Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

island week

surgeonfish kauai na pali coast 2013

We flew to Kauai, Hawaii on July 19.

We flew home on July 26. During our time there, we did the following:

1. went snorkeling on the south shore at Poipu Beach, where we saw lots of fish, from moorish idol to gray chub;

2. went on a Saturday morning walk on the Hapa Trail near Koloa. We learned from a guide about native culture and the effort to preserve history amid all the development.

3. went walking in the lovely McBryde Garden, where we saw great tropical plants and flowers. My favorites were the aloalo native hibiscus and the hibiscus Waimea. We also saw a family of the endangered Hawaiian gallinule and the native black-crowned night heron. We stopped by Spouting Horn, the amazing little ocean blowspout that lived up to its name.

4 went on a snorkeling boat up the western Na Pali coast. We saw the breath-taking canyons
and lovely mountains. We saw a nest of Hawaiian noddy birds by a cave. We snorkeled amid surgeonfish and gray chub. I managed to avoid getting sunburned, except, of all places, on top of and just below my toes. The people on our catamaran trip were all pleasant.

5. drove up the eastern side of the island to the end of the road on the north shore. We stopped at the Kilauea Lighthouse, a national wildlife refuge. There we saw red-footed boobys, red-tailed tropicbirds, magnificent frigate birds, a sooty shearwater on its dug-out nest, and
lots of non-native birds such as the lovely red-crested cardinal. We drove to Ke'e Beach Park at the tip of the north end (reached on an historic highway with many one-land bridges on a two lane road. Favorite road sign: "Local Custom: 5 to 7 Cars at a time"). As we walked on the beach, we came upon an endangered monk seal, lying, as monk seals do, on the beach. We stayed well away and snapped photos.

6. drove up the western island to Waimea Canyon and ultimately to Kokee state park. The sight of white-tailed tropicbirds flying down in the canyon was breath-taking, and a bit haunting, as it is a scene from a fantasy movie whose name escapes me. We hiked in the rain in the rain forest, seeing only one fleeting glimpse of a native forest bird (apopane) but lots of blooming house plants run amok.

7. took a guided tour of Allerton Garden, where a fellow who came in 1967 on Spring Break and never left told us lots of history about this rich man's retreat turned public garden.

8. toured the Kauai Museum in the charming town of Lihue, where we learned about the sordid history of the deprivation of rights of the Polynesian immigrants by the European immigrants, and got only fleeting glimpses of the precursor indigenous people who had themselves been supplanted by the Polynesian immigrants. The museum was very well done. Then we went to a
stitchery which had lovely Japanese light kimono-like robes called yukata, which my wife values highly.

9. successfully flew the long flight in each direction. The 10 p.m. flight home was
easiest, because I slept nearly the whole flight to Phoenix, where we changed planes.

A few things that struck me:

A. The sound art store where they played drones on ceramic pots. The least expensive pot--a single note--was 400 dollars. The best drones were the ones in which the pitch was imperfect, creating flange resonance or microtonal harmonics between instruments.

B. We ate more fresh seafood than could be imagined, in a place where everything was fairly expensive, portion sizes were on the small side, but local fruit and vegetables are all delightful,

C. A huge debate is on because Monsanto bought up an old, derelict sugar farm and now the concern among this huge organic-farm-oriented culture is that GMO crops will ruin Kauai.
I heard a fair bit of debate on the radio from both sides of the issue and neither side entirely pleased me. I dislike in particular the notion that science is just a lobbying tool for both sides to express how they feel. I tend to see science as a crucible to find truth, and not a tool to quote at will and reject at will, depending on one's side of an issue. I wish the world was such that the whole of the former south shore sugar fields could have become a huge nature preserve, administered by native Hawaiians.

D. Kauai is like one of those paradises in sci-fi. For all its loveliness, it has a lot of dangers. We learned they've had a lot of drownings, many from folks swimming on known dangerous beaches. The mountains have lots of great hikes, many of which are too dangerous for the average tourist. On our last day, we went to one of the "safest" beaches, Lydgate, to look around. Emergency vehicles pulled up while we were there. I never did learn what had happened.
We stayed safe, and did not go on beaches with red flags or try to hike the 17 mile intense canyon trail.

E. My favorite food was a hot dog from Puka Dog, a veggie frank with a star fruit relish.

F. I got to try fruits new to me--dragon fruit, starfruit, and the flesh of the lychee nut.

G. People were delightful. Drivers were polite. Speed limits were low. Real estate was expensive, but perhaps cheaper than in, say, Santa Cruz, California. The pace of life was pleasingly slow. The ratio of men age 35 to 60 with very long hair was higher than in Texas by a substantial margin.

H. Having used credit card points for our flight, we were able to see our way clear to stay in a rather nice small resort. I like the kinds of resorts which are quiet, feature a good, grassy lawn with chairs to lie upon, and face a small beach.

I. I like Hawaiian shirts, and now my closet is fashionably bestowed with two new ones.
I rarely wear them in Texas, whereas I used to wear them in California. We'll see if that changes now.

J. I ordinarily dislike week-long vacations, preferring 4 day weekends. This is because a week vacation often is hard to pull off with my work demands. This one, though, fit and worked like a charm, thanks to helpful co-workers and good clients.

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