2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report Part 6: Fort Elizabeth and Sunset

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we took a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi (read the previous parts here). When last we left, we had hiked down into Waimea Canyon and were starting to wonder if we would make it out…

Friday, July 6, 2018 (continued)

We then decided that it was time to try to make it back to the car since it was well past lunchtime and our large breakfast had worn off. Plus, we were ready for a restroom and some water, too. The most difficult part was the steep, slippery area that we had encountered on the way down. We managed to make it up by holding on to some roots that were growing out of the dirt wall on one side. We were happy to see those roots and happy to see that they were firmly in the ground.

One last look at Waimea Canyon as we made our way out of it. See the hole in the rock? We thought it was cool!
One last look at Waimea Canyon as we made our way out of it. See the hole in the rock? We thought it was cool!

Past that, we took it slow, stopping often to catch our breath and let our heart rates slow back down. There were was one other family that would pass us when we would stop to rest, and then we would pass them when they stopped. And then the couple we had met before passed us up going faster than we were. “Those young kids,” I thought. “It will catch up with them one of these days.” Eventually, we did pass them a couple of times as they stopped to rest, too, so I did not feel quite so old after that.

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Finally, we made it back up to the parking lot! Restrooms! Water! Air conditioning! Chickens everywhere! Real chickens, that is, not people who were afraid to hike the trail, although there were probably a few of those, too. And that might include us for the next time. Maybe not, but at least for the next time, we will be more prepared. We drove back down the mountain, not bothering to stop at any more overlooks. We figured we had gotten up close and personal with Waimea Canyon, and we were good. But we did enjoy the scenery from the car as we drove. That was still nice, especially now that we were off our feet.

We drove back down to the town of Waimea, looking for something to eat since it was after 4:00 PM by that time and we still had not had lunch. Our breakfast at the hotel had been big, but not quite that big. Not to mention that we were still quite thirsty from all the sweating we had done.

Laura had remembered seeing a Subway restaurant, and so we stopped at that. As we were getting out of the car, someone said, “It looks like we keep running into each other!” I turned, and it was that same couple that we had seen several times on the trail. They were going in Subway as well. I thought about asking them if they would like to join us at our table since there were few places to sit, but as it turns out they were just there for the restroom. We enjoyed our meal, enjoyed sitting, enjoyed slower heartbeats, and enjoyed air conditioning. The hike had been much more stressful than what we imagined before we started on it. But now that it was all over, we were glad that we had done it. We just might not have done the hike if we had known better what we were getting into.

There were some shops along the street where Subway was, so we checked some of those out. We found a few things for us and for the people back home, and we just enjoyed being more relaxed than how we had spent the previous few hours. As it turns out, the buildings housing Subway and the shops had some historical significance by being built as a Japanese village several years ago. We enjoyed reading the signs and seeing how the buildings originally looked, which was not that much different from how they look now, except with different tenants. History is everywhere. Especially, it seems, in Kauaʻi.

Subway in a historic building. What will they think of next?
Subway in a historic building. What will they think of next?

Laura had seen a church building that looked interesting. Although it was just across the street from where we had parked, it was also up a bit of a hill. So instead of walking, we decided to drive around the block. We went to check out the church building, and it was the Waimea Christian Church, a nice-looking white pointed building with a tall steeple. It was the sort of “classic” church building that people do not build all that much around home any more. We took a few photos of the interesting buildings there around the church building, too. The Waimea High School football team was practicing nearby, and we thought about telling Jaylin that if we moved there he would still be able to play football. It was a warm afternoon, and I am sure the players were hot, just like our players back home.

The interesting buildings of the Waimea Christian Church

Before we left the area, we decided to look into just a little more history. One of the signs that we had seen on our way there was for a Russian Fort, so how could we pass that up? The fort was Fort Elizabeth, built by the Russians in the early 1800s. As the story goes, the leader of the island of Kauaʻi had signed a treaty with the Russians, hoping they would help him win back independence of the island from the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and Kamehameha. However, that did not work out. The Russians left, and the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi took over the fort, abandoning it in 1853.

