Archive | January, 2016

A tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship.

13 Jan

Traveling with six people has it’s own challenges.  Ray has a propensity for sea sickness and is NOT enthusiastic about going out on the boat.  But he’s a good sport and agrees to try the morning session.  I figure he’ll pass on the night session.  We pump him full of Dramamine.  As “M” would say:  “He’ll be fine! ”

Our first mission is to swim with dolphins.  We leave the tropic port aboard the tiny ship and travel about 20 minutes north.  Ray seems to be hanging in there, I completely expected him to start vomiting over the side at any second.

For what would be NOT the first time that day we find our goal right on the bow of the boat,  A pod of Dolphin.  Captain Roy is excited – he estimates the Pod at about 300.  We jump in and swim with the wild Spinner Dolphins.  The are called spinners because when the jump out of the water they spin doing barrel rolls.  There is one baby dolphin who coudln’t be more than 15 pounds.  He just keeps jumping out of the water and spinning, doing it over and over again.  His energy is limitless, he’s a joy to watch and he’s adorable.

 

A pod is like a iceberg. Many times more under than on the surface

This is why they are call ‘spinner’ dolphins

The baby is adorable, and his energy is inexhaustable

 

While it appears there are a lot of dolphins on the surface, when you get in the water and look beneath with a snorkel mask, you see there are many times the number submerged than on the surface.  We are seriously outnumbered, We are in their home, We are on their turf, and they completely ignore us.  I was most taken by the mothers and calves.  As their mothers swim in no gravity oriented manners the babies swim, synchronized, belly to belly with their moms as they do large lazy circles beneath the surface.

 

 

Snorkleing with spinner dolphins

When I finally climb back onto the boat, in a reflexive move, I reach into my pocket and pull out my cell phone – dripping wet.  I was so excited I jumped in the water without realizing I’d forgotten to put my phone somewhere dry.  wow!  Replacing a smart phone in Hawaii is problematic.  There was a Verizon store nearby, but they were getting a shipment in tomorrow…. or maybe the next day.  And they didn’t know what was going to be in the shipment but I could call, sometime, and find out, maybe.  Aloha!  Well, who needs a smartphone on Hawaii?  I’ll consider it a tithe to Neptune – along with the hundreds of hats lost in great south bay off my catamaran, ‘Hazardous (when wet)’.

I wonder how they compensate the dolphins.

Once back onboard Captain Roy reminds us that it’s “our” boat, so I say, “we’d like to see some whales”.  What I like about Captain Roy is no matter what he is looking for, it seems to appear directly in front of the boat within minutes.  Funny how that works.

He finds whale signs then puts his hydrophone in the water.  Immediately the boat is filled with the song of a lone male.  He tells us the song goes on for about 45 minutes, then starts back at the beginning.  Female whales hearing the song are either attracted, or decide he needs more work on it and continue to more interesting rendevous.

 

whale on the bow

Summoning a Whale

whale tail 1

 

 

whale tail 2

If you look at the water surface in the above picture you’ll see two smooth “puddles”, these are whale signs.  When a whale sounds (goes down) these circles remain for some minutes afterwards. That’s how Captain Ron knew where to put his hydrophone.

I wonder how they compensate the whales.
The whales finally sound and leave us alone on an unusually calm pacific.  Oh what to do next.  Captain Ron planes off the boat and a surprise visitor makes an appearance.  A lone bottle nose dolphin decides he wants to play with us.  He comes rocketing in from the left and gets right under the bow of the boat (as we’re planed off) and rides our bow wave for quite some time.  I’m actually worried we’re going to run him over, but he makes it clear he wants Captain Ron to open the throttle. Captain Ron obliges.  I think these two mammals have played together before.  When the dolphin needs a breath of air, he breaks off to the right.  Captain ron stops the boat.  The dolphin makes a big circle in front of us, comes to the bow of the boat and makes it abundantly clear he’s not done playing.  Captain Ron Obliges and we play this game for four more rounds.

bottlenose - zoom in from the port side

Interception on port side!

 

 

bottle nose rides the bow wave

Riding the bow wave

 

 

bottlenose rides the bowwave

I can ride the wave for a long long time!

 

bottlenose - come on ron open the throttle

Come on Captain Ron, OPEN THE THROTTLE, AGAIN!

The dolphin is done playing with us and it’s time to head back to the marina.

On the way back we see large structures that I have not seen before.  The previous night at Roys, they offered dishes made from locally ‘Farmed’ fish (of some type).  It turns out these structures are the local farms.  When they harvest the fish the net moves up the pole pulling the net out of the water.

 

Wild Fish Farm

Notice the totally lava black shoreline in the background.  That’s the Air Traffic Control Tower overlooking the sole runway at Kona Airport.  you can also see the massive black lava flows in the haze.  That haze is called Vog – volcanic fog.  It’s emitted by the Kilauea volcano.
Finally our morning is over and we head back to the marina.  Ray thoroughly enjoyed the morning.  As my gynecologist would say: “he was fine.”

 

 

From left to right,

Captain Ron, Dan, Laura, Izzy, Ray, Amity and Paul, Shannon on the boat.  This is an odd photo, taken by a professional videographer, because it’s on a steeply slanted boat ramp.  The photographer made the camera level with the ramp, instead of level.  We all look leaned over!

 

We go into Kona to have some lunch.  The place recommended was not open for lunch and the town is a bit of a tourist trap.  Plus the Norweigan Cruise line ship is in, making the whole town overrun with cruise ship creatures.

citizens

We in the OF (old fart) car decide to go back to the hotel and rest up before the Nighttime excursion to swim with manta rays.  The KC decides to find something to eat in town.

We all meet back at the marina at 5pm to go on the night time manta ray snorkel.  this time Justin and Sampson are our hosts.  Ray, much to my glee, is with us!  as we leave the harbor, Justin slams the boat into reverse and comes to an abrupt stop… Have we hit something?  hats wrong?  He yells “MONK SEAL” and points to the jetty.  There are 6 Monk seals around the big island, and we’re looking at one of them from about 30 feet away.

