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Kauai Vacation – September 24, 2001

Day 4 – Monday

When we got out of bed at 6:30am, Chris’s back was still pretty sore. We made a leisurely time of breakfast, planning our day, and reading the paper. With Chris’s back hurting, she did not want to attempt too much, so we decided to split up in the morning. I would rent a motorcycle for 3 hours, and she would shop while I was on my ride.

We drove to Gary’s Motorcycle Rentals in Kapa’a where I rented a Harley Davidson Sportster 1200cc cruiser. The controls were familiar, but in places I wasn’t used to. The foot pegs on my BMW are nearly underneath the seat. On the Harley, they are well in front of it, making the sitting position more like a chair. Gary showed me all of the controls and warned me that there is no neutral safety switch to prevent me from trying to start the bike with it in gear.

Hawaii has no helmet law, and nearly all of the riders we had seen here chose not to wear one. However, I don’t consider it optional. I chose a 3/4 helmet, thick denim jacket, and half gloves from the selection in Gary’s shop. He seemed pretty sure that I would stick the jacket in the saddlebag before long, but I wore it the whole time I was riding. I started out just before 10:00, and I had to return the bike by 1:00. Chris would be there to pick me up.

I gingerly maneuvered the unfamiliar bike out of Gary’s parking lot and around the block towards the main highway, Highway 56. I got more comfortable with the controls quickly and was soon enjoying being back on two wheels. I made my way north up the east side of the island and followed the highway as it turned west across the north shore.

I wanted to get the most use possible from the rental time, so I did not stop often. I did stop at the Kilauea Lighthouse to take some pictures. I also cruised down a nearby side road to see if I could get more views of the lighthouse. I couldn’t, but I did see a peculiar sight: dozens of egrets following a riding lawn mower. As the mower would cut a swath through the grass, the egrets would settle in, apparently eating the bugs that had been exposed by the cut grass.

I continued to follow Highway 56, nearly to its end at Haena State Park. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to ride back to Kapa’a, so I turned around there to be sure I could make it by 1:00. As I neared Kapa’a, I could see that I still had plenty of time. I decided to try the back road Chris and I had driven on Saturday. I road in the opposite direction this time, going by the Japanese cemetery, then stopping when I got to Spalding Monument. I still didn’t know anything about its history.

Spalding Monument

The best part of my ride was on that rough back road. There was no other traffic, I could go as fast as I wanted to, and the curves were lots of fun. Even with my detour, I made it back to Kapa’a by 12:30. I filled the bike with gas and returned to Gary’s.

Just before 1:00, I saw Chris walking up the street toward me. I got her attention and started toward her. She had parked the rental car less than a block from Gary’s and had spent the whole three hours shopping nearby. She had bought a couple of tops and a sarong. She had also seen a couple of accessories that would look good in our living room. She wanted me to see them, but, first, she wanted to eat lunch.

Lunch was a quick bite at the Olympic Café nearby. I had a so-so chicken sandwich and Chris had a curry chicken wrap. I was still in my jeans, and the temperature was in the 80’s, so I was pretty warm. I just wanted to get back to the hotel to cool off. Before we could do that, I went with Chris to a couple of very nice shops where she showed me glass and ceramic accessories she was considering. I gave her my opinion — for what it was worth. We didn’t buy any of the items, wanting to continue to look around at other shops on the island.

We finally got back to the Islander just after 2:00 and headed for the pool. We sat in the shade, enjoying the sea breeze and reading for an hour or so. Then we spent half an hour in the hot tub, making Chris’s sore back feel better.

At 4:00, we headed back to our room to get ready for the luau that evening. A bus provided by the luau hosts picked up the Intuit group (about 20 people) precisely at 5:00 and took us to Smith’s Island Paradise. In addition to hosting luaus, Smith’s runs boat tours up the Wailua River. They also maintain a nice tropical garden on their grounds. One of the treats on our agenda was a tram tour of the garden. It was a bit rushed, but still nice. The tram driver told us about the native plants and how the ancient Hawaiians used to use them.

The tram tour ended at the site of the evening’s “Imu Ceremony”. Imu is the unearthing of the roasted pig that had been cooking all day. The pig had been prepared, covered with hot lava rock, wrapped in banana leaves and cloth, then buried in sand. The Imu Ceremony reversed that process, digging away the sand, peeling back the wrappings, and removing the still-hot rocks, which the workers did with their bare hands. The pig was then carried to the kitchen to be shredded for our buffet.

Dinner included very-weak Mai Tai’s or other drinks, Hawaiian music and a very nice buffet. In addition to the roasted pig, there were steam trays filled with teriyaki beef, chicken, fish, and vegetables. There were also various salads, and a big bowl of poi. We had been warned about poi from a number of sources, but we still had to try it. Poi is a paste made from ground taro root. It is light grayish-purple in color, and has no discernible taste. It is served chilled and has the consistency of a grainy pudding. Hawaiians put it on other dishes or dip food in it. Sometimes they eat it plain. Historically, much of the food the Hawaiians ate was salted to preserve it. The poi helped cut some of the salty flavor. Now, it is just a traditional food.

After dinner we all filed to a nearby amphitheater where talented dancers demonstrated traditional dances from Tahiti, Hawaii, China, Japan, Philippines, New Zealand and Samoa. All of these Pacific Rim cultures have had an impact on Hawaii through the centuries. After the dance show, we headed back to our bus and were soon returned to the Islander. Chris and I were planning a Geocaching hike the next day, and Leslie, one of my co-workers, wanted to come, too. We made arrangements to meet her in the lobby at 7:30 the next morning, then headed to our rooms.

The day had been pretty full, but fun. We were asleep soon after we turned off the light at 10:00.

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