Moving on

Wow!  I’ve had no time to post this month…..we have have been consumed with the move from Koloa to the big city, I’d forgotten how much work moving is.  We now live a couple blocks from Costco and Home Depot in Lihue.  We are also quite close to the airport, but don’t really get much noise since we aren’t on the landing path.  We are located right next to the underpass linking the first and second holes of PuaKea golf course so we are well located.

The movers came one week ago and we have since pretty much settled in.  Of course it will still take a while to find out where I’ve stashed everything, but so far, it’s really nice.  I have my own office, as does Charlie, as well as a guest room.  Our view is the other side of  Haupa, the mountain we could see from the guest room window in Koloa  IMG_1159.JPGWe now have replaced our carport with a garage…yipee!  Charlie is happy….and best of all, it is quiet… trucks gunning between the two stop signs in Koloa.  It is also light and airy.

A few pictures from our new house, just to show what it is like.IMG_1167

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The back yard, the view from the lanai and the garage.

There has been little seal activity for us for the past couple of weeks because of the move, but we will soon be back in the groove.  We’ve had many seasonal volunteers returning so that our absence has been no problem for the program.  We have, however, had more Green Sea Turtles sleeping on the beach at Poipu, in fact one morning we had over 20 when we arrived in the early morning.IMG_1142

Results from last month’s whale strandings have been inconclusive so far, some lab tests haven’t been completed yet.  There was, however, a hearing in Honolulu updating the public on progress.  There seems to be a lot of sentiment to blame someone, the government or military is a favorite target.   But it may well be undetermined.

The Kauai Community College Culinary class has started its second semester with Asian Cuisine.  We just about always respond immediately and since seating is limited they fill up soon.  The Korean dinner just happened to fall on my birthday and Duane, the coordinator of the program arranged to have a candle on my dessert and had the students serenade me with Happy Birthday.  It was pretty cute, I guess this means we are regulars.  We always enjoy not only supporting the program, but also getting gourmet meals for a very reasonable price.

Winter has also arrived, with more rain than we’ve had over the summer and cooler temperatures……it’s been perfect sleeping weather, 60’s overnight and 70’s during the day.  After a pretty warm summer and fall, it is certainly welcome.

Our friend Joanie had a unusual experience golfing, she is the first woman to make a hole in one at the Kukui’ula Golf Course (a gorgeous golf course that is only 7 years old). Charlie created a cake in her honor and delivered it a couple of days after the auspicious event.IMG_1168




Things are a changing

The end of Bon Dance season was marked with a ceremony sending our deceased ancestors out to sea again after welcoming them with the Bon Dances.  It was held at Kukui’ula Harbor at sunset.  Floats were made with 25 (luminaria) lined up on each float.  The buddhist monk first said a prayer and mentioned everyones name on the island that had died in the past year…a representative from the family marched up to take the blessing and after the sun set designated swimmers got in the water and each of the floats were lowered into the water and were strung together and swum out past the surf line.  We watched as the twinkling procession proceeded to sea taking the spirits back.  It was very touching.IMG_0932


Almost immediately upon returning from our trip, we were scheduled to go the the all -island senior softball tournament in Oahu, featuring 65 teams from The Big Island, Kauai, Oahu, and Kauai.  The team made reservations to go and play the end of the week in the Honolulu area.  The upper teams were to play the end of the week and the lower ranked teams, the first part.  We were ranked in the upper division, Group D, so we played late in the week.  Charlie and I decided to go for the whole week and spend a little time at Waikiki before the rest of the team arrived.  It’s fun to get to the big city every now and then.  So, on Wednesday the team arrived ready to play on Thursday. Everyone was psyched and we won our first game.  We lost the second but still had a winning record so we advanced to the elimination portion of the tournament.   After playing 6 games, we made it to the championship game for our division.  We were so excited but also tired after 6 games in 3 days (and remember the team is all above 60 years old).  Unfortunately, we played well but in the last inning of the championship game we succumbed, so came in second in our division.  Out of the 65 teams that played and out of 8 divisions, Kauai teams excelled, winning, 1st or 2nd in 5 out of the 8 divisions.  7 games in 3 days though is a lot!

All in all the week was great fun…we even got over to the beach to meet Rocky (a Kauai seal that relocated to Oahu but usually births on Kauai) and her new pup….born on the very busy beach of Waikiki.  She apparently didn’t make it to Kauai in time.  This was her 10th pup and all the rest have been born on Kauai.  Charlie and I have pup-sat previous pups of hers – apparently she didn’t seem to remember us.IMG_0946Note all the people in the background.  That had to be a challenging location since often a mother seal is quite aggressive.  A female seal pup normally returns to her natal beach to birth.  So the NOAA staff was quite worried that in five years the pup would return.  After much discussion, and having experience in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, they decided to relocate the pup immediately after she was weaned to a more isolated beach.  This tactic has been successful in the NW Islands, as long as it is done within a day or so of weaning, they are confident that she’ll imprint on the new beach.

