Wednesday, May 17, 2017

South Kauai

The morning starts off with a shopping trip to the farmer's market at Kaua'i Community College. We arrive about 15 minutes before the opening and are surprised to learn that no buyers are allowed into shop until the official start time.  However, the time waiting is well spent as we meet some of the regulars who fill us in on their favorite vendors and produce available.
Kaua'i Community College Farmer's Market

The selection of flowers
is amazing

Later we split up so Peter and Jamie can take off for a Zip Line adventure:

 While Suzy and I go shopping at a crafts fair. We enjoy a wonderful lunch at Brennecke's Beach Broiler across the street from Poipu Beach Park. Unfortunately, in the middle of the night both Suzy and I get sick to our stomachs and spend part of the night not having fun. Since the guys weren't with us, the Mango Daiquiris at Brennecke's become the main suspect.  At least the bug passed through us quickly. Looks like we won't be going back to that place again.
Tented Crafts Faire

Suzy slips a Mango Daiquiri

The ambiance at Brennecke's is great

Joining back up with the guys, we explore more of what south Kauai has to offer.  The first stop is at a tourist staple - Spouting Horn blowhole. The area is now fenced off, but many years ago when we first saw it, you could walk right up to it.  It's likely some visitors didn't use much common sense and got too close - like peering right over the blowhole wondering when it would go off next.

On our first visit in the mid 1980's, we walked up closer and found a nice place to sit and just watch.  Suddenly a large bus full of Japanese tourists stopped and disgorged about 35 people, mostly men. For awhile all we could hear was the clicking of cameras. Then as if on queue, they all scrambled back on the bus and were gone in a flash, all without saying a single word to each other. We just looked at each and wondered what just happened.
The official chicken greeter

Sprouting Horn blows off

Cock fight!

One of the fanciest (read most expensive) places to stay in Kauai is the Grand Hyatt. Even though it's much more than any of us can afford, we waltz through their lavishly landscaped gardens and into the main entrance like we own the place and know where we are going.  Nobody even questions us. We settle down to listen to George Kahumoku Jr who's playing in an open air bar. We are thrilled to be able to listen to one of Hawaii's premiere musicians free of charge in such a beautiful setting. We loudly applaud his performance between songs. The Grand Hyatt paying guests barely even raise their hears to acknowledge George's presence. Having gobs of money must dull appreciation to some of life's better experiences.
Australian Black Swans
Open air bar

Jamie points out a nice beach at the resort

Friends of friends have told us about a wonderful hidden beach not far from the Grand Hyatt, so we take off driving through a maze of bumpy sugar cane roads to find it - hey, it's a rental (another reason never to ever buy former rental cars).  Just as the sun is starting to set, we come to a dead end at some ocean cliffs. There we can see the fabled beach. At least now we have a better idea how to find it.
There's the beach across the cove

The next morning we plan our day while watching for whales and enjoying papayas and Hawaiian coffee on the lanai. We are looking forward to exploring Waimea Canyon, known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." While Hawaiians like to compare it to Arizona's Grand Canyon, Waimea is only a mini version. Still - it is well worth seeing.
There's a paddle boarder

Ahh - breakfast

Waimea River helped carve out the Canyon

Jamie and Peter are dwarfed by Waimea Canyon

We stop at the large parking lot at Cliff Trail Lookout where there's a good view of Waipoo Falls with a constant flow of helicopters buzzing about like mechanical mosquitoes. In the parking lot, I meet one of the tour guides and talk her into letting me take a photo of her interesting face. She was sweet to accommodate me.

Then we drive on to Kalalau Lookout at the end of the road.
Waipoo Falls

Hawaiian guide

Kalalau Lookout

Kalalau Valley

The day is so spectacular, it's hard not to keep snapping photos.  When we were here before, this lookout was almost completely socked in with mist laden clouds. We take off hiking on an old trail that the ancient Hawaiians used to get between the south and north parts of the island.  Today the trail is dry and we wonder how much harder it would be under the more usual muddy conditions.
Na Pali Coast State Park

Well trod trail

Suzy and Jamie stop for a phto op

Sign pointing to 2nd most wettest spot on earth

 Mount Waialeale

Descending back down the canyon toward the west

Not long afterwards we find ourselves again bumping along the cane roads in search of Gillin's Beach. This time we reach our destination and are richly rewarded with a true treasure. It's named after a long time supervisor of the Grove Farm sugar company. His former house is at the west end of the beach. In fact, it's now available as a vacation rental.
Now that's a beach!

Jamie finds an inscribed rock

Sea Cucumbers in the tide pools

Lava surrounded tide pools

Ahh - this is what paradise is supposed to be

Peter rests after snorkeling

Beer commercial shot

Playing with fish-eye lens

Since our time on the south shore is getting short, we decide to stop at the Hawaiian Trading Post in Lawai. Suzy is interested in the Ni'ihau shell leis that are available here. While she checks out the merchandise, I snap goofy photos of the guys playing with the photo props outside.

