Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

Archive for the 'Hawaii' Category

Rainforest Hike, Kauai

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

I enjoyed a very short trip to Kauai at the end of last week. One of the adventures I went on with my husband, Ron, was a short hike on the Pihea Trail in Koke’e State Park.

If you’ve visited Kauai, you’ve almost certainly been to Koke’e. I’ll bet the photo below looks familiar…this is a view into Kalalau Valley — it’s a standard stop for island visitors.


Nearly everyone who visits walks out along the eroded ridge that is the back wall of Kalalau Valley. That is the start of Pihea Trail, which continues along the ridge to a peak on the opposite side of the valley. It’s not very far — maybe 1.5 to two miles? — but there is some interesting terrain along the way. It’s good to remember, this is called a rainforest for a reason.

Waimea Canyon, Kauai

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

I think I was sixteen when I flew from Oahu to Kauai with a group from the Hawaii Sierra Club, to participate in a two-week “Hawaii Service Trip Program” project — a volunteer work project, in this case devoted to building new trail in the bottom of Waimea Canyon. I participated in several other HSTP projects over the years, but this was my first.

Waimea Canyon — often called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” — is an amazing feature that seems entirely out of place on a small island like Kauai. Wikipedia puts its size as about ten miles long and as deep as 3,000 feet. The geology alone is striking, but there is also an abundance of streams and waterfalls which exist in sharp contrast to the generally dry terrain. In Hawaii, rainfall patterns change radically over very short distances. Just to the east of the canyon is a high elevation region dominated by Waiʻaleʻale, the highest peak on the island at 5,100 feet. Rainfall records from Waiʻaleʻale indicate it’s one of the wettest places on Earth. Between the peak and the canyon is the Alakai Swamp, which drains into the canyon, feeding those amazing waterfalls.


Unfortunately for me, I haven’t been back in the canyon since that first expedition. One of these days I’ll need to make a serious effort to go again, but for now photos from the canyon rim will have to do. These were taken on Friday, June 20 — an absolutely gorgeous summer day.



Huge Surf! A Ten-Year Event!

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Anyway, that’s how the surf was being described ahead of its arrival, so I decided to head down to Maui’s north shore to take a look–and there were certainly some big waves coming in, but I don’t think they came anywhere close to the predicted fifty feet. No doubt they showed up larger on Oahu, where the really big surf is to be found.

Here are a few photos–nothing wonderful, but at least I have something to show for the day. 🙂

Maui, north shore surf, January 22, 2014
This couple is standing on a bluff well above the beach. You can see from their size that the surf is not tiny, but it’s not gigantic either.

Mauna Kea/Milky Way Time Lapse

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

This is an amazing time-lapse video of the Mauna Kea observatories, the Milky Way, and lasers!

The video was created by University of Hawaii grad student Sean Goebel.
Read about the process used to create the video, and also about the lasers here at Peta Pixel:

Haleakala Crater Service Trip

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.

I’m modeling my usual crater attire. The elevation of the crater floor is around 7400′, so solar radiation is intense and sunburn happens fast, so I learned to hide from the sun long ago. (Photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.)

A few years ago my husband, Ron Nagata, retired from his position as Chief of Resources Management at Haleakala National Park here on Maui, but he still works at the park as a volunteer. One of his ongoing projects is invasive weed control from Haleakala’s summit to Kapalaoa Cabin. Over the weekend he and I participated in a periodic service trip, aimed at knocking back the population of two target weeds. It was a fantastic weekend, with unusual weather–colder than expected for this time of year.

On the six-mile hike in, we enjoyed a constantly changing panorama of mist rolling just above the slopes and between the cinder cones. Over the last couple of miles we were spattered by a very light rain. We reached the cabin, rested a bit, and went out again into a cold afternoon to start working. Before long a dribbling rain started to fall, but slowly enough that we stayed out until evening.

The next day started off clear, but the mist and fog soon returned. We worked until mid-afternoon and then returned to the cabin for a late lunch–just before the rain arrived in earnest. It rained hard until after nightfall, so that ended our working day…I’ll admit I wasn’t complaining, because I was tired.

On Monday morning we worked for a couple of hours and then set off through the spectacular central crater scenery on our hike out.