Friends Barry and Mary had a time-share condo at the iconic Ilikai Hotel that we got to stay in.  The view from our room is below.fullsizeoutput_e8fIt has been featured in Hawaii Five O and numerous other movies.

Meanwhile, across our street dust fences went up and it appears that the new shopping center will be breaking ground soon.  Soooo we put our house up for sale, thinking that it would take a while and we could browse leisurely and look for a place up country, perhaps.  However, much to our surprise, we got an offer right away.  After a few counters, we decided on a price and sold.  Now, we had to find a place to move to.  We found a nice house in Lihue, close to Costco, in a nice neighborhood and put an offer in that was accepted.   So, life changes again, in November we will be moving away from the tourist center of Koloa/Poipu to the ‘big city’.

We’re mixed, in that we have settled comfortably in Koloa and this will be a whole new adventure.  The new house is nice and within walking distance of Home Depot, Costco, Kmart and Safeway but farther from the beaches at Poipu.  We still plan to volunteer with the seal program on the South Shore, it will just take 15 minutes longer to get there.

The crowds have diminished a little since school started on the mainland and the seals haven’t been coming up at Poipu quite so often.  The summer weather has been record-breaking hot….close to 90 and with light trade winds, so we’ve enjoyed the AC we put in a couple of years ago.   The trade winds have started to pick up lately and the humidity has dropped,

We’ve had super tides along with south swells and waves, making the surfers very happy but closing parts of the beach at Poipu because of rip currents.  The seals don’t mind though.  Life goes on and we will have some slack until we have to move…..exciting!

There has been a long gap between posts, partly because we were on the Mainland in Wisconsin for 3 weeks in September.  Charlie was working part of the time, we volunteered, as we have for the past 10 years at the Madison Ironman.  We did reconnect with many friends but didn’t get a chance to see everyone.  I was able to run, …. twice with IMG_2534 (2)my old running group and Bucky Badger.

We had an awesome few days up at Washington Island, Door County, reminiscing about our years of camping on Rock Island (also circumnavigating her).  We stayed at Marcia and Anton’s flat on Kendall Street, thanks to them we’ve had a convenient place to stay each time we’ve visited.  Of course we had to experience the Farmer’s Market and our Saturday Morning coffee group, John, Gary, Bob, Seth and Amanda.  It was a productive trip.

When we returned to Kauai, we discovered that the buyer for our house had dropped out, necessitating new moving plans.  Joanie, our realtor contacted people that had been interested before and within 2 days, had a new buyer….for a little more money and 2 days later another for even more money.  We had signed a contract with the second buyer so we now have a backup.  Unfortunately, we lost 5 weeks while the first buyer was vacillating….our new closing is now mid-November.    We’ve been packing already so that we’re ready.

The new house .

Since we returned, we’ve been swamped with seal work,, having 3, 4 and 5 seals at Poipu.   And to top it all off, on Friday Oct 13 I got a call in the early morning, when we were down at Poipu that all hands were needed in Lihue at Kalapaki harbor.  At least 8 Pilot Whales had beached themselves on the shore and we were needed to try to get them back into deeper water.  When we arrived, two of them were already taking their last breathes but people were trying to guide the rest back into deeper water.  It was a wild scene, with hundreds of spectators, first responders in the water and whales everywhere.  Apparently pilot whales are very social and when one is ill the rest of the pod follows, even if it results in their deaths.  It was an extremely sad event, never seen at such a scale in the Hawaiian islands.  Hundreds of people were out trying to help.  The end result was 5 whales were lost.  Charlie and I and a few other volunteers were recruited to assist in the necropsies.  A remote site was set up and the 3000-5000 lb whales were transported on a flat bed to the site.  A deep hole was dug to bury them after the necropsies and 8 NOAA and U of Hawaii staff were flown over from Oahu to attend.  I was the official photographer for one of the whales.  We had to document it all trying to determine the cause of death.  We had to divorce our minds from the event and had to become clinical in our work.  While the whales were in the water, a group of native hawaiian practitioners surrounded the first two whales and blessed them.  Sabra Kauka, a hawaiian kumu and  a friend of ours chanted, dedicating the animals to the ocean.  Each Hawaiian ohana (family) has a amukua that is part of the family.  It can be a whale, a seal, a dolphin or whatever so this chant is very important to link the ohana to the universe .  It was all very emotional. Before we started the necropsies, the whole crew joined hands in a circle and discussed the importance of this to the culture.IMG_1109


Above is Sabra and the mayor just as Sabra was beginning to dedicate the whales to the ocean with her chant.

