Thursday, September 7, 2017

Last Day in Paradise

I swore I wasn't going to take any more sunrise pictures, but every morning the clouds are different. My devotions are on my phone, so I just happened to have my camera with me. Couldn't resist this one.

You may have noticed that we didn't spend a lot of time hanging out at the hotel. This morning we did, and still had time for showers before late check out at 1.

There were a couple waterfalls not far from our hotel that did not require hiking. This is Opaekaa. Probably more spectacular in sunshine or if you got closer. We spotted a picnic table in the shade when we arrived, but by the time we finished looking at the falls, someone else had claimed it.

Beautiful countryside. Not sure if you can make out the kayakers below. That would be a great way to see the falls.

Wailua Falls was more impressive. The road ends there. Along the way were cars parked off to the side. No view, and signs warning of dangerous cliffs, do not pass this sign. But someone at the overlook consulting her phone said there are ropes tied along the cliffs to assist in descent and that is how people hike in. We couldn't see anyone down there, but could see where a trail somes out. Hawaiians seem to be pretty relaxed when it comes to rules. They make them and post the signs to please government regulations and then ignore them at will.

No picnic tables at Walua Falls, but there was a guy selling pineapple bread (beside a sign that said no vendors.) We backtracked to Lydgate Beach Park just north of our hotel to eat our pineapple bread and finish our fruit from yesterday along with other goodies. They even had a handicapped spot where we could pull up in the car and use a paved path to our table.

I walked down to the beach. I'm pretty sure that's our resort you can see through the branches across the bay.

At last we headed to the airport to return our rental car and await our flight. It has been a wonderful week. Mom is a great travel companion, perhaps because our eating patterns are similar, we both want to know what is around the next corner, and she is no more eager for the shopping malls than I am. Note the lack therof in my accounts. Shopping is the one thing we didn't do, partly because of accessibility and largely due to lack of interest. We each came home with a sea-shell necklace from our luau. I also bought a sundress at the Blue Dolphin excursion office before our boat trip. My colors, my style, my kind of price. That is the extent of our souvenirs.

Now it is back to real life. Shutterfly has a free photobook offer on, so I have to get going on putting together a book for Mom.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Birthday Luau

We had about half an hour to put our feet up back at the resort. I left Mom on the bed while I went out to lie by the pool, but when I came back, she was sitting on our little patio with her book, too wound up to sleep. She took calls from Erika's family and Katie's, and then we really had to rush to get ready for our great evening out--the luau at the Grand Hyatt Resort in Po'ipu.

On the way we swung by Spouting Horn Park. Nearly impossible to catch a picture at just the right second to get the water at its highest point. Suffice it to say that it was quite impressive. There are multiple holes at this spot. You can see a second just to the right in this picture.

And then a little further to the right is another spot where the waves crash high into the air. Again, the picture does not do it justice.

The Grand Hyatt is so grand that it makes our lovely resort look tawdry. I planted Mom in line and used the excuse of a search for a bathroom to explore a little. Lovely lounges inside and out overlooking the sea. A waterfall from the lounge level down to the pool level. Absolutely gorgeous at double the price of ours, which was not cheap.

We were greeted with seashell leis--the sign that we were participants of the luau (don't take it off). Mom and I were let in first and had a chance to choose seats right up front for an unobstructed view.

The food was fabulous, the show was classy, and our table companions delightful. There were three honeymooning couples at our table, plus a first anniversary couple and a few others. The couple across from us was from Boston. The couple next to us was from Kansas City. When the guys got into an energetic discussion of footfall, I suggested maybe that topic should join religion and politics, and they laughed. At the end of the evening, those two were making arrangments to meet in the bar on Thursday for the Patriots-Chiefs game.

I guess they always acknowledge people with birthdays this month, but tonight they especially acknowledged Claudia Hardy, turning 92. She stood to a big cheer and people were greeting her even when we left at the end of the evening. Actually, they asked everyone who had a birthday this month (which includes me) to come to the stage. (Claudia was excused.) Then they taught us a hula. I had been thinking it was so beautiful and I would love a lesson, but I wasn't expecting that to be in front of a hundred people. Unfortunately, I didn't think to hand anyone my camera, so you will just have to imagine.

