Saturday, January 7, 2017

January 4th - Last day (and last post for now)

The weather forecast had promised rain to return Wednesday, and it most certainly did.  I woke in time for the sunrise, but heard the constant dripping of the gutters outside and knew that the morning would be sketchy at best.  I had some coffee and sat on the porch for a bit, waiting for the rain to pass.  There was a break a little after sunrise, so D wandered out with his 360 camera.  I walked with him a bit and then decided to go back and get my Clunky pinhole, since I still had plenty of film left in my bag.  On my way back into the room I got distracted by this cattle egret hunting on the top of the bushes.  Most of them had been flying away for a majority of the trip, but this one wasn't bothered by my passing at all, so before I hit the beach I grabbed my DSLR and 300mm and came back outside to follow the egret.

I probably have about 3 dozen photos of him, these are just a couple from different angles.

I managed to get a roll of pinhole shots just as the rain began to roll back through, so I headed back to the room.
This is one of the shots I got that morning (on the left) the photo of me on the right is from earlier in the week, but has my clunky pinhole in the shot.  That's the camera I used to take the photo on the left.

While we were sitting on the porch, D spotted a couple of whales breaching.  I grabbed my DSLR and we went out to the beach to watch.  They didn't fully breach again, but I did catch a fin and a spout in this picture.  The  rain picked up to the point where I couldn't keep my gear dry, so we headed back in without getting another good shot.  Still... whales from our lanei!

Our property manager had stopped by earlier in the week and gave us an avocado from the tree on his property.  This is the most massive avocado I've ever seen... it took a couple days to fully ripen.  I decided to try "avocado toast" - which is apparently a popular savory breakfast option for vegetarian/vegans that I'd not heard of until they mentioned it on the Splendid Table.  I don't know why this inspired me to try it, but I have to say... it was good.  All I did was smash the avocado on the toast and sprinkle it with a bit of Hawaiian pink salt.

 My toast was a pre-breakfast snack.  We decided to go to Hemingway by Miah for breakfast - same menu as Art Cafe Hemingway, but printed differently, and run by a different staff.

We sat at the table with the camera light fixture.

The tables have drawers.  I opened the drawer and found this note inside.

The note made me smile, I thought it was a nice way to start the new year after having had such a sucky 2016... ironically I ended up having an allergic reaction at the end of breakfast.  I don't know how the cross contamination happened, I ordered the same breakfast I've been having at this place, but it was swift, to the point where I took the key and drove back to the condo to throw up and D and G had to walk back home.  *sigh*  I hate having allergies.

Thankfully, after I was over the reaction and breathing fine and the albuterol anxiety wore off, I was able to re-eat a breakfast of avocado toast.  

We started packing and doing loads of laundry and organizing what was staying and what was coming home as the weather outside continued to waiver from rain to sun back to rain.  We decided to head down to Lihue for lunch and some shopping.  We'd considered having Duke's for dinner, but also weren't sure how packing would affect our dinner time, so we went to Duke's Barefoot Bar for lunch.
Duke's is one large restaurant, the Barefoot Bar is downstairs - which is open all day - and the dinner restaurant is upstairs.  The menus are different though... the Barefoot Bar is more casual while the upstairs dinner menu is expansive but more expensive. Since upstairs wasn't open for lunch, we took a beach-side seat downstairs.  I ordered the fish tacos, which were grilled swordfish today.

18 bucks for these, which is more fish than you get on a typical $32.00 dinner plate.  These are my new favorite fish tacos on the island.

The interior of Duke's has a massive waterfall/koi pond in the center, which can be viewed from the restaurant above as well.

Outside of Dukes is Kalipaki Beach, which was practically abandoned this day as the rains were nearly relentless all day.  The gardens surrounding the hotel and along the beach have numerous statues.

After lunch we did a little shopping in the mall nearby, picked up a few Crazy Shirts, and poked around at a couple other shops but nothing else really grabbed us.  We headed back to Kapa'a, where we went to a little local grocery store so I could get some locally roasted coffee for my dad.  We went back to the condo where G headed back out to the pool for her last swim and I began packing and cleaning.  
Our lunches were so filling, and we had so much food left in the condo, that we voted to not go out to dinner at all, and instead had a very relaxed time packing up, organizing our stuff, and snacking as we felt like it.  We were completely ready to go by 9, so after double checking all the locks on our storage and taking photos of our inventory we loaded up the car and headed to the airport.

