Good morning and greetings, debt ceiling fans. I have returned from my South Pacific sabbatical, which left me with a feeling of calm and serenity that I haven’t experienced since I started daydreaming in high definition. So after a two week hiatus from the stream of unconsciousness that is Sunrise Santa Cruz, I am back in the saddle and medium raring to go.
Now let me state for the Bergen Record that I am quite fond of Santa Cruz. I have lived in this cold water paradise where the redwoods meet the sea and liberals for over a quarter of a century. I enjoy photographing the world class sunrises and sunsets, Gilda’s fabulous Wednesday $8.95 Prime Rib special and not having to wear three layers of clothing. But as much a I enjoy the Mediterranean climate here on the central coast, I LOVE the weather in Hawaii. Okay, shoot me with a coconut, I admit it, I’m an alohaholic. The first step is admitting it.
As Jasmine Guy once told me, the South Pacific is a different world, particularly on the weather front. You wake with the roosters crowing in the morning and the air and water temperature is a lovely 76 degrees. And then during the afternoon the air soars up to 85 degrees before the trade winds kick in and cool the air and Maui gold pineapples down. For someone who grew up in the Garden State of New Jersey and would be thrilled to never put on a jacket or sweatshirt ever again, this is paradise on American soil. How the U.S. managed to snatch these islands away from the native Hawaiians is a bigger miscarriage of justice then when a IRA terrorist kidnapped Jax Teller’s baby last season on ‘Sons of Anarchy.’
So it was with this mindset that the Gilbert families headed over to vacation on the Garden Isle of Kauai. We were comfortably situated on the incredibly lush north shore in Hanalei, which translated means “no delicatessens” in Hawaiian. With the daily rain showers, the landscape and flora is simply amazing, with more shades of green than a San Francisco medical marijuana dispensary. Any time you can sit back on your bed and see multiple waterfalls cascading down the mountains, life is good, especially with a firm and smooth-skinned strawberry papaya lying next to you.
So let’s talk a little history. According to noted Motown historian Aretha Franklin, the Hawaiian islands are the most isolated chain, chain, chain in the world. Back in 1778, British sea captain James Cook and Spock were on their way to Alaska to search for the northwest passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans when they dropped anchor off Waimea and discovered Kauai as well as valleys flowing with chocolate covered macadamia nuts.
Kauai emerged from the depths of the Pacific before Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and the first ABC stores. It is geologically, after John McCain, the oldest of all the islands. It lies 72 miles away across the Kauai Channel from Honolulu and Sunset Beach, gaining its reputation as the “Separate Kingdom.” Kauai’s beauty, much like my early modeling years, is legendary, as the natives used to chant to the kings, “Kauai Kilohana,” beautiful is Kauai beyond compare, which ironically is the same thing my agent used to tell me before open model shoots.
So we start today’s photo parade with a look at lovely Hanalei Bay before moving on to a shot of Tunnels Beach, which is a little further along towards the Na Pali coast. Then we find ourselves at the most conveniently located waterfall in the islands, Wailua Falls, before catching a double rainbow in Hanalei. We then stride forward to the geological wonder of the uninhabited Na Pali coast, which is accessible only by foot along the Kalalua Trail, by sea during days of low surf or by the way the first Hawaiians saw it, by helicopter.
Much like myself, the Na Pali coast is isolated from the outside world, although there is an 11 mile hike that gives you a nice slice of the tropical valleys and hidden waterfalls. And as my close friends and personal trainer knows, I live for rigorous hikes. I would have made the trek but it turns out I brought the wrong oxygen tanks with me.
We finish up our Polynesian with a shot of the place they call the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon. If you like exotic colors, make a reservation. As you can see from these photos, Kauai has some of the most spectacular scenery this side of the Strand in Hermosa Beach. These shots just give you a taste of the beauty of the Garden Isle, so in the next few weeks we’ll see photos of sunrises, sunsets, island flowers, marine wildlife and hot food items from the Foodland in Princeville . Plus lots more history and interesting facts about our 50th state, like my decision that if I have any more children, I’m going to name them Mauna and Loa.