The dancing covered a variety of Polynesean cultures.

There were numbers with the women (all young a beautiful this time with flowing black hair) and numbers with the men (most of them heavily tattooed). I heard one of the little girls behind us say, "I like the boys."

The evening culminated with a fire dance. The little girl decided to move back closer to her parents. "That scared me."

We stopped for a picture with some of the girls on the way out

On the way back to our resort it started to sprinkle, then it let loose in a downpour lasting approximately three seconds. Barely misting when I let Mom out at the hotel entrance, but by the time I parked to car it let loose again--for about five seconds! I waited in the car until it let up, but when I caught up with Mom in the lobby of our building she was thoroughly drenched. She had been crossing the courtyard when it let loose. She toweled off and went to bed.

And so ended a wonderful birthday evening. I asked Mom where she wants to go next year. She only laughed. We may be nearing the completion of the bucket list.

Waimea Canyon

Today is Mom's 92nd birthday. The greetings began at 3:50AM--someone who forgot the time in Hawaii is different. Mom had her hearing aids out and didn't hear. I did. And the beep from the phone every few minutes to tell her she had a voice message. Until she got up at 5 for the bathroom. I got her to turn off her phone at that point. She went back to sleep, but I didn't. So I took in another glorious sunrise over the Pacific.

Today we drove west from Lihu'e to Waimea and then up the Waimea Canyon. Except that we missed the first road 550. I have not been impressed with Hawaiian signage for places not on the main road. There was a sign for 550, but nothing that said that was the way to the canyon. Just outside of town there was a sign for the canyon following 552, no doubt an alternate route. The concierge at our the Kaua'i Beach Resort had said, "The Waimea Canyon is just like the Grand Canyon only smaller." As we drove up 552, we were thinking, this lady has neve been to Arizona. All there was was scrappy eroded slopes on either side. My comparison of the North Shore of Kaua'i and the North Shore of Lake Superior was a lot more apt than comparing this to the Grand Canyon.

Then we reached the junction with 550. Oh. This is what she was talking about. The shape of the cliffs was indeed reminiscent of Grand Canyon pictures. (I myself have never been to that part of Arizona. Still on my bucket list.) But this is way greener than Arizona.

There was a long ramp with hairpin turns to get Mom up to the viewing platform. I offered to push her sitting on her walker, but she made it on her own. At another viewing point further up, she found a place to put her feet up while I explored.

Several hiking trails take off from this area. I hauled my hiking boots along hoping for something, and had them in the car. Of course, as soon as I laced them on, it started to rain. Mt. Wai'ale'ale just to the east gets more than 452 inches of rain per year--one of the wettest place on earth--so I guess it's not surprising it might rain here. It was only mist so I started off anyway.

There was an odd smell, not exactly pleasant. Eventually I figured out that it was the intense smell of rotting fruit. These were growing all around me and falling under foot. Haven't yet figured out what they are.

But before long the trail plunged steeply downward. That meant the return would be steeply upward, and with the rain, quite muddy. So I turned back and left hiking in Hawaii for another time.

We drove up to Kaialau Lookout, hoping to see down one of the valleys we looked up from the boat on Monday. But it was completely clouded in. (Remember the clouds topping the peaks on Monday?) I guess you have to be there before 9 AM to get the view. Next time. We were right by the NASA station we had seen from the sea on Monday.

No point in going on to the lookout at Pu'u e Kila, so we turned back. This time we took 550 back to Waimea and stopped at several overlooks, none as spectacular as the main one.

This waterfall was interesting. The whole area was totally exposed red rock. I can imagine that in rain, the whole hillside is a waterfall.

We looked for a picnic spot in Waimea where the sand is black, but this side of the island is not the rich playground of the west and north coasts. The houses are simpler, yards junkier, and the park we found had a broken picnic table and lots of litter, so we decided to move on.

