If you have been to Kauai, and have not driven the Waimea Canyon road, I strongly suggest that you do. While smaller, much, much smaller, than its big brother in Arizona, it is nevertheless a real feast for the eyes. It is only fourteen miles long, and two-thirds of a mile deep. Compared to the lush green of the Garden Isle, the rust colored cliffs and rocks stand out even more. It will definitely remind you of the American Southwest.
As you drive over from the south or east shore, where most people stay, including us, you will pass several cute little towns. Let me also say that you will pass the Kauai Cookie factory store in Hanapepe. The little beach town of Waimea is classic old Hawaii. From there, the drive goes upward to 4,000 feet above ocean level. Bring a light jacket since it is often cooler here, with periods of showers and misty blankets of fog.
Speaking of old Hawaii, Kauai is the island that most resembles old Hawaii. Traditions of aloha seem stronger here than elsewhere. People even drive in a more polite fashion here. But I do not feel safe out on the highways on my rented bicycle. I found a great network of service roads here in the Kauai Lagoons area, and adjacent to the Lihue Airport. I can get an hour ride by making the circuit about 3 times. I guess we are rather spoiled back home with the iron Horse Trail and the Contra Costa Canal Trail.
We were able to hit one of our island favorites today at lunch, the famous Hamura Saimin stand in downtown Lihue. Somehow, it survived Iniki. I doubt that the old shack meets even the most liberal ADA standards. In fact, I wonder if it meets even minimum health inspection standards. But their saimin bowls are the best in all of the islands. Add some chicken or beef skewers, and top it all with a slice of their homemade lillikoi (passion fruit) pie. Ichiban!
The best time, on almost all of the Hawaiian Islands is after a big rain, with numerous waterfalls and views of the Pacific. You will find respite at the Kokee Museum, while learning about the canyon’s wildlife and origins. Stop at the Lodge at Kokee for their specialty, the Portuguese bean soup, one of my personal island favorites. Just scrape off the fat from the sausage before consuming.
Perhaps the most stunning part of the drive is at the end of the road. The overlook at the Kalaulau Valley is both majestic, and wondrous. It might be windy, and cold, but well worth the short little walk from the parking lot. You can always stop for more soup on the way back!
I have probably done this drive a half-dozen times. Just make sure you slow down on the curves, and stop at every lookout point. Bring your camera, take lots of photos, and tell everyone back home you have seen both of our breathtaking Grand Canyons.
It is practically impossible to visit the island of Kauai and not drive up to the north shore area of Hanalei. It is one of the lushest and greenest places in the world. It has a population of 450 people. Hanalei means lei making in Hawaiian. It also means “crescent bay” perhaps due to the shape of Hanalei Bay itself. The little town, or rather village, sits at the mouth of the Hanalei River.
It is quite likely that the Russians were here before most anyone else. Then along came the German physician, Georg Anton Schaffer. He tried to retrieve goods that were confiscated by the Kauai chief, Kaumaulii. However, he made the mistake of getting involved in local politics, including the return of the kingdom of Kauai to the Chief, at the expense of King Kamehameha I. So, from 1817 to 1853, Fort Elizabeth, near the Waimea River, were part of tsarist Russian America.
Closer to today, this region was used as the backdrop for the movie, South Pacific in 1958. And the famous 1963 Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “Puff, the Magic Dragon” tells of Puff’s homeland of “Hanah Lee.” Metaphorically, the cliffs on the side of the beach look like a dragon. Some go as far as saying Hanalei produces the best marijuana on the island, thus the inclusion in the song. The line, “a dragon lives forever, but not so little boys”, implies that Jackie Paper dies.
I don’t see dragons or marijuana in Hanalei, but I do see taro farms, art galleries, and reminders of old Kauai. Taro, used most often to make the gooey, gelatinous poi, grows in abundance here. These heart-shaped leafy plants grow in flooded fields, much like rice. Perhaps nowhere is the patchwork of taro fields so prominent as from the Hanalei Valley lookout.
