Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vote in the Poll

There will now be a weekly poll every Tuesday based on a recent post.  It will be, as the current one is, on the right side of the blog.  Make sure you vote! (primarily b/c it will make me feel popular).

Golden Palace

Last week our chambers went out to lunch together.  By "chambers" I mean the judge, the two clerks, and our secretary (sorry, no, I mean our "judicial assistant").  Anyway, the idea came up when I went out with the judicial assistants for pau hana last week (pau hana literally means "after work" but you know it better as happy hour).  Our judicial assistant and I were talking and I asked her where I could find good Manapua.  I told her that I could only seem to find it at 7-Eleven.  She was not pleased.  So she suggested we all go to lunch at the place where you can get the good stuff, especially since it is walking to distance to our office.  Upon hearing about lunch, however, my judge decided that he'd rather go for Dim Sum.  Since we all like dim sum, this was no problem.  They suggested Golden Palace in Chinatown.

Dim sum is a Cantonese term for a type of Chinese dish that involves small individual portions of food, usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. Going for dim sum is usually known in Cantonese as going to "drink tea."  Dim Sum is usually linked with the older tradition of yum cha (tea tasting), which has its roots in travellers on the ancient Silk Road (i.e. an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world) needing a place to rest. Thus teahouses were established along the roadside.  I just call it Chinese tapas.  I hate tapas, though, because they are ridiculously overpriced for essentially no food.  Definitely a rip off.  Dim sum, however, is not like that at all and Golden Palace is awesome.

Golden Palace is located at 111 North King Street and is pretty hard to miss given the big ass sign out front that says "Golden Palace."  It looks like a stereotypical chinese restaurant.  The best part about this place is the price of the dim sim...ready?  $1.89 per dish.  Now yes, the dishes are small so you're not getting lunch for $1.89.  However, 2-3 people would easily be completely stuffed after 10 dishes.  You're talkin' somewhere around $6 to be stuffed.  And it includes pretty good hot tea.

The service here was amazing.  There are several carts that the waitresses push around throughout the dining room.  Each cart has various dishes of dim sum.  They just walk by your table and you stop them, point to what you want, and they hand it to you.  My judge actually knew the names of things, but our judicial assistant informed me that she has never once said a dish by name.  She just points.  Besides, most of the waitresses are very old Chinese women.  If you're a tourist, they're going to pretend they don't speak English anyway.  Even if they do speak English, you won't understand them and they won't understand you.  We had maybe 15 different plates, including Manapua, pork dumplings, shu mai, spring rools, shrimp-stuffed eggplant, shrimp-stuffed peppers, and fried mochi.  It was all really good.

The fact that Hawai'i has a strong dim sum tradition is not surprising since the custom originated in Canton, the region from which many Hawai'i immigrants came. The term is variously translated as "a little bit of heart" or "heart's delight," meaning something that touches the heart. The name speaks to the connection between dim sum and human interaction. That's because these are drawn-out meals - consisting of dumplings, baked treats, and invariably, tea - that you share with others. The dim sum table is a place at which to do business, trade gossip or socialize. In Chinatown and other neighborhoods with a lot of foot traffic, dim sum is an everyday occurrence, generally served from the early morning to early afternoon.  I definitely recommend Golden Palace, and if you're ever in the mood for tapas, opt for dim sum instead.

Pidgin Lesson

When I wrote about the Hawaii Five-0 episode titles recently, I noted that they were in Hawaiian.  There has been a resurgence of late trying to incorporate more of the Hawaiian language into everyday life.  If you don't live here, or haven't lived here very long, then you probably won't notice.  The change has occurred over the last 10-15 years.  That is for the actual Hawaiian language.  Pidgin, however, is the "street language" that you will hear wherever you go.  It's hard to explain without a voice sample, but essentially it is a relaxed form of proper English (think the polynesian form of ebonics). This website says I'm wrong.  It says that pidgin is a form of creole.  Like when Oakland tried to teach ebonics in school because it was a "recognized language." Yeah, if you're retarded.

Pidgin is actually a legitimate language phenomenon that develops as a way for divergent groups to communicate with each other when they don't have a language in common. It is usually employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which they reside.  This makes sense for Hawai'i since the Native Hawaiians, for example, are really a mix of all the polynesian island groups and tribes.

Today, pidgin is easily distinguishable because there is a sort of "accent" that comes along with it.  If you've been keeping up with Hawaii Five-0, then you've undoubtedly heard Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) use some pidgin.  You just may not have known what the hell he was saying.  Below is a list of the most common pidgin phrases that you may come across.  I wouldn't recommend trying to use them.  It's pretty easy to tell when someone is faking it, and then you just look foolish.  But try to listen for it if you're ever in Hawaii (hint: you won't hear it in the tourist resorts...).

An' den - And then? (Dude, Where's My Car? Anyone?)
Ass right - That's right
Brah - Friend, Brother (used ALL THE TIME)
Brok' da mouf - Delicious
Bus nose - Something smells bad
Choke - Plenty of something
Cockaroach - Rip off, steal
Da Kine - Used for EVERYTHING.  This is heard all the time, too.  You can literally use it for anything.  If you see something awesome, it's common to shout out, "That's da kine, brah" - seriously. This is my life.
Grind - Eat
Grinds - Food
Howzit - How's it going.  This is a VERY common way that locals greet each other.  It is also a fast way to tell if someone lives in Hawaii or is just a tourist.  I find that white people use it more often because even if you live here, if you're white, people still think you're a tourist.  But locals use it, too.
Mek plate - make yourself a plate of food
Moke - A large, local, toughguy
O wot? - Or what?
Pau Hana - After work (usually in reference to happy hour)
Shahkbait - Shark Bait, meaning pale, untanned people (I particularly like this one because I recently had a few visitors who are...well...shahkbait).
Shaka - Great! (This is also the name for the common Hawaiian greeting with the thumb and pinky finger extended)
Talk story - Shooting the breeze
Yeah? - Used at the end of sentences (This is also very common.  So common in fact that I do it and don't even realize it and was told recently that it is quite annoying).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kaua'i Coffee Company

History Lesson
When we went to Kaua'i last week, I wrote about how we went to the Waimea Brewing Comany and sampled their beer.  After a few beers, though, we needed some coffee to sober up.  Fortunately for us, right now the street from the brewery was the largest coffee producer in the United States.  The Kaua'i Coffee Company is also located right off the main road in Kaua'i and is a short distance from the brewery.  The Kauai Coffee Company is does all the work - from growing the beans to packaging them - right there on the premises.  There are over 4 million coffee trees grown on 3,100 acres, which makes the company responsible for HALF of all coffee produced in the U.S.

