(From left) My mother, brother-in-law Ray, niece Veronica, Bob and Tessa.
This is me giving Veronica milk. She's nine months old here. I was doing a growth experiment. We'll check back in a year and see how it went.
Veronica loves water because it feels different from things non-aqueous.
This is an area around the eating area and some doors. No matter where you are (except on beaches and in parking lots), there's no smoking.
I like this because I'm an anti-smoking Nazi. I am aero-fascist because I live in China, the worst air-polluted country in the world. Emerging from such a cloud, Kauai'i's air stands out as fresh and the ground seems to gleam in the sun. But different from even other parts of the US, everything in Kauai'i is open-air, including the airport (no pun intended).
My mom and V.
V always needs something to taste. Babies are curious and need to cut their teeth. On this morning I was having breakfast with her. In front of me is a bowl of granola with jumbo strawberries on top and a buttered English muffin.
Eating at the Counter: But Why? Why I ask you!
V was enjoying a delicious spoon at the counter with me in part because the dining table was taken over by insect eggs. They coated the table evenly every morning - in spite of our wipings and chemical dousings. Eventually we told the insect fetuses that they can just have the table; they can work things out with the landlord when she comes. At my breakfast conversation with V I said, "Goo! Bah, bah dah bah." And then she replied while looking at the camera, "Dabther, dah." Translation: E: "I'm thinking about getting into Hawai'ian real estate." V: "Sounds propitious."
A Note About Food
I always thought of English muffins as something English people never had, like chop suey is to the Chinese - because English muffins taste good and English people wouldn't make something like that.
The strawberries, on the other hand, were quite American, and an obvious indication that depleted uranium pollution is real. Maybe we could rename them strawapples.
I had whole organic milk on the oats - which is the best thing, but maybe not the best thing ever. I remember fresh milk on Mike's farm, and I've heard people talk about the days before homgenization. I wonder why people still accept that change. I like Unequality and Diversity and utter serparation of Black waters and White solids, at least at the time of purchase. That's the way it was back in the 1950's.
All in all, being on US food in a US kitchen for ten days was weird. It was quite nourishing and I think if I had stayed a while I might have gained a kilo or two.
Mahalo for Submitting to Strip Search
What a spread this place was. There were three big couches on the second floor, a big deck, a BBQ, carpet throws and Mahalo signs everywhere.
"Mahalo" means "do what I say" in Hawai'ian. For example in the house there were signs which said, "Mahalo for taking off your shoes". This means, "I order you to take off your shoes, or your deposit will be docked". Or at the airport: "Don't take any liquids. Mahalo" --> "The US gov't orders you not to take any liquids. Violators will be shipped to Guantanamo Bay." The airport also says "Take off your shoes, Mahalo", but that means "Take off your shoes or you'll be handcuffed and given full body cavity search." That's a little different from the house, but language is just that amazing - it changes in many sublte ways according to the user's personality and the overall context.
Now after seeing all these "Mahalo" signs, I began thinking those cute, pudgy, tan Hawai'ian natives have some pretty autocratic traditions. It's like one of them suddenly comes out saying, "HA HOO HOO HA! [sticking out toungue in a silly way] I am Maori warrior! Mahalo for dying! We go bake pig now! [makes hang ten symbol with left hand]."
BTW, the Maori warriors' methods like the Haka were so successful that their islands became the became a British territory (New Zealand). I have a Maori coworker at Web, and he said to me "we whipped their butts", but that would make more sense if he didn't say it to me in English.
You can see a US flagpole in the distance in the picture below. Mahalo for looking at the rest of these pictures. I took the scenic shots that are without people (displayed further down the page). Thanks to Emily and Ray for the rest of them. Mahalo. Really.
It's great to have a baby around to remind you of things like, "Shoot! Fences are so cool!" I used to look at those things for hours.
Sister V say: Gimme dat super-expensive technodevice so I can chuck it on de ground. Mahalo, bro, hang ten! Check out my other pics here. Peace in the Middle East.
On the second to the last day in Hawai'i, I went on a hike. When I started walking I was thinking that I would go for about three hours.
