Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Love is in the Air

Have you ever seen two geckos make love? We can now die saying that we have. Last weekend, we had a power outage due to a thunderstorm. These two geckos took advantage of the darkness to be intimate. This mating took place right above our heads, on the kitchen ceiling. The lights came on just long enough to get these shots. Just when we thought our lives couldn't be any more similar to a National Geographic special, Kauai strikes again. Gotta love the tropics!

View looking up from the floor:

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Played Golf for 10 Bucks

If I was a good golfer, this might be the perfect story. Unfortunately, my game reminds most people of a deer in headlights. You don't know what it's doing in the road, and you know that sooner or later, an SUV is going to speed around the corner and smash it to bits. I am one of the few that can follow a birdie up with a triple-bogey.

The Driving Range is a little overpriced at $1.50 a bucket

But I digress. There is a golf course 30 minutes from our house and if you are a local, which I finally am, you can play for $10. I was fortunate enough to pass my written driver's license test the second time around so I am officially a resident of the island. I played golf at a gorgeous course on the North Shore but as always, I forgot the camera. This time I was able to remember (probably due to the fact that all of my boys begged me to stop being an idiot and take pics so they can see it on the blog) to put the camera in my bag.

The course was pretty nice, and when you factor the price in, it is Mecca. For a mere $46, you get a monthly pass that allows you to play an unlimited amount for the next 30 days. It definitely pays off to be a local. Most of the holes run along the shore so you always hear the waves break while you duff shots and miss putts. It definitely softens the pain.

My ball went through the cloud and directly into the hole for a double-eagle

I'm going to try to play here twice a week with the eventual goal to get into the 80's on a consistent basis. I'm determined to get there and am confident that even a hacker like me can do it if I play enough. It should be a fun ride.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Our New Neighbors

A new couple recently moved onto the property. These bunnies were spotted yesterday living underneath a parked car outside our house. Today they had settled in to a shaded area under some vegetation on the side of the house. Clearly domesticated, they enjoy being around people and will let you feed and pet them. We suspect someone must have grown tired of caring for them as pets and let them loose to fend for themselves. Soft and cuddly, they enjoy nibbling on lettuce and other veggies. And you know what they say about rabbits? Well, it's all true. These two definitely enjoy frequent rolls in the proverbial hay.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Little Civic that Could meets her Mate

After a long courtship that involved many chaperoned dates and a dowry of a brass tea kettle and two mountain goats, Jessica and I are pleased to announce that The Little Civic that Could is engaged.

Her fiancĂ©’s name is Four Doors and a Steering Wheel and he comes from the same bloodline. Our Civic is a pure-breed and we wanted the offspring to retain the heritage and tradition that comes with being a vehicle that breathes 102 horses and sounds like a low-powered lawnmower when the gas pedal is floored.

We will be sending out wedding announcements soon enough and hope to see many of you at the reception. The registry will include items such as a tachometer and the beeping sound that is supposed to go off when you leave your lights on and are about to exit the vehicle.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Waimea Canyon: the Kukui Trail

Last Sunday was another perfect day. We set out for the west side of the island, which is the farthest you can drive away from where we live. It’s about 50 miles and takes about an hour and a half to drive there. Once there, we reached the destination for our hike. Waimea Canyon has been called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” because of its resemblance to the larger, more famous Arizona landmark. From the highway, a nausea inducing road winds 20 miles up to the top of the Canyon, with stunning lookout points along the way. But we decided foolishly that it’d be more fun to hike down into the Canyon. We lived to regret it.

We took the Kukui Trail, which we figured would be a moderately difficult hike at 2.5 miles each way. In that distance, you lose 2,300 feet. That doesn’t seem like a lot until the way back, when you have to climb it. On the hike down, we were met with stunning views of the canyon. The last mile was through dense forest, and after what seemed like forever we were rewarded with the Waimea river. Here, you could rest in the sun on the rocks and put your tired feet into the cool rushing water as you anticipate the hell that awaits you on the way back up.

