Thursday, May 31, 2007

'Beaches of Kauai' - Kapa'a Shoreline

Enjoy the soundtrack on this video. It's a local favorite.

Kapa'a Shoreline

Last weekend Conor and I headed to the nearest "city", Kapa'a. It's about 20 miles away, on the east side of the island. Kapa'a is a cute little town, with many restaurants and shops along the main street. A lot of locals also live there. It's one of the more lively areas of Kauai, if there such a thing.

Since we arrived, they have been working on a new cement bike path that runs along the shore in Kapa'a. Certain segments are now complete, but in true Hawaii fashion there are still lots of random pieces left missing and undone. We're not sure when it will be finished, but there's enough there now for a nice scenic walk. The photos below were taken during our walk and feature views from the path.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Canyon Trail

A couple weekends ago, Conor and I headed out to Koke'e State Park to hike the Canyon trail. This trail goes along the side of Waimea Canyon, and ends at scenic Waipo'o Falls. It was a cloudy, foggy day 4,000 feet up in Koke'e State Park, but the clouds cleared just enough to give us decent visibility during the hike, and the sun even broke through a couple times.

The Canyon seems massive from close up:

A thugged out Mr. N strikes a pose:

Waipo'o Falls:

Near the falls, colorful wild flowers were scattered across the lush trail:

'Beaches of Kauai' - Moloa'a Bay

Monday, May 28, 2007

Moloa'a Bay

Conor and I got our first taste of this beach when our friends Megan and Chris were visiting. Moloa'a is one town southeast of Kilauea, where we used to live, and about 10 miles from where we live now in Princeville. This pristine white sand beach served as a location for the pilot of Gilligan's Island. The bay is set off the main highway, so it's usually not very crowded.

Moloa'a Bay quickly became a favorite of ours for many reasons. It has an area of active, large waves, but if you walk to the other side of the bay the water is very calm and good for swimming. The water has lots of rocks and reef throughout, which make for interesting snorkeling. The varying depths of water create many gorgeous shades of blue. And there's lots of volcanic rock around to lounge on.

There are only a few houses along this beach front, making it seem even more remote and secluded. If you look to the left in the panoramic shot, you'll see a large area of open green field. This is Moloa'a ranch, a huge property that goes along the sea cliff. All in all, Moloa'a is a quaint little neighborhood off the beaten path, and it's been added to our list of possible retirement spots if all goes well.

A panoramic shot of the view as you first step onto the beach:

View to the right/south of Moloa'a Bay:

We swear we didn't add the coconut as a was there:

The southeast shore of the bay is a nice place for a swim:

Clear skies mean water of various shades of blue:

Mr. N poses on some volcanic rock. This rock is millions of years old, but next weekend we'll see brand new volcanic rock being formed from the lava flows on the Big Island:

The undeveloped green cliff in the background is part of privately owned Moloa'a ranch:
If you look close, you can see the reflection of me taking the shot in Conor's glasses:
Mrs. N does her best mermaid impression:

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kauai's Hindu Monastery

A few weeks back, Jessica and I went to a Hindu Monastery with our good friends Chris and Megan. They give a guided tour once a week where a young monk shows your their beautiful grounds and gives you insight into Hinduism. We've always wanted to go so this was the perfect opportunity. We didn't know what to expect but it's safe to say than any expectations were vastly exceeded.

The Monastery was founded in 1970 by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and it sits on 458 acres. It is part of the Saiva Siddhanta Church, founded in Sri Lanka in 1949. Its spiritual heritage derives from the Nandinatha Sampradaya, which goes back to 2,200 bce. If you think I actually memorized these facts, you are out of your mind.

Here are some pictures of the grounds.

There are 20 monks that live here and while most have devoted their entire lives to the monastery (they wear an orange robe), some give 2 years at a time and wear a white robe, as our guide did. He was an incredibly bright and interesting young fellow with a great sense of humor. He gave us an overview of the history of this particular monastery and gave us an overview of what the monks do on a day to day basis. The monks do a lot of praying and meditating but they are also tech-savvy and they produce a number of books and even a magazine called Hinduism Today.

