Its a New Year

The crowds haven’t left yet, we thought that things would settle down after the holidays, but so far it’s still pretty busy.  Unfortunately, the person that had been pulled out of the water in the last issue, did die, the first of the season.  Since that one we have had one more, a man swimming off Moaloa’a.  We had a week of Kona winds with the accompanying warm, muggy weather but then suddenly, the trades returned with a vengeance.  Sustained winds of 20-30 with gusts 40-50 that we haven’t seen since the windy hurricane season summer before last.  The days have been in the 70’s and nights in the 60’s…..we’re piling on the layers.  Funny how one become accustomed to warm weather and when it cools down a few degrees we are cold in temperatures that when we lived in Wisconsin would have seemed balmy.

Softball season is starting, we had a scrimmage already and we’ve received the new uniforms ……pretty gaudy, Charlie says they look like NASCAR shirts.  The new season starts on the 28th, I’m sharpening my scoring pencil.  Since writing that, we had our first game, which we won over a team that normally beats us, so we’re off to a good start!IMG_0570.JPG

So what do you think, is it garish?

We embarked on our SUP adventure that we had won at the Hawaiian Children’s theater event last month.  It consisted of a 2.5 mile standup paddle board trek up the Huleia Stream, past the Alakoko Menehune Fishpond (an ancient Hawaiian fishpond) to a haul out along the stream, where we hiked up along the stream to a couple of waterfalls.  This was Charlie’s first attempt at SUP and though it was tiring, he did quite well.  I had a bit more experience with them then he had.  At the two waterfalls, I had to use the rope swing to jump in.  The water temperature  was quite a shock!

The hike was through rainforest and beautiful.fullsizeoutput_df0img_0535The excursion ended on top of a hill in Kipu Kai, looking toward Lihue and Nawilliwilli Harbor, this was a view made famous by the movie The Descendants and was outstanding.img_0540The end of January starts our new season of EKK, E Kanakapila Kokau, the annual Hawaiian music venue that lasts for 10 weeks.

The most outstanding news this week was a press release from The Monk Seal Research Program about the Hawaiian Monk Seal population.  Statistics on the population of the seal is, that for the past 3 years, the population has increased by about 3% a year and that our new estimate is, unlike what we have been saying,  1400 seals.  For 6 decades, the numbers have been decreasing from a high of about 4000.  Charlie is kidding Jamie and Mimi noting that the increase has occurred since we came on board.  hmmm.  The release further says that 30% of the monk seals now alive are the result of our program’s work.

Joanie, a friend that we have made here invited us to a picnic for her birthday and she held it up on top a hill at Kukui’ula.  What a spectacular view, one can see for miles!  It was cool that evening so we needed jackets but it was quite fun.

img_0566Looking north

img_0569Looking Southeast

img_0564Looking south

Kukui’ula is a very upscale development on Poipu’s south shore, with a golf course, country club, houses and cottages.  Property with a cottage here starts at over $2.5 million but views are lovely and amenities over the top.

We had the second EKK concert, busy again for both of us.  This was a hula special and our friend Wes Kaui (shown below with his guitar) was the only male among the musicians and dancers.  Wes was in his glory.  The turnout was very good, with both locals and visitors represented, it is one of the highlights of the year. img_0573


Christmas came and went

It was pretty low key, we went to the Kiahuna Plantation to visit our friends from Canada, Jill and Brian, for Christmas Eve to enjoy steak, shrimp, cocktails, and sunset with a green flash.  A couple of whales also entertained us at sunset.  Christmas Day dawned cool, we checked the beaches and celebrated quietly.  We did get a real tree this year for the first time since we moved here, surprisingly, a tree doesn’t dry out quickly like it did in Madison.  It occurred to me that it was because of the humidity….I guess heating your house dries anything out but I didn’t expect that.

To commemorate a Madison tradition (ours) we made George Washington eggnog to toast the season….wow it packs a punch!  We took some to a friend’s, Carol Yoshuda’s house when we went to address envelopes for The Garden Island Arts Council (of which Charlie is a member of the board.)  We introduced the group to our “tradition”, hardly anybody has had homemade egg nog so we we did make a bit of a caloric impression.  Part of the time the crew shared a video of a Hawaiian trying to order a pizza, Heineken, and poke in pidgin English, using Seri (hysterical).  Seri translated his order and had us all giggling.

