Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Return

A cold wind  and rain came down out of the highlands today. When the clouds lifted in the afternoon, there was snow on Grizzly Peak, but only briefly. It was gone by evening.  It's the end of March, there should still be snow in the high country. Instead, it has been warm enough for me to lay out in the sun on my back deck for the last couple of weeks, and that's in the Colestin at 3,200 feet. It was good to feel that cold wind tonight, if only for a bit, good to feel a few drops of freezing rain on my face, good to see the tourists turning up their collars and hustling down the sidewalks.

My blahs are back, probably due to the deterioration of my diet, certainly age related.  All I want to do is sleep. I'm glad when the activities I love are cancelled because it means I can go to bed early.  Work doesn't even make me mad any more, it just makes me tired. I don't have the energy to fight. I have nothing to complain about; I'm the luckiest woman on the planet, ridiculously, insanely blessed, and yet, some days, I feel like shit.

Just gotta wait it out; that and eat more damn vegetables. This too shall pass.

Today I was recognized for 20 seasons with "the employer that shall not be named." My co-workers gave me a little surprise party in the office to celebrate. It was a generous gesture and I was genuinely grateful, but, in truth, it  felt awkward. It just doesn't seem like something to celebrate.  My career is caught in a cul de sac and I'm on autopilot. Like millions of people, I show up every day, get my work done and go home. I do what they pay me to do. It feels neither admirable nor extraordinary, so why should I get an award?

Afterwards, the whole company gathered for Company Call, where I received my plaque alongside about 20 other folks receiving various awards. There were announcements and presentations and then we all listened to management make their case for why my friends in the scene shop should not vote to unionize. There have been several unsuccessful attempts to unionize over the years and another vote is coming up soon. It just might pass this time. It has been a wild and woolly year at the art farm.  There have been a rash of mistakes and a lot of finger pointing. The bosses say they can take care of the workers better than a union can, but confidence in their leadership has eroded. The size and scope of the place has metastasized; so many new people, so many new initiatives. Most of them are very worthwhile, but with so much going on, it feels like the place is spinning out of control. At what point does such unchecked growth become unsustainable? When is bigger no longer better? The company may have reached that point this year. The bosses sowed thunder when they insisted on having exactly what they want exactly how they want it; now they must reap the whirlwind.

Maybe I'm just feeling my age.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


We flew to Lihue Kauai, got a car and drove to the west side of the island. On the way out of town we stopped at a farmers market at a community college and got some lovely fruit, which set the tone nicely. We headed towards Waimea Town but stopped in touristy Poipu on the way.  Poipu is absolutely gorgeous but packed.  This is Spouting Horn, near Poipu.

Checked into our lodging in Waimea Town, an old sugar plantation. We stayed in the workers cottages, old but very nice.  The lawn was lovely and soft, we could walk barefoot down to the beach.

Hiking in the Waimea Canyon = stair climbing on slippery mud for five hours.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it. 

 The look out at the end of the trail. Hanalei Bay and the north side of the island are in the background.

 The first of many waterfalls, this one in Waimea.

Sunset from Waimea, the westernmost point in the United States.

After three days in Waimea, we drove to the north side of the island.  These twin falls were on the way. 

Secret Beach. This was my favorite spot on the island, utterly sublime. My pal Darcy loaned me a map before the trip and pointed out some spots to stop at; this was one.  It was at the end of an unmarked, unpaved road.  There were a couple of big houses and a path between them heading straight down hill. No signs or markings, but it was clearly a well-used path.  We hiked about a 1/4 mile down the the hill to this beautiful, secluded beach. I brought the last Smitty's ashes to Kauai, hoping to find a fitting spot to scatter them. He was on Oahu during WWII, the signature moment in his life, the time when he was the most alive. Plus, he loved swimming in the ocean more than just about anything. The best times I ever had with him were when he would carry me out to the big waves. I chose to leave his ashes here.  


After Secret Beach, we drove to Hanalei Bay on the north shore, the same bay we saw from the end of the trail in Waimea.

We hiked along the Napali Coast; yet another epic eight mile march. Hiking on Kauai is not easy. The island is a steep volcano and the ground is hard, volcanic rock with a thin layer of slippery mud on top. Eight miles felt like twenty.


Two miles in: the rocky beach.

From the rocky beach, we  hiked two miles up into the jungle, climbing up the volcano along a beautiful clear green creek. Weaving in and out of the trees, crossing the creek along a steep, slippery, muddy, wet, root-knotted trail.

 Which led to this:

Sequoia thought it was 150 feet tall.  The last quarter mile to the waterfall was hot and hard, some of the most strenuous and technical hiking I've ever done, so I was ready to jump in. Damn, that water was cold. I took the photos of Sequoia under the falls and then swam in after him.  Swimming into that roaring, rattling gale, being pelted by marble-sized drops of water, it made me laugh uncontrollably.  I ducked under the deluge, bobbed back up and giggled like a school girl. 

Somewhere up there is the look out from the end of the Waimea  Canyon Trail.  We saw the island from both sides.

On our last day we got up early and drove back toward Lihue. Of course we had to stop for one more waterfall.

We drove past Lihue and spent the afternoon in Poipu because, hey, why not? It's a small island and we had the time.  

What a blessed life I lead.  How ridiculously fortunate I am.  
I owe much to this beautiful planet. Time to start giving back.