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On the plane… all day.
Luggage didn’t make it to Hawaii, due to delays… had to wait for next island-hopper to arrive.
Got rental car
Checked into hotel/condo
Dinner at Huggo’s: great teriyaki steak… even better Mai Tais.
Breakfast Splasher’s Grill: Omlette for me Pancakes w/ berries and cream cheese for Gina.
Grocery shopping: supplies for our time on Big Island.
Skipped lunch, lots of time on the road (2 hours each way) to Volcano. Very cool, rained, but ok.
Learned about different kinds of Volcanic rock, ahah (rough) and poh’hoi’hoi (smooth).
Drive back to hotel, stop at local hippie organic fruit stand. Got fresh pineapple, chips, guacamole, macaroons.
Make dinner: steak: pan cooked in garlic butter. Shrimp cooked in steak drippings and garlic butter. Delicious. Homemade mai tais… Chris made them strong. Time to hit the hot tub… it was hot. The pool refreshingly cold. Jumped back and forth between them. Met Nick (who works at Intuit… shared some stories) as well as a surfer dude with a tattoo of his parents’ wedding bands on his arm. Tired. Time for bed.
We actually got up to watch the sun rise! (Benefits of a five-hour time difference.
Breakfast: Portugese sausage and eggs with bacon. Mmmm… breakfast of champions. Had plenty of POG with that meal. Packed up and headed out for our dolphin journey.
Arrived at harbor, got fitted for snorkeling gear and headed out on boat. Saw dolphins immediately, but could not dive so close to shore. Fisherman dump carcasses in that area… things that eat carcasses would be around (they didn’t specifically say sharks, but that’s what they meant). The skipper was Kitt, our dive master was Brett, the boat pilot was Brian. Boat skipped across waves pretty well. Moved to first dolphin area and jumped in. When the boat slowed and started to list in the water ,I needed to get off asap. We saw dophins under water immediately. You could hear them before you saw them. Amazing. These spinner dolphins were very acrobatic and travelled in groups of 3-10, although the pod was about 80 animals. During the second stop, I got within a foot of a group of 3 dolphins. Looking into their eyes you kind of get the feeling that they’re trying to figure you out. There’s no doubt about how intelligent they are. About 10 minutes into the 3rd stop, a mouthful of salt water convinced me that I had to get back on the boat and stare at the shoreline. Seasick. It sucks. I skipped the 4th stop, but everyone else had really up-close encounters with the dolphins. Apparently, I was pretty pale… everyone liked pointing that out. The whole excursion was so great that I don’t care that I was seasick. I would gladly be sick again to have the same experience. As soon as I got on the shore I felt better. Within minutes, it was as if I had never been sick. We all went back and took naps. It was draining! Later that night we made salads and Chris seared tuna and ono.
Thanksgiving! More Portugese sausage and eggs for breakfast. Good grief that stuff is delicious! Then we geared up for an island hike based on some tips from our dolphin journey dive master: Brett. On the way out, we found a dive shop (open on Thanksgiving!) and bought some masks and snorkels (great deal on good gear), added to our packs, and continued on our way. We started out on a small beach and headed into a lava flow. The terrain was treacherous, but we were making pretty good time. Half-way into the lava flow, we discovered the actual trail, which was much easier to traverse. We were soon on the next beach, covered in a mixture of black lava rock and white fossilized coral. After a short break, we turned back (following the trail this time…) and returned to the beach. Chris torqued his back something awful, so he took a break in the shade while Gina, Emily, and I checked out the water. The girls hung back, fearing that the rough seas would remove their suits, while I tried out body surfing for the first time. Awesome. We regrouped and headed back to prepare for our “Captain Bean’s Dinner Cruise” (Formerly known as the “booze cruise“). The live music on the boat was nice, the food was pretty bad, as was the show, but the performers looked like they were having fun. We each got a single drink ticket (Chris and Emily remembered that there was an open bar in previous years), but Emily bought us a lava flow to meet our girl-drink quota. We headed back and packed for our departure from the Big Island the next day.
Last day on the Big Island. We made scrambled eggs and Portuguese sausage (can’t get enough) and packed up for a time-share spiel. (We sold our souls for a gift certificate to pay for most of the dinner cruise on Thursday.) We went there, told them we did it for the “gift”, sat through a basic presentation, then were off for a day of walking around the main road. After about an hour of that, we decided to check out the Kona Joe coffee plantation and mill. We got a tour, some samples and bought plenty of 10% Kona coffee. We were directed to a local restaurant for lunch called Aloha Angel Cafe. The food was incredible: a sampling of every style of food we could imagine. Gina had a chicken sandwich, Chris had a quesadilla, Emily had pasta, and I had an Indian curry. Back in the truck and off the the airport to return the rental and check-in for our flight.