Views from the bottom of the trail at the Waimea river:

The 2.5 miles up were hard, with lots of water breaks. We were smart enough to bring lots of water for the trip, but not smart enough to pack a snack. We huffed and puffed our way back to the top, up what seemed like 90 angle inclines.

View of the trail on the way back up out of the canyon:

Almost to the end, we spotted some of the wild goats that live in the canyon. We weren’t able to get a great picture, because they were pretty far away. We were thankful for that after getting a look at those menacing horns.

All in all, we’d rate this hike as a 7.5/10 on the difficulty scale and by far the hardest hike we’ve done to date. This hike is one of those things that you’re glad you did, but not until after the fact – kind of like giving birth or running marathons.

Pu'u Poa Beach in Princeville

Last weekend we were blessed with perfect weather on both days. We spent Saturday visiting a new beach, Pu’u Poa Beach. This beach is about 10 minutes away by car, and is located outside the fancy 5-star Princeville hotel. It was a great beach day. There was a huge expanse of waist-deep, perfectly calm water. It was like a giant swimming pool. In the distance, you can see the white area where the ocean drops off and the waves are crashing. As we swam in the calm beachfront waters, we could watch the surfers riding waves out there in the distance.

We stayed the whole day, and watched the sun shine through the clouds as it began to set over the mountains.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Farmer's Market

Today we went to our first farmer’s market. These are held several times a week in different locations around the island. The market we went to today is held every Thursday in Kilauea, about 2 miles from our house. Local farmers travel to the markets and set up booths to sell their produce. You’ll find familiar favorites such as pineapples, avocados, and grapefruits as well as some island novelties, like rambutans and starfruit. The produce is reasonably priced and extremely fresh – sometimes picked earlier that day!

Some of our purchases today are posted below:

Organic avocados the size of your head only cost $1 each here.

This giant bunch of basil was so fresh and aromatic that its scent filled up the car on the ride home.

Starfruit has become one of Conor’s favorites. You slice it thinly and it tastes similar to an apple.

Ruby grapefruits and tangerines are abundant.

Rambutan is a peculiar looking fruit. You remove the spiky pink outside to reveal a fleshy white fruit very closely related to a lychee.

Jicama is a root that can be cooked or eaten raw, and is crunchy in texture like a water chestnut.

Star Apples are purple on the outside, with a soft white pulp on the inside. The outside is inedible while the pulp is sweet and tastes similar to a grape crossed with an apple.

Eggplants work well in the many Asian inspired dishes that are popular here.

Blind Item

Which Nicholson spouse was spotted this Wednesday at the Kauai DMV failing their written driver’s license test? After a pencil-gnawing struggle with the 30 question multiple choice exam, this hunky Irishman was seen exiting the testing room hanging his bulbous head in shame. After a DMV employee confirmed the failure, a group of 16 year old passees attempted to console him and offer words of advice such as "try the practice tests in the manual" and “beware of definitives like ‘always’ and ‘never’”. The 30 year old then silently wished failure upon his wife as her test was graded, to no avail. He cursed her name in his head and contemplated suicide as she passed with flying colors.


Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls is one of the more accessible waterfalls on the island. You can actually drive your car right up to an overpass that looks down onto the falls. Although this is one of the more famous sights in Kauai and is pretty quick and easy to get to, we visited for the first time today. The 173 foot falls are only 5 miles or so from the airport, in case any visitors are interested in making a stop.

Welcome Back

We're happy to announce that the Little Civic that Could arrived safe and sound in Nawiliwili harbor last Monday. This week, after procuring the necessary paperwork, I got our new Hawaii tags. Don't they look cute on her?

On Monday, I drove the Civic to a tire shop to get the mandatory safety inspection needed to drive legally. Someone had asked me if I thought the car would pass. I never really considered it NOT passing - it is a Honda, after all. And here, you'll frequently see rusted out pick-up trucks circa 1972 with tires the size of Jupiter flying down the roads at warp speed. If they can pass, surely the Civic would be fine, right? But after being questioned, I began to worry. She is old, and of course she's not the best equipped vehicle on the road.

