On the road again...Kauai never disappoints...



Do I recognize this scowl, similar to Tom's when driving in traffic?  Just kidding, honey!
Yesterday, when the sun wouldn't cooperate as we sat by the pool in the clouds, we decided to go check out the Kilauea Lighthouse where we'd planned to visit today for a tour. 

These bulls were lounging under a tree.  Notice the grumpy one on the left definitely annoyed at us for stopping.
Since it's not possible to book tours at this particular first-come, first-serve venue, we thought it might be a good idea to check it out to see what type of waiting line there would be. 

Once we arrived, we were shocked by the line of cars and the number of people waiting for the next tour.  With no required admission fees, we should have realized that January and February are busy tourist months in the Hawaiian Islands and it would not be a good time to attend a free tour.


Ocean view from Kilauea.
After getting stuck in the long lines for awhile, we decided to come back in April or May when the tourist traffic has slowed down.  Most travelers from the northern hemisphere seem to visit Hawaii before their own spring season arrives, spring break perhaps being the exception.

Instead, since we were already quite a way from Princeville, we decided to explore the general area.  We couldn't have been more excited by the scenery we discovered in the little town of Kilauea (same name as the erupting volcano on the Big Island) and its surrounding beaches.

Mynah Bird.
Each time we drove down what appeared to be a dead end road heading toward the sea, we gasped over the breathtaking beauty before us.  Haphazardly, we made our way down one road after another, finding many roads that simply come to an end. 

Yard of one of many massive private residences in Kilauea.
However, the route required to come to that end, left us in awe as one interesting point after another awaiting our exploration.  Often, one of us catches a glimpse of something wonderful and Tom doesn't hesitate to back up or turn around if necessary.  

Away from the ocean, the sky is clear.
I
'm surprised Tom doesn't mind backing up or turning around.  In fact, he freely offers to do so, hoping we'll get a good view of yet another of Mother Nature's treasures.

This quaint church in Kilauea is definitely eye catching.
Unfortunately, the sky was overcast most of the day and there was a dense haze in the air, referred to by the locals a "vog."  See description below for an explanation of vog:

"Vog in Hawaiʻi

Vog is a form of air pollution that results when sulfur dioxide and other gases and particles emitted by an erupting volcano react with oxygen and moisture in the presence of sunlight. The word is a portmanteau of the words "volcanic", "smog", and "fog". The term is in common use in the Hawaiian islands, where the Kīlauea volcano, on the Island of Hawaiʻi (aka "The Big Island"), has been erupting continuously since 1983. Based on June 2008 measurements, Kīlauea emits 2,000–4,000 tons of sulfur dioxide every day."

Apparently, the vog wafts over all of the islands as we witnessed these past four months since we arrived by ship on September 29th. (Gosh, that four months went quickly.  Surely these next 111 days will pass as quickly).  Dense humidity also covers many areas due to the vegetation covering the mountains, hills and parts of the beach, only adding to the impeded view at times.


The red Ti Plant, commonly used in landscaping in the islands.
As we sit here now with the view of the mountains out the window when we life our heads and the view of the sea when we wander out to the veranda, the foggy view even on this sunny day is a constant.  We've yet to see a clear view of the mountains or the sea from our lanai.

Then again, who's to complain?  So, our photos look a little hazy taken by this less than professional photographer attempting to capture a feeling, a view and a memory that need not bespeak perfection.

A beach along the road.  More beach photos to follow tomorrow.
So, today, we share our "voggy" photos with enthusiasm and aplomb, hoping our readers share the joy of nature with us, however humbly we may present our perspective.

It's Saturday night!  (Do you recall, "Live from New York!  It's Saturday night!)  Enjoy!
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Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2014:

It was a year ago today, that we moved out of the Hornbill house over to the Khaya Umdami house when our hosts and new friends, Louise and Dani offered that we stay in this upscale house (at no additional fee) until their next guests would arrive.  How did we get so lucky to stay in this gorgeous house, priced well beyond our budget?  For more photos of this fabulous property, please click here.

A visit to a local farmer's market...Birds that come to call...The sights and sounds of travel...Walking gingerly...


We captured this bird photo from quite a distance in the trees behind our condo.  It appears to be an Eyebrowed Thrush.
If we're patient and stay quiet, many birds will stop on the lanai railing for a visit.  I keep the camera ready to go on the dining table moving gingerly when a bird stops by.
 
Occasionally, we'll spend idle time sitting on the chairs on the lanai looking for signs of life in the dense rain forest, hoping to spot a few of the more unusual varieties.

Prices were high at the local farmer's market resulting in a less than usual crowd.
Hawaii is not known for its vast array of wildlife.  To date, we've seen birds and mongoose (only on the Big Island).  Of course, in the bird family are the zillions of wild chickens everywhere we go. 