You see we haven’t been lazy…just busy.

Here’s to Merry Olde England

We just returned from almost a month in England and Scotland, so there has been no blog since mid June.

We left Kauai on June 25 and flew to San Francisco and from there directly to London, a really long flight, but better since we upgraded to seats that had a little extra leg room.  We arrived in London at 7 am, and since we wouldn’t be able to get into a room until 3 or so, we took the bus from the airport directly to Bristol in the west of England  Bristol is a few hours west of London our friends, Bruce and Andrea had recommended it because their son teaches at the university there.  It was a good move, Bristol is a nice city and close to such tourist destinations as Bath and Wales.

We stayed in a nice hotel in an eclectic part of Bristol, with lots of activity in the surrounding blocks.   Mostly young people, students and vendors.  The day after arriving, we took a bus trip to Bath, well renowned for the Roman baths located there.  The bus trip was fairly quick and the bus station was central and within an easy walk to the baths.  After taking the official tour of the baths with an audio description by Bill Bryson (well known Iowan and now Brit), met outside to join an absolutely fascinating and free tour put on by volunteers.  Most of the places we visited had free guided tours recommended by our Rick Steves guidebook.DSCF1806

The baths were beautifully restored, though the water doesn’t look all that inviting.

We returned to Bristol by train to visit the Bristol museum as well as some street scenes and a few pubs  We discovered that the two characters featured below, Grommet and Wallace, were created in Bristol.  If you’re not familiar with Grommet and Wallace, well, too bad!


We took a day trip also to the Cotswolds from Bristol.  We rented a car (in itself an adventure).  And a car rental company (Europcar) that doesn’t have handout maps of the city!  Very un-American!  Driving on the “wrong” side of the extremely narrow roads, with no shoulder,  turned out to be pretty stressful. However, the Cotswolds were lovely, even in the rain.  Below, a couple of the interesting houses and manicured gardens typical of the area.DSCF1824DSCF1822

One thing that impressed me was the number of homes, everywhere, that had flowers in pots hanging or in general decorating the streets.DSCF1816

We left Bristol after a few days to drive north to Shrewsbury, from there we took a day trip into Snowdonia National Park in Wales.  Braving the narrow roads again, we visited this lovely, wild area, quite hilly .  Every day, it seemed, we would walk at least a few miles and Wales was no exception.  There are waterfalls and walking trails across private land and in Conwy there is even a castle.DSCF1859DSCF1877DSCF1879

The signs are  in Welch and English…Conwy CastleDSCF1880

From Shrewsbury, we continued on, stopping along the way to check out the first iron bridge ever built – the prototype for subsequent steel bridges.  The designers completely over designed it, as they didn’t have a lot of confidence in the iron structure.DSCF1903

On to the Lake Country and Keswick, which turned out to probably, be our favorite place. Keswick is rolling countryside with many lakes and miles of hiking trails.  Most of the tourists appear to be quite athletic, since it is a popular trekking area.  Very few visitors weren’t wearing hiking boots.  Up the hill not far from the town we hiked up to the ancient, Castlerigg Stone Circle, similar to Stonehenge, at the beginning of a lovely 12 mile walk through rolling hills and pastures full of sheep.  Beautiful, sunny and pastoral.  Note that we didn’t visit Stonehenge – it’s quite the tourist trap, and you can’t get very close to it any more.  DSCF1921DSCF1924fullsizeoutput_e4aDSCF1931

Charlie’s the one in blue above; the ones in white are locals.

DSCF1932The last day at Keswick it rained and rained and rained.  It didn’t, however, deter us from another trek, which after 8 miles, we chickened out and took a bus back.  Our feet were soaked and we were starting to get chilled.  Note:  both gortex and umbrella.fullsizeoutput_e51

To escape the rain, we took a little side trip to a whiskey distillery, the Lakes Distillery, in Cumbria, not far from Keswick.  We sampled some of their blended whiskies and savored a lovely gourmet meal, an apt way to end our visit to the Lake Country.  The distillery is also close to another small village – we didn’t get to this one, but wondered about it.  I guess its only natural to wonder about a place called Cockermouth!

