Friday, December 31, 2010

Vacation Rental from HEAVEN

I’ve experienced a few vacation rentals in my time. Some places exceed expectations, some are exactly how they look on the website, and some look like something someone stepped in.

We’ve done the condo thing and the hotel thing before and really when your kids are little and you’re just hanging by the pool or out at the beach all day, they are just fine. However, since Jacob has turned into a 6ft tall giant, and Zoe has taken to talking in her sleep, the hotel room doesn’t really cut it anymore. In fact, some of you will recall that I have had less than exceptional experiences in hotel rooms with my kids and family and have sworn on a stack of Bibles Placed by the Gideon's never to do it again. Why can’t they just go to sleep? What exactly is the issue?

Anyway. I digress.

So this time, as there is seven of us including a 3yr old, 9yr old and 14yrs old, we decided to find a house. And let me just say here that we found the most AMAZING house ever.

If you know Kauai then you will know that Poipu, which sounds like it might be something you would find in a healthfood store, is actually one of the most fabulous beaches around. It is very close to the funky town of Koloa and our house is just a hop skip and shuffle from it all.

Built in 1922, the house is originally a plantation manager’s home and so is located on 3 acres. It has been beautifully restored and comes with a pool, a games room, a 4-hole golf course, various fruit trees, a playground, bikes, and did I mention the pool?

I just love this Hawaiian aesthetic and the owners of this house have done a fantastic job of keeping the original character of the home -beautiful wide-plank fir floors, high ceilings, wainscoting, double hung sash windows that all open perfectly, school-house lighting – while adding all sorts of luxurious touches like fluffy white towels, huge comfy beds, all the dishes you need, wifi, etc.

Oh, and there is a pool, too.


The back veranda






Amazing master bedroom






Fruit picked on-site (it’s a pomegranate)



When we arrived, all the fallen Plumeria flowers had been arranged into a heart…DSC06680



Did I mention the pool? DSC06678


The back forty with holes 2 & 3.

As I write this, the New Year’s eve fireworks are going off over the beach at Poipu, and Zoe has passed out in my bed. Jacob is taking a dip in the pool under the stars and Silas is giving us all a running commentary of life as he knows it.

Life is good, right now, and I am thankful for everything I have.

Happy New Year!

Top 9 comments overheard in passing on the trip to Kauai (in no particular order…)

9. On the plane:

Me (to the flight attendant): Will we be arriving at 12:30?

Flight attendant: Nope. In about 1hour and 30 mins

Me: Wasn’t there an announcement saying we would arrive at 12:30?

Flight attendant: Yes but I was wrong.

Me: Oh…an hour and a half wrong?

Flight attendant: Would you like a drink or not?

8. In the hotel room:

Me, to Zoe, at 3:45am after the alarm had just gone off:

Did you have a good sleep?”

Zoe: Pretty good, but it would have been better if Dad hadn’t been breathing like Darth Vader

7. In the restaurant at Ikea (killing time in Vancouver)

Woman: Do you want a grilled cheese, Kevin?

Kevin: I thought this was supposed to be Swedish Food

Woman: It is. It’s a Swedish Grilled Cheese. It’s the type of bread they use. It’s probably Swedish. Do you want it or not?

Kevin: Fine.

6. In the ferry line-up for breakfast

Me: Yes I’ll have toast with a side of bacon

Ferry employee: Would you like any eggs?

Me: No, just the bacon and toast thanks.

Ferry employee: They’re really good today.

Me: Uhh…yeah thanks but I’m good with the toast and ba…

Ferry employee (interrupting): Does you daughter want eggs?

Me: I think she’s good with her oatmeal. But thanks.

Ferry employee: Ok just checking.

Me: Great.

5. On the phone with HSBC bank as to why they were not open anywhere in Canada:

Kent: So you’re not open at all?

HSBC: No we are closed, sir, due to the holidays

Kent: That’s ridiculous! Why are you closed on a Wednesday?

Me (whispering loudly): It’s Tuesday today!

Kent: I’m just saying that your bank should be open on a weekday during business hours! How am I going to get any money from my USD account?

HSBC: I am sorry sir but you will be able to access your account tomorrow. We are closed today due to the holidays falling on a Saturday and Sunday and…

Kent: I’m driving around on a Wednesday needing my bank and…

Me (whispering very loudly): Kent it’s Tuesday. IT’s not Wednesday today! Quit saying Wednesday! IT’S TUESDAY!!!