Whether its a trip to the gas station, supermarket or strip mall, there are chickens.  It appears there are as many roosters as there are hens busily crowing and clucking day and night.  The only reprieve seems to be from 10 pm to 4 am when they seem to sleep.

This fruit is red rambutan is also known as hairy lychee.  These were priced by weight which wasn't posted.
By 4 am each morning, the crowing and clucking go into full force and at times, the sound is deafening. Tom often gets up to shut the windows when it interferes with his sleep.

Somehow, the sounds don't seem to keep me awake. It was the same for us in Morocco.  The sounds of the call-to-prayer and the roosters didn't disturb me after a few days but, Tom struggled the entire two and a half months.
Beautiful flowers for sale at the farmer's market.
In Italy, we had to adapt to the clock tower next door to us, that chimed every 15 minutes or so.  (It was off by several minutes each time it clanged).  Oddly, that sound didn't keep either of us awake after we adjusted after a few days.

Each area and each country has its own nuances, whether its sounds, rituals or traditions that only add to our joy of immersing ourselves into the best life we can live wherever we may live.

These are soursop, a fruit reputed to slow the spread of cancer but no studies have proven it to be effective.  These are priced at $6 each.
Surely, in months to come, living in Australia will present new customs and rituals and sights and sounds, that only add to the experiences that we treasure as we make our way to new continents in our ongoing travels.

This morning, awake at 5 am, I struggled trying to go back to sleep, hoping for one more hour.  Alas, it was not to be the case.  Finally, I ambled out of bed, trying to walk quietly with the knowledge that someone lives below us.

This is pomelo, priced at $2 each.
I've always been a "bull in a China shop" walking loudly, banging and clanging cabinet doors and pots and pans (as Tom always says).  Quiet, I'm not.

The day we moved in, we met the kindly gentleman that lives below us. He gently reminded us to walk quietly as he can hear every move we make.

Grass fed cows along the road to the farmer's market in Hanalei.
Not used to having neighbors in close proximity, when in most cases we've rented houses, not condos or apartments, it's been odd to have to have to consider the heaviness of our steps and movements about the condo.

This has been particularly difficult for me. How does one change their gait when inside and yet, continue to walk strong and steady when outside?  Each time I stand I remind myself to walk gently.  If I forget to walk gently, I assure you, Tom will remind me.

These Brazilian Cardinals are common to the Hawaiian Island and frequent visitors.
So far, the neighbor hasn't complained.  But, if he does, I don't know what I'll do.  I'd have to slither along the floor like a snake to be any quieter than I've been attempting to be.

Today, I'm off to the health club and if the sun stays out, Tom will join me for time by the pool.  Afterwards, we'll be off for more exploring.  Our days in Kauai are simple and uncomplicated.

A Red Cardinal on the lanai railing.
Tomorrow, we'll be back with new photos.  And Sunday, we'll be back with photos from a scheduled tour at 1:30 pm in the village of Kilauea. 

Have a fabulous Friday!
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Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2014:
On this date, one year ago, we'd booked our flight from Neslpruit/Mpumalanga, South Africa to Marrakech, Morocco which required us to fly to Cairo, Egypt.  For details  and costs for that booking, please click here.


The Na Pali Coast...Wet and dry caves and tunnels...The end of the road...



The colors in the tunnels at Tunnels Beach are varied.
Life is easy, living in Kauai.  We've wandered into an pleasurable routine leaving time for exploration, meeting new people, stopping to revel in the astounding scenery all around us.

The entrance to the tunnels at Tunnels Beach.
Honestly, we've never seen such beauty in one location, on one island.  Who knew?  I'd been to Kauai years ago but did the usual tourist thing, staying in a resort/hotel that had everything one could want, did a little sightseeing and tried a new restaurant every night. 

After working out and time at the pool, we had no idea we'd head to the Nap Pali Coast. As a result, both of us were still wearing our swimsuits and me, my workout pants for a peculiar outfit.  Had we decided ahead of time to go exploring, we' have gone home to change our clothes.  In Hawaii, swimsuits are acceptable day wear.
Tom at the tunnels.
Under those conditions, one only notices their immediate surroundings.  But, in those day BT (before Tom) I wasn't as observant as I am now.  Also, I seldom took photos. 

Note the person at a distance which provides a better perspective of the massive size of these tunnels.
Having developed an eye for possibly good shots, both Tom and I are always on the lookout for that which may appeal to our readers and also remind us in years to come how lucky we were to see what we've seen in our travels.

Inside the tunnel.  If we'd had a flashlight, we'd surely have continued deeper into the tunnel.
Oftentimes, Tom drives while I practically hang out the window since the narrow road on most of this island don't allow for stopping. Although, we do stop at almost every designated overlook, beach and park when possible.

