Sunday, August 2, 2015

2015 Kauai ~ South shore (7/21 -7/28) Part 1

It's hard for me to convey to people what I love about Kauai.  It's even difficult for me to keep from talking about it, but I bite my tongue for I realize that not everyone will "get it."  I know Hawaii is not for everyone.  Some love Disney anything, some love to travel abroad, and some love a simple staycation.  Nothing is wrong with any of these.  I just feel Hawaii is my happy place.  I love the sights, the sounds, the feel, the smells... everything!

This is our return trip to Kauai. We were here 2 years ago for 3 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Here is a link to my blog from 2013 if anyone cares to look at it. 

(Once this is opened, you can click on the additional days on the right side.)

Not once did we get bored, (at least I didn’t.)  This time around will be different. I really needed a vacation to clear my head, calm my mind and rejuvenate my soul.  

A lot has happened in two years:  I lost my beloved father-in-law to an untimely death. We got a new puppy. Our faithful yellow lab of 13 years had to be put down.  Our daughter blessed us with a beautiful granddaughter, named Sophia. We are helping our daughter raise her in our home.  And… my husband, Mike retired from the Portland Police Bureau with over 25 years of dedicated service. 

The hardest part about leaving for our trip was saying goodbye to our granddaughter.  She is so attached to me and won’t understand where I have gone.  I will miss her SO much.  Thank goodness for FaceTime!!  I will miss my two fur babies also. They are my velcro dogs and apparently have been searching the house for me since I left.  Here they are a few days before our trip trying to put us in the Aloha spirit. Except for Lulu, she spends her time making me feel guilty for leaving her.
Please don't leave me

Silly Sweet Sophia
Her best Aloha

Aloha Friday at our home and "who wore it best"

I debated wether to do a blog this time. Hopefully, I will finish what I start because I do find it therapeutic, and it's a way for me to reflect on our family times together.

So here goes… 

This trip consists of myself, husband, son (20), son (16) and oldest son’s girlfriend. For reasons I won’t go in to, we traveling on three different day.

Day 1 (7/21 Tues) ~ Travel Day

My son Nathan and I caught a flight out of PDX at 5:05a.m. with a connection in SEA which was suppose to leave at 8:50a.m. Once we all boarded, the flight was delayed and we were told the navigational equipment wasn't working. A part was ordered and we were on our way about 40 minutes later.  We arrived in Lihue just past noon. *Travel tip* Did you know if you are flying Alaska Airlines and lets say, you have a late evening flight, but you really want that early morning flight.  If you call within 24 hours of your flight and there is room on that earlier flight, you can change flights for only $25?  I didn’t know this, but the gentlemen seated next to me told me.  Nice option for those who are flexible. 

Our car rental was with Alamo, booked through Costco.  I had “checked-in” on Alamo’s website a couple of days prior and this allowed me to bypass the counter and go directly to the lot where our car was waiting for us.  Highly recommend doing this.  I was literally out of there in less than 10 minutes! Great service. 

As we were leaving the rental lot, my phone starts going off.  The owner of the condo where we are staying, (Nihi Kai) was frantically trying to get ahold of me.  At first, I thought it regarding the washer and dryer that was being delivered on Wednesday, but soon realized it was more.  She had left 3 voicemail and several text messages. The last one caught my eye which read, “your room is not ready, I have booked you two nights someplace else. Here’s the confirmation number.  Please call ASAP.”  What??!!  I quickly pulled over in a safe place and immediately called her.  Apparently,  the guest that checked out that morning, left the condo in horrible condition. The housekeeper discovered the mess.  The guest’s child had thrown up all over the place and they didn’t bother to clean it up!  Who does that??!!  The condo owner was so upset about this, but with the help of the housekeeper, quickly worked out a plan to throw out, clean and sterilize everything.  In the meantime, she was busy trying desperately to find us a place to stay which isn't an easy thing to do in July and without a 5 day minimum.  She finally got us booked in the Makanui Condos over at Aston Poipu Kai. 

