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Kauai Vacation – September 22, 2001

Day 2 – Saturday

At 4:50am, neither of us could sleep any longer, so we got up. I typed up the previous day’s journal and Chris read. Since we were up early, we decided we would head down to the beach to watch the sun rise. On our way, we passed Ding, one of my co-workers, and his wife. He said that it was too cloudy to see the sunrise, but we kept going anyway. There were clouds at the horizon, but we still had 15 minutes before sunrise, so it was hard to tell weather the clouds would obscure the sun completely or not. So we stayed to watch.

We were glad we stayed. The clouds were not as thick as they had originally looked. As the sun reached the horizon (or is it the other way around?), the edges of the clouds turned red, then yellow. Every time we looked away, then back, the light patterns had changed. We watched for another 15 minutes as the sky turned from gray to blue.

Back at the room, we fixed our breakfast – Raisin Bran, coffee, and yogurt. When Chris started to pour the orange juice, she noticed that it wasn’t orange juice after all. I had picked up grapefruit juice, instead. Oh, well. We could stand grapefruit juice for a couple of days. As we ate on our balcony, listening to the birds, Chris noticed water dripping from a large tree nearby. We looked around and noticed that the ground was wet everywhere. While we were fixing breakfast, we had had the curtain pulled. We had missed the fact that it had rained briefly, but apparently heavily.

After breakfast we gathered our snorkeling gear together and headed a short way south to Lydgate Park. Our guidebook had recommended Lydgate as a good, easy place to snorkel. It has two pools made by placing rock walls around a couple of sections of the beach. The pools are roughly circular. One is about 40 feet in diameter and the other is about 80 feet across. Even though the waves were pretty high beyond the walls, the surface in the pools was quite calm. We adjusted our masks, applied the anti-fog goop, put on our flippers and waded into the smaller of the two pools. The water was very pleasant and we immediately plunked our faces in and started looking for fish.

We found a number of small fish near the rock barriers, not a large variety, but still pretty. Even though the waves were crashing on the outside of the pools, the water movement stirred up a lot of sand inside them, so visibility wasn’t that great. After a while we moved to the larger pool. We saw many of the same fish with one addition – needlefish, which are silvery, very narrow and long. I saw a couple of large ones, and I wanted to make sure Chris had seen them. I swam to her and asked if she had seen long, narrow fish that looked like sticks. She hadn’t, so I led her over to where I had seen them. They were, of course, gone.

We continued to swim together looking for needlefish. Chris got my attention and pointed to the bottom. I looked and saw what she was pointing to: a stick. Very funny. A couple of minutes later we did finally see a small needlefish. At least she knows I wasn’t hallucinating.

After about an hour of snorkeling, we decided we had had enough for the morning. We rinsed off in the cold spray from an outdoor shower. As we got in the car, Chris mentioned that her lower back was sore. We drove back to the hotel where we cleaned ourselves up and prepared to go sightseeing

The town of Kapa’a — just north of the Islander — has a farmer’s market on Saturdays and Sundays. We found the location, but discovered that an art fair was taking the place of the farmer’s market. There wasn’t much there: shell necklaces, clothes made from tropical fabrics, jewelry, and photos. Most of the clothing was from Indonesia, not Hawaii, and we didn’t see anything we really wanted. The most interesting booth had turned wood bowls made of Norfolk pine. The sides of the bowls were turned so thinly that they were translucent.

Next door to the fair was a store that sells “Red Dirt Shirts.” These are cotton shirts that are dyed rust red using only the red dirt that covers Kauai. The dirt stains so “well” that they need only one bucket of it to dye 500 shirts! We thought about buying a shirt as a souvenir, but they were far too expensive to be worth it.

It was after 11:00, and we were hungry again. We headed north to find a place for lunch. Our guidebook came in handy again, telling us of a good burger joint up the road: Duane’s Ono Char Burger. “Ono” means “the best.” Duane’s is a roadside stand, painted red, and apparently popular with the locals. All of the tables are outdoors and made from concrete. My cheddar burger was quite good, the fries were great, and Chris really enjoyed her tuna and avocado sandwich. As we ate, chickens walked between the tables hoping for scraps. They seemed to enjoy our fries as much as we did.