The seals have been pretty scarce with the exception of K31, a large male who picked the Grand Hyatt to start his annual molt.  He’s a bit grumpy (they don’t feel too good when they molt) and he looks scruffy.  This takes about a week.  Notice the scraggly skin sloughing off.img_0490

We had two friends from Madison visit, they came the day before New Years Eve.   John, Bob and we went over to Tree and Shannon’s to watch fireworks on the Eve.  As usual the display wasn’t on time, but started 1/2 hour late…typical Kauai.  But for such a small island, the display was pretty darned good.  The weather cleared just in time for the event and seal G22 left Poipu before the start.  A couple of years ago, the fireworks were on the edge of being cancelled because one of the endangered monk seals was on the beach.  This seemed to be the only fireworks on the island so there was a large crowd, that we luckily avoided, being up the hill a little.  Downtown Lihue had decorated the county building with lights for Christmas so we took an obligatory drive down Rice Street to see them.  Pretty fancy!fullsizeoutput_ddc

After several weeks of rain, the weather has cleared and is perfect!  We’ve even had to don sweatshirts in the evening…..great for sleeping.

We had a nice visit with John and Bob, they left only to return to Madison’s snow and cold. They treated us to a nice dinner before they left, what a treat!img_0513

The beaches have been extremely crowded over the holidays, a record, according to the newspaper, so our seal work has been tiring, some days I’ve been on the beach as much as 5 hours.  A pair of young males have been coming in regularly and entertaining us with their antics in the water.  It isn’t too uncommon for young males to play together, later on the older seals tend to chase other seals off.img_0504

Another big event in the past week on Kauai was the arrival of the Nippon Maru, a large 4 masted sailing ship from Japan.  She arrived with great fanfare since it was the ship that had escorted the sailing canoe Hokulea (a replica of the polynesian boats that reportedly brought Polynesians to Hawaii).  She was crewed by young, enthusiastic Japanese interns and was pretty impressive.  It happened to be in Nawiliwili Harbor at the same time as a sister canoe to Hokulea, Namahoe.  The juxtaposition of the two ships was quite striking.   Namahoe is a two hulled canoe, quite small in comparison to the Japanese ship.img_0511

The week culminated with an unfortunate situation at Poipu.  We’ve had strong winds and currents and when I came down to the beach for a shift with the seal that had hauled out, I arrived at the same time as  a firetruck and an ambulance.  Two older visitors had gotten in trouble out in the water and one was lying on the beach, the other up higher and people were doing CPR.  We still don’t know if she survived but the lifeguards were not encouraging.  Poipu Beach is deceptively lovely but has some of the most drownings in the state.  Today’s paper didn’t have any details, I’m sure we’ll hear more about this later this week.



Its almost Christmas

We’ve been busy preparing for the onslaught of visitors that occurs between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Luckily, the seals haven’t been hauling out quite as much as they were a month ago, we’ve yet to determine what causes their cycles.  We’ve had wind and high tides along with the full moon, removing much beach sand…again cyclic, the beach at the Kiahuna Resort has almost disappeared.  The naupaka hedge is slumping into the ocean and the tombolo at Poipu Beach connecting the island to the mainland has disappeared.iecc-004  The last full moon of the year was spectacular, being on the beach after sunset looking towards the West.december-019K31, our big male hauled out at Kiahuna and, to the delight of spectators, decided to “take a leak” december-015K30, the big, scarred female also showed up on the rocks last week after a several month absence.

Kalaheo elementary school put on a musical variation of A Christmas Story at Kukui Shopping Center, substituting Auntie Scrooge for Scrooge as the main character.  It was very well done, amazing for 4th and 5th graders…..I have come to believe that most everyone on this island can sing ….these kids surely didn’t disappoint.  I went with Tree, Shannon and Amy (a good friend of Shannon’s).  Amy’s two daughters were in the cast.

Left picture shows Auntie Scrooge with the ghost of Christmas past and the right shows the whole cast. A festival of lights also decorates Rice Street (the main drag of Lihue) so  cars parade up and down the street to check them out.

