Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hawaii--The Long and the Short of It

For my readers who are sick of reading novel-length recaps of every trip we go on, I've done you a favor!  I've limericked our vacation!!  Our wonderful, glorious, could-have-been-two-weeks-longer vacation!!  Five-line stanzas seemed like the easiest way to actually keep it short.   Plus, it makes for an easy read...unless, of course, you know anything about poetry which case this might prove to be rather painful.  Let's just say that I didn't exactly inherit my mom's poetry skills.  But I did inherit her willingness to put all her poetic attempts out there :) Consider yourself warned.

Let me tell you of our time in Kauai
Which is part of the state of Hawaii
For we celebrated there
Ten years as a pair!
And here's how that week flew by:

They wanted to rent us a Lincoln.
But then I got to thinkin'
that a Jeep would work better
more sunny, more wetter
Poor Reid saw his wallet start shrinkin'

We took that Jeep for a ride
O'er mud and rocks we did slide
But we didn't get stuck
Rather it led, to our luck
to Mount Waialeale's gorgeous east side

Our hike to Queen's Bath was a pleasure
But large waves meant we could not leisure.
Though Her royal tub was unmatched
To our plans we weren't attached
So we bathed in some falls--a real treasure

Up the Hanalei River we oared
On our kayak such beauties explored
Reid did most of the work
I should've felt like a jerk
Instead I luxuriated in the fjord

To Hanakapa'i Falls we did journey
O'er terrain that's put some in a gurney
But the view was worth the hike
We'd never seen anything of the like
'Twas the highlight for me and the attorney

Wiamea was a beautiful scenery
Appearing to be carved by machinery
But the road made me sick
And the fog was too thick
To see the bonus views of the greenery

By day six we'd done so much stuff
But we were still feelin' pretty tough
So surfing we tried
and though I nearly died
we simply could not get enough!

At a Tropical Luau we did dine
On white jello, star fruit and swine
And the hula was fun
But when all was said and done
We agreed that the food was most divine

Our last day crept up like a flash
So to Tunnels Beach we did dash
We snorkeled once more
on the northwestern shore
Then at Bubba's we spent our last cash

The plane brought us home in a jiffy
Upon landing we felt a bit iffy
But after seeing our young
With their arms 'round us flung
We rejoiced, (though perhaps a bit sniffly)


And now for those of you who have time on your hand, or are considering a trip to Kauai yourselves, or love me so much that you want to hear every detail of our trip, I present:

Kauai: The Novel

'Twas a dark, cold, stormy night.  No really, it was.  I'm not just starting that way to exaggerate how long I intend this second part to be.  The night before we left was booty-cold.  Thank heavens.  Because saying goodnight/goodbye to my kids was so much harder than I'd anticipated.  And were it not for the snow in the forecast, I might have cancelled the trip all together.

The girls we so teary.  Especially the oldest two.  I think they fed off each other's sobs.  And so did I.  What was I thinking?  this isn't right!  This isn't my time in life to be leaving my kids.  They need me here!  Fortunately, Reid intercepted my call to US Airways, and reminded me how excited I was about this trip.  And that the tickets were non-refundable.  So, we were off!

And before I go any further, can I just say yet another thank you to our dear friends who watched our kids?  Dan and Kristin--a billion thank yous!  Jana, my SIL, who was originally going to watch the kids, found out the week before that a) they're moving to another state and b) she's expecting twins!  So, we were glad to have arranged things with Dan and Kristin already!!!

The place we stayed in Kauai was perfect.  A cottage in the middle of an orchard.  A fruit orchard--in peak season!  We feasted on freshly picked oranges, mangoes, tangerines, lemons and macadamia nuts.  Endless amounts of macadamia nuts.  The avocados were not ripe, but even seeing them actually grow on a tree made me so, so happy.
Reid in front of our cottage.  Besides not having a/c this place was perfect!
Orchard #1 behind me
Orchard #2
Crackin' macadamias

Here I am picking fruit for our lunch--so fun!
Changing our car rental was one of the best decisions we made (thanks, Lindsay, for the idea!) It barely rained at all when we were there (in fact, they're in a "drought"--a very lush drought) so we had the top off most of the time.  To that, plus our constant state of giddiness, i accredit the numerous "oh, I thought you were newlyweds!  You guys look too young to have 4 kids?!?!"   Now, I'd heard that people in Hawaii were nice, but this really was more than we'd expected.  But we ate it up.  Every time.

We drove around the east and north sides of the island the day we got there.  I can't remember how many times I said "I've never seen anything this beautiful in my life," but it surely topped two hundred.  And I kept singing what I could remember of the first Hawaiin song I ever learned about "the Hukilau."  Reid kept making fun of me, insisting I'd made it up.  We were like two kids on their second date.  

