Wicked places in North America
The unique Red Dirt Waterfall is a seasonal mini waterfall, which flows down the iconic red soil of Waimea Canyon - waimea actually means "reddish water". The carved out barren red landscape is not unlike what you would expect to find on Mars. Red Dirt Waterfall is one of the many stunning stops along the road to Waimea Canyon - and one which isn't a lookout.
The spectacular road from Paia to Hana is called Hana Highway. It first follows hwy 36, which then turns into hwy 360. Here the road becomes even more winding with hairpin curves and blind spots. The serpentine road passes small communities, lush rainforest and many waterfalls - almost as many as there are one-lane bridges. As parking along the road often is scarce, you won't be able to stop at every waterfall, beach or lookout, but there are so many to choose from. Some tourists turn their car around in Hana and return the same way, but the brave ones continues along the even more challenging section of hwy 360 to Kipahulu Visitor Centre for more waterfalls at Ohe’o Gulch (or hiking Pipiwai Trail). Again, you can return the same way, but if you are in for a wild ride, continue along hwy 360 on the "Road to Hana, South Route" to complete a full loop around Volcano Haleakala.
When people are talking about the scenic "Road to Hana", they are probably talking about the north route from Paia to Hana. However, if you're looking for an adventure do the rugged south route along the Pi'ilani Highway: It first follows hwy 37, which turns into hwy 31, before becoming hwy 360. The first section starts off innocently with soft rolling hills, but soon the paved road will feel like a rollercoaster as it twists its way over the southern slope of Volcano Haleakala. The views of the wild coast and the barren volcanic landscape just seem to get better at every bend. Though this backside road see less traffic than its northern cousin, there are plenty of sharp curves and blind turns to keep you alert. Around the settlement of Kaupo the road condition gets worse. The rollercoaster ride is now reduced to a pothole dodging zigzag. As you get closer to Kipahulu Visitor Centre the road gets better again. Instead of returning the same way you came, do the ultimate road trip by continuing along the "Road to Hana, North Route" to complete the full loop around Volcano Haleakala.
© John Smith
This hike is more of a climb and is absolutely only for thrill seekers. The trail is officially closed, so you have to enter the grounds the "alternative way" (through a hole in the fence and then circumvent a guard) to get to the start of the trail. The trail is also called Haiku Stairs and was originally laid out with wooden ladders during WWII to reach a secret radio station. During the 1950s the stairs were replaced with metal ones. Though the steps and rails since have been repaired (latest in 2003), there are several mangled sections and even some broken steps. Some sections are nerve-racking steep, while others are balancing on a razor-sharp ridge with deep vertiginous drops to both sides. The trail ends at the broken satellite (756 m), where it's either the same way down (another 3,922 steps) or follow a longer trail with mud and ropes.
Wild roosters, hens and chicks are roaming free everywhere on Kaua'i. Nobody knows where they originate from, but they seem to have been here for centuries. As they don't have any natural predators, they are thriving on the island. Be careful with the roosters as they have sharp spurs.
Gospel in Harlem on a Sunday is becoming a mandatory stop on any New Yorker tour. Guide books often recommend the historic "Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church" in Harlem founded in 1796, which is a polished and well-behaved affair. For the real thing, explore the neighbourhood for the many smaller and more obscure churches. You might be met with a stiff look by the "bouncer" but if you promise not to take any pictures, you will be welcomed inside to a scenario only thought possible in the movies. A preacher under a neon-lit cross yelling the words of the Lord while a hyper energetic band, counting more members than church-goers, keeps the clapping crowd on their feet, singing for salvation for the soul. Some of the most committed followers might even go into trance and drop to the floor. It is pure religious madness. Hallelujah.