Kahoolawe Travel Blog

It is a Hawaiian tradition to talk, share, and enjoy the company of others. It's called "Talk Story" and we post some of our thoughts here.

Space Invaders, Do You Come In Peace?

By Amanda Kurth
Published: 02/21/22 Topics: Comments: 0

Photo credit: Amanda Kurth

Visitors to the Garden Island have little idea they share land, sea and air with the military and big-wig defense contractors occupying 2,385 acres at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), just an hour due west from the Lihue airport.

But just as Kaua’i is a major center for scientific study possessing state of the art resources, this ancient, once soggy stretch of low land, long ago exhausted to grow sugar cane, is today home to reaps of GMO crops that form a buffer around the base, where it remains terra incognita.

When imagining Kaua’i, perhaps you envision paddleboarding, thundering waterfalls and lush gardens, feral chickens or whale watching along the famed Na Pali coast tour.

What would not come to mind are the advanced hypersonic weapons, ballistic missile defense testing, predator drones, low-earth orbit intercepts and sophisticated tracking systems that monitor activities near and far, like that of unidentified flying objects (UFO).

February 14, a “balloon” prompted jets to scramble over Kaua’i and investigate any malfeasance or intrusion.

According to Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara, Hawaii’s adjutant general; an official statement via Twitter asserted in the first of three tweets, “Indo-Pacific Command detected a high-altitude object floating in the air in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands. In accordance with homeland defense procedures, Pacific Air Forces launched tactical aircraft to intercept and identify the object, visually confirming an unmanned balloon without observable identification markings.”

The Valentine’s Day aerial mystery remains just that. The incident has been corroborated by the US Pacific Air Forces. However, no further details have been released. The matter is still, as of today, under investigation.

What is clear through many online forums is that local eyewitnesses have substantiated official reports of a military unit sent on reconnaissance outfitted with F-22A Raptors, the only of their kind stationed in Hawai’i.

It wouldn't be the first time Kaua’i has attracted other-worldly phenomenon.

Barking Sands, the area where PMRF is situated, sounds like the stuff of legends. From the sugar era to the space age, the nearly eight-mile stretch of sand was once home to an old Hawaiian fisherman and his nine dogs.

One day as he prepared his fishing canoe, he tied the dogs to stakes, three to each, as he had done every morning.

While out at sea, he was caught in an unexpected storm, wrestling the angry waves until he could return ashore.

His strength shattered, and his body became heavy. He forgot to untie the dogs as he summoned the strength to crawl into his hut.

The next morning, he went outside and did not see them.

In their place buried were mounds of sand.

As he began to dig, each shovelful removed was filled with more earth, and still, he could not find his dogs.

Every day after that when he crossed the beach where he last saw them, he heard the dogs barking low beneath his feet.

Native Hawaiians trace their origins from the Pleiades star system called the Akua. But were these islands already inhabited by extraterrestrials?

Is it possible that Hawaii’s volcanic activity attracted other intelligent life forms to harness the immense geo-energy it produces?

History Channel’s Ancient Alien’s narrator voice aside, let us go full kimono here and talk story.

Looking back, American social traditions transformed in the mid-20th century, specifically around issues of race, gender and sexuality.

According to historian W. Scott Poole, the first science-fiction fantasies of aliens could have been a way of processing these social adjustments.

For example, in 1967, the Supreme Court finally proclaimed that laws banning interracial marriage were unconstitutional.

What is even more interesting is that the country had already been talking for years about Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple who purportedly were abducted by a UFO and its occupants.

Back in 1961, Kaua’i too played host to several alien encounters.

That fall, Masa Arita of Lihue took a photograph of a silver orb above Kalapaki Beach.

The next week, Ed Roberson of Lihue reported a flying disk between the KTOH radio tower on Ahukini Road and Lihue town.

Earlier in 1950, The Garden Island newspaper reported Hawaiian Canneries manager Albert Horner of Wailua, Ben Iida of Lihue, Ben Ohai of Kapa’a and Kumanosuke Fujita near Knudsen’s Gap recounted seeing strange objects.

More recently, in 2020, Hawai’i residents discovered a mysterious blue light surging through the dark horizon.

Multiple witnesses took video of the object, and one woman on O’ahu even followed it in her car before the light plunged into the nearby coastal waters.

The late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye also did not seek theatrics. He humbly formed a band of truth-seekers reigniting a passionate fascination with the phenomena.

Conspiracy junkies were soon presented with the opportunity to digest the throngs of truly awesome and outlandish theories.

But for all intents and purposes, 2007 proved to be a good year to secretly funnel $22 million to the Pentagon’s clandestine budget for UFO research.

The current scope and force of interest in this subject have one asking if the gods of antiquity merely are personifications of the beings that have already visited us.

The urge to investigate and trust in the paranormal is all-consuming at times from a writer’s point of view, almost religious in devout hope.

When we want to understand something strange, something previously unknown to anyone, we must begin with a standard set of questions. Aloha space invaders, do you come in peace?

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Author: Amanda Kurth
Blog #: 0859 – 02/21/22

Cacao To Chocolate: Hawaiian Style

By Amanda Kurth
Published: 01/31/22 Topics: Comments: 0

Photo credit: Amanda Kurth

Once upon a time, on a tiny little rock in the Central Pacific, there came to these shores a special plant: Theobroma Cacao. Replete with a plethora of varied exteriors, the unusual interior of the pod is not what one would expect. Nor does its slick and fresh crunch evoke any fleeting thoughts of chocolate. It tastes more like when Mom tried to get you to eat something gross for dinner but failed to tell you what white and pulpy mystery ingredient she garnished it with. After all, I am from the Pacific Northwest and last week's upset over similar fruit was not promising.

The world already knew of chocolate’s decadence by the mid-19th century when any interest in cultivating cacao took hold through the islands.

Initially, the evergreen was established in the gardens of an agricultural advisor to King David Kalakaua in the 1830s. Although it took nearly eight decades before Hawaiian farmers were finally weaving it into their crops commercially, German physician Wilhelm Hillebrand is widely thought to have introduced the plant to O’ahu. And of his multitude of side hustles, Hillebrand had a keen curiosity for Botany. A study that piqued the interest of the Hawaiian Kingdom ultimately commissioned him to coordinate the first boatloads of immigrants to Hawaii.

The keywords here gang are sugarcane, labor and sunshine. Without it, cocoa would not be possible. Sourcing labor in antiquity had been an easy task when every seafarer was still basically a pirate. More specifically, an effortless ordeal if you had any inkling of influence as a white male.

And while I still have you nearly biting your nails during this history lesson, it should be noted debauchery arose in the wake of the excessive and disproportionate number of males to female immigrants coming to Hawai’i during that time. With ample nationalities of men in one remote place, the complete abandonment of the culture and practices of the island’s predecessors became apparent.

History is not kind and describes these transplants as becoming lazy and making a living by peddling. A practice despised by the native Hawaiian population, who used to say scornfully, "Child of a peddler!", or “Keiki a ka ma‘au‘auwa!”.

While the world's craving for chocolate grows more insatiable with each passing year, chocoholics need take note: farms around the globe are deteriorating from eras of misuse, invaded by diseases and insects. To that end, representatives from big-wig, large-scale growers on the islands have worked for nearly three decades with conservation groups to implement sustainability into their practices, specific to our respective combination of latitudes. Methods like utilizing smaller parcels of land similar to Theo’l Lady Farms in Kealia Valley, who on Kaua’i (which delivers some of the rarest cacao in the world with just a crop of about 300 trees), circumvent a lot of issues plaguing the trade. Concerns brought on by human trafficking and deforestation, let alone the poverty-stricken communities on the Ivory Coast of Southwest Africa who have become entangled in a perpetual cycle of inhumane conditions for centuries.

Chocolate’s origins branch from the people who inhabited Mesoamerica (South America). Back then, it was consumed in its purest form, much less processed than the cocoa Olmec tribes formulated thousands of years after its discovery. It was used in preparation for war, sacrifices and celebrations. Even the Aztecs used the dried seeds as currency.

Propagated today, the old classification system of the three main varieties of beans that are recognized, are no longer applicable in the current market: Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario. The demand for variety and nuance is abundant, and Hawai’i grows all types. Pure, heirloom-quality to seedlings of new varieties.

According to the Department of Agriculture, “Cacao… is used as a medicine for healing bruises… utilized in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries… recognized as one of the compounds contributing to chocolate’s reputed role as an aphrodisiac… a diuretic and heart stimulant”.

One foot inside the Kauai Chocolate Company in Ele’ele is everything you thought you knew about your love for confection rotates nicely into a more comforting axis. Lingering is the assertive scent of something familiar. The sort of smell that makes you want to nosh like Elmer Fudd devouring his favowite meal, gwiwwed cheese in ecstasy.

The chocolate company’s most celebrated creation is like an upgrade to a Snickers. The“Opihi”, a hometown staple, looks like a flying saucer.

Layered are locally made guava Kaua’i Cookie, topped with caramel, one jeweled macadamia nut and covered by dark or milk chocolate.

Conclusively, if tidbits of ginger, toffee, peanut butter, cookie or the ever-elusive seasonal fudge are not incorporated in your recipe, please then take it elsewhere.

Retired co-owner Donald Greer is a cool guy. A former Research Engineer turned Chocolatier, Greer specialized in Fluid Dynamics at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. He succeeded in a design career and predictions for high-altitude aerodynamic flight. And after working against technological challenges in designing advanced aircraft for the next generation, he and his wife Marlene, so obviously had more terrestrial plans, moving to the 808 state to manufacture tasty, hand-crafted edible delights.

The Greer’s shop opened in the early 2000s and resides at its original launching pad. It greets you on the right in a well-kept strip mall, before the Port Allen marina, directly across from one of the last watering holes on the west side, Kaua’i Island Brewery & Grill. Its prime directive boasts abundant foot traffic and is locked into one of the better sunset positions you will ever experience in your lifetime. Particularly when the deep and northern breath of winter sends Humpback whales as proverbial eye candy.

Managing has now been left to the couple’s children and employs a fleet of young engineers of Belgian-style desserts. You can expect an above-average price point for their product, purchasing not only a small-kine community’s labor of love but also an above-average result. Cacao is a high-grade commodity. So if you try local, the impact is global.

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Author: Amanda Kurth
Blog #: 0857 – 01/31/22

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