We stopped at some random beach and walked for a mile in the sand, as the sun set behind us.  It was the first day of the best week ever.  And apart from a few meltdowns after talking with a very teary Grace and Abby on the phone, I dare say I pulled it together and enjoyed that sunset completely!

In an effort to pinch pennies, we stopped at the grocery store and bought enough food to feed us for the week--frozen burritos, sandwich makings, a box of cereal and some milk.  And it only came to $863.23!  Groceries were so expensive--it never stopped shocking me!  But it was still cheaper than eating out.  And the $.79 burritos weren't half bad!

Day 2 was the only day we really got in the car without a clue where we were going and just drove and hiked wherever we wanted to.  And it turned out to be one of our favorites.  Reid and I aren't big 4-wheelers, but after our adventure to Waialeale, I think we could be converted.  On the way we saw falls.  On the way back we saw falls.  They never get old, I tell you.

Waimea Falls --see the rainbow?  it was the only one we saw the whole week. 
Waimea Falls
Hike to Ho'opi'i Falls
Ho'opi'i Falls
Pick-up Sticks Forest (we gave it that name, so you might not find it on a map...yet)
The 2nd Ho'opi'i Falls.  The beauty was too much to behold, apparently
Reid was the only one brave enough to ride the rope swing into the  60-degree river
Opeaka'a Falls in the background.  Newlywed lovebirds up front.
On Day 3 we had planned to kayak first thing, but the locals at the kayak place told us that the surf was coming in and that by Wednesday there'd be 25 ft waves.  So we delayed kayaking a few hours and took advantage of what would probably be our last chance to see Queen's Bath--a lava pool.  I'm so glad we went.  The waves were coming up onto the rocks, so we had to choose our steps carefully, but once we got there, I could see why this place is so famous.  And why so many people die here.  The waterfall on the way back was a much safer place to take a swim.

Queen's Bath
Unnamed waterfalls where we bathed instead
The afternoon was spent kayaking on the Hanalei river.  We took it inland as far as we could, then turned around and took it to mouth of the river, which is where we saw several massive sea turtles who came right up to the side of our kayak (and disappeared before we could get a photo).  Our soundtrack consisted of Reid's gentle swooshing, my abrazive kayak-hitting paddling, birds chirping, streams running, and me singing about the Hukilau while Reid laughed.  It was a wonderful, relaxing 3 hour adventure worth every penny that we didn't pay, since I worked some serious magic :)
Scenic views of the famous Hanalei Valley.  That's the river we kayaked!  Breathaking!

We also enjoyed a beautiful sunset from Princeville that evening, while eating Bubba's Burgers. 

If I went back to Kauai today and had exactly 24 hours to do any one thing, it would be the amazing, beautiful, exhausting and challenging Na Pali Coast hike the we did on Day 4.  It was 8 miles, round trip.  And there wasn't a flat part of the hike. It literally was uphill both ways.  The first 2 miles are spent getting to the beautiful Hanakapi'ai Beach.  These two miles were, in every sense of the word--breathtaking.  I can't bring myself to do a collage of these pictures because I want them full-sized. 
The beginning of the pile of rocks called our trail
view from the 1/2 mile mark
This was one of the most majestic views I've ever seen in my life.  Our camera picked up some fog that was barely there, which is too bad.  
There's the beach below us--we're 2 miles in--almost 1/4 of the way done!
Hanakapi'ai Beach...with 15 ft waves behind me.  I didn't stand here long :)
We took a water break here on the rocks, and found out that one of our water bottles had fallen out of the backpack.  Awesome.
 The next 2 miles up to the falls were amazing.  There were many times when we had no idea if we were on the right path.  We had to hike over trees, over rivers, and mostly on somewhat slippery rocks (i can only imagine how slippery this would be after a good rain!)  Unlike the first 2 miles, we'd go 15-20 minutes without seeing anyone.  It was beautiful.  And tough.  But knowing what was ahead made it go by pretty fast.  Before we actually got to the falls we caught this beautiful view of them.  The only view that our camera could capture the entire length of the fall from.  You can't tell, but they're still about 400 yards away from here
I talked to Reid about this less-than Hollywood worthy kiss here.  He gave some excuse about balancing the camera being tricky.   I still think it's cute enough to include :)