We stopped instead at the Salt Pond Beach Park near Hanapepe. Again we were driving through ordinary neighborhoods. The salt pond itself was rather dried up and mucky, smelling of fish, but the park stretched along the sea beyond the salt pond and was nice enough. There was a picnic shelter with a cement walkway from the handicapped parking spot, so it worked for us. Not too far away were a couple encampments of what I assume was homeless people. "Cousin Paul" in Honolulu said  a couple West Coast states got caught offering free one-way tickets to homeless people to a warmer place. It has become a major problem here. I saw pan handlers several times in Waikiki.

But it was raining, and we were glad for the shelter to eat our lunch. We had our crackers and cheese, plus croissants I had bought at the grocery this morning and a 10" plate of cut-up cantelope, watermelon and honeydew for $7, prepared at the local grocery. The smaller plates of fruit had more variety, but were $10.99 prepared off site. Mom ate from our fruit plate for breakfast; we ate our fill for lunch and have plenty left over for tomorrow.

As we drove back to the east side of the island, we left the clouds behind and had a beautiful afternoon at the resort.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

North Shore, Kauai style

I started the morning with sunrise on the beach. I was not the only one. A great place for a quiet time. I sat where the grass drops off to the sand in a sort of ledge. When someone commented on the good spot as she sat down a few feet away, I said, "The Lord has been shaping this bench for years."

"You must be a Christian!" she said, and we had a nice chat, reminding each other of favorite bits of praise music as the light changed from pink to gold.

After Mom was up, we took off for the North Shore, stopping at McDonalds for something besides the granola bars and tea I had in the room. I have wanted some fruit, but didn't want to leave it in the car for five hours yesterday while we made our boat trip. We had an interesting, but unsuccessful, detour last night on our way home in search of a grocery. This morning Mom noticed a grocery right next to McDonalds. I left her eating her pancakes and walked across the parking lot.

You know Hawaiians and their Spam. Here's the Spam aisle.

This is not the North Shore of Lake Superior. It has a similar cliffs-and-water beauty, but there the comparison ends. We stopped at every look out. Sometimes Mom got out. Sometimes she could see from the car.

According to our captain last night, the second most visited spot on Kauai after the Na Pali Coast is Kilauea Lighthouse, which is a bird sanctuary. Entry to the sanctuary is for a fee, but you can enjoy the view without going in.

We almost skipped Anini Beach Park because it was off the road and we had seen lots of beaches. I'm sure glad we didn't. This one had a boat launch that served as a great access ramp for Mom's walker. I settled her in the shade of a wall and some nice people offered to take our picture. So here is proof that Mom made it to the beach--feet in the water--in Hawaii.

Anini Beach had these wonderful twisted trees overhanging the water.

We missed the turn off for Hanelei Beach. We found it on the way back, and it was not nearly as nice as the other places we stopped, so I'm glad we didn't waste our time. We picnicked at a spot further along Hanalei Bay: reduced-for-quick-sale chef's crab salad, a sweet croissant, and half a cantaloupe that was definitely not picked green and shipped to market.

The setting gave a great up-close view of the rock formation that inspired Peter, Paul and Mary's "Puff the Magic Dragon"...frolicking in Hanali (to rhyme with sea.)

We ended our outing at Ha'ena Beach Park, where Mom again had a place to sit in the shade and I went for a short walk.

There are a lot of one-lane bridges up here. We had a sort of traffic jam at one point just east of Hanalei, but after that, traffic moved nicely. We intended to stop and buy more fruit for tomorrow, but the "by-pass" we took went around it.

We are both pretty tired. Mom napped while I edited pictures.

From 5 to 6 there was a reception at the pool deck with singers and hulu dancers.

Hulu is way different than I was taught to think of it as a teen in a no-dancing culture. It's very graceful, almost balletic. Most of the songs were in Hawaiian, but the last was in English and we could see how the arm movements expressed the words. I was impressed that the dancers were not all pretty young things. One was pushing 50. Or maybe tht was the effect of too much sun. Another was quite heavy, but still extremely graceful. Afterwards they went around and greeted people, and the older woman present Mom with one of her leis.

