Monday, January 6, 2014

The Garden Isle

We've shown you some of Kauai's big beautiful vistas - its waterfalls, rivers, mountains, canyons and beaches.  Here is Kauai on a smaller scale...but just as breathtaking.  You can understand why Kauai is called the Garden Island.

The Albatross are here mating and nesting.  The rituals of head bobbing, beak tapping
and variety of calls have been extraordinary to witness.  Unfortunately, we'll miss the fledglings
as they won't be hatching until February.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hawaiian Eats

Pretty Rambutan - locally grown fruit with an inside similar to a mild grape.

We're always asked about the food when we return from a trip abroad.  "What did you try, did you like it?"  Well, we're still in the USA housesitting in the state of Hawaii, but when we look at some of the items offered on local restaurant menus it almost feels like we are in a foreign country.  There are different dishes here, dishes that are influenced by the cultures (Polynesian, Asian, Hawaiian) that have made Hawaii their home and shaped by what food has traditionally been available here in the islands.  

We're talking Loco Moco (no, it's not something that is now legal in Colorado) a popular Hawaiian gut buster. Kalypso restaurant in Hanalei serves it for breakfast.  A half pound hamburger patty served atop rice, smothered in brown gravy, topped by two sunny side up eggs and covered in crispy fried onions. Now that's a whopper! Poi, a dish of pounded boiled taro root, is a healthier alternative but not nearly as tasty. Then there is Lau Lau (salted chicken, pork, and beef wrapped in Taro leaves and steamed), Pipi Kaula (jerky made from flank steak) and Huli Huli Chicken (chicken marinated in soy, pineapple juice, ginger and garlic).  But the king of Hawaiian dishes, served at every luau, has to be Kalau Pua'a - a pig steamed for hours underground until it's so tender it melts in your mouth. 

Then, of course, there is SPAM.  No menu would be complete without a SPAM dish.  Maybe we should say SPAM dishes as there are so many made with it - casseroles, salads, soups, sandwiches, sushi and burgers.  Both Burger King and McDonald's serve SPAM. Why is it so popular in the islands?  SPAM (basically a canned chopped pork) was introduced by the military during WWII when fresh meat was scarce.  Surpluses were distributed to the locals, incorporated into their daily meals, and it has been a well loved staple ever since.  

What do you wash it all down with?  POG.  A sweet concoction of pineapple, orange and guava juices that's fine on its own but really, really good mixed with some rum and topped by a little paper parasol! 

Interested in trying some loco moco?  Guy Fieri featured his version on Guy's Big Bite and provides his recipe here.  How about going all the way and hosting your own luau?  The Polynesian Cultural Center has all the recipes you'll need for the dishes mentioned above plus more.  Now you just need to find a whole pig and start digging....

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Kaua'i is Beautiful

Tunnels Beach

Really, what more is there to say?

Hanalei Bay - can you pick out Puff the magic dragon?

Hanalei Bay

Anini Beach

Along the Hanalei River

Hanalei Valley

Taro Fields

'Opaka"a Falls

Kilahua Light House - the northernmost point of Hawaii

Wailua Falls

Wailua River 

Wailua River

The reef and beyond - makes quite a difference doesn't it?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Hanalei

About five minutes up the road from us is the little town of Hanalei.  It's the place to go if you're looking for some good looking board shorts or other trendy surf attire, fresh fruit smoothies, anything made with acai, beach inspired housewares and gifts, souvenirs, and, of course, shave ice. Yes, shave ice, not shaved ice.  An ice cold concoction of ice shavings covered in sweet syrups -  yep, plural, nobody gets just one flavor -   and, if your really feeling like a splurge, a scoop of ice cream on the bottom is the bomb!  There are some good restaurants and some touristy places too.  There is also one of the prettiest churches on the island.  Hanalei is a sweet place with a fun, carefree vibe where you are just as likely to rub shoulders with someone famous as you are with a scruffy dude whose been camping on the beach a bit too long.  Doesn't matter - everyone seems to be having a good time.  Everyone seems to be happy in Hanalei.  


Monday, December 16, 2013

Waimea Canyon

The view from the Waimea Canyon lookout.

It's easy to feel somewhat dwarfed and insignificant when you look at Waimea Canyon.  At ten miles long, one mile wide and more than 3600 feet deep it is dramatic and, unfortunately, our photographs can't help but fail in depicting its size and grandeur.

Like Arizona's Grand Canyon the Waimea Canyon was formed by water and erosion.  Rainwater flowing from Mount Wai'ale'ale (one of the wettest places on earth at 400" inches of rainfall a year) fed three different rivers that flowed through the canyon eroding the rock. Unlike the Grand Canyon, it began as the top of an ancient volcano arising from the sea that collapsed upon itself and then filled with lava flows.  That was five million years ago.  Each layer of rock represents a subsequent layer of lava. Today there is only one river continuing to carve and create the canyon.

To get to the canyon is an 18 mile drive from the little town of Waimea.  Our advice:  go early in the morning before clouds form in the valley obscuring the view and before the large tour buses start up the narrow winding road.  

Waimea River cuts through the valley along the canyon floor.

Waterfalls have a long, long way to drop.

The dramatic results of erosion.

Although the park is located on the drier side of the island,
its higher elevation and wetter conditions create a lush landscape.

At the end of the road this view is your reward.
The Kalalau Valley is the largest valley on the Na Pali coast
and accessible only by sea or an 11-mile hike.  

For more information on Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park go to Hawaii State