At this point i am drenched in "glisten" and can't wait to jump into the pool at the bottom of the falls.  We hike the last 20 minutes and arrive at the most astonishing sight these eyes have ever beheld.  Carved down the middle of huge, lush green mountain sides is a 1000 ft waterfall, pouring endless amounts of white water into a huge pool of blue-green.  We were breathless.  And sweaty.  And hungry.  So we ate again, in the nice cool misty breeze of the waterfall.  After my heart had slowed down, i dipped my toes in the water and realized there was no way I was getting in that freezing cold water (keep in mind I call anything colder than bath water freezing).  But Reid did!  He's so brave!  Seriously, I couldn't believe that he jumped in there!  He swam across the pool (maybe 75 ft?) with our underwater camera (thanks, Laura!!) and took this picture under the fall
while I took this picture of him

Exhausted, dehydrated, overwhelmed and starving we arrived back at our car less than 8 hours after we started.  I drank 64 oz of water and sweat profusely for the next 10 minutes.  We headed home and enjoyed our microwave burritos and The Avengers--on our 15" t.v. that's older than Chris Evans himself.  We both agree that this hike was the best day of our trip.  Many who visit this island see these falls from a helicopter.  But with my tendency to puke in anything that moves, we figured we'd better see this one on foot.  And I'll forever be happy that we did!

Speaking of getting car-sick....the next day (day 5) we decided to hit a beach on the south side and see the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  The way up was just fine.  And we even did a little more off-roading (until it started to rain).  The canyon was majestic with all the reds and greens.  We were disappointed to miss out on several other famous lookout points because of the thick "vog" (volcanic fog?), but what we could see was beautiful.

It wasn't until we were on our way down that I really started to feel it.  And bless Reid's heart--he has zero tolerance for this sort of thing.  I mean, he really tries to be nice and empathetic.  But what really happens is that seeing me suffer in a way he can do nothing about makes him extremely grumpy and intolerable.  So as soon as we get into town I get out at the first stop and tell him to go get a shave ice and come back when he's happy.  He gladly drove off while I enjoyed the feeling of motionless earth under my feet.  Newlyweds?!?!  I don't think so!  This is the fight of a well-seasoned couple who's been together long enough to know when a little time and space is all they need :)  To his credit, he apologized profusely for being a total jerk.  And i forgave him because he has to live with me the rest of his life.

By the morning of Day 6 we were no longer on "denver time," getting up at 6am or so.  No, no.  By then we were happily sleeping in until past 9.  It was glorious.  Unless of course you count the two hours between 4:30 and 6:30 that I couldn't sleep because of the blasted roosters!  Don't they know that I'm in Hawaii to get away from all night-time disturbances?!?!  But i really shouldn't complain, because that was the last night I slept well for 3 more nights.  Which leads to our adventures of the day.

We started out with a lovely visit to the Kilauea Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse.  We learned all sorts of things I immediately forgot, and got some spectacular views from the northernmost point of all the Hawaiin Islands.

Hanalai Bay--we had to stop on the way to HanalaiBeach and get this picture before we left!  
And then we rushed to our surfing lessons.  This was kind of a last minute decision that we're both so glad we made!  The dude that "taught" us was crass, offensive, and did nothing good for the stereotype of surfers...or maybe he did.  I have no idea what ideals they strive for...but I kinda hope he ain't it.  He was almost funny when he was trying, and quite funny when he wasn't.  All in all--we couldn't have asked for a better surf-teacher!

Reid caught right on.  He's so good at things like this!  I, on the other hand, took some seriously ugly spills before I kinda, sorta got the hang of it.  It was a blast.  People on the pier had been watching us and were cheering us on (well, me really, since I was the last one to get it).  We were at it for 3 hours, which was no biggie since we were covered in sunscreen, from head back?   We forgot our legs!!  It even occurred to me when we got there, but I figured I'd either be in the water or standing on my board.  HAH!!  Surfing, at least the pathetic attempt we made at it, consists of 90% paddling on your stomach on the board.  Very little standing was happening, relatively.  And the backs of my legs got completely and utterly fried.  (So much so that as I write this I still can't let the back of my legs touch the hot shower water without feeling it.  The upside is that huge morsels of flesh have been peeling off my legs in large pieces...i love it!!)

We rushed from surfing to our cottage to put on something other than a bathing suit (first time all week!) to get ready for the Luau.  My legs were still okay at this point--they didn't really start hurting until 6pm or so.  So, we enjoyed the ambiance of this lovely Hawaiin paradise, took a tram ride, and gathered to watch the pig come out of the ground-oven thingy.  I took this picture of the pig and remember thinking "dude, i totally know how you feel"--by this point i was roasting.
Abby: Mom--I see the pigs teeth.  Did you eat the teeth?
Star fruit, coconut jello, papaya, guava, rice pudding, fresh pineapple
Apart from the disappointing male dancers and Mrs. Chatter-box at our table who wanted to tell us everything about her life in exchange for everything about ours--the whole evening was really great.  They even had all the honeymooners get up and dance to a Hawaiin love song, and Reid actually danced with me!!  I loved it!!  But not nearly as much as the moment when the emcee and his band decided to teach the entire crowd a hula dance--The Hukilau!!! DO YOU HEAR THAT, REID?!? Not even the flames on the back of my thighs could take away from the joy of this moment!  And it was exactly like i (sort of) remembered it!  Such a fun evening!

