Kauai: Going Home

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Every good thing must end, I guess. Especially perfect vacations.

Martin went out to photograph his last Kauai sunrise while I started packing for the trip home. All the recent biking, kayaking, and hiking was making itself known today: Every muscle was sore, every movement induced a wince. We hurt “nose to toes,” as Martin put it. Like a couple of old people, we hobbled around.

We said goodbye to our pretty condo overlooking Wailua Bay and went out to breakfast at the Ono Family Restaurant. The Hawaiian word ono – “oh no!” –  means, counterintuitively, “delicious.” It reminds me of the car “Nova,” marketed to Hispanics, which translates from Spanish, unfortunately, as “Doesn’t go.”

Sounds matter.

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Kauai and the Na Pali Coast: Wow! Crazy! Impossible!

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Parking at Ha’ena State Park was a breeze, with none of the chaos and congestion (not to mention $35 parking ticket) we’d encountered last time we were here, when we went snorkeling. We parked right at the edge of Ke’e Beach, at the Kalalau Trailhead.

Scary-looking signs greeted us: “Danger! Falling Rocks!” “Warning! Stream Crossings!” “Alert! Narrow Trail!”


“Look Out!”

We took a deep breath, bravely tightened our daypack straps, and started up the dangerous-sounding trail.

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Kauai: Superwoman Goes Kayaking

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The alarm clock rang, unwelcomingly, at 5:30 AM. When Martin cheerfully tried to roust me from bed, I groaned. I rolled over. I put the pillow over my head. Go away! Go kayak by yourself!

But he was patient and persistent, and once I was up, and showered, and eating a big hearty breakfast burrito outside on the lanai, lovingly prepared by my loving husband, watching the sun stream golden light through dark clouds onto the silvery lagoon below… well, that was okay.

All that weather over the Wailua River, though– the heavy clouds, apparent slashing rain, whipping wind– hmmm, not so inviting. Not what I hope for when I think, “Let’s go kayaking today!”

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Kauai: Way Down Deep. Actually, More Like: Beached.

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We were nearing Tunnel’s Beach, and traffic was getting really congested. Cars were lining both sides of the road, parked illegally, according to both our guidebook and all the “No Parking Any Time” road signs. People with beach bags and swim suits were walking along the narrow road; cars going both directions squeezed in the constricted space between parked vehicles and pedestrians. We got worried. It was crowded; parking looked grim. At Ha’ena State Park, the end of the road, a sign declared “Road closed,” and we were turned around. Crews were doing clean-up work after the recent heavy rains. That’s why parking was such a nightmare: all the parking at the state beach was unavailable.

Thinking that maybe the cops (who were also inching along the clogged roadway) were turning a blind eye to the parking situation today because of the parking lot closure, we parked right under one of those ubiquitous “No Parking Any Time” signs, like everyone else.

We were wrong, like everyone else.

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Kauai: Way Up High. Actually, More Like: Flying.

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We were standing on the helipad of Jack Harter Helicopters, watching helicopters land and take off.

It wasn’t perfect weather. The sky was full of dark clouds and it seemed awfully windy. Orange airport flags flapped wildly, their slender poles bent over. But the pilot (who’d been flying for something like fifteen years, including two years in the Army) didn’t seem concerned with the weather, so why should I?

Martin and I were ushered into the two front seats, grinning our fool heads off, and strapped down. The propellers roared overhead, competing with the wind.

And then suddenly we lifted smoothly off the ground, sliding sideways. Nose pointed down, we skimmed along the outskirts of the airport, and then rose miraculously and breathlessly up into the sky, where dark mountains and green fields and the blue ocean opened up before us.

Martin and I squeezed hands tightly, grinned wider and wider, pointed here and there. Martin was shooting lots of video footage and lots of photos, although I’m not sure how he did all that composing and metering and camera-fiddling while simultaneously holding my hand, pointing out sights, and hanging out of the helicopter.

Oh, did I mention that there were no doors on the helicopter?

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Kauai: Waimea Canyon and the Kawaikoi Stream Trail

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When I was packing for this trip and eyeing the weather forecast calling for day after day of rain, friends and family kept saying, “It will be a warm rain!” and “You won’t need a rain jacket, you can get wet and still be comfortable,” and “Don’t pack long-sleeved clothes, you won’t need them! Trust me!”

They were all so totally wrong.

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Kauai: Tranquil Pools and Flooding Anxiety

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Today was the Jungle Hike day – an attempt to find a poorly-marked trail and follow it to a picturesque waterfall cascading into a tranquil blue pool. So we piled into the Jeep (and of course it immediately started to rain, the skies seem to watch our every move), and drove back up to the arboretum.

When the road disappeared into the Wailua River, Martin kept driving, as we did that first day – right into and across the river. But instead of parking on the far side, Martin shifted the Jeep into four-wheel drive, and started inching up the steep dirt road in front of us.

And so our adventure began! We crawled up impossible inclines. We jounced over jumbled rocks and boulders. We navigated deep ruts. We splashed through muddy puddles.

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Kauai and the Kuilau Trail: Fighting Anoles. Pesky Wives.

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This morning, Martin, ever-hopeful, went out into the wind and stormy cloudy weather, hoping for pretty sunrise shots. I took up happy residence on the lanai, watching the surf and heavy clouds, admiring the flocks of birds.

Sunrise, Kauai

A pretty good sunrise in Kauai

I teased Martin when he arrived home – wow, how about that sunrise, huh? Pretty nice, huh? – and he silently reached over and flicked on his camera, displaying dramatic shots of orange light streaming through darkened clouds.

Oh! Well, yeah!

That’s a pretty good sunrise.

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Kauai: Capricious Rain, Conflicting Emotions

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Martin was up again before sunrise and out of the condo in his quest for Sunrise Pictures. Hope does spring eternal. By the time I rolled out of bed, several very-civilized hours later, the sky was as it’s always been: grey, with darker grey patches and slashing rain on the horizon. Heavy brown surf pitched in the bay, and wind whipped through the coconut trees.

3-10-013_01And Martin is out there somewhere, facing bravely into the wind, camera optimistically set up, waiting to see if the sun just might burst through the heavy bank of black clouds.

I just love him for that.

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Kauai: Crossing Over

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Martin and I awoke to pounding surf, grey skies, and threatening rain. We stood on our little lanai in the dark, overlooking the leaden bay, listening to the roaring surf and howling wind, and watched the sun struggle to come up.

Despite such iffy weather and threatening skies, we decided to venture out, driving up Kuamo’o Road to ‘Opeaka’a (“Jumping Shrimp”) Falls. We admired the view of the thundering waterfall, then drove on, stopping frequently at other overlooks along the road and admiring the flocks of handsome “red junglefowl” (really, a bunch of chickens) pecking freely through the wet grass. The Keahua Arboretum was at the end of the road, where the road plunged into the Wailua River.

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Kauai: Getting There

Los Angeles Times, March 8, 2012: “Anyone dreaming of a sunny winter break in Hawaii this week can forget it. The governor has declared a disaster area on Kauai after days of relentless rain that caused flooding, mudslides, water-spouts, hail, and dangerously high surf. The weather service said a low-pressure zone is getting ready to dump more rain, including possible thunderstorms.”

Ah yes. Of course. The forecast is for rain.

Lots of rain. Every weather website displays icons of black clouds and slashing rain drops, usually graced with fierce lightning bolts. Day after day after day.

The Beebees must be going on vacation!

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