Monday, January 10, 2011

In Which Pepi Busts His Stitches, and I Bust my Boot.

We were a rather glum group of travellers who packed up and drove away from our fabulous house for the last time on Sunday morning. All I can say is that I hope to be back soon.

Things picked up a little as we made our way north to Hanalei. Pepi and Mel are staying two nights longer than us and so had found a place in Princeville, which is just beside Hanalei, for the rest of their stay.

Princeville is not my favourite place on Kauai. I’m sure there is a nice little village that I just haven't seen yet, but most of it is acres and acres of condos all built around golf courses. Retired men and women can be seen walking around wearing visors and carrying golf clubs, and signs are posted with directions to the the ‘lounge’ or ‘shuffleboard’.  However, Mel and Pepi’s condo was clean and nice and the pool was great and it was good that we could crash there for the day until our flight late that evening.

We wanted one more splash in the waves at Hanalei before we left so we all piled in to the van for one last time with all our gear and drove down to the beach. No sooner had we all taken a few steps on to the sand when Pepi stubbed his toe, and blew all his stitches. 6 days later and it looked as fresh as the day he did it. We all stood there dumbfounded for a few moments as Pepi bled all over the beach. Fortunately the lifeguard station was right beside us and he was able to butterfly the cut closed and bandage Pepi’s toe up. What a drag for Pepi. The rest of us went in and took some abuse from the giant waves for a while but soon it was time to head back to their condo and get ready to drive to the airport. Mel dropped Pepi off at the ER room on the way to dropping us off at the airport – I hope everything went OK for him.

Packing up was a nightmare – I dare say we had enough stuff between us to withstand any kind of siege. Each time I swear I will pack lighter next time and then next time rolls around and I’m that person who has to drag her bags off to the side at the check in counter and re-distribute everything in her suitcases.

Our flight was a red-eye Lihue to LA and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Fortunately Jacob and Zoe and I slept the whole time and the only glitch was that I managed to blow out my boot zipper going through the security check point. And so I had to hobble around with one boot done up and the other one flapping around my ankle like some sort of injured crow. I then made the mistake of taking them off on the plane. I should have known better as my feet always get puffy on planes and this was no exception. I must have struggled with my boot for a good 10 mins before I finally got it on my foot. If the German girl who was sitting next to me is reading this: I’m very sorry for repeatedly elbowing your knees. I then had to fumble around with some safety pins to try and stop the boot from flapping around. I was marginally successful with this but it did look ridiculous.

When we finally landed in Vancouver several hours later we were all exhausted. Our friend Andre was there with our van to meet us and come back to Victoria with us for a few days. Everything did look very grey and as we stepped outside the airport doors, snow flakes began falling.

But now I’m waiting for the ferry and the sun has come out amongst the storm clouds and it is wildly beautiful out on the water.

Kauai I love you but it’s good to be home.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In Which we do Very Little but Enjoy Ourselves Greatly

We had plans today to fit in all the things we hadn’t quite got to yet, like all the great beaches we were going to visit, and the shopping we didn’t quite get to, and the restaurants we had planned to eat at. But somehow, instead, we ended up having a great day doing hardly anything at all.

We did manage to make it to a great market in Lihue this morning. It was an appealing mix of local food producers and we found everything from fruit & vegetables to cupcakes & pies, jam & honey, goat’s cheese, Korean food, gourmet salt, cookies etc etc.

It was an enjoyable way to spend an hour:


That’s a pomelo – a kind of giant grapefruit. Yes, it is bigger than Zoe’s head…



No egg board here, or whatever they are called. You want to sell your eggs you just go ahead.


One lady was selling sweet potato leaves. They were floating in a bowl of water and you just helped yourself.


A surfer dude tried to tell me these were cherries. I tried to tell him they weren’t, but he was insistent. Anyone recognize then? They have a very unique taste: sweetish but with a tartness as well. Not my favourite. By the time I got there he was giving them away. “No one is buying them anyway” he grumbled.

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We left with our bags full even though we had made a pact not to buy anymore food. Oh well too bad.

Back at home, a Royal Palm had just burst into flower. I spotted the flower pod cover (I think it is called a sepal? Where is David Attenborough when you need him) on the ground under the tree and at first I thought it was some kind of giant seed pod. Closer inspection proved me wrong however and we all stared in wonder for a few minutes as clouds of pollen filled the air, and dozens of bees moved in. Very cool.



The rest of the day was spent fishing at a local pond:

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and playing in the pool

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Gonna miss this place…

Last day tomorrow!

Friday, January 7, 2011

In Which I Stay Home, and Everyone Else Sees Dolphins (Among other things. Like, their lunch.)