Mom had to figure out what she could wear to dinner that would go well with a yellow lei. She ended up putting a skirt with the dark brown shirt she was wearing and looked very nice.

The hotel restaurant is pricey as you might imagine, and they add a $6 charge for splitting, but Mom ordered a regular entrée (shrimp scampi), and I ordered a much cheaper "small plate," knowing that she would not get away with all hers. Mine was poke--raw tuna seasoned with seaweed. The waitress wanted to be sure I knew what I was getting. It was delicious. Not fishy at all, but the texture was similar to rare filet minion so I still don't think Steve would like it. Mom tasted a bite. And as expected, I had some of her shrimp and fettucini.

By the time we were finished eating the moon was up. Full. If we had planed better, we should have watched the moon rise over the ocean and then gone to dinner. Next time...

Na Pali Coastal Cruise

At brother Bob's suggestion, we made reservations for the sunset dinner cruise of the Na Pali Coast. These cliffs can't be reached except by boat or extensive hiking, which Mom wasn't up to. (I also couldn't convince her to take the raft that would let us go into some of the sea caves either. Next time...) Fabulous experience. They let me drive Mom down to the dock and even park the car there. We left our shoes behind and her walker. The crew directed us over the top (Mom climbed down the ladder backward with a crew member below her) to "the best seats in the house"--starboard side with a wall to lean against.

Starboard side meant we had a great view of the coast all the way up and the sunset on the way back. And believe me, the coast was well worth looking at.

The red streaks are where waterfalls were diverted for inland irrigation a hundred and fifty years ago.

Note one of those sea caves Mom didn't feel like exploring in the lower left hand corner.

This coast has been filmed by Hollywood over and over.
I couldn't tell you what movie this mountain is in, but I'm sure it is.
Dinner was delicious--terriaki chicken, pulled pork, Caesar salad, fresh pineapple and cookies. The coconut cookies were good enough I saw one young man go back at least four times. To be fair, he ran a half marathon yesterday. Mom took a couple for us for later.

The crew filled Mom's plate from the buffet so she wouldn't have to move around. The girl even took her to the bathroom when she needed it. I needed both hands to hold on myself when moving around the boat, so I didn't think I would be much help holding Mom up.

By dinner time we had turned back into the open sea. I used to get sea sick as a child, but I must have outgrown it. I drank a ginger ale early on as a preventative measure and felt fine the whole trip. (I didn't want to take a Dramamine because it makes me so sleepy.)

Sun started to go down.

And just got more and more beautiful.

I told Mom I wasn't going to keep all the many pictures I took, but I lied. I think I threw away two. But I won't bore you with all of them here.

A totally awesome afternoon and evening. We pulled into the hotel at 7:15, and I think Mom was asleep by 8. Tomorrow is a new adventure.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Kauai Beach Resort

It seemed like I spent half the morning making plans and reservations for our stay while Mom waited in the room, unsure about going out on her own. It was 10:15 by the time we headed for the beach. The hotel is lovely. It was a picture of this lobby that convinced me to choose this one over the others I found on-line. So far we haven't sat in it, but it is pleasant to walk through.

The six pools and hot tubs are landscaped Disney style with lots of plants and waterfalls.

This beach is right out front. I settled Mom in a lounge chair I dragged from the hotel onto the grass overlooking the beach. (She was nervous about trying to make it down the incline to the water.) I went for a walk. I decided I like the idea of walking on a beach more than the reality. Deep sand makes walking a chore, and the slope means one leg feel shorter than the other, but the view is fine.

When I returned from my walk, thinking I should get Mom out of the sun, she had covered up with a towel. We moved to the pool where she could sit in the shade. I went for a dip and explored the various man-made water falls and went down the water slide three times.

Then we took showers and got ready for our first big adventure on Kauai--a sunset dinner cruise on the Na Pali Coast. On the way out I stopped to take a picture of this lush tunnel of trees we pass through to enter and leave the resort.

Wandering Waikiki

Sunday. What a place to worship, although most people we’ve seen are worshipping the sun or their own tanned bodies, not their Creator.