The plane boarded early and took off on time - 11:50 p.m.  Since they were serving us snacks I stayed up and watched a movie on the little player they loaned us, then tried to settle in to sleep.  Unfortunately there was a medical emergency (someone passed out and had low blood pressure) so they got on the intercom and asked for a medical professional to help.  D was talking to the woman who was seated next to him, so I woke up and turned around to talk with them and keep them updated on what was happening with the medical emergency.  We weren't sure if our flight would be diverted to another city (are there even options on a trans-pacific flight?) but the passenger was stable and a nurse switched seats to sit next to them for the rest of the flight, and everything settled back down again.  I think I slept for an hour, at best, before we landed.  Our shuttle driver met us at baggage claim, our bags came out first, and we were walked out into the 18 degree morning - quite a shock!  Once I warmed up inside the car I fell fast asleep for most of the drive home, woke up enough to get our bags in the house, then tried to go right to sleep.  According to my fitbit I slept for 3 hours and 45 minutes that morning.  I'm still a little disoriented with time, though my odd sleep on Thursday had me skip 2 meals so at least my stomach went back to west coast time by the time I ate dinner Thursday.

But it is good to be home and to feel settled and to know I'm not planning to pack and head out of town again anytime soon.

I've already gotten my pinhole color film back and done my preliminary scan, and I developed the one black and white roll that I shot.  I'll be running through my trip shots soon, after I catch up on some other pending editing... hopefully I'll remember to come back to this blog and link to the trip shots this time (I didn't remember to do that last year, and I didn't realize it until I went to log in and start this blog for this most recent trip.)

Thanks for coming along on the journey with me, I hope you enjoyed it, and if you ever visit Kauai please don't hesitate to ask me any questions you want!

Tuesday January 3rd - light house morning

 Since the lighthouse wasn't open on Saturday, due to it being New Year's Eve, we had to wait until Tuesday to visit.  We ate breakfast in the room to save time, packed up our gear, and started the drive north to Kilauea Point.  We stopped at Small Town Coffee along the way to pick up a couple drinks and a muffin for Gayle's breakfast.  We arrived at the light house around 10:30, there was still a decent amount of parking available and no line at the gate, so we parked and paid our admission fee ($5.00 per adult, G was still young enough to be free) and wandered in.

Though endangered, it is not hard to find a Nene at the light house.  This fellow was hanging around the parking lot.  Clearly people hand feed them, although you are NOT SUPPOSED TO... they have no fear of people and he walked up to my camera wondering if it was food.

Behind the gift shop is a small balcony looking north, in the bushes I found another Nene attempting to take a nap.

Off in the way distance from this viewpoint we saw a pod of dolphins playing in the water.  They were very far away, this shot is taken with a 300mm and zoomed in

The larger sea birds were not soaring quite as much as they have in past visits, so I mostly played with my pinhole cameras, but kept my DSLR ready with the 300mm for the occasional passing wildlife.

When I shot this I thought I was getting more dolphins.  Turns out these were humpback whales!  This is taken with the 300, but not cropped in... they were relatively close.

White tailed tropic bird

Magnificent Frigatebird

Juvenile Frigatebird

Red-footed booby

Laysan Albatross

I love how they look like they've put on smoky eye shadow

Since I kept my DSLR ready for birds, I did not shoot any photos of the actual lighthouse with it on this visit.  Here is a shot I grabbed with my Clunky pinhole camera.

This was our warmest morning so far, and we were all sunburned and sweaty after a couple of hours of being on the relatively wind-free lighthouse point, so we decided to head back towards the condo and grab lunch along the way.  We stopped off at this pizza food truck that D had been wanting to try, conveniently located next to our favorite music store, and just 3 doors away from my favorite fabric store on the island.  

It is also very conveniently located next to G's favorite shave ice stand on the island.

Wailua Shave Ice is the only one we found that uses all fresh juices, not syrups, on their shave ice. 

G started her lunch with a Lilikoi shave ice

Together we shared a margarita pizza

and their version of the "Hawaiian" pizza... carmalized pineapple, smoked pork tenderloin, basil, and a balsamic reduction drizzled over the top.  The. Best. Hawaiian. Pizza.  Ever.

They also serve french fries, with a variety of toppings and sides to dip them in.  These were the parmesean fries.  This made up for my lack of fries with my burger the previous night, also were the best fries we've ever had on the island.  Funny to have that come from a pizza truck.

It was sunny and hot and none of us wanted to drive much anywhere, so we made the rest of the day a pool day.  They don't allow inflatable floaties in the pool, but they do supply foam pool noodles, so I borrowed a couple of those, wrapped them around my head, and kicked my way up and down the length of the pool for about 4 laps, which probably took me nearly 2 hours.  I'm not a fast swimmer.

