Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dyeing for Dirty Shirts

Kauai is famous for its bright red dirt. Red dirt shirts are sold all over the island. We saw them on sale 2 for $38. Last time we were here we made some ourselves, but they were pale compared to the commercially produced ones and I came to the sour grapes conclusion that they had thrown in red dye.

We decided to try it again this time. It is fun even if it doesn't work! We collected dirt from the Spouting Horn parking lot.
We used our rental unit's trash can as our dye bucket. And we did it all on our lovely lanai. Aren't we good guests?

In with the dirt.
In with the shirts.

We soaked them for 24 hours and then dried them out. Dry they looked like the shirt on the left. Like red dirt on top of a white shirt. Once again, it wasn't working.

Google to the rescue. It turns out you've got to set the stain with vinegar. Hey, sour grapes were just what we needed after all. After soaking them in white wine vinegar water they look like the shirt on the right.

Seven happy girls in homemade red dirt shirts.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Man Sea

In a park you might grab a kid's hands and swing her around. In a flash you've got a crowd, waiting. In the pool you might throw a kid. Every kid wants to be thrown. Over and over. You get tired. They don't. And you think, will they ever get tired of it? You suspect not.

I now have proof.

Old man sea is the rough and tumble strong guy who never tires of tossing, throwing, bouncing, rolling. He never tires, and, amazingly, the kids don't either.

Left to right Iain, Sasha, Mike, Evelyn
Over 3 days the kids spent 8 hours riding, ducking, swimming, running, getting knocked down, bowled over, and every time we had to drag them out.

I love the pic below it looks like Clementine is alone at the beach. Actually that wave is breaking on Mike. See him in the middle? And behind the wave and in it are at least 14 other people. Clem just had a big ride, but she's hitching up her drawers and heading out for another one.

Our friends' daughter Anya zipping in.
A dad and old man sea make a great pair.

The waves at Brennecke's Beach are so crazy you can't capture them in stills. You never know which direction they'll come from. Outgoing waves meet incoming ones in huges splashes. Ricochet waves sweep the beach from right to left.

Thirteen seconds into this video you'll see Clementine enjoying the crazy water. She zooms into the picture from the right, riding the outgoing wave, then turns and rides an incoming wave with Sasha.

We still have 4 more days to play with Old Man Sea, the guy who doesn't mind doing the same thing over and over again for thousands of years. Maybe one day we'll get out at dawn and stay till dusk and see if the kids ever do tire of his games.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Queen's Bath

We have been to this natural swimming pool on the lava bench before and heard tales that it is dangerous, but now a plaque with a death tally awaits visitors at the trail head.
Signs posted every 30 feet warn of the hazards. You can see 3 of them in this picture. The final sign is accompanied by a life ring.
There was even a woman standing on this bluff overlooking the pool who told us about a boy who'd been paralyzed. Awful, but we were undeterred.
Isn't it gorgeous? Ok, I was nervous, despite having been here before, and knowing that the surf was small today, and that we were not going to stand on the rocks near the ocean or swim near the little channel by the ocean where the waves come in and out.

But Mike was completely unmoved. So in we went. There are only a few different kinds of fish, but the water clarity is unsurpassed.

Convict tangs and some silver fish we did not identify.

Surge wrasse.
Racoon butterfly fish.

Mike holding a brittle star. It is amazing how fast they move. Watch till the end, it is not that long.

It really is a place worthy of royalty. And also worthy of a healthy respect and caution. Sad to think of the 28 people who came out for a dip here and never went home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Into the Swamp

After several days on the beach the brilliant sunshine was turning the kids from pink to red even with sunscreen, sun shirts, hats. So we set off for Alaka'i Swamp. It is in the backyard of Mount Wai'ale'ale, the wettest place on earth. At 4000 feet it is above Kauai's mosquito line.

We took the Pihea trail from Kalalau lookout.
On our left lay a dizzying vista of the Kalalau Valley, through fog. Greta kept shouting, "You don't have to hold my hand so tight!"
On our right, the high plateau where the swamp lies. Here she was shouting, "Clementine is too close to the edge!"
The Pihea trail is slippery red mud, steep in spots, with root ladders.