Last evening after supper at IHOP next door, we went for a walk a couple blocks up the street and back on the other side. Very lively town! I stopped to shop for a bathing suit at Loco Boutique. Cute stuff, including reversible tankini’s—flowered on one side, striped on the other. They were mix and match so you could get a plain bottom if you wanted. Except they were sold out of my size in the color I wanted. So I saved a bunch of money.

We continued up the block. We soon found that Mom (with her walker) needed to be waiting in the dip in the curb, ready to take off when the light changed, or we wouldn’t make it across. We made it every time! But sometimes barely.

We spotted McDonalds in the next block last night even though it wasn’t the traditional golden arches building. We decided to go there for breakfast. The menu isn’t Minnesota either. The local special was eggs with rice and Spam. I figured I had a shrimp burger at McDonald’s in Seoul, so I needed to try the spam in Hawaii. Not bad. Although my mom used to fry it crispier. One of the things we learned on our tour Saturday was that Hawaiians and Spam comes out of all the fresh meat being confiscated for the military during WWII. Spam was all they had and they were very creative in finding ways to prepare it. I guess they have even had a cooking competition between hotel chefs to come up with gourmet Spam recipes.

Mom did well enough walking last evening that we continued up the street after breakfast to the International Marketplace—three floors of shops and restaurants, beautifully landscaped with gardens. We even sat in rocking chairs in the shade on the second floor for a while and watched a yoga class in the garden below.

Then we discovered this fabulous banyan tree in the middle of the mall. Had to wait our turn for a picture. For a moment I was wondering if I would need to call the fire department to get Mom out of the lava seat.

Check out was at 12. We came back and relaxed for about half an hour, then took our luggage down. They let us keep the key, which served as a free pass for the Pink Line double-decker shopping trolley. It was like an un-narrated city tour. We rode the whole circuit, and only got off when we got to Waikiki Beach the second time. The bus is open sided. More comfortable in the heat when moving than at stop lights, but not bad even then. I was impressed with how patient the drivers were with people getting on and off with strollers, walkers and wheelchairs. Drinks weren’t allowed on the bus, and they were even polite when they told people for the umpteenth time that they couldn’t bring a drink and needed to wait for the next bus.

At the beach we found Mom a place to park her walker on the grass in the shade of a cluster of palms. Meager shade, but better than nothing. This was her view.

I kicked off my sandals and walked down to the water. Actually, I ran because the sand was hot until you got to the damp part. Spectacular views. I don’t think anyone here ever heard of skin cancer.
 I walked down to where I could see some waves crashing and got ready to take a picture. Just then some Japanese tourists chose that spot to pose for each other. Then the woman got out a scarf and decided to take more pictures with it blowing in the wind. I thought they'd never leave. They weren't even aiming their camera at the spray! Eventually they moved, and I got this, but the spray was higher when the Japanese were there.

Eventually we decided to get some lunch at the Waikiki Beachside Bistro where we could sit at a table in the shade overlooking the beach. We split the Hawaiian BBQ steak plate even though we had no idea what the won bok and edamame salad were that accompanied it. One of those probably refers to a bean shaped like an elongated pea. The other was apparently nice greens. The BBQ had a fruity rather than tomato flavor. Really good. The recipe I found on-line calls for pineapple sauce, brown sugar, and ginger. I'll have to try it.

I don't usually take pictures of trash bins, but this is where I dumped our plate and napkins.

The Pink Line is hang-loose-Hawaiian. Supposedly they go every 10 minutes, but after we finished lunch, we waited about 25 for the next bus. I was beginning to consider whether or not Hawaii had Uber, but we did get back in time to pick up our luggage and catch our shuttle to the airport.

Now we are safely arrived at the Kauai Beach Resort on an island half an hour north (by air). We picked up our rental car, and I was not in nearly as much panic since the population looks about the size of Webster, Wisconsin. Well, probably more than Webster, but traffic is no problem. We ate our supper of cup-of-soup and crackers and cheese on the varanda with the stars overhead and the sound of the surf in our ears. We'll have to explore tomorrow.