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Here we are in winter Hawaii. Our local friend reports that the islands have not seen this much rain for a year and a half. Though it is inconvenient for us ‘tourists’, it is certainly much needed for the land and vegetation. This tropical place abounds in wildlife and tropical fruit. Chickens are not what one would ordinarily classify as ‘wildlife’, but in Hawaii feral chickens are as common as sparrows. The first Polynesian settlers brought the Red Junglefowl of Southeast Asia with them and they remain little changed today. We’ve also seen wild turkeys that were introduced as game birds. Papaya, banana and pineapple grow along the roadside and in people’s gardens.
Tom and Simon and I have been exploring and snorkeling as much as the weather has permitted. Today promises more sun and I’m certain that you’ll find us snorkeling in a few hours.

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99_steps_dhead
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abuttment_kaena.
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beach_tom

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haleiwa_surf1

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blk_swan_signet
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buddha.jpg
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byodo_temple.jpg

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jc_sunset

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chooks
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ginger_bananas
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ginger_papaya

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beach flowers

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One of our ventures has been to the ‘end of the road’ on this side of the island, Kaena Point. Until fairly recently, there was a road that went around the entire perimeter of Oahu, only the sea kept destroying the road at this rocky point and finally the government allowed the ocean to reclaim it permanently. We drove our car as far as we could and then set out on the 4 mile roundtrip trek over what remained of the old road. In this place, the turquoise waves crash hard against the lava shore, a popular place with fishermen and hikers, but not at all suitable for swimming or other water sports. Above the tide line, the volcanic soil supports wild flowers and other vegetation. There is a grove of sisal plants, remnants of a commercial endeavor. This windswept place is overshadowed by tall, wave-carved hills, there are beaches covered entirely in round, black lava boulders and some that are covered in pieces of stark white coral.


In addition to our hours of snorkeling time, we’ve explored some of the back roads on our side of the island. Most of this property is fenced off, with no access to the beach and plenty of signage to deter the trespasser. Not until you experience the back roads, off the tourist path places, do you begin to have a real sense of Hawaii being a poor state. Upon close inspection, there is a ‘third world’ sort of vibe prevalent here. Scattered along the verge are hulks of old cars, washing machines and other local garbage. The corner of Marconi Road and the two-lane “highway” is adorned by a sculpture of rusting, crashed vehicles, all tumbled together in a big ugly heap. If viewing this pile as art is too big of a leap, then what it really appears to be is the local auto parts department! Two fellows were scavenging parts off of the wrecks as we turned down the road.


We bumped our rental car along the red dirt road, past more hulks, horse enclosures and driveways that lead to how the other half lives in Hawaii. As with the other back roads, the signs warned us amply that this was ‘private property’, ‘keep out’, ‘no trespassing’, etc. But we kept right on driving down the road, trusting our sense of adventure. Our road soon ended in two padlocked gates and more signs. We had been following a pick up truck with fishing poles in the back and this fellow was letting himself into one of the gates. Simon made what I thought was a pretty obvious inquiry to the man, “Is all of this land private property?” When you go trespassing, you just never know what sort of reception you will receive and I braced myself for what might have been an impolite response. Instead, the man invited us to follow him into his property and said there were some nice stretches of beach to be seen. We followed him over even more bumps and parked next to his truck and exchanged names and brief stories of origin. His family has managed to hold onto these two beachfront acres since the days of old Hawaii. He said that almost all undeveloped beachfront property is either owned by a hotel or a large corporation, not much left in private hands.


Occasionally, we do condescend to visit a regulation tourist spot. We drove to the Honolulu side of the island and hiked up the trail to Diamond Head Crater. Though not a long walk, it is a steep climb with two unlighted tunnels and a flight of 99 steps to negotiate. From up top the climb is rewarded by spectacular panoramas. Waikiki stretched before us and the mist-shrouded mountain valleys melted into the interior distance. Straight ahead and to our left was the aquamarine and turquoise shallow reef waters, shifting to a deep ultramarine blue outside the coral reef. Had it been a clear day, we could have seen the neighboring islands of Lanai and Molokai. Diamond Head got this name when British soldiers exploring the crater mistook calcite crystals for diamonds. The crater was formed about 100,000 years ago by steam explosions.


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orchids
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lillies
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mongoose
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peacock

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private

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red_vine
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pineapples
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simon_tom_kaena

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tidepool_kaena
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tom_coconut
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tom_kaena
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tom_palm

 

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