Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Kauai - Barking Sands and Red Dirt Shirts

October 26

This morning, Bob cooked up a really nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast with guava jam, papaya, and avocado slices. Super yummy! Thank you, Bob. Bob, if I didn't mention before, was so super to make the arrangements for the travel and accommodations for this trip, and he's also been the one doing all the driving on the island.

After breakfast, we drove to a part of Poipu called Beach House Beach, which, not coincidentally, is next to the Beach House Restaurant, where we did not eat.

We went snorkeling! It's a very nice spot with a grassy area to put your stuff if you don't want to be in the sand. Or if you don't want a wave to carry your things out to sea. There was plenty of parking, which is always a plus. Bob takes lots of underwater photos, and this was a good place to snap some shots of good-sized reef fish. The weather was a little gray and sprinkling, but who cares? You're all wet, anyway. Did I mention that most of the beaches (so far) have bathrooms and outdoor showers for getting the salt water off? That's a very convenient thing!
Photo by Bob Hampton. All rights reserved.
So far, snorkeling in Kauai is a bit harder than snorkeling in Rarotonga, which is pretty much surrounded by a lagoon. Here at Beach House, there are currents to battle, and the water is a lot more active, with some pretty good swells – even though it's kind of reef protected. That basically seems to mean that the reef slows the waves down and makes them smaller, but they still curl and break on the beach. That makes it a little tricky to get your flippers on. Again, though, lots of nice fish to see, and well worth the exercise. There are lots of surfers farther out, just to give you some idea. The surfing seems pretty decent (and here I speak as a complete amateur, since I am not a surfer). And, did I mention, the water temperature is PERFECT. Don't forget the sunblock. Always wear sunblock. You don't want to be miserable with a sunburn during your wonderful vacation.

Karen's trade-in mask from Snorkel Bob's works much better than the first one did, and so she's a much happier camper. Who wants to battle a leaky mask while trying to admire colorful fishies? Not I. And not Karen, either. If your mask is leaking, take it back and exchange it for another. You'll be glad you did.

Spouting Horn
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Oops. Forgot to mention that before we went snorkeling, we went to Spouting Horn, which was kind of like Old Faithful, but made by waves crashing through lava tubes, building pressure, and...spouting. We watched it for quite a while, because it's fascinating. Sorry the video is sideways. Sheesh.

So, after snorkeling, we got some food (mahi burgers, fries, guava juice drinks) at a little market in Koloa, the birthplace of the sugar cane industry in Kauai. There's a little park across the street where some ruins remain and a monument has been raised.

And then we decided that it would be interesting to see if the sands at Barking Sands Beach actually bark. So, we drove west past Hanapepe and Waimea (You remember those names from the Waimea Canyon post, right?) and Kekaha...all the way to the end of the road on the south side of the island. Only to discover that Barking Sands is on a missile base, and you can't go there unless you are active military, retired military, or...a congressman on a boondoggle. Just sayin'. We are none of the above, as being former military but not a lifer apparently doesn't count, so we turned around and drove back with our tails between our legs (so to speak). So disappointing!

On the way back to Poipu, we decided to stop in Port Allen to make sure we knew where to meet the catamaran on Friday (and found out that we overpaid $20 per couple by booking through Snorkel Bob's rather than direct. Live and learn, but we didn't mind too much, as we are sure the trip will be worth it). We also wanted to time the drive, because we were told to be present at 7 a.m. Sharp. We'd been told the drive would take 15 minutes. Hah! It took exactly 30 minutes to get to Poipu Makai. I guess they must have meant 15 minutes of highway time, not counting getting to and from the highway. Anyhow, we were glad that we took the time and trouble to find this out. And now, you don't have to. Isn't that superb?

Recognize that guy with Harry? Dirty jobs!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
And, loh! Right across the street from Kauai Sea Tours, what did we see? The “original red dirt shirt” factory and outlet store! Everywhere you shop, you will see “original red dirt shirts” for sale. According to the tag, “On September 11, 1992, the flooding from hurricane Iniki damaged so many shirts at Paradise Sportswear, a small island screenprinting company, that we were on the verge of bankruptcy. To save the shirts and company, we developed a unique dirt dyeing process that grew into a worldwide brand.” It's a story of ingenuity, creativity, and survival. The shirts are rough and grainy feeling when you buy them (Yes, Harry got one. And so did Bob), and they need to be washed in cold water and a mild detergent a couple of times before you can wear them. Unless, of course, you'd like to dye your skin with this red dirt. They turn nice and soft and have a slightly faded look. Harry's has a picture of the Kauai Bird of Paradise, (not an) Endangered Species. You know, a rooster. I was sorely tempted to purchase a “dirt bag,” just because. But I resisted the urge. I'm kind of sorry I did. As a matter of interest if you're shopping, the factory outlet had the widest selection of shirts that we saw; however, they were the same price as everywhere else. Franchises are available!

Just another sunset in paradise...
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We arrived home in time to see the most gorgeous sunset (yay!), and we had steak and salad for dinner at the condo. Karen BBQ'd the steaks out by the pool after I had applied the dry rub, and I prepared the salad while she was doing that. We are “pitching in.” So far, we seem to vacation exceedingly well together.

Now, if Harry will stop thinking it's a race when we get in the water to snorkel, that'll be a huge improvement. It about wore me out having to chase him down today, as he's a much stronger swimmer than I. Please note: You do not have to be a great swimmer to enjoy snorkeling. You just have to be able to float in salt water and propel yourself with your fins. And not very well, at that. You can wear a flotation vest if you are nervous about getting tired. Take your time. Linger here and there. When you're still and not splashing around, all kinds of little sea creatures will come out of their hiding places, and your reward will be great fun!

Tomorrow, we might go to Fern Grotto. Or Anini Beach. Or wherever we feel like going. We'll see what the day brings. It's been a good day today, and I'm sad to say that our vacation is half over...

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