Archive for the ‘Kauai’ Category

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 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

img_5110

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:

img_5382

img_5385

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

img_5282

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?

img_5362

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.

img_5357

img_5358

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 …

img_5280

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.

img_5443

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

img_5450

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:

img_5474

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

img_5489

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.

img_5478

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?:

img_5484

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 –

fullsizerender-29

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.

img_5181

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:

img_5154

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…

img_5174

img_5178

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.

fullsizerender-28

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

img_5211

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.

img_5110

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

img_5077

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:

img_5141

img_5147img_5130

img_5129

img_5146

fullsizerender-27

img_5145

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:

img_5036

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”.)

fullsizerender-26

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:

img_5071

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.

img_5072

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.

img_5073

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!

fullsizerender-25

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:

img_4817

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:

img_4909

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.

img_4914

Flying over the big Island, Hawaii …

The Big Island

The Big Island

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

img_4928

img_4930

We’ve landed in Kauai

img_4934

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 …

img_4938

Sample some star fruit!

img_4968

img_4967

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:

????

????

This is egg fruit:

img_4965

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:

img_4975

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.

fullsizerender-23

I took some photos on the hike back…

img_5006

img_5009

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.