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Monday, January 19, 2009

Western Kauai

Steve & I like the western side of the island. It's drier and less populated. The towns are small and dusty and remind me of the western mainland U.S. The photo above is Waimea Plantation Cottages. I would love to stay at this place. We had lunch at the Waimea Brewing Company (nothing to write home about, except for the nicely designed retro posters for beers like "Luau Lager.") Then we walked around the grounds.

I wasn't even going to get into this hammock, but once Steve convinced me to try it, I was loathe to leave. It was so relaxing listening to the waves lapping the shore and feeling the trade winds gently blowing in the shade of the ironwood trees. The plantation grounds contain some gorgeous specimens of trees and plants. I was amazed at this one.

Hanapepe is one of the little towns on the western side. There are many feline residents. This guy posed prettily next to this pot of white flowers on the porch of Banana Patch Studios. This is a nice shop to pick up a souvenir or two of your visit to Kauai. There are a handful of galleries in Hanapepe. Friday night is the big night there, where the galleries remain open at night, and the Hanapepe Cafe and Bakery is only open during the week. We were there on a Saturday, and many places were closed. This grey kitty was guarding the closed bookstore.

We walked across the swinging bridge to the other side of the Hanapepe River. It really does sway a lot when someone else is walking on it with you.

The road up to Waimea Canyon begins in the town of Waimea. It's an incredibly scenic drive up Waimea Canyon Road. Like the Grand Canyon, photos fail to capture the breathtaking depth of the views.

At the top of this road is Kokee State Park, with many hiking trails. Steve took some nice photos of the view from the Pihea Trail, down to the Kalalau Valley. This area is inaccessible by road, you must hike in or take a boat or helicopter tour.

This trail runs along the top edge of the Kalalau Valley and on the other side of the trail is the Alakai Swamp. Along the trail, you are standing at the edge of an incredible drop. This is not a place to lose your footing. The Alakai contains most of the native forest birds on Kauai. They have retreated to this 4,500 foot elevation where they are not preyed upon by disease-bearing mosquitoes.

Back in Waimea, you want to head over to Jo Jo's Shave Ice for a cooling treat. Then you can buy a souvenir Red Dirt Shirt. Click on the link to read the story of the shirts, as it is kind of cool. We talked with the woman working in the store, who showed us her tattoos.

This one is of her daughter, who died of leukemia at age 12.

On the way back to our cottage we stopped at Spouting Horn.

There were lots of humpback whales just offshore here, as well as many other locations around Poipu.

You'd be looking at a sunset, and suddenly see lots of spouting. You don't even need binoculars to see them. We also saw whales breaching, diving and sticking their long flippers up in the air. Amazing.

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