Last time we visited Kauai, we spent a day at sea on a boat tour of the Na Pali Coast. Encompassing a 26km or so stretch of the northwest coast of the island, this State Park is inaccessible by road as the cliffs are sheer and rise straight up from the ocean reaching heights of 4000 ft. There is a trail that energetic types can hike, but otherwise it’s helicopter or boat.

The boat tours head out from the south and make their way north along the west coast of the island stopping for snorkelling, whale watching, dolphins etc. It’s all very lovely and beautiful and scenic. The brochure pictures are particularly lovely, depicting calm seas and sunny skies, with happy people frolicking in what looks to be the mill pond it’s so calm.

What the brochures fail to show or mention (and can you blame them, really) is that it’s only that calm on one day of the year in, like, august or something, between the hours of 4 – 6pm, when the wind is at the bar for happy hour. The rest of the time it is a tempest. A beautiful tempest, but still a tempest. The boat, which looks like a normal size in the picture, suddenly seems to shrink into a tiny little thing that your kids play with in the bath. The ocean feels huge, and the cliffs rise menacingly above you. The waves are relentless and soon, approximately 5 seconds after leaving the dock, you are wishing you had never heard of the Na Pali coast and you don’t care if you never see another dolphin as long as you live.

After some time, the feeling may or may not pass slightly, and you may or may not lift your ashen face when a passing humpback whale stops to see if you are ok.

What feels like several years later, you make it back to the dock where you fall to your knees in a prone position and stay there for what feels like the rest of your life and no amount of anything can get you to stand up for a long time.

You go home, embrace religion, pray to the Gods that you are very sorry for angering them and that you will never go on a boat again. You don’t sleep that well that night due to the fact that your poor tortured body still feels like it’s on the wretched boat.

At least, that is what happened to me last time.

So you won’t be surprised to hear that this time, everyone else went on the boat trip, and I stayed home.

I know this to have been a good idea because the first thing Zoe said to me when she came home was “Mummy I was sick and slept for an hour and a half and Mel threw up and so did almost everyone else including a man who threw up twice.”

It wasn’t all bad however as Zoe took some killer dolphin shots. Nice camera work, Zoe!

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And the coastline is beautiful too:

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After everyone had sufficiently recovered, which involved naps, a swim in the pool, cups of tea and some lazing around, we headed to Brenneke’s Beach Broiler for some dinner. I first ate dinner here when I was 9 and was thrilled to come back three years ago. It was just as I remembered. So I got a bit bossy (I know – how unlike her, you are thinking) and demanded that we go to Brenneke’s for dinner on this trip too.

It’s a bit of an institution here in Poipu and while the food is nothing to write home about (so I won’t) the vibe is great and the view killer and I just love it.



The sunset was beautiful tonight. Ok, Ok it’s beautiful EVERY night but tonight I took a picture.


And the night skies are amazing here – I swear you can see every star in the milky way. The new moon is also lovely, even if it is “upside down” as Zoe observed. I tried to take a picture…


Good night :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

In Which I Ride The World’s Slowest Horse, and Have a Great Idea.

It’s been awhile since I have been on a horse so when Mel suggested we go for a ride, I was all for it. The three of us, Mel, Zoe and myself, were dropped off at a beautiful ranch called Silver Falls Ranch in the north of the island close to Hanalei. We were a bit late as we hadn’t factored in rush hour when planning how long it would take us to get there from Koloa. I didn’t think there could be a rush hour either but as there is really only one road for 64 000 people, it has become a problem. They even turn one of the lanes in to a counter flow at certain times of the day to try and keep people moving.

Anyway we were a bit late. 35 mins actually. We were supposed to be there at 8:30am for a 9pm ride but by the time we rolled in it was after 9.  We had called a couple of times to report on our progress so they knew we would be late, but that didn’t stop the three other riders (Sandy, Keith, and Michelle from Michigan) from giving us the stink-eye when we arrived. We cheerfully ignored them and were soon up on our horses. The dude (and he was a dude!) who brought out my horse, “Kid”, warned me that he could be a ‘bit lazy’. Understatement. If Kid was a ‘bit lazy’ then I would hate to see what ‘really lazy’ was like. I could have dragged myself by my lips faster than Kid walked. As a result I spent 99% of the trail ride bringing up the rear. I only pulled ahead by one near the end of the ride because Kid found a shortcut.

Regardless, the terrain was beautiful and the ride relaxing and it was great to see Zoe enjoying her first ride.


That’s Zoe on Mee-Wah.

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That’s the back of Kid’s head.