To help explain perspective... here is a googlemaps shot of the resort.  The pool is described as a "lazy river', although it doesn't flow, but it does snake around with nooks and crannies, which makes swimming lengths of it more interesting than a big rectangle pool, and also makes you feel like you are pretty much alone in the pool wherever you are (except the slide area, where people tend to congregate)

The blue circle is where our condo is located, on the bottom floor - convenient to the pool, the beach, and the BBQ area (which we never did use this time around)

D went to the bar and ordered a couple of drinks for us, (from Oasis on the Beach, the building with the orange dot on it) which they'll serve in plastic cups so people can take them into the pool area.  He saw that our favorite waiter, Henry, would be working that night so he made a reservation for us for dinner as well, requesting Henry's section.

After quite a lot of swimming, and more than a few runs on the slide, I was exhausted and hungry.  As the sun began to reach the horizon line, we all cleaned up and got ready for dinner.  

Our dinner started with complimentary drinks.  G received a "Lava Flow" - some kind of strawberry syrup/shave ice type of drink.

D and I received shots that had elderflower vodka and hibiscus

Our drinks, my sangria (which is far less sweet than what is served elsewhere, and I liked it quite a lot)  G's fruit juice blend (which is less sweet than POG, and she didn't like it all that much) and D's beer.

Appetizers - sorry for the poor quality photo, I was hungry and didn't check it.  I had the ahi poke bruchetta, we shared the Okinawa Potato Nachos (middle square bowl) and D and G shared the calimari.

My salad, beets 5 ways... pickled, steamed, fried, some kind of beet foam, and I forget the 5th way.

My excellent dinner, Kajiki, which is a type of blue marlin, grilled and served with kabocha pumpkin puree and green beans.  (The menu said wing beans, but apparently they couldn't get ahold of any at the time so they subbed green beans)

After dinner we headed back to the room and relaxed with a movie before bed.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Monday January 2, 2017

This morning I woke up early and saw some pretty cloud patterns so I decided to grab a bit of my camera gear and head down to the beach for some sunrise photos.  I walked down the path to the northern edge of the property where a stone jetty protects a waterway, there are usually some nice exposed rocks and logs that make interesting subjects.  I found a spot, and after finding a good spot for my cup of coffee and setting up my tripod, monkeying with the settings and adding my ND filters for long exposures, I realized I left my remote control in the room.  *sigh*  I'm just not concentrating as much as I would like to be on this trip.  I was gaining light too quickly and really wanted the long exposures before the sun rose, so I just tried to keep a steady hand while depressing the shutter.

Once the sun came up, I switched to a regular polarizing filter and had some fun with the sun's reflections

We weren't sure what exactly we might end up doing this day.  The lighthouse was still closed, and we looked into a hike called the Koa Kia trail, which is a pretty flat 5 mile loop through a mahogany forest to a garden with a stone damn.  Unfortunately, according to some very recent Trip Advisor reviews, the trail was entirely socked in with mud from the recent rains and incredibly unpleasant walking.  Knowing the geography of that area, I had a feeling it wouldn't be anything but a bog, and we didn't want to slog through it.  D suggested we head north to Ke'e and see how the Kalalau trail looked.  We left all the beach stuff in the car as well, so that if the trail looked unappealing we could still try the beach.

We'd had breakfast in the room early, but got a later start getting out the door, and we were all pretty hungry right around 10:30.  Since we happened to be passing by Tiki Taco, we decided to stop in for an early lunch.

It is located in a small business looking strip mall, hard to spot if you aren't already looking for it

A lot of Dia de los Muertos artwork inside.

Chickens.  Everywhere!
This is one single taco.  They are huge... the diced fish is on the bottom, topped with cabbage, pico, and queso fresca (usually also has sour cream, but I don't like it so they left it off)  They were a little heavy on the cabbage this time, but the flavors are nice and spicy.  For fish, they serve whatever is fresh and in season, on this day it was hebi.

Further up the highway is Small Town Coffee, which has been one of our favorite coffee stops.  Besides coffee drinks, they offer a lot of baked goods for breakfast or lunch, most of them are vegan.

We drove all the way up, passing through Hanalei, and then along the meandering highway over several one-lane bridges to get to the end of the road.  We stopped off at a little shop in Wainiha for some snacks, the lady working there was incredibly friendly and we had a good long talk about allergies while we poked around at snack options and grabbed some bottled water.  Continuing along the road we arrived at the parking near Ke'e just before noon.  The place was packed, all along the road cars were pulled off here and there, even parking directly under the "No Parking Any Time" signs.  We crawled through the crowds of people hoofing it to and from their cars and wondered if this was going to work out at all... then after we hit the turn-about and started heading back we noticed a family loading stuff into a car.  We paused for just a minute, waving the cars behind us around, and the family pulled out of their spot.  We managed to park at about the 8th spot over from the trail head... you can hardly ask for better parking than that!