The Hanalei Valley is only one mile wide, and six miles long. It is the home of the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge. Also of interest is the rather creaky old Hanalei Bridge. It is only a single lane, requiring some courtesy by drivers coming from either direction. And most importantly, it has a 15 ton limit! To make matters even more precarious, this area is also known as the wettest spot on earth with an annual rainfall of 460 inches!
Across from the lookout is the famous Princeville Resort and Princeville Center. This is about the only shopping area besides the little shops in the Hanalei Village itself. Originally, a man named R. C. Wylie started a coffee plantation back in 1853. Thought the coffee plantation failed, Princeville is the largest planned development on the island.
The big attraction for me has always been the world-famous Prince Golf Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones. Located along the dramatic coast, the first hole is a rather curious and difficult start to an otherwise beautiful round of golf. This is also where we met dear friends, Rey and Corinne over ten years ago. They say it is the No. 1 rated course in all of Hawaii. I am not so sure, but it is a beautiful setting, when it is not raining.
The drive only takes about half an hour from Kapaa. It is worth the drive, in any weather. After all, how many of your friends can say they have been to the wettest place on earth?
Kauai is the oldest, northernmost, and fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands. And many parts of Kauai are accessible only by air, or in some cases, water. But it is always the most beautiful of the islands, and a popular spot for movie makers and honeymooners. And hunters.
They say the first explorer to find Kauai was British explorer, Captain James Cook in 1778. He landed on the western coast, near Waimea Bay, and named the islands the Sandwich Isles, after the Earl of Sandwich. When King Kamehameha unified the islands, only Kauai set out to deter his efforts. Eventually, King Kaumualii decided to join peacefully with the rest of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
The population of Kauai is only 62,000. My bet is that our friends Rey and Corinne know at least 50% of the population. The island has only 552 square miles, so the likelihood of running into a friend or relatives must be high. The Wailua River, at 20 miles long, is the only navigable river in all of the islands.
Some famous people have second homes here. These include: Ben Stiller, Pierce Brosnan, Michael Crichton, Natalie Merchant, and Bette Midler (born here). A friend here has been the chef for Kevin Costner and Oprah when he/she lived here.
Basically, there is one road that nearly circles the island. If there is an accident during rush hour, the traffic is tied up for hours. In general, I stay off the roads at rush hour, or at least make sure that I am going against the commute traffic. This year, I may rent a bicycle to get around in the cool early mornings.
So, beware old Kauai. We plan to hit all of our favorites over the next week! Starting first with the our favorite sushi bar in the entire world, Kintaro. And with dear friends Rey and Corrine. It was old home week—-so great to see them!!!! Highlight of the trip.
What does aloha really mean in the Hawaiian or English language? I have heard the obvious, like hello, or goodbye. I have also heard about the aloha spirit of the islands, perhaps the most important meaning for aloha. The Hawaiian language says aloha means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy. Only since the 19th century has aloha come to be used as “hello” and “goodbye”.
We also have come to know the islands of Hawaii as the Aloha State. The derivation of aloha comes from the Proto-Polynesian root, qarofa. Quite similar in meaning are the Samoan and Maori, meaning “love”.
Most of you have seen the famous Aloha Tower that once stood as the primary greeting landmark to Honolulu upon arrival by steamship. The aloha spirit inspired the name of the tower, which has greeted air and sea passengers since September 11, 1926.
I did not realize that singer and entertainer Bette Midler was born in Hawaii. Nobody asks for a copy of her birth certificate! As far as television goes, the detective show, Hawaii Five-0 uses the term “aloha” quite frequently. So do almost every TV, radio, or magazine advertisement for Hawaiian vacations. And do not forget Hilo Hattie (Clarissa Jaili), who appeared on the old TV show, Harry Owens and the Royal Hawaiians back in the Fifties. Harry was really from Nebraska, and wrote the song, “Sweet Leilani” for his daughter, Leilani.
