In the Jungle
My wife and I and our three-year-old live in a jungle. Giant vines with mammoth leaves curl around mossy tree trunks. Kukui nuts hang from branches ten feet away. Palolo Stream gurgles below, and sometimes wild pigs root down there for I’m not sure what. Wild chickens roam freely, the cocks punctual with 5:30 am wakeup calls.
All of this is 15 minutes from the Duke Kahanamoku statue on Kalakaua Avenue. Sure, hotel-and condo-dense Waikiki is crowded and busy, but those are attributes of any fun city resort. It’s what’s beyond the concrete that thrills us daily, and you wouldn’t be fair to yourself if you didn’t get out and explore it.
Tips to the wise:
• Start your day super-early. Head to the windward side, around Diamond Head and onto Kalanianaole Highway, at dawn.
• This time of year, stop along the way at lookouts and try to spot whales. They’re out there.
• If you’re a hiker, take the long walk up to the Makapu‘u Lighthouse. If you’re not, just gaze out at Waimanalo, Kailua and beyond from the parking lot at the turn.
• Kayak with Twogood Kayaks. Horseback ride at Kualoa. Marvel at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Stay on the beach on the North Shore. Eat lots of shrimp at any white truck and swim with turtles.
* Above all, literally, take a helicopter ride. The best experience (also the best deal) is on Magnum Helicopters’ doors-off tours. What you see — my beloved jungle and more — will amaze you.
A Voggy Day in Paradise
What is vog? It is air pollution, plain and simple. Because it is not man-made, it is somehow more palatable than the earth-destoying fossil-fuel pollution that is a unique expertise of human beings. But it is air pollution nonetheless.
Vog is generated by our volcanoes on the Big Island. Under certain circumstances, the nasty particulates drift over our entire island chain, settling down without our standard trade winds to push them away. A semi-opaque haze squats in valleys and sprawls over cityscapes, countrysides and even the ocean. Sometimes you can barely see Diamond Head. Smokers and asthmatics breathe in fits. Everyone thinks, “Hey, this is just like LA,” though it is not. (We forget how awful, dark and brown and yellow, LA used to be.)
What can we do about vog? Nothing but wait for the trade winds to reappear. And they will.
Everybody needs a beach, and ours is Kaimana, so that’s where we started 2015. Even toward noon it was a little nippy, probably in the low 70s with a light wind that drew away the heat.
The beach was packed until around 3 pm, when the wind picked up and dark clouds rolled onto the ewa horizon like an old-fashioned motorcycle gang that you don’t want to see coming to town. Couple by couple and family by family, people packed up and left. Thirty minutes later the skies were clear again, the wind was gone, the water seemed warmer, and the beach was nearly empty.
On Oahu, one minute’s weather is not the next’s. It’s the same in life, we guess. That’s why one of our New Year’s resolutions concerns patience, often in short supply, even in paradise. While you’re here, try to exercise it … and see what happens to the clouds in the sky.