Who Doesn't Like Free Samples?
This was a really cool place to visit, and I wholeheartedly recommend stopping by if you're ever on Kaua'i.  First of all, when you walk in, there is someone there to greet you with a really friendly attitude.  This person will tell you all about the variety of samples they have on the back deck and will point you in the direction of the walking tour, coffee bar, or ice cream shop.  When you walk in, you're in the middle of the gift shop, but if you walk through that, you end up on a covered patio out back.  There, you will find 3 tables with about 8 different coffee-filled thermoses.  That's right, there are 24 FREE samples of coffee.  They actually encourage you to try all of them.  I don't know about you, but whenever I go to, say, an ice cream store and they offer free samples, I always feel guilty (and a little judged) if I asked for multiple samples.  Not here.  No one is there monitoring anything and they encourage you to try everything, so there is no guilt with trying every sample they have.  The tables are broken down by type of roast.  They have espresso roast, dark roast, and flavored.  I was really impressed.  Everything I tried was really good.  So good, in fact, that I purchased a few bags (more on that below).

Little Museum Inside
As you sip your coffee, there is a running video that you can sit and watch that details the way coffee is produced.  Various plantation workers talk about how coffee beans are grown, pulped, and processed.  You can also get ice cream, but ready for this? NO COFFEE FLAVOR!  They just had basic flavors.  Wtf!?  That doesn't even make sense!  Oh well.  They also have a coffee bar where you can get a big cup of coffee if you don't want to mooch and just try the samples.  There are plenty of tables, benches, and chairs on the patio for you to sit and relax outside.  You can also walk into the coffee fields where they have tables and chairs and umbrellas set up to sit outside if you want.

Once you're finished sipping samples and milling around, take the walking tour.  I never knew how coffee was produced (not that I ever really cared to think about it...).  This tour was really informative, but perfectly short.  They had about 8 or 9 stations set up with brief plaques explaining the different steps in the process of producing coffee beans.

Coffee Fields
After you go through the garden walking tour, you can go into the gift shop and purchase bags of coffee beans if you want.  They have other stuff, too, but I actually thought the coffee was really good.  So I bought a couple bags.  But what if I don't have a coffee grinder?  Well, they will happily grind it for you, for free!  And you'll also get a 10% discount if you have a Kama'aina (resident) Discount.

So how do they produce and process the coffee? Did you really think I wouldn't explain it?


Coffee starts like many other fruits - it grows on a tree as a fragrant and delicate flower blossom. These blossoms eventually develop into the coffee cherry.  The seeds of the cherry (usually two to a cherry) are what become the coffee bean familiar to most of us.

See the Cherries?
On Kauai, the blossoming begins in February or March, and by May, the cherry begins to form.  The fruit ripens around late September, and harvesting begins.  They employ harvesting technology very similar to many wine grape harvesters in regions like California's Napa Valley.  The Kauai Coffee Company’s harvesting period runs from mid-October through early December.  They harvest 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, using 3 shifts.  Due to the size of the estate, and the existence of varying island climates, daily scouting reports are used to select the fields with maximum ripeness.  Twelve mechanical harvesters that were originally designed for blueberries perform the harvesting.  On the tour they tell you that it would take literally every man, woman, and child on Kaua’i to harvest by hand.  I guess that means they don’t have an influx of Mexican immigrants here.

Wet Processing:
After the coffee cherries are harvested, trucks deliver them from the fields to the “wet processing plant.”  At the plant, the cherries are separated into three stages of maturity - ripe, natural and immature coffee.  They put the cherries in water and the overripe float to the top and the under-ripe cherries sink to the bottom. by using inherent differences in density and hardness.

They take the ripe cherries and remove the skin and fleshy part of the fruit until just the seed (i.e. bean) is left.

The leftover beans are then washed to remove the sticky mucous and crap that coats them before the beans are sent to pre-dryers - a fluidized bed of air that is the start of the drying process. After this, the beans are puy in heated drying elevators for 18 to 36 hours.

The coffee rests in parchment for a while, and is then milled to remove more skin.  Throughout the process, the producers still have quality control tests that monitor bean temperatures and preserve each bean's flavor and quality. Sizing screens and density tables further sort out the best beans.

The final sorting step in the dry mill is the color sorter, where an electronic eye scans each bean for color, selecting the finest colored beans and rejecting those that don't pass with a blast of air.

After the beans are sorted, each batch of coffee is then inspected by the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture, which gives each batch a different graded designation. The DOA inspector officially certifies each batch of coffee by grade quality and origin.  Finally, they roast it and ship it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pineapple Growth (2 Months Down)

Making Progress
The original idea for this blog was to grow my own pineapple from its top and then document the growth as I go through the experience of living and working in Hawaii.  Since it takes two years to grow a pineapple, I figured it would give me a theme to build the blog around.  I said I would post pictures and updates about once a month.  I intended to post around the first of every month.  I'm a few days early, but here is the next round of updates.  If you want to see the last post about these pineapples, and see how much progress they are making, you can view the pictures here.  As you can clearly see, the pineapples aren't dead yet.  They seem to be growing, in fact.  I say "yet" because one of the pineapples has only been growing for a month and the other for 2 months.  It needs to be planted for 24 months.  There is a LONG way to go (see Clerkship Countdown above).

If you watch the video from the previous post, it says that after 2 months you should see some pretty significant growth.  The pineapple on the left, after 2 months, is not as big as I would have expected, but right now I'm just happy it's not dead.  I'm also impatient and really don't think it should take 2 years to grow a damn fruit.  If I weren't stuck on this island for 2 years, I would just go to the store and buy a damn pineapple.  But alas, it is what it is.  Anyway, the stunted growth may actually make sense given the dirt and soil it was planted in.  Instead of using fresh potting soil, I just used the dirt that was already in the pot on my lanai (Hawaiian for "porch").  I did, however, use Miracle Grow potting soil in the other one.  I guess this will be the "experiment in the experiment."  We'll see if it makes a difference.