Once this was settled, Nathan and I continued on to do our grocery shopping.  First stop, Walmart. Seemed more expensive than last time.  Picked up a few items, but not worth the stop.  
(Same items were actually cheaper at Big Save and Sueoka’s in Poipu.) Next stop, Costco.  We are frequent Costco shoppers at home so it was easy to pick up exactly what we needed.  We stopped by the foodcourt on the way out and got a $1.50 hotdog and caesar salad.  Our other son works in the foodcourt at the Portland Costco so I had to take a few pics and send to him.  He showed his co-workers the pics before his shift ended and they had a good chuckle. 

As we headed over to the condo that was arranged for us, I was a little nervous. I had no idea what to expect, but I told myself as long as it was clean I would be fine for the two nights.  The condo was Makanui 421. Part of the Poipu Kai Resort group.  As soon as we walked in I loved it! So much so, I wished we didn't have to leave. It was perfect for us. This unit was spacious, updated and clean! I especially liked the location.  Very quiet area, rarely saw anyone. The only noise would be from a road behind us, but it didn't bother me at all. Situated on the second floor, I loved the east facing lanai so I could sit out in the afternoon in the shade and enjoy the views of the mountains. There was also a/c in one of the bedrooms. We love to walk so didn't feel we were too far away from beaches. Probably not for everyone, but perfect for us.

After resting for a bit, we drove over to the Poipu Shopping area and treated ourselves to a yummy gelato and watched part of the Polynesian Revue & Fire dancing.  Fatigue was starting to set in so we left early to turn in for the night.

I didn't take many pics this day because of the busyness of getting settled. In the days ahead, there will be probably be more pics, less blabbering on.

Thank you if you took the time to follow us on our vacation. : ) 

Day 2 (7/22 Weds) ~ Training day and relaxing

It has been a very dry and warm year for us Oregonians so when I woke up to the sound of rain, it was quite refreshing. I only wished I could send some up to the northwest. 
And the rains came a tumbling' down...

The link below is a brief video of the refreshing rain shower that past through the south shore of Kauai.

As soon as the rains subsides and move up north, Nathan and I decided to go for a run.  Nathan is on his high school's cross-country and track team.  It is his goal this summer to put in at least 300 miles of running. When I was planning this trip, I was happy to see that we would be on Kauai when the Koloa Plantation Celebration days was going on.  This included a 5k Family Fun Run. Now, I am typically a "walker" but for this event, I decided to get my rear in shape and train to run this with Nathan. Or at least cross the finish line still standing. 

Out we went for our first morning run on the island.  OH... MY... GOODNESS, was it hot and muggy!!  My body said, "you're doing fine."  My lungs said, "where on earth are we and where is that crisp PNW air we are so use to??!!" 

I basically tried to follow Nathan.  He was kind enough to keep doubling back to check on me.  **Bragging moment**  I am fortunately to have two boys who push and encourage me when I am ready to give up! The perfect workout partners.  

Here's my attempt to keep up with my son...
Wait for me... 

Still chasing him

Almost done!

Waiting for Nathan to catch up, or maybe I will catch the bus.  haha

Once we finished with this dreaded, exhausting run, we cleaned up to do a little more grocery shopping and pick up something to eat in Koloa.  Nathan wanted a simple plate lunch so we placed an order at Sueoka's Snack Shack. Sad to say, the meat was inedible. Total fat with each bite.  He ate the rice and mac salad, but we tossed the rest. I felt bad that his meal was ruined... he just rolled with it.  I wanted a burrito from Da Crack so this was our next stop.  Delicious chicken burrito with great flavor.  I ended up splitting this with Nathan.  We then walked next store to the market and ordered an Acai bowl, (Funky Monkey). Very yummy and I actually ate on this for a few day. 

Our lunch with a view.  Perfect!
 While enjoying our lunch, we were joined by a few new friends...

