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

Friday, October 11, 2013

Angel Island

Ayala Bay is named for Lt. Juan de Ayala of the Royal Spanish Navy.  His ship sailed
into San Francisco Bay in 1775 and is thought to be the first ship to ever sail into the bay.
Ayala anchored at the island and christened it "Isla de los Angeles"

Angel Island sits quietly in San Francisco Bay like the shy teenager at the party while glamorous and famous Alcatraz gets all the attention.  But take a little time and get to know her and you will see that she has much to offer in natural beauty and a rich and complex cultural history.  The island has been by turns an immigration station and a first stop in America for over a million immigrants from more than 80 countries, a civil war artillery camp, a "processing facility" for prisoners of war, a Nike missile base during the cold war, a quarantine station established to prevent plague, cholera and smallpox from spreading to the US, and, finally, became a California State Park in 1963. 

Facilities used to house immigrants and prisoners of war are open to the public
and interpretive displays tell poignant tales of their time at Angel Island.

Chinese people were specifically excluded from immigrating to the U.S. by the
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.  While many of the 175,000 Chinese that were
detained at Angel Island stayed for up to ninety days there were some who
were kept at the island for two years while their cases were reviewed.

Poetry written by Chinese detainees and carved into barrack's
walls provides a glimpse into their experiences at Angel Island.

From the civil war through the Cold War the  federal government had a presence on Angel Island
 that lasted for almost 100 years.  The Army finally abandoned the island in 1946
only to return again in 1954 to establish a Nike missile site.
The site became obsolete in 1962 and  the Army left the island.

Abandoned structures that were once part of Fort McDowell
can be seen at the island's East and West Garrisons.

One of the three army hospitals built on the island.

A perimeter road encircles the island and provides spectacular views of San Francisco Bay.

Boats from San Francisco and from Tiberon in Marin County run daily to Angel Island.

More information about visiting Angel Island is available from California State Parks

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mission Dolores

San Francisco's Mission Dolores

The formal name is Mission San Francisco de Asis, but it has been known as Mission Dolores since the first mass was held in 1776.  Named after a small stream nearby, Arroyo de Nuestra Senora de los Dolores, the mission was the sixth to be established of California's 21 Missions. Mission Dolores is unique in that it is almost completely intact as it was originally constructed. While buildings around it collapsed during San Francisco's 1906 earthquake, Mission Dolores' four foot thick adobe walls remained standing and unharmed. The original redwood logs supporting the roof remain in place to this day lashed together with rawhide.

The ceilings have been repainted over the years but they remain true to the
original Ohlone Indian designs which were painted with vegetable dyes.
The main alter was created in San Blas Mexico in 1796.

The side alters were also made in Mexico but installed much later in 1810.

The Mission's simple baptistry is still in use today.
Written records have been preserved for
Mission Dolores 28,000 baptisms.

Burials in the adjacent cemetery took place from the time of the Mission's
establishment until the 1890's. 

A sculpture of a contemplative Father Junipero Serra adds
to the peaceful feeling of the old cemetery.