A visit to “Jurassic Park”: Kauai, Hawaii

A 52 foot lighthouse guards the entrance to Nawiliwili, Kauai.

Napali means cliffs in Hawaiian.  The northwest coast of Kauai is barely 17 miles long, but it is so rugged, it only can be reached on foot, by boat or by helicopter.  Although we spent ten days on Kauai in 1991, we never saw it.  It was time to “get ‘er done.”

Kauai is geologically the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands and the fourth largest.  In 2010, it had 67,091 people.  Known as the Garden Isle, flowers and fruit are everywhere.  There are even fruit trees along the roads where someone in the past discarded leftovers from lunch.  Wild orchids grow in the jungle.

A large cruise ship entering Nawiliwili must make a sharp left turn followed by a sharp right turn.

1992’s Hurricane Iniki set pigs and chickens free.  With few predators, now they run wild over the island as do parrots and parakeets released by their owners.

You probably have seen some of the Napali Coast.  It was featured in Jurassic Park, Raiders of the lost Ark, Blue Hawaii, South Pacific, and Donovan’s Reef among other films.

Our small group had rain on the way to and from our Zodiac inflatable boat and clouds hung low in the sky, but it did not actually rain on us as we went up the coast.  We saw Hawaiian spinner dolphins, a bottle-nose dolphin, the spectacular cliffs and jungle covered valleys.

In the 1930s, archaeologists found a mass grave with very small skeletons.  Known as the Valley of the Lost Tribe, for a long time many thought it was the source of the legendary tiny people, the Menehune, sort of Hawaiian Leprechauns. Later it was determined it was a children’s mass grave.  Now once each year, Hawaiians make the trek to the valley to remember and honor them.

Click on photos to enlarge.

NOTE:  The Big Island, Hawai’i, is the only Hawaiian Island with active volcanoes.  Please do not let recent eruptions prevent you from visiting.  Remember, mass media focuses on the worst of any situation, not the typical experience.

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The Road to Hana: Maui, Hawaii

Lahaina, Maui

Maui is the second largest island district in the state of Hawaii.  It has a little over 160,000 people.  Twin volcanoes, now dormant, formed Maui.  These in turn eroded into four islands.  The passage between the two main islands is relatively shallow for the Pacific, about 300 feet deep.  Whales come to these warm waters in winter to give birth to their young.  Lahaina, where we anchored, was once a major stop for nineteenth century whaling ships.  They hunted whales, however, in summer in Alaska’s cold waters because the whales had the most blubber then.  Lahaina was just a place to rest and resupply

From Lahaina down the west coast of Maui to Ma’alaaa [there really are three a’s at the end] and across the middle of the island is relatively flat and straight.  I was surprised at how much flat farm land there was in the center.  It was formerly used for sugar, and we passed a recently abandoned sugar mill.  But Maui’s north and south are dominated by two mountains, many steep valleys and few roads.  Translated from the Hawaiian, the mountains are the “Home of the Sun” and the “Home of the Moon.”  75% of the island is isolated and inaccessible.  The road down the southeast coast to Hana from Haiku has 617 bends and 54 one-lane bridges – and it isn’t a very long road.

It was a bright sunny day in Lahaina, but Hana is in the rain forest.  We drove through a light to moderate rain the entire way.  I didn’t take a hat, so whenever we stopped, I wore a towel over my head to protect my hearing aids.  Alie said she could always spot me.  I was the only Arab.

Photos taken through rainy windows don’t show much, but it was a pleasure to drive through the lush forest by the sea and look at the many streams and waterfalls.  We stopped at a roadside stand recommended by our guide and bought some delicious banana bread.  I ate it despite knowing we had box lunches waiting.  We chose to eat those on the bus at a park, but the rain let up enough we could walk to the beach, home to large sea turtles.

Click on photos to enlarge.

As pointed out before, most Hawaiian volcanoes are dormant, and Kilauea’s eruption should not deter you from visiting.

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Iolani Palace: Oahu, Hawaii

Iolani Royal Palace

There are many larger and grander homes in the United States, but there is only one royal palace.  It is the Iolani Palace in Honolulu on the island of Oahu in the state of Hawai`i, the home of a king and queen.