Looks like someone is being pursued

We finished our evening with a simple sunset at Brennecke's Beach and a relaxing dip in the pool.

Tomorrow, more of our family arrives. Yay!!

Day 3 (7/23 Thurs) ~ Moving to the correct condo and picking up son and girlfriend

If you are ever on the island and wake up at 4:45 a.m. and can't go back to sleep, get up and check out the sunrise. Beautiful! These were taken out my bedroom window and a few off our lanai. 

Decided to go ahead and get my run out of the way.  I set out towards the Hyatt on the greenbelt and stopped along the way for a few pics.

Once I returned, it was time to pack up and move to our condo at Nihi Kai. We had just unpacked and immediately had to leave for the airport to pick up our other son and his girlfriend.
Flight was early, I was late, but hey, it's island time, right??
Stopped at one of the boy's favorite take-outs, Mark's Place. Delicious!

At some point, one must be told to step away from the electronics & potato chips and let's go to the beach...
 Spent the afternoon at the beach with these cuties, and was blessed with a surprise double rainbow and a beautiful sunset.

Day 4 (7/24 Fri) ~ Beach time, food & shopping

The surf on the south side has been increasingly strong.  After our morning run/walk, we spent the day at Sheraton Beach/Kiahuna Plantation Beach.  We arrived early to achieve prime real estate under some fantastic shade. Spent the next few hours relaxing, boogie boarding and as youngest would say, "I am really enjoying just sitting here and watching silly people being taken out by the waves."  Kind of cruel, but people, please pay attention to the surf! I also came across someone's car key next to where we were sitting.  I turned it into Kiahuna Plantation's rental shack.  I only mention this because one evening I lost our condo key somewhere between our car and the condo and a few days later I decide to check the office and sure enough, someone had turned it in!! Aloha spirit in full force!

The elusive youngest son captured in a photo

Thank you to whomever posted on the TripAdvisor forum about the TravelZoo Tortilla Republic voucher.  I'm not sure if we would have gone otherwise.  This visit started out shaky... after seated we waited almost 15 minutes before anyone even acknowledged us.  Once they did, service was very attentive and helpful.  Four in our party, two vouchers which included 2 entrees, 1 appetizer, and 2 non-alcoholic drinks. Salsa, guacamole, and entrees were delicious. 

After a late lunch we did a little shopping in the area. We later ventured over to the Hanapepe Art Night.  I have a village of people at home helping to take care of our home, dogs, daughter and granddaughter so I used this opportunity to pick up some gifts for these special people!

First, we revisited the swinging bridge...

I always enjoy our visit to the Aloha Spice Company.  Picked up some take home gifts here.

While enjoying browsing the different shops, we stumbled upon the ever scrumptious Malasadas booth. Very friendly vendors. 

We continued on our way until I stumbled upon a booth selling sunrise shell necklaces.  I have been following some different artist on Instagram that make some amazing creations with the sunrise shells. I debated whether or not to meet up with them, but I decided I like this one well enough and the designers were really friendly and helpful.

One last photo to end the day at Hanapepe. We drove over to Salt Pond Park to try and catch a sunset, but sadly it just didn't pan out.

Day 5 (7/26 Sat.) ~ Husband/dad finally joins us!

Today is rest day, no run. Thank goodness.  So decided to fix us a breakfast of champions...

It's always a struggle for me to figure out what to do on travel days so I don't plan anything and we just wing it.

Picked up my husband, Mike around noon at the airport.  Headed straight for Mark's Place for a plate lunch, but it was closed. Bummer.  Next best thing... sandwich back at the condo. 

Decided to do a little more shopping.  We were unable to watch the rodeo as part of the Koloa Plantation Celebration, but we did stop by the community fair at the ballpark to do a little browsing.  Continued on into Koloa for a quick walk through and back to the condo for some dinner.

Tradition at our house before an big event is spaghetti dinner. We stayed in to cook this up in our condo and had a delicious and inexpensive meal on our lanai.  For dessert, some very sweet pineapple. (Well, the kids probably ate a ton of other junk, but I enjoyed the pineapple.) Plus, we were able to put to use our pineapple corer/slicer.

After dinner, we went on our evening stroll. We chose to hang out on the rocks near Brennecke's Beach to watch the boogie boarders. It's very challenging not to get carried away with the photo taking here.  The surf has been very strong here so it's fun to try and capture the boogie boarders doing their thing. It amazes me how comfortable they are in the water.

Glad that dad has finally joined us

Tomorrow is race day so off to bed to get some rest!! 

P.S. I am very thankful for awesome dog sitters while I'm away! They are kind enough to send me updates.
I just wish I knew what she was thinking.

Day 6 (7/26 Sun.) ~ Koloa Plantation Celebration Family 5k Fun Run

The whole family is participating in this event. Some will run and some will walk/run.  The goal is to have fun. (Except for Nathan, he really wants to do well.) I want him to do well.  He is missing his cross-country team's running camp while we are on vacation. The team goes camping, runs together as a team and has a load of fun.  I felt bad when I found out our vacation was on the same dates. Although disappointed he couldn't go to the camp, he was excited to know there was a 5k he could participate in on Kauai. We even bought him some fun running shorts to wear for the event. 

Fun run?? Yeah, I keep telling myself this. It's all mental for me so I tell myself... I love to run, I love to run. Not sure it works, but the training has help some and thank goodness humidity is low this day! 

Out the door at 6:40 a.m. to walk over to Poipu Beach Park where the event begins. Nathan gives me his pep talk, "O.k. mom, this is what we've been training for. Are you ready?"  "I think so" I reply. Again, not the most positive response. I'm already thinking of the start of the race being at a slight incline. Stop it, I tell myself. Just do your best, and don't worry about anyone else. 
Excited anyone??  Guess they have their game faces on.

First, a little pre-race silliness to shake the nerves. 

The horn sounds at 7:30a.m. and we're off!! Nathan sets off for an early lead along with the other fast runners.  We find out later that two young men are local runners and district running champions at their school. They were fast and ultimately won the race.

Unfortunately, race photos haven't posted yet so I'll just cut to the finish. 

Nathan finished 5th overall out of 235 participants and 1st in his age division!!  We were so happy for him! It wasn't a PR for him, but he was pretty thrilled with where he finished considering he has never had to run in this much humidity before. 

I finished 56th overall and 4th in my age division. Not bad for some  one who hates to run... I mean *loves* to run. I was not happy with myself for walking for a minute, but glad that I stayed consistent with my miles and finished under 30 minutes. 

Mike finished well in his age category as well.  He amazed me that he ran the entire race. Remember, we are walkers usually not runners. However, he loves humidity and doesn't mind walking in the heat. Yuck.. 

Michael and Aleisha finished in the middle of the pack looking cute as can be. hehe

I know this part was probably boring for many.  You don't expect to read about running events on a Kauai blog, but it's a part of our lives right now.  

1st place finishers in each age division for the 5k... great group!

Proud moment

Great inspiration to keep me moving

All in all this was a great event with wonderful people surrounding us. We met some very friendly people from around the U.S., and everyone took turns taking photos of each of our families. A very fun run after all. 

After the run, we changed and headed back over to Poipu Beach.
Surf warnings, flags flying and the tombolo was closed to everyone. We took a dip to just cool down for a bit. Then just kicked back in the shade and watched the waves go by.  Lifeguards were busy today shouting warnings to swimmers. 

Dinner tonight was just Mike and I at Tortilla Republic.  Again, I had a Travelzoo voucher.  Really enjoyed our dinner.  I normally do not care for guacamole, but we had the table side guacamole and it was delicious.  It was prepared to our liking not theirs which was wonderful.  Our two entrees were the seared Ahi fajitas. So good...
A rare occasion that these kids get all cleaned up and do dinner alone!
5:30 and we have the whole place to ourselves. I guess we are early eaters.

