Thirty-One (13 of 31)

It’s been freezing cold this week, both in Boston and in New Hampshire, so I thought I’d use today’s throwback entry as an opportunity to re-post one of my favorite bits from the series I did while honeymooning in sunny Hawaii in 2001.

Of the three islands that Stephanie and I visited while we were there, Kauai, the so-called garden island, was my favorite. And my favorite day of our stay in Kauai was the one that this entry describes, a day spent touring the various locations across the island where Hollywood features had been filmed.

Filmed in Paradise

Our familiar pattern repeated itself. We got up early, grabbed a few pastries and some juice at the continental breakfast and then hopped on a van to go off and do something exciting. Today we were picked up right outside the hotel by Kauai Movie Tours. Inside the 4x4 Off-road Van was a tanned, tall, broad shouldered, ukulele-playing local. I can’t remember his name but I do remember that he was a very nice guy and that if I were a girl I probably would have fawned over him.

Please don’t take that the wrong way.

We stopped at a couple of other hotels first to pick up the other people we’d be riding with. They consisted of two very large women, an old man, an anniversary couple who didn’t look as old as I think they were, and another honeymoon couple, like us. It was going to be an interesting day.

Our final stop before heading off on the tour was at their offices, which were somewhere on the East Coast, a little north of Lihue. The attractive Hawaiian guy was going to be our driver and we were picking up his sidekick, a woman whose name I also cannot remember.

The tour was amazing, filled with all sorts of sights that you couldn’t see on your own. The reason for that is a lot of the films that are made on Kauai are made on conservation land and private property. This company has agreements with a bunch of these places so they can take you in. It was great. We started off with a couple of waterfalls from movies, the names of which I can’t remember either, and then we made a stop by a precipice where Elvis filmed part of Blue Hawaii.

Then it was on to the really good stuff. We drove down a very back road after back road before we finally came up to this bumpy road, which led us up to this gate, which our big Hawaiian guide unlocked and then drove through. We crossed a partially submerged bridge and after a little while longer we finally came up to the piece de resistance of this part of the trip: the Jurassic Park gate. Now, because this was conservation land everything that Spielberg and company put up, they had to tear down, so there are just the remnants of where the gate would have stood but it was still awesome. Stef and I had our picture taken in front of it and then we moved on through this bit of brush to look out over an amazing valley. Along the way back they pointed out to the main road they pointed out a couple of other places where Jurassic Park was filmed as well as the site of some new Kevin Costner movie. Then they played us a tape and told us a story about how when Spielberg was in town to film Jurassic Park he got caught up in Hurricane Iniki, the storm that devastated most of this island. During the storm he went up on the roof of his hotel with a camcorder and filmed part of the storm. A security guard came and got him down and made him promise not to use any of the footage but if you look closely at the film there is a snippet of a storm and that is the film he took on that roof.

Hmm… what else? Shortly after that we took a lunch break on the beach where Elvis filmed a little bit more of Blue Hawaii. There was a minor incident here where I had picked out Doritos, the nacho flavored kind, as my bag of chips, but I got into this conversation with Stef and one of the women came along and took it, and so I had to settle for Cool Ranch Doritos, which I don’t like very much. I didn’t kill her though because I was on my honeymoon and I was in a good mood.

One totally unrelated thing that made itself clear during lunch was that Kauai has a definite chicken problem. There are no natural predators on the Hawaiian Islands, no snakes, no nothing. The chickens are therefore free to run rampant unless humans kill them. Same thing with pigs. It’s especially bad on Kauai. They told us if we each took one chicken, and one pig home with us, it wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

After lunch we were treated to two more secluded areas. I remember bumpy roads down steep inclines and also a long road through a field. They could have been on the same trip and the other adventure might have been a totally different path but whatever. During one of the trips we were taken out along some of the hills and fields that Spielberg filmed part of the giant stampede scene in Jurassic Park. That was pretty cool because they had this monitor in the van that was showing scenes from the movie and from a documentary on the movie and you were right there. I think I got whiplash looking back and forth between the monitor and the hills.

