Archive for the ‘Kauai’ Category

The Day of the Layson Albatross

February 16, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kauai – 1-21-2017

February 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love is in the air

Love is in the air

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

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Life is good.

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

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

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

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

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January Escape

February 5, 2017

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

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

By 5 pm we are flying past McCammon, Idaho:

McCammon, Idaho

McCammon, Idaho

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

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Downey, Idaho

Downey, Idaho

Then Malad City at 5:20:

Farm equipment in dormancy

Farm equipment in dormancy

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

Portage, Utah

Portage, Utah

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

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The Phoenix airport (!)

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

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

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Flying over the big Island, Hawaii …

The Big Island

The Big Island

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

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We’ve landed in Kauai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sample some star fruit!

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

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This is egg fruit:

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I sampled it – it was too weird for me.

Eric carries our basket of spoils, all of it organic

Fresh organic produce!

Fresh organic produce!

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

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

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

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

Hiking to the Hissing Dragon

Hiking to the Hissing Dragon

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

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

Be forewarned …

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

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

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

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

The Dragon almost ate him.

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

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I took some photos on the hike back…

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Victor, Steph, Eric

Victor, Steph, Eric

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

David

David

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

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

Back to Reality

February 27, 2016

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

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

Innocent Kitty

Innocent Kitty

Alert kitty

Alert kitty

Sniper kitty

Sniper kitty

"Oh no!  Danger danger!"

“Oh no! Danger danger!”

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

Hey, we didn't agree to this

Hey, we didn’t agree to this

We have to follow, of course…

Not funny, Eric

Not funny, Eric

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

Paradise

Paradise

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

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

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Secret Beach

Secret Beach

With the Kilauea Lighthouse in the far distance.

Aloha, Maholo, Kauai!

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

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

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

Over the Sierra Nevada's?

Over the Sierra Nevada’s?

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

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Nearing our descent into Salt Lake City:

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

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Yep! Northern Utah in mid-January.

It's called 'winter'

It’s called ‘winter’

Crossed the border into Idaho now…

The Abominable Snowman could be there somewhere

The Abominable Snowman could be there somewhere

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

Welcome to Malad, Idaho!

Welcome to Malad, Idaho!

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

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

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

Your Utah Lottery ticket headquarters, complete with ATM!

Your Utah Lottery ticket headquarters, complete with ATM!

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

Oh goody, we're home

Oh goody, we’re home

Time to dig out…

Eric still in his shorts from the ancient parallel Universe

Eric still in his shorts from the ancient parallel Universe

'Brrrrr!'

‘Brrrrr!’

David shovels out the driveway first thing.

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

All shoveled out, Jan 17, 2016

All shoveled out, Jan 17, 2016

Contrast the two Paradises,

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

You know, anything to stave off melancholy.

Ka’aka’aniu (Larsen’s) Beach

February 20, 2016

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

Okay, “Larsen’s Beach.”

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

Yep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah but the water is so perfectly calm and beautiful!

Dip your toe in

Dip your toe in

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

Surprise # 4:

Darth Vader Bumble Bee…

Looks like a bumble bee

Looks like a bumble bee

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

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

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

Surprise # 5. Hawaiian monk seals:

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

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

Don't bother me, I'm a log

Don’t bother me, I’m a log

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

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

Do not disturb!

Do not disturb!

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

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

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the sea is roiling here:

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The surf crashing against the rocks in front of us

ooooo- David's sexy shoulder

ooooo- David’s sexy shoulder

And swirling through the arch at the end of the point

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I captured a video:

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

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Surprise # 8.

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

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

Makauwahi Cave Reserve

February 14, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a photo of the sinkhole:

Makauwahi Cave - limestone sinkhole

Makauwahi Cave – limestone sinkhole

And a link with lots more photos of the cave.

