A walk on Kahili Beach. Yeah, that’s better…

Who friggin’ needs brain plasticity exercises anyway?

Kauai and the Love-Struck Layson Albatross

February 12, 2018

Back to Princeville on the north shore of Kauai … I always look forward to watching the magnificent sea birds, the Layson Albatross. There are 22 species of albatross ranging widely in the Southern Ocean and the North Pacific. They are absent from the North Atlantic. So if you live on the east coast of the US you won’t see them. The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to 97.5% of the Layson Albatross.

Layson Albatross near Steph and Vic’s back yard

Check out this Audubon link for a marvelous photo of a Layson albatross and her young. Albatross breed on Kauai during the months of November to July. They leave their breeding grounds and evidently most go northwest toward Japan, then northeast toward Aleutians, before turning south toward Hawaii again. Non-breeders may wander anywhere in the North Pacific at any season.

Incubation for a albatross egg is 64-65 days. The period from hatching to fledging is 165 days. A young albatross returns to its breeding grounds three years after fledging, and first breeds at the age of 7-9 years. (Check out this wikipedia link on Layson Albatross.) It takes several years of courtship for a male and female to bond, but they bond for life. The courtship involves the use of ritualized dances – up to 25 different movements. So if you visit the northern shore of Kauai between November and July, you can witness their courting – ritualized dances. It’s quite entertaining!

On Saturday, January 20, 2018, David Eric and I were walking near the golf course when we came upon a group of four adolescent albatrosses engaging each other in a mating dance. I captured a video. They make such a racket with their whirring, clucking, whistling, and beak clapping, you usually can hear them before you see them!

We stood 30 feet away and kept watching them. They seemed a bit oblivious to us, they were so engaged in each other.

Soon two albatrosses wandered away from the others to continue their dance. They look so clumsy and awkward on land the way they waddle! (In the background of the video you will also see another albatross nesting near the bushes.)

Be patient with the video and see what happens when one albatross walks away …

I think of the Beatles song “Hello, Goodbye” when watching the Albatross mating ritual.

You say yes, I say no
You say stop, and I say go go go, oh no

You say goodbye and I say hello
Hello hello

I don’t know why you say goodbye I say hello

I say high, you say low…

Here’s a link to marvelous video I found on You-tube of two albatrosses engaged in, shall I say, a ‘passionate’ mating dance – (Oh, you might want to skip the ad and turn your sound down – they make quite a racket!) Well worth watching this video, however, warn the person in the next room that you are about to play it… based on the experience at my house … (I ran David out of the kitchen when he heard it, Megan hollered at me from the next room, ‘What’s that?” – Hey, just a pair of love-struck Albatrosses!)

Albatross look so big and awkward the way they waddle on land, you wonder how they launch their bulky bodies into flight. I caught an albatross on video taking flight right near Steph and Vic’s patio (January 25, 2018). It nestled by the golf course as if waiting for someone, clapped its beak a bit, then as if running out of patience, went into a running take off toward the ocean …

At the end of Larsen’s beach there is a large protected albatross nesting ground, off limits to hikers. Larsen’s beach is probably our favorite hike, I’ve blogged about it several times – link to the blog I wrote last year – Besides the albatross flying overhead, you will likely run into endangered monk seals and large sea turtles sunning themselves on the beach.

Anyway, in case you think these birds are too goofy and awkward to be impressive in flight, think again! Albatross are highly efficient in the air, covering great distances with little exertion. I took a couple of videos of albatross in flight at Larsen’s beach:

They fly in formation – move over Blue Thunder air show!:

Here’s a photo I captured last year on Larsen’s Beach of an albatross landing.

Dropping in for a landing

Look at those webbed feet! Yeah, that’s because they are swimmers too, going after fish, squid and krill in the ocean with squid as their main staple.

Here’s a photo I took at the trailhead of Larsen’s beach.

Trail to Larsen’s Beach

Hike down through the grasses and across the beach to a point where you discover the arch. Here’s a video I took of the arch in January 2016 …

Sit down and picnic above the arch and enjoy the air show, as there are scores of albatrosses nesting on the bluff right above you.

Maybe humans could learn something about courtship from the Albatross, who engage in mating ritual dances over several years and bond with their mate for life.

You’re welcome, my fellow humans, yea, as we muddle awkwardly through one of our courtship rituals – Valentine’s Day.

