A change of scenery, critters, and cross training, Part 2

So, yeah, I went to Hawaii and rode a tandem on a coastal pathway and saw Hawaiian monk seals.

Before you go getting too jealous, there’s this:

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 2.43.23 PMWe touched down on Saturday evening. By Tuesday I was feeling a hint of chest discomfort that grew into full-blown coughing-up-crud misery that lasted the rest of the trip.

I can hear your little violins.

Then there was the fact that it was February – the heart of the rainy season on Kauai.

What the beach at Hanalei Bay looks like in the rain.

What the beach at Hanalei Bay looks like in the rain, complete with raindrops on the camera lens.

The scenic overlook at the end of Waimea Canyon Drive - in the rain.

The Kalalau Valley Overlook – in the rain. (Photo by Pa Bug)

And we hardly saw any bugs. Granted, most tourists would consider a lack of creepy-crawlies a positive, but when you’re traveling with an entomologist, it’s a huge disappointment. Perhaps we can blame the chickens.

Kauai is positively crawling with feral chickens. In fact, the vast majority of the avian, insect, and plant life we saw was non-native. The islands' ecosystems have really been brutalized by exotic species introductions and corporate-scale human development. It surprised me and made me feel sad and also a bit guilty, since here I was, visiting the islands and helping contribute to the problem.

Kauai is positively crawling with feral chickens. In fact, the vast majority of the avian, insect, and plant life we saw was non-native. The islands’ ecosystems have been brutalized by exotic species introductions and corporate-scale human development. It surprised me and made me feel sad and also a bit guilty, since here I was, visiting the islands and helping contribute to the problem.

I did find a little jumping spider while I was shopping for a sweatshirt. I texted it to Bugman. He laughed.

I did find a little jumping spider while I was shopping for a sweatshirt. I texted the picture to Bugman. He laughed. Darn. I can’t find the Hawaiian word for “jumping spider.”

I’d really wanted to go hiking and snorkeling and kayaking while on Kauai, but given my illness, the rain, and the fact that the main purpose of our short visit to the island was to accompany a couple of lovely people who have about a 30-year head start on us in the game of life, that just didn’t work out. I’ll have to manage to find a way to go back again!

But enough of the whining – there are more lovely things to share about the trip!

WARNING: excessive vacation-picture-posting follows:

Really, how can I complain about the precipitation? It's not frozen!

How can I complain about the precipitation? It’s not frozen!

The misty rain in the Waimea Canyon area made it easier for me to breathe with my chest cold and created beauty as it collected on the flora.

rain on blossomsWe did have a break in the cloud cover that afforded us spectacular views of Waimea Canyon at the lower-elevation overlooks that weren’t right on the coast.

This place is just incredibly beautiful.

This place is just incredibly beautiful.

Also, rain in Hawaii rocks, because rainbows.

The view to the west from our hotel balcony.

The view to the west from our hotel balcony, as we were packing our bags to go home. Aloha!

I did not get to snorkel, but I did have a chance to walk the beach every morning (that’s cross-training, right?) and to poke around in tidepools.

Ma and Ba Bug snuck a pic of us as we were walking on the beach. <3

Ma and Ba Bug snuck a pic of me and Bugman as we walked on the beach. ❤

Sand flower. A tree at the shoreline was dropping these tiny, waxy flowers, which would embed themselves in the sand or go floating off across the still water in a sheltered area of the beach.

Sand flower.
A tree at the shoreline was dropping these tiny, waxy flowers, which would embed themselves in the sand or go floating off across the still water in a sheltered area of the beach.

I had fun watching crabs come out of their sandy burrows. This little guy was about the size of a dime. Others we saw were closer to the size of softballs.

I had fun watching ‘ohiki (ghost crabs) come out of their sandy burrows. This little guy was about the size of a dime. Others we saw were closer to the size of softballs.