Looking out to the road from inside the dry tunnel to Tunnels Beach.
Sure, we miss a few things along the road making a mental note to return someday soon.  After all, we have plenty of time in these remaining three plus months, actually 114 days until we leave for Honolulu to sail away.

Finally, we reach Napali/Na Pali.
The time will fly quickly as we now realize we've been here two weeks as of today.  At our current rate of sightseeing, every few days or so, we'll eventually run out of the major points of interest, especially now that we seen the entire north coast that is reachable by road.

It was an overcast day and the beaches were still packed with tourists.
Beginning in March and April, we'll see new blooms of many varieties of flowers we've yet to see when we've been in the islands from October through May.  It will create an entirely new landscape for these exquisite rain forests and mountains.

We'd have loved to have spotted the Hawaiian Monk Seal but none were on the beach.
When we decided to drive the Na Pali Coast on Tuesday, it wasn't planned in advance.  On several occasions we'd driven part of the way stopping up to a certain point, leaving more for the next time.  Finally, we drove to the end of the road at the Nap Pali Coast State Park as shown in the map.

Kauai Map showing points of interest and the location of Kauai vacation rentals. Kauai Map, Kauai Map, Kauai Map.
The road we took to the Na Pali Coast is not shown in this map but you can see the Na Pali Coast State Park in the upper left of this map.
Its odd for the road to end.  Surely, there are roads that travel to the more remote areas in the northwest, requiring access from further inland locations.

At this point on the beach we were at the end of the northwest road in Kauai in Napali.  Much of the 15 miles stretch of the Napali Coast is inaccessible due to steep cliffs.  A boat tour would be ideal to see the entire coastline.
In the near future, we complete the remaining shoreline roads heading south past Lihue to the southwest until that road ends and then a trip to the Waimea Canyon as shown in the western interior. 

Napali, aka Na Pali can be spelled two ways with the accent over the first "a."
We'll never run out of the less well known points of interest that ultimately we end up loving the most.  Those obscure, unanticipated events, such as the albatross that will continue to bring us joy over these next few months when the eggs are hatched and finally, the parents will allow the chicks a little time away from under the nest.

This is ideal for the serious hiker.
Without a doubt, we'll cherish the change of seasons, although not as evident as in other parts of the world, when spring and summer flowers begin to bloom in Hawaii, that were tucked away over the few degree difference of the winter months.

This is the entrance to the "wet" tunnels where swimming is not allowed.

The water is most likely stagnant in this tunnel when the ocean is across the road.  Unless, of course, its fed by a spring or river nearby.
Today, we off to the golf club for my workout and a little sun time at the pool, a quick trip to the local grocer and who knows what other treasures will be calling us?

Hanging vines from the steep cliffs above the caves.
Have a day that brings you many wonderful surprises!
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Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2015:


Organize nursing of three baby warthogs in our yard in Marloth Park.  How sweet is this!
For a grand visitor on that particular date on year ago, please click here.

The Laysan Albatross story continues...A 63 year old Albatross named Wisdom has a baby...



All photos shown today are from Jaymi Heimbuch's article about Wisdom and her chick born last year.  Here's the chick!
Is it coincidence that a few days before we even knew about the albatross living in Richard's neighborhood that we read this story about a 63 year old tagged Laysan Albatross named Wisdom and her mate had hatched another egg?

Whoever gave albatross much thought, let alone found them incorporated into their lives?  We'd heard of them.  We knew they flew across the sea and had white feathers.  But, that was the extent of it.  Until now.

wisdom the albatross, with her 2014 chick
Wisdom at 63 years old, as she tends to her chick.
And, when last year this story about Wisdom's chick hit the airwaves and social media we hadn't spotted it until it popped up again in Facebook a week ago. Tom and I both read the story in awe of this magical bird and only days later Richard told us about the albatross families living in his neighborhood.

We're always surprised how life is filled with serendipitous moments, however small, from time to time, making us shake our heads and wonder about the mysteries we encounter along the way in our travels, in our lives.
leucistic laysan albatross chick spreads its wings
Could this be more adorable?  Perhaps once the eggs in Richard's neighborhood hatch, we'll be able to take some photos of chicks of our own.
Here is a quote from the article we found online:

"Wisdom the Laysan albatross is making headlines again. We've watched in wonder ever since she hit 60 years old and was still successfully raising chicks. Last year she and her mate raised another chick to fledging, and this year their newest baby has just hatched!
 
