I've been thinking about writing up my trip with Joanne to Kauai, ever since we got home. But we did so many things, I am afraid I might overwhelm you, or completely bore you to death.
But it truly was a dream come true. I had written up my “Bucket List” (a fun list of things I wanted to do out there, plus places to show her, and favorite places to eat). I had 25 things written down, and we did more than 30!
On Saturday, May 15th, we flew to LA, then directly to Kauai, arriving in the dark, so Joanne didn’t really get to see the collection of islands that make up the “whole set.” We shopped for groceries, and headed up north to Princeville. Found “our condo” and lugged our stuff up 18 steps, then up 15 more steps to the left, and down 13 steps to the second floor. Strange architecture.
When I awoke at dawn the next morning, I pulled open the drapes and GASPED! Literally! It absolutely took my breath away. We both grabbed our cameras. We had a wide open view of the coast, south to the Kilauea Light House, and the colors in the clouds were from peach to brilliant red-orange. I started singing, “Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art!” I literally cried, it was so beautiful. The gentle waves were breaking way out at the reef, but the water below us was as calm as a lake, and clear blue-green.
We got ready and went to church at the “Tent Church” in Kilauea, where Bob and I had attended. They are just beginning to build the new sanctuary, having met in the tent since 2000. Wonderful to be greeted warmly by those who remembered me. A hot meal had been cooking, and after Pastor Steve Thompson's sermon, everyone stayed and ate together.
Since we were already in the area, Joanne and I visited the Kilauea Light House, (the northern-most point in the Hawaiian Islands) and got to see the Albatross’ flying by with their 7-foot wingspread. Glorious. So, we crossed off 3 things on my list. No, 4, because we had supper at the Paradise Bar and Grill where Bob and I had lunch as often as we could. Fresh Mahi Mahi grilled, on top of a wonderful big green salad.
Monday, we awoke to another glorious sunrise, and took photos again. Some Ne Ne geese (the State Bird) flew by our window. (I fed them bread crumbs from our deck). An Albatross glided by… and we were up so high, we were actually looking down on it. What a thrill. No one within a mile could see us up on our little deck, so we sunned ourselves and read, and enjoyed our coffee. Later we got sandwiches made at the deli, and walked across the Kuhio Highway to the famous lookout, overlooking the Taro fields in the Hanalei Valley. We visited with lots of other sight-seers, volunteering to take their photos for them, like Bob used to do.
We shopped at the toys and games store in the Princeville Center, where I always got Christmas stuff for my Grandkids. Bought a finger-puppet that looked like a weasel for John ! Another 5 or 6 things crossed off “The Bucket List.”
Then, we drove south to Smith’s Tropical Paradise, on The Wailua River, where we boarded a flat-bottom river boat for a ride up the river to the Fern Grotto, a huge open cave, where ferns hang from the ceiling. Hundreds of weddings take place here, every year. The entertainment on board was by the Smith Family…hulas, guitars, and singing. Most are Christians. Great Grandfather Smith, married a beautiful Hawaiian, and now, 5 generations later, most of the family look Hawaiian. As soon as a child is 8 years old, he can be involved in the family business.
The ride was followed by a huge Luau (roast pig feast) back at the plantation, for about 750 people. One of the Smith sons asked God’s blessing on the food, and after dinner, they put on an all-Pacific Island dancing and singing show in native costumes, that lasted until nearly 10 pm. What a day! 4 more things checked off the list : the river boat ride, Fern Grotto, a Luau, and a Hula show.
Took pictures of our third sunrise. Just too beautiful for words. Then we were off to see Waimea Canyon (“The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”), stopping at a Starbuck’s in Kukui Grove on the way. We visited Ron Garlie at Puhi Paint Store, the son of our best friends, Alice and Don Dunn (now in Idaho). He warmly welcomed us… so someone must have told him we were coming.
Joanne did the driving up into the canyon. Each lookout was a new wonder for her. Deep, dark green canyons, bright red dirt, lush green tropical trees, and distant waterfalls cascading down the mountains. Near the top, a vendor was selling chilled fresh papaya, already cut into chunks. (I had suggested to Joanne at the beginning, that we could have fresh papaya for lunch every day. She wasn’t too sure about that). But after tasting chilled RIPE “Kauai Sunrise” papaya, she was convinced. There’s nothing like it on the mainland.
We drove to the top, for a spectacular view of the Kalalau Valley, where a lot of the TV story “Lost” was filmed. One ridge leads all the way down to the blue, blue ocean, where some of the other tourists could see whales breeching.
I drove back down the winding road, stopping in the town of Waimea, where Captain Cook was supposed to have landed, when “he discovered the Hawaiian Islands.” ( The Hawaiians laugh at the idea). I did a PHOON for John, in front of the statue of Captain Cook. Then, Joanne drove us back to Princeville to get our Mahi Mahi “salad fix,” (often holding her cell phone out the window to capture some scene), and then back to the condo to watch “Biggest Loser.” (As Joanne was bringing things back into the condo, I set the toy weasel I had bought for John, on the floor, just inside the door. When Joanne saw it, she screamed, and backed out the door! Then we laughed and laughed!) Another 5 or 6 things crossed off my list.
