Puff the magic dragon lived by the sea
and frolicked in the autumn mist . . .
Our first trip, Sunday morning, was to the beach at Hanalei Bay and Rose and Derrick pointed out the mountain range that in local legend is associated with the Peter Yarrow song Puff the Magic Dragon. The long line of mountain bumps and humps is supposed to be the dragon’s back. He’s lying on his stomach with his head flat on the water. The image on the left is the snout and eye of that rascal Puff.
The small town of Hanalei and crescent Hanalei Bay are magnets for the left-over-hippie set, the natural-food-beauties, the gel-haired youths on fancy boards and the 30-something, over-weight surfers. The bay was covered in mist and Rose and I tried figuring out the words to Peter Yarrow’s child-song.
Earlier that morning, as I stepped onto the lanai that surrounded the two-bedroom condo, a rainbow arched the mist. Its right curve was anchored in the manicured Makai Course and its left curve on the mountain slopes. My very own welcome mat.
We decided to walk down to the St. Regis, the 4-star hotel in Princeville, for mimosas. The view from the restaurant terrace overlooks Hanalei Bay. I asked the nice waitress to take our picture.
The visit continues our pattern of dropping in on fancy hotels. In Panarea, we sunned on the deck of the Hotel Raya. I went up willing to pay for a day pass to sit under an umbrella and away from the over-heat, the old woman who owned the place must have like little, old me and offered us the patio; in Gubbio we sat in the courtyard of the Bosone Palace and had gelato and caffe; in Princeville we paid tourist prices to drink tropical mimosas with the well-heeled.
Priceville is in the north and is a self-contained, gated community of up-scale homes, condos and golf course. The condo we stayed was on the 12th Tee; the Pacific on the horizon, the bunkers and green holding up the blue.
The St. Regis is at the end of the compound and cascades over the cliffs that hold Hanalei Bay.
On a catamaran – we sailed from Port Allen on the south-western shore into the blue Pacific and the Na Pali coast.
Before heading out there was all this talk of seeing Spinner dolphins and whales. I assumed it was all an exaggeration to get well-heeled tourists out on a day-trip. Also while waiting to board the catamaran, our fellow passengers were not only well-heeled, but some of the strangest body-types I had ever seen in swimsuits. (Some people should just stay covered. Because you’re in Kaua’i, doesn’t give you license to wear a bikini.)
The south western coast is the beginning of the dry almost desert part of Kaua’i. The beaches as empty, and beyond Polihale State Park there are not roads only cliffs that fall into the ocean. We followed 40 miles of coast.
We weren’t too far out when we spotted the first dolphin. This was a loner who stayed around while the tourists ran from one side of the boat to the other hoping to capture on digital its jump out of the blue waves. This excitement was followed by a whale sighting. Now I was interested. (The dolphin was a single and not worth chasing across the deck of the catamaran.) The whale on the other hand was huge. I’ve seen pictures, but nothing prepares you for the actual thing. It is so big that after it dives, it leave a footprint – a flat water area the size of the mighty beast. The legend of dragon in the sea, comes from early sailors seeing two of these giants frolicking in the waves. Having seen the whale, I can see the dragon stories.
Eventually, we did see the Spinner dolphins. they travel in schools and are very playful and they do jump out of the water and spin before they fall in.
The sea creatures were nothing compared to the cliff of the Na Pali Coast. Sheer green-covered lava-rock rising into the clouds from a deep-blue ocean. (No Photoshop enhancement was needed to get the blue. It’s natural.)
On Wednesday I did a north shore shoot with a local photography company. Five of us tourists spent the day in van being driven around the north shore. The young man who led the tour was very good. He took us to locations that were off the beaten track – great overlooks, small waterfalls, secluded beaches, state parks, the lighthouse, and the taro fields.
Taro is a root vegetable and is sometimes called the potato of the tropics. At one time it was the staple that the Hawaiian diet was based. But it has long been abandoned and the modern American diet is now default. The plant grows in conditions similar to rice – in paddy fields.
The last remaining commercial fields in the state are on Kaua’i in the Hanalei River valley. The flats on either side of the river are flooded and filled with taro plants at various stages of growth.
Outside of the over saturated southern shore and the northern gated community of Princeville, the coastal plain is green. It’s culture rural with a slow tempo. The taro fields – commercial and family fields – look back to an old time.
Talk about a cliche title. Rather, two weeks ago I was looking out from the balcony and saw the cloud, the ocean, the palm trees and the golf-course. Tonight, here in Pittsburgh, I got to sit on my porch and write in my journal. It was the first writing session of the 2011 season. Below me the garden is beginning to grow into the new green of spring.
The dove is back in its nest in the Japanese lilac; the chives are reborn; (I had some in my salad tonight.) the hosta and peonies are soft and new-born green. Soon they will fill the backyard with color and leaves.
Twilight is sweet on this night that is free of rain and severe cold. (Tonight, I was wrapped up in sweat-pants, sweat-shirt, and a red, Lifa toque.) In Kaua’i, I was wearing shorts and enjoying the heat of twilight.
I want to frolicked in the autumn mist, in a land called Honah Lee.