Crab burrow sand art

Crab burrow sand art

Nonsequitur image, but interesting in comparison. This is a photo from Glass Beach - literally a dump - which has become a tourist attraction because of all the beach glass. There were no pieces of beach glass larger than grains of sand because they all get picked up by tourists. Some people even take home jars full of this beach sand, leading to complaints about destruction of this attraction. I wonder, though - is it really a genius campaign to get tourists to clean the trash off beach?

Nonsequitur image, but interesting in comparison. This is a photo from Glass Beach – literally a dump, which has become a tourist attraction because of all the beach glass. There were no pieces of beach glass larger than grains of sand when I visited because they all get picked up by tourists. Some people even take home jars full of glassy sand, leading to complaints about destruction of the attraction. I wonder, though – is it really a genius campaign to get tourists to clean the trash off the beach?

Bugman taking a picture at dawn on Waipouli Beach, in a protected area that yielded some marine critter finds.

Bugman taking a picture at dawn on Waipouli Beach, in a protected area that yielded some marine critter finds.

Juvenile mamo (aka Hawaiian sergeant major damselfish) were abundant.

Juvenile mamo (aka Hawaiian sergeant major damselfish) were abundant.

A cryptic goby - perhaps an ‘o‘opu ‘ohune (brown tidepool goby)

A cryptic goby – perhaps an ‘o‘opu ‘ohune (brown tidepool goby or cocos frill goby)?

Another goby - a wee little one who did NOT want his picture taken, this time from Salt Pond Beach Park.

Another goby – a wee little one who did NOT want his picture taken, this time from Salt Pond Beach.

My favorite vertebrate - the puhi kapa (snowflake moray eel)

My favorite vertebrate of this tidepool  – the puhi kapa (snowflake moray eel)

On to the invertebrates - a healthy-sized loli (black sea cucumber)

On to the invertebrates – a healthy-sized loli (black sea cucumber)

A wee little kualakai (sea hare, or sea slug)

A wee little kualakai (sea hare, or sea slug)

A tiny anemone in a tidepool at Waipouli Beach, with some corraline algae in the background

A tiny anemone in a tidepool at Waipouli Beach, with some corraline algae in the background

Slightly larger anemones from a tidepool at Salt Pond Beach Park.

Slightly larger anemones from a tidepool at Salt Pond Beach.

Another place in which we had success viewing coastal and marine vertebrates was Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

A beautiful view from just outside the park gate.

A beautiful view from just outside the park gate.

You can see kohola (humpback whales) off the coast in the wintertime by watching for their misty spouts. Bugman managed to catch a few images of one whale that tail-slapped 4-7 times, three times in a row. I know you can identify humpback whales by the markings on their flukes. Wish there was an online catalog somewhere where I could try to identify this individual!

You can see kohola (humpback whale) off the coast in the wintertime by watching for their misty spouts. Bugman managed to catch a few images of one whale that tail-slapped 4-7 times, three times in a row. I know humpback whales can be identified by the markings on their flukes. Wish there was an online catalog somewhere where I could try to identify this individual!

Bugman got some decent shots of 'a (red-footed boobies), which were nesting at the time of our visit. My favorite bird was the koa‘e ‘ula (red-tailed tropicbird).

Bugman got some decent shots of ‘a (red-footed boobies – I picked this shot because the red feet are visible), which were nesting at the time of our visit. My favorite bird was the koa‘e ‘ula (red-tailed tropicbird).

We had plenty of interesting sightings of nene (Hawaiian goose) around the islands, too. This picture was taken at Smith's Tropical Paradise.

We had plenty of sightings of Hawaii’s state bird, the endangered nene (Hawaiian goose), around the islands, too. This picture was taken at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.

To wrap up this post, a couple of artsy-fartsy beach pictures taken at sunrise on a rain-spattered, windy morning – our last on Kauai.

angry sunriseblack splashUp next – culinary Kauai!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

One thought on “A change of scenery, critters, and cross training, Part 2

  1. Pingback: A change of scenery, critters, and cross training | Wyobraska Tandem

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