Along the way we see what I will swear is two rays near the surface.  Justin and Sampson get all excited.  This is a Pelagic ray.  The rays we are going to swim with are coastal rays, and never leave their little area.  Pelagic rays start at 18′ wingspan, which is what they estimate this ray is, and get larger.  Sampson grabs fins, mask, snorkel and camera and is ready to jump in..  The first person who documents a particular ray gets to name it.  But they are too slow and the ray, after 3 or 4 sightings gets away.  I’m thinking to myself “what wimps, Diane would have been in the water without hesitation  and gotten that picture”.

Sunset

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In the dark we slip into the warm pacific, hold onto a board full of lights and snorkel with 2 rays, a couple of persistent needle nose plier fish, and millions of plankton, which the rays are there to eat.

Another full day done, we go back to the hotel.

The ‘kids’ go swimming in the massive pool complex at the Marriot.  The OF’s go to bed.

Swim with dolphins – Check!

Hang with Whales – Check!

Play with Bottlenose – Check!

Monk Seal – Check!

Pelagic Ray – Check!

Sunset on the water – Check!

Night time snorkel in the Pacific with Rays, Fish and plankton – Check!
Enjoy the pools in the fancy resort – Check!

We still have 4 days left.

Tomorrow we have a major decision to make.

How can things get better than this?

REFERENCE:

Title Picture: SS minnow from the opening scene of “Gilligans Island”

Title Quote: from the Theme song to “Gilligans Island”

My speedometer said that I hit top end. My foot was glued like lead to the floor. Thats all that there is there aint no more.

13 Jan

There is an old saying.  ‘Drive it like you stole it’.  I say ‘Drive it like you rented it’.

Some people say that American cars handle the best, others say foreign cars handle the best.  I say NOTHING handles like a rented car.

When I was a kid, I thought my Dad drove fast.  Diane was eccentric.  Opera Singer.  Iconoclast. Hotel soap thief.  and boy could she drive a car.

I am a natural behind the wheel, I have driven thousands of laps at racetracks spanning more than 30 years.  More days at high speed behind the wheel that I could even consider counting.  From the German Autobahn, to the Italian Autostrada, to US 50 (the loneliest road in America), to the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, I am comfortable driving for hours at triple digit speeds.  I am comfortable fording flowing streams where the water is over the tires.  I’ve taken courses at renouned racing schools at famous tracks around the country, and anti-terrorist courses at the BMW driving school facility in Spartensberg North Carolina (where the chief instructor, an Appalachian son of a bootlegger took a special interest in my driving skills).  Can you google ‘J turn’?

If Diane had lived long enough, and she drove  Laguna Seca Raceway (which I consider my “Home” track), I have no doubt she’d leave me in the dust on her first lap.  She was an excellent sightreader.  really!  the woman had huge balls and incredible driving skills.  She scared the shit out of me and my dad regularly.

Paul is a lawyer and is joining a family that is artistic and cultured and (for the most part) law-abiding.  There is a deep dark secret that comes from the Sanders side of the family which is generally frowned upon in elite, intelligent circles and anywhere in NYC.  It’s also my favorite topic!

CARS!

Grampa Sam Sanders, who was born in 1898, apparently loved cars.  My grandma Anna told how when they were courting he drove a very fancy convertible roadster (hey I have a Miata!).  I also remember he had an Impala, and a Corvair Monza.  It didn’t occur to me when I was a kid, that those were performance cars of the era.  He also pointed out to me the specific model of car he had, but never made performance claims.  Sam was known for backing up on the parkways, expressways and bridges (especially toll bridges).  If he passed an exit, he would stop, put the car in reverse and back up.  Not Safe.  J-turns are much safer.

My other grandfather, Sam Scolnick also enjoyed long driving trips.  I once drove him and Grandma Ethel up the Jersey Turnpike from Piscataway to NYC in moms Volvo.  The speed limit in those days was a widely disregarded federal speed limit of 55mph.  I drove that route every day to and from work in Edison.  You could go 74mph and the police would ignore you, 75 and over – they’d arrest you.  I was going 74mph and grandpa asked me Mellowly:  “Tell me Daniel, what speed does the law allow?”.  Without hesitation I answered “74 mph grandpa”.  He settled down until we passed the next speed limit sign, then said: “The speed limit sign says 55mph, but you said the law allows 74”.  I explained that what the ‘law allows’ and what the ‘speed limit is’ are two different things.

Mom and Dad always bought cars that had a little “extra” under the hood.  My parents told me stories of a 40’s something Plymouth named the “green pig”.  Dad told me of driving it across the country (with infant Laura) and how driving through the desert at 95 mph felt like 25 mph anywhere else, fond, nostalgic whimsy in his voice.  That childhood image prompted me to take driving vacations across the American west regularly.  My earliest memory of an actual car was moms ’56 Chevy Bel Air with a “3 on the tree”.

1956_Chevrolet_Bel_Air_4_Door_Sedan_Front.jpg

1956 Chevy Bel Air.  Notice the “jet age” hood and fender ornaments!

 

Not fast, but dads car at the time was a ’57 Imperial with a 392 Hemi and dual quads which he bought second hand from one of his best friends, Al Solomon’s father, Mr. Haganow.  Unreliable as hell, big, gaudy, and when mom drove it, it felt like someone hit the rear bumper with a huge sledgehammer when the secondaries kicked in.  then they bought a 65 Pontiac Catalina with a 389 4 barrel, replaced shortly with a ’69 Bonneville 428 4 barrel and duel exhaust (mom said it helped the gas mileage, nothing like lying to your children).  The last car of dad’s was a ’72 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham with a 440 magnum.

1957 Chrysler Imperial. Dad’s was “Florida Blue”

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One of the sexiest cars ever made.  Designed by Virgil Exner.