That night, however, was one of the worst nights ever.  I'd rather be 9 months pregnant, have a sinus infection AND get a cavity filled than live another night as miserable as that one.  I didn't sleep.  At all.  I actually wanted to hear the roosters, cause that would mean my suffering was coming to an end soon.  And it wasn't just the burning pain--it somehow moved to my muscles, joints, and bones.  I could not use my left leg.  I couldn't walk on it.  Can muscles get burned, too?  I'd never felt anything of the sort.  And by 9:00 a.m. I was in tears that our last day in Hawaii would be spent with me on my stomach at our cottage.  I couldn't sit in the Jeep.  I couldn't walk.  I was so sad!  Until I did a little googling and found that Ibuprofen and vinegar can actually help with this!  Of course, we had gone thru the 4 pills I'd brought.  So Reid had to go spend Abby's college fund to get some more, while I sprayed myself with vinegar.  I was already feeling a bit of relief! Reid got home, I popped some pills and within 20 minutes I was walking!  I was smiling!  I was good(ish) to go!

We didn't have a whole lot on the schedule (thankfully).  The only thing we hadn't done was "relax at the beach."  Somehow the week had gone by and we hadn't gone to the beach to relax!  So we checked out a couple beaches, found one at Anini with a big ole shade tree for me (remember, i'm not healed, just improved--no sun for me) and I read while Reid snorkeled.  It was glorious.  Refreshing and perfect.

But the snorkeling wasn't great, and we only had our gear for 4 more hours, so we ate lunch, hurried up and stopped relaxing, and headed to Tunnels Beach.  And there, for the first time the whole trip, I finally learned what this snorkeling thing is all about.  There were thousands of beautiful tropical fish all around us!  I must have looked a fool, trying to keep the backs of my legs from the surface of the water--but I didn't care!  I was in a different world, breathing thru a straw and breaking up schools of fish by the dozen!  Our underwater camera finally had a purpose, but sadly Reid had used up most of the pics at Anini Beach.  We didn't care--this wasn't a time for cameras.  This was our last fun thing before we'd head to the airport in just a few hours.  And we just soaked it up.

We got burgers at Bubba's (again) and headed to some beach along the way to watch the sunset.  It was so sad watching it go down, knowing that its departure signaled ours.  It's not that we really wanted to stay there for another two weeks.  I mean, we really did do all that we'd wanted to--plus lots more.  But I wasn't done having Reid all to myself!!  I seriously never got sick of him.  Even when he was a meanie-face the day I got carsick :)  Ten years later, and he's still my favorite person to be with.  And we hadn't been alone together like this since our 4-day honeymoon in the Wyoming mountains.  And I was not ready for this to end!  But i suppose I never would be.  Heading back to reality is never an easy pill to swallow.

So, with a sadness in our step, we returned our lil' Jeep, and moped all the way to the terminal.

Speaking of an easy pill to swallow--i decided that the red-eye flight plus my burning legs merited me taking a Dramamine pill.  My first of the trip (no catamaran due to the big waves ).  And boy do those things work!  It took time to really kick in (and really, when part of your body is on fire you never get great sleep)--but it was way better than the night before!!  I think we had a layover in Phoenix but I truly have next to zero memory of it.

Arriving home was bittersweet.  And bitter cold.  And James was just bitter.  He wanted NOTHING to do with me.  He looked away when he saw me.  He was mad.  Or sad.  Or didn't know who I was.  The girls were so happy, but just kept saying "never do that again!"  What had I done?!?!  I'm a terrible person!! All the feelings of guilt from 7 days earlier were rushing back.  Only now there was the added guilt that now all i really wanted was to go back to Hawaii with Reid for 3 more years.  Wasn't I supposed to feel refreshed? happy to see my kids? ready to dive into reality? What's wrong with me?!?!  I mean, look at this picture and tell me what's wrong with me?
Sleep depravation+ Dramamine+the red-eye= my facial expression in this photo.  

I'm telling you, I didn't sleep great that night (1/4 of my body is still on fire) but when I woke up the next morning I felt like a million bucks.  A million bright red and very hot-to-the-touch bucks.  I was in love with my kids.  James loved me back.  My house was sparkling (Thanks, again, Kristin and Dan!).  All was right in the world.