We ventured to the south side of the island today. First stop was Talk Story Books in what is billed in guidebooks as “historic downtown Hanapepe,” a title one might challenge after actually seeing it. There’s a small strip of art galleries that seem to be thriving (if paintings are your thing, we both recommend Giorgio’s Gallery), a couple of quaint little sandwich-smoothie spots, and a place that will put a funny saying on a t-shirt and sell it to you. But on equal footing in this quasi ghost town are multiple boarded up buildings that were once local play houses, movie theaters and other businesses of an artistic lean. The spot that seems to be the most happening is the liquor store at the far end of the road. Go figure.
Nevertheless, you can feel the fighting spirit all over Hanapepe. And here’s Talk Story, going strong for over ten years. It probably doesn’t hurt when you’re the only bookstore within fifty miles, possibly the only bookstore on the entire island of Kauai.
Every book store worth its salt needs a resident shop cat, and Talk Story knows it. Meet Celeste, one of Mental Floss’s “Top Ten Bookstore Cats.” What exactly must a cat do to make this list? Number one, live in a book store. Number two, don’t die before Mental Floss hears about you.
Onto the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge! Originally built in the early 1900s, then pretty much obliterated by Hurricane Iniki in 1993 (the same hurricane responsible for setting all the damn roosters free), then re-built, presumably by those people in the little green house in case they ever wanted to get an “Aloha Friday!” t-shirt printed up from across the river.
This is one of the few bridges I’ve ever seen that looks so simple I could actually deconstruct it in my head. I even said to Michael, “Give me a year and some planks of wood and I could build this bridge!” to which Michael replied, “Now THERE’S a blog I’d pay to read!”
On to Waimea Canyon, reportedly dubbed by Mark Twain as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” And that’s no joke. It’s spectacular! Two-dimensional pictures don’t do it justice, so I’m including this single shot of Michael, and leaving it at that. And there’s plenty of room for your jaw to drop as you’re taking it all in, because it’s a long, long way down. In fact, I recall an exchange between the two of us that went something along the lines of…
Michael: “Come here, babe. Come look.”
Gary: “No way. I’m not coming over there.”
Michael: “It’s ok. It’s not a sheer drop.”
Gary: “No fucking way am I coming over there.”
Michael: “But it’s not a sheer drop!”
Gary: “Well… okay, as long as it’s not a sheer drop.”
Michael. “It’s definitely not a sheer drop. You’d bounce at least two or three times before going over the edge.”
“Waimea” is Hawaiian for “red river,” a reference to the all the red soil. Michael likened it to walking on Mars.
And check it out! I just happened to have a copy of Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles in my backpack. In case you didn’t know, somewhere on my body at all times is the perfect book! It’s just a question of how handsy you wanna get looking for it.
Next… we hiked the Waimea Canyon Trail in Koke’e, Kauai. Name a place I would never go if I wasn’t in love with a country boy!
Do we want to take the short route, as indicated by the sign? Or do we go in the opposite direction where someone has scratched in the word “WATERFALL” in the sneaky scribble of a Glad Bag serial killer who’s figured out a way to get the victims to come to him?
Guess which route we took?
Nope. No waterfall in sight yet.
Hmmm. Still no waterfall.
It’s like a Malaysian airplane, this waterfall!
And finally… there it is! The waterfall!
Michael will swear it was only 45 minutes of hiking down the canyon to get to the waterfall. Of course, that doesn’t include the 45 minutes it took to hike out of the canyon to get back to the Chevy Malibu.
Still, it’s a beautiful waterfall, isn’t it? And we had it all to ourselves for a good ten minutes before the next group of exhausted, slightly hysterical hikers finally got here and collapsed face first into the mud.
I don’t know that this waterfall has an actual name, but I’m calling it “Wailele Lolo” which is Hawaiian for “That Fucking Waterfall.”
On the way back, we came across a grave marker for a young guy who died earlier this year after losing his footing and falling 700 feet into the valley below, just past where we were standing. According to his obituary in The Auburn Journal, he had just graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.
In regards to the spot where he died, you really have to be willing to take a chance to go out that far. One sneeze, or some faulty ground still wet from rain could lead to real tragedy. I got no where near that grave marker. Michael got just close enough to snap the picture after seeing it out the corner of his eye. Folks, please follow the rules in the wild. They’re just designed to keep you happy, healthy, and on the road to your next day in paradise. Mahalo!