aithne: (hawaii flower)
[wrotten while on the road.]

Oh my goodness, Kauai.

Kauai is amazing. A lush piece of paradise set in the middle of the Pacific. It is so beautiful, more so in some ways than Maui, if you can believe that. The cliffs rise dramatically inland, the coast tends toward the wild and rough, and the pace of life is leisurely.

I had a condo on Kauai that was larger than I needed but amazingly beautiful, in a complex at the north of the island in a town called Princeville. (It came with its own family of geckos, who I occasionally got glimpses of as the adults chased each other around at night, chirping.) Princeville's close to Hanalei (the place where Puff the Magic Dragon is from, only it's pronounced ha-na-LAY), but it's a far haul from everywhere else on the island.

In contrast with Maui, Kauai isn't nearly as built up, and the people here pride themselves on not being Maui. I had a shopkeeper tell me that she thought that as soon as the white people became the majority on an island, the character of it changed, because "white people are really good at rushing around." Note that this was coming from a resident white person.

I did a lot of wandering around. One day I set out without a destination in mind, going as far as my wheels would let me; it's really difficult to get lost on an island this small. I ended up on Koloa, and then driving up to one of the Waimea Canyon overlooks a bit before sunset.

I ate a huge avocado, and some of the best bananas ever. If you go, stop by Pohaku T's in Old Koloa town, buy a Kauai-made t-shirt, and get a copy of their guide to their favorite places. It's got all kinds of recommendations for places to go on the south shore.

I had no Internet access on the island, which meant that for the first time I really felt like I was on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific. It was a weird, very isolated feeling, and about Sunday or so I started really missing my sweeties, with whom I'd had only brief phone contact for a few days.

The thing I noticed on Kauai was the greater diversity of birds I saw. I saw the native cardinal, the Japanese white-eye, about a million wild chickens. And you know the nene, the endangered and very rare Hawaiian native goose, who you only see on Haleakala on Maui? There was a resident flock of three that would come in and hang out on the lawns at my condo most mornings and evenings. (Noisy-ass birds!)

The winds are pretty constant, and I found that after a couple of weeks in the islands I'd adapted more or less completely to the weather here. Kauai’s a bit less muggy than Maui tends to be. The beaches aren't quite as nice, or as numerous, and swimming in the winter here is a dicey proposition, but if you're not a beach potato, you probably won't mind.

Kauai is made for laying back and contemplating the universe. The stars are amazing, even at sea level. Everywhere you look, it's beautiful.

A couple of caveats about the place: one, there's a high cop-to-citizen ratio, and the populace seems more or less law-abiding (other than the number of drug violations in Hanalei), so the cops spend their time enforcing the arbitrarily changing and ridiculously low speed limits on what passes for the highways there. They especially like to hang out near the entrances of the popular beaches.

Two: it's pretty rural, except for Lihue. Like all the other islands, everything except fresh island fruit is expensive. (The huge, wonderful avocado I had? $1 at a roadside stand.) The answer? Eat a lot of fruit.

(I also interviewed for a job while I was here, one back home. We'll see if that comes to anything.)
aithne: (Default)

Plumeria blooms
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
Many pictures of flowers, and roosters, and nene. Go, have a look.
aithne: (hawaii flower)
Home!

More later.

(so so happy to be back.)

(Also, if there's been anything interesting going on, let me know; I'm way behind on LJ reading.)
aithne: (hawaii)
...writing.

To be fair, I knew that Maui was not going to be a writer's retreat. I've been doing too much, and coming back too tired, to get any real writing in. (Though I've caught up on the latest Shades of the Silent installment--I'm still trying to decide if it's got enough in it to be posted on its own. Stuff happens, but not really enough for a full chapter. Maybe I'll call it part one of two.) I've written an outline for Salal, but actually getting into the mindspace to write Eugenia and Vancouver Island is just not happening right now. It's a misty, chilly place, and I'm in the tropics. I've got a couple of short stories in my head that I might get to writing down, though.

This morning: the beach. This afternoon: kicking around Lahaina town.

Breakfast was a fresh papaya. Mmmmm. I'm hoping this avacado I have will be ripe by tomorrow. It's an amazing avacado. It's the size of a softball. I'm going to have to take a picture of it, at least. There were bigger ones--I saw several that were grown on the slopes of Haleakala and were a bit larger than your average grapefruit. Unfortunately, bringing them back is a no-go. Much as I'd like to.

I can't beleive I've only got two days left on Maui! I haven't done either of the classic Maui things--Haleakala, and the road to Hana. Might do at least part of the road to Hana tomorrow, might not.

I'm a little sunburned depsite all of the sunscreen, but not badly enough that it hurts. Silly fair skin. I managed to find a hat, though, so go me!
aithne: (Default)

shadows chase sunlight
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
These mostly from my Waihe'e Ridge hike this morning.
aithne: (hawaii flower)
Hiked the Waihe'e Ridge Trail this morning. The trail climbs up a ridge between two valleys, on the windward side of the island. It's a climb through forest not quite as lush as in the valley below, because it's at a higher elevation.

4.75 miles round trip. 1,200 feet elevation gained. That was a bit of a strenuous hike. It was fun, though; amazing views, and I got to watch clouds roll in, cresting and curling over the ridges like the surf. I made it to the top and it was socked in by clouds, but that was all right as the sun would have been pretty intense otherwise. It's breezy today, unlike yesterday, and much more comfortable than it was.

Heard Seattle's being hit by the Pineapple Express at the moment. I'm thinking good thoughts for you as I sit and watch the palm trees blowing in the breeze.