I started to see different sections in the forest, different types of cover and foliage. Often times it was different as if I were in some other part of the world.
Here was a turning point afterwhich I entered a weird pineland.
This is a view from that forest.
This is what the forest path looked like.
These are balsa trees. I know because I touched them with my bare hands. They feel as if they were made of toilet paper. OK, I wish I had a better metaphor, but that's all I can think of right now.
Have you ever seen the movie Aliens? Just asking.
Actually, the alien crawling tree, the spiral palm tree, and this little sprout here are all the same kind of plant. When small it looks like an aloe plant with thin, serrated leaves, but as it grows up it becomes a palm tree. It also ends up growing these above-ground root diversions which can be seen in the picture above. They way I know this because because of the identical leaves, and I'm also a certified plantologist.
This is the start of one of those blade paths where you have a cliff on either side. The foot path is usually about 20 or 30cm wide and in places it felt like I was in a windtunnel on the balance beam of death. Except that there were no walls like a tunnel. And no dry ice. Whatever.
I saw bobcat prints on the way up, then I saw and analyzed its scat. The scat was grey, hairy and full of rodent bones. What it was eating remains a mystery to this day. The picture isn't clear, but it's worth remarking that I would do something like that. I didn't do it with my bare hands, tho. That would have been better - more braggable, more un-American.
For all the girls out there, I put up some flower pictures. Would you like a dress now?
At this point I had already started to use the ropes. The inclines were very steep. But I didn't expect to get anywhere, really. I was also expecting to come upon some totally impassable place every ten minutes or so, but amazingly I kept finding some way to do it at the last minute. It's an odd psychological state to be in for two hours or so. I also started to think, "Hey, if I could get to the top of that mountain way out there, that would be a major achievement!"
I'm a moss-lover. No, not Kate.
"V" is for "Toilet-paper [Balsa] Tree". I could wipe myself while walking through it, but at the time I didn't need to.
If any of you mushroom lovers have been feeling down lately, you could try this fungus with your spaghetti. But please use a fork.
I could see the top of this other, high peak at this point. I was still thinking that to get there would be like a dream or something.
After getting to the first peak with about five ropes or so, there came a long string of ropes, about 20 more. The path completely disappeared. I was keeping a stick in my right hand when not climbing (doing pullups basically) so that I could clear spider webs. There were thousands of them it seemed, and just walking through them was like trying to walk through glue. They had to be broken systematically.
Just when I can't find a rope for a few minutes and can't get up a plane, the end of a rope magically appears. I felt as if there were a coach teasing me the whole way, pushing me to my limits.
At this point my hands were getting very sore, as if to start blistering. My arms were getting pretty weak. My legs had been shaking for the last hour. At this point I knew I would make it, but began thinking about my condition for getting back home. This turned out to be the final rope, thank JC.
I got to the top and saw a huge, brilliant rainbow. Cellphone cameras don't do this kind of thing justice, but you still have to take the picture. The feeling was exhilerating. There were two, tiny pine trees on top, which itself was only two square meters at the most. Instead of being on the blade, I was on the point - very precarious indeed.
There was a kind of basin in the range, on one side of which it was always raining. During the climb I was subjected to sporadic rain the whole way. And the fern bushes were just dumping all their water on me the whole way. My pants and shirt were soaked pretty good.
The way back was an opportunity to take some shots that I had missed on the way up. This is a typical survivor tree, of which there were many. They were pushed over at some point -probably by wind - and then one of their branches bacame a the main trunk. This is an optimal growing enviorment where you see these weird kind of phenomena.
Purple, pink and bright-green ferns.
Waitress trees. It's not visible in this picture, but these are the trees we often see in pictures of rain forests which look like they're holding trays.
This is the Fern God. All Hail the Fern God. (Notice the trunk in the middle. It's the size of a tree!)
This is the road home. Just after taking this, Mom's rental car came strolling up with Bob driving and Veronica and Mom in the back. The walk was 6.5 hours altogether. The road is typically without a sidewalk, all the properties typically without a fence. I was walking down the middle as the rain kept pouring down.