“As the world’s oldest known bird in the wild, Wisdom is an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope for all seabird species.” said Dan Clark, refuge manager for Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, in a news release. “She provides to the world valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful creatures. In the case of Wisdom, she has logged literally millions of miles over the Pacific Ocean in her lifetime to find enough fish eggs and squid to feed herself and multiple chicks, allowing us the opportunity to measure the health of our oceans which sustain albatross as well as ourselves.”
 
laysan albatross chick with adult
Mom and her chick.
Here is the link to the full story about Wisdom and her chick.  The photos we share today, we've "borrowed" from the article which had freely been offered to share for reposting.

There's never a moment that we are out and about that we aren't searching for the next sign of life in nature to warm our hearts and remind us of how delicate and precious life really is and... how fortunate we are to behold its wonders as we continue to travel the world.

Yesterday, we took a road trip and have many photos of our own to share over the next several days.  It felt as if we drove to the end of the world.  You'll see why tomorrow.

Happy Hump Day!
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Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2014:

In our "small things" series in Africa we were excited to get this close up of a moth through the glass on the veranda door, late one night.  For other small things, please click here.

Part 2, a day to remember...Thanks to new friends...The Laysan Albatross story begins...

Here's our video of the Laysan Albatross.
 When we lived in Africa, whether on safari in Kenya or in our yard in Marloth Park, each time we had the opportunity to see wildlife, our pulse quickened and a rush of feel good hormones, one of which is dopamine rushed through our bodies.
Looking up to see if her mate is coming back with dinner.
It may be a work of art, an animal or a stretch of beach that triggers the release of the powerful hormone that makes us feel great.  For many, the triggers may be different.  For us, seeing wildlife sends us both into a level of joy that is hard to describe which has only escalated these past few years as we've traveled the world.

This nesting albatross was the first one we spotted, sleeping on her/his nest.  Both the male and female tend to the nest.
When our friend Richard invited us to walk with him in his neighborhood to see the many nesting Laysan Albatross in various neighbor's yards, upon sighting the first bird, I felt as if someone shot me in the arm.  An immediate smile overtook my face, my heart raced with excitement and for some odd reason  (hum...) I felt as if I was "home" (wherever that may be).

The dark coloration around their eyes varies from bird to bird.
For at least 30 minutes, we wandered from yard to yard, occasionally waving or talking to neighbors who were comfortable seeing us with Richard rather than tourists snooping in their yards. 

Even a hibiscus plant is a good spot to nest.
What our eyes beheld was awe inspiring; as many as five albatross at one time in various yards throughout the neighborhood, paying little attention to us as we made a special effort to stay far back to avoid disturbing them.

The pretty cul-de-sac at the end of the street.  Looking closely, we saw several birds which inspired our video.

These two were hanging around the dense vegetation in the center of the cul-de-sac.
Its important not to get too close to these seemingly friendly birds.  They release a hormone when frightened which may be dangerous to them.  Staying as far back as possible is imperative for their good health.

Then, there were three...
Luckily, our camera has an excellent ability to zoom in, making it possible for today's video and photos.  Our course, the dopamine coursing through my body, made my hands a little unsteady, so I did my best.  Usually, I refer to this shakiness as excitement and enthusiasm when in essence, it is dopamine.

Then there were four...
As we walked from house to house, we couldn't believe how many nesting, dancing, interacting and sleeping albatross we spotted.  If we say that we saw the exquisite birds in no less than a dozen yards, we wouldn't be exaggerating. 

A loner, nesting close to a house.
I wondered how residents would be able to go about their daily lives when these precious bird were living in their yards.  Surely, if it was us, we'd be sitting outside on lawn chairs, at a safe distance, watching their daily interactions with the hope of eventually seeing a hatchling.

This one reminded me of Tom, "Oh, I hate going for a walk!"
Well, we're the people who sat outside all day in the bush in 90 degree, bug and snake infested Africa waiting for the next moving creature.  Of course, we'd be equally enthralled with these birds.

So beautiful! 
For Cornell's Lab of Ornithology's information about the Laysan Albatross including a clip of the sound of the birds, please click here.

Flying is the Laysan Albatross's forte, not walking which appears awkward.
Again, we thank our friend Richard for bestowing this amazing opportunity upon us.  Without his assistance and friendship, we'd never have known about these exquisite birds, only seeing them when they occasionally fly over our heads.

It was surprising how they paid no attention to us walking by, continuing with their adorable antics.

Contemplating their next move under a lemon tree.
Once again, we find reasons to be grateful for perhaps another bit of "safari luck."

These smaller two may have been siblings, were grooming each other.
Marine Conservation Biologists in Hawaii band the birds in order to maintain an accurate record of as many birds as possible.
Tomorrow, we'll share a wonderful story of the oldest banded Laysan Albatross. Do check back and have a great day!
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Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2014:



Neither of us had ever seen the Sickle Bush which grow in Africa.  We were fascinated by its prickly feel and look, along with its beautiful colors.  For more "small things" we found in the bush, please click here.