King Kamehameha I [1758-1819] united the various Hawaiian islands under one rule. He is revered as a wise ruler and astute statesman.  His “law of the splintered paddle” provided every man and woman could travel the islands’ roads freely and lie down at night by the roadside without fear of harm.

King Kalᾱkaua and his Queen

In 1819, his son defied the tradition of men and women eating separately, which led to the abolishment of the system of  kapu, taboos.

In 1845, the capital was moved to Honolulu.  When the ruling king died in 1873, his successor, Lunalilo, declared the King should be elected, and he was elected. But he died a year later and was succeeded by David Kalᾱkaua.

Iolani Palace was the official residence of the Kalᾱkaua dynasty that ruled Hawai`i from 1874 to 1893.  King Kalᾱkaua, who ruled 17 years and had travelled to the U.S. and Europe, built the palace in 1882 as a symbol that Hawai`i’s leaders were civilized and enlightened. He actually led the way in some respects, installing electric lights, indoor plumbing and a telephone.

“Order of Kal?kaua Knights” — the King mimiced European royalty.

Although Kalᾱkaua sought to restore and promote native Hawaiian culture including the creation of a secret society to do so, he adopted the trappings of a European King.  He created Royal Orders.  He was a Mason. Despite his admiration of Europe, he was quite pro-American.  His 1885 treaty brought prosperity to the nation, but in 1887 he also gave complete control of Pearl Harbor to the U.S.  He died in 1891 in San Francisco among rumors he planned to sell Hawai’i.

Kalᾱkaua’s successor, Queen Liliuokalani ruled just two years before being deposed [illegally] by an provisional government established by American residents in January 1893.  She was made a prisoner in the palace in 1895 by the Republic of Hawai`i and held there eight months.

Tomb of King Charles Lunalilo [1835-1874], a king who chose to be elected.

After a nine-year restoration project, the palace was opened to the public in 1978.  It is square, with a large central hallway and stairs to the second floor.  Stairway, paneling, banisters, doors and trim are made of Hawaiian koa wood.  They have been able to reproduce many carpets and furniture to look as they were while the king and queen were in residence.  Our guide clearly still felt the injustice of Liliuokalani’s overthrow.


Click on photos to enlarge.

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Honolulu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor when we visited 7 Dec 70.

Seventy five percent of the people in the state of Hawaii live in Honolulu.  Honolulu means sheltered bay in the Hawaiian language.  King Kamehameha, who united all the Hawaiian Islands lived on the Big Island and established his capital on Maui.  But his successors realized the value of a good harbor and moved their capital to Honolulu in the early 1800s.

The United States realized the value of a good harbor and made Pearl Harbor the center of its Pacific forces in 1887.

Note the empty space between the high rises and Diamond Head. Waikiki in 1970 was not nearly as built up as now.

Honolulu, Hawaii and Juneau, Alaska are the only state capitals that cannot be reached from the rest of the country by road.

When I was on R & R from Vietnam in 1970, Alie and I met in Honolulu.  It was a once in a lifetime experience.  So now, a bit more than 47 years later, we went back for dinner at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach under the shadow of Diamond Head.  Where there was once a classic old hotel on a huge lawn next to the beach, there is now the Royal Hawaiian shopping mall and a huge resort.  On the street where we bought a dollar-ninety eight mask and snorkel in Woolworths, there are now Rodeo Drive-like stores such as Gucci and Bulgari.  We couldn’t have found our way into the old portion of the hotel without our cab driver’s help.

The experience wasn’t the same, but sometimes nostalgia is enough – we loved it.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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Contemporary Hawaiian Quilts: Hilo, Hawai`i

Out of the 3029 passengers on the ship, I suspect we were the only two that went to see quilts in Hilo.  As we are wont to do, we were just wandering around the town to see what was going on.

The big event was the week-long Merrie Monarch Hula Festival highlighted by a three-day hula competition.  It was dedicated to Kind David La`amea Kalᾱkaua who reigned from 1874 to 1891 and is celebrated for his fun-loving support of music and dance.  Unfortunately, one has to make reservations up to a year in advance, so that will have to wait for another trip.

