Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kauai - Na'Pali Coast

October 28

You know how it is when you're concerned about not waking up on time because you have to be somewhere important in the early morning? Well, 7 a.m. is the early morning when I'm on vacation. And, never having used the alarm on my cell phone before, I was nervous about that. So I only slept until...1:10 a.m. Come on! I dozed until 2, then 2:30, then fell into a deeper sleep. Harry's phone hadn't reset itself for the time difference. His alarm went off at 2:55 a.m. Arghhhhhh! No-o-o-o...did my phone reset itself?! Yes, it did, but I still didn't know if the alarm would actually go off, so the remainder of my “sleep” was in 15-minute increments between heavy rain showers, and my alarm went off as scheduled, no worries. And I needn't have worried. Bob and Karen were having the same problem and had actually given up on sleeping altogether after 6 a.m. Would the catamaran trip be cancelled due to weather?

All that worrying for nothing, just like most worrying. Did you know that 95% of the stuff you worry about will never happen, and the rest of it probably won't, either?

We headed out to Port Allen in a rain shower to catch “Lucky Lady,” the catamaran (Kauai Sea Tours). The weather drizzled, then mostly cleared, but you could see rain showers in the distance. By the way, don't spend a lot of time deciding on appropriate footwear for your catamaran trip. You will be asked to leave your shoes behind at the dock. (Although, if you require footwear for orthopedic reasons, the captain seems reasonable.)

The captain and me.
Photo by a terribly handsome crewmember, but all rights are reserved, anyway!
The captain, by the way, reminded me very much of our friend Phil. A teddy bear kind of guy, laid back, soft-spoken, kind. Funny in a natural way. And the crew was, of course, friendly and helpful and made up of handsome Polynesian guys, one of whom had very nice Polynesian tattoos, including a full-back map of the Hawai'ian Islands. Nice tat, and very well presented...but I digress. 

[Sorry, ladies. No pictures of the tats. But here's a picture of a crewmember, just to make up for that shocking and dismaying oversight.]  

Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Off we went! Breakfast of coffee and scones and banana bread and orange bread and fruit was served buffet style, and the mood was genial. We could see the island of Ni'ihau clearly in the distance (17 miles away). You have to be Hawai'ian to live on Ni'ihau, a private island. The rest of us can only go there by special invitation, and we can't live there. Sorry. (And speaking of being Hawai'ian, I didn't realize that there's a move about for independence from the United States, apparently. We had seen some flyers to that effect and flags being flown in the Kekaha Beach area.)

Guess what? We got to see Barking Sands! We sailed right past there. It's a nice beach in a dry landscape, and the captain told a legend about a fisherman's barking dogs being buried in the sand. There was absolutely nobody on the beach. Then again, it was pretty early in the morning! Most vacationers would still have been asleep or eating breakfast or something. Perhaps Bob and Karen can go to Barking Sands with their son, Marc, since he's currently serving in the Army. (Thank you for your service, Marc!)

Escorted by dolphins, we had now reached the western end of the south side of the island. We went around a bend, past Miloli'i State Park, and the Na'Pali Coast (Na'Pali State Park) came into view. It is incredibly beautiful and rugged-looking from the water, too, with a number of lovely, isolated (no roads) beaches and gorgeous valleys and rippled ridges and waterfalls (and places where waterfalls would be if it was raining at that moment) and caves. The red dirt plays against the green plants and the deeply blue water and the white (or gunmetal gray) clouds and the blue of the sky. Quite breathtaking and impressive. Picturesque and movie worthy. You might see some places that you've seen before – in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” for instance. Wow!
Na'Pali Coast
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The grandeur and majesty of the place is hard to capture in a picture, and I only realized the scope and depth when noticing a tiny helicopter of airplane jutting about off in the distance. We yearned for binoculars on more than one occasion. Next time...

There are also sunset dinner cruises, with the colors of nature deep and rich in the setting sun. Next time...

Na'Pali Coast
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We stopped at a designated spot for a snorkel along the coastline with several other catamarans. If you do a zodiak tour, you'll actually land at the beach and snorkel from shore, and you'll go zipping through a water tunnel/cave (hopefully making it to the other end before a wave comes crashing through, causing the water to rise swiftly and bouncing your head against the rocks). You'll also have a back problem if you don't have one already. At least, that's the “joke.” Haha.