 

 

Arthur almost lost his license getting caught for ‘several’ minor traffic infractions.  Diane only got caught once, going 78mph in a 55mph zone westbound on the Northern State Parkway just over the Nassau County line through the twisty turns, shortly after I had tuned up the car.  She claimed she was singing along to “ride of the Valkyries” on WQXR radio and wasn’t paying attention to her speed.  I figure she slowed down for the turns, and it gave the police the opportunity to catch up.  Anyways that was about the slowest she ever drove.  I remember her driving flat out in both the Bonneville and New Yorker going to Boston to visit Laura at the New England Conservatory.  One time mom came into the toll booths a little too hot, locked up all four wheels to stop in time (for which dad yelled at her: “Was that really necessary?!”).  A dramatic entrance filled with the sound of screeching, fury and tire smoke.

I have spent some time in my adult life trying to match some of the point A to point B times she set in these old cars (on bias ply tires).  Her last car was a 81 Volvo DL (you could speed past a cop at 110mph in that car and they wouldn’t even look at it).  As with all our cars, I did a little hotrodding to the Volvo.  Mom, Laura and Ray were driving to Augusta Georgia to see an old friend, Bill Tool.  The legend goes, that Ray started driving the trip from New York, it was raining.  My mom made him pull over, mumbling about how they’d never get there at that speed, took the wheel, and made it to Augusta Georgia in 12 hours…. in the rain.

 

When I took Diane shopping for that Volvo we looked at various cars.  In a scene reminiscent of “Harold and Maude” I took her to junkyards to look at wrecked Volvo’s.   The Volvo was much smaller than any of the previous American iron so there was a concern about safety.  Ultimately Diane said the Volvo “called her name” and she bought a white one.  It was the best car we ever owned and ended up outlasting her.  It went 14 years and 347,000 miles (most of those miles flat out).  I sold it for 10 percent of its original purchase price to a man who then proceeded to get himself and the Volvo run over by a cement mixing truck.  He survived unscathed.  Diane made a sensible choice.

The Volvo had a ‘federal’ speedometer that only went to 85mph.  A few weeks after their return from Georgia, mom asked me in an offhanded, disinterested way if the car is limited to 85 because the speedometer never goes past the peg.  I informed her cheekily, “yes mom, the car goes much faster than 85.  You can tell the speed by doubling the number on the tachometer that I installed”.  She said: “I thought so, because when I take my foot off the gas it takes 30 or 40 seconds for the speedometer to fall below 85 and start registering speed again”.

72 new yorker front

1972 Chrysler New Yorker “Brougham”

 

72 new yorker rear.jpg

Lady drives a Chrysler – it could top 130mph

Many years after her death I managed to beat her time from NYC to Boston.  I drove a ’93 Mazda RX-7 R1 twin turbo factory race car.  I beat her time by 1 minute.  She had done it in 3 hours flat in the ’72 New Yorker, I did it in 2:59 in a 1993 race car.

Rx7-01

’93 Mazda RX-7 R1, Twin Sequential Turbo Rotary

 

 

I bought cars, fixed them up and sold them for a profit during my high school days.  I worked my way to up to a 1970 Challenger R/T 440 Sixpack.  This car had a much stronger engine than the New Yorker in a smaller car that weighed 1,000 pounds lighter.  I threw the keys to mom one night and we went for a ride.  After a while I asked her to pull over so I could show her what the car could do.  Indignantly, she said “I am perfectly capable of seeing what this car can do” and floored the gas.  The Challenger had power steering, power brakes and power power.  We found ourselves going near triple digit speeds on Wolf Hill Road westbound in about 5 seconds when I screamed at her to slow down!  I think she didn’t expect anything like that, and while she didn’t admit it, I think she scared herself.

1970-dodge-challenger-rt-440-sixpack-shaker-4-speed-dana-real-e87n96-no-stripe-1

1970 Dodge Challenger R/T 440 Sixpack

 

 

Everyone in the family wanted me to drive long trips, but no one wanted to sit in the front seat.  in fact they all fought over who would sit in the back seat.  You could make great time in that Volvo (reference the title to this page).  I made it from Germantown Philadelphia to my apartment on the corner of Bleeker and Thompson street in the village, in the rain, with my sister, mother and grandmother asleep in the car in 59 minutes one summer night (it’s 89 miles).  My moms time from NYC to Augusta – that’s safe: it isn’t going to fall in my lifetime.

A representative example of Diane’s driving can be found in the reference section below.  As the clip says: ‘You can drive a Volvo like you hate it; cheaper than psychiatry.’

It is this legacy that Paul is to be blindsided with.  Just like there are mandatory things, like education, empathy, a splash of culture (some attributes skip a generation) knowing how to DRIVE is required in this family.  The skillset is really a matter of safety.  That’s why both Izzy and Amity have taken high performance driving courses, can drive manual transmission cars (even though Amity denies having the ability, don’t believe it! – she can do it), and Izzy was driving on the track when she was 14 – before she was legally allowed to drive on the street.  She was lapping at Thunderhill Raceway and Laguna Seca Speedway in my ‘spec’ Miata, AAHHRRR, before she was 20 years old.

izzy at Laguna

Izzy in AAHHRRR at Laguna Seca Raceway

 

The Big Island doesn’t have many places to drive fast, but it does have places that require a 4wd vehicle.  4wd is NOT Awd.  Only specialized vehicles like Jeeps have 4wd and they have their own quirks and characteristics that need to be learned and then exploited.  Since we can’t all fit in one  jeep and we will require the 4WD, for this final part of the trip we have rented two Jeeps.

 

I had expected Izzy to be one of the drivers, but she’s 1 year too young to rent a car.  So the driving responsibility for the second jeep falls on Paul.  This should be interesting.  One of my (driving) mentors, Aaron, says you can tell a lot about a person by the way they drive.  “M”/butterblogger made a comment a few months ago “don’t let someone take you to the airport that has never gotten a speeding ticket”.  I think in the backdrop of this context Paul knows the pressure is ON!

