August 21, 2011

Big Girls Don’t Kauai

Good morning and greetings, back-to-school fans. That’s right, last week it was mid-August, and my kids were happy as linguini and clams to back in the classroom. For me, it’s been two weeks since my return from vacationing in the South Pacific and I still have the aloha spirit sprinting daily through my mind. Kauai is a slice of paradise one doesn’t soon forget, and besides, I’m going to be milking these pictures from the Garden Isle longer than I reminded my parents I made the Dean’s List at Syracuse back before there was history.

So while I still have the island fever, let’s learn some more fun facts about our 50th state.

According to the early descendants of Steve McGarrett, the Hawaiian Islands were one of the last places on Earth discovered and occupied by humans. The first Polynesians landed in Hawaii after leaving their home in the Marquesas Islands some 2,500 miles away, in search of pineapples, papayas and plate lunches with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

As I mentioned last week, modern contact was not made until Captain James Cook first anchored off Kauai in 1778. He named this sweeping archipelago the Sandwich Islands after his sponsor, the 4th Earl of Sandwich and his wife, the 1st Dutchess of Soup.

Hawaii is the most isolated population center on Earth. It is 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China and light years from Fort Lee, New Jersey. Much like my midsection, it is the only state whose land area is increasing as a result of lava flows from volcanic eruptions and the addition of Roseanne Barr to the Big Island.

Hawaii is the only state that is is not geographically located in North America, although some wonder if Arizona still belongs in the mix. It was one of only four independent countries before becoming a state, joining the Republic of Texas, the Vermont Republic, the California Republic and the Banana Republic, where new fall styles are now available for him and her.

Kauai offers seven distinct microclimates and breweries, from lush interior jungles to very dry areas on the west side. Mount Waialeale is at the center of the Garden Isle and is the rainiest spot in the world. Ancient Hawaiians recognized the importance of this location and built a temple on the summit along with a gift shop.

How it rains over 400 inches a year on the middle of the island while just 18 inches drop on the west side is a mystery to me and to the surviving members of Fleetwood Mac. Fortunately for the Tourism Bureau, much of the rain falls at night and the showers are brief, like my resolution to follow through on projects. But island rains bring rainbows, and that’s where dreams that you dare to dream really come true. Just ask any happy little bluebird.

Hawaii consists of eight larger, populated islands and 124 small, uninhabited islands, reefs, atolls b-tolls, and the Rolling Stones. It spans the distance of 1,524 miles, making Hawaii the longest island chain in the world. The islands are the subtropical tops of the biggest mountain range in the world. Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, is higher than Mount Everest and Yao Ming when measured from its base, which is on the ground floor of the Pacific Ocean, from which there is no elevator, so you have to take the stairs up.

Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee and whose majority of people are non-white. Except for big wave surfers, It has the highest life expectancy in the United States. Aloha is a Hawaiian word that means hello, good-bye and slow down, this isn’t the mainland. The oldest newspaper found west of the Rocky Mountains is the Sandwich Island Gazette in Hawaii, which has a great sports and lava flow page. And finally, by law, no building on Kauai is allowed to be built taller than a palm tree. Suck on that for a while, Empire State Building fans.

For this week’s pictorial pleasure, we are going with a variety pack. We start out at the golden sand of Lumahai Beach, one of the most photographed beaches in the world where Mitzi Gaynor in “South Pacific,” washed that man right out of her hair” using a coconut conditioner. We then move on to the basketball court at the Hanalei Community Center. It’s always nice to be shooting jumpers with waterfalls cascading down the mountain in the background.

We then cruise over to Opaeka’a Falls, which flows year round off the north branch of the Wailua River. The names dates back to the day when shrimp swarmed the river and were seen frolicking in garlic sauce at the base of the falls. Next we head to the south shore and Poupi Beach, where the waves are smashing against the rocks in an area teeming with sea turtles and more crabs than you’ll see on Chinese New Year. Then about 100 yards from this spot, I snapped a shot of this highly endangered monk seal. The Hawaiians call them llio holo i ka uaua, which means “dog that runs in rough water.” (As a side note, back in Jersey, they used to call me, llio hoho i ka italiano, which means “boy that walks with thin crust pizza.”)

