Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t post last week. This was due in part to the fact that I was in Hawaii and spent all day from the crack of dawn until I fell into the squeaky springs of my fold out bed adventuring, but mostly it’s because the first time I booted up my laptop I was confronted with an error message informing me that the cooling fan was malfunctioning and continued use would result in irreparable data corruption. Unwilling to risk losing all my projects, photos, music, etc., I shut the lid and put it away for the remainder of the week. When we got home, we took it apart, pulled out its innards, and hooked it up to an external drive, monitor, and keyboard. I’m happy to say the surgery was a success, and all my data was transferred safely. Luckily, my husband had a spare laptop for me to borrow. So, that’s my excuse. Now, on to the more interesting stuff!
I was expecting bright skies and sunshine, but Kauai apparently holds the title for “rainiest place on Earth.” Who knew? Luckily, that accolade is based on frequency, not accumulation. While it’s true that it rained at least once every day we were there, most of the weather was clear and sunny. The storms blew through fast, and rain on one side of the island often meant clear skies on the other.
We spent most of our beach time on the east side of the island, close to where we were staying. Our favorite was Lydgate, which had an amazing playground and a rocked off area to break the rough ocean waves and create a protected area for kids to swim. This also turned out to be a great place to see fish! Our last day there, we met a man who claimed to have been feeding the fish at that beach for the past 35 years. I believe him too, because when he shook his bottle of food, the fish came in swarms. We got to see puffer fish, needle fish, a barracuda, big bright blue fish, little yellow and black striped fish, and nearly invisible white fish. They swam all around our legs in the thigh-deep water, brushing up against us. It was awesome!
Our first major expedition was a hike in Waimea Canyon.
Unfortunately, pictures just don’t do it justice. It felt a lot like the the Canyonlands of Utah, or the Grand Canyon in Arizona, except that everything was covered with green. It was very warm and humid, so we were all soaked with sweat pretty fast, and despite being a much lower elevation than I’m used to, I was breathing hard by the end of the hike. Still, the views were worth it.
Our next day was spent at the McBryde Botanic Garden. A place that specializes in research and the protection and reintegration of endangered species. It’s kind of like the programs that raise endangered animals then try to reintroduce them to the wild, but with plants. It’s very cool. The scientists there do things like hand-pollinate plants whose pollinators have been wiped out. There are some species there that no longer exist anywhere in the wild.
After that, we went to the “Spouting Horn.” This is a rocky shore where the waves are pushed through a tunnel below water level and erupt from a blow hole at the top. Incidentally, this location also boasts some great little shops. If you’re ever looking for souvenirs in Kauai, I’d suggest checking out the vendors at Spouting Horn.
We tackled our most taxing adventure in the middle of our trip. That was the kayak/hike to Secret Falls. First off, I should say that it’s been a while since I last kayaked, and my in-laws had never done it before. Still, we met the challenge and were triumphant. We paddled ourselves up the Wailua River. David and I took a three-seater so Alice could sit between us, my in-laws took a double, and my mom went up in a single. Once we reached the trail head, we beached the boats and headed into the jungle.
Do you remember me saying that Kauai is the rainiest place on earth? Well, thanks to all that rain, the trail to the falls was a muddy swamp. I don’t mean our shoes got dirty, I mean we were slogging through knee-deep puddles of brown soup that tried to steal our shoes and made every surface slick as snot. As a result, I have a very nice set of bruises all up one shin where I slipped on some rocks. It took us a crazy long time to get up that trail, but we did eventually make it to the waterfall at the end.
Of course, after a brief rest and some much needed lunch, we had to hike back down the trail and paddle our tired selves back down the river (against the headwind). Yeah, we were all pretty sore after that.
The day after that hike, we went on what is arguably the laziest tour on the island. Long ago, Kauai was full of sugar plantations, and sugar cane has very peculiar watering needs. As a result, workers dug long irrigation ditches marked with sluice gates to control the flow of water. We were driven up a mountain, plopped our butts into inner tubes, and floated down those canals. We floated through a total of five tunnels, all dug by hand by the original workers. It was a wonderful, relaxing way to see the island interior and learn a little more about the land’s history. Plus, Alice got to be the co-captain with our guide, C.
As I said before, we mostly swam at Lydgate park, but I want to also mention the beach at Anini, on the north shore. It had great waves, and there was a sandy shelf that went way out so we could get pretty far from shore while still able to stand. All in all, we got plenty of sun, swimming, and adventure. It was a great trip!