Chris’s back was feeling worse, making it painful to get into and out of the car. We decided to find some back roads and see sights that weren’t on most tourists’ agendas. I turned on the GPS to keep us from getting lost, and turned inland on the next paved road we came across. It wound uphill through beautiful trees and between fenced-off fields. We had great views of Anahola Mountain and the coast.

We stopped at a puzzling monument that was near nothing else. It is formed from a round stone wall about 3 feet high and 12 feet in diameter. The wall is filled with dirt, making a platform. In the center of the platform is another stone structure about 8 feet tall. At one time, there had been a large plaque and a round something on the front of the stones. However they are now missing, and there is no indication of what the monument is. According to the GPS, it is Spalding Monument. We’ll have to find out who Spalding was and why there is a defaced and abandoned monument to him/her in the middle of nowhere.

We continued past Spalding Monument, getting farther from the beaten track. We saw three or four burned-out and abandoned vehicles and lots of dumped trash. Just when we were considering turning around and heading back, we came across a cemetery tucked under Anahola Mountain. A sign identified it as the Anahola Japanese Cemetery. We pulled into the small parking area and took a look around. It was beautiful. Many of the headstones are natural rocks that have been engraved with Japanese calligraphy. Others are more modern, marble blocks that have Japanese and English words on them. We took a bunch of pictures, marveling at the location, the serenity, and the subtle differences from the cemeteries we were used to.

Reluctantly, we got back in the car and drove on. The GPS told us that our back road was about to lead us once again to the highway. We turned south on the highway and drove on, eventually turning onto another back road. This one went through residential areas of Kapa’a, then out into the country. We continued to drive, just following roads until they ended, then turning onto promising new roads as we came to them. We ended up on Hwy 581, a main road around Kapa’a. Chris checked the map and saw that we would be driving near Okeapa (pronounced oh-kay-AH-pah) Falls, so we made that our destination.

Before we reached Okeapa, we took a wrong turn and ended up driving to the end of the paved part of Hwy 580. The pavement ends at a creek that sweeps over the road at a man-made ford. Beyond the ford, we could see the road continue as red dirt. Since our Neon did not have four-wheel drive or much ground clearance, we turned around and headed back. We didn’t see Okeapa falls, because we would have needed to walk to it from the road, and Chris’s back was getting worse. We decided to return to the falls when she felt more up to a hike. Instead we went back to the Islander, planning to lie out by the pool and sip Mai Tai’s.

Back at the room, Chris looked in the Yellow Pages under Massage and made some calls. She talked to a masseur who sounded friendly and charges a reasonable price. She made an appointment for him to come give her a massage the next morning. We put an ice-pack (ice and water in a zip-lock bag) on her back for 15 minutes, then headed for the pool. Once there, we sat in the hot-tub for nearly an hour. There we met three German tourists who had spent the previous three weeks touring the mainland, from Denver to Los Angeles to San Francisco. They were finishing their US trip with a week on Kauai. After they left the spa, we were joined by Tom, another of my colleagues, and his wife, Susan. We chatted about what we had been doing and exchanged restaurant reviews.

When we felt like we had soaked long enough in the hot water, we got out, claimed lounge chairs, and I got drinks. No Mai Tais, just a local beer (Fire Rock) for me and a Pina Colada for Chris. We sipped our drinks and read our books as the shadows lengthened. At 5:00, we went back to the room and cleaned up for dinner.

We had a tasty dinner at a Mexican place called Margaritas about a mile up the road. Once again, I was getting sleepy early. We went back to the Islander, found “Back to the Future” playing on NBC and watched it until 9:00. We could stay awake no longer. We turned off the TV, leaving Marty McFly to make it back to 1985 without us.

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