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Kauai Vacation – September 27, 2001

Day 7 – Thursday

After a good night’s sleep, I woke up at 6:00. I wrote up part of the previous day’s journal, then checked the horizon to see if the sunrise would be obscured by clouds. There was a band of clouds on the horizon, but much of the sky was clear, so I woke up Chris and we headed to the beach to watch. It was as lovely as the first day’s dawn.


Once the sun was fully up, we walked back to the room and had a leisurely breakfast. We had discussed the possibility of renting another motorcycle for the day and riding around the western side of the island. But with Chris’s back still mending, we decided that the car would be more comfortable. As we drove through occasional rain showers later in the day, we were happier and happier about our decision. We loaded up provisions for the day in the car and headed west about 8:45am.

Once again we threaded our way through Lihue’s rush hour, stopping to fill the gas tank as we left town. We drove mostly on Highway 50 which runs along the southern shore, then turns north for a couple of miles at the western end of Kauai. Occasionally we turned off the highway to get closer to the shoreline and visit sites we had not yet seen. The first one was Spouting Horn near Poipu. Spouting Horn is a geyser-like spray that occurs as waves flow up a lava tube, then spurt from a horizontal hole in the lava shelf.

Spouting Horn, Poipu

Our next site was Salt Pond Park, a popular local beach near Hanapepe. If we had been in the mood to swim, we would have stopped there. The beach is nice and long, and a large section of it is fully sheltered by a rock ledge that breaks the waves.

Chris on Swinging Bridge, Menehune Ditch

We returned to the main highway and drove to Waimea. Turning north on Menehune Road, we found Menehune Ditch and the nearby Swinging Bridge. Menehune Ditch is the remnants of a rock-lined irrigation canal. The canal is said to have been built by the Menehune people in ancient times. The swinging bridge is simply a suspended foot bridge across the Waimea River. The original bridge blew down in 1992, and the current one was built in its place.

Returning once more to the main highway, we retraced our route from Tuesday, driving up Highway 550 again. This time, we went past the trail head at Hanemanu Road and kept driving. We were getting hungry, so we stopped at Kokee Lodge for lunch. The food was nothing special, but the location was quite scenic. As we ate, it started to rain. We watched a couple ride off on a rented Harley, glad we had a nice dry car to get into. After we finished our lunch, we browsed through the gift shop, finding a couple of nice gifts with an island theme.

From the lodge, we continued to the end of 550 to a final overlook that is at the end of a very rough section of pavement. Just as we were pulling into the parking lot, I spied Tom, one of the Quicken group, and his wife heading up the path toward the overlook. Tom and Susan were the same couple we had met the previous day as we left Queens Bath. It was looking like we were on the same schedule.

We had heard from several sources that the view of the Kalalua Valley from this overlook is spectacular. The sky was completely overcast, and there was patchy fog, so we didn’t have high expectations for the view. However, our guidebook said that the view frequently clears even on cloudy days. We headed up the trail in the drizzle. Because of the rain and the bleak prospects for a decent view, I left the camera in the car.

Kalaua Valley

When we reached the viewing platform, we could not see into the valley at all. We could only see clouds and fog. We chatted with Tom and Susan for a couple of minutes. They said that the view had cleared up nicely once while they were there. With renewed hope, I headed back to the car to get our camera. As I returned, Chris said that I had just missed a clear view all the way to the ocean. The fog moved in again, but cleared up a couple of minutes later, showing me the entire Kalalua Valley all the way to waves breaking on the shore two and a half miles away and four thousand feet below.

Tom and Susan left, but Chris and I stayed to get more pictures. After ten more minutes, we had seen the fog clear another time, and then a thick bank of fog rolled in. We headed back to the car for the drive back to Waimea.

In Waimea – and back in the hot sunshine – we turned west again on Highway 50. We drove all the way to its end at Barking Sands Naval Base. There really wasn’t much to see on that end of the island, so we turned around, planning to stop at JoJo’s Shave Ice in Waimea. Shave ice is a Hawaiian treat that is like a snow cone, but uses ice that is shaved from a block rather than crushed or ground. It is sometimes served with ice cream in the bottom of the dish. JoJo’s is reported to serve the best Shave Ice on Kauai and has sixty flavors of syrup to flavor it with. It sounded to us like a good way to deal with the heat.

Just west of Waimea, Chris spotted a sign for a Japanese Cemetery. I had driven past it, so I turned around, went back, and turned toward the beach on the sandy road between the headstones. The driveway seemed to make a U back to the highway, so I followed it around to the right. Just as I turned, the car stopped moving, and the front end sank. I shifted to reverse, but the car wouldn’t move. Rocking the car did no good. We were stuck.

I got out to see how deep we were, brushed aside some branches that were in my way and walked right into a thorn bush. The thorns were an inch or more long, and very sharp. That first encounter left several scratches on my right thigh. Being more careful of the thorns, I took a look at the front wheels. The sand was up to the hubcaps. About that time, I noticed a man walking toward us from a parking area to the left of the cemetary. He had heard the engine revving and knew just what had happened. His name was Cliff, and he offered to help us get unstuck.

