How do you shoot the moon? With a camera of course! This is one of those challenges many photographers go through when learning the ropes of their equipment. Theresa has an amazing eye for the scene and setup, and had been advancing her technical skills with a camera for some time. Now, the task was at hand. Capture the moon, and bring it home. Alluding to the guarded nature of this skill, we choose the aptly named “Secret Beach” to watch the full moon rise and preserve a piece of it forever.
Like many beaches on Kauai, the Secret lies at the end of a long trail down a steep embankment, proving yet again that reward comes to those who work for it. True to its name, there are very few other people who frequent it, despite its proximity to Kilauea, and on this choice evening, we had the entire beach to ourselves. The kids and I played leapfrog in the sand, and frolicked in the waves, which were thankfully gentle on this particular evening, and explored the creek valley leading up from the beach.
The other secret proved elusive to Theresa, and after several attempts, she proclaimed that a tripod and a remote were necessary to capture the moon. I’m sure the moon was glad to have evaded its captors once again, and maintained its radiant place in the heavens.
A source of nighttime illumination far less elusive to us was the Kilauea lighthouse. We decided it best to view this light during the day. Just a few short minutes from our house, it proved to be a tempting target, as it is for almost every tourist who visits the island. Ever seeking opportunities for education, we delved into the history of the island and the lighthouse which were contained within the educational center on the lighthouse grounds.
The Hawaiian Islands historically served largely as sugar plantations, and finding safe harbor for the transport of the precious cargo was a pressing issue. Kilauea Point is a rocky promontory on a brutal shore, one of the few places on Kauai (other than the Na Pali Coast) that provides no safe landing. The violence of the ocean is clearly visible as she dashes against the rocks far below, providing a spectacular spray, and safe harbor for many species of birds, as well as an amazing place to view whales on their migration around the island.
The lighthouse was built in 1913 to warn approaching ships of the dangerous waters, and still features a functional beacon. The area is now a wildlife sanctuary, promoting awareness of natural resources and providing funding for various educational programs. You could say it now serves as more of a beacon of environmental stewardship and education than for nautical navigation. We certainly got a lot out of the visit, as touristy as it was.
Next stop on the residential tourist trail was the Kilauea farmers market. The beauty of farmers markets in Hawaii is the abundance of amazing fruits that only grow in tropical climates. Dragonfruit, Liliquoi, Passionfruit, Mangos, Jackfruit, raw Cacao pods, Taro, Bananas, Avocados, all things that grow freely and easily, and dazzle anyone from a temperate climate where many of these things may only be glimpsed on occasion. I had grown particularly fond of Kava, which is another south-pacific delicacy, known for its pleasant euphoric buzz when ingested. Traditionally, the root is chewed by young boys of the tribe, who then spit their mastication into a bowl. The resulting brew is then imbibed by all those brave enough. Fortunately, Kava in Hawaii is brewed in hot water, or mashed into a pulp and made into a kind of fruit leather. Not particularly tasty in any form, it gives a nice relaxing buzz, somewhere between alcohol and marijuana. My newfound affection was one that I was clearly going to have to be cautious with lest it get the better of me.
There is nothing quite like being in the grip of a good Kava stone. It makes your mouth numb, so speech becomes a bit of a challenge, which is fine, because there really isn’t much to say when drifting through the fluffy warm clouds a good Kava buzz. “Is good.” I would say to my wife as she attempted conversation with me. It didn’t really matter what she had asked. “So nice. Lovely warms all over. Yissss.” Obviously this wasn’t going to be productive to maintaining a healthy relationship, so after a few good nights of blissful reverie, I bid the root goodbye. Which was fine, as we had important issues to deal with. Like figuring out what the heck we were going to do next. Sure we had a destination, but as they say, the map is not the territory. We needed purpose. Maybe the ‘lucky country’ would have it for us…