Paul wants specific addresses and driving instructions.  Kona has no streetlamps, no ambient light, no reflectors on the street and, unbeknownst to him, it’s a black volcanic lava desert for as far as the eye can see, which sucks up any stray ambient light.  My seemingly non-specific directions “just go 18 miles and make a left at the first traffic light you come to which is Waikolowa Village” does n0t instill confidence or make him comfortable.  My backup plan: “just follow me” seems to make things worse.  I find out later – he is cheating – he’s using GPS electronics in his smartphone to navigate.  I’ve been just dead reckoning.

the other thing I find out, is that for the rest of the trip there will be a “kids car” “KC” and a “old fart” “OF” car.  You know which one i’m driving.

I also explain to Paul that if I have to change lanes, I will signal, slow down to make traffic slow down, then speed up to give him room to get behind me.  He looks worried and says: “i’m not going to race”.  I explain this isn’t racing it’s cooperatively driving with each other and I do it all the time with my friends.  He gives me a skeptical look.  I do it once, he picks it up like a champ and we use the tactic (and others that didn’t require explanation after the theory was put into practice) for the rest of the trip (and probably will for the rest of our lives).  I’m initially pleased, the man has excellent situational awareness and driving aptitude.  His lead foot doesn’t hurt either.  This is a good thing.  A very good thing.

Today is THE day that has the most promise and the most risk to fail miserably.  We have chartered a boat with a local captain I know, Captain Ron.  We’re going to split the day.  The morning is for swimming with Dolphins and whale watching.  The afternoon is off, then the evening is night time snorkeling with Manta Rays.

Laura has a deep dark secret too.  She’s an addict.  a coffee addict.  I never acquired the taste, but I do enjoy an occasional cappuccino.  In Italy I have cappuccino every day.  I am a foodie, though, and appreciate fine food, while eschewing fine dining.  That’s one of the reasons Hawaii fits me so well.  The raw products of the islands is incredible.  every day has 12 hours of sun and 12 hours of night, and the geography is such that the produce (and the animals that eat it) get tropical sun and rain every day.  Everything grows in rich volcanic soil.  Ideal conditions to farm and ranch.  Formal Dining in Hawaii means the forks and knives are metal instead of plastic, and you wear a t-shirt without holes.  For special occasions, like weddings, the groom might wear Hawaiian shirt completely buttoned to his sternum (but not tucked in, ever!).  Flip Flops are always appropriate.  This dress code is heaven for Dan.

The first time I had Kona coffee (in a cappuccino), I knew it was something spectacular.  I called Laura from the Cafe and told her that some day she had to try this.

That day has finally come.

We’re up early.  The kids car found a coffee shop near the marina, so we go.  It’s a little difficult to find as it’s hidden behind a car wash.  It’s typical in Hawaii to have “pop-up” gourmet food places.  You find them IN gas stations, regular grocery stores and sometimes in school buses parked on the side of the road overgrown with years of lush weeds.  We circle twice to find this place.   They have these funny doughnuts with holes in the middle, they call them bagels (but they really aren’t).  and Kona Coffee, which they prepare expertly AND describe how they are preparing it whilst doing it.  Kona coffee is rich, and robust and strong (blah blah blah) but it has a very light, silky quality to the mouth.  When you’ve had Kona coffee the oils stay in your tongue for hours afterwards giving a sated, peaceful feeling.

This is not the place I intended to take Laura for Kona Coffee, but it was top notch and right next to the marina.  Perfect choice.

Next we go to the Honokohau Small Boat Harbor which I refer to as “Giligans Island Marina”.  I only call it that because it is.  We meet Captain Ron and Shannon, get our safety briefing and:

off we go……….

to be continued………..

 

Wet Before and Wet Behind

Dan’s “Spare Parts” catamaran – Sailing to Fire island Talisman Park, NY……

 

 

REFERENCES:

 

Title: “Hot Rod Lincoln” by Commander Cody

 

 

‘Lady Drives a Chrysler’ – ‘Young American – David Bowie.

 

J turn.

 

‘You can drive a Volvo like you hate it,  cheaper than psychiatry.’

A pimp’s got a Cadi and a lady got a Chrysler.

12 Jan

This is our last day in kaua’i.  We’ll be leaving tonight for Kona and a few days in the “Disney” part of the big island of Hawai’i.  We are roused before sunrise by the family of feral foul.

We cook breakfast and I find out that the left knee that i’m having trouble with, and Laura is having trouble with, Izzy is also feeling from time to time.  Grandma Ethel Scolnick has joined us – and not for the last time.  Laura, Izzy and I all have Ethel-knee.  Turns out that Izzy also has flat feet, just like me – that’s from Arthur.  so we have Arthurs feet.  It turns out Izzy also has my bad sinuses, which we’ve tracked to Grandpa Sam Sanders – I remember he had a cornucopia of nettie pots.  He and grandma Anna could snore the roof off the house when they slept.  It was a frightening spectacle.

It’s interesting how the brain works.  I’ve driven past the Limihumi Garden and Preserve  several times, but was not really aware it was there.  In the past I even tried to go to it, but it was closed.  I had neither a visual memory in reality, nor a place on the map I keep in my mind.  On our last trip past Hanalei, Paul pointed to a sign and said: “There it is!”.

We check out of the condo’s and our first stop is the Limahuli Garden and Preserve.  The parking is tight, and the lines between the parking spaces are some kind of straps laid down on the gravel.  I hear Amity say: “I couldn’t live here, I need more structure in my life.”

This was not like other botanical gardens I’ve been to.  there were many rare and endangered plants, but only one of each.  It’s purpose is to be a preserve for the indigenous and fragile plants.  It’s here that we learned that Palm trees are an invasive species to Hawaii.  In fact most of the plants and animals thriving in Hawaii are invasive.  I also learned that Ray is extremely knowledgeable, as are his daughters, about botany.  There’s something that definitely doesn’t come from the Scolnick side of the family, We kill Cactus.  It was quite a revelation to hear Ray and his girls discussing in depth the botany of each plant.