Picture Taken Nov. 28, 2010 (Planted Oct. 1, 2010)

Because no blog post of mine would be complete without fun facts, here is some interesting trivia about your homegrown pineapple.  The pineapple is native to southern Brazil and Paraguay where wild relatives occur.  It was spread by the Indians up through South and Central America to the West Indies before Columbus arrived.  Columbus found the fruit on the island of Guadaloupe and carried it back to Spain and it was spread around the world on ships that carried it for protection against scurvy (vitamin C deficiency...go ahead, make the pirate sound). The Spanish introduced it into the Philippines and may have taken it to Hawaii and Guam early in the 16th Century.

Picture Taken Nov. 28, 2010 (Planted Oct. 25, 2010)
The pineapple is a member of the bromeliad family.  It is related to Spanish moss and some ornamental plants sold in nurseries.  Spanish moss absorbs water and nutrients from a water-tight reservoir formed where the leaves come together, which allows these plants to draw water and nutrients from sources as random as fog and dust in the air.  The pineapple, however, uses its roots like houseplants with which you are familiar and should be easy to grow if you treat it like a normal houseplant that needs bright light.

How to Grow a Pineapple From Its Top (reminder):
Step 1: Twist crown (leaves) off the top of a fresh pineapple.  Peel off the leaves at the bottom exposing about an inch or two of the crown

Step 2: Soak the crown in water for about 3 days until the roots sprout

Step 3: Plant the Crown in fresh potting soil (water once a week)

Step 4: Trim the dead leaves as the plant grows

Step 5: After about a year, re-plant into a larger pot if necessary


Someone informed me (instead of commenting, which is the proper way to address blogging issues) that they couldn't see a difference between the first and second posts regarding the growth of the pineapples.  This person also suggested that it was annoying to have to go back to the previous post (despite the simplicity and ease of clicking the link).  So here are two pictures from the earlier post to make it easier.

Picture Taken Oct. 25, 2010 (Planted Oct. 1, 2010)

Picture Taken Oct. 25, 2010 (Planted Oct. 25, 2010)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gratitude Researcher Says Lawyers Aren't Very Grateful

I was reading some legal blogs today and came across this article that says lawyers are not a very grateful bunch.  First of all, what the hell is a "gratitude researcher?"  Apparently, there is a field of study - under the guise of psychology - that studies how people develop a "warmly or deeply appreciative attitude for kindnesses or benefits received."  Gag me, seriously.  Some people may read this and think gratitude is an important emotion.  It seems that "gratitude researcher" Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis would agree with you.  Apparently, this guy Emmons sat down and talked with a group of lawyers and had a rough time.  I'm not surprised.  He wanted to sit down with a group of lawyers and talk about emotions.  He claimed that he had never met a group of people more resistant to the idea of gratitude, except maybe teenagers.  You can read about Dr. Emmons' take on gratitude here.

Why are lawyers so resistant and ungrateful? According to Emmons, it's possibly because "some of the main obstacles to being grateful are fears of dependence, indebtedness, and loss of control. Lawyers are people who emphasize self-control and self-reliance. They don’t want to cede control to others or owe anybody anything. It may also have to do with lawyers being called upon to face and solve problems all day long. When all you think about are problems it’s harder to feel grateful."  It sounds like they're trying to say these qualities are a bad thing.  I think they're great qualities and I am grateful (see what I did there?) that I have them!

Being controlling, critical and cynical are great qualities for a lawyer to have.  If you’re a control freak, you’re less likely to make an expensive error when drafting a detailed document.  The entire legal profession requires noticing subtleties and having a keen attention to detail.  If you’re a critical thinker, you’re less likely to miss the weaknesses in the other side’s argument.  If you’re cynical, you’re less likely to be taken advantage of during the discovery process.  Of course, many people would correctly say that having these qualities doesn't mean we can't say "thank you" every now and then.  So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought about all that I have to be thankful for this year.  In no particular order:

- The old cliche never dies - I'm thankful for all the friends and family I have.  I have met many people out in Hawai'i who don't have great relationships with their friends and family (hence, they ran away to an island).  My friends and family, however, have all been incredibly supportive of the fact that I moved out here and have been tremendous listening posts...even when I don't always return the favor as much as I (possibly) could/should.

- Although I often complain that my job is boring and unfulfilling, I'm thankful that I have a job actually using my degree in this economy.  I know several lawyers, with ridiculous and spirit crushing debt, that don't have jobs at all.  And mine is in a tropical locale where it's always 82 degrees and sunny.

- With that in mind, I'm thankful I graduated law school.  There were a few moments over the last few years where I didn't think I was quite going to make it.  With all the challenges and difficulties associated with law school, the job searching, and the disappointments, I am thankful to have been able to successfully make it through to the other side.

- I'm thankful that so far, the challenging and scary endeavor of moving to an island thousands of miles from home has worked out so well.  I have a great roommate who has introduced me to dozens of people.  I have met some really friendly and welcoming people who have made my move here a fairly seamless transition.  I couldn't imagine tackling such a daunting challenge without them.  They're why I didn't spend Thanksgiving eating a microwaveable egg roll alone in my room.

- I'm thankful for the people who actually read this blog (and their comments! hint. hint.).  I'm sure it really is just a way for them to procrastinate or avoid work themselves, but I'm still grateful that they let me provide some entertainment.

Four Loko

Here's your weekly current event post.  Attorneys general in some states are increasingly trying to make headlines speaking out about the dangers of alcohol-packed energy drinks (i.e. Four Loko).  You may have read in the news lately that Four Loko and other such caffeine-based alcohol is "gaining favor at college parties and bars."  Gaining favor?  Are they suggesting that college students and bars never mixed caffeine and alcohol before?  Yeah, prior to the attorneys general getting involved, college students surely never mixed a red bull/vodka or rum and coke.  Despite being thousands of miles away from the mainland hoopla, Hawai'i can't escape the hype. Officials here are already talking about regulating the marketing of the drinks.  Four Loko was discussed at the annual conference of Hawai'i state liquor commissions on Kaua'i last week to talk about whether the State should ban or restrict the drink's availability in Hawaii.

Hawaii News Now questioned students at the University of Hawaii who explained why Four Loko is popular.  They say price (under $3 for a 23.5 ounce can), colorful packaging, taste, availability, potency, and caffeine content are all reasons why Four Loko has made such a splash.  "It doesn't taste like alcohol you know. Like beer or hard liquor, you'll have like that taste and you won't be able to drink a lot of it, but Four Loko it masks the taste so much that you just want to keep drinking it. And it's good. It's like fruit flavored," said UH Junior Bryan Lewandowski.