Winter has arrived in Kauai, the nights have gotten down to the upper 60s and days, upper  70s.   The human body certainly adjusts to different temperature ranges, we are dressing in long sleeved shirts, jackets and long pant while the visitors scurry around in shorts, tank tops and bikinis… can always pick out the locals by their layers.  Its hard to remember what below zero felt like, and neither of us is eager to re-experience it.

Winter is also when we become Wall nuts and catch the sunset on the wall as well as look for whales.  The Canadians and the Snow Birds are just beginning to appear along with the whales, we’ve sighted several whale breaches and repeat Wall nuts at our spot on the Wall.  The same visitors come every year and we look forward to their return.  Some even help with the seals.  The lure of the Wall is to observe the “Green Flash”.  Many think that its a myth however, it has to do with the scattering of light just as the sun drops below the horizon and it lasts only a second or so.  Shannon has provided the proof.  This view was from the Wall a few days ago, for you doubters.img_0093

The week has produced few seals at Poipu, finally, at the end of the week, 2 seals appeared at Poipu, one on the island and one next to the vegetation.


It’s Thanksgiving …..hooray

It is so hard to believe that it is already Thanksgiving, how the time flies.  The first week started with Melanie’s departure and our volunteering again, this time to help with the Hawaiian Children’s Theatre.  We had attended Spamalot, one of their productions a few months ago and this time they were preforming “School of Rock”.  These young folks (they must be 18 or younger) are extremely talented and we enjoyed the play immensely.  We helped with the raffle, where people could buy tickets costing anywhere from $1-$20 to be included in a drawing for about 95 items.  The drawing took place after the last performance….the show went on for three weeks.  Charlie and I were there before the play and at the intermission to explain how the drawing works, thus we could watch the play for free.  Working the raffle enabled us to “invest” in a few tickets ourselves, luckily it paid off with a $100 gift certificate to a jeweler and a stand up paddle excursion for two, worth over $260.

The week was very windy and rainy and cooler than usual.  Winds gusting up to 40 mph were recorded.  The seals have been scarce all week too.  W06 came up one day and K31 another, neither of which we have seen recently and our old reliable, G22 hasn’t been seen.  We wonder why it can be so busy and then slack, could it be the wind?  or the higher than usual tides? This it what makes seal watching so interesting.  A few whales are starting to reappear, plus the holidays bring more tourists.  I’ve seen one whale breach but no blows yet.  We’re at the beach early every day, consequently we get to watch the sunrise at Poipu, awesome.  Every day is different.


The culinary students at the college produced a “luau” this week, Laulau, Lomi Lomi Salmon, Fish Poke, Kalua Pig, Squid luau, Teriyaki steak, Poi and Guava Chiffon Cake were among the items featured.  The second week theme was Japanese, I am continually amazed by the talent these young chefs display.

The second week we picked up our certificates and went to Kapaa to cash in the jewelers certificate, however we made the mistake of going in the afternoon.  Not only was the traffic slow, but there was a crash next to Coco Palms that slowed traffic to a standstill.  It took us 1/2 hour to go two miles, after we passed the crash site it loosened up and we sped along as far as Lihue where again, we came to a complete halt.  This time it was a 2 car crash on the highway between Lihue and home.  This is always a problem, since there is only one road between each town and no alternate routes.  We crept along at about 3 mph until, at the 5 mile bridge we came upon the crash (after the police and ambulances had left).  It had taken us 1hr and 45 min to get home, a distance of about 20 miles.


We don’t think that anyone was killed but the wreck looked awful.

It has rained almost every day for the past 2 weeks, quite unusual for it to last that long.  Still the visitors crowd Poipu beach, where there is almost always sunshine for part of the day.  The rest of the island, especially the north shore has been very cloudy, in fact the Hanelei bridge was flooded out.  We’ve have flash flood warnings for several days, but the problem is usually the north shore.