Now on to Glascow, Scotland….again driving, where we turned our car in.  We thoroughly enjoyed the city.  Our hotel was located on Bath Street, right downtown.  Two blocks from the bus station and close too, to the train station as well as Buchanan Street, a busy pedestrian mall.  One block from Bath street is another pedestrian mall, Sauchiehall St.  We walked west on it for several miles to check out The University of Glasgow as well as Kelvingrove Park, named after Lord Kelvin, a pioneer in the field of thermodynamics, who gave his name to the alternative to both Centigrade and Fahrenheit.  A highlight was a visit to a malt whisky bar, The Pot Still, established in 1835 and renowned for having over 600 different whiskys.  I bravely approached the bartender pleading ignorance, whereupon he introduced me to single malt scotch whisky…..and I loved it.  The one I chose had been stored in three different types of barrels.  Who Knew?ENGLAND SCOTLAND 062

After a couple days, we picked up another rental car and drove past Loch Lomand and Loch Ness to The Isle of Skye (Nessie wasn’t home, so didn’t get to see her).  The rolling hills and lakes of Scotland are not to be missed, again the narrow roads though are a challenge! ENGLAND SCOTLAND 083 Public transportation is minimal, so driving was the main option.  We stayed in a B&B overlooking an inlet  right in the middle of a sheep pasture and felt we were back in the 19th century.  fullsizeoutput_e58The scenery was spectacular, reminding me somewhat of Iceland with steep mountainsides, few trees, gray and misty.  The only real town we visited was Portree.  Ok, the only town on Skye!   I was impressed by the huge tides they experience.  When the tide is out, the boats are sitting on mud.  The town was quite picturesque, though rainy…..again.  And it was also blustery and cool (cold for us Hawaiians!)  Fortunately we found a little bar, with a wee bit of whisky………….DSCF1961England and Scotland lived up to their reputations of gray and rainy, we only had 3 days with sun for the first 17 days we were there.  We were glad to be well prepared for rain.

Then after two nights, back on the narrow winding roads to Glasgow, where we, thankfully, got rid of the car and took a bus to Edinburgh.

After Skye, Edinburgh was frenetic, tourists everywhere.  We stayed down town with a view of the Edinburgh Castle, a large ferris wheel, a memorial to Sir Walter Scott and a park masking the railroad tracks.  This was the view from our hotel…… the gothic Scott memorial is in the foreground and Old Edinburg is in the background.

It’s a beautiful, old city, quite interesting architecturally, with many styles shown.  We walked The Golden Mile, to Edinburgh University, and around town…..we even had some blue sky (short-lived, but it was there) I took the opportunity to try the traditional Scottish breakfast and, since breakfast was included, I tried haggis and Black Pudding.  Both are a bit weird, especially the haggis, A traditional Scottish dish basically consisting of sheep’s internal organs, ground up, spiced, with oatmeal and cooked in the sheep’s stomach.  It was actually pretty good once you got by the thought of it.  Charlie wasn’t interested in trying either.  The black pudding is made from pork fat and blood and mixed with lots of oatmeal and is solid and sliced into rounds,  It was available at all of our provided breakfasts in both Scotland and England. I liked it too, it was truly black, no doubt my iron count benefitted.  English breakfasts typically consist of eggs, potatoes, fried mushrooms, and beans.   Strange………

From Edinburgh we hopped on the train to York, another quaint city with an almost intact city wall.  We stayed at a active convent, The Bar Convent, founded in 1686 as a school for girls and is still a convent for “the Congregation of Jesus community”.  It is a lovely B&B that is separated from the Sisters by a hall.  It was clean, spacious and the staff was extremely friendly.  It’s located just outside the city wall.  Our introduction was a small cruise down the River Ouse, DSCF1978followed by a visit to the York Brewery, a microbrewery offering tours of their facility along with a tasting at the end.  They offered some excellent brews.  IMG_0893The second day we took advantage of another free tour hosted by the Association of Voluntary Guides, many of the cities have these tours, in fact our tour of Bath was one.

Besides the brews, we met a couple of ice-cream boats on the tours.

York is well known for it’s old town walls and buildings, the Minster cathedral (beautiful stained glass), the Harry Potter book store, and the old city market.   We also traveled down Grape Street – if you’re familiar with Rick Steve’s, you might know the significance of that.  If not, ask me………..

From York it was on to our final stop, London.  Another train ride on Virgin Railroad.  This time we stayed in an area near Victoria Station, Westminster, quite convenient since it was close to the train station, the bus station and the Tube.

We toured the obligatory London Bridge (actually the Tower Bridge), fullsizeoutput_e6awalked around the Tower of London, and observed where the corpses were thrown into the river.  We decided we had enough time in London that we could also take a trip out of the city.  We asked one of the clerks in the bus station, if he had a day off, where would he go.  He suggested Portsmouth, we bought bus tickets and went the next day.  That turned out to be a great choice….it hadn’t been on our original itinerary.

