Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kauai - Getting There

October 23 – 30

As always, here's my actual, practically unedited travel diary...the good, the bad, the ugly. The wrong impressions. The bad attitudes. The names haven't even been changed to protect the innocent...or guilty, whichever. Live, laugh, love. Join me [and my husband, his brother, and his brother's wife] on my Adventure in Kauai, Hawaii!

Day 1 – Hello, Poipu

I got up at 4 this...morning? (I know – Why not just stay up, right?), Harry and I left the house at 5 a.m., and we made it to our son's house [He was driving us to the airport] at...5:30 a.m. Oops. Not supposed to arrive until 6. What do you do? Do you sit outside in the car in the dark and wait until the appointed hour? Do you ring the doorbell anyway? Do you hesitantly knock on the door very lightly so as not to wake anyone? As my knuckle approached the door, it opened as if by magic. Everybody inside was still up for pre-Halloween “fright night” movie marathon. There was a party going on!

Bob and Karen arrived, we loaded our luggage and ourselves into their spiffy and spacious 4-door pickup truck, and Zack dropped us off at the airport in San Jose in plenty of time for our flight. In fact, we were 2 ½ hours early, since there was no traffic and Zack knew exactly how to get to where we needed to be. Thank you, Zack!

Going through TSA was all kinds of fun, with Harry misplacing his ticket and driver's license twice. Not wanting to set off any alarms, I carefully took off every single thing that had even the smallest bit of metal on it and submitted myself to the scan. Fat lot of good that did me. BEEP! DING! Note to self: Take off ALL jewelry, even coral bracelets and shell necklaces held together with fishing line! So, not only did I have to go through the full-body scan, but I also got the exhilarating and infamous personal pat-down. I forgot to moan. But it was over quickly enough, and now, just two hours later (having had some Starbucks and a terribly expensive but delicious yogurt), here we are on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 043 to Honolulu!

I'm so excited! I've never been to Hawaii at all before, and I'm so looking forward to seeing Kauai, “The Garden Isle.” I've heard it's the most beautiful of the Hawaiian islands, the most unspoiled one, the least developed one, the quietest one. I've been told there isn't much to do in Kauai and that it's a good place to rest and enjoy nature. I'm totally ready for that, and I'm going to do my best to not compare it to Rarotonga [I'll post my trip to Raro soon].

As we boarded the flight, there was island music playing to set the mood – and it did. I felt myself relaxing before I even reached my seat. The flight attendants all have silk flowers in their hair. Well, all the women, anyway!

Remember when earphones were free on the airlines? And maybe they still are on some airlines, but not on this one. $5. And you can rent a DVD player. $15. Karen told me that they charge you to use your own headphones, even! How can they do that? Weird. But I guess they need to make up for the “cheap” airfares somehow...cough, cough...ahem.

[flash forward] So, here we are in our very comfy condo [Poipu Makai], having just had a Kauai [pineapple teriyaki] burger at a place called Bubba's [3 locations on Kauai: Koloa, Hanalei, and Kapa'a. Slogans: “We relish your buns.” “We cheat tourists, drunks, and attorneys.”] in historic Koloa Town just outside Poipu. Either it was really good, or I was really hungry. Or both. We met an older gentleman there, Jack, who is a refugee from Ojai, California. He bussed our table and told us tales of his adventures. Not very tall ones, but interesting just the same.

Okay, backtrack! Our flight from San Jose was delayed because of some paperwork issue, but we made it to Honolulu in plenty of time for our connecting flight. Hawaiian Airlines is very proud of it's #1 “on time” status.

When landing in Honolulu, we saw how very close Pearl Harbor is to the airport. Bob said that if he'd known, he would have arranged for a layover so we could visit the memorial. Note to self for next time!

People describe Honolulu as being basically like Los Angeles. Congested, spread out, people in a hurry everywhere. But it looks beautiful from the air, and it's a thrill to see Diamond Head and Waikiki. Miles and miles of beach. Palm trees all in a row. Inviting. A lot like LA, actually!

The food on the flight (at least there WAS some) was a ham and cheese sandwich with an orange cupcake. Not impressive, but way better than nothing. And it was included, though, of course, you could “upgrade” to a better meal. I didn't. I snoozed quite a bit on the flight, having already seen the movie, “Green Lantern.” []

We landed in Lihue [heard this pronounced a number of ways: Lee'hway, Li'hoo-ay', and the most popular Li-hoo'ee], Kauai, on time. Getting the rental car took FOREVER. It is so frustrating to have a reservation for a particular make and model, then be told that it isn't available, but the rental this case, Budget...will be happy to upgrade you to a much more comfortable and roomy vehicle for only half again what you had...budgeted! Grrr!

But, while Karen and I were waiting outside and enjoying the fresh air and flowers and chickens, we met a nice Army National Guard family that was headed to a vacation rental just for military/retired military personnel. It has a private beach and everything. It's at a missile base over by the Na Pali Coast on the other end of the island.
The first one. They're everywhere.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Anyhow, we got the car and found our way to the condo in spite of the driving instructions we'd been given. Our unit was at the far end, and the door was in a very dark entryway. The buttons on the lock box combination were difficult to make out anyway, but especially so under the circumstances. We tried and tried to open it so we could get the key out, but to no avail. So frustrating! We could not open the blasted thing. Bob tried. I tried. Grrrr. Seriously?! The young man next door (May his name be a blessing, whatever it is) came over to see if there was anything he could do to give the old folks a hand (smirk), and, lo! He was able to open it on the VERY FIRST TRY! Really?! How does that happen? Sheesh.

The front room faces full west, and the blinds were open so the first thing you saw was the fabulous view, so it was H-O-T inside. We closed what needed to be closed and opened what needed to be opened, and it actually feels quite cool tonight – happily.
Plenty of sunlight filters in.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The view from the patio is stupendous, with waves crashing on the lava rock boulders and cliffs below. I'm listening to the waves as I write this. Fabulous!

The vegetation here is very different than I expected (so far – but how much of the island have I seen? Seriously). The palm trees seem pretty much planted on purpose as opposed to native and natural. There is plumeria – and hibiscus – birds of paradise – all that. All beautiful.

I've been told that the air in Kauai smells perfumed. So far, I wouldn't say it smells perfumed, exactly. But it does smell fresh, clean, and sweet.

Again, Poipu is not the whole island! Perhaps tomorrow I'll be overwhelmed by the perfume of the flowers. If the weather cooperates, we might take a drive up Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of Kauai). Or we might go for a snorkel. Or whatever we feel like doing. We're on vacation!

We picked up some breakfast groceries, juice, bread, and so on in Koloa. Prices were high, but not completely outrageous. There's a large refrigerator and a standard-sized stove and a microwave and a coffee maker and a toaster. We're good to go.
Perfectly adequate kitchen!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.


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