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Aloha! ...and Thanks for all the Fish





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February 1, 2011


Aloha everyone!!

I thought you all might enjoy a mental break from the weather.

Today's forecast calls for a foot of snow in KC with up to 25 inches not far to the southeast. It's only the second time ever that a blizzard warning has been issued in our area. I just returned from 18 days in Hawaii on Thursday. <maybe it's me who needs a mental break from the weather> ;-)

The natural beauty of Kaua'i is remarkable and we got to see a lot of it.

The weather during the first part of the trip was pretty good. We had periods of rain but only a few days where it kept us inside. Most of the time it sprinkled just enough for the rainbows to come out. See attached shot from Larsen's Beach (East Shore Kauai). On one of the days where is was mostly cloudy we decided to take a drive up into the hills. It was really fun. One of the sites on the tour was the location of the gates in the movie set for Jurassic Park. There isn't much there now except for the posts but it was very scenic and cool anyway (see attached movie shot and what it looks like now). Several hiking trailheads are accessible from the same road.



A few days later we drove up into Waimea Canyon where there are several great lookouts (photos from 2 of the lookouts attached). Waimea translates to "red water" in Hawaiian and the area is known for it's red dirt. In fact, they sell shirts dyed with the dirt (aka "Red Dirt Shirts").

We were visiting one of the lookouts at the end of the Waimea Canyon road in Koke'e State Park where we noticed a couple of photographers with big, long lenses staking out one of the areas at the end of the parking lot. There were shooting (taking pictures) of one of the birds native to and only found in Hawai'i called the 'Apapane. The 'Apapane like to eat the nectar of a particular blooming tree called the ʻōhiʻa lehua. I got the scoop from the photographers and walked a short distance away and staked out a different flower. Shortly after showing off my two photos the guys moved over to my spot and we chatted for quite a while (really nice guys). One of them apparently is quite well known in the area, offers guided tours and has taken the majority of the bird pictures in the reference/picture books of Hawaiian birds.

More about the 'Apapane...  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CA%BBApapane

fyi, there's 12 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet plus the Okina <apostrophe>. All words end in a vowel. The okina forces a pause in pronunciation as in uh-oh. The airport on Kaua'i is in Lihu'e. (ka-wa-ee, li-who-ee).

Sushi lovers will delight in the news that ahi (yellow fin) tuna is plentiful and cheap. A frequent staple at the stores, take-out restaurants and at luaus is Ahi Poke. Poke is a raw fish salad which is normally served as an appetizer. Yum! Grab a 1/2 lb of poke at the Safeway deli and a serving of steamed rice and you're set for $5-$6. $5 at a sushi restaurant here will buy you 2 pieces of sushi (how many ounces is that?). There's a lot of fish tacos and sandwiches on the menus of restaurants so if you like ahi tuna, this is the place to be.

Lastly, the scenic highlight and adventure of the trip came when two buddies (Craig and Brian) flew out to join me for the last part of the trip. Our plan was to backpack the 11 mile Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast and camp at the beach. Wow!! This has got to be one of my favorite places and hikes on the planet. It's not easy as you can see from the attached elevation profile chart; however, it is well worth the effort. The weather was AWESOME and it didn't rain a drop the entire time.

I captured a few shots from the beach looking back at the Na Pali (the cliffs). The panoramic shots represent a 180 degree view. These were difficult shots to get as the lighting was harsh during the day so the first was taken right after sunset (7 photos merged together) and the other using long exposures early, early (~4am) in the morning under moonlight (9 photos merged together). One of the other attached shots from the hike is typical of the views along the trail.


We met several interesting fellow-hikers on the beach and enjoyed spending time with them. Brad is from Whistler Canada and toughed out the hike in spite of having a huge pin in his leg as a result of breaking it badly in skiing accident not long before. Brad's camera used the same battery as mine so my extra one came in handy when his was running low. James is an ex-military, former olympic-trial caliber athlete, do-gooder from Jackson, WY who sold his house to fund a charity with matching donations from others who knows a little about everything, is fascinated with reading about magnetics and is soon heading to South Africa to build water wells for villages lacking in easily accessible fresh water. Note: James carried out two bags of trash 4 miles to the trailhead from Hanakoa.

While Brian, Craig and I hiked the entire route in on the first day, we decided to camp in Hanakoa valley on the way out and see the falls there. It was nice; however, it was on this side trip where I joined Craig and Brian in taking a fall though only a bruise as a result so not bad. None of us had any more than bruises or scratches. It's a hazardous hike with numerous precipitous drop-offs so you have to pay attention.

The attached shot of the falls is an HDR (high-dynamic-range) merged panoramic of 15 photos (experimenting). Note that the heavy-pack award goes to Brian who on the way home in the airplane was able to finish off the trail mix and beef jerky that he packed all they way to Kalalau and back out while sharing miscellaneous food items with both Craig and I the whole time. ;-)

On a different topic -> the USPS first day of issue of the new Kansas Statehood commemorative stamp was a few days ago on Jan 27th. You may recall that the stamp artwork's predominant feature (one of my photos of an old windmill) was used by the artist to paint the image on the stamp. More info via the link below... The stamp is now available for purchase at the USPS web site and is a "forever" stamp so I just loaded up. ;-)


Well, i just looked outside and it's time for me to go shovel the driveway... welcome home!

Aloha all!!!

PS - notes on a couple of photos not mentioned above:
Pink Hibiscus - Hibiscus plants are common and this shot was taken on one of the cloudy days.
The shot with the palm trees was taken near the Sheraton at Poipu beach




Copyright 2011 K. Venator