Our 4th morning was a rainy one. The sky was silver, with heavy gray clouds. Joanne commented that the ocean was getting “soggier.” We watched three fishermen walking in the shallows from about Anini Beach to just below us, (about a mile) dragging along what looked like a plastic laundry basket. They were spearing fish. (We saw one which a young man had caught, about a five pounder, dark red all over like the beautiful Koi fish we see in decorative fish ponds).
We had planned to drive the car to a certain point, park it, and walk into Princeville for the exercise. But when I got to that point, I turned RIGHT instead, and we went down the road to see the posh Princeville Hotel, now called The St. Regis. Joanne was duly amazed. Three-story windows, sleek marble floors, mohagany trim everywhere, and the view of Hanalei Bay that appears on every calendar, with the mountains, and “Bali Hai” as in the movie “South Pacific.” We had a fine lunch down on the patio, where we could watch everyone enjoying the swimming pool. Blackened Ahi (tuna) on a bed of fresh greens and sprouts. Mmmm! We often took photos of our food. Joanne photographed all the blossoming bushes, Hibiscus, Plumeria, and Poinciana trees. I don’t think she missed a single color.
We circled back to the Hanalei Bay Resort, where I showed her the best tropical view of the bay, framed by curving palm trees, with colorful flowers in the foreground, and the bright blue swimming pool. We changed into our swim suits, and stretched out on the convenient lounge chairs, blending in with the hotel guests as best we could. When we were toasted on one side, we went into the pool. Mmmm. Bob and I used to sneak in there at least once a week… and no one ever questioned us. We talked to a couple of newlyweds, and found out they were from Playa del Rey, and had graduated from Westchester High. Small world.
We could tell we were getting enough sunshine, so we dressed and drove down the hill to the town of Hanalei, crossing the river on the ancient 1-lane steel bridge. Visited The Green Church, where Bob and I attended the first few years of our service out there. It was built in 1820, and we prided ourselves in having some of the hymns sung in Hawaiian from the Hawaiian Hymnbook. I wish you could hear them sing The Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian.
We walked out to the end of the pier, jutting out into Hanalei Bay. A little boy, about 6 years old, dove off the end, and scrambled right back up the ladder to do it all over again. The pier used to have train tracks leading right up onto it, where rice and oranges were off loaded onto ships taking them to Japan! Now, California supplies the rice for Japan.
Supper was at The Dolphin Restaurant, a place Bob and I, and the Dunns and the Bockelmans, often had lunch after church. Best fish chowder ever. They must use pure cream. Then, we headed back to the condo. Joanne has been doing our laundry for us. Even laundry is fun in Paradise. Knocked off another 8 things on my list, just by turning right, intead of left at the top of the street this morning.
One of Joanne’s strongest desires was to go shell seeking on the beach. I phoned our friends Pauline and EZ Street (yes, that’s his real name) to find out the best beaches for shells. Right away they said “Anini,” at the edge of the water mark. We drove to the first curve of the beach road, where Bob and I were first introduced to Anini back in 1992 by Ruth and Herb Bockelman. We hunted perfect specimens of Opihi (look like tiny volcanoes); and Cowry (look like teeth); “money Cowry” (which the natives used to use in exchange for goods); and Drupe (with raised black dots all over them); and Grape Drupe (which are purple inside). We found perfect Cone shells, too. Beautiful clear water, so clear Joanne could photograph her foot in the sand in the water.
We left for Kapa’a for SHOPPING. We both loaded up on stuff for our kids and grandkids. I got Hawaiian shirts for David and John’s birthdays. I did another Phoon for John in front of the clock tower painted by Wyland, the guy who paints enormous whale and dolphin scenes on huge walls all over the world. We went to Coconut Marketplace for lunch at The Fish Hut, the best bargain on the island. Took pictures of our plateful. Same delicious and savory flavor on the grilled Ahi, and Ono (white fish) as in all the years past.
Now, we were close to the DOUBLE Wailua Falls, and Opaeaka Falls, which are a must-see. Joanne bought a woven green basket from a toothless hippie-like man, who says he learned to weave baskets from his grandmother. He was so picturesque, sitting on the ground with his rescue hound dog, and his stack of little woven baskets.
Next was the famous Hilo Hattie’s store, in Lihue, where I was suckered into trying to win a “free” pearl, by choosing a fresh oyster in a dish. The clerk cracked open the oyster, and it indeed contained two lovely pink pearls. Right away came the sales pitch. Buy a gold setting, for only $300.00. or try for another “free” pearl and get an even lovelier gold setting for only $450.00. I gasped. Joanne assured me that all I had to take was the FREE pearls. That was the come-on. Reluctantly, the clerk carefully wrapped up my two pink pearls and gave them to me. (She was glad to see me go).
At least, the episode didn’t spoil our appetite for Hula Pie at Duke’s Restaurant on the beach overlooking Nawiliwili Harbor. We took pictures of our slice of pie. About 5 inches of coffee ice cream tall, smothered with hot fudge, whipped cream, and a chocolate cooky crust, all to die for. (We shared it!) Another 8 things crossed off my list. Has anyone been keeping track? I think I’m way past 25. We came back to our condo, and had fresh pineapple, and fresh papaya for supper. Excellent choice.
