..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.


waimea 1

Is Izzy Photoshopped?



Photographs can’t possibly capture how this feels.

waimea 2.JPG

Sitting on top of the world

waimea 3.JPG

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?

poipu sea turtle

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.”



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.















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