19 October 2009


Rainbow Eucalyptus trees near Kaua'i Lagoons


Humbling photo, but it shows how close I came!
(obviously my butt double did not come to Kaua'i with us)

Aloha! 5:00am (10:00am Chicago time) and I’m wide awake. CA is not too happy with me, but other than stuffing the pillow with his head he maintains his normal good nature (or the appearance of!) and tolerates my slamming and banging.

We are sharing this villa with my youngest (by 18 months) sister and her husband. Yesterday was their 39th anniversary, and our 40th was September 6th. This is a grand tour for them. Their first Hawaiian vacation—they spent three nights in Oahu compliments of one of PM’s bosses and will head for a week in Maui after our week here in Kaua’i.

I try bumping around in the dark for a bit. I open the slider so that the room is filled with ocean sounds—we are staying on the 12th and top floor with an expansive view of Kalapaki Bay. We love it! When the sun actually rises, there is a strong probability of at least one rainbow… Sometimes we are treated to double rainbows over the bay.

By the bathroom light, I check out the Vacation Experience Guide to determine the nearest ice machine, but by the time I return to our room CA is awake and curious. Doesn’t take too much encouragement for me to chatter him up and proceed to unpack my bags—we arrived at the hotel around 8:00pm last night, but by the time we accomplished check-in and a lovely dinner at Duke’s I was smashed (only from exhaustion) (This will undoubtedly be an alcohol-free week as our guests have convictions.) and fell into bed at 10:00pm—3:00am Chicago time. I think CA has given up on sleep, but after my coffee debacle I notice he is curled in a fetal position with his head re-stuffed into the pillow.

Why do hotels think we want to make coffee in the bathroom? Granted this is a very lovely bathroom, but a nice little coffee cart in the main room would be tres bien. PM and MA’s section of the villa has a kitchenette, but they aren't coffee drinkers and I doubt they will feel quite so tolerant of my caffeine inspired activities.

The bathroom coffee debacle. While quite amusing for me, for CA not so much—it came with full narration. This innocent and daily task went seriously awry when the first pot resembled tea more than coffee. I decide, ah-h, I will double brew. Who knew? Pouring hot liquid into the well of an electric coffee maker produces fog, mist, and spitting coffee. I swab the counter and mirrors and inadvertently knock my bath towel from the back-of-the-door hook to the floor. As I reach over to rehang it on the towel bar, the end of my scrumptiously clean, overwhelmingly soft and white bath towel takes a dip in the toilet. Not so nice. The coffee is just drinkable. No fears—our travel Bodium French Press will save the day on future days.

Quite a day so far and it’s just 6:00am and the sun is rising over the bay.

By 7:40am we are anxious to start our day so CA knocks softly on the door that separates the two sections of this villa. MA is up and about and PM is awake and ready to roll. We stop for a map at the concierge desk—discovering that the new Marriott timeshare project and the new Ritz Carlton construction have closed a few of the most beautiful walking paths. We head out—discovering the lovely iced water jug filled with strawberries and pineapple in the upper lobby. The perfect hydration for our walk.

Even with the map we walk randomly, entering roads designated as closed on the map, but not posted. We are able to explore at-will while staying a safe distance from the new construction projects. The Ritz is sited on the most beautiful point of this property, and is changing our view while providing a spectacular one for future Ritz guests.

Our wandering takes us to the outer rim of the property near the airport—not so scenic out here, but an athletic endeavor. Part way down the resort/airport shuttle access road a shuttle drive stops to offer us a ride back. We accept! Already we have walked 3- 4 miles and it's getting hot! It’s hotter here than I imagined it would be in October—mid-80s and sunny. Lovely, but wearing when you pursue vigorous activities.

We discover the most wonderful trees along the way. In all the times we’ve been here and walked these fitness trails I don’t remember seeing them. As the various layers of bark peel away, dramatic colors of orange and green and red show through. You can almost imagine an inspired watercolorist deciding to enhance the landscape. I want one of these trees, and will find out what they are. (The docent at Koke'e State Park Museum says they are Rainbow Eucalyptus, introduced--not native to Hawaii.)

We decide to head to Kipu Falls where I have determined to swing out on the rope and drop from the falls into the water, but first we stop at the outdoor mall so that CA can purchase swim trunks—he forgot his! The shopping takes a bit longer than planned, but we have fun and since it is close to noon we find a patio table and order sandwiches at Bread and Deli. Wonderful homemade bread with fresh fillings and Maui Chips!

Kipu Falls never disappoints. Just remote and mysterious enough to delight first-time visitors as well as old timers who still can’t believe they’ve discovered such a local, natural, brilliant phenomenon. We hike through more sugar cane than CA and I remember—following the beaten-down muddy path and the narrow hallway of cane leaves and listening for the sound of the falls.

After a semi-treacherous hike down the volcanic rock canyon wall we behold the falls and are awed. There are a few people here, though sometimes we have been here alone. On weekends the locals show up and everyone learns some new tricks.

I chicken out! First MM (he being my designated videographer) and I jump rocks in the fast-moving stream above the falls to get to the cliff edge where the rope hangs from a magnificent gnarly tree. This is a much more dangerous and adventurous undertaking than I had remembered/envisioned! CA won’t join me. I thought he had made the jump in December 2004 when we brought our children, but apparently he stood where I now stand and observed, but didn’t jump and doesn’t have an inclination to jump now. Neither PM or MM are interested. I eventually start walking away and think, “I’m __ years old. If I don’t jump now, when will I?” and head back to the precipice.

Nice Matt encourages me to take my time and adjust. I venture to the very edge and onto the little rock pad. I think I spend too much time thinking because in the end I just can’t. I call myself a coward, but hedge a bit saying maybe it’s wisdom! No one mocks me since they didn’t jump either. As MM and I jump rocks in the stream on our way back to the volcanic hillside over the falls, I hit a slippery one and slide into the shallow stream catching my fall with my hands on my target rock. Nothing too terrible happens—a stubbed toe (the one I damaged last month with the meatloaf gone bad) and the heel of my left hand fairly bruised. No biggies.

With just this short hike I realize that my newly and specially purchased Teva sandals will not work with the muddy red clay trails that cover this island. PM’s closed-toe Keen’s, though pricey, are just the ticket and I have to get some!

We return to the Marriott and some of us head for the pool and beach, while I indulge myself with a shower and a cuddle with my book under the superb white duvet and bed linens. I was up at 5:00am!

We’ve decided to have pizza at The Brick Oven in Kalaheo. The pizza is pricey here, but very, very good—they brush the crust with garlic butter when it is just out of the oven! Our next destination is Old Koloa Town—I love it at night. We can’t resist Lappert’s for some very fine ice cream. The posted sign says they’re moving to Po'ipu on November 1st. We explore the shops and PM finds some darling string bracelets for our little girls and hers.

A great first day in Kaua’i.

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