Just Beachy

The retired mothers are used to sleeping in, but us working stiffs have internal clocks that naturally set to earlier so we were usually up before them.  The morning of day five in Kauai, we took an early walk around the hotel grounds.  MJ wanted to pick up breakfast and look for sea turtles.  This is their hang out spot.  We saw some our first day there, but no such luck that morning.

One of the first things we did when we got there is find beach rentals.  Our hotel didn't have it's own beach.  Shipwreck beach was right next door in front of the Hyatt, but it's not very swimmer friendly so we knew that we would be spending our beach days elsewhere.  I do not enjoy baking in the sun and I like to be comfortable while I lounge so we got chairs and umbrellas from Boss Frog's Snorkel Shop for the week.

We spent our first beach day at Poipu Beach because it was close and snorkel friendly.  Parking was really tight.  MJ did that magic trick that guys do where they drop off the ladies and then conjure up a parking space out of thin air.  There isn't a lot of sand and it was pretty crowded but we found a spot to set up.  As the day went on the waves started to creep closer and closer to us.  We weren't quite ready to leave so when that one wave came that made me jump and grab my stuff, we relocated to an area further back. 
I spent hours shopping for those darn bikini bottoms and will probably never wear them again.  When you go in the ocean and it looks like you have dropped a load it means you got the wrong size.  That may be acceptable when you are five years old, but not so much on a grown woman.

This has to be one of my favorite beaches ever.  The water is shallow and I saw no fish in my immediate area.  Plus, it has this really cool little sandbar that allows you to walk out to sea and sit in a patch of sand in the middle of the ocean while gentle waves wash over your lap.  You can see it in the background in this pic.  As the day went on this area filled up with water as well and there was probably no sand left on the beach after we left.

Looking back I realize that there weren't very many pictures from our beach.  I am always the main photographer.  If I don't take the picture or ask for a picture that often means it doesn't get taken and sometimes I just can't be bothered; but you get the idea.  Just another gorgeous day in Kauai.

Hiking Waimea Canyon

Gone Biking

Anything and everything you do in Kauai is taken up a notch just because of the amazing view and even when you can't see the view everything is just better because you are there.  We spent our 4th day in Kauai biking. 

We rented bikes from Kapaa Beach Shop and it was just $15 per bike for the whole day.  We were able to park our car there which was helpful since parking is tight in this area and Kapaa Bike Path was right behind the building.  We started out going North and then doubled back to the end of the path to the South.  The path is a very even 8 mile stretch along the coast with a perfect ocean view the whole way.

We came across a little beach hut to rest.  There was an inviting beach below so we locked up the bikes to climb down there and take a look.  It was deserted.  Not a single person there but us and it was gorgeous.  The waves here were super powerful so I don't think it's very swimmer friendly (or non swimmer friendly) but man, oh man did I want to get in.  I wasn't wearing a bathing suit but it was so deserted and I was so hot that if the waters had been more friendly I would have considered going in my undies.

There was one mishap.  MJ took a left down a wide dirt path and us ladies followed.  He's a dirt biker.  We aren't.  It was easy enough for him to ride down that path and it looked easy enough too, but as soon as I started down I could see that it was steeper than it looked.  I followed first.  I let my feet off the brakes for one second and started to lose control so I turned around to call out behind me that you have to keep your feet on the brakes and before I finished getting it all out I heard yelling as my mom crashed to the ground.  I lost focus and took my foot off the brakes again and almost fell too.  I was going fast enough that breaking was going to make me crash, but slow enough to get my feet on the ground, fill my shoes with gravel and stop myself.   My mom was a real trooper.  She dusted herself off and kept going.  Within a few hours she had one of the biggest blackest bruises on her thigh that I've ever seen.

One of the things I loved most about Kauai is the lack of people.  This is our first time coming to Hawaii in the summer so I was worried that it would be crowded, but the bike path was mostly empty.  We only saw a few other bikers so for the most part we felt like we had the path to ourselves.  I kept wondering where are all the people? We stayed at The Point at Poipu and even there it seemed deserted.  There are cars on the roads and yeah, you see people out and about but it never felt like much and that was fine with us.  The island is the furthest North from the big Island and based on what we've experienced in Oahu and Maui, the most remote.

Then we came to the end of the path and I said, "Nooo, is that it?" I was physically exerted, but enjoying it so much I didn't want it to end.  I had no concept of time for most of the time we were there so I couldn't even tell you how long we spent on the path. 