Even though it is 80 during the day, the evenings are now cool… the upper 60s.  Obviously winter is here!   We are preparing for Christmas.  For the first time since we arrived in Kauai, we have a “real” tree. I love the scent when I walk into the living room.  Also for the first time we have a short needled Noble Fir….much easier to decorate than our traditional White Pine.  Digging out our sentimental ornaments makes me happy.img_0444

Allie has matured enough that I can decorate all the way to the lowest branches, last year she denuded the bottom two tiers.  She does like to hide behind the tree though her second favorite spot is on the table.img_0448

The big group of us that gets together often, went to the Kalaheo Steak and Rib house Saturday night.  The restaurant often has music but this night they had a private party, consequently we had our own party.img_0450

Some friends from the east shore in Kapaa took a picture of the Super Moon  a couple of weeks ago and I’m pleased to share it, it truly captures the ambiance of the tropics at night.img_0449

I’ve been swamped

It has seemed that every time that I’ve started to catch up, something else occurs.  We returned from Scandinavia and left again to the mainland after about 3 weeks.  All the time here in Kauai we were so busy that I just didn’t take time to sit down.  Immediately upon returning we got caught up in little details and again didn’t get around to writing.  After opening scads of mail that had accumulated over the 3 weeks we were gone, I opened a letter from the Hawaii federal court telling me I was to report for jury duty (in Honolulu).  I thought that it was mistaken but I called the first week and I wasn’t on the list but I was to call in two weeks…..I still wasn’t supposed to report….finally…..on my Birthday….I called and was told I had a plane reservation  for the next day and I needed to report to the federal circuit court at 8 am and was to bring enough clothing for one week.  And so, at 6:20 Nov 1, Charlie dropped me off at the airport, I was off to Honolulu.  I discovered that federal trials in Hawaii need to have neighbor islanders available to balance the court.  It seems that many of our friends on Kauai have recently gotten court notices (Charlie has to call in right after Thanksgiving), but these are all for County court.

After a long day in a awesomely decorated Koa wood courtroom, I won the lottery.  Or maybe it was the booby prize.   I was one of 9 jurors selected for a civil suit involving a helicopter crash in 2011 on Molokai.  I was further informed that I should expect a 3 week trial, but would be able to go home on the weekends.  Charlie had made sure (the good planner that he is) that I was prepared with enough clothes, so I was prepared to stay until that Friday.  They put me and another woman from Kona in the Ala Moana hotel in Waikiki (we were the only neighbor islanders) and would pay us $40 per day and a per diem.  They would make all hotel and plane reservations for us.

The trial was very detailed and complicated legally, the land owner claimed that debris was left on his property and was suing the helicopter company for damages.  So it was tedious and it was stressful to concentrate on all the details, trying to remain neutral and fair.  Each evening my new friend and I would check out different restaurants as well as the huge Ala Moana Shopping center.  That part was a nice break from Kauai shopping.  The top of our hotel had magical views of Honolulu at sunset and at night.

We finally finished deliberation on Wednesday morning of the third week. Both parties were disappointed in the results, so we figured that we were fair in our conclusions.  I got a flight back to Kauai around 5 PM but my friend from the Big Island couldn’t get out until the next morning.  I felt badly for her but I was still pretty darned happy to get home.

In the meantime, we had a visitor from Madison, Melanie, whose dad, Jim Walker is a very good friend of ours.  I had tried to use her visit to get out of serving on the jury, and I was also scheduled to work the polls for the election, but neither excuse worked, I was a lucky winner….chosen 9 out of 50.  I did get to spend time with her on the days the jury was off and we took the opportunity to hike both the Mahulepu and Kalalau Trails.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the end of the Mahulepu trail, we observed a fire helicopter dipping a bucket into the ocean and dropping it up on a ridge towards Kipu Kai, we didn’t see smoke but he made numerous trips.img_0421

The famous Kalalau trail, on the north shore of Kauai, is an ancient Hawaiian route, an 11 mile strenuous hike on the Napali coast to the Kalalau valley.  Tour helicopters fly up and down the Napali coast letting visitors enjoy the trail without the exertion but we took the harder route.  Mel and I hiked the first 2 miles of the main trail whereupon we branched off, after crossing the Hanakapi’ai stream, and hiked up to Hanakapi’ai Falls.  This was an even more strenuous trail across slippery rocks and fording the stream several times.  Both of us emerged, after 6 hours, covered in mud and soaking wet.  Numerous signs along the way warn of dangerous surf and flash floods on the stream.  It had rained overnight so all the trails were muddy and slippery, and both of us slipped and fell several times, (me more than Mel).  The waterfall was well worth the hike and was made more precious because of the effort involved in reaching it.

