A brief article I submitted today for a project creating an audio-CD driving tour of the island. Visit www.kauaidrivetours.com for more information.
Let your gaze wander to the mauka or mountain side of the road and you cannot miss the Kalalea mountain range. Aptly named in Hawaiian for their prominence, the mountains tower over the road as they march toward the ocean. The small town of Anahola nestles in the ahupua’a, the traditional land division between the mountains and the sea. Designated primarily for Hawaiian Homesteads, Anahola is home to the largest concentration of Native Hawaiians on Kaua’i.
The protruding peak closest to the ocean is Hoku’alele, meaning “shooting star.” The Hawaiians constructed a three-terraced high place of worship here called a heiau. Looking at the second peak inland, what do you see? The Hawaiians saw the dorsal fin of a shark as it parted through the land heading toward the ocean, and named the peak Mano or Shark Mountain. More recent visitors see the profile of the giant gorilla King Kong. The peak is quite famous, appearing in the 1976 King Kong film and the opening credits of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Paramount Pictures mountain (Mt. Shasta) fades into the Kalalea peak (at the 1:35 mark in clip below).
Look closely behind the peak in the saddle of the ridgeline and you may glimpse Puuanakoua, or “Hole-in-the-Mountain.” This ancient lava tube has been exposed, covered and re-exposed by various landslides. Several Hawaiian legends tell of huge heroes hurling spears through the mountain, piercing its side.
Now let your eyes take in the whole range and really let your imagination run wild. What other shapes and figures do you see? You may see a bust of George Washington, a tortoise, a hippo, and when looking at the entire range, maybe even a goddess sleeping on her back! Can you see them all? You may want to find a safe spot to pull over and enjoy the powerful energy or mana of these prominent peaks.
King Kong’s profile can best be seen between mile markers 14 and 15, and a glimpse of Hole-in-the-Mountain between mile markers 15 and 16.
Today I took the inflatable kayak out to paddle the Hanalei River. I forgot my regular kayak paddle and had to borrow a friend's paddle for stand-up paddleboarding. Perhaps needless to say, I recommend using the proper paddle. I made it almost to the Hanalei Bridge before turning around and going out to a sandbar at the mouth of river where it meets the bridge. They say it takes about 2-3 hours to paddle. I took two hours. I plan to return and explore further up the river on a later venture. One of the side tubes also started to deflate, but as far as I can tell it was because I did not full tighten one of the valves and then sat on it in a peculiar way. Thankfully I fixed the problem and remained afloat!
In any event, it was glorious. What a place to call home!
The Kauai Bike Path is a multi-year project designed to follow an ancient Hawaiian path entirely up the east coast of Kauai. It currently connects Lydgate Park in Wailua with Donkeys Beach north of Kapaa. The paved path ends well before Anahola but one can follow a dirt path up to the point just before Anahola Bay. Many people say it will never be completed, yet the 7 miles currently paved make for a nice and beautiful stroll or ride.
Since mid-February, Emily and I have been living in a small 100 sq. ft. (10x10) cottage. We sleep in the loft above. There is no plumbing and just an extension cord coming in so we can charge our phones at night. When we first saw it, the place was filthy, covered in gecko poop and mold, as if no one had lived there in ages. There are no windows - just screens - meaning we're exposed to the ocean breezes as well as any rain! We walk about 20 yards to an outdoor shower. There is a separate indoor sink and toilet for us to share with other small cabins on the property. We also have access to the main large community building with a large living room and kitchen and dining area. There are four apartments, most filled with families, that connect to the main area.
In sum, it's a lot like camping, with a bit of a community feel, although most people do their own thing and there's little-to-no sense of common purpose.
I went with some friends - Jon, Sam and Paul - on an adventurous hike today on the Makaleha "trail." Trail is in quotes because the path we attempted to follow is not maintained, crisscrossing the river several times before finally disappearing into the river, leaving the hiker to now rock hop... not that we complained!
To get there we drove to the end of Kaiwahau Road in Kapahi, up from Kealia Beach north of Kapa'a. We parked in a dirt lot next to the water tower and were the only car there (this isn't a popular hike due to the lack of trail maintenance/ownership). I thought I had locked the doors...
The trail begins as a dirt road but quickly gets confusing at an old dam. We eventually crossed the river and then made our way through a really cool bamboo forest. I thought a picture really wouldn't do it justice, so check out the video below the picture.
After hiking up into the bamboo forest, along a ridge and then back down, you come across a freakin' awesome rock, perfect for bouldering!
Makaleha in Hawaiian means "eyes that glance upward" and refers to the towering, amphitheater- like ridge that was all around us as we hiked. Winding our way through little bits and pieces of trail around and through the river, we eventually arrived to an open area with spectacular views of two or three tributaries all coming together.