The airport on the big island is completely open. There are no signs at the gates or screens to tell you what flights are arriving or departing. They just kinda call you up when it’s close to boarding time, you sit down for 5 minutes, then you board the island hopper. Each inter-island flight included a small cup of Pineapple-Orange juice… well, 10% juice. It’s similar to the delicious POG (Pineapple, Orange, Guava) Juice found all over the island. Anyway, a quick stop on Honolulu and we were back on another hopper to Kawai’i. We got off of the plane, decided to rent one Jeep (instead of a Jeep and a convertible), and headed out to Chris and Emily’s time-share. The 4-door Jeep is relatively large inside (it fit all of our luggage better than the Liberty on the Big Island), but rides more like a… well… Jeep. We tried to stop for Bubba Burgers, but everything closed around 8 except for a small strip of restaurants and coffee bars… for the night owls, they stayed open until 10 ;-). We ate giant servings of great food at the Olympic Cafe. (Burger for me, Tofu wrap for Gina, Burrito for Chris, and a giant salad for Emily… plus a few Hawaii 5-0s… think of it as a Long Island Iced Tea… Hawaiian-style.
We stopped at the Polynesian Cafe in Hona Lei and had breakfast sandwiches, burritos, etc. We shopped for a bit, buying towels and a sweet Hemi Aloha shirt, then went for a drive across several one-lane bridges to Ke-a Beach. We stopped at a semi-underground lake in the side of a mountain, but it was too… murky… to venture across. We headed to the very wavy beach and kinda Zen-ed out, looking at the Napali coast.
After a few walks along the shore, some crab-digging, and water testing, we left to get supplies for the week at the grocery store. Groceries are VERY expensive in Hawaii. Even though Hawaii has the biggest and oldest cattle ranch in the US, all of the beef has to be sent back to the mainland for USDA approval… expensive. We headed back to the time-share and carried a bag of sandwiches down the the beach for a picnic. Another chill out followed by walking along the shore and a little swimming, then back to the rooms for some Mai-Tais and music. We drank until the world became a little out of focus, then headed off to the hot tub and pool. We cooked in the hot tub, then chilled in the pool… then repeated… and repeated… and repeated. Sufficiently relaxed, we went back to the rooms and hit the hay.
Breakfast: Corned beef hash and eggs, POG and coffee. We loaded up, grabbed our snorkeling gear, and hiked a few miles to Queen’s Bath… a tide pool on the edge of the ocean surrounded by tall volcanic rock. There was a spot to dive from (we didn’t) and lots of great snorkeling. After some turtle-watching on the cliffs, we headed out for another decent hike to hide-away beach. For much of the time, we were the only people on the beach or in the water. The snorkeling there was even better! Huge tropical fish (trigger fish, box fish, clown fish), sea cucumbers, and anemone were everywhere we looked. We snorkled without fins and the current was challenging at times, but we made sure to not venture to far into the ocean.
A quick nap on the beach, and we hiked back to the time-share. Chris grilled up marinated Ahi tuna and chicken while Emily and Gina prepared salads. The night ended with beers and way too much time spent watching TLC shows about morbidly obese people at a treatment center in New York. When they started showing something about a 1000 lb Mexican guy, we decided we had enough and headed off to bed.
Gina and I made spam (yes, really), egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches with has browns for breakfast. We packed up and loaded into the Jeep to see Apaeka Falls. There’s been less rain than normal, so they were there… but not as full as normal. Then we headed out to Waimea Canyon then to Barking Sands beach. The canyon was impressive… like a tropical grand canyon (but smaller). By this time it was pretty far into the day… about 2 in the afternoon. We headed to a small diner/ice cream shop and discovered that they had Katsu on the menu. (It was sooo great.) They also featured Lappert’s Hawaiian Ice Cream… mmmm.
Barking Sands was a huge beach that required an exciting 4 wheel drive excursion to reach. I would say that we all had more fun pounding through the dirt trail than at the beach itself. The video of the dirt road trip should be fun to watch. We headed back and stopped at Spouting Horn (aka “The Blow Hole” aaka “The Ocean Fart”). Any tourist trip to Hawaii requires a stop at Hilo Hatie (what Bronners is to Christmas, Hilo Hattie is to Hawaii), where we got some swag. We had dinner at a place called Sushi Bushido. It was average, but about the same price as the mainland… the service was horrible. We headed back to the resort and immediately hit the hay. It was an activity-packed day and we were exhausted.
Chris cooked crepes/swiss pancakes with portuguese sausage for breakfast (I missed portuguese sausage already… mmm). After a cup of tasty coffee, we headed to Tunnels beach for some snorkeling. The ocean was pretty rough. We were pulled in every direction, the undertow was crazy, having to grab onto VERY sharp rocks to keep from getting pulled out to sea (even with dive fins on). We regrouped, bandaged our cuts, and tried a slightly less active part of the beach. It was a little better, but we were still getting pulled horizontal to the shore making it hard to see the fish. We saw tons of huge creatures: urchins, fish, sea cucumbers, and crabs. Most of the fish were 9-12 inches long, the bigger ones were not afraid to go snout to mask with us. We tried one more snorkeling spot based on the recommendation of another snorkeler. It was much calmer, but quickly became murky and dark as the sun started to hide behind clouds. We all took a power nap on the beach, then walked back to the Jeep.