I had my picture taken with Henry VIII, begging for my life.  He spared my life, and we continued to view the naval museum at Portsmouth. ENGLAND SCOTLAND 231 We read about the ill fated Mary Rose (Henry’s pride and joy) that had sunk in the harbor and not raised until the 1982.  The Victory, a steel sailing warship, is also one of the ships on display.

We spent the rest of the day walking the oceanfront and old town.  The day was even sunny – hurrah!ENGLAND SCOTLAND 243

The third day in London we strolled around Buckingham Palace (the queen was in) but we didn’t see her.  My idea was to see the changing of the guards, that starts at 11 am and Rick Steves recommended being there an hour early.  We were there at that time only to see crowds 6 deep against the fence and around the circle.  Too many people, so we continued down the street to St James, where the replacement guards were assembling ….not nearly as crowded……and watched whole pantomime of the troops, and the escort police horses starting to march to the palace.  That was pretty cool, and we didn’t have to brave the crowds.  DSCF2027

Click here to see a video of the event.

The people that were there then walked down the street, following the troops.  We felt we got to experience the ceremony without dealing with the masses.  We spent 5 days in London, and hit highlights such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and Hyde Park  but one sight that we thoroughly enjoyed was the Mews.  That is where the queen’s carriages and horses are housed.  One horse had just been exercised and we were able to stroke his nose.

We were floored by the elaborate, gold-plated carriages and enjoyed the monologue provided by the tour guide.  The huge (gaudy) coronation carriage was particularly impressive, pulled by 6 horses.  It was pointed out that each pair of horses had one rider guiding (there is no seat on the carriage for a driver).  They did mention that none of the carriages were particularly comfortable and each served a specific function.DSCF2047

Because we were in London, we had to check out a couple of iconic department stores.  We first went to Selfridges and then to Harrods (below)

DSCF2040where we had a drink at the (very expensive) caviar bar.  There were also special chocolate displays and the seafood display below was amazing.fullsizeoutput_e6e

No trip to London is complete without a view of the London Eye.ENGLAND SCOTLAND 209

At last it was time to come home – it was a great trip, lots of fun, and rain!

And one final thought – as I write this, I’m watching TV, and thinking back to watching English TV.  Not once did we see any ads advocating us to ask our doctor if ‘abracadabra’ or some other miracle medication was right for us.  Who knew that English TV is so much more advanced that US TV!



Where did May go?

We’ve been enjoying this month, the rainbow shower trees are blooming, IMG_0755mangos are beginning to ripen, the cacti are blooming,IMG_0746 the trades are back and there has been a lull in the visitor traffic.  We have also had two seal pups born, PK1 was born to K22 and PK2 to K30, three days apart.  We spent Memorial Day pupsitting PK1.  Cute as can be, they are so very black and hairy when they are born.Rainbow 005

Half the time we are watching, we worry if the pup is getting enough milk, I always want to hold the pup up to the “spigot”  They do seem to be able to find it, and they will grow by leaps and bounds, getting to close to 200 lbs in 6 weeks.IMG_0759

We do enjoy sitting at a lovely beach listening to the waves and making sure everything is good.  Not too shabby!  We will take turns sitting on the beach and observing until about a month after mom weans the pup.  They are usually weaned between 5-7 weeks old.  That is the time span that they are the most vulnerable.IMG_0766

Other than pup sitting, we always seem to have plenty to do.  Every week Charlie has softball, practice 2X per week plus the Saturday game.

I was talked into learning to BON dance, the buddhist circle dance honoring ancestors.  We had a practice first at our local temple and a second at Hanapepe.  I’m starting to get it, despite having two left feet.  The dance consists of 16 songs, depicting different activities, harvesting rice, drumming, mining, and various other activities that I haven’t interpreted yet.  The series takes about an hour, there are two every weekend, Friday and Saturday nights, starting in June and ending in late July….if you go to all of them, you become quite proficient.  This was the beginning of the first Bon dance of the summer.Rainbow 001

Every now and again I am reminded that we are a small island when I walk next door to the community center and see the following relic (and they are found throughout the island).IMG_0750I was lucky enough to be invited by Jamie to go check out K30’s new pup PK2, who was born one day after PK1, however, she birthed again up on the Na Pali coast on a remote beach.  We again rode up on Captain Tara’s zodiac (Captain Nat was operating this boat), about an hour ride, where she dropped us off to swim to shore.  Jamie gave me the dry bag to push through the waves and he took the two signs that we planned to put up.  His swim was more challenging because he had to keep them somewhat dry and keep them from submerging.