After a little over a mile we reach the boardwalks. Now it is easy going. You can even run.
1.8 miles in we stopped at the crossroads of the Pihea and Alaka'i Swamp Trails for lunch.

Judging by our visitor it was a popular lunch spot.
The swamp has many birds, but they stay out of sight. Also many ferns in plain view.

And mossy trees.
This native plant is a relative of the pepper.

The boardwalks turned into steps. 263 of them. We counted.

Back to mud, but now it is gray.
The path descended to a lovely brook where we soaked our toes.

And looked at lichens. Well, I think it is a lichen.
Then we were off again, back up the staircase, through the ferns.
Greta had to pause to unfurl fiddleheads.
Past the ohia blossoms.
Back to the red dirt.

And mud.

Pst the sticklike trees filtering the light.
Which gave way suddenly to the vista of Kalalau Valley, now free of clouds.
Greta stopped for a quick self portrait in the mud.

By the time we made it back to the lookout our shadows were getting long.
And the fast kids were waiting for us.
We hardly saw the big kids on the trail. Each time we caught up to them, they'd close up the pocket knives they were whittling roosters with and be off again.

And when we got home our friends had grilled steak and lobster tails waiting for us. Ah, life in paradise.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Surprising Oahu

We ended up on Oahu half by chance. I have never really wanted to go to Honolulu. Too big. I like Kauai--small town and lots of wild. But the flight from Oahu to Kauai was so late...getting in a 1am California time.

So we decided to break the trip in Oahu. And it turned out to be full of surprises. In the car we are listening to Mark Twain's letters from Hawaii. On Honolulu he says the whaling trade is everything, and that "shorn of it" the city would fail and "real estate become valueless." He was surprisingly wrong there I think, as I look out from our 24th floor lanai over the city.

One surprise is that you don't have to get far from Waikiki to have the ocean to yourself.
Even though I know it is lush in Hawaii, it is always a surprise, coming from California, how lush it is. Has anyone read The World Without Us? It imagines that humanity suddenly disappears. How would nature take over and what would be the lasting evidence of human activity? The Old Pali Highway reminded me of that book.

Here it is before the Nu'uanu Tunnels through the mountain made this winding road over the mountain obsolete in the 50's.

And here it is today. Half overgrown with vines and fragrant flowers, its walls beginning to crumble.

We ignored the many signs warning of falling rocks and ambled down the road. The girls enjoyed the falling water. It poured off the cliffside from where the fringe of vegetation ended, an all natural shower.
Some of the surprises were surprisingly small, like this sand dollar Greta found on Waikiki beach.

Others were surprisingly large.
Yes, everyone knows Hawaii has giant cockroaches, but seeing them is still surprising, especially when they turn up in the hotel room. I remember the last time we were on Kauai the kids couldn't get enough of holding and petting the giant cockroaches.

I hate to move right from cockroaches to food, but what the heck. There is a lot of good food in Honolulu. This none-too-creatively-named joint dished up too much good food for 6 for less than $30. And the parking was very convenient. That is the hood of our rental car in the pic.

This place is actually in a former garage. You can see the rolled up garage door at the entrance.

When we pulled up I said, "Wow, this really is a hole in the wall."

We got out. Due to the proximity of the parking as soon as we got out we were in the restaurant.

Greta: Where's the hole?
Me: (Not getting it.) There's no hole.
Greta: In the wall.
Me: (Getting it now, whispering.) There's no hole in the wall.
Greta: You said there was a hole in the wall.
Me: (Hoping we can drop it) I meant something different.
Greta: (Screaming) You said there was a hole in the wall! You lied!

Other surprises. At Pearl Harbor:
Spotted doves:
Sand castles in strange places:
Pit traps. Evelyn loves to dig. The latest passion is pit traps in the sand. She knows I am on to her, so she has taken to building elaborate structures whose only purpose is to entice me to walk over and take a look...and fall in the pit trap.
The vistas around every corner. You never know what might be waiting for you.

I started with Twain getting it wrong, so I'll end with him getting it right.

"That peaceful land, that beautiful land, that far-off home of solitude and soft idleness, and repose, and dreams, where life is one long slumberous Sabbath, the climate one long summer day, and the good that die experience no change, for they but fall asleep in one heaven and wake up in another". -- Mark Twain