Just sayin’…

Kauai’s North Shore: Princeville, ‘Puff’, Starfruit, Giant Surf, and a … Mermaid?

February 4, 2018

When we visit Kauai, we stay in Princeville on the north shore. It is the rainier part of the island, but on most rainy days showers give way to mists and rainbows, and sun again. Below is a (admittedly rather crappy) visual of the Island. Locate Princeville on the northern edge and you can see that to get to sites on the western side of the island you have to drive around the perimeter of the island.

Island of Kauai

Kauai is small enough, though, that you can reach any area of the island by car in an hour or so. Just for fun, here you see a topographical map of Kauai. It is very mountainous, which explains why you can’t drive across the island.

Our favorite places around Princeville include Hanalei Bay, Lumaha’i Beach, and the Queen’s Bath, all of which we visited this last trip. Hanalei Bay is about a 10-minute drive west of Princeville on the North shore, home of “Puff the Magic Dragon” made famous in a song in 1963 by Peter, Paul and Mary. (OMG! 55 years ago?)

We walk to the end of the dock and then down the beach along Hanalei Bay

Steph and Vic walking the beach at Hanalei Bay

Here’s a picture of David on the beach. Do you see the girls in bikinis?

Nothing wrong with David’s vision


No?

David does. Wading in the water by the dock …

By now, being so very hungry and thirsty after our walk on the beach, we head to the Kalypso in Hanalei for lunch and libations. When my drink arrives I find myself staring at … Yoda?

You’re going to eat me?

I shouldn’t eat him, right? Well, he is a slice of starfruit. It’s quite tasty. The pulp is crisp and not too sweet.

Steph and Vic have a starfruit tree in their front yard, with ripe fruit.

Starfruit tree

Here you see one being sliced:

Okay, to make this blog extra special I’ll include the video I took of my brother Eric with his assignment from Victor to harvest the ripe starfruit on their tree:

Despite the rigorous requirements of the job, Eric seems up to the task.

By the way, after you visit Hanalei you absolutely must drive 8 minutes further west on Route 56, pull off to the side of the road and park, and walk the path down to Lumaha’i Beach! We visit this beach every year. It is magnificent with high surf, albeit it is unsafe for swimming and surfing most of the year. This beach was made famous for a scene in the movie ‘South Pacific.’ The surf was low when we visited this year and I didn’t take a video. But it is worth sharing the video I took last year…

Although I do catch a rooster crowing three times (??) in the background, my video doesn’t hold a candle to a video I found on You tube of the same spot: click on this link – taken on January 20, 2016, during record high surf with an added bonus of lots of girls diving into the crashing waves in bikinis. (You’re welcome, honey)

I took a photo of the short climb back up…

Onward now, to the Queen’s Bath, again, only a few minutes drive from Princeville. Here, a visual of the area:

So high tech – screenshot of a Google link

You can practically walk to the Queen’s Bath if you’re in Princeville, however, the path down to it is treacherous after a rain. David, Eric and I hiked down to it on a sunny day, after a few rainy days. Boy was it slick! We didn’t follow too closely behind the people in front of us.

The trail takes you down onto a ledge of rocks

Follow the rock surface along the shore to the point – where you have marvelous views of the distant coastline.

We have been to the Queen’s Bath several times but have never seen the bath because it was covered by high tide. But today – we hit it at low tide. The ocean has retreated enough to expose the bath, and the waves crash over the edges of the bath replenishing the water. As the bath comes into view – we notice a swimmer in it.

It’s a mermaid

A mermaid? She must have washed up into the bath from the ocean with the other fish? Hey if fruits can make eye contact with you while perched on the edge of your drink in Kauai, then why would a Mermaid encounter surprise you?

Pretty certain she’s a mermaid

Suddenly the mermaid disappears from sight and humans of all sizes scramble to the edge of the bath like clusters of crabs.

They jump in, swim around, climb out, and another group lines up along a descending ledge, climb in, and swim.

We watch the swimmers a while, then decide to hike back out. (Maybe next time we’ll wear our suits, or flippers or something.)

Hiking back out now.

The muddy path weaves through what looks like a Giant’s petrified potato patch.

Hiking back up from Queens Bath

Toward the top of the trail I pass a very large spider. Do you see him/her? She’s right in the center of the photo – a yellow blotch.