But when we passed the Mokupapapa Discovery Center, we noticed they had a show devoted to contemporary Hawaiian quilts.  We decided to see what they were all about.  Here are a few of the 50 quilts on display.

In a news report, Roberta Muller, who teaches a free quilting class at the Center, said her quilts usually take about 400 hours to make.  The usual process is to appliqué a pattern onto a piece of fabric; that is, to sew it with ornamental needlework.  Then the piece is quilted — two pieces of fabric are sewn together with padding between them using lines of needlework, often in a pattern itself.

Click on images to enlarge and to see the artists’ names.

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“Really Real” flowers: Hilo, Hawai`i

Wandering through Hilo’s farmers’ market, Alie’s eye was caught by flowers turned into jewelry.  The young lady selling them said the process was developed by a friend of her family.  When I got home, I did a little more research.

This post is not an advertisement, but I suppose it reads like one.  I am continuously impressed, however, by people’s ingenuity and creativity.

Peter Honeyman developed and patented the process by which live flowers absorb preservatives.  He advertises “Real Flower Jewelry: Permanent, Flexible…They will not dry out or wilt.  Each has thus been turned into a permanent fresh cut flower!

They can be damaged, however, and should not be crushed.  They are dusted with a clean soft brush or washed with luke-warm clean water.

The preservative protects against ultraviolet light, but a few colors are enhanced to create a natural look.  “Each piece is unique.  Because every flower is real and each piece is handcrafted…While most flowers change colors over the years, ours will be retained, softening in intensity, developing a “patina” or more “mellow” look.

We purchased these for Alie’s sister.

Peterman was successful enough to develop a mass-production facility while working in California, Oregon and Hawai`i.  But in 2005, he scaled back and moved all production to Hilo.  He further scaled back after the 2007 recession.  But you don’t have to go to Hawai`i.  Like just about everyone else today, he has a website:                                                   http://realflowerjewelry.com

Click on photos to enlarge.

P.S.  If you are thinking about visiting Hawaii, please do not be deterred by the recent volcanic activity.  The Big Island is the only island with an active volcano.  The others are dormant, have moved away from the “hot spot” and will stay dormant.  Even the Big Island of Hawaii is big.  Most of the island is not effected by the lava flows.  I believe, with reasonable caution, you will be safe.

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Hilo: Hawai`i

Hilo: fog partially due to rain and partially due to volcanic gases.

We flew over the volcano Kilauea April 4.  It was just coincidence last week’s post was just as new fissures and eruptions were threatening homes outside Hilo.  After reading reports, I believe the lava in my photo “lava lake”  suddenly drained causing earthquakes which in turn caused the new fissures.

Hilo, with a 2010 census of 43,260, is the second largest town in the state of Hawai`i and the largest town on the Big Island, Hawai’i.  With an average of 127 inches of rain a year, it is one of the wettest towns in the world.

Liliuokalani Gardens from the air

After our helicopter ride, we took a taxi from the ship into town.  Along the way we passed Liliuokalani Gardens where the original town was located.  In 1946, a tsunami caused by an earthquake near the Aleutian Islands washed through killing 160 people.  In 1960, another earthquake near Chile caused a tsunami that claimed 61 lives.  Low lying areas near the bay were turned into parks, and the town expanded inland in the 1960s.

We spent several hours just walking.  We visited the market.  By chance, it was Wednesday, their biggest day.

Then, on the advice of a woman in the market, we sought a restaurant favored by locals.  Not getting the name correct, instead we ended up in a tea room behind a gift shop.  We were the only patrons at the time, and we enjoyed talking to the clerk, a student at University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.  We saw more students later.  I can’t imagine a better place to study marine sciences, volcanology or astronomy.

Passing a community center, we saw a sign for a display of contemporary Hawaiian quilts and went in.  Out of all the passengers on the ship, I suspect we were the only two that saw the quilts.  But the volunteer staff were very helpful and the quilts were spectacular.  It will be the subject of a future post.

We stopped in a local market.  I wanted to buy some Kona coffee for my sister but all they had were beans, and she does not have a coffee grinder.  “Oh, we’ll grind them for you,” said the clerk — and they did.

Click on photos to enlarge.

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