Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Kauai and the Birds of Paradise

Hawaii - everything Alaska is not during the winter.

Those of you who didn’t just stumble upon this blog while drunkenly typing random phrases into a search engine might have noticed there’s been a bit of a gap between posts. There is good reason. I was completely immersed in some serious research for this particular post. (Detractors might say I simply went on vacation to Hawaii, but really it was serious research.)

Hawaii has been designated the official state winter escape of Alaska. Hawaii is everything Alaska is not in the winter: green, lush, warm, sunny and people eagerly flock to it from everywhere. For those reasons - particularly the warm and sunny parts - pasty residents of the 49th state abound in the 50th state between November and April. It is easier to find an Alaskan who has visited Hawaii, than one who has not. Even if the urge to escape winter isn’t motivation enough to visit Hawaii, peer pressure is. 

Tropical view
“So far we’ve been to the Big Island, Oahu and Maui. I think this year we’re going to try slowing things down and go to Kauai. What’s your favorite island?”

“Umm… we’ve never gone to Hawaii.” 

What? You’ve never been to Hawaii! And you have the unabashed gall to call yourself an Alaskan!

Succumbing to that sort of pressure is what led us to Kauai the first time, thirteen years ago. Not learning from experience is what led us back. (That, and our grandkids along with their  parental units insisting on a family vacation in “paradise.”) Don’t misunderstand. The tropics epitomize the destination of choice for many people I admire - Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Stanley, Dr. Livingstone, the Skipper and Gilligan - and I can appreciate that. However, I had forgotten a few things between trips to Kauai that, had I remembered them, might have given me a stronger base for advocating an alternate location. 

Mmm... musubi!

For instance, I had forgotten how indecisive the Department of Transportation folks on Kauai are. On the main drag around the island, Highway 50, the speed limits vary from 25 mph to 50 mph. We’re not talking from one end to the other, oh no. We’re talking in terms of short stretches, where the road is the same and the conditions are the same, scattered randomly throughout. I will say, however, you needn’t worry about missing a  change in the speed limit during your travels. Numerous policemen are located conveniently to point out your error if you do.

Spam. The people of Hawaii love Spam. It is everywhere, frequently disguised as food. Apparently, some sushi chef ran out of fish and vegetables and came up with a little Spam gem called musubi: a slab of Spam, a wad of sticky rice, all wrapped in nori (seaweed). It is as ubiquitous as sand-chapped buttocks on Kauai. Want some breakfast? Grab some musubi. Snack time? Have some musubi. Lunch? Musubi. Dinner? Go for something different and put some wasabi on your musubi. 

The birds of paradise at Lydgate Park
But of all the things about Kauai that I should have remembered, it is the Birds of Paradise. Nothing to do with flowers, here. We’re talking chickens. More to the point, we’re talking roosters. Roosters permeate the place. They are literally everywhere: the beaches, the parks, the malls, the restaurants, the mountains, the jungles and all points in between. From the North Beach breakers to the edge of Waimea Canyon, the birds of paradise are there. Anybody with a good slingshot would never be in danger of starving on Kauai. And the worst thing about them is that not a damn one of ‘em possesses any sense of time. Let’s just say that sleeping on Kauai is just one more thing to crow about.

I have to admit, however, our vacation did open my eyes to the answer of that age-old question about chickens crossing roads. It may very well be they cross the road to get to the other side, but they want to get to the other side because there will be musubi waiting.


  1. So unfair. But I suppose Hawaii isn't all that far from you. I have a friend who lived in AK for a while & said this winter we're having is like living in Alaska. That made me want to hurt somebody. I tell ya I could go for a little vacation right about now. Thx for your comment the other day. You are totally right. Can't wait until college so I can have my life back.

    1. After this winter we've all had I'm trying to get financial backing for a condo complex in Kasilof. I'll offer discounts to people from the East Coast that want to come to Alaska to warm up in the winter. Hang tough, spring is out there... just waiting.

  2. Kauai is definitely my favourite place; I've been there three times, the last being four years ago. I distinctly remember the roosters all over the place. There was a pack of them at the end of the parking lot of our hotel, and in the evening, they'd flap their wings in a desperate attempt to get up in a tree to sleep. Hilarious...

    I'm getting the itch for another Hawaiian vacation now. Thanks for that. :)

    1. Watching the chickens try to fly always reminds me of that episode of WKRP Cincinnati, where they dropped turkeys out of a helicopter as a publicity stunt. "I didn't know turkeys couldn't fly!" If you haven't seen it, look it up. It is hysterical.