The other movie they talked a lot about and showed us a lot of sites for was Outbreak, which I have never seen. We saw the field where a camp in Outbreak was, as well as a couple of other sites and the only thing that annoyed me about the trip as a whole was how much they talked about this movie I hadn’t seen. I wanted to get on to something else.

And boy did we get onto something else. While we were visiting a patch of property owned by one of the islands more famous, and more long-lasting land-owning families we were treated to three (probably more) locations from Raiders of the Lost Ark. As you can tell, Spielberg loves to film in Hawaii. The first location, and all of the ones I remember were from the opening sequence where Indiana Jones is going through the jungle and then where he is escaping from the place where he stole the idol or whatever. The first location was the tree that Indiana walks near at the very beginning. I don’t quite remember the scene but they showed it to us in the van on the monitor and it made sense. The tree was kind of small and a little too well lit. I didn’t quite believe it but they hadn’t lied to us so far so… The other really interesting thing that we saw while looking at this tree was behind the fence that separated this property from the property of Steve Case (yes, the AOL guy). There were people who had apparently broken onto Steve’s property to swim at this fantastic looking water hole. Our guides explained to us about how stupid an idea that was. You see, there are cows in the hills, and cows excrete things just like us, and they sometimes excrete things near water, and water flows down from the hills and forms fantastic looking water holes that also have fantastic amounts of bacteria in them. I don’t remember any bacteria names, but I wouldn’t have been able to spell them anyway. Water that is on state land that has these problems is well marked but because these people were on private property they didn’t have a clue. Steve Case isn’t required to post signs warning of bad water on his private property because no one beside himself, his family, or invited guests should even be there. And they would know to stay away from that stuff. Anyway, we had a chuckle at these people’s misfortune. Even if we had wanted to, they were way too far down the hill that rested beyond the fence that we couldn’t have said anything.

We loaded back up into the van and drove a little further into the property. What we got to see next would lead me to do one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. We got to see the hill that that natives chase Indiana down. It’s a very small hill, and its steep as all hell. The first couple of takes Spielberg had to tell the natives to slow down cause they were running right past good ole Indiana. The hill is actually much closer to the water than the movie portrays. Right at the foot of the hill, there by the water’s banks you catch a good glimpse of the river that Indiana Jones’ plane was waiting for him on. Also there, hanging from a tree limb high above was a replica of the rope that the stunt double actually swung on. Our big Hawaiian tour guide got on the thing and swung out over the water a couple of times. It was pretty damn cool, but looked scary. They put a pipe through the bottom part of the rope for someone to sit on and then they offered us a chance to swing out on it. I wanted to do it but I was a little put off by the stories of the bacteria in the water, and not wanting to fall in. One of the other guys went ahead and did it and I just had no choice. I volunteered myself, got on the thing, and went.

The first swing out I had my eyes closed. It was thrilling but it was like everything else I’d done in life. I was afraid to look until it was over. Then someone shouted at me to open my eyes and it occurred to me: “I might never get to do this again. This is the rope that Indiana Jones swung on.” On the second swing out over the water my eyes were wide open and Jesus, I hate to sound clich?d but I felt alive in a way that I think I had rarely felt before.

After that we went to a couple of more places in those tucked away private property places and then we finished off our trip near the exits to one of those places feeding wild pigs and peacocks before it started to downpour and scare them all away. At some point, the newlywed couple from California asked us how the Big Dig was going, the first of many queries about the fabled Boston construction project that apparently the whole world knows about. We dropped off our fellow travelers two by two mostly, except for the man who had come solo, and we were two of the last and when I got off I was energized and exhausted. It was an amazing little trip.

After the tour we spent some time on the beach in front of our hotel writing post cards, sunbathing, and walking on the edge of the ocean. Lots of the beaches in Hawaii are dangerous. They have five different kinds of warning signs and some beaches have all of them. So we never really swam in the ocean, but just getting my feet wet was nice.

We dined at Keoki’s Paradise again that night and I actually tried some Hawaiian fish. Not being a big fish eater I wasn’t expecting much but it was pretty good. After that we headed back to the hotel for a much-deserved sleep.