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Moloka`i - Seeing Deeply #4

Wild Turkeys Another day of class and another day of shooting. This day I decided to head back to the eastern side of Moloka`i — I recalled from a previous visit that there was a large hill overlooking the ocean near the now-closed Kaluakoi Resort. As I approached my destination I spotted some wild turkeys. I hopped out of the car and quickly began shooting (photos, that is). They would not stand still so I was forced to pursue them through the brush — but I did capture one photo that I thought did them justice.

Kiawe However, in rushing through the brush I did get a couple nasty scratches on my legs. The culprit? Kiawe. You can see the thorns in the photo to the left. Note that kiawe trees are everywhere in Hawai`i, not just on Moloka`i. Even so, they are not native to Hawai`i and a little Google search tells me that they came from Peru. All those in Hawai'i are said to descend from one tree, which was grown from a seed brought from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Paris and planted at the Catholic Mission in downtown Honolulu in 1828. They are related to mesquite and, like mesquite, kiawe makes excellent charcoal.

Lichen After shooting turkeys, I climbed the hill that was my original destination. Seeing deeply, I noticed this most unusual lichen. As most of you know, lichen is a symbiotic organism consisting of a photosynthesizing plant and a fungus. The fungus provides water and minerals for the plant and the plant provides food for both. What is so unusual about this lichen is how it stands up on the bark of this kiawe tree. Most lichen is almost two dimensional. How curious!

3 Mile Beach The climb to the top of the hill was well rewarded by this fantastic view of Papohaku Beach (AKA Three Mile Beach) — a view much different than the one I shared previously from the beach itself. Too bad the clouds had started to intrude, threatening rain.

Rusty Boiler Also on top of the hill I encountered these ruins — my guess is that it was an old boiler. Of course that raises the question of what it was used for. I have no guess to answer that. Why top of the hill? Why a bit inland from the oceanside cliff? Who knows?

Chimney Next to the rusted out boiler (or whatever it was) was a concrete slab that looked like a chimney. However, there was no opening that I could find to funnel smoke. And now it has become a canvas for a modern petroglyph.

North Beach Enough of that, I then headed back to Maunaloa and down a dirt road that I used for running while I was staying at the B&B my first few days on Moloka`i. Tom (the owner of the B&B) told me that it leads to the ocean (not surprising on an island). The road was in fairly good condition and I made it to the ocean with no problems. The beach would not win any beauty contests and certainly explains why there are no resorts down here.

Sea Grapes The road continues along the coast and I followed it to see what I might encounter. I did find a rather nice stand of sea grapes. This bush or small tree originated in Florida and is found in many tropical areas, particularly the Caribbean.

I remember it from my time in Fort Lauderdale during part of my high school years and summers during my college years. In fact, one year my mom made sea grape jelly. However, there is so little flesh on the fruit that she said it was not worth the trouble and never made it again. It was tasty, if memory serves me correctly.

Harbor Piling Ah, I drove further I was rewarded by sight of the Hale O Lono Harbor — the name meaning "House of Lono" — Lono being one of the Hawaiian gods. He is one of the older gods having come with the ancient Hawaiians from Tahiti. In prayers to Lono the signs of the god are named as thunder, lightning, earthquake, the dark cloud, the rainbow, rain and wind, whirlwinds that sweep the earth, rocks washed down ravines by "the red mountain streams [stained with red earth] rushing to the sea," waterspouts, the clustering clouds of heaven, gushing springs on the mountains. It is thought that some Hawaiians believed that Captain James Cook was Lono returning to the islands — and that this belief may have lead to his death.

These days, the harbor is the starting point for the annual Moloka`i Hoe outrigger canoe race. More than 100 canoes from all over the world are entered each year and the race is followed closely by many people in Hawai`i. This year's overall winner (there are multiple categories) was a team from Tahiti.


Harbor BerthsTo my eyes, the harbor is in disrepair. The rust and decay is evident everywhere. I'm not sure that Lono is happy about this sad state of affairs.

Sailboat In addition to the annual Moloka`i Hoe, the harbor is used by sailors and fisherman. This solitary sailboat was tied up here. I did not see anyone aboard the boat or around the harbor.

Overgrown Fence Well, the clouds were starting to fill the skies and I thought it prudent to head on back to town before the rains arrived. Along the way, I had to stop and take a photo of this barbed wire fence on Moloka`i Ranch land, overgrown with vines. It rather symbolizes what has happened to this former ranch land now that the owners have shut down the ranch and resort.

Life is good.

B. David