I think it’s Friday by now. (You know it’s a good vacation, if you can’t remember what day it is!) A dear church friend, Sage Gauthier, also my friend on Facebook, came by to see us. She was very involved with the Green Church back when Bob and I got involved in trying to help the congregation select their new pastor, or Kahu, as he is called. Some sweet memories. Pastor Steve and his wife Trish, are from Dallas Seminary, and Trinity in Deerfield, IL, very gifted and lovable people. Anyway, Sage was a delight. Her husband Mark is hard at work, building the new church.
We shopped at Princeville Center, got our usual Mahi Mahi salad at Paradise, and finally got our Lappert’s Ice Cream cones, licking them while watching the tourists walk by. I think we sold everyone on the Kauai Pie flavor… a chunky mix of coffee ice cream, macadamia nuts, coconut, and chocolate fudge swirls. Mmmmm!
Joanne did the driving all the way northwest to the end of the road, at Ke’e Beach. She had to manouver 10 1-lane bridges, learning to take turns with whoever reached the entry point first. We stopped to visit the Dry Cave… a huge, football field sized cave next to the highway. It has a sandy bottom, and you can walk way in, to the back, where the walls meet the ground. We talked to three young college men from Phoenix, and got them to do the Phoon for us in the cave. Then, on to see the Wet Cave… not far down the road. A much smaller cave, but with glistening blue water not far from the entry, all the way to the back.
At Ke’e Beach, we walked out to the water, just as a woman slipped on the flat rocks and fell in. We decided to walk on the beach instead. I made Joanne follow me way around the bend to the right, and then had her turn around and look at the NaPali Coast. We both gasped. The cliffs are humongous, and each a darker shade of violet-blue. It’s the stuff oil paintings are made of. I wept, missing my beloved Bob, wishing he was there with me again. On our way home, we shopped in old Hanalei Town. Joanne found some beautiful earrings at one of the cutest boutiques. We ate PB and J sandwiches for supper at the condo, and began to pack for home.
Saturday, May 22 came all too soon. Took last photos from the condo, and a gentleman helped me get my luggage down the stairs. PTL. Up the street, we stopped at Hale ‘Aha, the B&B Bob and I used to work for, and since the owners were away, we peeked in every window. I enjoyed reminiscing as I saw each gorgeous room, remembering the furnishings, and the colors, and all that happened in each room, over the 10 years that we worked there every winter. Outside, the changes included removing the huge palm trees along the north side of the house, and no more pineapple patch. Tha banana grove was gone from the east side of the house, but was in full growth down in the swale… along with a new line of papaya trees, with fruit already growing on them. We left a note of our visit, on the front door, for Billie and Gary Sparks… who are also my friends on Facebook!
Joanne wanted to try fresh coconut milk, and had bought a fresh lime to squeeze into it. We stopped at a little road side stand, and got ice cold ones. Yummy. But the flesh of the coconut was not the dry hard, break it if you can, kind. It was more like white Jello. Unusual, but very healthy and good.
Traffic through Kapa’a came to a stand still. Good thing we weren’t in a hurry. We drove on to Old Koloa Town, and took pictures of the HUGE Monkey Pod Tree in the center of town. Originally, it was a sugar processing town. Now there is hardly any sugar cane growing on the island. Change in demand. We walked about town, took pictures in the open air museum, honoring the Chinese laborers, then headed south to Poipu. Had a late lunch at Kiahuna Plantation, at an outdoor place called Keoki’s. Excellent choice. Great Ahi salad, followed by our “last chance” Hula Pie. We wandered about in the Orchid gardens at Kiahuna Plantation, amazed at the variety of sizes and colors as far as we could see. A beautiful bride came through the garden with her entourage of men in tuxes, and the photographer. What a beautiful place for a wedding in Kauai.
Got to the Lihue Airport early, and Joanne finally realized what I meant by “open air.” There really are NO windows. No glass in the windows, that is. Just open walls, letting the breezes blow through. We were taking “the red eye” flight home, flying all night, since there is nothing to see but ocean below anyway.
It was fun landing at LA, as we came STRAIGHT IN from the ocean, onto the runways in Playa del Rey, seeing familiar streets like Vista del Mar, and Manchester Blvd. We had a short layover, so got coffee at a Starbuck’s. Joanne recognized a young woman and her fiance in line, whom she had just been reading about in People Magazine… Chelsea Clinton! (daughter of our former President Bill Clinton). Joanne asked if she could take their picture, and her fiance said he’d rather she didn’t. So she told him to tell her she thought Chelsea was beautiful, and he said he thought so, too. Later, I told him to tell her I admired how she tried to help her parents through their crisis. He said he did, too.
So, John met us at the San Jose Airport, then made breakfast for us when we got home. So, thus endeth the story of our dream trip “Return to Bountiful” or “Return to Paradise,” in this case. Everyone should have such a trip. But write up your Bucket List first!
Labels: Vermillion Sunrise