Posts Tagged ‘Kauai’

Aloha, Kauai (Was it just a dream?)

March 6, 2022

It feels pretty weird posting about a vacation in Kauai in the face of the brutal Russian attack on Ukraine, now in its 10th day. How is this war going to play out? How will it change the course of history? Can NATO and other European nations collectively support Ukraine quickly, strongly and strategically enough for her to stand and persevere against Putin’s evil destruction? What will happen to the Ukrainian people? How far will Putin go?

Kauai – Part-7, Saturday, January 29, 2022 – Because of the current devastating Ukraine situation I wasn’t going to write my last Kauai blog. Forget it. Let’s just stay in Kauai. But then it feels like a loose end. I haven’t brought us home to Idaho. Hey, control the things you can, right? So I’m going to lead you through our last day in Kauai, then to the airport in Lihue in the evening to catch the red-eye to San Francisco, flight to Salt Lake and drive home to Idaho Falls. You know, so we’re not stranded in Paradise. (Yes, Jody, we’re all for it; this makes total sense.)

One more Kauai sunrise?

January 29, 7:23 am

Our last day in Princeville is clear and sunny. We decide to head to one of our favorite beaches on the North Shore – Lumaha’i, just beyond Hanalei Bay.

Just about every time we get in the car we circle around the Princeville fountain. A sculpture of Neptune, God of the sea, is surrounded by water, fountains and lighting.

Princeville Fountain

Built in 1989, the fountain was commissioned by Australian business tycoon Christopher Skase who purchased 7,000 acres in Princeville. Inspired by the “Fountain of Love” at Cliveden House in England, 12 artisans in Italy worked one year on a 900-ton piece of marble, resulting in the final 200-ton fountain which was shipped to Kauai in 11 containers. Check out this link for the full story: https://princevillefountain.com

To get to Lumaha’i beach you drive on the North Shore just past Hanalei Bay. Pull over and park at the side of the road and walk down a short steep path through a small banyan tree forest.

Eric, Victor and David negotiating the path down to Lumaha’i Beach

Suddenly the long, broad beach opens up before you. The ‘Kauai Revealed’ app describes Lumaha’i beach aptly (so to speak), “If you’re looking for a huge, picture-perfect stretch of sand on the north shore, Lumaha’i shouldn’t be missed. If you’re looking for safe swimming Lumaha’i shouldn’t be touched. Exposed to open ocean, it’s one of the most dangerous beaches on Kauai. The waves here, even small ones, are frighteningly powerful.”

Here we are on the beach. I take a video

Eric and Megan

We’re not here for a swim!

Of course, massive crashing waves offer a perfect adventure for teens:


But you want to experience Lumaha’i beach during a super high surf, don’t you? Check out this YouTube video!:

Heading back up the path now through the banyan trees to the car

David. Catch your breath half way up!

Now enjoying our last lunch in Kauai at the Kalypso in Hanalei with Victor and Stephanie, who qualify hands down as the most generous hosts on the planet. We can’t thank you enough for your hospitality, Steph and Vic!

Mahalo, Victor and Stephanie!

Okay, looking back over the past ten days and savoring our favorite moments. I’ll share a few more photos.

Megan:

Megan being caressed by hibiscus blossoms

A view from the golf course:

An albatross sailing right past us as we sit on Steph and Vic’s patio

Video of three albatrosses sailing overhead.

A rooster, of course!

And Nene Geese – the Hawaii State Bird:


Hunting and predators like mongooses, pigs and cats, reduced the nene population to just 30 birds by 1952. It has since been bred back from the brink of extinction and reintroduced into the wild. Today, with 2,500 birds in the wild, it is still the sixth-most endangered water-fowl species in the world.

A photo of my hunka hunka hubby David

Sitting on the rocks near Kapa’a

And two separate views of exotic scenery captured on my phone from the back seat of the car


Okay. The sun is setting in Paradise. To wrap up our 10-day trip I’ll post two photos of the same sunset:

Princeville, Kauai, Jan 25, 2022 – 6:25 PM
4 minutes later – Alpenglow is glorious!

It’s 8 pm, Saturday, January 29 – time to head to the airport in Lihue. We arrive there without incident. Except I run into this gigantic cockroach at the airport as I enter the ladies room, about 1 1/2 inches long

They have cockroaches in Paradise? Yes, Indeed.

https://cockroachfacts.com/cockroaches-in-hawaii/?amp

According to this article there are 19 cockroach species in Hawaii, but only 4 are considered significant pests. I’m guessing this one might fall into the category of “baby American cockroach” since I simply stepped over it going into and then coming back out of the ladies room. One could assess that it basically doesn’t fly, or even move much, for that matter. Although it could scare the crap out of us if it suddenly decides to take flight. Everyone entering or exiting the restroom just made sure not to step on it, which, causing a squishy mess when stepped on might be its greatest survival tactic. Who wants a fat splatted cockroach stuck to the bottom of your shoe?

