Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wild Flowers of Kokee and Waimea Canyon State Park

In an attempt to escape from the heat and humidity of mid-July summer, we headed up to the mountains of Kauai also known as Kokee or Waimea Canyon State Park.  At about 4,000 feet above sea level we certainly found a cool breeze along with a light, misty rain.

Waimea Canyon State Park

The thing I love most about going up to Kokee is the peace and quiet and solitude, and that is exactly what you will find especially on a day during the work week.  Weekends are usually much busier.  We always take a ride up to the park right in front of the Kokee Lodge and the Kokee Museum.  It's our favorite spot and is just right for a picnic.  Coming up from Waimea, we stopped at Ishihara Market and picked up some bentos, poke, potato salad, and fruit for lunch.

chicken rooster Kauai Kokee Waimea Canyon
 One of the clucking chickens who decided to make herself at home near our table

I packed hot tea in Joe's old thermos from the old days when he used to work at the sugar plantation as a haul cane truck driver.  He used to bring his hot coffee in the thermos and store it behind the seat of the old haul cane truck.  The truck would bounce around on the rocky roads, and that's where the thermos got a nice little "smash" on it's side.  It's still good, though, and holds plenty heat.  Joe also made sure to pack his MP3 player so we could sit back, relax, and enjoy some nice Hawaiian music, especially IZ.

Waimea Canyon State Park Wild flowers orange

We just pulled into the park and there is hardly anyone here except for a few campers who are already packing up their two small tents to go home.  There is a chicken clucking around our table looking for food, and there are some myna birds off in the distance with a red-crested cardinal.  Right now the only things I hear are Joe's music playing softly, the sound of a few roosters crowing, and some doves and other birds making cheerful chirping noises.  Ah bliss!!!

Waimea Canyon State Park flower red hanging

It's pretty cool up here even though it was forecast to be 90 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level.  I am actually wearing a sweater.  It's a bit cloudy as I look up in the sky surrounded by pine trees and ohia lehua trees.  I love the fresh smell up here, especially the smell of the eucalyptus trees.

wild lilikoi flower waimea canyon passion fruit

As I go for a walk around the park, I spot some of my favorite wild flowers.  Most of these flowers are actually non-native, invasive species that have taken over.  However, most of them have been here in the twenty some years since I first discovered Kokee.  They have become familiar to me.  First I spot the bright and colorful wild Kahili Ginger which is named after a feather standard that the Hawaiian royalty used in ancient days.  It's scientific name is Hedychium gardnerianum.  Another invasive species is the wild liliko'i vine that has a pretty pink flower and a football shaped fruit.  It is called the banana poka flower, and it's scientific name is Passiflora tarminiana.  I also spot some red fuchsia bolivia and some orange crocosmia, also invasive species.  About the only flower I see that is native to Kokee is the lovely, red ohi'a lehua flower, a flowering evergreen tree from the myrtle family.  This tree is a very important tree in Hawaiian culture as it grows in volcanic areas and it is a sacred flower of Pele, the Volcano Goddess.  In fact it is usually the first plant that grows after a fresh lava flow.

Waimea Canyon State Park flower ohia lehua goddess pele lava

I head back to our picnic table for lunch, and as soon as we get the food out, it starts to rain lightly.  Thank goodness we had the beach umbrella in the trunk.  We use it  to cover us and the food while we ate.  Next, we experience a slight case of "Hawaiian paralysis" which is basically nap time after lunch.  Time to visit the Kokee Museum and then head down the mountain to finish off another perfect day on Kauai.

Waimea Canyon State Park Hydrangea Kokee museum
Hydrangea Flower in front of the Kokee Museum

Wild Flower Bouquet in front of the Kokee Museum

I hope you have enjoyed this little, relaxing adventure to one of the most interesting places on Kauai!

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