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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kauai...the great unknown

This is my last Hawaii installment:( Oh how I loved looking back through these pictures.  Such good memories and talk about feeling out of your comfort zone in so many areas!  When I planned our trip to Kauai I knew I wanted adventure.  We usually do a horseback ride or something, but that didn't seem good enough this time.  We wanted to really see the island, so my honey took the reigns and booked us a helicopter ride.  This kinda shocked me because he's very afraid of heights...very!!

Before we went to our helicopter ride we stopped for breakfast in the town of Kapaa.  Kasey had posted on her IG pics of the quiche and I knew I needed to try it out for myself.  Hemingways Art Cafe definitely lived up to the rave reviews and the croissant with strawberry good!!!  The upstairs was this charming little spot where you could look out in the distance and see the ocean.  They had art supplies so you could make your own little tags.  The question and motivator for your tag design was "what is a reason you get up in the morning?".  Don't you just love that!!  I could have made a ton of tags, but we were in a hurry to catch our ride, so mine was a simple "to live this one glorious life":))

Not really sure if eating a rich breakfast with a stomach full of nerves was the best idea.  Immediately big chick and I started having stomach issues...which remedied themselves once we got there.

We did it!!!  I looked back at my honey and he was doing great.  This is quite the miracle I have to say, but he was also safely tucked in the middle of the helicopter.  I was in the front right by the door.  Yikes!  I loved every minute, but I was also more than ready to be done at the end.  It's just a little disconcerting.  The pilot kept making fun of me with all my feet pics.  But I wanted to be IN the picture.  I think it makes it feel even more real:)

In addition to the helicopter ride we took a little field trip one day and drove to the Waimea Canyon to see it up close and personal.  We didn't stay long.  You could really make a day of it and hike etc...  But we'd had enough hiking for a while.

And by hiking I mean THE grueling 8 mile...8 hour hike we made along the Napali Coast.  When Kasey invited us I was like yeah sure...that sounds fun.  And then my "cycle" started that morning, and it had rained all night etc...  I definitely had my second thoughts.  Add to that bad mix, a honey that isn't overly adventurous and you get the general vibe of our morning.  BUT I did NOT want to wimp out and be the sissy friends that couldn't do we sucked it up, put on our shoes, packed our lunches and headed out into the great unknown.

When I looked up this hike online afterwards it said it was one of the most demanding hikes in the world.  UH YES validation!!!!  It was seriously THE hardest physical thing I've ever done outside of childbirth.  I mentioned that we did the hike to the helicopter pilot and some people around town and they downplayed it and couldn't believe it took us that long.  I wanted to smack them.  SERIOUSLY IT WAS HARD!  No joke!!!!!

We saw older people and middle aged (heavier set) women alone on the hike, so apparently anyone can do it, but let me warn you first the path was steep, muddy and treacherous.  You have to wade through a stream several times.  The first time we crossed it we actually took off our shoes and socks;)  Which makes me giggle now, because by the end we didn't even bother to hop across the rocks...we just walked right in and didn't care how wet we got.

It was extremely muddy.  We had mud all over our legs and hands and rears...from bracing ourselves as we tried to navigate down the rocks.  Did I say ROCKS...cause there were miles of those.  Again by the end nothing mattered.  We walked forever and a day and not knowing how much further we had to go.  One time we got off the path and ended up in the middle of the jungle with no path.  It was a tad frightening.  And when we finally got there (to the falls) was beautiful and all...but you knew you had to turn back around and do it ALL over again!!  Another 4 mile...4 hour torturous hike.  There were many times we could have injured ourselves or possibly died.  I'm sure people have died.  I'm not joking.  It was HARD people!  But I've got to say I felt such a sense of accomplishment.  We did that hard thing.  We made it to the falls.  A place most will not see.  And we lived to tell about it.  And we will never ever ever see it again!!!  So there... Bucket list check mark;)  You definitely can do more than you think you can:))

So Kauai in a nutshell was THE most beautiful place I've ever been in my life.  We loved exploring it's land and leaving our mark so to speak.  Nothing beats looking at these pics and seeing us IN them.  After dreaming of a vacation there for years, having these memories...these little bank deposits of goodness in my's priceless.  If I could do it all over again though I'd definitely book a nice condo in Princeville with AIR CONDITIONING and a pool.  I'd spend one whole day napping, reading a book and sunbathing.  Then it would have been almost perfect;)  

Be a blessing.

His beauty that brings me to my knees!!

kalua pork, macaroni salad, sticky rice, some wonderful tao dessert and watermelon/cucumber juice...a little tear just popped out
the best...coconut water icy cold!
shaved ice with macademia nut ice cream:))
that we didn't die from fear over this thing
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Kauai...Queen's Bath...sort of;)

There are some places you can go and you don't have to research much.  You can just arrive, drive around, and figure it out as you go.  Honestly I think that would be disastrous in Kauai.  The few times we ate without a recommendation or went somewhere without a clue where we just fell flat.  So before we went I bought two guide books and I printed out Kasey's favorite places list.  These were life savers.