Peter uses classical form on a cement wave
We make it back to the condo in time for sunset.
With a little practice you guys could work local luaus

Jamie getting ready for Mav's

Suzy models her new Ni'ihau shell lei for the cameras

It is beautiful

while the crowds gather for the sunset show

Last sunset on Kauai's south shore

Monday, April 17, 2017

Poipu, Kauai

To escape the storms and give ourselves a much needed shot of sunshine, we take off to Kauai. It's been awhile since we were last in the San Jose Airport and several changes are obvious:
Mini dog park

Robot info kiosk

Homeward bound lei Kauai pups

Our plane is at the gate

and we are off into the dawn above Silicon Valley

About five hours later we land at Lihue, pick up a rental car, and stop at Costco for provisions and a snack.  Then back to the airport to pick up Suzy and Jamie. Lunch at the Kauai Beer Company, and then to our Poipu vacation condo.
Costco's the same but the backdrop is more dramatic

More Kauai lei pups at Brew Pub

First Kauai sunset from the condo lanai

Morning are my favorite time in Hawaii. There's Kona coffee, fresh pineapple, papayas and wonderful sea breezes. Besides the whales are here and great fun to watch.  We delight in watching one young whale jumping clear out of the water over and over, probably impressing Mom how much he can jump.
Morning on our lanai

Test of a new cell camera fish-eye

Swells hitting the rocks in front of the condo

The day is too nice to just hang out at the condo, so we pack up and head to the main beach in Poipu.
Poipu Beach Park

Our chairs & umbrella

Sailing canoe at Poipu Beach

Ahhh - it was worth all the trouble getting here

As the others head out snorkeling,  I stay with our stuff and just soak in the ambiance.  The locals birds come very close, probably looking for handouts. In an epiphany, I discover the answer to an age old question:
Zebra doves are common

Why does the chicken walk across the road?

To see the chicks at the beach!

In the late afternoon we drive to the Allerton Garden Visitors Center for their Sunset tour. This estate has an interesting history stretching back before European contact. In 1885, the Hawaiian Queen Emma inherited the Lawai-kai Valley, where the estate is located.  After the death of her husband, King Kamehameha IV, she lived in cottages on the hillside overlooking the valley and the ocean. She initiated the gardens by planting mangoes, bamboo, bougainvillea, and much more. Some of these plants can still be seen gracing the hillside.  In 1899, the lower valley was conveyed to Alexander McBryde. Then later in 1938, McBryde sold the property to Robert Allerton, the only son of a wealthy Chicago family.

Robert Allerton was interested in landscape architecture.  In his many travels, he met the young architectural student John Gregg, who become his lifelong partner. They immediately started planning the estate's formal gardens as well as including their collection of classic statuary. In the 1960's Allerton helped establish a tropical botanical garden for the United States and later gifted a part of his land to the new institution enabling the creation of the McBryde Garden.

After Allerton's death, John Gregg inherited the estate and continued to live there. After he passed away in 1986, the estate was left in trust and eventually became under the management of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens.
We wait at the Visitors Center for our tour

Full papaya tree

This tour looks like it's going to be fun

While waiting, we wander around the gardens surrounding the Visitors Center.  Soon our guide John gathers the group. He starts off by showing us breadfruit, a Polynesian diet stable.
Ti plant - Cordyline furticosa


John describes how breadfruit is prepared for eating

We then board a small tour bus for a short ride into the Allerton Garden.
Overview of the Lawai-kai valley

Date palm

Unofficial greeter asks for treats

The array of tropical flowers and plants is almost overwhelming at first.
A type of Heliconia

Orchid clings to tree with its roots

Shell Ginger

The first stop is to an "outdoor room," a landscape architecture concept which the Allertons help pioneer. As with many of their installations, this room comes with a beautiful reflecting pool. This outdoor room is still used for parties and events

The next stop is at another long reflecting pool.

Wide walkways enable us to wander from one room to the next.
We have company

Top of water fall

John's birthday present to Robert

John points out that many of the showy tropical flowers are actually brackets holding the much smaller and less obvious real flowers.
Two small white flowers peeping out of their bracket

John shows us the bracket/flowers

Torch Ginger

We next come to a long line of Moreton Bay fig or Australian banyan trees. These trees have striking buttress roots that are so large they dwarf us. These trees also have the distinction of appearing in a scene from the first of Hollywood's Jurassic Park movies.

Of all the wonderful fountains we see at the Allerton Garden, the most fascinating one is the Heart Fountain. By using repeating serpentine walls along with small drop pools in it's construction, the water flows in beats mimicking the rhythm of the human heart.

The next long pathway takes us through a bamboo forest on our way to the main house. Here John shows us a most unusual fruit, that seems to smile at us showing off a toothy edible grin. (Sorry - none of us can remember the name of this fruit).
Bamboo forest

Edible teeth

Two large stone Asian sea creatures mark the entrance to the main house.  The house we see is the third rebuild after storms destroyed the previous ones.  In fact, we can still see the water marks left behind from Hurricane Iniki, which devastated the valley and much of Kauai in general. Queen Emma was smart to build her cottages high on the hillside to avoid the tidal surges from major storms.
Asian statue

The muses

Interior sitting room

Many pieces of the Allertons' large art and sea shell collection are on display.
Fountain mouth?

Coral head

Dinner! Yummy

After an excellent dinner, we wander outside and down the river to the beach.
Art deco statue

Lawai-kai river


Sunset at Allerton beach

Coconut heart

The main house from the bridge

Last look at the Allerton Estate

It's been a remarkable day that all of us have thoroughly enjoyed

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Retired and enjoying life.