K30, again had a healthy pup, this year it’s a boy.IMG_1185

After posting signs and taking pictures, we settled down to wait for our ride back.  Unfortunately, Captain Nat had engine troubles and was delayed for a while.   She did get one of the two started and we limped back to the harbor….only 2 hours late for the next charter she had booked.  The trip was a huge success for we saw not only spinner dolphins, but also bottlenose dolphins. They’re considerably larger than the spinners.  We did see a young seal with a hook, but unfortunately we can’t do too much out in the open water.

While returning past PMRF, we observed navy osprey planes landing and taking off on the beach.  One pilot even gave us the shaka out the window.  They certainly are strange looking.IMG_0770

Otherwise, life goes on, and we seem to spend increasing time monitoring seals.

While driving into Lihue the other evening, we saw a spectacular display.  a wide rainbow of colors jutting straight up into the heavens, what a sight!  People were pulling over just to take pictures.  You can see the second rainbow just starting to form on the left of the photo below.IMG_0787On to June…viva Kauai!Rainbow 019

Hooray it’s May

It has so far been a very busy May.  Curiously, my morning run to Poipu was interrupted, twice by animal encounters.  As I was merrily jogging along Hapa Trail, a huge wild boar appeared to block my continued run.  Obviously, I stopped to let him disappear into the brush, I was in no mood to confront him.  He must have outweighed me by 300 lbs.  After he disappeared, I continued on, 100 yards further along the trail I was stopped by a herd of steers that had escaped from the pasture.  Again, wait and detour.  Finally, I got back on the road and eventually met Charlie at the beach.  He was wondering whatever had happened to me.  I’ve seen goats and cattle in the pastures on that route but those were firsts.  I have to admit, the morning runs to the beach are darn spectacular.IMG_0732

Early the first week of May, our old friend G22 got hooked……again.  This hooking turned out to be more complicated that the last.  He had hauled out on the beach fronting the Grand Hyatt.  We assembled the usual crew, picked up the crowding boards (large white pieces of plywood), the capture net, the capture sling, and 4 wire gates.  As well as bolt cutters and vice grips.  G22 was sound asleep close to the water when the 6 of us, carrying the boards snuck up on him and crowded him up the beach and set a wire enclosure around him.  We put up a sun shade to allow Mimi and Jamie to assess the situation.  This time the hook was wrapped around his jaw, making it impossible to pull out.  The head vet in Oahu was consulted and we arranged to capture the seal, cage him and transport him into Lihue to the base yard to await Michelle, the head vet, to arrive the next day to attempt dehooking.  In order to get him from the beach to the carrying crate, we had to roll him into a net sling, that had two long sticks for 4 people to hold and let him loose into the crate.

At the base lot, Jamie and Mimi alternated sleeping near G22 overnight until we all regrouped at 8 the next morning.  We set up a sun shade, kept dousing him with water (as they had overnight) and released him onto a tarp where Michelle gave him a tranquilizer and anesthetized him.  They had also brought a portable X-ray machine along to see if he had swallowed another hook.G22 007G22 019

Note the yellow X-ray machine.

Finally, after about 20 minutes the hook was removed, no more found and we could allow G22 to come out of his drug induced stupor.  Next, back into the carrying case and of to Lydgate beach to release him.  That beach was the easiest to back the pickup close to the water.  He was quite happy to return to the ocean.P1070314

I’m opening the end gate to let him loose.  Quite an operation……Pretty cool!

After observing the BON dances for the past 4 years, I decided that I needed to learn how to do it and what it is about.  So I started going to BON Dance practice at the nearby Koloa Jodo Mission.  BON is time to remember and honor those who have passed on before us and is supposed to be time of reflection.  The first couple of practices, I felt like I had two left feet.  This year, there 18 dances, all involve various movements with one’s hands, arms and feet.  One of the moves shows rice harvesting, another pulling fishing nets.  The other participants have been really helpful in trying to teach me the moves., though the best way appears to follow the lead of an expert.  We slowly move in a large circle and if there are more people than can be accommodated in one circle, a circle within a circle.  The dancers are both male and female and of all ages.  The BON dances occur at various Buddhist temples and missions throughout the island.  On Kauai, there are nine 2-day dances (Friday and Saturday) scheduled for this summer starting in June.  I understand Oahu has many more.   The venue has a pedestal in the center of a field with loud speakers blaring the music for each dance.  So far I can’t recognize the words announcing each dance but Im starting to recognize the moves.  Mining, harvesting rice, hoeing are among the different moves.