We both were exhausted by the time we emerged at Ke’e Beach and were happy to get more water and indulge in a tropical smoothie at the fruit stand on the way back to Koloa.  We both were glad that we had conquered, at least part, of the Kalalau trail and also experienced the waterfall.

After our hike, the next morning dawned early, with my hobbling onto the airplane to fly back to the trial.  Ibuprofen was welcome, since each time the jury took a break, it was necessary to suppress the groans when I stood up.

It was fun to share our island with a young person, and she appeared to have a good time. She was an easy guest for she was quite independent and toured on her own quite a bit.  I recovered from the sore muscles and scratches from our hike by the time the trial was over.

We did have one interesting event this past week, a shark became entangled in a fishing net and perished over by the Grand Hyatt, we got the call and went down to take a look.  It was approximately 5 feet long, rather pretty, we weren’t sure what kind it was, one guess was Galapagos and another, grey reef shark.  So sad that nets could be left out to entangle

Luckily, the seals were not too active during my absence and I wasn’t missed too much.  Tree, Shannon, and Lynn were all back from summer on the mainland which helped on seal coverage too.

Charlie is now on a jury pool list next week, however, his is a county list and he wouldn’t have to leave the island.

With Mel here, we had the opportunity to indulge in some of the nicer restaurants on Kauai.  She likes sushi and fish so we had multiple excursions to dine.  We will both have to go on diets after her visit.

She flew over to Maui to watch the UW Badgers play basketball at a tournament, we considered going too, but I was ready to stay at home so we passed on the opportunity.


Kauai Marathon

The week was pretty slow because the seals stayed away, it’s hard to know why every now and again, they disappear for a few days.

G22 came up a couple of times during the week as did R339 and N30 (a pup born in 2013 that we had pup sat).  N30 was jumpy so we couldn’t get too close but luckily he stayed out on the island.

Unfortunately, we also were devastated when little gray cat, whom we had photographed on the car last week, was hit and killed by a motorist on Weli Weli, the street running next to our house. I found her in the early morning on my run down to Poipu.  Gray Cat and Snowball were the two feral cats that we had been feeding since we moved to Kauai, now both are gone.  The life of a feral cat is way too short…..we never did get either tame enough to adopt.

The big news also, was the appearance of two hurricanes.  Madeline who went south of us and Lester, who went north.  Nonetheless, there was a run on bottled water and we followed the hurricane forecasts carefully.  They did provide large surfs along with high tides, in fact the island off the beach at Poipu was closed off a couple of times.  Of course, that didn’t discourage some intrepid (stupid) folks from trekking across the chest-deep tombolo to harass the seals resting there.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to be clueless about approaching wild animals.  Or about venturing out in ocean conditions that are dangerous.

So, the week was fairly quiet but on the weekend, the annual Kauai Marathon was held, and we volunteered at one of the water stops.  We were at the 12 mile and 22 mile point water stop.  This is an extremely scenic run, but also extremely hilly and the weather was pretty warm, about 85 degrees with no wind.  Hurricane Lester passing north blocked the trades for the day.

It was still entertaining, we had three hula dancers next to our water stop, dancing for the 5 hours we stayed passing out water and Poweraid.Kauai Marathon 2016 012

Note, the dancers are dressed in the typical male hula costume, though traditionally they might have the grass skirt without the white pants.

The male winner from Japan was at least 9 minutes ahead of the second runner at 12 miles and won handily.  The female winner was from Honolulu was also way in front and looked strong throughout.Kauai Marathon 2016 016

We volunteered at a water stop that was handled by a group of realtors, the same group that we had helped two years ago.

Down the road from our station a little bit, a group of native Hawaiian activists set up just for the marathon to advertise their anti government stand. There is a group of folks, many of which live on Kauai that are extremely anti-American.  They want all the islands to revert back to the kingdom of Hawaii.  The islands were “conquered” by a group of U.S. sugar barons and Queen Liliuokulani was deposed, so they do have a point, however, many of the most adamant activists draw unemployment or social security from the U.S.  I believe that, if America hadn’t annexed the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, Russia, or China would have.IMG_0087

Nothing is easy or clear-cut.