Here is a picture of Megan and Chris. See if you can notice the resemblance between these two shots.

I'm pretty sure that Jessica's favorite part of the trip was the fact that I had to wear a sarong. They asked that anyone wearing shorts or a skirt to put one on while in the temple. The minute I heard this, I knew I would be forced to post a pic on the blog.

The main attraction is the new temple that they are building. It is built by hand and not a single machine will be used at any point during its construction. All of the granite stone is shipped directly from India and there are stone smiths on site that complete the finishing touches. There is no concrete used as the stones interlock perfectly. A leading Hindu architect from California designed the temple and it should last at least 1,000 years. Our guide told us that this is the way temples have been built for thousands of years. We even got to see the stone smiths at work with hammers and chisels.

They started construction in 1991 and hope to complete the project by 2010. What's interesting is that they rely solely on people's charity as they don't want to take any loans from banks. The founder of this monastery wanted it to be built from the love and good nature of its guests.

After the tour ended at the new temple, most of the tourists left. We were one of the select few that was invited down the hill to see what our guide described as his personal sanctuary. He definitely has good taste because it was a small waterfall leading into a bubbling brook. After that he allowed us to sit and meditate in the original temple. All in all, an enlightening experience.

A Breakthrough in Flip-Flop Technology

For those of you that know me well, you are aware of the fact that I have been searching for the perfect flop for the last 19 years. I am considered to be an industry leader in flip-flop innovation and have authored several articles on the subject, including "What Your Flip-Flops Say About You" and "10 Things about Flip-Flops that Your Mother Never Told You". I have been to 79 countries and looked at over 16,000 materials in my quest. Ladies and gentleman, I am pleased to announce that the search is over.

Just Plain Ugly

Most of you are aware of the fact that Crocs makes an incredibly hideous but successful boat shoe. Many of you may not be aware that they have just designed the world's first perfect foot ware. If you are like most people, you have never walked on a cloud. Now you have your chance. I would liken this breakthrough to the first pair of Nike Airs back in the mid-80s. These shoes are so comfortable that I haven't worn another shoe (other than hiking or golf) since I bought them 8 weeks ago. I have 3 other thongs and was thinking about the Crocs, but thought buying a 4th pair would be a waste of money.

Lucky for me, one pair began to fall apart in Honolulu and I was walking by a Crocs store at the time. I bought them and literally floated back to our hotel. These things are so light that you don't even know you're wearing them. They are absurdly soft but also incredibly supportive and this is not something you ever find in a flop.

You may say that I'm a dreamer. But I'm not the only one

When Jessica and I landed back on Kauai, she asked if she should get a pair. I said "The Nicholsons won't roll in anything less". We got her a pair and the next day and I tried to convert my friends. My first target was Pete and he quickly put me in my place, calling them ugly and saying "not in a million years". My next target was Megan and while she was more receptive, she complained that her husband had purchased the originals and they broke within 3 days. Lucky for me, they were coming to visit us a few weeks later.

When they got here, I wouldn't stop talking about them. Megan's husband Chris was either convinced or sick of hearing me talk about them so he went out and bought a pair. The minute he put them on, his face lit up and I knew that my duty in life was to be the John the Baptist of Crocs. Megan eventually caved so I now have 2 converts. Are you next??

Saturday, May 26, 2007

They Grow Up So Fast

Our little albatross chick has grown quite a bit since his birth in February. He's now almost the size of an adult albatross, and you can see his smooth white feathers coming in under his gray fluff. He's even now venturing further and further away from his nest, which is in front of the condo next to ours.

Just last week, he got up enough courage to waddle over to our porch area for the first time. He now comes by for a visit every day. He's even started to practice opening up his wings, getting ready for his big day in July when he jumps off the cliff and goes to sea for the next 4 years. Once he's sexually mature, he'll come back here to where he was born to find a mate. Pretty soon, Conor and I will have an empty nest (pun intended).

Taking a nap in the sun:

Practicing with his wings in front of our porch:

Being fed by mom (or dad?) back in early April: