Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kaua'i South and West

Our site at Salt Pond

Yes! We have no papayas! at the National Center for Tropical Botanical...

The Na Pali afternoon cruise

Returning; the "Forbidden Island," Ni'ihau, in the background
Longer-term campers at Salt Pond

After resting, relaxing, and washing, at the Kaua'i Inn in Lihue (expensive, to us, but free internet, breakfast, and very nice and helpful staff people), and re-provisioning, we drove generally west on the island's one coastal road, from Lihue to Hanipepe, stopping at Poipu to gawk at the resorts, and dozens of vacation homes and condos for sale, then an the National Center for Tropical Botanical something-or-other (vastly over-rated by the National Geographic, IMHO; and expensive, at least for a publicly-supported entity), and then finally camping on the beach at Salt Pond.

In our previous visits to Hawaii, we always wondered about camping on the beach, in a state or county park. Salt Pond is such a place, a favorite among locals. The old guys hang out there all day and well into the night, drinking and smoking in the covered pavilions, and doubtlessly scaring the teenies away. This is good. Salt Pond is a beautiful beach, small, but scenic, on the dry side of the island. There were about a dozen tents, the usual international mix. The one we set up next to the first night, unfortunately, turned out to be a case of local domestic dis-tranquility. We learned lots of new and interesting expressions (“get out of my #$%@-ing life!”; the tent is his; the pick-up hers; the stereo is his; the kids?; etc.). The beach and environs were nonetheless wonderful, if breezy. Hey, if we can hitch-hike on Monday, we can camp in the county park on Wednesday. We spent most of the 60s trying to claw our way into the middle class, rather than dropping out of it, so we have a lot of hippie-time to make up for.

We were awakened quite early the next morning by the island-wide feral rooster population (see next post), about 3AM, to be exact. Earplugs are no protection against these monsters. And, pursuing male competitiveness, they continue all day and into the night, trying to out-cockle-doodle-do each other. At 6:30AM, the park ranger showed up, asking for our permit. Civil servants are so conscientious. We had no permit, but knew we could buy one on the spot when so greeted. We were thinking perhaps the evening before, just after cocktails, not an hour before dawn's rosy fingers. But it's always good to get an early start on the day.

After buying a permit for the next night, moving our site much closer to the beach and away from the love-birds, we drove on to the end of the road, Waimea, Polihale, and the missile range. Even in paradise we have missile ranges. Thank you, DOD, Homeland Security, and USN. All this is a different part of the island, the south-west, dry, flat, 360 clear days per year, right up to where the Na Pali cliffs end on the west side. Another road that does not go ever on, but I'll spare readers the photograph.

We spent Thursday afternoon on the beach, Vicki reading her latest Sara Douglass novel (4th in a series of 6), me fighting off Beach Boredom. We were both born in Miami, had ample beach experience as teens, but have never returned to nor enjoyed the beach MO. The surf and waves are endlessly interesting...for about fifteen minutes. And I do not go in water that does not have significant chlorine content. The major entertainment of the afternoon was a Hawaiian monk seal sleeping on the sand next to us, just a few feet away. The tide was coming in, and every time it reached him he squiggled up a bit further on the beach, then collapsed again into deepest slumber. I wonder what he was thinking, or dreaming...the beach full of people, himself alone, cordoned-off by the life-guards, with signs about threatened species, do not disturb, no flash photography, etc. Was he bored?

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