These kids are morons.  And so are the people who say that Four Loko is causing car accidents, sexual assaults, and hospitalizations.  There have been several newspaper articles in Hawai'i saying that perpetrators of sexual assaults MAY have been drinking Four Loko.  Four Loko is 12% abv.  One 24-oz can is about the same as 3-4 beers.  Yes, if you pound 5 cans of Four Loko, you're going to be drunk and probably get sick and maybe do something stupid.  Going out and drinking 10 beers will lead to the same thing.  Getting drunk makes people stupid.  That's part of the fun.  But that's nothing new and Four Loko has nothing to do with people being stupid.  It is a mistake to think that banning Four Loko is going to stop college students from binge drinking.  It is also a mistake to think they will stop mixing red bull and vodka.  It is an even bigger joke that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is getting involved saying that caffeine is an unsafe additive to alcohol.  I really hate government intervention.  They always screw shit up.  This is no different.  All this hype is the best marketing strategy Four Loko could have possibly hoped for.  In fact, I had never even heard of it until all this hit the media.  I also never had any interest in trying it.  Until now.

What did I do as soon as I was told I might not be allowed to try something? I went out an bought some.  Yes, it was cheap.  But it also tasted like shit.  Anyone who says this stuff is addictive because of its sweet taste is lying or seriously screwed up.  It tasted like fruit-flavored piss in a can.  I tried the Watermelon (which tasted nothing like watermelon) and Cranberry Lemonade.  If kids drink enough of this stuff to get sick, they deserve what happens to them.  I just keep thinking about those experiments where the rat is lured to cheese that gives an electric shock.  Even the rat learns not to go back and do it again.  If college kids can't figure it out...well...Darwin had a theory for them.  In the end, I had a slight buzz from one and a half cans, but I wasn't running through the streets going streaking.

Headnote of the Week

Since this is, in theory, a law-related blog, I came up with a new, recurring (and short) post: Headnotes of the Week.  A headnote is a brief summary of a particular point of law that is added to the text of a court decision to aid readers in locating discussion of a legal issue in an opinion. As the term implies, headnotes appear at the beginning of the published opinion. Since I do so much researching, I often come across things courts have said that are ridiculous, funny, or just interesting.  At the end of every week, I'll post the one I like the most from that week.

This week:

District court could take judicial notice that Thanksgiving fell on November 25, 2004. 
Roberts v. Jones, 390 F. Supp. 2d 1333 (M.D. Ga. 2005)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving in Hawaii

Happy Thanksgiving!  Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays.  With all the traditions and the food, what's not to love!? I come from a pretty big family (30+ first cousins on my mom's side alone).  We always get together for Thanksgiving and while it's a complete mad house with everyone running all around, it's always been one of my favorite times of year.  Thanksgiving is also great because of the traditions.  The weather is just getting cold and you have to put on a couple layers to play backyard football.  There is more food than you can imagine.  And everyone is just having a good time.

 Obviously, going home for Thanksgiving was not really a viable option this year (especially since we have to work tomorrow).  When I went to recruit my holiday foster family, however, I encountered something interesting.  Hawaiians don't really celebrate Thanksgiving.  Sure, we have the day off because it's a federal holiday, but no one really goes all out or plans big feasts or family get-togethers.   I have a theory as to why this is the case.  Thanksgiving is a quintessential American holiday.  Unfortunately, Hawaiians haven't really embraced being fully American yet.  New Year's is a MUCH bigger deal.  Actually, this year February 3 will be a big deal.  Why? What's February 3?

Chinese New Year.  Apparently there are major celebrations, fireworks, events, etc for the Chinese New Year.  It just so happens that usually the REAL New Year's coincides around the same time as the Chinese New Year.  So people usually make a bigger deal for those holidays.  Thanksgiving, as a result, is treated more as just a day off.  Have no fear...I found a group of true-blooded Americans who know the importance of taking a yearly moment to give thanks and remember that America is the reason that these un-patriotic Hawaiians have all the luxuries they have.  We are doing a fun potluck complete with outdoor eating, backyard football barefoot, and beer.

I hope everyone has/had a nice turkey day!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Waimea Brewing Company and Beer Reviews

As devoted readers of The Pineapple Project know, I enjoy beer.  I especially like microbreweries and trying and sampling new beer styles and flavors.  With so many different combinations you never get bored. It is also a great way for me to get different ideas for recipes I might try at home.  Imagine my surprise (and delight) when I discovered the Waimea Brewing Company in Kaua'i driving back from the Waimea Canyon.  Located right off the main road (Kuhio Hwy), this small micro-brewery was in a serene location with quiet outdoor seating.  It's located right on the Waimea Plantation grounds where they used to grow sugar.  The ambiance was perfect for an afternoon visit when we stopped by.  Unlike the Kona Brewing Company, the Waimea Brewery is a much smaller production, but it does get to say it is the World's westernmost brewery.  Despite living on nearby O'ahu, I had never even heard of it before.  I asked the waiter whether they sold beer on the other islands and he said they did not.  I have not seen the beer, so I am inclined to believe him.

I read a few reviews of this place in preparation for writing this post and was really surprised by what I saw.  Everyone was pretty negative.  There were a lot of complaints about the service and the fact that they were out of certain types of beer.  I attribute those reviews to East Coast assholes who can't figure out that they are on a small island in the pacific at an even smaller microbrewery.  One of the nice things about this place is that you can just sit back, grab a beer, and relax.  If you're looking for a 5-star dining experience, don't go to a small microbrewery.

Our experience was pleasant.  The selection of beer was great.  Waimea Brewing Company has 9 different beers of different styles listed on their menu as well as a 10th "brewer's choice" that rotates regularly.  Although they were out of the Leilani Light, there were still plenty of options.  The restaurant also offers a beer flight with four-6oz samples for about $8.50.  We ordered two flights so we could try 8 different beers and the waiter threw in a free brewer's choice beer since they were out of the Leilani Light.  The service was like that the entire time we were there.  Very attentive and incredibly friendly.