This is me, in the field. There was very little of our target weed in this area, but at the next patch of vegetation seen in the distance above my head, we discovered plenty--and pulled as many as we could. We'll be back for the remainder before too long.

This is me, in the field. There was very little of our target weed in this area, but at the next patch of vegetation seen in the distance above my head, we discovered plenty–and pulled as many as we could. We’ll be back for the remainder before too long. (Photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.)

The peak in the distance is Hanakauhi, aka "Hana Mountain" as seen from Halemau`u Trail in the central crater, on our hike out.

The peak in the distance is Hanakauhi, aka “Hana Mountain” as seen from Halemau`u Trail in the central crater. (Photo by Ronald J. Nagata, Sr.)

Senator Daniel K. Inouye, 1924-2012

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Daniel Inouye passed away today at the age of eighty-eight. He’s been a senator from Hawaii for as long as I can remember — for almost as long as I’ve been alive — having been first elected in 1962. He was the most senior member of the United States senate, a man who came from poverty, served heroically in World War II, had a large role in the push for statehood, and elected to the Senate at the age of thirty-eight.

In middle school I remember reading his autobiography, Journey to Washington, written with Lawrence Elliott, and being hugely impressed.

No one is perfect, but Daniel Inouye served his state and his country for nearly all of his life. He will be greatly missed.

The Star Advertiser has a detailed biography on the senator, not presently paywalled.

Pondering Cloud Atlas, the movie (minor spoilers)

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

I finally saw the movie Cloud Atlas yesterday and have been pondering it since, but probably not for the reasons the creators would like.

Background: I read a sample of the novel on my Kindle, enough to know some details of the initial setting, and I had heard that the film takes place across a wide span of time, with interconnected lives. Other than that, I didn’t know much about it, as I prefer reading reviews and analyses after seeing a movie, and not before.

Also, I have some pretty serious facial recognition issues, so the identity of actors in multiple roles was not at all obvious to me, which pretty much guaranteed the story would be over my head. I had to read an IMDB summary afterward to get the core idea.

But it’s not the intricate story that leaves me pondering. It’s the treatment of race and setting. A lot has been written about Caucasian actors playing Asians in the film. The logical reason for this is pretty straightforward: people are reincarnated with varying racial backgrounds and for continuity the same actors were used regardless. It’s probably fair to ask why Caucasian actors were chosen—and the film might have done better with more mixed-race actors come to think of it. Halle Berry seemed able to pull off the various roles better than most, from my perspective.

But for me personally, the 1940s fake-“Asian” look was very unsettling, very distracting. For me, it doesn’t even trigger the meme “Asian.” More like “Romulan,” or “Vulcan,” or “holy cow, what in the world are they doing…?” I am told this was an indie movie and maybe they didn’t have the budget to do it right, but given the lush, eye-candy settings throughout the film, that’s a little hard to parse.

One racial aspect that I found almost no mention of online was that the people in the opening chapters of the book who were Maori, became people of African descent in the movie. I can come up with possible reasons for this, but it still seemed like Polynesia was being “disappeared,” written out of world history and replaced by another people.

And then there was “The Big Isle.” I gather from comments I’ve heard and from Wikipedia that in the book this actually does refer to our “Big Island,” Hawaii, the largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. But I can tell you that was not the Big Island. There was nothing about it that recalled the Big Island: not the geology, not the flora, not the people, nothing.

I raise my hand and plead guilty to writing about places I haven’t been, but I have to presume the makers of this film could have gone to the Big Island if they wanted to. So I have to assume they found a more budget friendly location, which is fine, I understand that.

But why is every post-apocalyptic survivor on the “Big Isle” seemingly pureblood Caucasian? I don’t think it’s a big secret that here in Hawaii there are a lot of people of Hawaiian ancestry, along with many other racial groups. I also don’t think it’s a secret that here in Hawaii we tend to marry across racial lines very, very frequently (I volunteer myself as an example). For at least twenty years the standard couple in banking commercials has been Asian/Caucasian. These days it seems more unusual to see people of the same race marrying, than to see mixed marriages. So…what happened during the apocalypse to erase our mixed race society? The science-fictional mindset kicks in and I find myself wondering if a racially targeted, engineered virus wiped out all but the Caucasian purebloods…but that has nothing to do with the story. So again, I’m distracted from the actual story by the (to me) inexplicable world-building choices–which goes to show the importance of world-building.

