• Log In
  • Sign Up
    • If you were living on the Hawaiian Islands back in the late 80’s or 90’s you would probably think by the title of this article the topic was about Kauai’s famous and powerful strain of “pakalolo“.  But, no, this reference is to the community of Kauai’s progressive commitment to renewable energy resources through solar power and biomass-to-energy electric plants.  But, more on that later….

    • My surf buddy Sean from Westhampton Beach, NY flew out to participate in Laird Hamilton’s XPT performance training module held on the North Shore but we were basecamping with Alaska friends now living in Kalaheo.  They have a wonderful home and their two-story lanai on a hillside overlooks Popui Beach.  Compared to Oahu and certainly the Mainland, the absence of light pollution was amazing at night.  Falling stars and planets Venus, Saturn and Jupiter make is all seem possible that someday we too could be driving a new Tesla to a far-away planet!

    • Before I get to far into my travelogue, the VERY FIRST THING you notice when you arrive at the Lihue airport is an abundance of colorful roosters.  Like EVERYWHERE.  What is the dealio?

      Hawaii’s official State bird is the Hawaiian Goose, or Nene, but on Kauai, everyone jokes that the “official” birds of the Garden Island are feral chickens, especially the wild roosters. Most locals agree that wild chickens proliferated after Hurricane Iniki ripped across Kauai in 1992, destroying chicken coops and releasing domesticated hens, and well as roosters being bred for cockfighting. Now these brilliantly feathered fowl inhabit every part of this tropical paradise, crowing at all hours of the day and night to the delight or dismay of tourists and locals alike.

    • I would surmise it is a safe bet that #1 on everyone’s list of things to do when they get to Hawai’i is to visit the beaches.  I was scheduled to deliver Sean out to his Laird Hamilton “summer camp” on the North Shore by 5pm so we headed out to a couple of surf spots around Poipu.  Nothing was really popping….I tried to swim out the 300 yards to capture some shots of Sean surfing some 2-4′ waves but the shallow rocks terminated that adventure.   We then headed up the road a couple of miles to see the Spouting Horn.  Cool, random display of spouting water with stereophonic horn-like noises.  And, yes, many, many chickens looking to get fed by the tourists.

    • We decided to head towards the North Shore and surfing conditions were not improving.  The two-lane road transiting small communities like Wailua, Kealia, Kapaa and Hanalei made for a slow drive but affording great views of the South Pacific and the balance of tourism and traditional Hawaiian culture. Over several days, with high wind and surf advisories, I was able to shoot some surfing at Shipwrecks, Waimea, and Kealia breaks. I actually purchased a boogie board from Costco, but, never used it due to the conditions.

    • Kauai electric…..After you are done noticing all the wild roosters on Kauai, then you notice trees that seemed to be “Out of Africa”.  My buddy Sean had recently traveled to Africa and we both commented how similar these trees were.  It turns out….they WERE very similar.

      The Albezia tree was introduced to Hawaii in 1917 as an ornamental and for reforestation. It is now naturalized throughout the islands in lower-elevation areas. It can be seen growing in abandoned sugarcane fields and along roadsides, and is now being used as a light-weight lumber due to it’s fast growth rate. This tree grows a whopping 15 feet a year, reaching over 100 feet tall and 150 feet wide. This is not a tree you want to let grow in your yard!

      Turning lemons into lemonaide, the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative buys a percentage of their electrical power form a biomass powerplant that burns the wood chips from the Albezia tree to produce economical energy for Kauai residents.  And, even though the Albezia tree is
      categorized as an invasive species, it’s rapid growth rate has now propelled the development of albezia forests because the trees grow so fast which can then be converted to fuel.

    • Now, thanks to Tesla, an amazing story written by Amelia Urry in 2017 showcases how in March of 2017, Tesla cut the ribbon on this groundbreaking grid-scale battery installation, a key test of the viability of energy storage in making renewable energy a more reliable part of the grid. With 50,000 solar panels and 272 batteries, the combined solar-and-storage plant provides enough energy to power 4,500 homes for four hours.