Overall, I was not too impressed by the taste of the beer.  There were a few that were good, but nothing too special.  The best way to describe it is to say that if offered by a friend, I wouldn't refuse.  At the same time, I wouldn't be upset if they ran out and I couldn't have another.  We had some disagreement about which was the best one.  I am typically a fan of chocolate/coffee porters and stouts and hate IPAs and hoppy beers.  I also really like wheat beers and the occasional pale ale and lager.  All right, here's the list and my review:

Lilikoi Ale - an American blonde ale with a passion fruit flavor.  I was disappointed by this one.  I thought it seemed a little watered down and almost flat.  The passion fruit was non-existent but it was still a "fruity beer."  I just couldn't tell you what fruit was there.  It was just sweet. I actually think this would have benefitted from being served colder.  It was kind of warm when we got it.  It has a hazy to opaque thick gold color with very little head.  

Pakala Porter - this was my favorite of the bunch. I love dark beer and the Pakala Porter has a smooth and malty roasted flavor with a creamy head and coffee overtones.  A bold, full-bodied, robust porter with a rich chocolate, roasted flavor. Not for the light hearted beer drinker but a delight for any dark beer fan.  Fun Fact: This beer was named after the famous west side surf break.

Uli Uli Brown - At 3.8% abv, this is not a very strong beer, especially for a Brown Ale.  There is a subtle coffee aroma that complements the strong roasted malt taste and slight hop finish.  Light carbonation and a luxurious mouthfeel place this brown ale among other English Dark and Mild.  Fun Fact: ’Uli ’Uli are brightly colored feather gourds used in hula dancing.

Wai'ale'ale Ale - Kind of unremarkable.  There is a slight Golden/Blonde Ale taste balanced with a touch of sweet light malt coating a light hop taste.  Unfortunately, it is also a little watery.  The malts are so lightly roasted they don't have much to offer and there are scarcely any hops to speak of.

NaPali Pale - More body, color, and hop character than the Wai'ale'ale Ale.  This American style Pale Ale is an easy drinking beer, perfect for the warm climate of Hawaii. This beer is darker than Wai'ale' Ale, and has a small bitter zing to it. 

Captain Cook's IPA - If you're a big fan of the hoppy, bitter taste of IPAs, then you may find this one under-whelming.  I thought it was pretty good and as I said, I'm not a big IPA drinker.  It only had a slightly bitter finish but was otherwise smooth.  An argument could be made that it was weak, but I thought it had a complex aroma with a nicely balanced finish.  This might have been my second favorite of the group.

Cane Fire Red ale - It has a nondescript aroma and deep red hue.  The flavor was nicely balanced and I thought this one was very drinkable.  There is a rich malty taste at first but then the beer finished with a slight bitterness that gave it some complexity that the other beers were lacking.  Overall, this one was pretty good.

Westside Wheat - another disappointing one.  This was served up with a lemon and I thought it would have a strong fruit taste to it.  It's a traditional American wheat ale, lightly hopped with a refreshing clean crisp flavor, but it wasn't very complex.  Again, a little watery.  After the lemon sat for a little while and steeped, that's all you could taste because the beer wasn't strong enough to balance the fruitiness. 

The Ground Should Not Move

Earthquakes on the Big Island 1962-1985
Growing up in the mid-Atlantic region and going to college in Washington, DC, I am not accustomed to the ground suddenly deciding to move.  Hawai'i, however, has earthquakes.  Last night, there were 2.  My California friends will probably tell me to pipe down since the earthquakes, which struck off the coast of Maui, were only magnitudes 4.7 and 3.3.  I recognize these are small, but when I was sitting in my bed at 6:31pm last night, I thought my roommate was home having sex and shaking the wall.  Turns out, she wasn't.  There was a small earthquake.  The bed only shook for a second and was only enough to confuse me.  But I did notice.  I did a little research and it seems I will have to get used to this craziness.  Hawaii has a lot of small earthquakes.

One of the best things about an earthquake though is it gives me something to write on an otherwise boring day.  Pretty soon I am going to have to talk about my job, which will surely get my 2 readers to stop reading.  I also get to give fun facts!  Earthquakes in Hawai'i are closely linked to volcanoes. They are an important part of the island-building processes that have shaped the Hawaiian Islands. Thousands of earthquakes occur every year beneath the Big Island alone.

Crustal Plates
Hawai'i is geologically a unique place because it is caused by a "hot spot." Most islands are found at tectonic plate boundaries.  There are few "hot spots," though and the one under Hawaii is right in the middle of one of the largest crustal plates on Earth - the Pacific Plate. A geologic "hot spot" is an area in the middle of a crustal plate where volcanoes form (see picture at very bottom of blog) when molten magma breaks through the crustal plate. A hot spot is why Yellowstone National Park has geysers.  Eruptions and magma movement within the presently active volcanoes (Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Lo`ihi) are usually accompanied by numerous small earthquakes.  Many other earthquakes, including the largest ones, occur in areas of structural weakness at the base of Hawai`i's volcanoes or deep within the Earth's crust beneath the island.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon, on Kauai's West Side, is described as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Although not as big or as old as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, there isn't anything like this geological wonder in Hawaii. Stretching 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and more than 3,400 feet deep, the Waimea Canyon Lookout provides panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged mountain peaks, and deep valley gorges.  The grand inland vistas go on for miles. 

The canyon was carved thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from Mount Waialeale's summit.  The lines in the canyon walls depict different volcanic eruptions and lava flows that have occurred over the centuries.  The canyon is protected by the Koke'e State Park which encompasses 4,345 acres of land and has 45 miles of trails that run through the canyon and the nearby Alakai Swamp.  Kokee State Park is covered in forest, wild flowers and hiking trails making it an excellent spot to see native plants and colorful Hawaiian forest birds.  As we were driving along Waimea Canyon Road, we saw several 4x4 trucks parked on cliffs and in the forest where it was clear people were hiking.  Some of the park's hiking trails lead to views of Waimea Canyon, others wind through wet forests with sweeping views of valleys opening up to the North Shore.  We didn't do any of that as we were still exhausted from the Na Pali Coast craziness.  If you're a big time hiker, though, I imagine you might argue that it would be fun to trudge through uncut forest risking life and limb climbing up and down 3,400 ft of canyon walls into pure nothing-ness.  Send me an email and let me know how that works out for you.