Spider is dead center

Here, I’ll zoom in on her so you can get a closer look:

See her striped legs? I think she’s a common Kauai garden spider. Pretty exciting. When was the last time you saw a large garden spider?

Okay, well, we blast our muddy shoes, legs and feet with the hose nozzle before we announce our arrival to Steph and Vic back at their house in Princeville.

So … why do I keep writing these endless Kauai blogs??? Just think! I could have been outside instead, picking up dog turds strewn across our back yard that dropped like pine cones out of the winter snow melt.

Kauai, Here We Come! – January 2018

January 31, 2018

January 17, 2018. We’re headed back to Kauai! We’ve made this 10-day trip to visit my sister Stephanie and husband Victor at their home in Princeville, Kauai, every January, for seven years running. I’ve blogged about it every year, too – written 42 blogs, covered every topic imaginable. (Go to the main site of my blog to the Kauai category and you will find them, ALL of them.) So of course I wasn’t blogging about our trip this year, couldn’t possibly!! Yes? NO???? YES!! How else to return home and fend off the Idaho winter blahs? Can I drag this series of blogs out till spring? Maybe…

We hit the road from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake in David’s truck Wednesday evening, January 17. Husband David is driving, my brother Eric is riding shotgun, I’m in the back seat. I snap a photo as we fly past Pocatello, Idaho, near sunset…

Pocatello, Idaho

It always takes a while to decompress and relax into the trip. After 2 1/2 hours of driving we stop for dinner. And make a toast!!

Yes, we are happy!

Get this party started!

We fly to Kauai the next morning,Thursday, Jan 18. Most important order of business: The Kilauea Farmer’s Market!

Oh oh-hope we can find a parking space

It’s raining, but that puts no damper on the crowds.

Stephanie and Victor shopping for organic produce

Eric totes the goods.

We circle the fountain in Princeville on the way to Steph and Victor’s house. We had heard that it might be replaced with something a little more, shall I say, ‘Hawaiian’ but we are glad it is still here.

Princeville fountain (made famous in the movie “The Descendants”)

We enjoy a changing sunset from Steph and Vic’s back patio

The first thing every morning is to walk! Hike. Get that heart pounding. What better plan than the hike to Anini Beach? Just what the heart doctor ordered! (Maybe not) The trailhead beckons….

Oh joy …

Which message should we take more seriously? The original?: CAUTION DANGEROUS CONDITIONS PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK or CAUTION ANGER US CONDITIONS …blah blah blah … ‘PIS’?

We’re headed down. Me, because my hubby is. You can glean a little perspective on how steep the path to Anini Beach is by the person ahead of us?

Do we really have to do this?

We actually don’t hike this every morning. Because you have to hike it back up. I did it, maybe, three times this whole trip. Why make myself angry?

Instead, let’s stay up high, on the golf course, (possibly illegally? As tourists, we don’t know for sure…) The top of the golf course overlooking the ocean is a world of rainbows, hearts and …. Nene Geese and Albatross!

Here, I take a picture of David taking a picture of the rainbow.

David and I photographing the rainbow

That is an albatross in flight and those are Nene Geese – an endangered species that doesn’t seem as afraid of humans as they possibly should be (??)

We passed a Bird of Paradise a few feet beyond the rainbow

That’s a bird, alright

Do you see the Nene geese (goose?) in the background of the photo? Gorgeous tropical flowers adorn the paths along the Golf Course and the Westin resort in Princeville..

A solitary egret welcomes us (maybe a stretch)

and a rooster alights from the bushes as if to escort us off the premises.

Which reminds me of a joke:

‘Why did the rooster cross the Road?’

???????????????????????

‘To see his friend Gregory Peck’

‘Who?’ What? I know. Anyone under the age of 60 totally doesn’t get this joke. It’s one of about two jokes (both of them ridiculously stupid) I can tell from memory.

Well that pretty much puts a wrap on my first blog of our 2018 Kauai trip.

Got you all revved up now, don’t I?

One Last Kauai Sunrise

March 5, 2017

“Move on from Kauai already!” you say. “You’ve been back from your trip more than month!” I know, I know. So which would you choose, more photos of ‘Idaho’s seemingly endless winter so far’, or this:

Kauai sunrise, January 26, 2017

Kauai sunrise, January 26, 2017

A Princeville, Kauai sunrise! We took a walk along the Princeville golf course later that morning, after a thunderstorm waned into a Kauai mist

Followed by a rainbow.