This week also provided another hooking.  This time it was K90.  She had a large circle hook sticking out of the corner of her mouth.  K90 is a mature female, around 300+ lb, definitely more challenging than G22.  In fact, we were called with short notice, to help.  Short notice because we have to respond before the seal leaves the beach.  A staff member from Oahu, Mark, was flown in also to assist.  So, Charlie, Tree, Gary, Mimi, Jamie and I were the de-hooking crew, Shannon and Julie were photographing.  It was especially challenging because R336, a large male was sleeping right beside her so that we had to separate them before we could de-hook her.  We first crowded them apart with large white crowding boards.    K90 is behind the boards in the picture below, with R336 to the right.

We then had to net her and hold her down, all the time making sure that R336 didn’t sneak up behind us.

R336 was in the water trying to return, while I’m standing guard.  Good seal.

We accomplished the whole procedure in 3 min 45 seconds, whereupon K90 joined her boyfriend and swam off……hookless.  This was a difficult de-hooking, due to the location, the presence of R336, and the size of K90.   Fortunately it all went well.

The second half of the softball season has started and the May 13th game was quite interesting.  Several of the players are missing, either because of other obligations or in the case of three players, injuries.   One with a broken foot from the last game, one with a strained hamstring and one with a strained shoulder.  Such is athletics over age 60.  Luckily, our team won the last game.  Afterwards, during the obligatory potluck, 3 team members from another team, who also happen to be musicians, decided to jam in the shelter.  So many Kauaians seem to be good singers….as well as dancers.  Almost everyone in the shelter was singing along and even one (septarian) entertained with a dance.  Check out the video below:

In spite of the hula being performed and the singing, most of this fellow’s teammates continued talking, oblivious to the performance.  We though were hooting and hollering, really enjoying this moment.  Neat camaraderie!

The first tropical storm of the season has been named, Adrian, almost 2 weeks earlier than hurricane season.  It isn’t supposed to approach Hawaii, but we’ll see what develops this year.

Its officially Spring

Though the season changes are subtile, we do have spring.  The cacti are blooming as are mangos and limes.  Unfortunately, the monkeypod trees are dropping their sticky pods also, necessitating our picking them up from the lawn before mowing so as not to gum up the mower blades.

I’ve met the young goat kids on my morning run to Poipu Beach, requiring me to stop for a few minutes to enjoy their antics.fullsizeoutput_e0d

One of our regular seals, G22, was found by several snorkelers at Mahaulepu with a hook in his mouth and a fishing line trailing that was wrapped around some coral.  It was swimming frantically around trying to release himself.  Luckily the snorkelers had a knife, cut the line and released him.  He swam off with the hook in his mouth and 20 feet of fishing line trailing.  GOPR0031-1-2We discovered him the next day at a private beach, Palamas, and Mimi, Jamie, Charlie and I went down with crowding boards, netted him and cut the hook out of his mouth.  This was a large (about 2.5 inches in diameter) hook and was fortunately not swallowed or deep in his mouth.  IMG_0693G22 has grown quite large in the past couple of months, he is only 2 years old but probably weighs over 200 lbs.  Jamie had the head, Charlie the body, and I had the tail.  He was a strong bugger and it was all I could do to hold his back flippers.  Until I got him pinned, he tossed me around like I was on the end of a flyswatter……I had sand in my face and my hair after he lifted me up and then face-planted me in the sand.  We saw a video of this – it was pretty funny watching me get thrown around.  Mimi handled the bolt cutters and we successfully cut and removed the hook.  G22 left, without all the gear trailing…..another successful seal rescue.

Every morning when we go down to Poipu to check for seals, we see anywhere from 2 to 14 turtles basking on the shore.  One day, while following a seal around to the Keiki pool, I came upon a turtle that appeared to be sitting up on a rock in the water.  With closer inspection, the rock underneath was actually another turtle.  That is the first time that I’ve actually seen turtles mating.IMG_0700

Note the shiny seal back (K31) in the water directly behind the turtle.  Upon turning around, I saw another smaller turtle wedged between two rocks, unable to free itself.  So, being a good samaritan, I and a visitor picked it up and let it get back in the water.  That turtle swam off, leaving a wake, but not as much as a thank you.

The last culinary luncheon was held showcasing the aspiring chefs, as usual so creative.  They design everything from determining the menu to designing the printed menu that is always very creative.ENVOY 009

Poipu Beach has been extremely busy with as many as 4 seals up at a time.  And this is the time of year when many of our regular volunteers are leaving the island – some are seasonal volunteers, others are just going to the mainland for vacation.   Regardless, we’re swamped with activity, and short of people.  A new arrival started hanging out on Brennecke’s rocks, V76, a female probably from Ni’ihau.  I think that she is probably in estrus because males are appearing from all over.


Above is a picture of three of the males that are pursuing her….the turtle isn’t.  V76 isn’t in this picture, but she’s in the area, and therefore the young studs are here.