After arriving at the tire shop, I settled in for what I figured to be a long ordeal. Prepared with my book to pass the time, I pay the woman at the counter. She hands me a form, and heads out the door. When I take a closer look at this form, I realize it is my safety certificate. On it, there is a detailed checklist for the inspection - blinkers, brakes, lights, mirror, etc. Oddly enough, I notice that 'acceptable' is already checked for each item. How can this be, one might ask, when no one has inspected the car? Puzzled, I follow the woman out to the car, where she proceeds to walk from the front end to the back bumper. She puts a sticker on the bumper, and tells me 'You're all set!'. The safety inspection consisted of her walking halfway around my car and affixing a sticker. The ignition was never turned on; a door was never open.

It's reassuring to know they have such high standards for vehicle safety in this state.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Day the Music Died

I now know the true meaning of utter misery and despair. Yesterday's tragic events took my heart out and smashed it to bits with a 15 pound sledge hammer. It's not even that we lost; it was the way that we lost. We never got an offensive rhythm going and our defense played as bad as it ever has. I began to develop a sick feeling in my gut and as of this very moment, it's still there.

Things started out so promising. It was a gorgeous day and I wore my lucky Bears shirt, the same one that I wore for the Seahawks and Saints victories. We got to the bar 30 minutes early and there were two empty stools right in front of the 50 inch plasmas. I took this as a message from God that my team would emerge victorious that night (actually, it was daytime for us).

Screech from "Saved By The Bell" ordering the Ahi Salad.

If you would have been there for the first play, you would have seen the most maniacal, possessed, rabid fan in the history of the world. I was jumping up and down like a mental patient screaming "Go! Go! Go!". I screamed so loud that I lost my voice. On the first play. People were looking at me like I was out of my mind and for those of you that know me, you know that I couldn't care less. This was my personal bar that day so I could yell and scream as loudly as I wanted. Life was good.

The House that Misery Built

Things began to crumble shortly thereafter and as I often do, I drank way more than I should have. At the time, drinking multiple Mai Tai's with 151 seemed like a great idea. Jessica thinks that I have a problem with self control and I'm beginning to think that she has a point. One thing leads to another and I end up passing out at 7PM. Yes, I am aware of the fact that I am almost 30 years old.

Me with two fellow schmucks

If anyone knows of a good therapist who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder and lives in Kauai, please contact me.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Our Second Hike: Sleeping Giant

Our second hike took place this Saturday on Nounou Mountain, lovingly referred to by locals as the "Sleeping Giant". The mountain earned this nickname because when you’re viewing it from far away, it supposedly resembles the profile of a large man lying on his back. However, you have to use a LOT of imagination to see it. The photo below shows the “head” of the giant, with the forehead on the left and the nose on the right. It's clear these native Hawaiians must have been smoking something.

This hike was slightly longer than last week’s, at around 5 mile round trip with a 1000 foot gain in elevation. Although the guide book described this hike as ‘moderately difficult’, we concurred that it’s “moderately easy” at best and “for lazy asthmatics” at worst. After about a 2 mile climb, you come to a picnic bench overlooking the east shore town of Kapa’a:

The guide book says that it’s possible to progress beyond this point, on a trail that leads up to the giant’s head. From there, they say the views are spectacular. However, the book makes sure to give a stern warning about attempting this last leg. They suggest that one misstep can cost you your life. After the ominous warning, we went up with the intention of stopping at the bench. Once there, however, we were greeted by an elderly couple on their way down from the head. After talking with them, they reassured us it was safe and we’d have no problems making it up. We took their word for it – after all, we can’t be shown up by two 71 year olds!

The couple’s assertions proved true, as the last leg of the trail was hardly as dangerous as the book suggested. There was really only one or two spots were one could feasibly slip to their deaths, and you’d have to be pretty clumsy to do so. And the last leg was worth it, because once on top we were greeted with 360 views of the east side of the island.