Kauai Curbside Recycling

Recycling is one of those things that mainlanders take for granted, people expect their city to collect recyclables and do the right thing. As with so many other things on Kaua’i, it’s not that easy here. Being a small, rural island, the county government has not yet implemented recycling pickup service. At least we do have recycling dumpsters around the islands, but you have to sort all your recyclables. The extra effort deters a lot of people I’m sure, and tons of recyclables get thrown in the trash (probably with some guilt too).

For years, I have been dutifully saving, sorting, and hauling my recyclables to the Kapa’a or Lihu’e recycling centers. But recycling is so much easier when you can just put it out like the trash. So when I saw this advertisement, I snapped a picture with my phone:

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Kauai Curbside Recycling is a residential recycling service, for a small monthly fee, they’ll come to your house and empty your recycling bins. They provide the bins if you need them. They serve the whole island except the West Side (Hanapepe to Kekaha). You can follow their facebook page or go to their website kcrpickup.com for all the details:

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Source: screenshot from kcrpickup.com

I contacted the service through the website, asked if they served my neighborhood, paid online, and the next week Chris came by to collect my recycling (and every 2 weeks after that). Check out his cool recycling machine:

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We chatted a little, and it turns out he built his own truck bed to fit all his sorting bins. I find that really cool. He posted some of the build photos on instagram (using a tree branch to lift the old bed, that’s Kaua’i style):

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Source: instagram.com/kauai_curbside_recycling

Anyway, back to the recycling. I picked the “all-in-one” unsorted option where I just dump my bag of recylables from the kitchen into the blue bins every few days, then just put the bin on the “curb” every 2 weeks (much of Kaua’i doesn’t have curbs either, but that’s not as easily solved). This service costs a bit more, but it really saves time and space for me, because I don’t have to sort recyclables and store them in my own separate boxes. I still break down and stack the corrugated cardboard separately. I store the bins and cardboard in a garden shed so they’re out the way and stay dry.

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Historical note: there was a similar business back in 2007-2008 called Kauai County Recycling Service (KCRS). I signed up and paid a deposit for the bins, but when they went out of business, they let everybody keep their bins. I’ve been using them around the house ever since.

You can also sort your recyclables inside the bins and pay less. Here’s a picture from the website about how that would look (just use flattened boxes to separate the items):

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Source: kcrpickup.com/how-to.html

But what about the HI-5 deposit on bottles and cans? Like all recycling services, you just throw them in with your regular recylcing, and they sort them out and get the money for them. It helps them offset the cost and earn a fair living. So the service is costing me a bit more (probably $5 per month), but again, I don’t have sort, store, and drive to the redemption center anymore (so it saves me an hour a month, at least). If you have large quantities, you can negociate with Chris.

Here’s a handy recycling chart showing all the recyclables that Kauai Curbside Recycling will accept–it’s all the same as the county bins:

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Adapted from: kcrpickup.com/how-to.html, click to enlarge

In the end, I’m very happy that Chris has started this business, and I hope it works out for him. If you’re tired of sorting and hauling your recyclables too, or if you need a custom truck bed, give him a call. He provides a sorely needed service for Kaua’i residents, it costs only a little and saves me lots of time, and it should increase the amount of recyclables diverted from our landfill.

Disclaimer: I am a happy paying customer of Kauai Curbside Recycling, it was my idea to write this post, and I have received no compensation for publishing it. I just want to spread the news about businesses that are good, and good for Kaua’i.

Year of the Lychee

As anybody visiting or living on Kaua’i (or any of the Hawaiian islands, I assume) has noticed, the summer of 2015 has been an incredible year for lychee fruit. Trees all over my neighborhood are covered in lychee, and it has been lasting for over 2 months.