Returned home to witness another sunset.

Returned to the condo for a little pool time... AND I received the most precious picture a grandma/fur mom could ever receive. My heart overflows with love.  Missing them both so much!
Words can not describe how much I LOVE this picture.  The ONLY reason I want to return home

Day 7 (7/27 Mon) ~ Wondering about the island & a big surprise!

We started out the day trying to find an area to snorkel for Aleisha. Plus, we were itching to see some fish as well.  First thing in the morning, we drove over to Lawai Beach.  The surf was really high and active. We didn't feel comfortable taking her to snorkel here.  Since Spouting Horn was in the area, we drove up to this area to show Aleisha.  Being a true NW girl, she was more interested in watching the turtles in the surf than the blow hole.

Next stop, Salt Pond Beach. We were trying find any area calm enough to get in the water and snorkel. I know that Salt Pond is somewhat protected and not the best for snorkeling, but Slabeaume had posted a wonderful snorkel blog and we thought we would give it a try.  Surprisingly, Salt Pond had a lot of wave action as well. So we bailed once again. 

Driving aimlessly around, we decided to stop at Kauai Coffee.  We just missed the guided tour so we hung around sampling the coffee and checked out the gift shop. 

She was so afraid this thing was going to come alive.  

Yes, it is

We still had a few hours before our late lunch at the Beach House so we decided to take a walk to the cliff trail starting at Shipwreck Beach. 

As we were taking photos from the cliff, a young man from Montreal walked over and started looking over the cliff's edge.  We asked him if he was considering jumping and he said yes.  I thought he was joking at first, but realized he was serious. I kept asking him, "Are you sure?!"  I think I asked him almost a dozen times telling him I was concerned about the strong surf warnings. He continued to study the best place to jump. We decided we would stay and watch him since he was all by himself. I was SO nervous for him!!

He positioned himself on the edge and was preparing to jump when he decided he would run back down to the beach, swim out to the cliff to see exactly where he should jump... We waited patiently while he did this.  After watching him swim in the ocean, I realized he was a very savvy ocean swimmer.  He seemed very comfortable maneuvering in the surf. I began to feel more confident that he would be okay.

He returned to the cliff seeming very confident, focused and determined.  He selected his perch, watch the ocean for a minute, told us he was ready to go, and jumped.

We also captured this video for him. Click on the following link:

We watched him for a bit to make sure he made it to shore safely, and we finally continued our walk. We were pressed for time now so only went about a quarter mile further just enough to capture a few nice shots.

This would be our last night on the south shore.  We had a late lunch at the Beach House Restaurant.  Service was outstanding and my company is always entertaining.

Having too much fun 
Our Kalua Pork sandwiches were delicious, very good flavor. 

I think my husband enjoyed his swordfish sandwich, but it wasn't enough food for him. 

My son did not care for his 3 small fish tacos.  The clarity of this picture kind of represents the tacos.. not very good and needs more substance. He said they had too much sauce, the fish was battered, and overall did not have the fresh flavors of other fish tacos he has eaten.

You can't beat the Beach House for it's visually stunning location. 

We prefer to go to a late lunch to enjoy the low crowds, (and prices) and very relaxed atmosphere.

Of course you can't leave without a few pics outside. 

After our meal, we began packing for our move to the north shore the next day.  Mike and I decided to take a quick break and catch one last sunset at Poipu Beach. The flags continue to be posted near the tombolo.
The sunset fizzled fast, but the surf at Brenneckes' put on quite a show!

I have one last entry to finish out the day.  Our son, took his "amazing Aleisha" for a private sunset walk this evening. They strolled through the lovely grounds near the Hyatt and when he found the perfect spot, he proposed to her.  She said, "YES!"

The grand finale of our time in Poipu! Next stop... Princeville. 

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