Monk Seal News

This week has been quite busy wth Monk seal activity, not because we’ve had many seals at Poipu, but because a new seal appeared on the island with a hook in her mouth.  The hook wasn’t swallowed, but had entered her mouth and the tip and barb had penetrated the side of her cheek.  This is serious but not life-threatening.  We were called to assist in the hook removal.  She was sleeping on a more remote beach within Kauai Coffee’s  plantation, which has restricted access.  So, we met Jamie (the NOAA) coordinator, Mimi (the DNLR coordinator) and Barry at the coffee company office to get permits to access the beach through their property.  We then drove down as close as we could to the beach, and then hiked down.  It’s been hot with no wind so it was sweltering at the end of the road.  We winded our way down through the scrub to the beach, where we regrouped, geared up and went through the protocol….the GAR that we were trained in a couple of weeks ago.  This is quite complicated, since the seals are protected by the endangered species act.  After the orientation, Jamie, Mimi, Charlie and Barry donned coveralls and gloves and we jogged down the deep sand to capture the girl.  We were lucky, she didn’t hear us coming so Jamie slipped the net over her head and after a struggle, pinned her down her head, Barry on the shoulders, Charlie on the back flippers.  Mimi approached the seal’s head, while I passed the instruments to her.  Mimi grabbed the hook (about 2 inches in diameter) with pliers and couldn’t pull it out  It was only hooked on the lip but it didn’t work, so I handed her the bolt cutters so that she could cut the eye out.  Success!   With both ends of the hook removed, we then proceeded to tag her.  Her official name is now 7GM.  Again, I was the assistant, handing Mimi the instruments needed to tag….the punch, the beta dyne, and the injector to chip her.  At that point the signal was given….let her loose and run away. 7GM laid there for a short time, looking dazed and then she turned to swim into the ocean.  The whole procedure from beginning the run and releasing the seal took 3 minutes and 53 seconds.  We have a awesome team!  We did get some credit from the Monk Seal Research Foundation (we are the Kauai Monk Seal Hui.)  This seal is probably only 3 years old, but she was a real fighter.  We had a had time holding her down, as she was twisting and rolling on us.   Good thing she wasn’t full grown, she would have been a real handful. If you click on the above link, it will take you to their site with a description of the procedure.

The hook that we removed (the 1KZ tag is shown only for size reference):


Life in Kauai is certainly not boring.

Big news in Koloa is that the pedestrian bridge that was destroyed over 5 years ago has reappeared and is in place across the creek.  Or at least the new replacement bridge is now here.  However, access to it on both ends is blocked…….the ramp has yet to be built.  Typical of projects here on Kauai.  Also, big in the news this week is a meeting concerning the perpetual traffic jam in Kapaa going north.  Many times during the day, traffic crawls at 3 MPH.  It seems any solutions are way in the future, and of course there’s no money for the projects. The roads, in general, are not first rate.  A couple of days ago a crash on the main highway near the tree tunnel stopped traffic to the South and West sides for 3 hours….there are no alternate routes so whenever there is any issue, all traffic is stopped sometimes up to 5 hours, a real pain if you bought ice cream at Costco….bring along a spoon just in case.

Also, big news this week is that Obama has approved the expanded marine sanctuary in the Hawaiian Islands, the conservationist are very happy, but some local fisherman are not so pleased.  When you see the toll over-fishing has taken on marine life, I’m glad that it is happening.  The monk seals that are starving in the northwest islands illustrate the fishing problem well, this wee4 emaciated and starving seals to capture by NOAA staff and taken to Kona to rehabilitate them.

The end of the week found us with hardly any seals up, what a change!  We finished all kinds of projects that had been waiting for a break.  We still go down to the beach in the mornings and one morning we walked over from the parking lot to see a couple of fellows string a line between two trees and then proceed to tightrope walk.  What next in Poipu, just when we think that we’ve seen it all, then tightrope walking?  IMG_0295

We even took some time to drive to Kekaha to check out another beautiful beach that had way fewer people than our beach at Poipu.


We’ve been feeding a feral cat since we moved here, Grey Cat is getting less jumpy and I think that she has adopted us.  We can’t touch her, but she no longer runs away when I feed her, she just hides under the car until I back off.  Not only does she hide under the car, but she also now sleeps on the car.


We’re glad to feed her, and keep her from starving.  But she does sometimes drive Allie nuts, but coming to the lanai door and ‘talking’ to Allie on the inside of the door.  We have to be careful not to let Allie out!