We turned in our bikes and then stopped for food to take back to the hotel.  We found out the hard way that there isn't a whole lot to choose from nearby.  We passed a McDonald's on the way in from the airport but kept going because we figured there would be something closer, but no such luck.  The roads are remote, windy and there is not much around.  We ended up having to call in an expensive order for pick up to the one nearby restaurant.  The next day we stopped at the only grocery store in town to stock the kitchen.  Poipu is barely even a town because there just isn't much around and what's there is very spread out.  There is this one little row of shops and restaurants that I would say is the main "hub" and that's it.  We stopped and MJ found this weird little fish shop, but there was nothing on the menu for us.  We kept looking and found these two food trucks where we had the choice between Thai and Mexican.  We went with Thai.  I got chicken Pad Thai because that's the only Thai food I know to order and it was delicious.  I'm still amazed at the delicious foods that come out of those little trucks.

By this time we had been in Kauai for four days and had not yet gone to the beach which is insane.  Those turquoise waters were calling my name.  The next day would have to be a beach day.

Poipu Beach

Totally Worth the Early Morning Wake Up

Port Allen and our chariot for the day
The first thing you have to know about Hawaii is that the weather is perfect.  All.  The.  Time.  Mexico is blazing hot in the summer and NYC is too cold in the winter.  San Diego is pretty nice, but Hawaii is it's own perfect idealized weather climate.  We've been in October, December and July.  It never changes.  Balmy breezes with just the right amount of humidity and sunshine that makes your skin glow and melts your soul into a puddle of happiness.  We didn't catch a drop of rain this time, but even when it does it usually doesn't last long and it's still warm.  It just doesn't get much better.  As soon as I stepped off the plane I was content and relaxed until the moment I left.  You also have to know that food is expensive.  We all had some serious sticker shock when we made our first trip to the grocery store.  I spent $6.99 on a loaf of bread!  MJ bought some grocery items for all of us at Walmart and it was a shocking $80 bucks.

We went boating on our 2nd full day in Kauai.  I wasn't so sure about Captain Andy's Sailing Napali Snorkel Tour.  I can't swim and I have fish phobia.  I sure as heck am not going to jump off a boat into the middle of the ocean and swim with the fishes, but this is one thing MJ requested so we went with it and I'm glad we did.  I purposefully scheduled this early on in our trip while we were fresh because it was not early in real life, but definitely early for vacation.  7:45am check in.  Ugh.  We had to set our alarms.
My mom and I


There are no shoes allowed on the boat and they make sure of it because the first thing they did before we even got on was take our shoes.  We had to place them in a locked shelving unit and got them back when we returned.  My first thought because I am borderline OCD.  Gross.  I don't want to walk around a public place without shoes, but the boat was very clean and dry.  It got wet and a little grimy after the snorkelers came back, but it was fine.  We were free to move around the boat as we wanted.  There were plenty of places to put our stuff and sit down below and up above.  The thing that made this trip worth the money even if we weren't going to snorkel is the length of time, the views and the food.  We got to be on a boat for 5.5 hours, in an ocean that went from royal blue, to turquoise, to aquamarine depending on the depth of the water and how the sun reflected off of it. Because of the mountains, the only place these views are visible is from a boat in the middle of the ocean. 
We were on a Catamaran so we were too tall to go into the caves but you can do it in a Zodiac which is basically a gigantic blow up raft.  Zodiac's are tiny.  They only hold 14, while Catamaran's hold 49.  That is an option through Captain Andy's but it's very wet, bumpy, you have to hold on for dear life a lot of the time and sea sickness is a very real concern on boats of either size.  For my first boating adventure I preferred the luxury of the larger catamaran where I could leisurely sit around, eat, drink and stay dry.  We also had bathrooms which are not available on Zodiacs.