Per the guidebook's suggestion (I don't suggest going without one, by the way, or someone who knows the way well), we ventured up the fork furthest to the right. The valley became a narrow, almost slot canyon, until we reached an incredible, three tiered waterfall. Check out the pictures below!
We had fun rock-hopping our way back, only trying to pick up the trail when it became too cumbersome to rock hop!
We also came across some cool remnants of when the valley was used for sugar cane production, including what looked like canals and other irrigation-like ditches.
As we were getting back to the car, a car drove off and other car with two young local guys was parked next to ours. They apparently got out to pee but it seemed a little odd to me at the time. I unlocked the car but apparently the passenger door was unlocked. Later I discovered they had stolen my wallet, including $300 cash, my ID and some credit cards, which they used to purchase gas and some apps on the Google Play store! Not very fun, and a poignant reminder to leave no valuables in your car! It also didn't help that we were the only car in a remote lot on a very lightly used trail.
You live, you learn, and you try to earn a living.
Since August 2013 when my two-year residency at First Pres Ann Arbor came to a close, I have been unemployed and working on a book about my grandfather.
I've discovered that writing is hard, and writing one's first book even is even harder. Granted, I've been traveling throughout the fall and finally landed in Kaua'i with my wife Emily. We are still trying to secure suitable housing in a place that is both incredibly beautiful AND expensive.
Not being settled or having a routine has not made the writing any easier (like the litote? Anyone, anyone?? Not even my spellcheck?!). And all the devilish thought-demons begin to emerge:
So for inspiration, I have read a lot of blogs (notice: each word takes you a to different blog), not to mention a ton of eBooks and online videos.
One thing that has become apparent to me is aligning my goals in life with my identity.
Now, I have never been very good at taking on a specific identity. I identified as a "floater" in high school, unwilling to commit or see myself a part of any specific group. Later in college, a mentor had me write "Who Am I?" at the top of the page and fill it out for the next week...
I still have that page, and it is still blank:
And in case you're wondering what is on the other side:
So yeah, I struggle with Who I am and My Purpose in Life. Yet recently I've decided to make some headway in this area.
I realize that my fear of taking on any identity keeps me muddled in a mental morass of what I am suppose to do day-to-day, let alone my purpose in life.
My solution: Take on an identity moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour.
Maybe eventually I'll work my way up to a day, a week, a month... a lifetime.
But for now, in this moment, I am a blogger. Soon I will transition to being a writer and working on my book. This afternoon I will be a frisbee thrower. Tonight: a husband, a partner. When I'm cooking, I am a cook. When I'm reading, I am a reader.
Sounds simple enough. And maybe once I get used to identifying with these different hats, I will be closer to identifying with me, Evans.
Who is that guy, anyway?
I just finished reading an excellent piece in the NYT on the current overall state of marriage. I'm also currently trying to finish this post as my wife would like me to get off the computer and spend time with her!
The quick takeaways for me are:
The resulting inequality marriage success rates reflect the broader inequality in our society. The rich get richer (and stay married) while the poor get poorer (and get divorced).
What ways can we better support our marriages? How can our livelihoods (i.e. jobs) support our spouses? Will companies recognize that a healthy marriage makes for better (i.e. more productive) employees?
Marriage is hard work. It is not all that is cracked up to be. And yet don't those who choose to get married be given every opportunity and support to succeed?
I think so.
American hubris, here we go again.
In the wake of the Ukrainian uprising, there have been no shortage of Western opinions on how the U.S. should intervene or what the Ukranians should do.
Perhaps the best discussion I've heard was on my primary (and highly recommended) news source, Democracy Now!
And perhaps the most general advice about possible American involvement in other country's affairs came at the end of this Thomas Friedman piece, "Don't Just Do Something. Sit There.":
But we should have learned some lessons from our recent experience in the Middle East: First, how little we understand about the social and political complexities of the countries there; second, that we can — at considerable cost — stop bad things from happening in these countries but cannot, by ourselves, make good things happen; and third, that when we try to make good things happen we run the risk of assuming the responsibility for solving their problems, a responsibility that truly belongs to them.
To summarize/paraphrase Friedman:
These points are powerful reminders to be cautious in finding solutions to others' problems, both as individuals and as a nation.
Kaua'i has no poisonous animals or insects, but they have some pretty cool looking spiders(!). There are centipedes that can bite you (thankfully we have plenty of chickens to eat them!, a few scorpions (very rare) as well as mosquitos (introduced probably during the whaling industry's peak in the 1850s). But perhaps the best thing is that there are no snakes in all of Hawai'i!
Nonetheless, the spiders are still my favorite.
Check 'em out: