I went on a little trip last week. When I say little that is because the flight was short. I stepped off my island into a completely different world. That is what I love about Hawaii. There are so many different environments on each island, and every island is so different. Hawaii as we have talked about before is the “type location” for hot spot volcanism. That means that Hawaii is the example that was used to explain the process. The Big Island is the youngest island and as you go north they get older. The last of the main Hawaiian Islands are Kauai and Niihau. Further north are the northwest Hawaiian Islands who are mostly atolls. 
Main Hawaiian Islands from space (Wikipedia)
For this trip I went to Kauai. This is one of my all-time favorite places in the world. Most specifically I LOVE the north shore. My parents were with us and their reaction in the morning (we got in at night) sums up how I feel about this area “This isn’t real! I’m in a painting!” 
Like a painting (my photo)
One of the things that is hard to describe that my geologic training brings to my everyday life, is how I see a landscape. Maybe this can best be illustrated with an example. We went for a hike on the Na Pali Coast which is an erosional feature (formed from streams cutting down through layers of rock and ocean storms breaking off the fronts of the cliffs). It is a very impressive landscape but you can see on a small scale what is creating it when you look at your feet. If you hike along the trail you will see these round rocks with what looks like rinds about them in circles. It is like an onion has been peeled away one layer at a time. This is called spalling weathering. Bits of rock break off as the rocks is chemically broken down by the water. Once you see one, you see them everywhere. I pointed one out to my mom and she suddenly saw them everywhere! 
Spalling texture with my feet for scale (my photo)
One of the other things I love about island hopping is how different every island feels. The Hawaiian word for spiritual energy is Mana and the word has roots and variations all over Polynesia. I’ve said before that I don’t like the term “energy” or “force” even though it’s a good way to get across what I am talking about. In this context since I am talking about Hawaii I will use the Hawaiian word Mana. In general I have decided that in order to set apart what I am talking about from physical definable properties (energy has physical meaning) I am going to use the word Sparkle. It just seems a perfectly silly way to talk about something serious. And this is me so it fits. In Hawaii though I will refer to Sparkle as Mana. 
The mana of Kauai feels very different than the other islands I have visited. There is just something so peaceful about that island, something deep and slow. Maybe it is the age of the island and that the mountains roots are showing but it just feels deep and resonant. In terms of the geologic time Kauai is not that old, but in terms of the islands it is the oldest I have been on. The flows that make up the Na Pali coast erupted around 5 million years ago.
Na Pali Coast (Wikipedia)
Living in the islands for since time now I have picked up some words that I find incredible useful. When giving directions things are mauka (towards the mountains) or Makai (towards the sea). I’m not sure if it is correct to use them the following way but I have heard it before. For this trip I spent a lot of time mauka and not as much time Makai. The mountains are beautiful, and even if it seems to always be raining it is a very pleasant and comforting rain.
When the sun goes down in Hawaii it GOES DOWN and it is DARK! We found a copy of South Pacific in the condo we rented and split watching it over two nights after dinner. It was filmed in part right below where we were staying.
I think I have rambled on enough. Although I want to leave you with this thought. Kauai should be remained the chicken and nene isle. SO MANY NENE (endangered Hawaiian geese) and the chickens are of course legendary.
Nene Family (my photo)
P.S. The January Contest is still going on! Are you liking my rambling writings? Want to hear some rambling reflections in the podcast? Let me know! (Click HERE)