Kent (to me with a confused look): Whaa ?

Me: IT’S TUESDAY!!!!!!

Kent (to HSBC) I’m sorry I’ve just learned that it is Tuesday today….

4. On the phone with HSBC inquiring as to whether or not there is an HSBC branch on Kauai. No word of a lie, this is how it went:

Me: Yes hello I’m wondering if you can tell me if there is an HSBC branch on the island of Kauai in Haw….

HSBC: Where?

Me: The island of Kauai in Hawaii

HSBC: Can you spell that?

Me: Yes it’s K-A-U-A-I

HSBC: Hold please

HSBC five minutes later: Where did you say you needed a branch?

Me: Have you heard of Hawaii?

HSBC: Can you spell that please? (I am NOT KIDDING!)

Me: H-A-W-A-I-I

HSBC: Hold please

Me: Wait!….

HSBC three minutes later: I am sorry I will need more information to see if there is a branch in your requested location

Me: Can't you just google it? What’s going on?? I just want to know if there is a branch of YOUR bank, in Hawaii.

HSBC: I am sorry maam but I will need more information before I can complete that request..

Me: Ok let’s move on.

3. Name of a tile store in Richmond: Many Tile

Well, I guess that’s what they sell. No point in trying to be cute.

2. At Costco in Kauai with our lovely friends Mel and Pepi and Silas, buying some food for our stay:

Mel to Pepi: Do we need to buy those pineapples here? We should get some at a farmer’s market

Pepi, with a fake flower lei around his neck, holding two pineapples, one in each hand: “Oh come on! They’re good! I even saw Hawaiian people buying them!”

(Hawaiian person ahead of us in line smothers a laugh)

Mel: Oh alright then. If Hawaiian people are buying them…

Silas (3yrs old): Hey everyone quit arguing about Hawaiian People.

1. Observed on a HUGE sign, as you pass through the final check of US Customs at Vancouver Airport into the gates for departures to US destinations:


Have they not figured out that they are still in Vancouver Airport and that Vancouver Airport is actually still in CANADA??? Hello? Hello?? Who has the brain today? Apparently not the Department of Homeland Security. It’s actually so ridiculous that it’s kind of cute.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kauai, I Think I Love you


Kauai, for those of you who haven’t made it here yet, is a jewel. I have always loved Hawaii and would stay on any of the islands, but Kauai holds a special place in my heart.

I first came here when I was 10yrs old. My family had just finished a huge trip around the world for a year and Hawaii was our last stop(except for Disneyland). We stayed here for a month. My dad’s mum, known affectionately as Nanny, arrived shortly after we did, and we all stayed in a beautiful little house right on the ocean for a month. During those weeks, we played in the waves, visited remote beaches, stumbled onto a movie set, snorkelled, and generally relaxed. Believe it or not, we actually needed to relax after 12 months of packing and repacking, cramming ourselves into tiny accommodations, running for flights, being delayed, eating strange and wonderful food, and seeing the sights of the bigger world

So when it finally came time to leave, I was actually sad to go. I vowed to come back but it was almost 30yrs before I made it. Three years ago, Kent and I and the kids along with my Dad and my Uncle Pete, stayed here on the island for 10 days just before Christmas. My dad and I had a great time re-visiting all the places we had seen 30yrs before. And while there had been a couple of huge hurricanes in the intervening time that had managed to do some serious damage, things were much as we remembered them. In fact, I think some things were exactly the same, including the rusty bolt on the bathroom cubicle door, in the bathroom block at Poipu Beach, that I had been unable to open as a child. More on that later. And also the smell in Brenneke’s Beach Broiler. Yep that was definitely the same. Time to change the filter in the fan! Oh and also that Monk seal that spends all day in exactly the same spot on the beach – I’m pretty sure that is the same one that was there 30yrs ago too. But the tropical fish were the same vibrant colours and the sky the same brilliant blue and the green folds of the mountains were just as I remembered them.

We had a great trip and once again I was sad to leave.

And so I am unbelievably happy to be here, three years later, sitting in the most amazing house, 5 minutes from Poipu Beach listening to the trade winds blow through the palm trees outside my window.

And that Monk Seal was still there.

Up next: You won’t believe this house.