After two full days spent in the car, we decided to take it easy over the weekend and explore beaches and shops around the hotel and local environs.
We got snorkel gear from the hotel to have on hand for that 'perfect spot'. Next stop was to get Steve a swim shirt and thought we'd go back to the same shopping center near the hotel to see what they had there and engage in a late breakfast/early lunch before getting underway. The weather was doing its usual schizophrenic offerings; heavy rains one minute followed by brilliant blue skies and sunshine next next!
One of the main attractions along the south shore, or its only "claim to fame", is located at the end of Lawa'i Road (there are LOTS of "end of the road" roads here on Kaua'i) is the explosive Spouting Horn. Salt water erupts through a hole in the lava sea cliffs, bursting very high into the air (the height of course depends on wave size). But the most interesting thing is the sound that follows just a second later from another hole that just blows air, and the timing is off from the initial wave burst. Hawaiian legend says that a huge lizard called Mo'o (mo'o is Hawaiian for lizard) lived in the area. The lizard would eat anyone who tried to fish here. A man named Liko made that mistake, and Mo'o attacked him, only to get speared in the mouth and stuck where the blow-hole is. According to the legend, the noise is the sound of the lizard's pain.
And because this is a HUGE tourist attraction and a stopping point for many of the tour buses, the requisite stands and "tourist traps" were located along the route/walk-way to reach the Spouting Horn. Linda and I did spy a few items we really liked, but knowing we were really close by, felt it prudent to return on a day when the tour buses weren't filling the parking lot to possibly do some bargaining! We found these wonderful 'ata baskets' that are handwoven from Bali and were exquisite. We also wanted to check prices at other places too as a price comparison!
We continued driving westward towards Port Allen to find the HoloHolo tour company we are interested in finding to schedule a trip to the Forbidden Island of Ni'ihau as well as seeing the Na Pali coastline. But made an interesting stop at the Hawaiian Trading Post before getting there. This is one of the places that sells the Ni'ihau shells. Where diamonds and platinum may be a sign of luxury in the U.S. Mainland, in Hawaii it's Ni'ihau shell jewelry. The rare and highly valued shells (Kahelelani, laiki,momi, and kamoa) are found on the beaches of Ni'ihau and crafted by the island's residents into various styles of lei, earrings, and bracelets, equaling one of the Polynesia's most precious art forms.
From what I read, "the shells wash up on the beaches mostly Oct-Mar, when winter shells bring waves big enough to wash them ashore. This is when islanders rush to gather the shells and either make the jewelry on the isalnd or send the shells to family on Kaua'i to craft. The tiny shells re sorted by size and color and only the best are kept; around 80% are thrown away. Many of the pink kahelelani that are found are a dull flesh color, worn rough, or are broken. The shell colors include bright pink, deep red, white, yellow, blue and rarely, gold. Holes are delicately drilled into the small shells and they are then strung in a traditional fashion to make various types of jewelry - its an intricate process and can take up to six months to complete." Naively, I thought it would be really nice to purchase one of the necklaces or at least a bracelet as a memento of our trip here! This quickly dissipated when I saw one of the necklaces that was on the "low end" and found out it cost just under $500. And one exquisite necklace kept behind the locked cabinet was selling for $6,500! So, instead, I stood and admired the necklaces, earrings and bracelets from outside the viewing cabinet and took a picture as my "memento"!
We continued to Port Allen, found the tour company so we could gauge how long it would take for us to reach the departure point to make the 6:00 a.m. departure time and then proceeded to Salt Pond Beach Park. This offers the best of Hawaii's beaches in one: white sand, black rocks, tide pools, a fairly protected swimming area, and a large lawn filled with picnic tables and also has restrooms, showers, and lifeguards. Its name comes from the nearby salt ponds, where locals harvest salt from evaporative basins scraped out of the earth that have been utilized for generations. The basins are lined with black clary and after drying they're filled with sea water. When the sea water evaporates, salt is left behind and harvested. Salt in Hawaiian is pa'akai, translating to "firm sea" while the rock salt with a reddish tint from the red dirt is alae. We are all interested in returning to check out the process.
However, Steve could resist no more knowing he now was fully prepared for snorkeling and his underwater camera. The three of us found an empty picnic table and enjoyed the scenery and ambiance while he ventured back into the water now more fully prepared to enjoy the outing. We moved from the picnic table a few times to get out of the occasional rain shower only to return when it subsided.
We returned to the hotel after a quick stop to get a few more DVDs from Red Box and decided to have soemthing light from the poolside cafe to enjoy in our room and catch some of the tail end of the football playoffs as well.
Another wonderful day!
P.S. Thank you to many of you who have written and asked about Zookie or expressed missing her picture at the end of each post. Zookie is holding down the fort back in Meridian and Steve and Linda's daughter, Marie, is stopping by every other day to check on her and provides us with what we have dubbed "The Z-Report" and all is well.
P.P. S. We also received a note from our next door neighbor today telling us one of our boxes (the cherished box #16) was delivered to our door yesterday and is safe and sound in their home till we return! Think this is going to be all we'll see, but it is the box we treasured the most for its sentimental value!