Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Geez, nothing like a conference followed by a vacation to put one WAY behind. Now that I've caught up a little, I guess it's time to blog about the trip.

First of all, my dear husband forgot to bring the map and two guidebooks we had purchased for the trip. He also forgot to bring the cell phone number for his brother, whom he was supposed to meet in San Francisco before we left on the trip. They never did connect.

The trip from SFO through L.A. to Lihu'e was fairly uneventful, though LOOONG. I had forgotten how long flights to Hawai'i take. The airport on Kaua'i is pretty--and oceanfront. We loaded up on free tourist brochures while waiting on our luggage, then spent an excruciatingly long time in the rental car line. I kept saying to myself, "Island Time. Calm Down." But Stan was in no mood for island time, and by the time we got checked in to the hotel and headed to dinner, we were in the middle of a fight. Luckily, we got it over with quickly and decided on a plan for the next day.

I discovered that there are basically two ways to see Kaua'i: 1) Backpacker, or 2) Luxury tourist. We were shooting for something in between. Because of Stan's impending surgery, we have neither the physical stamina nor the financial resources to tackle either end of that spectrum. We wanted to do a tour of the island, so we debated whether to take a helicopter or a boat (or both). We ended up with the boat, largely because it was cheaper.

Hmm. The fact that they were running a special "that we never run in the mornings" the next morning should have been a clue. So should the picture in the ad. This was not a big boat; it was something just a couple steps up from an inflatable raft--to which two gigantic motors had been attached. The thing could MOVE. And in the six-foot swells off the Na Pali Coast (the captain said 13-foot swells were predicted further up, which is why we turned around when we did), it moved largely up and down. It was like (I'm guessing here) riding a bucking bronco through a rain storm.

They gave us waterproof bags for our stuff. I had sense enough to know that I would NOT want to open that bag once we got out on the ocean, so I dug out the sunscreen and handed it to Stan. He strapped it in next to him. Unfortunately, the excitement of the boat ride got to him and he squeezed the tube--all over the seat. He spent the rest of the boat ride sliding backwards. I had the bright idea to hold the tube of sunscreen over the side of the boat and wash it off. Needless to say, there is now a tube of SPF 45 washing up on some deserted beach where a hiker will find it and think of what kind of monstrous people pollute the ocean environment like that.

Not that the boat ride wasn't fun. It was--in the exact same way that a roller coaster is fun. We just didn't realize we had signed up for the roller coaster; we were expecting something more along the lines of a merry-go-round. I did accomplish two of my major goals for the trip, though: we got to see the island of Ni'ihau (in the distance) and I got to go snorkeling. Plus, we saw the coolest spinner dolphins.

After the boat ride, we stopped and got Hawaiian "plate lunches" at a market and drove up along Waimea Canyon to the Kalalau lookout. The "look" was into pure whiteness. Fog thicker than anything I've seen in California. It was at that point that we decided a helicopter trip would be fruitless.

Oh, I also got to experience (once per day, actually) Hawaiian shave ice. The ice part itself is not THAT different from a sno-cone, but whoever had the idea to put it over macadamia nut ice cream was a genius! On Saturday night I had blueberry over mac nut in Kapa'a. On Sunday afternoon it was pina colada over mac nut at the place in Waimea voted "best shave ice on Kauai" and on Monday it was rainbow over mac nut in Hanalei. (That was the worst of the three, but that place had sugar-free syrup so Stan got to experience shave ice as well.)

Anyway, the plate lunches were so big that they ended up being both lunch and dinner. (For $6.95 a piece, they were much more impressive than the $60/person we spent the next night at Roy's.)

On Monday, we started out with pancakes at the "best breakfast in Kauai" place in Lihu'e. Homemade coconut syrup...mmmm. We went to Wailua Falls, then followed Kuamo'o Road to its end at the Keahua Arboretum, stopping along the way to see 'Opaeka'a Falls and a couple of ancient Hawaiian sacred sites. Then we headed for the North Shore, stopping first in Kilauea to see the bird sanctuary.

Hanalei really is incredibly beautiful. There's a reason so many movies have been set on Kaua'i. We ended up going to the end of the highway at Ke'e Beach and then up the Kalalau Trail a little ways. There's a big sign at the beginning of the trail: "Wear appropriate footwear." I was in flip-flops. We got up to a certain point, and then the trail turned vertical. Stan decided he wasn't going any further, but a couple coming down said, "There are really cool views about 10 minutes ahead." Okay, I told him, wait here and I'll be back in 20 minutes. I was just about to turn around myself when another guy coming down says, "About another 500 feet up, there's an amazing view down the coast. But I don't know if you'll make it in flip-flops; it gets really wet near the top." Well, I made it. It was actually coming down that was far worse. I slipped a couple times, but never actually fell on my 'okole.

After making it back to the hotel and getting cleaned up, we went to Po'ipu for a sunset dinner. That was our latest night out. We pretty much stayed on California time our whole trip. You'd NEVER get me up at 6 a.m. voluntarily on the Mainland, but given the time difference (and the fact that there didn't seem to be much to do after the sun went DOWN), we were early to bed and early to rise.

We brought home a bunch of souvenirs, including a bunch of stuff we are going to use to put on a lu'au for folks from church. It was not exactly a relaxing trip (we were on the road a lot), but it was definitely worth the experience. I want to go back when we can do more rugged outdoorsy stuff. (We never did get to see the top of Wai'ale'ale; believe it or not, the rainiest place on earth was covered in clouds the whole time!)


Blogger Hawaii Consumers said...

Sounds like a great adventure - you really got around over there! Thanks for sharing the story.

1:55 PM  

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