Next comes the nearly ubiquitous aloha shirt, fancied by many, including yours truly. It still is the primary exported textile in the state of Hawaii. Most are printed, short-sleeved, and collared, not to mention sometimes bright and hideous. I prefer the more subdued Tommy Bahama brand of aloha shirts. Most of you do not know that aloha shirts can be worn by both men AND women. The lower hem is straight, and meant to not be tucked in!
Of course, my favorite type of aloha is Aloha Friday. At precisely noon, or any hour prior to that, the typical islander heads over to an ABC Store for a 12 pack of their favorite beer. Then, we head over to the beach, park, or shady spot on the roadside. Truth be known, I think Aloha Friday was the real precursor to casual Friday. Here’s to both casual Friday and Aloha Friday! See you in Maui and Kauai, bruddah!!!!
Little did I know that the U.S. Constitution declared March as National Noodle Month, even though Ben Franklin detested the noodle. Ben was a meat and potatoes guy, and spent most of his adult life in England and France proving so. But I would be less than truthful if I did not honor the Japanese version of the noodle, ramen. Ramen is everywhere now. But, at one time, in a distant past, it was hardly known to anyone outside of Japan, or maybe Hawaii.
Ramen started as a staple of poor college students, then transformed itself into a big underground food trend all over Asia and the U.S. But back in 1910, Chinese noodles make their way across the sea to Japan. Folklore says a few Chinese chefs at Tokyo’s famous Rairaiken restaurant brought the noodles over, but they were not available for comment.
Leave it to a Taiwanese-born Japanese businessman by the name of Momofuku Ando to invent instant noodles in Osaka in 1958. He lived to the ripe old age of 96, perhaps due to his daily ramen intake, despite advice from doctors and dietitians who advised against this salty dish. Then, in 1971, Ando’s company Nissin Foods released “Oodles of Noodles” to the U.S. But sales were flat, perhaps due to the rather silly name of “Oodles”. But the following year, renamed “Cup Noodles”, Ando and his company hit the proverbial jackpot.
Instant noodles began their rapid ascent to stardom by becoming a staple of poor college students everywhere. By 2008, 94 billion packages of instant ramen are consumed per year! But the pinnacle of ramen came in 1994 when the world’s first ramen museum opened in Yokohama. I guess I missed it on my last trip to Japan.
Big time occurs in 2004, when David Chang opens Momofuku Noodle Bar (named for Ando) in New York’s east village. American ramen has become transformed from something you eat when you forgot to shop, to a reason you cannot get a reservation for a month. Then, in 2008, ramen receives the highest honor that American culture can bestow. It is featured in a Brittany Murphy movie. The movie critics say she was just looking for a guy to “spoon.”
Now, even Tulsa, Oklahoma has a ramen bar to match San Francisco and New York City. The four basic ramens, shio, miso, shoyu, and tonkatsu are pushed to the limit of creativity. The ultimate ramen shop has an “ultimate” design for ramen, with a built in holder for your iphone.
Bottom line, just enjoy your ramen, whether you make it at home, or go out. Just remember Mr. Ando and his great legacy during March, the month of noodle celebration. Should disaster hit the area, your package of ramen, assuming you can get some hot water, may save your lives. I hear it is a staple of my planned trip across Siberia. Lucky me!!!
Here you go, borrowed from Snooth, but nonetheless, annoying. Why do these so-called wine experts ruin it for the rest of us? I just call wine by whether I like it or not, such as good, or bad!!! Or too expensive. Is that so difficult?
Round (it fills the mouth in a soft and seamless way)
Deep (what about height, length, or width?)
Creamy (why should wine taste like a milkshake?)
Fruit Forward (is fruit over achieving?)
Height (here it is, somehow the flavors distinguish themselves in the mouth)
Supporting Tannins (elements of wine are supported by tannins, acid and sugar, so what?)