At Cliff’s suggestion, he and I started digging sand out from behind the front wheels. The idea was to give the car a place to roll to. We dug back about a foot behind each wheel, then put the car in reverse and gunned it. It rolled two feet, then stuck again. This time, the chassis was sitting on the sand. We weren’t going to be able to do that trick again. Fortunately, Cliff had another idea. He got the jack from the trunk, and we started cranking up the right side of the car. We had to dig sand out from under frame to get the jack under it. Once the right front tire was clear of the sand, Cliff stuffed pieces of wood under it, then filled in with sand. We took the jack out and tried reverse again. This time the car didn’t budge.

We jacked up the left side of the car and propped up the left front wheel. Again, no luck. Cliff and I were both covered head to foot in sand, and I was ready to call a tow truck. Cliff told me it would cost about $100 to get one there, but we were out of other ideas.

About that time, another car pulled into the cemetery driveway. Two teenage local boys hopped out and offered to help if we gave them “a couple of dollars for gas.” I agreed, and they joined Cliff and me at the front of the car to push. Chris put it in reverse and slowly gave it gas as the four of us strained to move it. No luck. The left front tire just spun. Bouncing the front did no good. The chassis was still hitting too much sand. One of the boys offered to get his truck and pull us out. I told him I would give him $20 if he got us out. His friend stayed with us.

Rental car stuck in sand

While we waited for the boy to get back with his truck, two men in a 4×4 Toyota pulled through from the same area that Cliff had come from. They immediately stopped, offered to help, and pulled a nylon tow cable from their truck. The boy who had stayed with is looked around for his friend, and looked completely crestfallen. I told him not to worry, I would still pay him, making him much happier.

By this time, the car was attached to the Toyota and we were ready to go. The driver of the truck told me to start the car and put it in neutral. I did, and he gave it a pull. Nothing! Cliff said “Is the parking brake on?” I checked, and it was. Oops. With the brake off, the car in reverse, and me giving it a little gas, the truck driver tried again. The car popped right out of the sand, and I let it roll back as far as I could without hitting anything.

By this time the other boy had returned with his Bronco and was watching from a distance. I gave his friend a $20 bill and told him “Thanks.” He ran over to his friend’s truck and they were gone. The men in the truck who had pulled us out were already back in the cab and about to leave. I ran to the driver’s window, handed him a twenty and said “Thanks, man. You saved us a lot on a tow truck.” He looked very surprised, took the twenty and drove off.

Cliff was still standing around. We asked if we could give him anything or if he needed a lift anywhere. He said “No.” He was sticking around to make sure we made it out of the cemetery OK. I brushed some of the sand off of myself; Chris and I got in the car, and I carefully drove it toward the parking area Cliff had come from, making sure I had enough speed to get through any loose sand. We made it OK, waved goodbye to Cliff, and made our way back toward the highway. To get there, we passed by a small boat harbor, with its parking lot full of big 4×4 trucks used to tow powerboats. We had been less than a hundred yards from a dozen vehicles that could have pulled us out of the sand!

I was filthy! Covered head to toe in sand and dust. The first thing I wanted to do was get cleaned up. If that meant that we didn’t stop at JoJo’s Shave Ice, I was OK with that. We pulled into a Shell station, where I made use of their free water to wash off my arms. I used Wet Ones we had in the car to clean my face and neck. Feeling a little better, we drove back to JoJo’s, where Chris went in to get our cold treats. While she was inside, I used a dozen more Wet Ones to get some of the grit off of my legs and clean the scratches from the thorns.

The Shave Ice was pretty good. Not much different from a snow cone, though. Chris got Mango/Guava/Banana with vanilla ice cream in the bottom for herself. She bought me one with chocolate and butterscotch flavors and macadamia nut ice cream. We sat in the car and ate/drank the treats.

It was almost 3:30pm, and we wanted to return our snorkel gear before Snorkel Bob’s closed at 5:00. We drove back to Kapa’a, returned the gear, then went back to the Islander, getting there just before 5:00. I really wanted a beer. Chris said she would get me one from the pool bar while I showered. What a sweetheart! I showered, feeling much better without all of that grit on me. As I was drying off, the phone rang. It was Chris, calling from the bar. She was not allowed to bring my beer back to the room, so I had to come down to drink it.

Dressing quickly, I joined Chris at the pool. She had been regaling the other bar patrons with the story of our sand trap. After sitting at the bar chatting with the other guests there, we went back to the room, changed into our swimsuits and hopped in the hot tub.By the time we got back to the room, we were too tired to go out to eat. So, on our last night in Hawaii, we had a pizza delivered from the Kapa’a Pizza Hut. We were very hungry, and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole pie!

Full and exhausted, we watched something forgetable on TV, then went to sleep at 9:30.

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