Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Kaua'i Trip (Day 5)

March 20 - Coffee + Return to Sac
I enjoyed a final morning of sunrise yoga on our lanai followed by a 45-minute run along the roadway by Kalapaki Bay. I also finished documenting some of the many elephant statues scattered throughout the resort, including the newly lei-crowned grey elephants that guard the entrance from the Aupaka Terrace to one of the hotel towers. Here's a panorama of the property's pachyderms:

We opted for an easy and predictable breakfast at the Starbucks in Kukui Grove Shops on Nawiliwili Road on our way to the Kaua'i Coffee Company, where we tasted nearly 10 samples of dark and medium roast grinds. We also learned the difference between Kona and Kaua'i coffee, most importantly that the latter is less acidic and thus less sour, which helps to explain why we enjoyed everything we tasted, unlike our experiences on the Big Island a few years ago. In the Company store, we made some final rooster-themed purchases, including a colorful new mug for Mr. E and a bag of the "Rooster Alarm" dark roast whole-bean coffee to bring home.

On our way back to the airport, we passed by Jack Harter Helicopters again, literally coming full circle from the beginning of our trip!

Notes for future activities when we return at a different time of year, with warmer temperatures and calmer ocean conditions:

  • Scuba lesson
  • Surf lesson
  • Boat tour of Napali Coast & Ni'ihau with snorkel time
  • Guided hike along part of Palalau Trail to the waterfall
  • Hike on Mt. NouNou
  • Rent cruisers to cycle the coastal trail


Kaua'i Trip (Day 4)

March 19 - North Shore Road Trip + Poi'pu
I started off my birthday with 30 minutes of lap swimming followed by a free 8:30am Zumba class in the Fitness Center while Mr. E enjoyed a triple Americano at the Aupaka cafe overlooking the pool. Here are some photos of the view from our hotel overlooking Kalapaki Bay:

We then headed out on our North Shore road trip, stopping first at the Community Market at Kaua'i Community College, where I got a coffee and a quinoa salad for breakfast and Mr. E picked up a savory meat pie. We also got an avocado chocolate chip cookie for later.

Our first stop was a great viewpoint just north of Kapa'a, where we caught a glimpse of the new multi-modal ped/bike path along the ocean (we'll explore this more later during a future visit):

Our journey took us the entire length of the Kuhio Highway (Route 56) and eventually to Route 560 and the end of the road. We took a side trip to Kilauea Lighthouse, where the wildlife refuge and road to the lighthouse were closed for erosion repairs, but we still had some amazing vistas from the viewpoint:

We ended up at Ke'e Beach and managed to find a parking spot about 1/2 mile from the Beach itself, walking back along the road past a couple of impressive caves to get a look at the rough surf and pounding waves along the shore. Although this beach is often popular for swimming and snorkeling, the conditions today were not welcoming, as evidenced by the frothing waves and large sign by the lifeguard's booth:

The trail head to Palalau Beach is right near Ke'e Beach and is one of the most popular hiking spots on the island. We definitely want to explore that area more when we return, but most likely with a guided tour and probably only part-way rather than the full 2-3 day route.

And we can't forget the roosters on the beach!

We headed back to Hanalei for lunch at Hanalei Gourmet and then used our coupons at Kaua'i Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens a bit further down the road. This putt-putt course didn't have too many unusual obstacles, but it was surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers along with informational placards about the history of the Islands, so it was a very enjoyable course.

As we finished the return route, we were relieved that traffic in Kapa'a over the weekend was much better than during the week (yesterday). We continued past Lihue to Poi'pu, driving through the "Tree Tunnel" on Route 520:

A brief stop at the Shops at Kukui'ulu resulted in a new t-shirt for Mr. E from Crazy Shirts, and we then continued to Beach Front Restaurant in Poi'pu, where we utilized our "trick" of patronizing the bar/lounge area of a popular restaurant to avoid long lines or reservations. Good parking karma, tasty cocktails, and a shared ahi salad accompanied our view of the amazing sunset over the beach:

We wrapped up the evening with a stop at Safeway for a nice bottle of wine, sushi, and dessert to bring back to the hotel for dinner. What a wonderful birthday!!!

Kaua'i Trip (Day 3)

March 18 - Wailua River Kayak + Eastside Lunch Traffic + Luau
I managed to find enough sidewalk and side streets for a 35-minute run in the morning, although it wasn't terribly scenic as a chunk of the route went by the industrial port of Kalapaki Bay. We then headed off to find coffee and hopefully breakfast at Ka Coffee in Lihue but only wound up with Americanos and a blueberry scone. After driving past Wailua almost to Kapa'a, we retraced our path back to the McDonald's in Lihue for egg McMuffins as fuel for our planned kayaking adventure on the Wailua River.

Due to the breakfast challenge, we were a bit tardy for our 9am check-in of our "cheap-o" paddle & swim tour at Kaua'i Kayak at the Wailua River Marina, but our guide, Lucas, wasn't too concerned, particularly since we were the only people doing this particular tour today. Lucas gave us some basic instructions about how to paddle, and then we traveled about 2 miles up the river, past the Fern Grotto, to a little swimming hole, where we pulled out of the water for a rest and some snacks.

Given the cool temps and breezy conditions, we decided not to swim and instead continued a bit further up the river until Lucas gave us the signal to turn around. We had a rather challenging return trip, paddling against both the current and the wind, and even Lucas mentioned that it was a bit strenuous!