Terroir (the most contentious word in wine, but really the effects of man, soil, and weather on wine)
Historically, old white men sat around talking this way or that. They wore smoking jackets, while sitting in dark wood paneled rooms, probably dimly lit (oh, so that is where “dim-wit” came from).
There are more, even from Bobby Parker:
Unctuous (rich, lush, velvety, why not just say so?)
Confident (give me a break!)
Serious (are you serious was really coined by tennis champion, John McEnroe)
Cacophony (yes, they are a bunch of phonies)
The Finish Last X Seconds (total, unadulterated BS)
Now, you get the idea!
From the first time I set foot in Arizona, I knew it had something different, whether the huge Saguaro cactus, the plentiful plastic surgery, or the strange politics. Being close to the Mexico border, you would think that Arizona would have a better and more civilized approach to immigration. I think their economy would collapse without employees from Mexico.
Let’s start with London Bridge. In 1968, a Lake Havasu man bought the London Bridge for $2.46 million and transported it to the desert. Why?
Some towns in Arizona have strange names: Bumble Bee, Why, Happy Jack, Snowflake, Arsenic Tubs, Surprise, Two Guns, and Friendly Corner.
Estrella, Arizona is home to over ten million used tires. Again, why?
The Heart Attack Grill in Chandler serves a full two-pound hamburger with eight slices of cheese, a real artery clogger. To top it off, you can buy a pack of unfiltered Lucky Strike cigarettes for an after meal smoke.
Arizona was the 48th state, and the last of the contiguous states to join the Union. Perhaps it will be the first to be impeached!
The state tie is the bolo, and the state gemstone is turquoise. I think they belong together, forever.
The state of Arizona is roughly the size of Italy.
Arizona has the highest number of state and national parks.
If you cut down a Saguaro cactus, you may face 25 years in prison!
Some famous or infamous Arizonans:
I Dream of Jeanie
Karsten Solheim (PING)
Frank Lloyd Wright
Remember Barry Goldwater when he ran for President in 1964. He called Nixon the most dishonest man he had ever met!!!
My parents met and married here in the Phoenix area. They were in relocation camp in nearby Poston, AZ. They were able to elope to Phoenix for the weekend. So, I guess I should thank Arizona. Our dear friend Debbie lived here for many years. I will always remember her New Year’s Eve slipper party, and impromptu wig fitting extravaganza. Now, we look forward to visiting the great Sartorial Superman, John Fisher at Patrick James Men’s Store in Scottsdale.
It seems the Bentley automobile is popular here. I have seen several, all black of course, as one was a convertible. Why would anyone want a black car in the summer heat here? Actually, I saw a white convertible just this afternoon.
Attending the Giants spring training game was low-key fun. The players try to do some out of the ordinary things, like big and tall first baseman Brandon Belt for the Giants. They had him steal a base! And everyone’s hero and NL MVP, Buster Posey only played long enough for two at bats. Rotund third baseman Pablo Sandoval looks like he weighs about 300 pounds, ready to play for the Niners as the nose tackle! After a few innings, both lineups are dominated by either no names, or names to be made. Spring means hope for some young men.
Often it seems good things happen when you least expect them. We dined last night the Renegade Tap and Kitchen out on Shea Blvd and Highway 101. Each of the dishes were quite special, starting with the butternut squash raviolis, followed by my lobster tacos, and Sheri’s halibut. Of course, breakfast was at the Good Egg, always hearty, and always the huevos rancheros. Never deviate from this breakfast!
It will reach 81 here in the Valley of the Sun today. I feel sorry for the folks back east and north, mired in cold, snow, and wind. A week in Arizona, watching some meaningless baseball games, bragging about a few birdies on the golf course, and having a great meal certainly sounds better than shoveling snow.
Thank you so much for the great responses. Here they are, with names changed to protect the innocent and embarrassed.