January 26, 11:02 am

January 26, 11:02 am

We had several blustery days. I enjoyed the sound and movement of the wind through the towering palms

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You can be there too, imagine yourself standing next to me, in this video

A couple more photos to share… this tree on Ke’e beach near the Kalalau Trail

Warning to tourists- “Hanging your clothes on this might tip it over”

How does it stay up? Its root system appears to be completely above ground. Shouldn’t they post warning signs for tourists? “Do not nap under tree.”

The Kauai garden spider – I didn’t see as many on this trip as usual, but who nowadays ever sees a garden spider?

Top view of the spider first, then a view of its yellow underbelly:

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Farmer’s market produce provides fabulous organic garden-to-table ingredients for our personal chef, Victor:

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And a marvelous spread for breakfast – Mango, pineapple, rambutan! Rambutan? Yes, those red hairy balls.

red hairy balls are rambutan

red hairy balls are rambutan

Here, Eric will model them for you:

Such a handsome human specimen

Such a handsome human specimen

Okay so the photo is a bit of brain overload. Where do you focus? On the red hairy balls, the astronaut kitty floating in outer space, or what Eric might be concealing in his mouth?

Did I mention we bought several delicious organic grapefruit?

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I modeled those:

The worlds most luscious boobs

The world’s most luscious boobs

I cherished this moment to showcase my boobs, the sheer size, voluptuousness, form, erectness! I couldn’t have imagined myself with such a set even in my wildest, most unfathomable dreams.

My moment was quickly out shadowed by Eric sporting his swimsuit on the back patio.

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Okay, Eric, so the pineapples might be tolerable. Please warn me the next time you plan to take a swim. I’ll meet you when you’re in the pool. Although who can’t admire your physique?

Is that a chest implant?

Is that a chest implant?

A physique shaped by decades of hauling antique furniture to and from your store, delivering to customers and singlehandedly loading and unloading truckloads of antique furniture to and from weekend furniture shows across the west.

Okay, so vacation is about over. One last shot of the Kauai landscape, as the sun is about to set …

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and several more shots of rum in our last round of Mai Tais at the airport in Lihue before we board our plane

January 28, 10:20 pm - David buys the last round

January 28, 10:20 pm – David buys the last round

You know, to help us sleep on the 6-hour red-eye.

12 noon Sunday, January 29 – Flying over Utah now, nearing our descent into Salt Lake City.

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Salt Lake City is under a blanket of smog held in by a temperature inversion

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We’ve hit the road toward home – It’s a 3-hour drive from Salt Lake through northern Utah …

I:50 PM - near Brigham City

I:50 PM – near Brigham City

into southeast Idaho… Here we are near Downey, Idaho, about 3PM, Sunday, January 29:

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Oh joy! We’re home now. I see the plows have been through the neighborhood.

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And the people we hired to shovel our driveway did their job too

Driveway is shoveled!

Driveway is shoveled!

We have cleared the sidewalk to the street.

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Megan stayed back home in Idaho with companions, instead of going with us to Kauai. She kept us abreast of news from home, in particular, this one issue, through text messaging:

“Hi Mom. Titan and Einstein are in the back yard again. Rudy keeps barking”

To enlighten you, here’s the photos I took of the situation we met in our back yard upon our return home:

Better situation with a winter garden than a summer garden, however, Rudy seems to know better...

Better situation with a winter garden than a summer garden, however, Rudy seems to know better…

Rudy is fond of Titan

Rudy is fond of Titan

Rudy hot foots it back to the house

Rudy hot foots it back to the house

Here you see the source of the problem: David’s last fix for the hole in the fence along our back yard held up about, uh, two days?:

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He engineered another fix right away. The snow’s been so deep in the back yard, I didn’t take a close look at it till yesterday –

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Huh. So is that going to suffice as the permanent fix? Come spring I could set some vibrant blooming flower pots around it, – heck, submit a photo of this unique yard art/floral arrangement for publication in House and Garden Magazine.

BTW – Which neighbor is responsible for repairing or replacing a fence establishing the boundary for both properties? Should I get an opinion from Mexico on this?

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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