Not much of Fort Elizabeth is left these days

All that is left of Fort Elizabeth now are the outer rock walls, but it was still cool to see it and to learn even more about the history of the area. At the entrance of the park, there were signs explaining everything and showing the locations of some markers telling what was what. But there were no handouts to take with us. I took a photo of the sign with my phone, but then we could not find most of the markers in the fort. We still had a good idea of what was where, and it was fun to imagine what it might have been like at the fort. The mountains could be seen far off in one direction, and the ocean was nearby.

The rock walls of Fort Elizabeth
The rock walls of Fort Elizabeth
Laura walks inside Fort Elizabeth
Laura walks inside Fort Elizabeth

Fort Elizabeth was actually built on the bank of the Waimea River where it meets the ocean. Just on the other side of the river was where Captain James Cook first landed in 1778 and named the islands the Sandwich Islands after the Earl of Sandwich, who apparently liked to put his meat between two pieces of bread to eat it. Seriously. Not that the Earl of Sandwich ever went to the Sandwich Islands and ate a sandwich there. Still, lots of history in this area. There was a statue of Captain Cook and a park in his honor, but we did not take the time to explore those, since it was getting late.

Waves crash onto a bank where the Waimea River meets the Pacific Ocean
Waves crash onto a bank where the Waimea River meets the Pacific Ocean
An interesting symbol on a rock at the fort
An interesting symbol on a rock at the fort

But because it was getting late, we thought that this might be a good place to watch the sunset. So we walked the very short walk from the fort over to the riverbank. From there, we could see the ocean waves crashing up against the shore not too far off. Closer to where we were, up in the river channel, was a sandbar that the waves would wash over gently. There were some local kids there with skim boards, and they were having a delightful time letting the waves push them over the sandbar on their boards and then flipping over into the water. They yelled hello to us and waved, happy to have an audience, and we were happy to watch their fun. I wondered what it was like to live there and be able to do something like that whenever you might want to. They were obviously having a wonderful time.

Laura watches the kids playing on the sandbar
Laura watches the kids playing on the sandbar

The beach where we were there on our side of the river was a black sand beach, which was really cool. It was one of those things that we have always heard about, but that was our first time to actually see one, since the other beaches we had been to on Kauaʻi were white sand beaches. We enjoyed sitting under a tree and watching the waves. Of course, I was constantly taking photos, switching camera lenses, and taking more photos. But that was part of the fun of being out there at sunset. The kids eventually left before the sun went down, and we had a nice view mostly to ourselves. It was great.

The two of us enjoying the sunset
The two of us enjoying the sunset
One more sunset view for now.
One more sunset view for now. For others, see the previous post Sunset at Waimea River in Kauaʻi.

As we walked back to the car, another couple was walking out to the river. I thought about telling them they missed the sunset, but they probably knew that. It would have been nice to enjoy more of the evening there, but we had close to an hour to drive back to the hotel, so we went on our way, stopping for just a moment to see the wild cats in the parking lot at the fort before we left. And the chickens. I wonder if the cats are well fed with all of the chickens around?

One more view of the walls of Fort Elizabeth and the sunset as we were leaving
One more view of the walls of Fort Elizabeth and the sunset as we were leaving

We drove back to the hotel, and of course it was dark when we got there. When we got back, my knees begged me not to walk up the stairs to the room, but we did anyway. My legs were sore, but my knees were the most sore. I guess they were not prepared for all of the climbing they had to do. I suddenly felt much older than I had felt that morning.

We enjoyed a few bites of chocolate covered pineapple before going to bed. And no one had to rock either one of us to get us to go to sleep that night. We slept quite well!

Check back soon for more from the 2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report!

2018 Kauai Trip Report

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Steve

Husband, father, photographer, webmaster, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography and stories through Burnsland.com.

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