 

garden 1.JPG

Stunning and limited indigenous plants

 

 

garden 2

Amity and Paul on the hike

 

 

garden 3

Laura rests under an indigenous tree preserved here.

 

 

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Izzy finds a treasure trove of apple banana’s

 

Next Stop is a moderate hike in Princeville to the Queens Bath.

 

queens bath 1queens bath 2

queens bath 3

The Hike

queens bath 4

queens bath 5

The Queens Bath, she must have been immortal

This place can easily kill you.

queens bath turtle

A sea turtle sticks his head up for a breath

 

Then we stop at the Kilauea Lighthouse and Marine Mammal Wildlife Refuge.

kiluea lighthouse

We look for whales and see none.  There are a ton of dolphins sleeping on the surface in the broiling sun.

Then we stop at Hee Fat in Kapa’a for the best rated shave ice (that’s not a typo, it’s what they call it) on Kauai.

Drop off the car at the airport and fly.  20 minutes later we land in Kona at night.  Kona looks like the surface of the moon, but only I know this from previous vists as no one can see it in the darkness.  We rent the two jeeps and drive up to Waikoloa Village on the one road  “Big Island” has.

We have dinner a Roys and go to our rooms at the Marriot Waikoloa Hotel (the nicest hotel I’ve stayed at in the region) for a good nights sleep.  Tomorrow morning is an early call and it promises to be the best day of the trip so far……..

 

 

REFERENCE:

Title: “Young American” – David Bowie

Featured Photo – 1956 Chrysler Imperial

..One damn song that can make me break down and cry.

11 Jan

I heard the news today, oh boy.  David Bowie died of liver cancer at 69.  69?!  How could Ziggy Stardust be 69?!  How could David Bowie be dead?  “Young American” starts playing in my head and lyrics of the song brings back memories from decades ago, that felt like yesterday.  Bowie had a huge impact on my life, and I didn’t even know it.  A humble, courageous,  iconoclast of a man who I never knew, and who never knew me, profoundly touched my life.  Along with my dead relatives and friends, old friends I had never made now join us on this trip.

I am reminded of an interview with Gloria steinem I heard on NPR some months ago.  She once said that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.  Gloria Steinem is 81 — a fact that the iconic women’s movement leader describes as “quite bizarre.”

“Eighty-one is an age that I think is someone else’s age,”

Each Hawaiian Island has one essential Road that goes around it.  It’s usually named ‘Kamehameha ‘.  On Kaua’i it’s one lane in each direction.  Often the speed limit is only 25 or 35mph, and that feels FAST.  Yesterday we went to the north end, today we will go to the beach at the south end and see the other side of the Napli Coast.

Today, we have left our East coast beach going sensibilities behind, there is no picnic packed, no swimming accoutrements, no preconceived notion of what a day at the beach means.  We begin our mission.

We will drive to the other end of the road and see the Queens Pond and back side of the Nepali coast.  Then we will go to Waimea Canyon – The ‘Grand Canyon’ of the Pacific.  Frankly, I don’t think the Grand Canyon has anything on Waimea Canyon.

We start off the day and I hear Izzy say from the back “I never knew there were so many shades of green.”  A profound statement.  One that will stay with me forever.

First stop; Opaekaa Falls

jan 11 waterfall opaekaa

Opaekaa Falls

 

Then on the the Queens Pond.  Each Hawaiian island has 10 of the worlds 15 climate zones.  You can go through those climate zones on Kaua’i in a bout an hour.  As the hilly rain forests of Hanalei Bay and and Princeville start to flatten out we enter the desert zone.  We drive past a military airfield.

We arrive at the entrance to Polihale State Beach Park.  I announce to the car that it’s time for the first lesson in 4WD, which is you put it into 4wd BEFORE you need it.  We go down the 4 mile unpaved, washboard surface road bouncing and shaking, Napali mountains imposing their presence to our right side.  Finally I get to the sand of the beach pull up a hill and stop.  We’re here.

We get out of the SUV and walk down to the beach.  There is a heavily armed military sentry patrolling the dunes in this rugged isolated place.  A single Armed military man in the vast emptiness of a civilian beach.  I guess he’s keeping watch on the perimeter of the Air Force base to our south.  I say:”Hi”, he nods.

We walk down to the Queens Pond.

 

Queens Pond, Polihale State Beach Park

 

Polihale Beach is one of the longest continuous sand beaches in all of Hawaii, stretching 15 miles along kauai’s west shore.  The beach is also one of the widest in Hawai’i, average in g 300 feet.  It is backed by sand dunes, some of which are 100 feet high.  One can walk for almost three hours and still not reach the Napali mountains in the background.  The sand is fine and white and you sink in so far that every step is quite difficult.

Because of its remoteness and because of the eerie quality of its beauty, the name, Polihale means “The Home of the Underworld”.  It is rumored that this is where souls of the dead depart for the underworld.  The Surf is HUGE, the wind is whipping and it’s quite uncomfortable.  But it is AWESOME.  We decide we’re hungry so we retrace our steps back to the SUV.  Amity looks up Yelp reviews of nearby places and finds Bobbi’s in a small town called Hanapepe along our route.

 


Bobbi’s is a local joint.  We go in and there are a few local road workers getting lunch.  They inform us we have found THE BEST food in all of Kaua’i.  Immediately the girls ask the lady at the counter where the bathroom is.  She leans forward like she’s going to tell us a secret.  She speaks in pidgin: ‘There is a public bathroom over there’ and she points, leans back and smiles.  Then in a knowing louder voice say says: “But It’s NAAAAAAASSSSSSTY, don’t go there”.  Instead she sends us over to another store that has a NICE bathroom.

We have some local food for lunch which was delicious and which holds us till the next day (Butterblogger has a tale of local prepared food).  I notice there are no feral chickens anywhere in town to be seen.   Hmmmmmmm

bobbis lunch

Lunch at Bobbi’s

 

 

What there are; Geko’s Galore!

Izzy makes fast friends with the locals.

 

 

ray and gecko

Everybody gets into the act!