We were able to shower and change at the Marina facilities and then headed north to Kapa'a to find a place for lunch. Much traffic along Route 56! We found street parking near a little shave ice food truck and wandered around to find a good lunch spot. At Kai Coffee, Mr. E got some caffeine and I got a coconut biscotti (so yummy! fresh flaked coconut!), and then we landed at House of Noodles for lunch, where I got some delicious stir fried tofu with veggies and noodles, and Mr. E enjoyed a kalua pork sandwich.

There was no avoiding the nasty slow traffic on the way from Kapa'a back to Lihue, so we just had to be patient. We took a refreshing dip in the pool and did a bit of body-surfing in the ocean at Kalapaki Bay before getting ready to go out for the evening to the Kilohana Plantation for the Luau Kalamaku.

We browsed the wares of some local artisans and then took advantage of the free tasting at Koloa Rum Company. My favorite was the coffee rum, although the coconut and spice rums were also quite tasty. By the time the tasting was over, the buffet at the Luau had opened up, and it offered sufficient choices for both Mr. E and me, including several traditional Hawai'ian offerings, including poi "shots"! The purple mashed sweet potatoes were especially yummy, and we also enjoyed the open bar for mai tais and wine throughout the evening.

The main entertainment started at 7:30pm (we had arrived at 5:30pm) and told the story of a family that travels from Tahiti to the Hawai'ian Islands. The performance included singing, dancing, hula, and fire-dancing. Amazing!!!

Mr. E got some great video of the female and male fire-dancers, who were absolutely breathtaking. What also impressed and pleased me was the variety of body types among both the female and male performers -- there were two larger men in particular who were just as talented and athletic as their slimmer peers --  and it was great to see truly representative and diverse cast members. We got back to the hotel around 8:45pm and watched more of our Kaua'i travel channel before going to bed.


Kaua'i Trip (Day 2)

March 17 - Waimea Canyon + Southwest Area
I started the day with some sunrise yoga on our lanai and then found a decent lap-swimming area of the big pool, right near one of the elephant statues that spouts water for much of the day. The water was a bit cooler than I anticipated, and there was a water inflow that caused quite a current and resistance when it was on! The weather was a bit drizzly, which created an amazing full rainbow arc towards the west over the Bay, precisely splitting the grey skies above from the blue skies below. What a lovely way to start the morning!

Mr. E and I headed off just before 9am to get breakfast at the Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Company, which Mr. E remembered fondly from previous visits. We shared a warm cinnamon roll as we sipped our Americanos and waited for our breakfast to arrive and then did a bit of shopping at The Collection before departing for Waimea Canyon.

We drove the entire length of Route 550 (Waimea Canyon Drive) to the end of the road, stopping along the way at a few viewpoints to get sense of the vastness of the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." As we got higher and farther north, we encountered colder temperatures and more rain, and at the final viewpoint, all we could see was clouds! So we decided not to try a hike up there and started to retrace our route back south, stopping at the Koke'e Museum for some browsing, restrooms, and rooster sightings.

We were able to find a parking spot near Halemanu Road so that we could hike the Cliff Trail to the Canyon Trail, which leads to the top of Waipo'o Falls. There was just one really nasty muddy spot, and I definitely chose the wrong side to navigate around the puddle! Several warning signs lined the paths:

We saw some impressive vistas along the path, but arriving at the top of the trail was almost anti-climactic, as we had gotten a much better view of the full length of the Falls from the helicopter tour the day before.

The trails had some interesting plants and flowers along the side that provided some bright spots of colour along the way:

We decided to return along the Black Pipe Trail to extend the length of our hike. Back at the car, I managed to change out of my very muddy trail running shoes into black walking sandals without getting myself or the rental car too dirty! The tires were caked with mud from our parking spot, which created a rather worrisome but innocent noise as we headed off down the road. We made one final stop at a Viewpoint that included a vista towards Ni'ihau and then finished our drive out of the Canyon on the alternate Route 552. This road led us right along the southwestern coast and a lovely empty beachfront in Kekaha.

Our attempts to find a local restaurant for lunch were unsuccessful (nonexistent service at Little Fish Coffee in Hanapepe and a lack of broth options at a Ramen House in Port Allen), so we grabbed sandwiches at Subway to take to the Glass Beach near the Port Allen Marina. Mr. E and I gathered some white, clear, blue, brown, and green glass to send to Mom and then paused for a 5-beer sampler at the nearby Kaua'i Island Brewery (not as good as the beer from Kaua'i Beer Company). We also checked out Kaua'i Chocolate Company across the street, buying a dark chocolate covered marshmallow and two dark chocolate "opihi," a unique creation of a macadamia nut, thin layer of caramel, and a small shortbread cookie, all encased in chocolate.

Once we got back to the hotel, we used our free drink coupons for mai tais at Kukui's poolside restaurant and sat in lounge chairs on Kalapaki Beach under the moon and stars and cloud cover to enjoy our tropical beverages. We wandered over to the Harbor Mall across the street in search of dinner options but didn't find anything appealing, so we decided to jump back in the car to drive the few miles up Nawiliwili Road to the Safeway shopping area for wine and Panda Express take-out.

Without our usual go-to HGTV or Food Network available at the hotel, we instead watched a local travel channel that provided an overview of each section of the island, including commercials for local businesses, which was a great way to preview some of our planned hikes and excursions for the next couple of days!

Oh, and of course we met up with several more roosters throughout the day. Mr. E started giving them names...