Good morning and greetings from the left coast. We are now on day five of our Polynesian postings and today we are looking at palm, banyan and other arbor exotica from the North Shore. One afternoon as I was sitting on the deck text messaging Michelle Obama I heard loud thuds coming from the yard next door. Being a former hand model and a photographer I had to go check it out. A Samoan family crew was chopping down all the coconuts and huge branches from the palm trees (photos 1 & 2) so they wouldn’t fall on the coconuts of the renters who were paying the big bucks. These guys were scaling the palm trees in spiked boots the same way I used to climb the rope in gym class. The difference was I wasn’t carrying a machete and whacking away at coconuts like Michelle Wie in a sand trap.
One day we headed over to the incredibly beautiful Waimea Valley, which is right across from Waimea Bay. The first thing we saw as we entered the valley were peacocks, which I hadn’t seen since I took the wrong turn going to Yankee Stadium and ended up at the Bronx Zoo. These birds were the favorites of Princess Ka’iulani because she loved their exotic feathers. I love their shrill shreik, which is very similar to the sound my wife will make next Thursday when the NFL football season begins.
The Waimea Valley has been a Hawaiian spiritual center on the North Shore since the 12th century. I was going to say or at around the same time as the birth of John McCain, but that would be wrong.
In 1779, the renowned explorer and chef, Captain Cook noted in his journal, “The banks of this river…are well cultivated …and the face of the country is uncommonly beautiful and picturesque.” The Waimea Valley still produces the breadfruit, coconut, yams and slim jims which made Hawaiians beautiful in 1779.
Waimea Valley is home to 36 botanical gardens, 6,000 rare species of plants and a great snack bar and gift shop. The valley was once a thriving taro producing area for ancient Hawaiians If I’m not mistaken, they also produced the first taro cards. Archaeological excavations have uncovered many house foundations, several large heiau (sacred temples) and a bowling alley.
Waimea Valley also contains one of the finest collections of Polynesian plants in existence, as well as excellent collections of very rare Hawaiian plants and individual gardens dedicated to plants from Guam, Madagascar, the Seychelles, the Mascarene Islands, the Ogasawara Islands and Coney Island.
When you enter the valley you immediately come upon these outrageous banyan trees (photos 3 & 4) that just take your breath and sunscreen away. As you walk the grounds you come upon more beautiful flowering trees (photos 5 & 6.) If you take the 3/4 of a mile hike into the valley you come upon Waimea Falls. I didn’t go for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to blow my whole allowance on plants and two, my anonymous source in the gift shop confided to me that the waterfall was at a trickle. If I’m hiking a mile and a half I’m going to need two things-white water action cascading down a cliff and a hot plumeria oil massage afterwards.
So there’s our arbor day celebration of the North Shore. Coming up on Friday we’ll look at how Sunset Beach got its name. So until then, enjoy the day, be grateful for your health and enjoy the Democratic Convention. Peace, love, Hillary rocks and I’m out.