Getting there is simple, as with pretty much everything on Kaua'i. You take the major road (Kuhio Hwy) west.  Turn right on Waimea Canyon Rd.  Drive 40 miles.  There are no gas stations along the 40-mile road, though, so be sure to fill up before starting this trip.

Beer Reviews and Bar 35

Since I have an entire section dedicated to beer reviews, I thought it only fitting to review the beers I had at Bar 35's weekly House of Brews beer tasting event last week.  I expect there will also be many more reviews from Bar 35's menu in the future.  There were 8 beers on the tasting menu, all grouped under the theme "Winter/Holiday Beers."  There was also a brewmaster (founder of Hawaii Nui Brewery) walking around discussing all the different varieties of beer.  Before I get to specifics, note that all these beers are great to pair with heavy dinners that you'd have at Christmas or Thanksgiving.  You could also have these instead of wine if you're sitting reading a book or watching TV and it's cold outside.  These might be a little heavy for the tropics.  Anyway, without further ado, here are my reviews/notes:

Sam Adams Octoberfest (Massachusetts) - Has a rich, deep reddish amber color.  They roast five different malts together to give the beer a distinct toffee and caramel flavor, which is balanced with a bitterness derived from Bavarian Noble hops (hops, in the simplest sense, are what give beer its "bitterness").  I'm a big fan of all of Sam Adams seasonal beers.  This is no different.  It has a great balance that I would have again. 5.3% abv

Buffalo Bill's Pumpkin Ale (California) - I'm not sure I had ever tried a pumpkin ale before, but if they all taste like this then sign me up for more.  Buffalo Bill's brewery actually uses baked and roasted pumpkins to compliment the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg that give the beer its distinct flavor.  It's not so overpowering that you think you're drinking pumpkin pie, but it the flavors are bold and there is no mistaking what's inside.  It's a perfect Thanksgiving beer.  Fun Fact: George Washington used to brew his own beer and he often used pumpkins, too. 5.2% abv

Mactarnahan's Hum Bug'r Ale (Oregon) - This is a dark, brown ale.  It has a dark malty body and roasted caramel flavor.  This one was very good.  The only reason I won't say it's excellent is that the malty body seemed watered down.  Have you ever had weak coffee that could benefit from using more coffee grounds or a darker roast?  That's this beer in a nutshell.  It still gets the job done, but it could be better. 5.3% abv.

Anchor Christmas Ale (California) - Not good. Every year Anchor Brewing has a distinctive and creative Christmas Ale that is only available from early November to mid-January.  The Ale's recipe is different every year, which almost fools me into giving next year a chance.  However, whenever I consider trying another one, I hear the old cliche in my head, "fool me once, shame on you...fool me twice, shame on me."  Fun Fact: the brewery puts a different tree on its label every year as well.  This is because "trees have symbolized the winter solstice when the earth, with its seasons, appears born anew."  Maybe they should spend more time brewing and less time being hippies.

Rogue Santa's Private Reserve (Oregon) -  I am generally a fan of Rogue beers.  I particularly like the Dead Guy Ale and the Hazlenut Brown.  This one is a double-hopped Red Ale with a roasty, malty flavor that has a strong hoppy finish.  We decided that there was also an underlying hint of caramel and nuts.  If you like hoppy red ales then you'll probably like this.  I wasn't a fan just because I don't like this type of beer. 6% abv.

Deshutes Jubelale (Oregon) - This was my favorite of the night.  The Jubelale is brewed with a dark crystal malt and finished with only a slight hoppy bitterness.  Only available October through December, this beer has hints of roasted coffee and chocolate similar to many porters.  The color is a deep red around the edges with a dense mahogany center.  I actually found this to get better as it warmed up for some reason.  Maybe it takes a little while to release more flavor? 6.7% abv.

Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop Ale (California) - Had one Sierra Nevada, had'em all.  I didn't taste much difference between this and the regular ale.  6.8% abv.

Hawaii Nui Southern Cross (Hawaii) - An "imperial red ale" brewed with a Belgian yeast strain.  It has an intense red color, complex aroma, and slight hoppy finish.  It was good and I would probably put it in the top half of the beers on this list, but nothing to necessarily write home about. This would pair well with pork or duck. 8.3% abv.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Na Pali Coast and Hanakapi'ai Falls

The Na Pali Coast, which is officially a State Park, may be one of the most breathtaking things I have ever seen.  It's hard to describe in words and even in pictures don't really do it justice.  The entire coast is inaccessible to cars so you have to drive to the end of Kauai's only main road (Kuhio), park at the beach at the end of the road, and hike the coast.  This 15-mile stretch of rugged coastline is on the northwest shore of Kauai.  It literally means "the cliffs" (remember, Pali means cliffs).  The coast is inaccessible because of its sheer cliffs that drop straight down thousands of feet into the ocean.

The Kalalau Trail from the end of Kuhio Highway (the only major road on the entire island) provides the only land access.  This trail is a strenuous 11-mile hike and crosses five major valleys (and many smaller ones) before reaching Kalalau Beach at the base of Kalalau Valley.  If you hike the 11 mile trail, you have to set up camp and then hike back the next day (camping requires a permit).  We didn't have that kind of time (or a permit).  The trail is no joke.  I have written before about hikes I've done that kids and old people can do.  This trail got a 9 out of 10 from the Sierra Club in degrees of difficulty.  In fact, you can't even hike the trail if it has rained within 24 hours because it is so dangerous and becomes one slippery mountain of mud.  It takes an entire day to do the 11 miles.  Of course, here I am saying how tough it is and there were plenty of kids and locals hiking barefoot or in flip flops (most were not, though). Another great way to see the Na Pali Coast is by boat.  We didn't do this, but we said at the end of the day it would have been amazing.  By boat you can see the entire coast and you don't have to deal with the strenuous hike.

Fortunately, the trail can be experienced in pieces.  The most popular section is from Ke'e Beach (at the end of Kuhio Hwy) to Hanakapi'ai Falls.  This section of the trail winds through a tropical rainforest and ends in a lush river valley. The falls are 4 miles from where you park your car (8 miles roundtrip, it's not a loop).  If you aren't up for the whole hike to the falls, though, about 2 miles in is the Hanakapi'ai Beach.  This isn't the most beautiful beach in the world, but it's a great place to rest before taking on the next 2 miles of the trail to the falls.  The river flows into the ocean here and when we went, a lot of people were playing in the river.  Apparently, the tide and currents are so strong that no one goes in the ocean.  In fact, before we left, someone specifically said not to go in the ocean because "it's not worth your life, guys."  There is a sign along the trail that literally tallies the number of people who have drowned.  We weren't dressed for swimming anyway.  Since a lot of people kayak the Na Pali coast, there were a few kayakers resting on the beach as well.