You’re still talking about cockroaches? Leave Kauai, already!

Okay, okay. We board the red-eye to San Francisco, about a 5 1/2 hour flight on which you are supposed to catch some shut-eye, good luck with that. But here, in my relentless alertness I captured yet another emerging sunrise on our trip – from the window of our plane nearing our descent into San Francisco, one at 4:39 am and the next one 2 minutes later at 4:41 am Kauai time. (You’re welcome.)

Nearing San Francisco, Sunday, January 30, 4:39 am
Sunday, January 30, 4:41 am

We land in San Francisco on time, it’s a bit of a blur, oh yeah, we wolf down ham and egg breakfast sandwiches from Burger King to fill our gullets before boarding our 8:30 am flight to Salt Lake. We’re on that flight now. I’ll share some photos.

Over Grantsville (the i-Phone is always spot-on with locations) at 11:03 am

Grantsville, Utah, Sunday Jan 30, 2022

Huh. See that blanket of smog tucked in behind the mountains?

Three minutes later I capture this photo…

Yep. Now you see what a temperature inversion looks like. Warmer air rises and traps the colder air and smog closer to the ground. The steep walls of the mountains surrounding the Salt Lake Valley area also contribute to the inversions, which occur often in winter months.

We don’t care! You say? We just want to get our friggin’ butts home to Idaho. Agreed.

The four of us, David, Eric, Megan and I, have landed in Salt Lake, piled into David’s truck and have hit the road north toward home – Idaho Falls is about a 3 1/2- hour drive from the SLC airport.

Sailing through Salt Lake City at 12:05 pm – the top of the capitol building is in the center of the photo

It’s smoggy, all right.

Off in the distance to our left now is Plymouth, Utah, near the Idaho border. The population was 414 at the 2010 census. Every time we pass by Plymouth I wonder who the heck would live there and what they do.

Plymouth, Utah, with Gunsight Peak in the background (left)

I Googled it, in case you are interested in learning more about Plymouth: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plymouth,_Utah

Why would I be interested? I don’t know.

At 1:45 pm we pull off the freeway at Malad and hit the Burger King. They are running a ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ special on whoppers. Four whoppers for 12 bucks! Eric buys.

Read the sign – CROWN STANDARD burgers!

Hey, their burgers are 100 % beef, flame grilled on real fire, no fillers or preservatives, freshly cut tomatoes and onions, every whopper sandwich is made to order and blah blah blah ‘love of all deliciousness’ (??) i.e. gut bomb. But hey, we’ve filled our gullets once again.

We pass Downey, Idaho at 2:07 pm. It’s out there near those mountains somewhere..

Is that Downey in the distance?

We roll into Idaho Falls on Sunday, January 30, about 3:30pm. 15 hours of travel all told. Not bad, really, except for being sleep deprived. What really struck us was how everything looked exactly the same as when we left 10 days ago. I was too tired to take a picture when we got home on the 30th. But here, I took one on the 31st.

Idaho Falls, Monday, January 31, 2022

Our street is still solid ice and the snow hasn’t melted one bit.

Are you sure we went to Kauai? One day later and it almost seems like a dream.

The Kuilau Ridge Trail, Sleeping Giant and Wailua Falls

February 27, 2022

Kauai Trip, January 2022 – Part 6 – I can’t just leave us in Kauai now, can I? Have to finish out the trip and get us home to Idaho again. We have about 2 days left of our 10-day vacation.

Enjoy the sunrise!

Princeville, Kauai, January 29, 2022 – 7:24 am

Hmm. What to do today? Let’s start by tossing some seed out for the birds.

January 29, 7:29 am



What? Do I really have to watch a video? Well, they’re pretty hungry. Okay here’s a photo, as well:

So Steph and Vic have chickens! Uh, yeah. Feral chickens that magically appear as soon as the feed hits the ground. They peck like maniacs till the feed is gone and then disappear. They’re likely nesting in the bushes on the north side of the house because you will hear a chicken fracas out there, good luck finding them. Do you know how to prepare a feral chicken? Boil it in a pan with a large rock. As soon as the rock is tender, the chicken is done.

What’s for breakfast? Starfruit! Harvested from the tree in Steph and Vic’s front yard.

Starfruit. Yum!

