Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Come with me on a journey, won’t you? A journey of the mind through time and space. Oh, come on it won’t kill you. Our journey begins in Europe oh let’s say a few centuries ago. Things are changing. New ideas float around in the air like cotton wood fluff on a summer day. But the creative people who want to pursue these ideas often meet resistance from the powers that be. What will they do when their ideas are so revolutionary that experimentation is squashed. There is a way out. They go to America. Whether they’re religious fanatics with visions of creating their own utopia, or their imaginations tend more toward mercantile innovation here is a place for the dreamers of Europe to come and try something new. And so they came and that was how our country got its start.

And when it started to get crowded along the Atlantic Coast and the dreamers started to feel a little stifled they headed out into the wilderness once again pursuing their dreams be they mad or mundane. And finally this tide of romantics and radicals swept all the way to California where it just kept flowing. For generations those who wanted to make their fortune, start a cult, become a celebrity, lead a revolution, create a new operating system or pursue any other kind of dream came to the shores of the Pacific and got busy for better or for worse. And so you’ll find a collection of some of the most creative people from all over the world in California.

But while most set about concocting new endeavors for humanity. Some just stood and stared out across the biggest expanse of ocean in the world and felt maybe they weren’t ready to stop going west. Their spiritual ancestors had begun surfing a wave hundreds of years ago that the dreamers of yore rode right across the Atlantic and which in turn had been caught by the American visionaries who heard the call of “go west young man!” And for some California is just not far enough west.

Everyday someone somewhere gets on a plane and moves to Hawaii. Maybe to Maui or maybe to Honolulu but the dreamiest of the dreamers surely go as far west as the can to Kauai. The airport on Kauai lies on the east part of the island and as the road winds around it leaves the biggest of the towns and heads to the green and wild North. Here you’ll find Princeville home of the Planet Haolewood World Headquarters, where the most conservative of the dreamers have made a home with golf courses and fine dinning. A little further down and the road becomes more narrow and windy. There are no gas stations, no postal service, houses sit high on pillars to protect them from Tsunamis. Finally your cell phone service fades away and you find yourself in a parking lot at The End of the Road. And what do you see at 7:30 in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving?

Why it’s me! The chairman and CEO of Planet Haolewood himself. I’ve got a backpack fully loaded with camping gear. Where the Road West ends the foot path begins and I’ve come to hike it. Won’t you come with me? You come this far already; why stop now?

The missing link in the road that would circle Kauai is called the Na Pali coast and the Kalalau trail is the path that traverses it. Na Pali is Hawaiin for “the cliffs” and looking at the verticle landscape from the below it’s almost impossible to imagine how a trail could be built. For 11 miles the trail climbs up and down and weaves in and out of steep costal canyons and makes for the most spectacular hike I’ve ever been on. It’s narrow, steep, rocky, muddy, poorly maintained and provides a challenge to even the most seasoned hiker.

Even if it led nowhere it would be a hike worth traveling the globe for (as many do) but at the end of the path lies the idyllic Kalalau Valley and nearby Kalalau Beach. Beyond the beach the cliffs become impassible. This is the End of the Path that began at the End of the Road. The Kalalau Valley is surrounded by cliffs that make it impossible to reach except via the strenuous trail I hiked or by sea and harsh surf makes beach landings impossible most of the year.

If Kalalu’s beauty and remoteness don’t bring out the romantic dreamer in you I don’t know what will. And what about those dreamers who have followed that trail all the way west? They are here: camped on the beach or up in the woods living a simple life getting by on what they could carry in and what they can gather or grow in gardens hidden in the valley. The state tries to evict them and confiscates their belongings but still they come and stay. Maybe it’s hard to go back once you have come that far and discovered a place so beautiful and seemingly so suited to human habitation.

So where does the road west lead to? The New World? California? Hawaii? Kalalau? I’ll bet everyone who has traveled it has a different answer and maybe the final destination ended up being not so important as the experience of traveling the path itself.

[Sorry, no pictures... problems uploading... use your imagination!]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Centipedes and Interior Design

My landlord’s wife recently observed upon entering my house, “This place looks like a bachelor pad.” She may have had a point. I share the house with one other single male and we both share a certain –how shall I say this?- -lack of concern- with décor. After all, it’s very convenient to store your surfboards in the living room especially when there’s not a lot of furniture to compete with for space. There IS a couch and a comfy one at that. There’s a table which has an exciting kind of rock to it when you lean on it and only three of the eight chairs are broken. There’s no artwork on the walls, not even a poster of a scantily clad woman to complete the effect, but there are some screws in the wall so that if we ever decided to hang something we would be half way there.