      Now that the Tesla battery plant is up and running, the utility will be able to cut 1.6 million gallons of fuel use per year. That power will come right off the top of the morning and evening peak demand. Because those peaks are also the most expensive times to generate power, Kauai’s customers should see a drop in their electric bills, too.

      The co-op is already looking to its next solar-plus-storage installation, this one in partnership with the energy company AES. Announced in January, the AES plant will be about twice as big as the Tesla plant, and will supply 11 percent of the island’s annual electricity needs by the end of 2018.

      (I don't really have a matching image for this paragraph so I am just adding a cool looking tree out on the west by Queen's Pond)

    • When traveling solo (most of the time), I try and be open and observant to interesting experiences off the beaten path.  Besides visiting many of the top surf beaches, I also did the traditional drive up the Waimea Canyon State Park.  One thing I appreciated on Kauai versus the Mainland is that State parks seem to have no entrance fee.  The weather was windy but with good visibility which is key for a successful trip.

    • I was looking to re-create fond memories of getting a food truck “plate lunch brah” that included grilled white fish, white sticky rice and kimchee….I did not find that but you must visit Da Crack in a very un-assuming strip mall. The market next door is a great place to get a smoothie as well.  Da Crack has a unique ordering system very similar to the Soup Nazi episodes on Seinfeld except the local folks are very friendly.  But, with the long lines to order food, you dare not hold up the line with indecision.  Ha!

      (amazing to me....I took no food photos on this trip...seemed too - but, just another photo...)

    • The rambling and diverse hiking trail from Shipwrecks can provide miles of hiking on the Maha’ulepu Coastal Trail providing plenty of great photo opportunities and even the ability to cliff jump to the surf below!

    • On Thursday I got to walking around Old Koloa Town and stumbled upon the Crystal Harmonics Sound Art Gallery and went inside.  Dawn sat me down as she demonstrated several of their quartz crystal singing bowls and within minutes I was having an emotional experience.  As she created a melody with several bowls, I actually wanted to cry as some sort of emotional response – not happy, not sad but like an emotional gurgling.  It was amazing.  I returned back that Sunday and even though I did not have the same emotional response, there was no doubt in the power of these singing bowls at 432Hz. If you are in Koloa, and, you have the ability to get centered, please visit their gallery!  They also lead a group meditation on Wednesdays.

    • Aloha – Live Aloha – No Ka Oi

      Maika`i nô Kaua`i  / So beautiful is Kaua’i

      Hemolele i ka mâlie /  So perfect in the calm

      Kuahiwi nani Wai`ale`ale  / Pretty Mt. Wai’ale’ale

      Lei ana i ka mokihana  / Wears the mokihana lei

      Hanohano wale lei o Hanalei / Glorious is Hanalei

      I ka ua nui hô`eha `ili / Rain that hurts the skin

      I ka wai o `u`inakolo / The rustling water

      I ka poli o Nâ Molokama /  In the bosom of Na Molokama

    • It truly was. The bowls can range in price from $1000 to $10,000....I found "my" bowl and it will run me about $1600 when I am ready. The CD was a good "bookmark" to play for now but the vibration resonance of the real bowls does not compare.

    • I felt like I was there watching roosters, trying to find a food truck to eat from, and looking off off a cliff where people jump into the surf wetting my pants at the thought. Thanks for posting all this, it made for some great morning reading that I will daydream about today.

    • Thanks for this wonderful travel log, Robert! I had no idea Hawaii had such a commitment to renewable energy.

      Your conversation brings me back to my adventures on the islands. I've been to Maui a few times, but every time in the summer. I would have loved to see some surf like you did. Unfortunately, the Pacific is mostly a lake in the summer. These are the biggest waves we've seen and surfed in Hawaii:

      However, every time we've found the kitesurfing to be excellent because of steady winds, day and night. That's Wes representing our local kite manufacturer, Caution Kites of Santa Cruz, CA.