March 21, 2011

Maika‘i wale no Kaua‘i - Koke‘e

Enjoying life in our own backyard!
O Koke‘e!

As most of you know, we have postponed our South Pacific adventure a wee-bit due to a couple of last minute details. No big deal though because we are still “on course” á Tahiti et ses îles this April 2.

Photo by Canen Ho‘okano, 2010

I’ve decided not to write about our recent teeny-weeny tsunami experience here on Kaua‘i as there really isn’t much to report, especially compared to the horrific events and stories of the numerous other Pacific Islands, and so very soon after a second devastating earthquake within months in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Seems to be an overabundance of disasters these days...

Certainly in other times Kaua‘i has suffered her own share of tsunami, as well as many destructive hurricanes, but I do not want to write about those tragic stories now. We are so very grateful to have all of our family and friends safe, and pray for those who are not as fortunate. 

I wrote the following blog before the recent Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 11 and meant to post it that night.  Seems a bit senseless to me in a way with all the ongoing destruction and suffering...

Randy and I have been taking advantage of the time before we leave for Tahiti and continue to keep busy with our ongoing projects.  Besides trying to stay afloat with my various board duties, I am finishing-up analyses of two very interesting archaeological faunal assemblages - one from Guam (IARII) and the other from Miloli‘i, Kaua‘i (Bishop Museum). 

Randy’s continuing his preservation negotiations with the County of Kaua‘i and the State of Hawai‘i Historic Preservation Division (SHPD), as well as designing the “Interpretive Plan” for Po‘ipū’s Kahua o Kaneiolouma.  Check out some of his research and photographs of this extraordinary project at the Hui Mālama o Kaneiolouma website:

Although these “extra” weeks have given Randy and me an opportunity to play “catch-up” with some of our important projects, we are also having a bit of fun during our “downtime” to enjoy life within our own backyard of Kaua‘i.  Since we have already packed-up our Līhu‘e rental house into a small overcrowded storage unit at the end of January, as well as given-up my convenient Honolulu apartment, we have been living “holoholo-style,” from here to there out of our suitcase, between two of Randy’s family homes in Hā‘ena and Kōke‘e. We have also been enjoying an occasional meeting in Līhu‘e, flying over to the big city of Honolulu, O‘ahu for work and board meetings, and a few nice dinners with good friends.

In the meantime, we are certainly NOT suffering!  Fortunately, Randy’s family’s two beautiful “mountain to the sea” homes, Koamalu o Kōke‘e and Pililani o Hā‘ena, are located near opposite ends of the Kaua‘i “horseshoe” highway, and have been available for us to enjoy...

At Waimea looking toward Ni‘ihau

Koamalu o Kōke‘e
During the past few weeks we have been staying at the family’s Kōke‘e cabin, Koamalu, which is our mountain compliment to the sea. 

The long curvy road, from Waimea town’s dusty red dirt and long stretches of beautiful hot sands that view across the ocean toward the island of Ni‘ihau, winds up toward the cool misty forest of Kōke‘e. 

The Waimea-Kōke‘e Road highlights a rim of the spectacular Waimea ‘Grand’ Canyon filled with various shades of red and green vistas and dramatic waterfalls.  Waimea Canyon was created from the shield volcano Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale when it slumped along an ancient fault line and evolved into stunning southwestern 2500ft-deep chasms combined with the flowing river of Waimea (from the mountain to the sea).

 Kōke‘e State Park, ridged upon a plateau of Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale, enjoys southern views onto Waimea Canyon. The western rim of the park sits along striking cliffs that lead to the deep-fingered coastal valleys of Nā Pali.  Mt. Wai‘ale‘ale’s dramatic shear cliffs of the East face sacred Wailua, and North has expansive views of Hanalei and Wainiha (when Kilohana is not “fogged-in”).  According to the Kōke‘e Hui o Laka website ( - nonprofit caretakers of Kōke‘e and its Natural History Museum since 1952), the state parks of Waimea Canyon, Kōke‘e, and Nā Pali encompass at least 13,000 acres.  There are more than 66 miles of scenic hiking trails within the preserves.

Kōke’e is home to the ancient tales of Heiau Pu‘u Ka Pele, the birdcatcher’s village of Halemanu, the meadow of Kanaloahuluhulu torn up by a giant searching for his head, and the love story of Kumulio. Today you will find new stories of dedicated volunteers, preservationists, and researchers who mālama (caretake) the mountain, as well as local deer and pig hunters with their anxious dogs. In October, the annual ‘Eo e Emalani i Alaka‘i’ is celebrated with a hula festival in honor of the historic 1871 journey to this area by Hawai‘i’s Queen Emma and her entourage.  

And of course, the roosters will never let us forget that they are “protected” Kōke‘e Moa (mixed red junglefowl)! These stories highlight just a tiny fraction of life at Kōke‘e.

 We are always very fortunate to spend time at Koamalu. The cool forests of Kōke‘e are stunning all year in various “mountain” ways. 

This visit we are being treated to an awesome array of perfumed blossoms, as well as numerous birds like the native honeycreepers ‘I‘iwi and ‘Apapane, the friendly flycatcher‘Elepaio, amazing traveling plovers like Kōlea, and imported thrushes Chinese Hwamei and the Japanese Mejiro, etc., who conduct their joyous range of symphonies while sipping the surrounding sweet flower nectars.

The landscape also features native trees such as koa (Acacia koa) and ‘ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros collina), as well as our fragrant maile vines (Alyxia sp.) and ‘licorice-scented’ mokihana berries (Melicope anisata), among the many forest plants of Kōke‘e. 

The mountain stars at night have been extra-brilliant (with an occasional dramatic lightning storm), and I have to say there have been some very chilly nights with not enough firewood!  Lucky for us that within 45 minutes we can be at one of our great Westside beaches - and we have spent a few afternoons basking at warm Pōlihale (another story...).  Randy and I are definitely tropical-blooded!

"Koamalu o Kōke‘e" is always very special and ever evolving.  Life for us here compliments the family's seaside "Pililani at Hā‘ena" creating an intimate balance of the cool mountain to the tropical sea. 

Recently, we were very fortunate to spend time at Pililani and will post a few thoughts and photos about Hā‘ena soon.

So in the meantime, life continues to be an ongoing adventure and we are very blessed to enjoy all of our homes, no matter where in the world they might be, but especially our beautiful and fascinating backyard of Kaua‘i...  

Mahalo nui for stopping by and taking the time to read my little adventure blog (please leave us a comment if you want - would love to know who stopped by...), and please don’t forget to make the time to help those less fortunate due to the recent Pacific tragedies...

Mahalo nui for stopping by my little adventure blog!

Mālama pono, a hui hou!

 ~ Victoria 

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