I think one of my very favorite things we did in Kauai was Queen's Bath.  It was talked about in the books, but in my opinion not enough.  I almost skipped it because it wasn't highlighted or raved about very much.  But if you go it's a must see in my opinion.  It was a magical hike.  Magical.

Right behind some residential homes was this Tarzan scene.  It looked authentically jungle, because IT WAS authentically jungle.  It was picturesque.  Packed red dirt.  Cool vines and fern leaves...a gorgeous waterfall....volcanic rocks to skip across.  I had to restrain myself not to let out a big Tarzan 

You hike down a really cool packed path, cross a waterfall, continue down a steep decline and then voila...the ocean appears and it's all hard black rock and pounding blue waves and it was breathtaking.  Now the funny part about all this is apparently we didn't actually SEE Queen's Bath.  Thank you Kasey for pointing that out:/  It was further on our left.  But it was late and the sun was setting and we didn't want to get trapped down there at night and we didn't have our guidebook memorized enough to know that what we saw wasn't what we saw.  Oh well, but that's not a hike you want to risk after dark.  You have to jump from rock to rock.  Some of them are slippery and if you fall...

Even though we didn't see the giant nature built "bath tub" that the queen supposedly bathed in I wasn't disappointed...  This view was worth it.  That fun hike made me feel empowered.  Now given, this felt impressive BEFORE we hiked another hike which I'll tell you more about another day...but still.  I had moments of revelation where I felt SO privileged...SO honored to have seen a sight like this with my own eyes.  My parents at their age probably wouldn't have been able to get down there.  But I was still young enough.  Still able bodied enough.  I was able to share it with my honey and my girls.  It was what I envisioned when I booked the trip in the dead of winter during my busiest season:))  It was Kauai in a nutshell!

Thank you Lord for opportunities to take in your glory.  Thank you for the occasional trip that takes me so far from my every day that it reminds me once again of your Majesty...of your title Master...Creator.  I stand in awe of YOU!

Be a blessing.

this man...who wearily tags along with me on all my many crazy ideas. love him SO very much!
for creatures great and small
for legs to carry me to far off lands and sights worth seeing with your own eyes
for the opportunity to bless my girls
for beauty...deep blue and vibrant green
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kauai...the first impression

Aloha friends!  I still can't believe our long awaited trip to Kauai is actually over, or that I'm sitting behind a computer screen again.  We got back on Saturday and I've been trying to reacclimate ever since.  The six hour time difference is really a pain in the rear.  I toss and turn until about 2 AM and yesterday after days without sleep it caught up with me.  Last night I finally slept...thank you sweet Tamara for some meds that actually helped!  It's a small price to pay for a couple of weeks in paradise.  I'll try not to complain too much:)

It's hard to process it all quite honestly because going to Kauai is about as far off grid as you can imagine.  It's an escape like none other.  I didn't read a paper or check the news.  The "mainland" is the farthest thing from anyone's mind.  Commercials are targeted to Hawaiians.  The sports channels I saw were surfing:)  The weather focused on island only, so it's very easy to forget that anyone else is out there...  Which is exactly the kind of vacation we were desperately seeking.  But in addition to sleep deprivation I realized I'm also a little blue.  I call it Hawaii Fever.  The lifestyle is just so different.  It's a complete flip.  There we were outside 90% of the time.  Here we are inside 90% of the time.  Oh how I wish I could figure out a happy medium with that.'s back to reality.

I booked our house from the VRBO and feel in love instantly with this property.  It's called Makale'a Palms online if you are interested.  Just beware there is NO a/c.  Nope none, and it's in the middle of a jungle...cue creepy things with lots of legs.  If that doesn't detour you this is the place for you:))  And the owner's dog Moke welcomed us and that really helped make the place feel like home.

It didn't even dawn on me when I booked it that it wouldn't have air.  Apparently it's not uncommon in Hawaii with the trade winds. But when we walked in at the end of our long travel day and opened the door to a HOT stuffy dark place my honey immediately went over to the corner and crashed on a chair and didn't talk to me for a good half hour.  He was in a stupor and I knew he was hating on me at the moment, but I kinda don't blame him it WAS really hot and there wasn't really two I thought:(  And see those cool barn doors??  They don't lock and that's a no-no with my Honey.  Oh well that's what you get sight unseen.

We rallied and the next morning when the sun streamed in from the blind free windows and our pet rooster crowed 20x's we were ready to face a new "different" normal;)  We nicknamed the house the "gecko house" because they were everywhere...and they left a trail for me in my bed at night.  Yep.  They really did:( I also saw a giant centipede.  I'm pretty sure you could hear my scream on the mainland, but it really was my own fault.  I left wet clothes on the floor in front of the washing machine.  The creepy thing just couldn't resist that.  The worst part is that when I screamed it scared it half to death and it slithered or crawled...whatever one does with a million legs...under the machine.  SO WE DIDN'T GET TO KILL IT!!!  That was seriously the most tragic and upsetting part of the whole trip.  That centipede kind of haunted me.  And did I mention the washing machine was right by the bathroom, so we had to walk right by it every time we went!  Oh mercy me!!!  The owner was fabulous and completely related to my horror and had the house sprayed one day while we were beaching it.  So I applaud her for that.

