Chickens in paradise

Posted: Friday, February 29, 2008

In December 2006, my sister-in-law, Patty, and her gentleman friend, Mike, called to tell my husband and I they had purchased engagement and wedding rings at a Seattle Fred Meyer. The sale price was too good to pass up.

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Courtesy Of Alma Harris
Courtesy Of Alma Harris

When Patty and Mike returned to her condo, Mike got down on his knees and asked Patty to marry him. She said yes.

Patty and Mike called to tell us they would be married in Hawaii in May 2007.

"Can we come to the wedding?" I asked. Not only did we join them in Kauai, Mike asked my husband, Don, to be his best man. Unlike many Alaskans, we had never traveled to Hawaii.

We left Seattle on Hawaiian Airlines to Kauai. As we drove from Kauai's small airport to Kapaa, I was surprised to see chickens scratching in the landscaped gardens along the highway. I wondered if they were free-range chickens. When we arrived at the Mokihana time-share, chickens were scratching on the lawns and in flower gardens. I began to wonder, "What's up with the chickens?"

We checked into the Mokihana. We were enjoying our wonderful view of the grounds, the swimming pool and the magnificent Pacific Ocean when Mike and Patty walked up from the beach. We joined them in the pool. Patty and Mike bought their wedding license at the Pono Market, a family mini-mart and take-out in Kapaa. A couple of strangers told them about a wonderful minister who performed great weddings. Mike left Aunty Ipo a telephone message, and he and Patty waited all weekend for the call. Aunty called them on Monday.

Patty's best friend, Janet, also was part of the wedding party. Later in the week, Janet's sister and her husband joined us. On our first afternoon, we drove to Hilo Hattie's to look for Hawaiian shirts for Don and Mike to wear at the wedding.

From Hilo Hattie's, Mike took us on a scenic tour. He drove up one of the mountains to the end of the road and to Wailua Falls. Roosters and hens with their chicks greeted us. We paid little attention to the chickens, however, because Wailua Falls are stupendous. The falls rush down the rock mountain, heavily covered with a variety of rain forest trees and scrubs. The falls have two streams that rush "80 feet over a ledge into a large round pool" at the bottom (Moon Handbooks, "Kauai").

We drove down the mountain and stopped at the Stitchery and admired Hawaii's famous quilts. In the Koa Store, every piece of woodwork was a work of art. Don bought Patty a small box with a cover as a wedding present.

From the Koa Store, Mike drove to Opaekaa Falls' lookout that is some distance from the falls. Of course, the chickens showed no fear of humans. The Opaekaa Falls has just one stream; however, the distance and the mountains provide a wonderful frame for the falls that rush down into the valley and fills the river that meets the Pacific Ocean. As the river meets the ocean, two different blues join; one is the blue of fresh water and the other is the blue of the Pacific Ocean. Tourists and locals surrounded a Native Hawaiian artist who was painting four different views of the falls on four small canvases.

Don and I spent the next morning watching the Utah Jazz and Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Carlos Boozer lose their first game of the semifinals to the San Antonio Spurs. After the game, the five of us went to Kapaa and ordered satay at the Mermaid Handout. The handmade ice cream next door was cooling and delicious.

The next morning, the five of us enjoyed a great breakfast at the Ono Family Restaurant. The coconut syrup was yummy on my hash browns. From Ono's, we started our trek to Waimea Canyon. On our way up to the canyon, Aunty Ipo called Mike and Patty to tell them they had an appointment with the minister.

Waimea Canyon, with its dry red deep canyons and evergreen trees and scrubs, reminds me of the canyons in New Mexico and Arizona. We passed villages and old abandoned sugar mills and enjoyed great views of the Pacific Ocean. The road climbed up 4,000 feet to the head of the Waimea Canyon. Falls rush down the steep mountainsides.

Of course, chickens were everywhere we stopped. I finally asked Mike and Patty what's up with the chickens. Mike told us that the chickens are the survivors and offspring of the chickens that survived a severe hurricane about 18 years ago. The roosters crow continuously. Hens cluck, lay eggs and herd their chicks.

In mid-afternoon we enjoyed pork nachos at the Waimea Brewing Co. A chicken wandered around the pub looking for crumbs. We wandered the brewery's grounds and admired the former plantation workers' cottages that are now expensive tourist housing. On the grounds was a banyan tree. The gigantic tree is different from other trees. The roots grow from the branches downwards into the ground and become another trunk of the tree.

In the evening, Patty, Mike, Don and I enjoyed delicious Mexican food in Kapaa. After dinner, we wandered into an art gallery and Mike bought Patty a small oil painting of the Opaekaa Falls by the artist we watched when we were at the falls' lookout.

• Alma Harris is a retired Juneau-Douglas High School English teacher who loves to travel and write.

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