June 04, 2003
Travel Diary Days 3.2: Kauiai/Hanalei/JJ Farm

A little more detail about my sojourn to the North Shore. Since I was going to have drive out to Hanalei for my sea kayaking trip, I decided to drive out. I also called Dustin to see if he wouldn't mind my dropping in. After leaving a message, his mother Jackie called me back and told me I was welcome anytime when I was on their side of the island.

So at about 13.00 I saddled up the Dodge Stratus, hit 50 east and was on my way. Here are a couple photos taken precariously through the windshield:

Contrary to appearances, I was not about to drive off the road.

In driving towards the North Shore you pass through Lihue, the town I flew into. From the highway side, there's nothing particularly distinguishing about this town. Midway through town, the traffic clotted into a single lane because of road construction.

After passing over the Wailua River, the next major town is Kapaa, which driving through, feels like Anytown, USA. Even if Hawaii is the most isolated concentration of human population in the world (I believe about 2500 miles from the Continental US, and 4000 from major population centers in the East), seeing McDonalds and Taco Bell, and even an ABC store could place you just Durham. The difference, of course, is that along the way looking to your east, you can catch glimpses of several beaches that line the eastern shore.

Eventually the highway turns more inland. By Kapaa, the road feels different. The iron-rich red dirt is less ubiquitous. A sign to the right indicates the road to the Kilauea Lighthouse. Kilauea town is the northermost community in Kauai and marks the beginning of what they call the North Shore. Past that town, is Princeville, which is the main posh tourist area on the North Shore. You can see several meticulously manicured holes of the Princeville Golf Club along the highway.

The real treat is past Princeville, a few miles later, the road begins to tilt downward under a leafy canopy of huge monkeypod trees (at least I think they are monkeypod). Dappled sun leaves a mosaic of light on the asphalt. It's the kind of road for an automobile ad. At that moment, I thought to myself "well, the South Shore is nice and word 'paradise' can be applied easily, but the North Shore really is paradise." There's a road in the Gran Turismo 3 videogame that looks exactly like it, so I've had the virtual pleasure of driving this stretch at 150 mph. No surprise that Jurassic Park, South Pacific, Fantasy Island, among others have shot film on this side. The descent continues on to the Hanalei River which is crossed via a rickety one-laned bridge. Until 1912, the crossing had to be made on a raft. The flood plain for the Hanalei is considered one the largest wetlands in the state. Japanese and Chinese immigrants used to have rice paddies here, but it has recently been converted back to the native Hawaiian cultivation of taro root.

Less than a mile past is the small town of Hanalei. Aside from agriculture, it's main business is outfitting tours of the Na Pali coast and snagging the tourist traffic on the way or back from the end of the road Ke'e Beach. It's a pleasant town, it's apparent that there's more money in the area (probably from Princeville's wealthy clintele), and its cheesiness factor is low. I pulled into the Kayak Kuaui shop to get a weather trip for the next day's sea kayaking tour, and spoke with Mika, the owner about the trip and his previous paddles in Alaska.

The photos are of the the Wai'oli Hui'ia Church, circa 1912. If it weren't green it could easily stand in for a clapboard church in New England (which is where many of the missionaries so influential in Hawaii's history originated).

I then drove on to take the road to its bitter end, a winding ride down amidst the shade of trees. Though I'm sure there is plenty of tourism, it doesn't feel so as you motor down this paradisiacal path. Residences are nestled among the trees on both sides, and you start seeing more 4x4's with surfboard racks parked on the margins--the North Shore has the best breaks on the island. You cross a total of six more one-lane bridges and finally reach the terminus under a roof of Banyan trees. The Kualau 11-mile trail starts here, and then there's the popular Ke'e Beach. The banyan trees make a natural shelter for cars and people. Everyone is smiling--it seems that they've come to realize that they are in paradise. The water was populated with part-human snorklefish. At first, when you look out onto the beach, you think, just another pretty beach in Hawaii, yet when you walk out and turn around, you're presented with a stunning backdrop of mountains and cliffs. Pictures below:

I again risked my camera by crouching in the surf.