I can't emphasize enough how intense, but gorgeous, this hike was.  We're talking 3,000 foot climbs over unstable and slippery rocks, rivers and streams to cross, trees to climbs over, and valleys with smaller waterfalls.  We had to watch every step we took.  The first 1/2 mile took 40 minutes.  The entire 4-mile hike to the falls takes about 3 hours...and we were going quickly.  It can take longer.  The views were incredible, though.  There are various points along the trail where the trees open up and the entire coast is visible.  You're literally standing on a mountain (covered in mud) looking out over shimmering blue water, 4,000-ft cliffs, and lush tropical rainforests.  After 2 miles (and about an hour and a half), we made it to the beach where we stopped to have lunch.  Apparently, we were lucky and didn't even know it.  During the winter months this beach is often washed away.  When we went, though, there was a huge sand beach full of people.

After we ate, we hiked the rest of the way.  The second half consists of more streams (high probability of getting wet - we fell in up to our knees when we slipped off a rock - so bring waterproof hiking boots or water shoes), more jungle, and more climbing.  At the end of the trail, though, is a gorgeous 300-ft waterfall with a swimming pool at the base.  Since you just hiked 4 miles in 3-4 hours (and you still have to turn around), take a dip, cool off, and forget about Leptospirosis.  Also, since nothing on this blog comes without a fun history lesson, I thought you'd want to know that the falls are named after a Menehune princess descended from the first human settlers to canoe here from the Marquesas Islands (part of modern day French Polynesia).  Here is a video of the falls:


This weekend I went to Kaua'i (it's easy to go for a weekend when you have Furlough Fridays off).  Kauai is Hawaii’s fourth largest island and is sometimes called the “Garden Isle,” which is an entirely accurate description. It is the oldest and northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain and is littered with valleys, sharp mountain spires and jagged cliffs that are pretty draw dropping. Centuries of growth have also formed tropical rainforests, forking rivers and cascading waterfalls.

If you've never been to Kaua'i, you may nevertheless be familiar with its scenery.  The mountains and coast were backdrops for movies such as Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Six Days Seven Nights, and South Pacific. It was also the setting for the TV show Gilligan's Island.  Kaua'i is nothing like O'ahu.  It is as secluded and untouched by development as you can get and has none of O'ahu's city-like feel.  There is only one major road that follows the coast and only a few minor roads that go to the center of the island.  In fact, vast parts of the island can only be seen or accessed by boat or helicopter.

Kaua'i is circular in shape with lush, mountainous regions in its center and beaches covering almost half its shoreline. Kauai's age makes it one of the most scenic islands in Hawaii from the 3,000-foot elevations of Waimea Canyon to the waterfalls and deep gorges of 5,148-foot Mount Waialeale in the uninhabited center of Kauai, which you can only view by air.  We didn't have much of a plan when we arrived, but had a pretty packed weekend of activities.  Someone recommended we hike the Na Pali coast, so we did that when we got off the plane.  We also went to Waimea Canyon, the Waimea Brewing company (more beer reviews to come!), the Kauai coffee company, and a beach.

Bar 35

Every Wednesday, Bar 35 has its "House of Brews" beer tasting.  I just discovered this the other day when the Homebrewing Club I joined sent out an email regarding the weekly event.  From 6-8pm every Wednesday, the has a different beer tasting.  Also, 4-8pm Monday-Saturday is their happy hour.  For you martini lovers, they have $3 Skyy martinis during happy hour, which beats the prices at both Top of Waikiki and Indigo (both have $4 martinis for happy hour).  Keep in mind, though, that Bar 35 only has $3 vodka martinis, not gin.  Beer prices vary at Bar 35 normally, but range from $5.50 to $9 (for 12oz beers).  During happy hour, though, all beers on the menu without a price listed next to them are $4 (there are about 100 beers that are $4 during happy hour...some are still $9).  Bar 35 also has an in-house pizza shop operated by "Chef Valentini" (whoever the hell that is).

Bar 35 is truly a House of Brews.  It is different (not sure it's better) from Yardhouse in many ways.  First, it is in Chinatown, walking distance from the Supreme Court building, Kamehameha statute, and 'Iolani Palace.  The bar is located at 35 N. Hotel Street.  Second, Bar 35 has over 150 bottled beers from 21 different countries and lists their beers by country (as opposed to style).  Yardhouse, on the other hand, has 134 beers on tap and lists their beers according to style.  Third, Bar 35 has a normal happy hour (i.e. 6-8pm on weekdays) whereas Yardhouse has its happy when it knows no one will go (i.e. 10:30pm on weekdays).  Fourth, Bar 35 is closer to the definition of a dive bar.  It is dimly lit, has couches on the side that only the adventurous would sit on, a long bar with grungy (but nice) bartenders.  Yardhouse is much more like a chain restaurant.  The waiters and bartenders have a uniform, they are rigid about how much alcohol they are allowed to put in a shot, and it can get overly crowded and loud.  Bar 35 also has an outdoor patio, which is very nice.  Yardhouse does not have outdoor seating at all.

Back to the beer tasting.  Every Wednesday the bar does a different "theme."  Last night's theme was "Winter/Holiday Beers."  The deal is, you pay $20 and sample 8 different types of beer within their pre-determined theme for the night.  Each sample is 4oz.  Then you get a 9th ticket to re-try your favorite beer of the flight (another 4oz sample).  During the tasting, they also have a server come around with "gourmet pizza."  Don't get too excited about the pizza, though.  While it is absolutely delicious and amazing, the slices are thin crust, tiny pieces, and in 2 hours you might get 4-5 of them.  It is not as astounding as the bar tries to make it seem.  I'm not saying I need a whole pizza, but for $20 and only 36oz of beer, they should do better.