On to some bonus late night coverage. “The NFL lockout is over. All the parties agreed and we have a compromise. It’s too bad then national debt isn’t as important as football. “Jeb Bush may run for President. Bush Presidencies are like ‘Caddyshack’ movies. They should have stopped with one. Happy birthday to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He celebrated quietly with half his money.” –David Letterman
“The debt ceiling debate is such a mess right now, Al Qaeda is desperately trying to find a way to take credit for it.” –Jimmy Kimmel “President Obama urged the American people to call Congress and demand that both parties work together on a compromise. The calls are 99 cents for the first minute, and a trillion dollars for each additional minute.” –Jimmy Kimmel “We are $14 trillion in debt. To understand how much money that is, imagine grocery shopping at Whole Foods every day of the month.” –Jay Leno
“President Obama may have to cancel his 50th birthday party because of the debt limit crisis. The Republicans won’t even let Obama raise his age.” –Conan O’Brien “It’s so hot that people are standing next to Rupert Murdoch just to be near something shady.” –Jay Leno “President Obama’s motorcade was fined $16 for traffic it caused while in the United Kingdom. Typical for Obama, he said, ‘My grandkids will pay for it.’” –Jay Leno
“Amid the heat, health officials are telling Americans to stay home. Americans responded by saying, ‘We are home. We have no jobs.’” –Conan O’Brien “NASA says that without the space shuttle, we’ll have to pay the Russians $63 million to take one astronaut into space. And if the astronaut wants to check a bag, it’s an extra $15 million.” –Conan O’Brien “House Speaker John Boehner invited new congressmen over for pizza last night. Unfortunately, the delivery guy left when they spent 10 hours fighting over a plan to pay for it.” –Jimmy Fallon
“A new poll shows that disapproval of Congress is at an all-time high. Eighty-two percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing and the other 18 percent weren’t home when the question was asked.” –Jimmy Kimmel “Man, America’s credit rating took a real hit this weekend. On Friday night, the U.S. actually lost its AAA status. Or as Joe Biden put it, ‘What happens if I get a flat tire?’” –Jimmy Fallon “China has told us our days of squandering borrowed money are over. So maybe we shouldn’t tell them we just spent $76 million going to the Smurf movie.” –Conan O’Brien
“A new poll shows that President Obama is losing support among voters in Florida, which explains why this morning he sent SEAL Team 6 out to get Casey Anthony. A man jumped the White House fence, but after a brief chase, the Secret Service was able to talk President Obama into coming back and finishing his term.” –Conan O’Brien “Just 10 days until the big Iowa Republican presidential straw poll. How many think Mitt Romney will win the straw poll? How many think Michele Bachmann will win? How many would rather vote for the straw?” –Jay Leno
“Happy birthday to President Obama, who is turning 50, although Republicans in Congress are demanding he cut his age to 40. President Obama celebrated his 50th birthday in his hometown of Chicago. Oprah jumped out of the cake. Then she jumped back in. She loves cake.” –Jimmy Kimmel “President Obama celebrated his 50th birthday in Chicago. Obama cut the cake, then Republicans cut everything else.” –Jimmy Fallon
“Some big election news. It’s rumored that Sarah Palin will announce her presidential campaign at a Labor Day rally in Iowa. Palin has a great speech planned — she’s like, ‘We have to do this as a team! Remember, there is no ‘I’ in Iowa!’” –Jimmy Fallon “According to a recent survey, kids are receiving an average of 40 cents less from the tooth fairy. That’s right, the economy is so bad that even make-believe people are feeling the pinch.” –Conan O’Brien “The world’s saddest tangerine.” –Jon Stewart on John Boehner
So that’s our first post from the islands. I hope some of you out there have been watching the final season of Tommy Gavin and ‘Rescue Me’ on FX, as it has been supremely entertaining and well-written. So enjoy the fog that is the summer on the central coast and we’ll catch you in the left field corner. Aloha, mahalo and later, Curtis Granderson fans.