After about 20 minutes, I set back southeast to visit with Dustin and Jackie. One trippy fact is that my sister is acquainted with Dustin's fiancée. And this is a fellow I sat next to on SF-Lihue. One of her former roomates is a friend of Eugenie's, even lived with Eugenie for a couple months when she was between restaurants.

Jackie's house is near the Kilauea Lighthouse in a orderly community of horse farms that would almost recall a tropical Conneticut. Her place is on 14 acres on the top of a ridge that faces northwesterly over the ocean across some fields. They left the gate open for me, and I drove into a neatly manicured complex including a main house with a guest house, barn, and other sundry buildings and gazebos. It's quite apparent from the moment you drive in that this woman knows how to live. As I pulled in, Dustin was just finishing with a 1.5 hour massage (like I said, these people know how to live).

Though the entire complex is always being improved upon, the main house has only recently been finished. Inside is a massive, airy loftspace filled with ceiling fans, artwork, Japanese-inspired decorative motifs. There are cats and dogs all over the place. The bottom level is almost entirely huge sliding doors and screens with a veranda facing west with a large dining table and another smaller, more intimate dining table. Her upstairs is open, with a large screen Sony with surround sound system, a work area, and her bed. There is a new swimming pool (of course) and scattered throughout the complex are miniature lilyponds in large planters. There is also a massive climate-controlled wine closet, and men driving around tractors doing landscape stuff.

After finishing a joint, Dustin borrows his mother's truck and drives me down a rough track to a spot within the Kilauea wildlife refuge. Along the way, we find the dessicated remains of a frog squashed flat by a 4x4 most likely. Dustin wants it because he's been experimenting with resin for art and wants to impregnate this unfortunate amphibian with resin and include it in a new artwork. In flip flops we hop across rocks to a tidal hole flushing with the lives like a giant toilet. Within are 3 sea turtles swimming happily about. We then round a rocky point, seeing Kilauea Lighthouse in the distance (it apparently has the largest clamshell lens in the world--whatever that is), and a beautiful beach across that is inaccesible from the land behind it.

We get back and Jackie has a friend (I've forgotten her name). Pretty in a mousy way, rather New Agey. It's evident that she is Jackie's new lover--they're still in the acute hyperaffectionate stage. Dustin and I tour the neighborhood in a golf cart. At the end of its cul-de-sac is a piece of property for sale: $20M. asking price. When we get back Jackie asks if I would like to stay for dinner. I accept. She's making pasta with either meatballs or tofu balls (evidently the tofu is for Ms. Mousey-New Age). Jackie asks if I'd like to choose the wine. Not wanting to make her crack open a Grande Cuvée Bordeaux, I'm happy with her suggestion of an Italian red (now that I can't recall which).

As the sun stains the western sky, I finish grating parmesan, and we get ready to sit down on the veranda for dinner. Jackie is an earthy, evidently successful woman with close-cropped brass-colored hair and blue eyes. Dustin has a strong resemblance. She's carved out a life that is renumerative, gives her and the freedom to do what she likes (like smooching in front of guests--not that I really mind, I like the idea of women making out). You would suspect a woman like Jackie is a no BS sort, and she does strike me that way. Dustin tells me that before she lived in Kauai she lived in Aspen, and before that, Telluride. She has a genuine talent for living well.

She asks me at dinner why I wouldn't want to come out and practice on Kauai. God, it's tempting, but I have the quixotic notion that I can help more patients doing what I'm doing than working in paradise.

After dinner, Dustin rolls another one and we talk about the nearby sound of "frogs fucking"--as Jackie puts it. Soon it's evident that Jackie and her companion need some alone time, so I bid adieu with a standing offer to come have steak with them.

I speed home to Poipu because I'll need to come back to the North Shore to be at Kayak Kauai in time for the 6 am start. I still have a bit of a sore throat.

Once back, I call the switchboard to give me a wake-up call at 4.00 and set my alarm clock for the same (I've realized that 4/10 times the wake-up call either doesn't come or is a half hour late).

Posted by erich at June 04, 2003 06:25 PM
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