Archive for June, 2013

Hanapepe-sign

It was our first morning in Hawai’i. We were up by seven and ready to go explore.

First stop, how about historic Hanapepe town along the western side of the island?

Hanapepe is known for it’s swinging bridge, artist studios, and historic character. The name Hanapepe means “crushed bay,” though whether this refers to landslides in the valley in which it sits or is more of a poetic description of Hanapepe’s location sandwiched between cliffs and the sea is up for speculation.

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The hiking book: The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook
The distance:  about 1/4 mile down to the beach, then maybe another 1/4 mile to the lava pools
The CityGirls rating:
9

All along the north coast of Kauai are lava rock beaches where the tides and waves have worn large water-filled craters into the lava rock. These hollowed-out lava pools fill with fresh ocean water when the tide is high, and when the waves die down, they become lovely ocean-side swimming pools.

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And what’s better than paddling around an ocean-side lava rock swimming pool? Having it all to ourselves, of course.

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We went to Hawaii!

After let’s-not-even-count-how-many-years, we took a week-long vacation all by our selves and went to Kauai. (Can you see our huge grins through the interwebs and your computer screen? Cuz, yeah, they’re that big.)

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Let’s start with the obvious: Kauai is beautiful. It’s got your stereotypical tropic island beauty: Clear blue ocean? check. Expansive sandy beaches? check. Palm trees waving in the wind? Sun and achingly blue skys? Lush greenery? Check, check and check.

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But Kauai also has a wild, rugged beauty. The mountains and ridges that section off the island are sharp, jagged and lush. Between the sandy beaches are miles of rocky shoreline where the surf pounds into the rocks, creating sprays and blowholes.

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On the western side of the island, Waimea Canyon is so vast and deep that it’s called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” It’s verdant with greenery and rich red soil and has branching fingers of rivers and crevasses that make the comparison all but impossible.

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And let us tell you; the birds are great. We had just arrived on Kauai and were walking in to the rental car office when T-Bell stopped dead for a moment. “They’re not crows, are they?” she said. A couple dark birds were waddling around by the door, and city girls that we are, we just assumed they were the ubiquitous crows we see everywhere. But these weren’t crows. Ubiquitous, yes, but some other, much more interesting sort of bird.

20130617_chickenInstead of pigeons, we’ve got the Common Myna, a dark brown bird with yellow legs and beak and thick white stripes on the wing. They don’t fly too well, and they do this silly awkward bob when they hop along the ground.

Instead of crows, there are chickens. Chickens and roosters everywhere. On the side of the road, wandering through the parking lot, in any green space that is regularly mowed (i.e. pretty much everywhere in resort-land). Most of the roosters are gorgeous, with lush feathers, vibrant colors, and plumed tails.

The third ubiquitous bird is the Cattle Egret, an elegant white egret with a peach-colored patch on the back. These egrets hang out on the side of the road with the chickens.

Stay tuned for more tales of our adventures on the Garden Island!

 

The hiking book: Hiking the San Francisco Bay Area
The distance:
5.2 miles
The CityGirls rating:
8

On a warm, sunny early summer day, we revisited Alpine Lake in the foothills of Mt. Tam. When we hiked this in late February last year, the highlight of the hikes was all the wildflowers, especially the Fetid Adder’s Tongue.

In early June, it’s a whole different hike, with dragonflies darting back and forth across the trail, the sun beating down, and an acrobatic troupe of ducks performing synchronized dive routines.

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