Kauai, Hawaii: The More You Know*

Solitary beauty

You may think that living in Hawaii is similar to living anywhere else in America, but that’s where you’d be wrong. In fact, even the islands within the state of Hawaii are all different from each other–and the state as a whole is so very different from the mainland. But no matter where I am in the world, there is so much to learn. For example…

In India, I learned that women, cleanliness, safety, and medicine rank low on the totem pole.

In Thailand, I learned that new food prep, innovation, internet usage, and sleeping past 6 AM are frowned upon.

In Kauai, Hawaii, I learned that people move to this island in particular to set up shanty towns in the wild and become live-off-the-land tax evaders.

So now that you’ve been given a hint, what do naked people, money, beaches, and crazy destinations have in common with each other? Atlantic City. But why would I ruin a perfectly good post to talk about such a God-forsaken place?

My whole point of moving temporarily to Hawaii was to one day hang out of a helicopter and take photos over the Na Pali coast. But since that seemed unlikely, hiking the coast seemed a very good second best. However, the photography job I was offered was on the Big Island. No biggie, since that was my second-choice island! Almost the size of Connecticut and full of snow-capped peaks, volcanoes, rainforests, and beaches, I never ran out of things to do outdoors.

But then I was invited to hike Kauai’s Na Pali coastal trail—the Kalalau Trail—and I knew I couldn’t pass it up. So off my friend Brett and I went to this small but most delightful island, full of beautiful natural wonder, birds I’d never seen, and…traffic. I mean, there’s basically only one road and way too many tourists trying to polish off their cancer-ready tans. So the morning after landing, we tried to get away from the crowds and thus started out on 10 miles of “practice” hikes.

Of course, the first hike–the Awa’awapuhi Trail–blew my mind, and here’s why:


No, I did not make that trail name up.

Then the main, 3-day Kalalau Trail blew my mind. Here’s why.


After that, the other trails didn’t blow my mind. But there WERE free wild mangoes littering some of them, so I kept stopping to messily snack like a little kid. We then ate lunch, had shave ice, and sadly departed. The Big Island has so much to do, but Kauai’s wildly unique beauty captured my imagination. Plus, where else would I, should the urge to do yoga or do it naked ever arise, have such an amazing view?

15-05-5-Kalalau Trail - 47

Ehhh, I’ve hiked in better places.

1I8A0200Ehhh, I’ve played frisbee in prettier places.

There were indeed many, uhhh, modern-day hermits living in unexpected places, hobbit-like folks hiking the trail bare-footed, and almost no “normal” campers who had planned ahead, bought permits, and expected to enjoy the views with, I dunno, law-abiding citizens who were aware their social security cards were indeed still in existence? But despite odd people and too many of them in the most random places, for the most part we enjoyed hours of trail sections without internet, without cell service, and without people. We had a 1,500-foot waterfall to ourselves, saw dolphins and mountain goats, and just enjoyed what has to be the prettiest hike of my entire life. There were so many cliffs and awesome areas (like the not-aptly-named Crawler’s Ledge, which sounds dangerous but really isn’t) that would give any mother a heart attack. Though the elevation gain wasn’t big at all as a whole, the change in scenery and hot sun on exposed rock made 40 miles in 4 days tough!  I sure felt healthy afterwards, a feeling which was quickly erased during our post-hike milkshake-and-burger celebration. We hiked more the next day, saw a lighthouse, overate, and wished there was more time to stay in the wild. Did you learn something new today? I sure did. I’d go back to Kauai in a heartbeat, though I don’t think I’m prepared to see so many old naked practitioners again just yet. Until next time, dear Kauai.

*Note: This post not endorsed by NBC

Though watermarks were put on the photos I took, none of the photos in this post were edited in any way, shape, or form. This is Hawaii shown in its unadulterated natural beauty!

24 Hours Ago, I had No Plans. Now I’m Halfway Across the World.

So this happened…

My friend to me, yesterday: “Well, you and I both like adventures and travel and exciting everything.”

Me: “Exactly. I LOVE finding random adventures and just going somewhere at the drop of a hat.”

Him: [Pause] “Right, so come with us tomorrow to Indonesia.”

Tonight I am leaving for Indonesia.


Well, that was the other day, so now I’m in Indonesia! Details to come soon, after I post photos of Kauai, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico…heck, this ain’t neva gettin’ done! Oh well, I have street food to go eat.


Hawaii: The Rainbow State

Because Hawaii is the rainbow state, and because rainbows are our sign of choice for celebrating our recent ruling on gay marriage, and because I have yet to gather my Kauai photos together–and because I’m truly trying to create the longest sentence ever–I’m giving you, my faithful viewers, an oh-so-simple photo post.

