Waimea canyon. Absolutely. A. Must. Each Hawaiian island has that thing that sets it apart from the others. Big Island, the volcano. Maui, Mount Haleakala. Oahu… Waikiki? Pearl Harbor? Diamond Head? Buildings taller than coconut trees? (Reference to Kaua’i zoning laws on the height of buildings.) Kaua’i has Waimea Canyon. If you’re wondering about Moloka’i, Lāna’i , Kaho’olawe , and Ni’ihau. Google has some great stuff to tell you. Off the top of my head I would throw out the following: Pineapple plantation! Leper colony! Military testing! And my favorite, how the hell did they get permits to bring Wild Oryx over for game hunting?!
Waimea Canyon, I Wikipedia’d it this morning after Googling it. I wondered what was already written about it. There’s this from Wikipedia, “The canyon has a unique geologic history- it was formed not only by the steady process of erosion, but also by a CATASTOPHIC collapse of the volcano that created Kaua’i.” I added the caps on catastrophic that’s how I would SHOUT, I mean read it to you.
The drive. There’s two ways to get up there, through Waimea, or Kekaha, one is steeper, the other you’re more likely to be ambushed by owls.
The views! If at all possible be the passenger. Spend your time swinging your head from the left to the right, and check out the view behind you in case you leave from a different route or at night. Because behind you is the mighty pacific fading into the haze of herself evaporating long before the horizon cuts her off.
Stop at all the outlooks. Some are official get out walk around, we put up a friendly railing for you to lean over. Others are dirt pullouts next to guardrails, all of them are worth it.
Keep an eye out for Mountain Goats. Seeing them hop around in aerial gymnastics on red faced cliffs is to cringe in horror and gasp in amazement.
So there I was on the Second of January, Two thousand and Sixteen, buckled in as a passenger, and did I do as I told you? Request we stop at every lookout? Constantly look left to right? And behind at the mighty pacific? I tried. Mostly I hunched over, nose pressed to the dashboard, eyes glued to the centerline trying not to vomit. In my defense the road is basically the twisty curvy bit of a grocery store gumball machine slapped onto a mountain and I’m certain lots of folks suffer on it.
We were there for a football game, and potluck. Gids joined a gang of small kids that ran around the main park in and out of a primeval pine tree grove.
The draw besides the traditional go up on the first Saturday of the New Year and see your nearest and dearest is the following: the cold. It’s freezing, (well usually, this time it was disappointingly warm) so on those boots and fur lined jackets go. Looking for once like a sensible choice, as opposed to one where you thought you were headed for the Iditarod but accidently boarded a plane to Hawaii.
I wanted to see sunset on top of the world. At 5:30 that evening Rossi and I left everyone at the main park, and headed to the end of the road. My friend Vera, when I asked her, said it wasn’t a great sunset view, the angle this time of year is wrong. But hey, who wants to see the disc of the sun sinking in the sea? It’s… only epic, awesome, amazing, unforgettable. Still the glow of the atmosphere, the sky to the east turning from blue to pink, and fading to gray, is all those things too just softer.
We stood on the Pu’u O Kila Lookout. A first for both of us. I hadn’t gone past the Kalalau Lookout before. Never realized there was more.
Are places ever unique? When my sister moved here and started waitressing, she would end her shifts declaring that restaurants were all the same. You came across the same personalities, interacting in the same way, doing all the same things, playing out a tired script. If places were like this, versions of each other then Pu’u O Kila is the badlands of northern Montana stained red thousands of feet above a sea whose waves are curling and crashing. How massive the surf must be if I can see it from up there, when helicopters flying the Nā Pali look like mosquitoes humming in the distance? Then throw in the southwest at sunset, green brush covering the ground, soft pastels in the sky, no clear lines.
Unique or not, it was beautiful. I took pictures, Rossi smiled at people passing back to their cars, waving a chubby arm, saying bye bye. They smiled back, murmured cute.
Back at the main park Rossi was handed off to a baby snatcher (one of her nearest/dearest) and I took Gids to get lost with me in the fog that had rolled in covering the meadow in a ghastly glow, finally giving me a reason to throw on those boots and fur lined jacket.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this blog, I hope you have a wonderful day, and that I may write for you again!!!!
Sincerely, The Chauffeur