 

 

a quick visit to the westmost bookstore in the USA

The western most bookstore in the USA (and maybe the last independant bookstore)

Up the hill, 17 miles on twisty, turning 25mph road to the top of Waimea Canyon to see another view of the Napali coast.

 

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Is Izzy Photoshopped?

 

 

Photographs can’t possibly capture how this feels.

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Sitting on top of the world

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Waimea Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission:Gecko – Check!

Mission:Queens Pond – Check!

Mission:Napali Coast – check!

Mission:Waimea Canyon – Check!

Mission:waterfalls – Check!

We head back down the mountain and get back onto the desert road on the way back to the rainforest and Princeville.  Everyone is asleep.  We pass Hundreds, no make that thousands of coffee bean bushes.  There’s a sign, ‘Kauai Coffee Growers’, seems like a good idea, I take a right turn that would do mom proud and speed down the road to the coffee growers shop.  We arrive 15 minutes before closing, but they had about 25 different types of coffee there to sample (FREE!).  I had a cappuccino.  We watched the films.  What do you know, I was wrong, they have over 4 million coffee bean bushes that they harvest all year round.

Mission:Coffee growers tour – Check! (new)

Recharged with caffeine racing through our veins we proceed to catch the sunset in Poi Pu for the spouting horn.  Spouting Horn, as it turns out, is multiple spouting horns when the waves are sufficiently large.  They were.

 

Spouting Horn

 

 

Multiple Spouts

 

Mission:Spouting Horn – Check!

oh look!  a sea turtle sticks his head out of the water at spouting horn!  can you see his head?

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Sea Turtle at Poi Pu’s spouting horn

 

Mission:Sea Turtle – Check!

 

Sunset Time at Poi Pu

Finally it’s sunset time.  We discuss something called a green flash, which I had never heard of.  When the sun sets on a clear day as it drops below the horizon sometimes, rarely, you can see a green flash of light that lasts a second or two.  We watch carefully for the green flash.

sunsaet poipu

Yes, we saw the green flash!

and it was magic!

Mission:Hawaiian Sunset – Check!

 

45 minute drive back to the condo’s and our first full day in Kauai – and a complete day on a single island is complete.

“Ziggy played guitar.”

 

REFERENCES:

Title: “Young American” – David Bowie.

While the rest of America watched Johnny Carson on late night television, my parents watched Dick Cavett.

It is likely they watched this clip in 1974 on the Dick Cavett show:

 

While the studio band doesn’t do the song justice, like Harvey Fierstein, his musicianship, professionalism and ensemble make the performance greater than the sum of its parts.

Some years later I would take Amity to see “The Rocky Horror Show” narrated by Dick Cavett, Live on Broadway.  Rocky Horror was a staple ‘midnight movie’ from my adolescence and college years.  Amity and I danced the “Time Warp” in the aisles at that Broadway performance.  Alas the broadway audience didn’t understand the authenticity of the Act.

David Bowie was from Brixton.  Yoshio called Brixton his home in London, another piece of synchronicity I didn’t know until I wrote this blog page and did this research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes the light’s all shinin’ on me

10 Jan

napali trail second steps.JPGEthel – Sam Scolnick       Anna – Sam Sanders

Arthur                          Diane (‘the big “D”‘)

Dan                                         Laura

 

June 10th Epilogue

Arthur, My dad, bought a very fine Nikon in the ’60’s.  State of the art 35 mm SLR.  Multiple lenses.  He taught me how to use it.  We had a darkroom in the basement.  I went on to take photography and film (video) in college.  Dad/Arthur used to make photo-essays of his travels.  the slides and projector are with my sister.  In those days it was Kodachrome, Ectachrome, no internet or computers.  No blogs.  so the narrative he would do live and that is forever lost to childhood memories.

Arthur died in 1986 from malignant lung cancer at 46 years old.  He was a smoker.  He was a leader and man of action.   Apparently, Arthur joined this trip long before it started.  Izzy took some photography courses and her dad/Ray bought her a Nikon.  The photographs she produced make the photos I take look like the snapshots of a rank amateur.  Part is the camera, but the other part is raw talent, which obviously skipped a generation.

Part of the Hawaii experience is the scale and the contrasts.  there are times where it feels like what you’re eyes are seeing is not real, it’s a surrealistic, impressionistic painting before you.  If some of the pictures appear photoshopped, then Izzy has captured that feeling one gets while standing in these places of contrasts.

Here are  great pictures from izzy and amity from their trail hike. these pictures continue where the photo of the beginning of the trail in the previous post end:

 

ray on the beach

Ray at near certain “drowning depth”* on Ke’ e beach.

 

 

napali coast first steps

The first steps look easy but uncomfortable.

 

 

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Wilderness is an understatement.

 

napali trail second steps

200 feet in or so the trail gets more difficult.  This is the part that convinced me to bring along walking sticks.

the napali coast - am and paul

The Napali Coast

 

Doesn’t it look like Paul and Amity are photoshopped in?

 

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Looking down on Ke’e Beach

That little dot on the beach is Ray.

 

 

napali trail never know who you'll meet

Red Clay Along the Trail

 

jan 10 whale

Mission:WHALE – check

 

REFERENCES.

Title:  “Truckin”, Grateful Dead

“Certain Drowning Depth” – ‘How to be a Jewish Mother’ – “you don’t have to be jewish or a mother to be a jewish mother”.

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The man on the left (with the bulldog pipe) is Arthur (daddy), less than two years before his death.  The man on the Right is Sam Scolnick, his father.  To the left of Sam is Ed Flower, one of my fathers (and the families) closest friends.

Arthur arranged fishing trips once a year in Maine.  He was responsible for all those smiles.  This may have been one of the few times that Sam Scolnick smiled.  While Sam (grandpa) never complained, he was trapped in a miserable marriage for over 61 years.  The only thing I remember his saying was: “Ethel, Quit your bitching.”