What’s really remarkable is our collection of cups and glasses. There must be at least 50 of all shapes and sizes. No two match. It’s as if someone went around collecting all the drinking receptacles that didn’t sell at garage sales and brought them here. While it’s great to have a variety of vessels to choose from when you pour yourself some water, I wish we had more than two bowls. If anybody wants to film one of those reality shows where they re-do (or in this case just do) your home décor this might be the place work on. Otherwise we probably won’t be doing any fancy entertaining.
Of course we do have lots of guests of the insect variety. The ants are so firmly established and seem so small and harmless that I hardly notice them anymore. Just brush them off whatever your eating and chow down. I’m not so nonchalant about the cockroaches. Have you ever considered that cockroaches don’t actually do any harm. They don’t bite you and they seem to make an effort to stay out of your way, remaining hidden most of the time and only coming out at night. Their only real crime is being hideous. It’s sort of like The Phantom of the Opera. Someone should write a musical about that. Nevertheless, I swat them with a rolled up magazine whenever I see them. Their numbers seem to be diminishing but I don’t know if that’s because of my killing spree or if I have all those cute little chirping geckos to thank.

I’m just grateful that the centipedes haven’t found our little love shack. They are definitely NOT harmless. I’m not squeamish but I recently heard some centipede stories so bad that I’m not going to detail them here out of sensitivity to some of my centipede-phobic readers. Suffice to say these stories revolved around the centipede’s apparent instinct to seek out the warmth of the human body.

So maybe centipedes aren’t all that bad after all. They like to snuggle. And this photograph I took actually shows the centipede’s caring and maternal nature as it gathers together its mass of wriggling off-spring which I had scattered when I poked them with a stick. Maybe it’s that just that feminine touch that my house is missing.

Rare Double Albino Sighting on Kauai

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hawaii 101

It has come my attention that some people who do not live in the Pacific Ocean may be a bit confused about the geography of Hawaii. Since I recently had the opportunity to travel to another island let, allow me to educate you. The four largest islands in Hawaii are Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. There are other islands but this is Hawaii 101 so let’s just keep to the basics, shall we? “But Mr. Haolewood,” you ask, “you just said that one of the four largest islands in Hawaii is Hawaii. I’m so confused!” A very understandable question and one which drives to the heart of many misunderstandings about Hawaii. The largest of the Hawaiian islands is called Hawaii just as the state is called Hawaii. In an effort to clear up the confusion the island of Hawaii is generally referred to as “The Big Island.” The Big Island is the most volcanically active as you can see from the picture of steam vents that I took during my recent visit there.

But just because it’s big doesn’t mean a lot of people live there. In fact far more people live on Oahu than all the other islands combined. Oahu is home to Pearl Harbor, the famous beach Waikiki and the state capitol, Honolulu. So if you are still confused just remember The Big Island is the largest, Oahu is the most populated, Maui is the whitest and Kauai is the best.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

We've Got a Jumper!

I think I have found my recreational soul mate. Have you ever traveled with someone who had different interests than you? You want to go to an art gallery and your companion is dying to play golf. Your traveling buddy has a keen interest in ancient Mayan ruins but you would rather go parasailing. It can be an awkward situation if time is short and there are only so many things you can do. Well imagine the opposite. You want to go surfing and your friend says “let’s go, dude.” You say you want to jump off cliffs into the ocean and he responds, “how high?” You suggest a 10 mile hike on an unmaintained trail through rain and mud so that you can wade through water filled tunnels with a headlamp to light your way and he tells you to lead the way. Well, I believe I have found such a kindred soul in a friend who I will call Neal-A.

Neal-A likes to jump off of things into water. So do I. Of course I’ve known him a long time so I was familiar with our shared interest. There’s a popular spot in Kauai known a Kipu Falls and the first time I visited it I thought to myself, “Neal-A would love this place.” I was not wrong. A tall tree towers over the deep pool at the base of Kipu Falls. A rope hanging from the tree makes for a great way to swing over the pool and jump in. It’s not for everyone but for those brave enough to try, it’s an exciting ride, thrilling enough for most. Neal-A, however, swung on the rope swing only once before he was climbing the tree from which the rope hung. While others were swinging and letting go of the rope so that they fell from the bottom of the rope into the water below, Neal-A was jumping from the TOP of the rope. We visited Kipu twice during his stay.

But what kind of “jumping tour” of Kauai would be complete with only freshwater locations? Afterall, Kauai is surrounded by ocean. So we headed off to Shipwrecks Beach where we played in the waves and contemplated the nearby cliffs where people are known to jump into the surf below. After talking to a jumper who we had seen take the plunge we were ready to try it ourselves. Neal-A went first. I think the picture says it all. After jumping a current carried us gently back toward the beach where our friends watched and we had only a short distance to swim and a few surfers to avoid before we were back on the dry land and ready to go again.