Feature

Getting the flavor of...Hawaii’s Grand Canyon

At ten miles long and 3,500 feet deep, Waimea Canyon is the largest canyon anywhere in the Pacific.

Hawaii’s Grand CanyonWaimea Canyon, on the island of Kauai, “is the type of spectacle Vegas would announce in 100-foot-tall neon,” said Ken Van Vechten in the Los Angeles Times. Ten miles long and 3,500 feet deep, it’s the largest canyon anywhere in the Pacific. More important, this natural wonder is “dolled up in enough shades of green, red, orange, yellow, purple, and brown to render inadequate every paint swatch at Home Depot.” A short hike through verdant jungle gave us our first view down into the canyon. We were on a mission to find Waipoo Falls, but gaped continuously at the canyon’s carved walls as they “pulled back again and again” during our downward climb. We stopped once to cool ourselves at a small 20-foot waterfall before following the stream as it split, then rebraided, below our feet. From a high ridge, “it makes a leap of faith into the unknown.” We peeked over the edge to watch it fall 800 feet to its destination below.

Unpredictable Humboldt CountyThe sights of Northern California’s Humboldt County can be “hard for the rational mind to reconcile,” said Wells Tower in The New York Times. A day’s drive through the rural coastal region took me past what appeared to be “a Hawaiian beach, an Icelandic coastal flat, a swath of rustic Switzerland, the Ewok moon of Endor, a prop village from a musical about the gold rush, and Allentown, Pa.” The “hysterical shifts in landscape” are matched by schizophrenic weather. Blues skies brought sunlit rain, then hail, then sleet, then snow, then back to full sun with an over-the-top rainbow. Humboldt’s “atmospheric caprices” echo the character of a county that proudly moves to the sound of its own drummer. Located five hours north of San Francisco, Humboldt is home to “back-to-the-landers,” slow-food entrepreneurs, and urban refugees who, like me, found it all too easy to get lost in the area’s Pacific Ocean fog.

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