The image on the right is of Rose and Derrick looking up at the time-share. The complex is in Princeville, and is situated on a golf-course. (Rose and Derrick are on the cart-path looking up at the apartment we are staying in. The lanai overlooks the 12th tee.)
Once we landed, we headed to Costco to shop for the week. Tomorrow we will go to the farmers’ market in the south and stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables. We will eat breakfast and dinner on the lanai. It’s two of my favorite times. The morning sky is a soft-blue raceway that clouds speed from the ocean to the mountains. In the evening, the sky is star studded.
We are sitting drinking a wine from Puglia and Orion looms above us. To his left is the brightest star in this Tropic-of-Cancer sky. I think it’s Aldebaran, part of the Taurus constellation. Its name – Follower – comes from its position below the Pleiades. (Probably my favorite word in the English language.) Who wouldn’t want to follow the seven sisters? One of them has to be beautiful.
This year we decided to do more walking. And this morning we hiked through the golf-course and down the path beside the fancy Westin Resort to Anini Beach. (As a non-sun, non-sand, non-snorkeling person this is my favorite beach. Yes, I can just hear the reader say, then what the hell are you doing going to Kaua’i?) The waters of Anini Beach sit between the coral reef that surrounds Kaua’i and the white sands of this northern cove. Absent is the under-tow, absent are the mighty waves. Its languid surface is a respite. Its flat waters make it a favorite for first-time triers of parachute surfing.
On our way back, we decided to circumvent the golfers and made a wide arc to the next hole. And there sitting beside the cart-path was an albatross chick. It was bigger than a Thanksgiving turkey. The sign labeled it a Laysan Albatross. There was no evidence of its parents. They must be out with the parachute surfers riding the thermals.
The St. Regis is the fanciest resort on the island and it’s a short walk from the time-share. Last year we went there for mimosas and a glimpse of Puff frolicking in the mists. (The price to see the dragon was exorbitant for a hide-bound budget.) This time we took the steps, along the side of the resort, for our trek down to Hanalei Beach. The resort is built on the cliffs that overlook the bay.
On our way up, we went through the hotel. (It amazes me that you can walk into this super fancy resort and no one asks if you belong. There we were interlopers mingling with the rich-and-famous.) BTW, going back up the cliff through the resort was much like the experience in San Marino where elevators are carved into the mountain and you can ascend to the top in Disneyland comfort.
The elevators ascend through a series of levels, and because you are on the cliff slope, you periodically get off one set of elevators, walk through a fancy lobby to the next set of elevator banks. And even these secondary lobbies are decorated with the best of stuff. I loved finding the orchid in front of the mirror.
(I suspect one of the reasons no one asks if we are staying at the resort, is because I’m walking around with two expensive cameras on my shoulders. I guess looks can fool most of the time. It’s Rose and I in the mirror.)
In the morning, we crashed the posh, frou-frou St. Regis, in the afternoon we headed south – the Maha’ulepu area – and drove a dirt road paved with ruts in search of secret beach. (Whenever we go on one of our off-road adventures, Rose is anxious and back-seat drives; I am in the back seat and remind myself that Derrick is a really good driver.)
Secret beach wasn’t as secluded as I had thought. (There are three beaches in the area and we lighted on Gillin’s Beach.) It was full of kitesurfers skating the waves. (Yes, I know the thrill of skating an ice-rink alone in the early dawn – gliding the corners, flying the straight-ways, spinning and pushing backwards. And I love speeding hills on long, waxed skis. But, I’ve never had any desire to surf until I saw the kiteboarders.) The surfer is on a board and attached to a parachute/kite he maneuvers to ride the waves. There were easily a dozen kites harnessing the wind. Their red, green and yellow sails streaked the blue sky.
My favorite part of the show was when the wind would lift the surfer and for a brief moment he was airborne and free. I kept thinking of William Woodsworth’s Daffodils –
. The waves beside them danced;
but they out-did the sparkling waves in glee.
I gazed and gazed but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought: …
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
The trail at Ke’e Beach was something that we didn’t get to last April, but I wanted to walk some of it this year. We drove to the end of Route 56, parked and headed up to the trailhead. The park ranger explained the difficulty and the cautioned us against dismissing his comment as over-cautious. (I announced that I was willing to do a mile-and-a-half in. And given that I had a pedometer, I got to monitor the trek. I’m always over-cautious so the ranger’s warning was just a second super-ego affirming my plan.)
To my surprise the trail is well maintained, well marked, well planned and accessible to hiking novices like us. We climbed over rocks, we walked on packed red earth we walked through streams down into the valleys and back up the mountain side. The amazement were the vistas down to Ke’e Beach, the vistas of the Na Pali coast.
Last year I saw these coastal mountains from a catamaran, this year they stretched in front of me. Each bend framing these green giants with their fingers reaching into blue waters.
Kapa’a is the everyman town in the north-east sector. (Hanalei is for left-over hippies. Where else would old, bald counter-cultures land, than where the dragon frolics in the autumn mists?) The image is of the railing on the walking-bridge over the Wailua River. The pineapple filigree – a memory of long ago plantation indenture – borders the bridge-deck.
The locals fish from the deck, from the river’s shore, oblivious of the tourists in their Crocs and Keens. In Kapa’a the locals dress down. Here the locals go to bingo-night in cinder-block community centers. Here people have heft; their bodies have curves; their skin is brown; their eyes are coral-black; their hair is straight. (Here the resorts have security patrolling the disneyland grounds, keeping out them locals and making the gate-community native-free.)
The long beach that lines Kapa’a is populated by these locals, these real people who work 8-hour days and can’t sit by the pool basted in SPF 100+ sunscreen. They are the store-clerks, the construction workers, the park-rangers, the teachers. At one end, families fill the pools created by a barrier reef that is 20 meters from shore. At the other end, the reef is broken and surfers ride the waves that sneak through and run to the shore. In between, tourists monopolize the sands, but share the sun.
Along the beach, the town has built a trail that tourists walk. (There’s a voyeuristic element in walking the flat, concrete trail. It’s like come on down and see the real Kaua’i – the old men, their faces cracked like the glaze of ancient pottery, the skinny surfers riding cheap boards, the multi-generational families with no blond children.)
All this sounds rather duplicitous coming from someone who walked the trail, photographed the locals, wears croc slip-ons and keen sandals. Too bad, it’s my journal/blog; I’m the author; I determine content; and I don’t allow comments.
The read this series in chronological order, click on the category title – Kaua’i-12.
Waimea Canyon, last year shrouded in mist and rain I saw nothing of the gorge. This year, the weather held and there were the green depths, the vermilion sands, the blue skies, and purple waters.
(I rarely post pictures of people, let alone a pic that I’m in, but I thought I’d try it. Some nice tourist took the pic. I set up the shot and told her to keep snapping. She was surprised that I was willing to let her take multiple shots, and once over the surprise, she began to compose shots, change angels, even come in closer. This is the one I like best. I cropped the bottom portion, because I was wearing my bloomer swimming trunks and my legs look like match sticks when I have them on.)
The canyon, on the south-western side, was created by the collapse of the volcano that created Kauaʻi – the oldest island in the archipelago. This canyon, painted in Crayola colors, is part of the Waimea Canyon State Park, one of those government creations that we now seem to dismiss as we wallow in anger and hate in our political discourse.
There are several vantage points, the first is where all the tour buses stop, but we headed for the highest outlook. And there below us in verdant depths, its sides streaked with ochre fingerprints, lay the grand canyon.