Genetically, Arthur contributed big flat feet and green eyes to the family gene pool.  He had a steadfast moral compass.  I’m sure he lived to regret that he taught me to always question authority, that life and moral questions do not have black and white answers.  The questions and philosophical discussions are important; answers are always suspect.

Arthur taught me to develop film (now archaic) in his dental office darkroom.  Arthur went above and beyond.  He had a unique empathy for people and animals – he performed dentistry on police dogs and experimented with implants in humans decades before anyone even knew of the term.  Later he built a darkroom in the basement of the house in Dix Hills.  Izzy has his feet (sorry izzy – so do I) and his photography skills.  While Arthur was a Dentist, and founder of the Suffolk County Dental Society, he was an authority on history and wanted to be a history professor when he retired.  In reality, he was a fisherman (fly fishing – he tied his own flies).

 

I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound, everybody look……

10 Jan

We’ve been on the move non-stop for over 5,000 Miles.  In two days we’ve been in three airports, flown two legs, rented two vehicles and stayed in 2 locations.  Today it’s time to stop moving, look around and get acclimated.

A 5 hour time difference is somewhat difficult.  We’re all up at 3am (which is 8am in NY).  In fact for most of us that’s sleeping late.  We’re in no hurry and kinda mosey over to making breakfast around 7am.  Ray has a conference call, as do I.

We watch the sunrise (mission:Hawaiian sunrise-check!), cook breakfast and just relax in the small front yard, taking in the water feature.

Sunrise in the yard

 

Kaua’i is the “garden island”, which has no relationship to the fact that my family resides in the “garden state”.   It is the northernmost island in the chain and the oldest.  It has a population of about 60,000 residents and significantly more chickens (and roosters).

Hawaii is a state full of invasive species.  During a hurricane in the past a chicken farm got ‘blown away’ and there are now feral fowl everywhere on Kaua’i.  They have no natural predators, the roosters are gorgeous and the chicklets are adorable.  Some roosters start crowing (is that the right word?) before the sun comes up.

 

Visitors’; They announced themselves!

 

Whether you’re going to ‘the beach’ on Long Island, or going ‘down the shore’ inb New Jersey, the concept is pretty much the same.  you gather all the things you need for a day of sand, sun and ocean, pack up the car and go spend the day.

How does one describe the beaches in Hawaii?  Unless you’re in the very limited Disney-esque areas with expensive resorts, you really can’t go swimming or boating.  This is impossible to explain or describe, after all, we’re going to the beach, right?   I found this out the first time I went there, when all the locals kept telling me, “don’t go in the water”.  The beaches are beautiful, The water clear and deep blue and both are difficult and treacherous.  The beautiful mild looking waves are at least 15 feet high, sometimes the white water from the deceivingly “small”  waves is 15 feet deep.  There are often volcanic reefs at the waters edge that require extra care and shoes to walk on.
For a people who are used to going to Fire Island, or the Jersey Shore this is pure culture shock.  I didn’t even try to explain it.  We decide to get a picnic lunch and to go to the north most beach at the end of the road.

A stop at Foodland for some Poke, Sandwiches and Korean chicken (for me) then  down some narrow twisty turns roads, a few one way bridges (each side has to wait for the other side to go, 5-7 cars is the local etiquette).  Some of the bridges are wood.   We stop at Hanalei Bay (the town) to check out some shops and buy some local macadamia nuts at The  Kauai Nut Roasters.  Hawaii is known for its extraordinary Macadamia Nuts and the Kauai Nut Roasters has all kinds of interesting flavors, and better yet, free samples!

 

 

We continue to make our way to the end of the road inside Ha’ena state park and find ke’e beach.

Ke’e beach. Notice all the fully clothed people in the shade watching the incredible surf!

 

The picnic gets set up, some toes are dipped in the water and I stand watch for whales.

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Setting up for the picnic, notice the waves in the background

 

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Modest Waves can be fatal

 

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Greetings from Ke’e Beach, Kaua’i Hawai’i

 

 

 

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taking refuge in the shade

 

izzy at ke'e

Izzy up ‘the shore’

 

 

 

Just to the West of Ke’e beach is the Napali Coast.  This is where “South Pacific” and “Jurassic Park” were filmed.   it is beautiful, rugged and impassible, No roads.  the only way to see it is by boat, by helicopter or hiking in.  This is the view everytime we leave the condo.  It doesn’t get old.

 

napali-coast

The Trail Head for the hike is at Ke’e Beach.  There are a number of hikes that go from 1/4 mile (which I did with ‘M’) to overnight hikes which need permits.  Everything is either sharp volcanic rock, red clay, or red slimy mud (the napali coast has the most rainfall of anyplace on earth).

There are stories about parts of the hike where one has to crawl on ones belly across the red mud with a sheer cliff going up on one side, and a sheer cliff dropping off to the surf below on the right side.  When “M” and I went in just 1/4 mile it was sufficiently difficult and hazardous that I have no desire to go onwards.

 

IMG_3543

Hazardous Cliffs, Flash Floods, Falling Rocks, nutcases in bare feet!

 

 

The trail head gives ample warning  and just past these signs is what appears to be a volcanic stone wall.  Having climbed it once, I had no desire to do it again, but Amity and Paul braved it for a ways.  This was the place that ensured I brought hiking sticks for my sister and me.  We were glad we had them.

 

You see a range of people exiting the trailhead from barefoot hippes that scamper up the rocks and out of sight in seconds to fully equipped pro-hikers with boots, walking sticks and big backpacks.  And yes, you see more than a few people covered head to toe in red clay mud.  I’m sure they had the time of their life.

We go back to the condo and relax.  Everyone disappeared and i’m sitting working on this blog.  I am concerned, everybody has been saying the whales are late this year, and I consider it unusual that I haven’t spotted one yet.  i’m concerned the wildlife part of the trip (which is one of the many missions) will be a bust.

my eye catches something off the front yard.  Channeling Ahab I jump up and yell “WHALES – GET OUT HERE” and run out the door.  Ray and Laura come running out too, and what do we see but a pod of about 200 whales frolicking less than a mile in front of us.  Whales everywhere!