I made myself sit down and have a big glass of water, and now I'm pondering the big decision for the afternoon: whether to go for mahi tacos, sushi, or Greek food. (The Mexcan place around the corner has the most amazing mahi mahi tacos. Seriously, they put Taco Del Mar to shame.)

This vacation, so far, rocks!
aithne: (hawaii flower)

just hanging out, taking a nap...
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
My favorite from today being this fellow (girl? the sign didn't say), taken at the Marine Center.
aithne: (Default)

Iao Valley, looking southerly-ish
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
...have been posted.

By the way, best store name so far: Hairbenders, in Paia.

(If you don't know why that's funny, look up airbender on Wikipedia.)

Today I put the top on the car down and went to the Maui Swap Meet and the Iao Needle, and did the Swinging Bridges hike, about a 5-mile round trip through lush forest. Then I came back, had a late lunch, finished the book I was reading, and went out for a quick swim in the ocean.

As you can see, the weather's turned lovely. It sprinkled for about five minutes as I was walking to the Mexican place for lunch, and that was it.

Tomorrow, I have no idea what I'm doing. Possibly sleeping in and kicking around Kihei. We'll see.

*whew*

Nov. 2nd, 2006 09:30 pm
aithne: (hawaii)
I am here!

Stood in line. Stood in line. Stood in line some more. Then was on a six-hour flight with a screaming child. However, it wasn't a total loss. I read the entirety of A Feast For Crows and Wings to the Kingdom.

I got there, and the airport smelled like a combination of jet fuel and orchids. It's been raining here today. Hard. As in, I had to sit down with a map and plan a new route to my condo, because the main route was all kinds of flooded. It's like Seattle here right now, only like forty degrees warmer. I have a snorleking trip planned for tomorrow morning--cross fingers for calm waters and maybe even a little sunshine.

The car place was all out of compact cars, so they gave me a convertible. It is the New Hotness! If the sun comes out (and it should), this should be a lot of fun. I've never driven a convertible, and I haven't ridden in a convertible for ages. I may actually do the road to Hana all by myself, especially if it gets dry next week. (Right now...not so much fun.)

I should go to the crocery store I passed on the way here, then go fall over.


[oh, yes, and I nearly didn't get here tonight. Our first pass by the airport saw us getting down to 100 feet above he runway and suddenly gaining 30 knots of speed dur to a gust of wind. Second time was the charm, but we were going to get diverted to Oahu until the weather calmed if the plane didn't make the second landing.

When we touched down, the whole plane burst into applause.]

oh my.

Jun. 15th, 2006 05:32 pm
aithne: (angel (happy))
I guess I really am going to Hawaii...

*bounce*

Flight and car booked. I'll book hotels and a couple of other things this weekend. And then I will sit back and read my guidebooks and wait...
aithne: (Default)
I have always been good at traveling alone.

Don't get me wrong, I do like traveling with people. Especially if I'm going somewhere I've never really been before, and *especially* if it's somewhere that's going to be miles outside of my comfort zone. It really helps, when one has a combination of no direction sense and an inability to understand language in stressful situations, to have someone along with both those things.

However, if I'm going somewhere that's very likely to be within my comfort zone, I really enjoy traveling alone.

I'm a high-energy traveler, as a general rule. I'm not big on lying around on beaches or at swimming pools, though evenings spent writing are always appreciated. I'll eat just about anything strange I can find, I go on random hikes, I walk everywhere I can. (I walk, and I walk, and I walk. If I can walk there, I generally won't take a car.) I ignore the weather; temperatures that would send me scurrying for the shade at home are somehow more tolerable on vacation. I don't sleep very well in new places, so I’m usually up at the crack of dawn, ready to shower and take off for the day.

(A big exception to this is the writing retreats I do; but those are a vacation of a different sort.)

It's interesting to talk to Laura and Bryan about this; for them, a big part of the appeal of travel is having someone to talk to about it, to say, "Did you see that?" and "Wasn't that so cool?" That's something I never even thought of as part of the appeal of travel. I go, I stuff my head full with new things, and then I take some silence to process everything.

It turns out that I am very likely (as in, about 90% sure) going to Hawaii by myself this fall. I've been there once, when I was in high school, and I loved it and have wanted to go back ever since. When the opportunity came open, I decided I was going to be self-indulgent and return to the islands.

I really want to do some hikes while I'm there, but hiking by myself in a state far from home is a different prospect than doing a hike near home; one of the first rules of hiking is to always tell someone where you're going, the route you'll be taking, and when you are going to be arriving back. Not exactly possible when I'm by myself. So I'll bite the bullet and go out with a group or two, I think, which provides a safety net and also means that I don't have to pore over topo maps and plot routes.

But I will go, and there will be plants to commune with, an egregiously twisty road to navigate, good food to eat and utterly wringing-wet air to breathe. My skin will probably love me, a lot. (Right now, it hates me; it is in a nasty dry post-winter funk right now, and no amount of Aveda Hand Relief will stop its sulking. I have promised it a salt scrub in a couple of weeks.)

And it will be good.

*****

My dad turned 60 on the 9th. I meant to call him but I didn't manage to get to it on the day itself, and so last night he called me. I happened to be in Party City shopping for silver paper plates when he called, and for whatever reason (temporary insanity?) decided to actually take the call and get it over with.

So we chat for a few minutes, and I say happy birthday, and then he starts telling me about the cat that lives with him and my mom, Patches. Evidently, he's ill. He was lovingly describing exactly what was coming out of both ends of the cat when I managed to head him off with a well-timed, "Dad, the cell phone battery is dying, I'll talk to you later."

It was even true. Never was the chirp of a battery going flat so welcome.

*****

By the way, behind the cut is my playlist I use when I'm writing Tiamat's Kittens, slightly annotated.

Read more... )

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