There are less than 1,000 monk seals left on the planet and is was a treat to take a quick snooze with this one. We close out the tour with a shot of the world’s largest snail that I shot cruising along the front lawn at our house in Hanalei. With a cornucopia of amazing colored birds, exotic fish and tanned locals, Kauai is truly a visual paradise.

We’ve still got more to come on the photo front, including island flowers, south shore sunrises and red clay waterfalls, so stay tuned, Magnum P.I fans.

On to the late night. “Obama said the housing market may not pick up again for another year or longer. On the bright side, President Obama now has nine people interested in his house.” –Conan O’Brien “Donald Trump may be running for president, and why not? He’s got that everyman quality that we can all relate to. Donald Trump told CNN he may consider getting back into the presidential race. He said he has to mull it over, comb it over, and he’ll go from there.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Michele Bachmann wished Elvis Presley a happy birthday even though it’s actually the anniversary of his death. When told about the mistake, Bachmann said, ‘My apologies to Elvis, and the entire Costello family. Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. She said she hasn’t been this excited since she won last year’s ‘Who’s Crazier Than Sarah Palin’ contest.’” –Conan O’Brien

“President Obama will begin a three-state bus tour. I believe the three states are confusion, delusion, and desperation. The Republicans had their big debate in Iowa. You know who the winner was? Anyone that didn’t watch.” –Jay Leno “Some political analysts are saying that President Obama is making many of the same mistakes that President Bush made. Obama said, ‘That’s ridiculous, and if you’ll excuse me, ‘Spongebob’ is on.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Finally some good news: the price of gas is going down. They say it could soon be under three dollars a gallon. Do you know what that means? You can now afford to drive by the house you used to live in, go by the job you used to have, and go see the bank where you used to have money. It’s the trifecta of the recession! According to the Mexican government, the number of people leaving Mexico for the United States is now practically zero. It’s true. The other day I was in downtown Los Angeles and I heard something down there I haven’t heard in years: English.” –Jay Leno

“Sarah Palin’s daughter-in-law just gave birth three months after getting married, and thus won the annual Palin Almost Abstinent Award.” –Jay Leno “Levi Johnston, who got Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol pregnant, has a sister Mercede, who just posed for ‘Playboy’ and said some very unflattering things about the Palins. She said Track Palin, who she dated, used cocaine and oxycodone, that Sarah Palin forced him to go into the military to protect herself, and that if Palin became President she’d have a mental breakdown. Then the photographer asked her to turn a little so he could get both nipples.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“There was a small fire today at President Obama’s vacation home in Martha’s Vineyard. Or as Obama told China, ‘Darn! That’s where I was keeping the $14 trillion I was about to give back! After all the rioting in London this week, officials are worried that it could mean security problems for the Olympics next year. On the bright side, the guy running with the torch will just blend right in.” –Jimmy Fallon “A study showed that every hour of TV you watch after the age of 25 shortens your life by 22 minutes. That doesn’t sound too bad to me. You’d probably watch TV with that 22 minutes anyway.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s it for our South Pacific fact finding tour. I was shocked last Monday when we had our first clear morning in over two months, before it went back to the usual dreary fog the next day. For me, sports fans, it’s a completely different feeling when the sky is Carolina blue and not Joel Grey.

Enjoy the NFL exhibition season and we’ll catch you going deep to right center. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jim Thome fans.


  1. Maybe it’s time for you to escape the urban sprawl of Santa Cruz.

    Comment by Book 'em, Dano — August 22, 2011 @ 9:39 am

  2. Beautiful photos, insightful commentary and funny jokes – just another day at

    Comment by Grace Park — August 22, 2011 @ 10:26 am

  3. A good morning to you too! Your kids had to love the monk seal and the giant snail. Mahalo.

    Comment by Babs — August 23, 2011 @ 8:18 am

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