The view from on top of the cave edge:

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Hiking back now

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

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From here we walked along Keoniloa Bay

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The shoreline is made up of rocky cliffs

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

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

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

Nice view toward Gillin’s Beach

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Time to head back now

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Building up a sweat!

David - even his sweat is sexy

David – even his sweat is sexy

Hey just dive into the ocean to cool off

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Uh, maybe not.

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

Interesting artwork on the walls. Coconut spirits!

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

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

'Struttin' cool'

‘Struttin’ cool’

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

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

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

“My heart’s beating for you.”

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

‘On location’ in Kauai

February 6, 2016

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

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

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

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

Anahola Mountain

Anahola Mountain

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

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

Kauai

Kauai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah have you thought about the next hurricane Iniki?

Yeah have you thought about the next hurricane Iniki?

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

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

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

Passing through the tunnel. Find Eric’s backpack.

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

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

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

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David, with his movie star good looks.

Walking back to car now

Walking back to car now

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

Princeville, January, 2016

February 4, 2016

Sunrise!!

January 13, 6:55 AM

January 13, 6:55 AM

Over Princeville, Kauai.

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

January 16, 8 am

January 16, 8 am

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

Black hole that leads down to Anini Beach

Black hole that leads down to Anini Beach

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

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

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

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

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

 David last January - starting down

David last January – starting down

Well, here’s the sign this year:

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

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

It's a bird, right?

It’s a bird, right?

Or the Hibiscus, the Hawaiian state flower:

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The Ginger blossom below comes in a variety of colors

orange ginger

orange ginger

I’m not sure what this next flower is

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

Fancy bouffant hairdo!

Fancy bouffant hairdo!

otherwise known as the ‘Giant Spider Lily.’

Not to be confused with … giant spiders:

Web large enough to trap a human?

Web large enough to trap a human?

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

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

Kauai's common garden spider - 'Argiope aurantia'

Kauai’s common garden spider – ‘Argiope aurantia’

And now a special bonus for you spider lovers…

Two garden spiders. Can you find them?:

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

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

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

Doesn’t that just make your day?

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

Yay, babies!

Yay, babies!

And mating Albatross,

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Two more early evening photos of the Princeville golf course,

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Jan 12, 6:19 PM

Jan 12, 6:19 PM

Driving past the Princeville fountain now…

January  2016

January 2016

To shop at the the local grocery store, Foodland.

David and Steph entering Foodland

David and Steph entering Foodland

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

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with her clutch of tiny chicks.

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

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

Kuilau Ridge Hike – January, 2016

January 31, 2016

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

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

So far so good …

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Uh oh. Looking a little rough

Just add rain to make this really fun

Just add rain to make this really fun

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

Find Eric

Find Eric

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

“We’re turning around, Eric.”

David leads the way back out.

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

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

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

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

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

“Do not block gate.” it says

"We're not blocking the gate"

“We’re not blocking the gate”

Furthermore, ‘Do not block car blocking gate’:

Not blocking car blocking gate

Not blocking car blocking gate

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

You have to park? Oh, too bad.

You have to park? Oh, too bad.

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

It’s a gorgeous hike.

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Kuilau Ridge Hike

Kuilau Ridge Hike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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At the picnic table now.

Eric setting a new male fashion trend in backpacks

Eric setting a new male fashion trend in backpacks

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

'Oh boy, another annoying tourist'

‘Oh boy, another annoying tourist’

Headed back down now…

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

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

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Soon we hiked past this big ol’ ancient tree

'Moss does not grow fat on a rolling stone'

Moss does not grow fat on a rolling stone

and jungle foliage

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

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

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

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

Jurassic Park! (uh, in a video…)

January 28, 2016

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

Jurassic Park Gate

Jurassic Park Gate

Here’s Eric and David walking through the gate:

Proof that we entered Jurassic Park

Proof that we entered Jurassic Park

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

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

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

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

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

Kuamoo road swallowed by a vortex?

Kuamoo road swallowed by a vortex?

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

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

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

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

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