It really is spectacular in that trees that I didn’t even know were lychee are all bearing fruit. The tree is rather medium-sized and non-descript, and since it doesn’t fruit every year, they just look like nice ornamental trees in someone’s front yard. But this year they are full of red fruit and impossible to miss. The mainly-Japanese families who settled my neighborhood in the 1950s knew what they were doing, and their foresight is our delight this year.

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We don’t have a tree ourselves, but I can see at least 5 of them on our street, and several neighbors have been sharing their fruit. One friend has many trees, and I went over several times to pick, first from the ground, then on a ladder, then with a pole on the ladder. As more and more fruit ripen, and people get tired of them, I’ve been able to pick bigger and bigger bags full. In any case, I’m not getting tired of eating them:

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The previous picture is about 30 pounds (13.5 kg) of lychee. We ended up freezing a lot of them.

I assume that the second year of El Niño conditions has triggered the fruiting. 2015 is the first official El Niño year of the cycle, but we had a very similar dry winter followed by a wet spring and early summer as in 2014. In any case, we started picking and eating lychee from neighbors in the middle of May, and many trees are still bearing fruit. Over the months, different trees have ripened in succession, so we were able to taste and compare the flavor of several varieties (bumpy or smooth skin, firm or juicy flesh, more sugary or more tangy).

Oh, and it’s also been a good year for mangos:

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Aloha Hiding in Plain Sight

Aloha is all around us in Hawaii, but sometimes only the birds and the Google “satellites” can see it:

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This is at the Kaua’i Beach Resort, the one on the main road between Lihue and Kapa’a (it used to be the Radisson, then the Hilton, now Aqua). When I walked by recently, the topiary was still there, but maybe not trimmed as neatly. It’s not really a maze, but my daughter had fun pretending it was. She could read it when I told her the bushes where in the shape of letters.

The construction of the hotel and condos was controversial in the 80′s, but the area has lots of Aloha now, because I also found this carved into a tree trunk at the stream nearby:

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Here is the embedded map, with North to the top. If Google updates the imagery it might not be visible anymore:

I’m sure there are a few other examples on Kaua’i, but this is the first one that I’ve found. If you know of other “aerial art” visible in online maps, let me know in the comments.

Trail Maintenance (Part 1)

About a month ago, I saw a helicopter with a dragline over Nounou and I thought it was another rescue. But it wasn’t the county helicopter, which is red, and it kept dropping off something.

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I thought it was a stretcher, but then it turned out to be be logs for trail maintenance. So a few days later, I hiked up the Nounou East trail, and sure enough, they had dropped off bundles of logs in the various shortcut sections that have eroded.

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That last picture is where the helicopter was dropping the logs in the first two pictures, a place I call the “shoulder of the Sleeping Giant.” So it looks like the Nounou East trail is getting some maintenance from the state (I assume).

You shall not pass!

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That last one is the worst one, it’s actually hard to hike through there because the trail is so eroded downslope. So I’m glad they’re fixing it.

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I went back again last week and most of the work was done, but I forgot my camera. Next time I go, I’ll post part 2.

So “Thank you, DLNR” (Department of Land and Natural Resources) for fixing the trails for us.

Coco Palms Update

After my previous article, the Hawaii News Now website had an updated story about the fire at the Coco Palms. They have images from the County of Kaua’i showing the other buildind that burned:

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Source: County of Kaua’i via Hawaii News Now

This is the walkway between the two restaurant areas, straight downwind of the lobby seen in my previous post. It has another shingle roof supported by wooden arches. It also looks like the horizontal roof areas to the left burned as well, though I believe these were more like decorative façades.

Somebody has also posted impressive aerial footage of the fire, using a helicopter drone:

There is a lot of speculation about the fire, and according to The Garden Island, an investigation has been started. In another article, The Garden Island also says that the damaged buildings are being torn down right away.

Here are photos of this area that I took during a tour of the Coco Palms over a year ago. This is the same side as the photos above, with the decorative conch shell made of fiberglass.