We drove into Hona Lei and finally got our Bubba Burgers. (Their slogan is “we cheat tourists, drunks, and attorneys.”) Think fresh, old fashioned, hamburgers with just meat, cheese, onions and relish. Dress to taste (I went with mayo, a little ketchup, and a dash of mustard), and enjoy. They were every bit as good as promised. Adding a basked of “frings” (fries mixed with a few onion rings) and you’re in hog heaven. Gina opted for chili fries w/ cheese that were just as good as the frings. A little more shopping in the nearby shops for gifts and a hoodie for Gina and then a drink to observe island happy hour (3:30 – 5:30), then a stop for groceries (tonight is taco night) and Margarita fixins and we were back at the resort to chill a little bit before making dinner.
We skipped the margaritas since the bubba burgers were playing havoc on the girls’ stomachs. Chris and I downed a few beers, and then it started to pour. That didn’t phase us a bit, we put the beer into plastic cups and headed off to the hot tub. We met a local who told us how to get to secret beach and all about his new (to him) 2002 Tacoma with a 5″ lift and rims. Sounds pretty sweet. We enjoyed the cold rain in the hot tub and then headed back to observe taco Tuesday. The smell of fresh taco fixin’s got the girls attention, we ate, the girls went to bed, and Chris and I talked for a few hours (and drank a few more beers) before throwing in the towel for the night.
Hawaiian bread french toast w/ coconut syrup and portuguese sausage started the day off right, albeit a little later than usual (8:00)… I blame the beers. We chilled then headed off to secret beach. Apparently, it’s not that much of a secret: there were a few folks walking around, but the seas were WAAAAAY to rough for swimming or snorkeling. We hiked around, took lots of pictures of the surf, and hunted for crabs.
After an hour-or-so, we found a cluster of rocks, perched on them and ate sandwiches that we packed in our bags. We watched the crabs dig holes and react to the incoming surf. Very relaxing. We then headed into Kapa’a for a coffee at Java Kai. The barista was very friendly… except when Chris ordered a Late after he had already steamed the milk. We walked around town, shopped a bit, then headed back to the resort.
The sky was relatively overcast all day with occasional light showers, but we made the most of it by relaxing in the hot tub and swimming in one of the resort’s pools. We returned to the condo and made patty melts with mushrooms and red peppers and some meaty nachos. We’re officially in “use up all of the food” mode. We chilled, finished our margaritas, and talked about racing. Then we plunked down in front of the TV and watched a show on TLC about a forensic medical examiner. Bah. I had a little trouble falling asleep… maybe I’m realizing that we’re getting close to the end of our trip. I’m pretty much ready to sell everything, quit my job, and work at a car wash (Hawaii needs more of them) on Kawai’i. An hour or two of Super Mario 64 DS tired me out and I finally fell asleep.
Our last full day in Hawaii. Sigh. We improvised ham, egg, and cheese (except Chris) breakfast burritos with hash browns. We finished off the last of our POG and chilled on the Lenai while waiting for Chris to shower (and for me to update this travel journal).
We headed out to a bird sanctuary and the Western-most lighthouse in the US. Though overcast, we saw plenty of Nay-nay (I’m sure my spelling is pretty horrible…) as well as several other soaring seabirds. We ventured out that evening to try to catch the sunset, but it was overcast and the only bridge back to town was to be closed at 7. The police arrived and asked everyone to head back… so we did. We had one more round of Bubba Burgers, then headed back to pack and sleep
We woke up and had the last of our sausage and eggs for breakfast. We collected our things and headed out to do a little souvenir/gift shopping in town. We finally sampled shave ice and walked along the beach one last time. We returned our rental and changed into Michigan-ready clothing, then went to the Kauai airport to wait for our jumper to Honolulu.
Our flight arrived in Honolulu on time and we looked for some sort of meal option before boarding the plane. No such luck. The airport is older and has some nice details that I remember airports having when I was younger (real wood, interesting light fixtures, etc.). We boarded the plane and taxied onto the runway, only to head back for navigation system maintenance. An hour and fifteen minutes later and we were off. The flight to Minnesota lasted almost 8 hours, but Northwest kindly arranged for a new flight to replace the one that we (quite obviously) missed due to the delay in Honolulu. We waited for a few minutes, eating some sort of yuppy-friendly breakfast food, then boarded our plane. We barely got out before a huge snowstorm hit Minneapolis.
We arrived in the snow-covered splendor of Michigan an hour-or-so later. (That splendor part was sarcasm, by the way.) Our luggage was already waiting for us when we arrived. We grabbed it and waited for our shuttle to the long-term parking facility. Back in the orange wonder van, we drove Chris and Emily home, then headed to Gina’s parents’ to claim our cats.
We picked up the cats without a hitch and went home. The house was still there and in the same condition we left it. Since our luck had been so good thus far, I decided to stretch it a bit further by driving across town to my parents’ house to get Kacey, our dog. The plan was to beat the looming ice storm and come back… with summer tires on my car. It should be noted that regardless of all, four, or ten wheel drive you will go nowhere if your tires have no grip. After a grueling hour and a half drive on treacherous, ice-covered roads, we arrived at my parents… and stayed there, all night, until the roads were “better” in the morning.
We got home just fine and enjoyed a quiet evening along with just enough time to miss Hawaii and mentally prepare for our return to work the next day.