Friday, November 4, 2011

Kauai - Waimea Canyon

October 24
Waimea Canyon

We got up fairly early this morning. The bed is really, really comfortable. It's just the right amount of not-too-soft and not-too-hard for me. I woke up feeling rested and relaxed, which is a great way to start the day.

After a quick breakfast of yogurt with cereal (sort of like a yogurt parfait), we headed down Highway 50 (Kaumualii Highway) to Waimea Canyon. It was a little cloudy, so the pictures might not do justice to the natural beauty [And they don't, but they'll have to do]. There are a number of lookout points, all of which we visited. Waimea Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Kauai, and it really does look a lot like the one in Arizona...except, of course, on a smaller scale. The dirt is really red, which must make for fantastic pics in the late afternoon with the right light and no clouds.
Waimea Canyon
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We took our time, enjoying the gorgeous vistas from this direction and that direction, stopping at every turn in the road to take in the splendor.
Waimea Canyon
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
You cannot drive all the way around this island, and you cannot drive to the coast through the Canyon. But do go to the end of Kokee Road (Highway 550)! Wow! The view that you get of Lost Tribe Valley and the Na'Pali Coast is absolutely stupendous. So rugged. So...raw. And from that high up (4 – 5,000 feet), just breathtaking.
The end of the road. What a view!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
It's surprisingly cool up at that elevation, but still quite comfortable and refreshing. Especially if you get sprinkled on, which we did. But it wasn't in the least unpleasant. Not a bad idea to bring your insect repellant, if you plan to hike at all. We took a path to go just a little farther. It was slippery in spots, and a big rough. You would want to be wearing your Keens rather than your flip flops, for sure. There are places to camp in the back country and all that, if you're a real outdoorsperson.

It happened to be hunting season in the area, and I heard that you can only bow hunt, which isn't surprising. However, good luck getting your animal up and over those steep ridges. Or down them, for that matter. You would have to hoof it...presumably with a mule? Anyway, we did see a few mountain goats on a far ridge, which made my husband happy. In fact, it lit him up. He is an avid hunter, so even the thought of it sends him over the moon. Those of you who are avid hunters will no doubt understand. The rest of you will be horrified. Ah, well.

From our vantage point, we could see the catamarans way-y-y-y down there, taking folks on a snorkel trip. It's one of the few ways to see the Na'Pali Coast. It looks amazing, and I think we're going to do that.

I'm concerned that one week won't be enough to see/do all we want to see/do. We'll have to come back to do the North Shore, perhaps?

On the way back to Waimea (the town) from Waimea Canyon, you drive along a high ridge that offers expansive views on both sides. Don't think about it too much. Just enjoy it. You probably won't hit the guardrail and go over.

At this point in the drive, we experienced a tropical-style torrential downpour. As I said, it rains a lot up there. It's one of the wettest places on earth. Well, that's what the sign says.
And it was drizzling at the time...
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We had lunch at a place called Shrimp Station in Waimea. A walk-up joint with picnic tables out front. Karen had coconut shrimp, Bob had Thai shrimp, Harry had a shrimp burger, and I had Cajun shrimp. And a guava juice. I must say, the food was very tasty. Everyone enjoyed it, you sense a theme? Yep. Nothing but shrimp on the menu. If you don't want shrimp, you'll have to find another place to eat. But if you do want shrimp, you'll probably like this place.

We walked around a bit, looking around the small shops and getting a feel for the place. Then we got a “shave ice” treat (snow cone) with tropical flavors and walked to the pier area to enjoy those. Waimea looks a little sad and neglected, but the people we met were so nice.

We started our drive back to Poipu, and Karen and I toured Kauai Coffee Company in Hanapepe while the guys went to check out something or other. There are lots of coffee...farms? Plantations? in that part of the island, coffee having supplanted sugar cane as the main cash crop. It seems that the cost of labor has put the sugar cane business out of business, which leads me to wonder where they get the sugar cane for making the rum. But that's a whole other story, I'm sure. It also helps me to understand that this part of the island is economically depressed, folks having lost their jobs when the sugar cane went to wherever it went. And the coffee is done mostly with machines. So, there you go.
Coffee growing at Kauai Coffee Company
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Anyway, we saw the...bushes? Trees? up close and personal. It was interesting to see the original machinery used and to read about the process of harvesting and sorting and drying and roasting. And tasting! Lots of different brews available for tasting.

The bougainvillea grows spectacularly here, by the way, whether wild or planted. Mass profusions of bright blossoms.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
On the way back to the condo, we stopped at Poipu Beach to check it out. There were so many people in the water! The waves are a little high today, and the boogie boarders were being tossed all over each other. It's hard to imagine how nobody got hurt!

We went to the pool to hang out, made pina coladas, watched a magnificent sunset, and cooked breakfast for dinner. Why not?  

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