We just stand there mouths agape with broad smiles.  The whales are checking in to their winter retreat, and we have the privilege of witnessing it.  Mission:Whales – Check!

I have no pictures of this as we all forgot to bring the cameras, but will be more, more of everything.

We go back to Hanalei Bay for dinner at Dolphin.  another excellent meal.  Our first day in Kaua’i done.

 

 

REFERENCES:

Title – Buffalo Springfield – “For what it’s worth”

 

 

Busted down on bourbon street

9 Jan

Jan 9th. Epilogue

I’m a “leave no stone uncovered” type of guy. I’m also a bit of a hard ass. One of the requirements for an excellent adventure is TSA Precheck. Back in April I incessantly nagged those in my party that did not have pre-check to get it or Global Entry (GOES). If you’re only going to fly once in your life, you can skip it. If you’re going to fly a second time, you’re loosing time in your life to the TSA, here’s what it gets you.
No Precheck

-shoes off

-belt off

-laptop out of your bag

-liquids/gels out of your bag

-full body scan machine

Long lines that move slowly behind groups of parents with small children in strollers wearing metalized Mickey Mouse hats and no ability to read signs, or interpret that the restrictions mean YOU!

TSA Precheck.

-shoes stay on

-belt stays on

-laptop stays in your bag

-liquids/gels stay in your bag

-simple metal detector rather than a full body scan

Long lines that move fast. Usually parents with children don’t have Precheck.
So having Precheck can easily cut an hour from your travel at a horrid airport like Newark, and tremendously reduce stress and increase dignity. Everyone on the itinerary must have Precheck, or no one does.
On this trip we have a total of 6 travel legs, so Precheck was required to be a member of our gang.

Apparently we are Costco gerls. The family brought all kinds of food to eat on the plane, from Costco, in Costco sized portions. It managed to all get eaten except for some oranges. Hawaii has an agricultural screening going in and out.
Well it turns out one of the missions of this trip was smuggling. Somehow we missed the agricultural screening, or the agricultural screening missed us entering HNL and “Maw”, aka “WOMAN” smuggled an undisclosed number of contraband Costco oranges into the state. A new sub-mission, to eliminate the evidence, now added to the overall complication of the mission.

We had a wonderful breakfast at the Hyatt Elite Lounge (which came free with the presidential suite and the soap). We had breakfast before dawn. They had many areas set up. They had an American breakfast area with bacon, eggs, all kinds of Hawaiian fruit. A coffee station. A Japanese station with miso soup and rice. Each nationality kept to its own area, of course we ate outside in the dark of first light away from the hustle and bustle of the internationalists – enjoying the warm breeze in the dark.

As we left the Hyatt for our next destinations, I stopped the Tahoe abruptly. “has everyone stolen all the soap?”, I asked, Channeling Al Bundy (from “Married, with Children” fame). Fortunately even without an advanced plan, we were all of the same mind. The Hyatt has really nice, exotic, tropical soaps in their hotel. I recommend it!

 

My share of the ‘take’. because that’s where the soap is!

 

One of my life rules is, if you’re going to break laws, only break one at a time….

We make our getaway from the Hyatt and Waikiki beach with our smuggled oranges and pilfered soap. It turns out that Izzy had a cold and managed to pocket an undisclosed number of honey containers from the excellent included breakfast. We were on our way.

Also, so far as running afoul of many laws, I did forget to mention one thing about GPS navigation here. Google maps has some problems with the Hawaiian dialect and local customs. It must be related to the Italian GPS’s as rather than taking us to the Pearl Harbor memorial, it took us to NEAR the Pearl Harbor military base, even though we entered ‘Arizona memorial’ into the unit. It got us close to the memorial then in a fit Italian stubbornness it took us and our contraband oranges and pilfered soap and honey, over ford island bridge to the military base at Pearl Harbor. I made the turn, realized what I had done, but it was too late. We were immediately stopped by a friendly sentry with his hand on a machine gun who called us a dirty name: “you tourists…….”

He took my license and turned us around, then gave me my license back while muttering something about Google, Siri, Apple maps, etc…… And we found the correct entrance just a few hundred feet away.

We fly from HNL to LIH (Lihue) Kaua’i in the late afternoon. We got to the airport early, Amity suggested we take an early flight standby, which we did. Everyone having the TSA pre-check made things really easy, and I followed the advice of the Dollar Rental Agent, I dropped everyone off at the terminal with their bags with the rent-a-car, then returned the car back by myself. I stopped to fill up at the nearest station which was a brand I never heard of. “Nex”. Turns out, after waiting on line, that only military personnel are allowed to buy gas there. Nex is the “navy exchange”. Once that was settled, the gang had already procured my boarding pass and with TSA Pre-Check we were all through with our dignity…… Wait where is Laura, and Ray?!
My sister got busted trying to smuggle a bottle of water (she’s incorrigible). Well, it wasn’t really a bottle of water, it was kind of an empty bottle with an inch of backwash in the bottom. But the TSA agent said she couldn’t tell how much. CONFISCATED. In the mean time Ray had walked through with a super slush size cup of ice. He asked the TSA agent if 1 ounce of water was verboten, what about his cup full of ice (Ray has always been a troublemaker – but he didn’t ask until after he was through screening – I always knew Ray was smart guy).

TSA regulation says ice is AOK! (It’s a solid, not a gel or a liquid). Had I known that, I could have frozen the jar of mustard they confiscated from me for being a gel! Your government tax dollars at work….

We land in Lihue 27 minutes later. The consensus is that the plane ride was quicker than taking the “A” train home from Work.

We rent an Armada, stop at foodland for breakfast staples then have dinner outside in princeville. Exhausted we go to our two condo’s in the cliffs. We will spend the next three days here.

We watch the sunrise as the front yard reveals itself

 

“Small yard with water feature”

 

The adventure has just begun.

 

REFERENCES:

Title: “Truckin'” – Grateful Dead