Here is a rainbow of colorful photos that are very, very representative of this lovely state. And no, I didn’t put any actual rainbows in here. That would be just too literal, and aren’t rainbows full of mystery and wonder? This is surely a lame excuse for not posting stories from Kauai, but with medicine, prayer, and a good-ol’-fashioned bit of patience, I’m sure we’ll both make it through the waiting game.


A gecko sits atop a giant red flower in Akaka Falls State Park


Do sunsets get any better than this? Not a smidge of editing needed.

Mango and pineapple shave ice atop ube (purple potato) ice cream. The. Best.

Mango and pineapple shave ice atop ube (purple potato) ice cream. The. Best.

The beautiful green Akaka Falls

The beautiful green Akaka Falls

I think dis is pretty blue. Hiking the Na Pali Coast, Kauai

I think dis is pretty blue. Hiking the Na Pali Coast, Kauai

The Milky Way, as seen from Puako, Big Island

The Milky Way, as seen from Puako, Big Island

15 Facts You Don’t Know About Hawaii

Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, things surprise you. From scenery ranging from lava flows and houses that looks like they’re in Greenland to lush rainforests and fog so thick you can’t see 10 feet in front of you, this island holds much mystery. Here are some of my favorite little-known facts!

#1: The endemic Happy Face Spider lives here. I haven’t seen one, but look at this thing. It will totally crack you up.

#2: I was out in the middle of nowhere taking photos of a waterfall when…I was approached by a couple of Hawaiian Jehovah’s witnesses. I kid you not. Luckily they let my Christian-ness be and gave their paper catalogs to some other hiker. I’ve never felt so religiously molested in the woods.

#3: Approximately 18.7% of your Facebook friends are involved in pyramid schemes and post daily to get your participation–a sure sign of the fact that they are indeed involved in said pyramid schemes–but are in denial of this fact.

#4: Fact #3 has nothing to do with Hawaii.

#5:  I thought the roads in St. Thomas were the worst I’d ever seen. Then I came to Hawaii. The roads in St. Thomas are utterly atrocious.

#6: Though everyone (my mother) complains about how hot ‘n’ humid Hawaii is, it really isn’t that bad, especially here on the island of Hawaii (Yes, it’s called the Big Island, or Hawaii. Just to confuse you.). In fact, its highest recorded high (100 degrees F) and lowest low (12 degrees F) don’t even come close to New York State’s range. I remember 106 when I was 11 years old, and -10, I dunno, bloody last year. It’s not even that humid here! In fact, where I live I wear pants and a sweatshirt to bed every night, and I’m still cold. There are so many climates here, you can drive through what feels like 10 different states in two hours.

#7: There are three main colors of sand here: white, black, and green. They all look different, depending on the angle of the sun and how you look at it. Sort of like Rachel Dolezal.

#8: Kauai is better. JUST KIDDING! The BIkG ISaLuAaNiD is better.

#9: It’s the adults who have the pot problems here. Yes, young adults smoke up, but gatherings of old Hawaiian men drunk and smoking are far more common, and youngsters worried about their parents being addicted to marijuana is a thing here. Driving high is also of concern. Luckily most car crashes involve lava, not other people.

#10: French-Canadians are just as obnoxious as regular French folks. Also, due to the fact that they know they’re right all the time, I was told that I was wrong about thinking a part of the sky could be the Milky Way. “No, it’s just clouds. How do you not know that? Have you ever even seen it? Pffft.” I took a photo just to check.


Stupid French-Canadians.

#11: When I drive to work many afternoons and leave my li’l mountain town, half of the time it’s raining and cold–though it’s clear, hot, and bright by the time I get to my work side of the island. This means that often in my rear view mirror, I see beautiful rainbows during my daily commute. The scenery is so distracting, it’s hard not to crash.

#12: Plastic bags are no longer allowed on the Big Island. You’re allowed to have your own from the past, but grocery stores don’t have ’em. Pretty cool that they’ve made the step to not kill our environment so fast!

#13: The hooker I photographed tipped me in cash. $12. Hey, you gotta use those dollar bills up somehow! She also gave me a ceramic Hawaiian flower from her cleavage. I already went through my storehouse of Purell.

#14: People are always shocked when it rains in the rainforest.

#15: People think Hawaii is all rainforests. Or a little lava and rainforests and beaches. In fact, the islands are incredibly diverse (from the rest of the world, as well as from each other), with the Big Island being the most diverse. There are different colors of lava, desert regions, snow, fog and moss, beaches, rainforests, mountains, savannas with galloping giraffes, polar bear sightings, icebergs, Williamsburgs, smorgasboards, and snozzcumbers.

So…how many of those facts did you know? You’re surprised and learned something new, right? This place is an endless pit of fascination and lava tubes, so luckily I haven’t grown bored here. Heck, even the chickens are beautiful. Aight folks, over and out for now. Next time…Kauai and the epic Na Pali coast–plus homeless people, hobbits, and more!