I will try to stop pondering now. I have my own stories to write, my own world-building choices to make. I’m sure I won’t always get it right, but I’ll keep trying.

My First–Maybe My Last–Writer’s Retreat

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

I just got back from Oahu last night. I was there for five days, house-sitting — well, okay, dog-sitting — for my daughter and son-in-law. The idea was, this would be a writer’s retreat: five days of intense revision on the novel-in-progress, with occasional dog walking.

I’d never done a writer’s retreat before, nor had much desire too. Generally, when I decide “Now I will do hours of mind-expanding writing” that will be the exact moment that all desire to write suddenly leaves me. So why set myself up for failure? I write well-enough at home.

But in this case dog-sitting was needed, and my philosophy is “try new stuff.” Besides, I actually got a lot of useful writing done when I was traveling alone in July. So I packed up my Netbook and my folder of “to-do notes” and headed over to Oahu, where it was really hot.

Okay, that’s an unfair statement, because it’s not just Oahu that’s hot. Hawaii, at sea-level, is hot. Sure, there are warmer, more humid places, but the truth is I am spoiled. I live at a relatively high elevation on the island of Maui where the air temperature rarely if ever exceeds eighty degrees, and is much more commonly in the low seventies. Sure, it can be hot in the sun, but it’s almost always cool in the shade, and if the upstairs of the house gets kind of warm on a blazing summer day, well, the downstairs is still cool. So, yeah, spoiled.

Also, I grew up on Oahu, living at sea-level in a house without air-conditioning, and going to a school without air-conditioning. I know what it is to live and work in constant heat and humidity, and I’m not fond of it. The funny thing is, it really wasn’t that hot for the first three days, but regardless, I had a hard time settling into work. In the end, I managed two decent days of revision, but I did get to read a long and fascinating novel by Chaz Brenchley, which I will post on in more detail next week, when it’s released by Book View Café.

And next time I go to Oahu to dog-sit? I’ll plan on sightseeing and hiking, not writing. And if I happen to get some writing done on the side, that’s “cool” too.

Next . . . yoga?

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

So apparently I need to do yoga. I have a bum shoulder. I’ve been favoring it in the gym for a long time now, and have gradually decided that stretching helps, particularly hanging from my arms with less than my full weight.

Well, I just ran across a video “Workout Tips from Miss Hawaii 2012 Skyler Kamaka: Child’s Pose & T-spine Rotation.”

Me, watching the video: “Heh. That looks easy. I’ll try it.”

Me during the child’s pose: “Geez, the child’s pose hurts.”

Me during the t-spine rotation: “Look up? Good heavens, I can’t even look sideways…but I used to be able to bend like that….”

Me after reality hits: “I guess I need to do yoga.”

I look like I’m in great shape. Just don’t ask me to reach back and touch between my shoulder blades.

Snakes in Hawaii

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Mostly you’ll hear there are no snakes in Hawaii, and it’s true that there are no native snakes, and other than the occasional illegally imported and escaped pet — usually a python or boa constrictor — there are no introduced snakes here either. Except for one very interesting species: the island blind snake.

I grew up in Hawaii, but I never saw one until a few years ago when I was digging out a new garden. I turned over a shovel-full of soil and two tiny creatures, best described as looking like earthworms on steroids, went into a wriggling frenzy.

They were island blind snakes: tiny, burrowing snakes, with vestigial eyes, “almost always under eight inches” according to A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands by Sean McKeown. They prefer “slightly moist soil or leaf litter” — so it amazes me that they live here in Kula, because we have suffered so many years of ongoing drought and dry soil. They’re believed to be native to the Phillipines and likely arrived here in soil around the roots of plants. They’re considered harmless.

Three more turned up today, and I took some pictures before we let the snakes go:

Island Blind Snake

This photo is for scale. The white cloth is the little finger of a work glove.

Island blind snake--overview

This is a slightly closer view of the entire snake; the head is at the bottom.

Head and tail of an island blind snake

Here's a closer look at the head (on the bottom) and the tail. Note the snake's scales.

Vestigial eye of the island blind snake

The arrow points to what I think is the dark spot of the snake's vestigial eye.