Random notes from Kauai ... just to get down some ideas for a future column:
Sunday: LONG flight. Arrived about 4 pm Hawaii time (which is 5 hrs behind NY), got settled, ate a lovely dinner, went to bed. Weather magnificant. Highlight of the trip in: while waiting for our flight to board in Chicago, Noah Wylie from ER sits across from us at the airport. Man, is he cute.
Monday: Kuhn's Brothers group breakfast. Spent many hours trying to decide what to do the rest of the week. Two goals: fly to Oahu to see Pearl Harbor, and do a helicopter trip. After many hours of sitting in the hotel room making phone calls, I convince everyone to do this outside (my theme for the week: "People, can we just GO?!"), and it's raining. We go to Walmart, then Subway for lunch, (yes people, our first day in Hawaii, and we get to see Walmart and Subway) then back to the hotel for the Kuhn's Brothers luau, which has been moved indoors b/c of the rain.
Luau includes a pig which has been roasting all day in lava rocks outside, hula dancers, fire thingys, and other cool stuff. I try sushi and Mahi Mahi. (Learn that there is almost nothing on the island made w/o macadamia nuts. Can I please just have some chocolate cake!!?) The fat Hawaiian guys wearing nothing but loincloth explain that they'll carve and put the pig in a roasting pan b/c the board of health doesn't allow everyone to pick from the pig anymore b/c it's unsanitary. Probably not as unsanitary as the fat bellies hanging over the pig as they carve. Rain as we leave.
Tuesday: Up and at the airport at 6 am. Fly to Oahu, spend the day touring the Arizona Memorial, the Bowfish submarine and the USS Missouri. Mad cool. Nice in Honolulu, but cloudy. Perfect day to sightsee. Great day w/my dad. While on the ship, I purchase a booklet that contains FDRs drafts of his day-after Pearl Harbor speech - interesting, from a writer's viewpoint, to see his "this is a day that will live on in world history" to "this day will live in infamy" - less IS more. :)
Wednesday: I get up and take a hula class at 8 am. Yeah, I hula. I'm a hula dancer. (Hawaiian songs stuck in my brain - "going to the Hukilau, the huki, the huki, the hukilaua" ... a hukiluau is a hula dance, just so you know.) Rain. Rain. Flash flood warnings. Roads closed. No coffee in the restaurant for a while b/c of water shortage. Sink holes in the hotel parking lot. So we decide to take a drive around the south shore, which is open but rainy.
We go to Waimea Canyon, the grand canyon of the Pacific (so dubbed by Mark Twain). AMAZING. The clouds are lifted for us and the canyon, which is probably stupendous w/sunlight, is simply magnificant overcast. You can see for miles and miles in every direction, waterfalls up in cliffs, rivers running thru the canyon, indescribable. We drive to the top of the mt and on the way down, the entire thing is covered in clouds. God let us see it on the way up. Cool! We stop and I pick a stalk of sugar cane b/c I was the only one who knew what it was - I saw it on Survivor. See, reality TV can be educational. The bellman asks if I got a ticket for picking sugar cane.
We go to eat dinner at a restaurant in "the book" (The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, which my sister quoted from relentlessly throughout the trip) but the place, The Wrangler, smells like dead fish and cat litter so we leave and head to Pomodoro for Italian. Weird, sitting in Hawaii, eating pasta w/the theme from The Godfather playing in the background.
Thursday: Rainy in Lihue. Big surprise. We have booked our helicopter ride for Friday, leaving from the S. Shore. We plan to spend Saturday on the North Shore b/c the forcast is for sun, so we spend Thurs on the east shore - which clears up nicely for us. Drove around, stopped to watch the surfers, saw some waterfalls, made my dad drive down this one lane, dirt road w/a drop off on one side and overrun w/peacocks so we can see what's down there (a tourist Hawaiian village/museum and a chance to kayak to some lava pools. We take a pic under the banana tree and head back up.). Gotta love an adventurous dad! Saw some other sights, had a great dinner, got some Cold Stone ice cream (which my stepmother was craving b/c they don't have it in Elmira where they live).
Friday: Tour around the cloudy south shore and get ready for the helicopter trip at 2. Stop to see Spouting Horn geyser, and just as we get out, the heavens open and it rains. That's what it's like here - sun, clouds, suddenly rain, rain, rain, suddenly sun. Repeat. Drive thru the eucylptus tree tunnel, see some sights, kill some time. We get to the airport and the pilot says he'll take us up if we want to but it's cloudy so if we can reschedule we should so we can see stuff. So we resched. for Sunday, the day we leave.
Saturday: My dad wakes up at 3 am, and decides that since we'll have driven everywhere already, the helicopter trip will amount to an $800 roller coaster ride. So before breakfast and before the rest of us are up, he drives the 1/2 hour to the airport and cancels the helicopter trip for the next day. He thinks it'll be too hectic, as we have to check out at 2 pm Sunday, return the rental car, and then hang around the hotel all day - our flight leaves at 10 pm. I'm game for anything. While the helicopter was definitely something cool, I'm just happy to be there and will go along with anything.
Saturday is my favorite day. We begin at Kilauea Lighthouse, which has unbelievable views in all directions. Red footed boobies are nesting all over the mountainsides (Note: they actually hatch their eggs by holding them in their webbed feet, not sitting on them. Their feet are red b/c the corpusles are close to the surface, hence the "red footed" name. Keeps the eggs warmer.) We see sea turtles and whales!! It's mating season for the whales and they're all down from Alaska. Wow.
Drive to Hanalei to look for Puff the Magic Dragon, lol. The scenery is amazing, the village of Hanalei is tucked in this valley, the shores are fantastic, great shopping, very laid back. When it rains, the main road is closed and this little town is shut off from the rest of the island. I think they like it that way.
Up the road, we turn the corner and there is a HUGE cave on the left. We stop to walk thru and up the road see another, which also has a pool of water. Funny story: as we stand there looking at the guide book and talking about how this cave supposedly has a secret tunnel that leads to a blue room, these two young guys come up to my sister and I and are listening and asking questions. Together, we try to determine if this is the right cave. The guys turn out to be Marines working at the Pacific Missile base up the road. While we talk, one of them decides to jump in the water and see if he can swim thru the first cave opening and find the secret room. So he trots over to the car, reaches in and grabs his bathing suit, drops his pants right in front of us, puts on his suit and jumps in, all while I'm reading to him and his buddy from the book about how to find the room. He's in the water, swimming to the hole when I turn the page and get to the warnings, including some bacteria thing that's in the water. "It's OK, keep going!" I tell him, and say to his buddy, "He's a Marine. He's had his shots, right?" He gets in to the cave but can't see anything, and we leave him and his buddy planning to come back the next day with a water flashlight. We actually got a lot of sun today. Yeah!
Sunday: SUN!! Yeah!! We eat breakfast and my sister and I hang at the pool for a few hours while my dad and Yvonne do some souvenier shopping. Shower and check out at 2, then revisit Spouting Horn, which under sunny skies is truly incredible. Sea turtles swimming, water spouting from the geyser. Very cool. We kill some time at the hotel and then it's time to head home.
SO, there you have it, a tiny glimpse at how I spent the last 8 days. SO much more to tell (like the very strange service at the Marriot, and the toad in the lobby, and the roosters!!! I forgot the roosters - the island is OVERRUN with roosters, none of which know how to tell time.They crow 24/7. I have learned to imitate their crow and communicate with them), but I know how ppl are w/vacation stories and pics. Let's just say I spent the week trying to see if there was a way I could move there :)