Here is my recommendation.  If you like trying new beer, definitely check it out during happy hour (or if you like martinis, then also check it out) and grab a seat outside.  It does not get very crowded during the week so you should be able to easily find a table.  It's a little too dark inside for my liking (and a little cold, actually).  If you're there on a Wednesday, don't bother with the beer tasting.  Here's why: You can find plenty of beers on the menu that you've never tried before for $4.  If you order 5 of them, it will cost you $20.  This is 60oz of beer for $20 (and no pizza).  If you do the beer tasting, you only try 3 additional beers, but far less quantity.  And there is not enough pizza to make up the difference (though, you should also definitely order one of the pizzas, they're delicious! I suggest either the "Sweet Bangkok" with Chinese Sausage, Sweet Chili Sauce, Cilantro, Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese or the "French Kiss" with French Brie Cheese, Cooked Ham, Fresh Pesto Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella Cheese and Fresh Basil.).  Now, you might be thinking, what if I don't like a beer, and I don't want to drink the whole thing, then with the beer tasting, I don't have to suffer through a full bottle.  Well, that's true.  However, if you're contemplating a beer tasting then my guess is you probably know what type of beer you like already.  So stick with what you like and you won't have that problem.  If you like wheat beers and hate IPAs, don't get a full bottle of IPA.

Overall, I think it's a cool bar with a decent atmosphere.  Certainly if you're a beer fan it's worth checking out.  The verdict is still out on whether it's better than Yardhouse, but I am dedicated to continuing my research.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Maunawili Falls Trail

There are dozens of hiking trails on O'ahu and this weekend I decided to try a new one.  I had heard that Maunawili Falls was really pretty and that there was a waterfall and swimming hole at the end, which made it all the more enticing.  After my hot and humid disaster at Makapu'u with no water, I thought being able to take a swim afterwards would be nice.
There's Not Always Stairs...

Maunawili Falls Trail is a good beginners trail.  It is not difficult, but still provides challenging areas.  The first quarter (1/4) mile of the one and a half (1 1/2)-mile of the trail is easy.  It's relatively flat and dry and there aren't any obstacles.  There were a few families that had small kids with them who seemed to be having a good time and not struggling. I would say that you don't have to be in great shape to hike it, but make no mistake, after the first quarter mile there will be a few times along the way where you'll be huffing and puffing.  There were several young people on the trail that we could hear breathing heavily after walking up some of the steeper parts of the trail.  However, along our way we also saw several...let's call them "senior citizens" (I don't want to say an age for fear of angry comments from people I just labeled "old")...hiking it.  They were moving slowly, for sure, but they weren't holding anyone up and were doing fine.  There are also plenty of rocks to sit on if you were to get tired for some reason.

The most challenging aspect of the trail is probably that it gets VERY muddy even when it hasn't rained for a few days.  If it has been raining, expect tremendous amounts of mud.  I cannot emphasize enough that you should not wear nice shoes.  You should wear shoes you're okay throwing away.  I actually highly recommend water shoes (you'll read about "why" shortly).  There are several parts of the trail where you have no choice but to wade through mud.  You WILL get dirty on this hike.  The toughest part of the trail is that certain parts can be very slippery.  You cross at least three small streams on the way to the falls and you have two choices.  Risk breaking your neck by tip-toeing and balancing on the slippery rocks to cross or just walk through the stream.  Do yourself a favor: just walk through.  By the end of the hike you won't care anyway.  We got this advice before going and I didn't believe it.  Once you come to the first major stream though, you quickly realize that it's better to just say, "oh screw it."  It's very liberating, actually.

View From the Trail
The trail goes through a rainforest so the foliage is really amazing.  Also, there are phenomenal views of the Ko'olaus Mountains.  Although most of the trail runs through thick forest, there are a few points along the way where it opens up and provides some great pictures (see above).  Most of the trail goes uphill, too so you also get a lot of views of the forest below.  After you hike the mile and a half, the trail opens up to a small, but pretty, waterfall and surrounding swimming hole.  Depending on when you go, there will be a few people already there swimming and jumping off the rocks.

Most people jump from the rocks where the waterfall is.  I know what you're thinking: it doesn't look that high.  Truth be told, it's not.  But when you're standing up there, it sure looks A LOT higher.  It's also unnerving because the water is murky.  It's impossible to see anything and since you have to climb over rocks to get in the pool in the first place, you never really know if rocks might be looming under the water.  Well, after a few people jumped, I was pretty convinced I was not going to crack my head open and I jumped.  Then I was quickly put to shame when two guys (clearly military...lots of military guys here) climbed up the sides of the mountain to what was, in my opinion, easily 75 feet.  They jumped from way up there (out of the picture) and into the pool below.  I asked them and they said they went pretty far down in the water and still didn't feel anything.  So my guess is the swimming hole is at least 15 feet deep. That doesn't mean I'm trying it anytime soon.  It still requires accuracy to not hit the rocks on the edges of the hole.

Now, lest I get sued for not giving fair warning, let me talk about Leptospirosis.  This is a rare, but severe and contagious bacterial infection.  Leptospirosis is often referred to as swamp fever or mud fever.  The organism enters the body when mucous membranes or broken skin come in contact with contaminated environmental sources. These environmental sources are often swamps and rivers.  According to e-medicine, recreational activities that present risk include traveling to tropical areas, canoeing, hiking, kayaking, fishing, windsurfing, swimming, waterskiing, wading, riding trail-bikes through puddles, white-water rafting, and other outdoor sports played in contaminated water.  Basically, it is a bacteria found in animal pee that travels down stream and festers in mostly still water.  There are signs all over the falls warning people that swimming may lead to leptospirosis.  Well, as far as I can tell, I am still healthy and haven't had any problems. I'm also not an idiot and didn't jump in the swimming hole and starting drinking the water.

Getting to Maunawili Falls is MUCH easier than people would have you believe (as with any directions here).  The island of O'ahu is not that big.  You can drive the entire circumference of the island in a few hours.  To get from one side to the other takes about an hour (maybe a little more depending on traffic).  If you ask people, though, you'd think the Falls are on a different planet.  Hawaiians think a 30 minute drive is too far to go.  Well, I asked someone how to get to Maunawili Falls and after they finished giving me directions, I was convinced I would never get there.  It's easy.

From Waikiki, jump on the H-1 going West. Take the Pali Highway heading toward Kailua.  You'll go maybe 6 miles or so as you go through the mountains.  You'll go through 2 tunnels and then turn right at the third stop light (Auloa Street).  Keep left on Maunawili Road (the road sort of forks) and go through the subdivision.  At the end of Maunawili Road turn right (you have no choice) on Keewina Street and park on the street.