Amazing how they respond to fish food...
Photo by Bob Hampton. All rights reserved.
The water was a bit deep for an amateur snorkel, and it was cloudy (with sand?). The water was stirred up, and so it was not our best snorkel experience on the island, especially with so many people snorkeling in a small area, many of whom have no idea what to their fins are going like motorboats, and they're not paying any attention to others, and they're swimming over you and churning their heels in your face. But I don't mean to complain. Everybody had a good time, and we did see lots of nice fishies! Snorkeling is fun. Period.

And then it was time for lunch, which was a sandwich buffet (make your own) with turkey and ham and cheeses and lettuce and tomato and fruit and...the island staple, macaroni salad! There was a cooler full of sodas and a counter groaning under the weight of too many Mai Tai's. Okay, I'm exaggerating about the weight of the drinks. Still, the counter was begging for relief, no? There was also beer, and the crew passed around a tray of really good chocolate chip cookies (But not as good as yours, Lisa. That is just not possible!).
If you look closely, you can almost see the turtle...
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

And we started back. The dolphins escorted us away – did I mention that we saw some sea turtles, too? There was a lot of glare, and I couldn't see a thing on the camera screen, so I pointed in the general direction, hoping for a photo. I'm sure you've done that on occasion, no?

The trip back didn't take as long as the trip there, but it seemed to! Everybody was pretty tired, whether from exertion, sleep deprivation, or perhaps consumption of tropical beverages. The whole tour took between 5 and 6 hours. Well worth it, and definitely a highlight of our vacation.
This is my husband. He's kind of cute, too!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.

Back at the ranch, Bob decided to drive to the airport to see about reporting the damage to the vehicle, and they gave him a form to complete when we return the vehicle as we're leaving the island. Initially, they misunderstood what he was trying to do, so they thought there was this massive damage, with the vehicle being unsafe. They wanted him to exchange the car. What? Spend hours and hours doing that on our last vacation day? Give me a break. He said something to the effect of, “Of course the car is drivable. I'm here, aren't I?” Anyway, the claim will go through, and we'll see what we'll see. It is what it is, or it will be what it will be, or whatever. I decided to do a load of laundry while he was gone, since Karen would also be doing laundry the next day, and it would just be a good thing to get it over with.

Bob came back with some ahi poke (some with wasabe, some with sesame-soy). We served it with sliced avocado (a free one that Bob had picked up on the ground by a tree somewhere yesterday or the day before) and sliced starfruit. It was a beautiful plate and a delicious treat!

Find the handprint.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
The sunset was a sight to behold again, and we helped Bob to make his traditional vacation “sign” for a photograph, in this case, “Kauai 2011.” It's something he usually scrolls out in the sand and decorates with flowers, nuts, twigs, coconut fronds, seashells, or whatever is handy. Incidentally, seashells are not something we found a lot of on the beaches in Kauai. I don't know why that would be. It was a lot of fun, especially the part where I leaned across to put a flower down in a good spot, lost my balance a little because of the far reach, and planted my handprint in the sand right on the “K” and the “A.” Yikes. But I was able to repair the damage. You can't even tell, see? Whew.
Another gorgeous sunset.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
Just outside the condo, we saw some eagle rays in the water, doing what looked like it must have been a mating dance, and there was a little Jack Russell terrier on the rocks who was going bananas! He wanted to “get 'em,” I guess.

His owner is a very pretty, slim, suntanned, young woman who is from Colorado but now lives in Poipu. I mentioned to her how beautiful the island is, then I asked, “But what do you do for a living here?” She answered, and I quote, “Ah.... Uh.....” Hmmmm.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Kauai. The time has gone by stupendously quickly. As I sit here at the table, listening to the surf roaring over the lava rocks, I am convinced that one week here is just not enough. Rats!

Notes:  Bring binoculars next time. Apparently, ladies don't just slap on a pareo (sarong) here, except at the beach (and not even then). Shorts or capris, tank tops, a gauzy shirt and skirt, a sundress/bathing suit cover. A windbreaker. Two swimsuits, a swim shirt, and swim shorts. Keens and flip-flops. A sunhat and a ballcap (for on the boat). And your snorkel gear, if you're not renting it. (Personally, I'd rather not use a snorkel that's been in someone else's mouth, no matter how “disinfected”...just sayin') You're good to go, ladies. Gents, you can take your cue from the above.

Oh – and don't forget the sunblock, folks, though you won't have any trouble finding that...or anything else you may have left behind. You're not going someplace “remote” if you go to Kauai. But you are going someplace gorgeous and fun.

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