We geared up into our hiking boots and poles, and I lightened my camera case slightly by pulling out my larger, heavier lenses and leaving the Clunky pinhole camera behind.  That took quite  a a bit of debating on my part, but I've seen enough photos of this trail to know that I was already taking a risk with the 18 or so pounds of gear I had on me.  (In hindsight, I would have lightened it up even more, and it would have been more comfortable with my hiking/camera bag combo rather than just a heavy camera case, but that was back home on the mainland, and I had packed without knowing that we would even make an attempt at this trail, so I didn't bring it)

This is pretty much a majority of the trail... slippery red boulders at a steep incline.  There are a few places that "flatten out" on a couple of bends, and a few spots where the trail has been improved by using logs to make "stairs".  All in all, the incline is about equal to what we've seen on the Wallace Falls hike back home, though this trail is more often inclined than Wallace Falls, and also this one has a severe drop to the ocean on one side, cleverly disguised with tropical foliage. It would be nearly impossible in active rain due to the nature of the mud here, though.

Lots of warning signs at the head of the trail

Lots and lots of warning signs.

G and I on the trail, hopefully this helps illustrate the incline.  It is hard to tell, but just to my left was a cliff down to the ocean.  G wouldn't get anywhere near that side of the trail, and hugged the cliff the whole time.  She did fantastic with the technical nature of the trail, but did not enjoy the vertigo she felt from the view.

The first half mile includes this lovely switchback, D is just one turn of the switchback below me here.

We made it to the half mile mark, which the sign called the "Coast Viewpoint" - some other travelers referred to it as "windy point".  The trail curves here and this is where you can get your first glimpse of the Napali Coast.  There is a relatively wide ledge and lots of boulders for people to sit on, and it was a decently busy stopping point.  I paused to take some photos with the wide-angle pinhole, and also a few attempts at pano shots (since I lugged my tripod all the way up there, I was determined to use it!)  I'll have to stitch the panos together when I get on my bigger laptop, for now here are a few regular landscape shots.

From the viewpoint looking back and up, this was the mountain we just hiked around.  We happened to be up there at a good time as far as lighting goes.

From the viewpoint looking down... that is the beach where the trail starts - this should give you an indication of the climb... half a mile, basically straight up.

At the turning point of the trail looking down the Napali coast.  The lighting was tricky here, but I was determined to get some kind of shot of it.

This is where I sat to take that shot.  Yes, the cliff drops straight down.  I was terrified and couldn't even put my feet over the other side of the rock.

D played with his 360 camera A LOT up here, I'm having him send me the shots he edited so I can share them all on the blog later.

As we sat up there taking photos, some clouds began to move in.  Within about 10 minutes those patches of blue sky above the mountains were entirely flat gray, and the humidity began to climb.  I decided we'd gone far enough, especially for an impromptu hike, and I did not want to get caught in the rain with all that gear, so we headed back down.  Our descent was slow and steady, and we managed to get down the trail with the least amount of mud on us out of anyone we saw.  (to be fair, we were at least prepared with hiking poles and boots, and took it slow.  We saw people on that trail who had worn Birkinstocks up and were having to come down barefoot, and a lot of people just wearing gym shoes coming down with streaks of mud from where they'd slipped.  Me, I like my ankles in one piece, so I'll always haul the hiking boots out, even if the gym shoes are more padded)

Once back at the car, we decided the clouds were leaning too much towards rain to bother with the beach here, so we packed up and headed back to the condo.  G happily got out to the pool for her water time while I cleaned up our hiking gear so it could dry well enough before we'd have to pack it up.

Though we showered up, none of us felt like going to a real sit-down restaurant, and we felt we'd earned a little not-so-healthy food, so we drove down the street to Bubba's Burgers.  This is a place where you order at the counter and grab a seat where you can... it's a few steps above fast food, in my opinion, but full of casual atmosphere and energy. 

While waiting in line I noticed this posted on the wall...

That reminds me, the field from the ATV tour is also where scenes from Tropic Thunder were filmed.

There are tables inside Bubba's, but we like to sit on the bench counter/railing seats outside.

Kind of can't miss the sign while driving by.

They were out of fries ?!? - it had apparently been a record breaking weekend and they still didn't have fries by Monday night.  I couldn't eat the onion rings because of my allergies.  *sigh*  So I had my double bubba and soda, and we went to Safeway on the way back to the room to pick up some chips for me to munch on while we watched movies before bedtime.