Monday, November 21, 2011

Vacation in Kauai - The plants, animals and water

So, one last post from our trip to Kauai, then on to other things.

When you have a place with so much sun, rain and humidity combined with nearly perfect temperatures, stuff just grows everywhere.  Watching people work over our 10 day stay convinced me that landscaping in Kauai wasn't about making things grow.  It was about cutting back all the stuff you either didn't want, or wanted smaller.  The growing part was automatic.

This field of flowers (something like Floweris Yellowis) was natively blooming along one of our many hikes.  Keep in mind, this is in November. They were growing about 100 feet from the coastline, which is actually kind of surprising.  The normal winds bash waves into the southeast side of the island and the wind carries the spray up onto the land.  These must have tolerated, or perhaps actually enjoyed all the salt spray.
Right near our house were a few large bushes covered with red flowers.  Again, I have no clue as to what they were.
... and you had to walk a few feet down the street to mix in some yellow.  Both of these bushes were about 8 feet tall and covered with flowers, top to bottom.  I'm actually fairly sure this is a Hibiscus.
Throw in a little sunset, a wave and some palm fronds and it looks quite pretty and very Hawaiian.
We saw very few mammals around the island, mostly just dogs and cats.  The one exception (not photographed) was the humpback whale.  They come to Hawaii in the winter, but don't really start showing up until December.  We watched and watched hoping for early arrivals.  Finally, on the last day, with only a few hours before heading to the airport, Julie saw some whales from our porch.  I counted three of them. They were a good ways off, but you could see them come out of the water and blow out their spouts.

We also saw some porpoise, sea turtles, and a number of colorful reef fish the day we went snorkeling.  The birds were beautiful, especially the Tropicbirds.  (this is not my picture)
But by far and away the most common was the chicken.  Their are tens of thousands of chickens wandering around the island, and those are just the ones I saw and counted.  I am sure the true population is around a bajillion.

When hurricane Iniki hit Kauai in 1992, it was a category 4 hurricane and it gave the island a good ass-whopping. One side effect was that lots of the chickens (some for eating, some for cockfighting) escaped their coops and became the true free range chickens.  Since, they have gone forth and multiplied.  And multiplied.  And then multiplied again.  They are everywhere, just wandering around, eating, and making more chickens.  Their only predator appears to be Americus Automoblius, which kept begging the question "why did the chicken cross the road?"
I was curious about why more locals didn't get good at catching chickens, plucking them and cooking them up.  We learned that perhaps they aren't they tastiest of poultry breeds.  It is said best in this recipe:

Kauai Wild Chicken Recipe


1 Kauai wild chicken
1 large onion
1 bunch seasoning spices of your choosing
1 large rock
Salt and pepper


Put all ingredients into a large covered pot. Simmer over a low flame for several hours. Remove the rock. Discard the chicken. Eat the rock.

I was left wondering at what population the chickens will hit some tipping point of being so large that they either suffer from some malady or just really piss of the Hawaiians.

If you follow my blog, you know I love photography and find things whose beauty just amazes me.  Waves are one of those.  This is a collection of photos that show some of the different ways you can capture the moving water.

We start with the waves crashing into the sharp black lava rock.  The contrast of the white exploding sea and dark stone is dramatic.
Same thing, different wave on a different beach.  These were shot with a fast shutter speed, around 1/500th of a second, to capture the crashing of the wave.
Now we slow things down a lot with a longer exposure, around 1/4 of a second.  The rock stays sharp, thanks to a tripod, but the waves begin to blur with their movement and time.
The sun was beginning to set but it was still much too bright for a long exposure.  To do this you need an Neutral Density filter (often written as ND filter).  This darkens the picture without effecting the color, hence "neutral".
I have one that adjusts from 2 to 8 stops of filtering.  It's fun trying to figure out what looks good.  A quarter second looked interesting but 1 or two seconds looked pretty ugly.
I found the between 4 and 6 seconds gave an entirely new look. The waves took on the appearance of fog and mist.
It's fun to get such different pictures from the same place, same rocks, same waves, same lighting, but just a few changes on your camera settings.

And we will end our Kauai trip with a very happy Julie and Steve.  A fabulous vacation that we would love to try again soon.  As always, notice how pretty Julie looks and how much like a beach bum I appear.   Aloha!






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