Today’s plant of the day was the Autograph Tree, Clusia major. Why’s it called that? You sign your name on it!
Our itinerary was mostly touristy stuff, but concluded with a scientific expedition of sorts. We started at Spouting Horn, a hot-water geyser next to the ocean that shot out hot air and vaporized water into the atmosphere. Then we went to the Kauai Coffee Estate, the largest coffee bean-producing plantation in the US, where we drank lots of free coffee. In the afternoon, we went to Salt Pond, a series of small ponds located on iron-rich sand that are created when the ocean rises at high tide and leaves water on the sand. There we looked at lots of different invertebrates and algae like different crabs, corals, sponges, and more.
This morning, I woke up at 6:20 despite setting my alarm for 7:20, but I got about 7.5 hours of sleep. So I decided to go for a run. And a glorious run it was, as I ran along the beach while watching the sun rise on the ocean.
Breakfast was bagels and we left for an unplanned trip to Walmart around 9. We got there around 9:30. It was supposed to be only half an hour, but it turned into more like an hour and a half because of some malingerers. “You can’t put a time deadline on my shopping,” the last girl said out loud to herself as she was boarding the bus. Then this one other kid went the wrong side of the building while waiting for the bus. It seems that Walmart is like a biological habitat: some thrive in that niche while others get lost and can’t use their eyes to find a bright yellow school bus.
Following a 30 minute ride, we arrived at Spouting Horn. There, we immediately saw Humpback whales on the horizon, their big fins sticking out of the water. It was awesome. Then we saw big green sea turtles! Also awesome! There was a big gate around the actual geyser rock unfortunately, apparently people were getting injured by stepping on it and getting too close.
After talking about some of the neat-o plants at Spouting Horn, we reboarded the buses to go to the coffee plantation. On the way, we passed Mount Wailuliali, the largest mountain on Kaua’i. Towards the peak of the windward side, the side up which the wind blows, annual rainfall is 600 inches, one of the two wettest places on Earth. I ate a lot of granola bars while looking out the windows at the rolling hills and tall mountains.
The coffee plantation had the best coffee that we had today. There were maybe 30 coffee drinks out in thermaces, different kinds of roasts, light, medium, and dark, but best were the flavored ones (something I found after trying all of the coffees). The top 3 were Roasted Hawaiian Hazelnut (heaven), Vanilla Macademia Nut, and Toasted Banana Nut Cream. I tasted them all black, and even though I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I thought they were great!
Then I followed the group for a small tour of the plantation to look at the cool plants. We saw the Staghorn Fern, a massive fern that grows on trees, and Plumeria, a tree with pink and white flowers that has poisonous milky-white sap.
(Pictured above, swathes of coffee bean plants)
Next came Salt Pond (after lunch), where we collected and looked at different invertebrates. We walked along a reef beside the ocean and turned over rocks, looking for different invertebrates like crabs and corals.
The diversity on this reef was really cool; we saw many sea cucumbers, sea hairs, different snails, shrimps, crabs, etc. The rarest one was the coral-banded shrimp, a thing only the size of the palm of your hand, but was white with red rings on its body.
After making another shopping stop that took far longer than it should have (and the same 2 people were last again! How frustrating…), we returned to the hotel Plantation Hale where I made green beans, kidney beans, and brown rice. I thought I overlooked the rice yesterday, but it turned out that it needs to be cooked for 45 minutes! I thought it was only 20. So tonight I did it right and it was great. Now I’m going to settle down and read a bit of my history book about Hawaii, and then go to bed! So hope that you enjoyed my post and come back tomorrow!