So what to do on our last two days? Hike! We love the Kuilau Ridge Trail: A pretty easy hike through lush hillsides leads you to a summit with a picnic table and stunning views of Mount Wai’ ale’ ale. There are two trails to the picnic table – the Kuilau Ridge Trail and the Moalepe Trail. We hiked both trails on this trip.

Of course, to get to the trailhead you drive through Kapa’a right past Sleeping Giant. Local legend tells of a Giant who feasted so much at a party in his honor that he laid down for a nap and never awoke. Here he is, lying on his back, stretched out across this photo which I took from the car. Painful for Eric to be so close to the Giant and pass up the hike!

Nounou Mountain (Sleeping Giant)

“Hey,” Eric pipes up. “I know we have hiked the east trail a couple of times, but we have never hiked the west trail to to the top of Sleeping Giant. We could still do that on this trip!”

“No, Eric. Not gonna do it.”

I tell you what, Eric. How about we go with this guy a.k.a. ‘Grizzle Gear’ who hiked the west trail to the top, filmed it and posted it on Youtube. You’ll be on top of Sleeping Giant in less than 8 minutes!

The Kuilau Ridge trail is perfect. About 3.5 miles roundtrip, you hike a gentle constant incline through lush forest and rolling hills, finally arriving at the picnic table. Here, let’s do it!

After Sleeping Giant we drive right past Wailua Falls. We pull over and take photos (with a mob of other tourists). Now this is what Paradise looks like!

Wailua Falls

And the view across the street:

On the Kuilau Ridge hike now! Luckily the trail is dry.

Megan is loving it

Lush rain forest, indeed!

Arrived at the picnic table

From L-R, David, Megan, Jody, Victor, Steph, Eric

Hiking back out

We’re starving and thirsty. And it’s a good hour’s drive back to Princeville. So of course we have to stop for lunch in Kapa’a at another one of our favorite hang-outs, the Olympic Cafe, which might possibly offer up the best Mai-tai’s on the Island (we have to keep sampling them to decide).

What? You were going to wrap up this trip and get us back to Idaho and now we’re sitting in a bar and grill drinking Mai-tai’s?

Yep.

Here, you can be here with us! Click on this link with photos of the open air restaurant. It’s on a second story with a huge balcony that overlooks the main drag in Kapa’a.

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x7c06e0ed2365411b%3A0x8a828e4936f54e81!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipMEq-KN9Ywb41roUURPImJba1lWZ0MvKZTfFY9y%3Dw160-h160-k-no!5sOlympic%20Cafe%20-%20Google%20Search!15sCgIgAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipMEq-KN9Ywb41roUURPImJba1lWZ0MvKZTfFY9y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjLov3_qaD2AhVRLTQIHeFnB8gQoip6BAghEAM

After the hour+ drive from Princeville to the Kuilau trailhead, hiking to the picnic table, and also stopping along the way to hike the west trail to the top of Sleeping Giant (just go with it Eric and check it off your bucket list), checking out Wailua Falls, sating ourselves with food and drink at the Olympic Cafe, maybe we should call it a day. I can go for another night of sweet slumber in our beds at Steph and Vic’s home in Princeville. Even if the chickens are making a racket in the bushes outside our windows.

So, no. We’re not flying back home to Idaho just yet. But to give you a clue as to what greets us when we get home let me just say it’s been a cold, dry winter, albeit, the large snow that pelted us before Christmas is still there. And accumulating. I took these photos out our front window two days ago.

Friday, February 24, 2022

Check out this video!

Glad to push that “Easy” button. Easy Peasy!

We finally got smart and hired someone to shovel us out.

Things are looking up a bit today, though. The sun has come out and David has cleared the snow off the deck.

Sunday, February 26, 11 am

Current temperature – 15 degrees – Fahrenheit that is. Cover ourselves with down, and we might be able to enjoy our Idaho happy hour out on the deck?

Yeah, I gotta get us home from Kauai. But, hey, what’s the rush?

Larsen’s Beach, Kauai

February 24, 2017

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

Ugh

Ugh

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

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

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

Deadly unseen currents have killed how many?

Deadly unseen currents have killed how many?

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

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

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

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

Monk seal spits at Eric

Monk seal spits at Eric

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

Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species

Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species

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

Eric's photo of sea turtles

Eric’s photo of sea turtles

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

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

Pretty darned good photo of waves cresting around the arch

Pretty darned good photo of waves cresting around the arch

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

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

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This video doesn’t exist

Eric gets the purr-fect photo of the arch

Eric gets the purr-fect photo of the arch

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

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

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

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

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

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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:

????

????

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!

‘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.

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.