The untouched mountains of the Napali coast are absolutely stunning.  I could stare at them for hours and when all is said and done that's what we did. We had dolphins swimming directly in front of our boat.  They are so cool to look at and I was impressed that they could stay directly in front of our boat and not get run over.  There was an hour for snorkeling where most of the passengers jumped into the water.   After being in the sun all day a dip in the ocean looked so refreshing.   A part of me really wanted to throw on a life jacket and get in; but those fish are so big and the water is so clear I could see them from the boat.  There was no way I was getting in there.
This cute boy
MJ's mom was jokingly referred to as a "project" since she had never been snorkeling before.  The staff is really patient.  She was coached until she was comfortable enough to get off the stairs and get out there on her own.  They wanted me to be the other project, but I'm pretty sure nobody on that boat had enough patience for me.  I'm no project.  I'm NOT snorkeling, so I politely declined.  My mom was not up for the task either.
MJ is the guy in the middle facing the camera
MJ and his mom
I am still fascinated that people know how to keep their body afloat without a life jacket for that long and make it look so easy and relaxing without drowning.  I am a non swimmer.  I don't get it.  We watched them bob around for a while and then my mom and I noticed they had put out lunch.  It was just sandwiches with cold cuts and cheese, but it was seriously so good.  It was not cheapo lunch meat and it was full of flavor.  Then we had cookies for dessert.  They had about an hour to snorkel and then they broke out the beer and wine which was unlimited for the rest of the trip.  They took roll call to make sure no one had gone missing and then we headed back to port.
You had to climb up and down the ladder to get to the bathroom
I have had no issues with gigantic cruise ships or dinner cruise ships but I've never been on a boat this small so I was nervous about getting sea sick which, would really suck.  There is no going back once they take off.  I read some horror stories on Trip Adviser so I brought Dramamine just in case and we all took a dose before we got on.  I felt a little bit ill after spending a few minutes in the lower part of the boat to use the restroom and put on sunscreen, but it passed.  I think you are definitely better off above.  I definitely recommend Captain Andy's.  They took care of us the entire time.  There was coffee while we were waiting at check in and as soon as we got on the boat we helped ourselves to pineapple, pastries and juice.  When the boat is moving it can be tricky walking around.  The staff was so friendly and they came around asking us if we needed anything, bringing us drinks and cookies and taking our trash.  They even hosed off our feet when we got off the boat, which made my little OCD heart happy.
A big part of being on vacation for me is waking up whenever the heck I want.  I don't want to lose half the day sleeping in, but I also don't want to have to wake up to an alarm clock like I do at home.  I will never NOT do something on vacation just so I can sleep because that would be ridiculous, and this was totally worth the early wake up.  It was such an amazing experience.  I'm feeling brave enough to try a Zodiac if I ever get the chance again.  Maybe I'll even be brave enough to snorkel?  Nah.  Not a chance.  

Biking in Kapaa, Kauai

I'm Back-Sort Of

Would it be dramatic to say that waking up at 6:22am, putting on actual clothes and shoes, driving to work under a cloudy sky and sitting at my desk listening to traffic whiz by on the freeway outside my window while eating bread and peanut butter feels like a bad dream? I admit it.  I'm a drama queen, but seeing as how just days ago I was hanging out in paradise where each sunny day blended seamlessly into the next I guess it's going to take me a bit to transition back to reality.
Our vacation was everything I hoped it would be and we got back Monday off a red-eye flight from Kauai.  We immediately unpacked, showered, took naps and began the post vacation recovery process.  Tuesday morning I didn't wake up until 10:30am.  I don't remember the last time I slept in that long.  I woke up very confused.  I had no idea what day it was or what day I said I was coming back to work.  Why did I say I might come back on Tuesday when I had no intention of coming back until Wednesday?  I extended my out of office reply another day and in my half asleep state even deleted an e mail for good measure.

Since I took that "extra" day the plan was to be productive and make use of it, but it wasn't happening.  I couldn't seem to force my body into action.  No wonder they say the early bird gets the worm because when I wake up at 10:30 the day feels half over and I've given up on accomplishing anything before I even start.  I ate a late breakfast and then watched Dance Mom's while my "food settled" enough for exercise and the next thing I knew it was 3:30pm and I'd done nothing but download vacation pictures and spend way too long trying to figure out how to get pictures off my phone.  The whole day-wasted!!  I couldn't have that so I jumped up, started laundry and got in a Bikini Body Guide work out.  I'm sure I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I'm more proud that I finally took care of it.  I've been riding around with bags of clothes in my trunk for almost a year.  It's the hoarder in me.  Determined to finally unload them once and for all I jumped in the car and made it to the Goodwill donation center by 5:00pm (and rescued a skirt from one of the bags) just as it was closing up shop.  I feel so much lighter just knowing those clothes are gone and that I can finally use my trunk again.  Then I made it to the car wash at 5:20pm just in time to be the last car washed for the day.  I even got gas.  Mind, you I planned to do all of those things before I left, but what with stress packing and running around buying things I realized I didn't have it never happened.  It all worked out because I salvaged what was left of the day and accomplished everything I planned in the space of two hours. 

So yeah, I'm back and I was feeling really energetic and rested until I woke up for work this morning. I leave tomorrow for a two night work trip that I need to pack for, but that should be a piece of cake after packing for seven nights in Hawaii.  It's not like I'll be doing anything fun. 

My body is back, but my brain is still riding a bike on Kapaa Beach.  I just need a few more days to find my groove.  If you've been reading my blog for any length of time you know that extensive vacation recaps will follow just as soon as I can get it together enough to write them.