Friday, March 18, 2011

Goodby Winter. Aloha!

We didn't mind the snowstorm that hit us on March 8 because three days later....

...we were flying to Kauai, Hawaii! It was a long journey. We left our house at about 5:30 am after waking up to the news that a tsunami had just hit Japan and didn't cross the threshold of our little Hawaiian bungalow until about 22 hours later! It all began with mechanical problems which delayed our departing flight by almost three hours which caused us to miss our connection in San Francisco (and two first class upgrades) to Kauai . Luckily, we were able to immediately board a plane headed to Honolulu (with only one upgrade). Sweet Jim let me fly in first class which was a little bit of heaven on that crazy day. We waited in the Honolulu airport for about six hours before finally flying out to Kauai, a result of the closure of Hawaiian airports that morning due to the tsunami warnings. In spite of the delays, we were grateful to arrive safely and learn that the tsunami impact on Hawaii and the mainland was minimal.

We discovered paradise in the Honolulu airport--a peaceful garden--where we were able to relax and soak up the warmth while waiting for our flight to Kauai. Jim surprised me with the beautiful lei!

We arrived in Kauai at 9 pm and took a taxi to pick up our rental car. We found the address on a dark street. No lights lit the small lot crowded with cars. As we got closer, we discovered a couple of young men waiting for our arrival. A deeply tanned older man with tattoos and ponytail arrived, turned on the light in the dirty, dilapidated shop and conducted the business of getting us our car. Our budget economy car was definitely a treasure complete with dents and oxidized paint. I climbed into the passenger side and discovered my door handle was hanging by a wire! The back doors didn't have any handles at all but the car started right up.

Here's our gem of a car!

Our wonderful little garden retreat presented no such surprises. The basket full of tropical fruits and local foods was a welcome treat. We also loved the tropical bird/rooster chorus that serenaded us each morning as we prepared for the day.

This was our view, with the ocean in the distance, from our "garden room" which was located on the bottom level of the bed and breakfast pictured on the right.

First Day Highlights: We returned to the rental car agency to see if we could get an upgrade but were given the new-door-handle-in-fifteen-minutes treatment before being sent on our way. We dropped in Walmart to buy a few supplies. Then stopped at Lihue Park to get our bearings and make a plan for the rest of the days activities. There we discovered lots of chickens (they are everywhere in Kauai). and a Japanese memorial.

We stepped into the Kauai museum and browsed the gift shop but didn't feel like paying the $10 entrance fee to see the rest of the displays.

Lunch at Dukes on the Kalapaki Beach was fabulous! We had fish tacos and a fresh green salad topped off by a delicious tropical fruit sorbet. We noticed lots of "p" words in the Hawaiian language that we thought our 9 year old grandson would enjoy--even on the menu!

The view of the beach and bay from the restaurant was incredible!

A curious rooster begged for food as we watched the paddle boarders in the bay.

We noticed that our car was just a little out of place in the Marriott parking lot.

Revived by lunch, we drove to Wailua Falls. With it's 173 foot height,
it is taller than Niagara Falls!

The falls and surrounding views were breathtaking.

We got a little lost in our search for Ho'opi'i Falls, our next stop. When we stopped to get directions, a local boy volunteered to escort us. Thanks to his help,
we found the trail head and followed the mostly muddy trail to the falls.

The falls was not as spectacular as expected....

...but the river and surrounding forest were beautiful!

A brief stop at a farmer's market was unproductive. The tantilizing smell of BBQ chicken reminded us that it was time for a snack. Not hungry enough for a meal, we drove to the nearest restaurant offering shave ice, a favorite island treat. We each got one and, although they did quench our thirst, were disappointed to discover that these particular ices were more like giant snow cones and not impressive. However, slurping them on the Waipouli Beach made them unforgettable. After a quick stop for groceries, we headed back to the bed and breakfast to freshen up.

We drove to Koloa, the first sugar plantation town in all the islands, for dinner. Our dinner of vegetarian pizza and fresh garden salad couldn't be beat. The town was so charming with its old style buildings strung with lights that we planned to return the next day to explore it some more.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Day at the Museum

What do you do when it's cold outside (not unusual for February), the kids have been off-track for a week and a half and you're all going stir crazy? You pack everyone up and head to the Children's Museum. Thank goodness for that two-for-the-price-of-one coupon! We originally planned to stay for about three hours but there was so much to experience....

...a giant pin ball maze, a cool growth chart,

a weird machine that took your money,

a circular xylophone,

crazy blocks for building the biggest towers ever,

adjustable magnetic tubes for making amazing chutes, unusual drawing tools,

an alphabet puzzle that couldn't be beat,

a grocery store with food AND a cash register,

an indoor stream with waterfalls and fantastic water toys,

a pretend gas station, kid-sized houses with all the comforts of home,

mini cars that were perfect for delivering "mail" to all the mail boxes,

a construction zone with blocks and a crane, a real life helicopter and so much more....

...that we stayed all day! And what a great day it was!