That’s me trying to look like Nature Queen or something when really I am booting Kid as hard as I can but to no avail.


After we finished our ride, we were too close to Hanalei not to stop for a swim. The waves were perfect for learning so Kent rented a surfboard and sent the kids out.



That’s Jacob sitting up on the board.

After Hanalei, we continued north-west along the coast. There is a string of beautiful beaches along this coast but at this time of the year they are too dangerous for swimming. We stopped to look at a couple, and finally made our way to the dry cave at Ha’ena Beach, which is just about as far as you can go on this road.

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The view from inside the cave looking out. Pretty cool, but very damp and drippy too. Not to mention the fact that I spent the whole time envisioning the 50 quabillion tonnes of rock overhead crashing down and crushing us all to death.

Anyhoo that didn’t happen.

I always enjoy finding silly signs when I’m travelling and there were two beauties at Ha’ena beach park:


This modification occurred on one of the many signs up at Kauai’s beaches warning you not to go out in the surf as you will end up like the dude in the picture. But that’s not the funny part. I’ll let you find it. I can hardly say it. Thankfully Zoe just thought is was random and didn’t ask what it meant. Google it.

Needless to say it has provided some material for us in the van. (I’m a bit short so sorry but part of it was cut off…)

This next sign was obviously put up by the lifeguard who got tired of answering the same questions over and over.


Here’s the thing: it got me thinking that I could make up a series of small signs – flashcards, even – that I could just hold up when appropriate. I can see them now:












Yeah! I’m going to make millions! Don’t steal my idea!



I really love this part of the Island. Sigh. Another day in paradise. Only 4 days left!

In Which We Enjoy Perfect Cocktails at a Delightful Organic Plantation, and Meet a Herd of Wild Boar…

Most of Kauai was, at one point, given over to sugar plantations. There are none in operation anymore, but many of the original plantations still exist, some with the sugar mills still standing. As the sugar and workers needed transporting around the island, there was once an extensive rail system. It’s hard to find any evidence of this anymore (which is a shame – I love a good train ride!) but there is one plantation that has remained open to the public with a variety of ‘attractions’ which include a train ride around the plantation which still grows sugar, as well as many fruit and vegetable crops, a rum distillery (and tasting room!) and a fabulous organic ‘farm to table’ restaurant.

We decided a visit was in order and so we arrived just in time to board the open air cars. The tour was tame (I could probably have crawled faster), but we did get to see an astounding display of fruits, many of which I had never heard of or seen before. The announcer was amusing and reminded me of the ‘safari guides’ on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, but he was hard to hear over the yabbering of the Hawaiian family sitting in front of us. I am not sure why they were even there as they seemed completely bored with the whole thing. When I could hear him, he was listing off various combinations of fruit that they had managed to produce – what sounded like tangerines and rambutan or lychees and some sort of plum something or other, and pears and grapefruit or whatever. I’m pretty sure they make some of that shit up. I would. I mean who is going to know the difference if you tell them those little brownish-red nut-like clusters are a cross between a Korean Longoyongo and a Tahitian Boralora plum, when actually they are just crab-apples? Not me, my friends. Bring it on I say.

Anyway – the highlight of the trip came when we stopped by a field of “pet” wild boars. The population of people in Kauai in 64000, and the boar population is 333000!  It’s open season all the time for hunters in an attempt to keep the population down. I don’t think it’s working.

These boars are, well, boorish, with faces only a mother could love. They all rushed over toward us as the train pulled up, and it was a sight to remember.


After the boar episode, we wandered the grounds and, surprisingly, the boys found their way to the rum tasting session. We all convened at 22 North, a beautiful ‘Farm to Table’ restaurant offering only local organic food. We sadly were in between meals and were forced to endure a sampling, instead, of local cocktails and mocktails. Mine, a Ginger Orange Julep, was amazing and consisted of ginger syrup in soda water with muddled blood orange with a bit of fresh mint. So delicious.


Kent had a mojito with local grapefruit, mint, lime and Koloa dark rum made on site. Also delicious.


Pepi had a similar concoction but with African blue basil and something else that escapes me now…


Mel ordered a variation on a pina colada but with lavender essence and local rum. Totally unique and amazing.


All these drinks were created for us by the incredible Laurie who really know her stuff, and took pleasure in telling us all about the farm and the produce grown on site that she uses in her specialty drinks, right down to the ginger syrup. One in a million – I’m glad we found her.

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While we adults enjoyed our drinks, Jacob entertained us with small red prickly fruit similar to lychees known as Rambutan.

Meet Rambutan man:

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More tomorrow!