Since our house was built 8 years ago, it was time to repaint.  So we invested in a electric spray painter and starting painting (after first pressure washing the house).  It was lots of work, but the house now looks really good, it only took us about 4 days….working between rain showers.  We did get some overspray on to the foundation plants, but they grow fast so should be fine.   We still have some trim work to touch up, and then we’ll need to redo the lanai floor, but it’s looking good!

It’s April

We had a sad beginning to the end of Feb.   Barry Werthwine and I were lucky enough to accompany Jamie and Mimi, our leaders, to a more private beach to tag a young seal that appeared on Kauai.  We had thought she was about 3 yrs old, but after capturing her, determined that she was probably more like 4.  She gave us quite a fight.  It still didn’t take us more than about 3 minutes to tag, chip and take her blood sample.   Hopefully, with a good data base, we may be able to match DNA and determine relationships between different seals. After a productive day of finding the new seal and two more seals we got back to a place that we could get calls, only to find that one of our favorite seals, 4DP was found dead at a place called Glass Beach.  4DP was an adult female that would often appear at Lawai and Baby Beaches and would generally leave around noon, unlike most of our seals.  We had gotten to know her well, thus this was a shock.  She had seemed very healthy, fat and active and suddenly here she was.  Charlie was at softball practice and we had to call him to help lift the 450 lb carcass into a pickup truck to transport her to the base lot and then on to the airport.  After packing her in ice and into a body bag she was flown to Oahu for a necropsy.

Unfortunately, the necropsy determined cause of death was blunt force trauma; fluids were also sent to a histology lab for analysis.  With so few Monk Seals left, it especially hurts when we lose a healthy female .  A $50,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest of anyone regarding the 2 most recent seal deaths.  This was like losing a family member, we knew 4DP so well, having watched her numerous times here on the south shore.

The culinary luncheons are in full swing again, and upon receiving email notification, we jump on them, since they’re in high demand.  It has been an enjoyable way to support the Kauai Community College Culinary students….the food presentations are always phenomenal, note the duck confit below.IMG_0653

EKK has also returned with a vengeance , every Monday evening from Jan to March has been taken up with that event.  Again, we had many awesome performances ranging from Hula to ukulele music.  We seem to be getting more and more involved, with; not only, EKK, but also other musical events on the island.  Handling ticket sales, box office sales, and putting up posters among our responsibilities.  We get to see, or at least hear, all kinds of music…..we are often in the back totaling receipts during the performances.  I also help with drawings for CD’s during each break.  IMG_0659

This was one of the more recent EKK evenings, Kupaoa.

Moani and Allie are getting along well, each had some illness necessitating several trips to the vet, but both seem to be back to normal.  Moani is growing by leaps and bounds.IMG_0101West Side Seniors softball team is doing well, we have several players that graduated into the 60 year old bracket (they had been alternating, since only one 55-59 year old can play at one time) so the team is much improved with the young blood (not to mention young knees!).  However, that also means that Charlie hasn’t been able to play as much, often being the designated player (only batting).  We are still enjoying the camaraderie ….and the pupu’s and beer after the games.  I also am still the team score keeper (I get to sit in the dugout) a job nobody wants to do….it’s pretty intense.

We still go down to check the beach in the morning and I still run the short and slow 3 miles (I don’t seem to be as fast as I was in my youth) to hitch a ride back with Charlie.  The seal volunteer population has been somewhat sparse lately, so there have been occasions that I’ve had to stay on the beach up to 5 hours in order to maintain full coverage.

We also were informed that, after 65 years of the monk seal population decreasing, the past 3 years have shown an increase of about 3% per year.  Lets hope this trend continues.  The estimated total Hawaiian Monk Seal population is now 1400.

Charlie and I have gone down to Kukuiula Harbor a few evenings to watch the sun set and sip on a glass of wine.  Most recently, we shared a picnic table with a local musician (almost everybody on the island is a musician).  We had our own little (EKK) community sing in the shelter.

Life continues to be quite busy, last week Charlie was involved with a project to move a young seal, H92 from a canal in Kapaa to PMRF.  After much discussion, it was determined that, because she was being lured up the canal with fish entrails (illegal) like two previous young seals, she was in danger of getting trapped in nets that were put in the water.  Unfortunately, she was moved last week and by this week, she had swum around the island and returned to the canal.  The TV news and newspaper now have been filled with pleas to locals to stop throwing fish scraps in the canal.

Unfortunately, we were shocked by the devastating news that a dear friend of ours on the mainland shot himself.  This friend would communicate daily with Charlie and though he had serious health problems, this was unthinkable..  We’ve both been alternating between anger and sadness, trying to understand what would drive someone to do this.  Very sad for everyone.