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I have to respectfully disagree with Bob Jasper (quoted in the first linked article) about the beauty of this shell. The next image is looking back at this “breezeway” area from the other side, on a walkway right between this area and the main lobby. You can clearly see the wooden arch structure:

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Before anyone jumps to conclusions about the entire hotel burning down, most of the buildings in this area were cement and steel, often covered with stone. Only the architectural arches and decorative façades were wood, though I imagine the buildings were still damaged. However, much of the wood was likely unsound before the fire, and would’ve needed to be torn down during the renovation. The cement parts of the building would’ve need to be remodeled anyway, so hopefully that work can still proceed.

Here’s the restaurant, viewed from the breezeway, and if you look up through the deteriorated palm-frond ceiling, you see the skeleton of the building.

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However, the breezeway was certainly destroyed, along with two points of interest. First, this was the exact location for one of the iconic photos of Elvis:

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Second, the building still contained some art and woodwork that probably would’ve been preserved during the remodel–or at least auctioned off. It’s no Brancusi, but it’s prettier than the conch shell:

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Continuing the tour, here is main lobby, as it appeared after 20 years of neglect and exposure to the elements:

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The water warped the roof beams, leaving a gaping hole, and some of the roof even collapsed at the far end. So this building was a total loss even before the fire:

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But again, it had some interesting details worth preserving, if only in pictures now. Here is the reservation desk, a stone mantle of some sort, and the north window.

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I suspect that interesting art would’ve been preserved, or at least documented and recreated during the current remodeling proposal. But now with the fire damage, it will mostly likely just be scrapped or torn down. At least a copy of the window is preserved at the Aulani hotel on Oahu, which was certainly inspired by the Coco Palms.

Here is a view of the lobby roof that burned, and I think that the pedestrian bridge may have also been affected:

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And this is the lobby roof that I saw burning in my first post, most of it was doused by the firefighters:

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But while tragic, the fire spared much of the rest of Coco Palms. The wooden structures needed to be rebuilt anyways, but I heard the cement buildings were only going to be remodeled. Here are some more photos from the tour. As far as I can tell, none of these areas were affected by the fire.

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The main wings of the hotel are cement and stone buildings, and the rooms are still there, sitting empty for 20 years, some with their iconic clam-shell sinks (not Hawaiian at all). Many of the clam shells were auctioned off after the initial damage to the hotel.

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See, all it needs is some new wallpaper. On the other side of the lagoons were the cottages and more restaurants. They are all dilapidated and need to be removed. I think the idea is to keep and refurbish the one that Elvis stayed in, as a sort of museum. This is what’s left of the Elvis cottage (or maybe the one next to it):

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Elvis has definitiely left the building (or maybe he left it this way). Other wooden buildings around the lagoons have collapsed already from the termites and the wind and rain:

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Other ones still stand, though eaten by termites and in danger of collapsing: a storage shed for a restaurant, including the last menu, and the wedding chapel.

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The tour of the old buildings was fascinating, and Bob Jasper, the caretaker and tour guide, had lots of stories. Unfortunately, the tours may be the biggest victims of the fire. I doubt people will be allowed to walk around after all the fire damage and demolition.

UPDATE: In a Star-Advertiser article about the damage, Bob Jasper says the tours will continue, but obviously not through the breezeway area. He also made a video of the damage before and after the burnt lobby was torn down:



If you watch, you’ll see that the entire lobby was a loss and demolished. The breezeway arch was badly burned, but it wasn’t torn down, at least at the time of this video. The upper floor next to the breezeway also burned, but the lower floor with the restaurants is intact. In fact, in the video, you can still see the tile mural (at 19:40) and wooden panels (at 20:05). The article says the large conch shell will be rebuilt, but I’m not sure that’s necessary.

While looking for links, I found 3 videos that Bob made at the Coco Palms. He visits parts of the buildings not seen on the tours, including the roof and rooms around the breezeway that burned:





In the last video, he discovers some trespassers and yells at them to get out.