(fresh coconut obsession for our stay.  had one every day)

Going to Hawaii isn't just about beauty and nature, it's definitely a study in human behavior and cultural differences.  It's fascinating actually.  It's like going to a zoo, but instead of animals to observe you can first hand see a whole different way of life.  An entirely different spectrum of the human experience:)

There are obviously the tourists.  Those people are pretty easy to spot...cameras around their necks, stark white or painfully sunburned, hustling around, guidebooks in hand, ignoring the rules etc...  Then there are the sweet Hawaiians that talk your ear off and welcome you with open arms.  They answer all your questions and gladly give you loads of helpful advice about where to go and what to do.  They seem eager to meet new people.  Eager to find out where you're from. Almost bored with the beauty and limited options of their glorious existence and ready to venture out...experience everything/anything else.  Most of our experiences were with these sweet peeps.  There are the other locals too...the ones that are annoyed by tourists.  They are not friendly and actually seem a little hostile.  It's a pretty obvious gap between the two.  And honestly I can understand their anger a little bit.  The tourists would annoy me too.

Then there are the hippies/hitchhikers/granola mainland transplants.  Most walk around in dreadlocks or matted beards, completely barefoot, skin darkened from constant exposure.  They wear backpacks and live off the land.  They don't smell very fresh, but they seem perfectly content and blissed out.  And I couldn't help but wonder what they do...what all of them do all day long.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not judging at all.  It's just such a different existence.  I've dreamed about living in Hawaii my whole life and on this trip I spent half my time trying to visualize how it would be on a day to day basis...  I'm not sure I could do it.  It would be a major reprogramming.

Can I just talk about the man on the bike for a minute?  I took this pic on our last day while we were on our way back to the airport.  We were driving down a steep hill, and there he was arms wide open, head tilted back, eyes squeezed shut.  That would have terrified me.  But his face!  His face was pure bliss.  I wish so badly I could have captured it for you.  It was almost a peek into glory.  I say that fully aware that it sounds exaggerated, but you should have seen it.  It made me cry and honestly it wrapped up my thoughts about the week in a beautiful way.

So back to beaches and sand.  We had two favorite beaches...Hideaway and Hanalei Bay.  I'm sure there would be more if we truly had the time to spend on each and every one of them.  But these two we visited more than once.  Hideaway was right by the St. Regis resort.  You had to go down a very steep path and then all of a sudden the view blew your mind.  It was a tiny beach with a big tree for shade.  It had a view of the Napali Coast and most of the time it was people free...which is always a plus in my book.  We just loved it and it felt very Gilligan's Island to me.  Our own special little "hideaway":)

Speaking of Hanalei.  We adored this little town.  It had loads of cute shops and restaurants.  We loved the Farmer's Market...which meets up every Saturday.  That was one of my favorite memories of our visit. We felt local.  We bought salsa and soaps and cute shirts and bags.  It was very small town and sweet.  Two thumbs up for the market:)
The cute town of Hanalei also had THIS church!! Cue me yelling "STOP THE CAR"!!!!  I had pinned it on Pinterest multiple times, but seeing it with my own eyes was surreal.  I will paint this church!  I will.  Maybe today:)  Lucky for me we stayed on the North Shore.  I got to drive by this church many many

The first couple days we just drove around.  We'd see a pretty beach and hop out.  We'd see an overlook and we'd pull over.  Horses!  Yes, let's jump out of the car and take pictures.  It was nice.  It takes us a bit for us to really slow down.  Apparently we're hard wired to work like dogs and kill ourselves.  Apparently having fun and relaxing isn't instinctual:/  So like an onion day after day I could feel a shift slowly begin to happen.  It never completely materialized.  We didn't become blissed out and completely free like the hardcore hippies, but the bugs didn't make us scream as loud.  The humidity didn't keep us from sleeping.  We became used to the roosters' crows and on a few mornings it didn't even wake that is shocking:)

(big chick took this of Finn...Kasey's son)

I have several more experiences to share, but before I end this first post I have to share one of the highlights of our trip.  For years I've followed along with Kasey Buick on her blog and on IG.  I was truly captivated by her move to the EXACT same time we moved to Richmond.  So imagine how exciting it was to meet her in real life and jump into her pictures for a second.  She graciously invited our family over for dinner one night and we got to visit with her people...see her GORGEOUS beachy bohemian home, walk her backyard and get a little peek into her island adventure.  It was truly a blessing.  And that's what's so amazing about the internet.  You can fly half way across the world and meet a complete "stranger" for a homecooked meal.  Love it!!  Thank you Kasey for dinner and for posting your favorite places...we tried almost every single thing you wrote about:)

more to come...

Be a blessing,

home sweet Virginia home
our own beds
our coffee
air conditioning
friends who take care of you
a God who blows your mind...
being grateful for what you have

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