. . . you arrive in a foreign country with a miserable sore throat. You go to the local pharmacy and make a feeble attempt to ask for some throat lozenges–and end up with something for your ear!!! (True story!) (JS from Fresno)
. . .I’m going somewhere I’ve never been! (SM from Pleasant Hill)
. . . I have a good authentic meal, it’s all about the food. (IE from Concord)
. . . you are able to walk & realize the gift that one is given…and you get to fly somewhere that you don’t speak the language…but guess that could be in Mississippi! (PL from St. George)
. . . my daughter and I were terrorized while in Hawaii (that’s a clue!) to the point of moving all the furniture in our rented condo to the middle of the room and beating the walls with a broom…..by a gecko! We had no idea what it was, lol. (CL from Concord)
. . . the plane overshot the runway and skidded into the pond used for fire emergencies. Had to sit for hours to be towed out.
Or ~ kidney stone attack on the train from Paris back to Germany. The ambulance gurney didn’t fit on the train hallway so I was dragged off on a tarp. The emergency room prepped me for an appendectomy until I found the french word for rock/pebble in my book. (MM from Bigfork, MT)
. . . you are ready to catch your connecting flight in Texas and they say you have a reservation,,,but no seat assignments!!!!! What!!!! (JB from Fresno)
. . . you wake up staring at a lion! (FT from Carmel)
. . . you leave your purse and passport (and father’s passport) on a train in Vernazza, (cinqa terra) Italy at midnight. Only to think OK this is my new home and find out the train turns around in the next town and the very honest train conductor brings it back to our hotel’s owners (they somehow called the train?)!! Traveling into the night is not always the best idea! Gotta love Italy though!! (DK from Maui)
. . . I lost sight of my tour group in Cuba, on the first outing. They took off and I wandered the streets for hours before a stranger came to my aid. (LR from Walnut Creek)
. . . you are on a dirt road in rural Germany and two military types appear pointing guns at you and yelling in Germany of which you do not understand. (DF from Fresno)
. . . You’re a college student, It’s a summer in the ’70s. You’ve left St. Louis bound for New Orleans (then on to a flight to Guatemala) when the stewardess (that’s what they were then) announces you will land and deplane in Jacksonville FL — due to a bomb threat passenger, who was detained at the boarding airport, but whose luggage is in the cargo hold!!
Thanks to all of you, That was great fun, and quite revealing for some of you!!!! I wish I could send each of you a prize.
Headed to Scottsdale for a bit of nostalgia, the lure of seeing some baseball, Cactus League style, is upon me. Sheri is busy with something else, so I am headed to Scottsdale Stadium, the “winter” home of the 2012 World Champion San Francisco Giants. I have not been to a Spring Training game since the Eighties or Nineties, when my kids were youngsters. The big stars then were Will Clark of the Giants, and the Oakland A’s duo of Canseco and McGwire. Today, the big stars are Buster Posey, the National League MVP, Matt Cain, Panda Sandoval, and Reverend Hunter Pence.
Back then, Spring Training was the only chance for my kids to catch a baseball, get up close to the players, and even get some autographs. At one point, my son was catching and retrieving so many baseballs, I made him give them away to some of the younger and smaller kids. If you ask nicely, I will reveal his secret!!!! I made him stop when he got to seventeen baseballs.
Another important part of Scottsdale in March was the morning round of golf with my son. We would tee off fairly early, around 8am, then swing over to the Giants or Oakland Athletics game in the afternoon. To top off a great day, we would have dinner at a place where the players, announcers, and celebrities would eat, places like the Pink Pony, and Don and Charlie’s.
If you are a baseball fan, I would strongly encourage you to make this pilgrimage sometime. Some people call it the rites of Spring. I just think it was a great time for a family vacation, and bonding with my now 32 year old son. Of course, he was already shooting par by then, and having to give me about ten strokes! Baseball and golf, a great vacation combination.