On a beautiful Sunday we joined countless tourists and locals for a drive to the north shore. This area is famous for high surfing waves in the winter, but the water was placid today. There were so many folks trying to surf and swim, the parking lot traffic reminded us of rush hour on the expressways at home.
So we stopped at the Dole Plantation, a tourist stop if there ever was one. The last time we we here (25 years ago) we learned that the pineapple industry had come to an end in Hawaii due to high labor, production and shipping costs. We ate a piece of pineapple and walked around a small field which showed the fruit at various stages of development. That small field has become a huge demonstration farm for all sorts of tropical fruits and flowers. We boarded the Pineapple Express for a tour around the place and developed a new appreciation for all the steps in the growing process that still must be done by hand. But the real reason the Dole Plantation was surrounded by buses and the parking lot overflowed was its massive gift shop. Obviously the pineapple was the fundamental product, but we found it on T-shirts, as wine, jelly, in baked goods, as decoration on ceramic pieces, on resort wear type clothing, and most deliciously in ice cream. And that was just the pineapple stuff. The gift shop was as big as a high school gymnasium. If the Dole Company isn't making money from pineapples in Hawaii anymore, they most definitely are still making money.
For some peace and quiet we went to the Waimea Valley Audobon Center. This bucolic park teemed with all manner of flora from 35 distinct tropical locations all around the world. Understandably October is not a prime time for blossoms, but that didn't stop me from wearing out my camera shutter. The vegetation was so thick and lush it was challenging to take note of it all. Our hike up this jungley valley culminated in a fresh water pool filled by a waterfall. Truly a Garden of Eden.