The Island of Kauai -- September 8 - 17, 2004

This eating, hiking, eating, swimming, eating, snorkeling, eating, shopping, eating, sailing, eating, soaring expedition is rated 5 Little Hula Dancers out of 5 on the Hula-dancer-o-meter.

Expedition leaders Jim and Carol flew into the Lihue Airport the day before the Seattle contingent arrived, and promptly headed up to the north shore of the island for a night of camping at Anini Beach Park.  The next day they kindly drove all the way back down to Lihue and met us at the airport when we arrived, then headed off with Jack and Ruth in search of the elusive Banyan Harbor Condos deep in the southwestern suburbs of Lihue, while the rest of us picked up the second rental car and followed in their tire tracks.

We all converged like clockwork at the condo, and thus began our three weeks in paradise... 

When we all converged at the condo, Jim and Carol presented everyone with official "Sandwich Isles Expedition 2004" T-shirts, each proudly emblazoned with the trip itinerary, along with all of our names in Hawaiian:

Mucho Mahalo, Jim and Carol!

The condo was a nice 2 bedroom, 2 bath affair, with a sofa bed in the living room.  It was somehow decided that Jack and Ruth were destined for the sofa bed, the mattress of which was later unfortunately discovered to be a bit lacking in the 'good hygiene' department - quite a bit lacking - grossly lacking, actually.  So off came the mattress, which, after being suitably encased in a clean sheet, ended up on the floor so Jack and Ruth would avoid being impaled by the many errant sofa bed springs.  Above, we see Jack trying it out with a Thermo-Rest pad thrown in for good measure.  It must have been ok, as he was soon fast asleep.  Meanwhile, Jim and Carol had headed back up to Anini Beach Park for the night.

Jim and Carol were to return to the condo at 10:00 AM the next day, which allowed Jack, Diane, Sue, and David to sneak into downtown Lihue for an early shopping trip at Hilo Hattie's.  Here we see the main instigator enjoying a photo-op in Hilo Hattie's parking lot.

Hattie's friendly staff presented us with our free seashell necklaces as we entered, and we soon thereafter found ourselves buried in the Aloha Spirit of Shopping at Hilo Hattie's... fact, it got sort of scary.  Jack lapsed into some sort of hypnotic trance-like state, eagerly holding up shirt after shirt, declaring that each was "The One".  We had never seen him quite like this before.  Perhaps it was jet-lag, or maybe it was simply the excitement of all the lights and bright colors.  Sue and Diane averted their eyes and pretended to concentrate on their shopping.

Finally, they decided to humor him along, hoping to seize control of the situation.  Everything got settled down ok after a while, and we headed back to the condo for the 10:00 meeting with Jim and Carol.

The ladies headed into the back yard for some glamour photos.

We packed up, moved out of the condo, and headed for Hanalei on the north coast of the island.  But as luck would have it, just as we were leaving Lihue, by popular demand we soon found ourselves...

...right back at Hilo Hattie's.  Needless to say, one of us was ecstatic - and it was not Carol, who can be seen above trying to lead Sue and Ruth away from the store while the others plod relentlessly, and somewhat robotically, toward the front door.  Fortunately, mob mentality prevailed, and we soon all found ourselves squarely in the middle of Hilo Hattie's, surrounded by a wonderful world of tasteful tackyness.  We kept a close eye on Jack though, recalling his visit earlier that morning.

The selection of dash-board Hula dancers was overwhelming, especially when the blue shelf at the top of the display was oscillating from side-to-side and all the little Hula dancers swayed madly in unison, grass skirts and leis flying through the air with wild abandon.


Here we are leaving Hilo Hattie's, under the big tree in the parking lot, the lucky ones amongst us clutching their treasures.  There was quite a run on the Hilo Hattie Beach Tote Bags that day - free with any $30.00 purchase!  We pressed on, and pulled into Kapa'a around lunch-time, where we swung by a Safeway and a Subway Shop for lunch fixings...

...then headed to a beach-side picnic table across the street from Bubba's, which can be seen faintly through the trees if you know right where to look.

The gourmets amongst us taste made the trek to Bubba's for a hearty round of Bubba Burgers, and soon rejoined the more sedate members of the expedition at the picnic table.

Just after passing Princeville - where we definitely did not stay - we availed ourselves of the scenic overlook, and enjoyed the view of the taro fields in the Hanalei Valley.  The rain which was to play a large part over the next few days can be seen pelting the mountains. 

We were all startled when confronted by this apparition, but soon realized that it was just Jim having one of his infrequent less-than-glamorous moments.  Looking a bit scruffy there, aren't we Jim?

We motored briskly right by the Hanalei Bubba's, sadly not allowing ourselves the time to stop...

... and got moved into the Hanalei Colony Resort.

We promptly headed to the Tunnels, just down the road from the Hanalei Colony, preparing for our first snorkeling plunge of the trip.  While some of us were already seasoned snorkelers, others had no idea what they were doing, and gratefully received some much-needed advice from Carol.   

Jim and Carol prepared a lavish - and tasty - round of Hanalei Chicken Curry, to help prepare us for the big hike of the trip, which was to start the next day: the 22 mile round-trip hike on the Kalalau Trail, along Kauai's Na Pali coast.

The next morning Jim and Carol loaded up for the big hike,.

as did Jack and Ruth, the latter casting a skeptical look at the former,

while Frank and Diane made final adjustments.  Given all the warnings about leaving cars at trailheads overnight, we wanted to leave the cars at the Hanalei Colony, so with 8 people and 8 full backpacks to contend with, we first made a run with both cars to the trailhead and returned, dropped off one car, made a final run to the trailhead with the other, then Jim drove the car back and left it at the Hanalei Colony and hoofed back to the trailhead.

The trailhead was at Ke'e Beach, a good view of which could be had after we had climbed for a while.

The trail wasn't exactly "clear, level, and smooth".

Frank, Diane, and Sue take a short break.  The weather was hot and humid, and the recent rain had turned parts of the trail into mud holes - some sections had even become small waterfalls.

After 2.25 miles and 3 hours of less-than-pleasant hiking, we emerged at Hanakapi'ai, where we planned to spend the first night.  Here we are all sprawled out on the beach at the base of the cliff, having a late lunch.

Jim headed out on a scouting expedition to find the official camp sites, and he came back to report that unfortunately the camp sites were not on or near the beach, but a bit up the Hanakapi'ai Valley in a forest of guava trees.

We lounged around for a while and enjoyed the view, talking in hushed and unsettled tones about the prospect of hiking the remaining 9 miles to Kalalau Beach, and then the 11 miles back out.

We headed up the hill and set up camp, sharing a clear spot right off the trail with Jim and Carol,

while Frank and Diane and Jack and Ruth ended up in what was to become known as the 'rotten guava malaria swamp' campsite.  The fermented guavas on the ground were aggressively odiferous, and not in a pleasant way.

The young and foolish amongst us headed up the Hanakapi'ai Valley in a doomed attempt to get to Hanakapi'ai Falls.  The trail was a mud pit, and after about 20 minutes of splashing and squishing and sliding, we made a hasty retreat, deciding that our time would be better spent tending to water purification and then enjoying some time on the beach before dinner.

We ran into Jim and Carol at the Leptospirosis-infested waters of Hanakapi'ai Creek, where they were having an intimate water filtering moment.  

We all met back on the beach for dinner, and were treated to a wonderful after-dinner sunset.  As we enjoyed the evening, a couple of young jockettes from Sweden came down out of the trees and set up their tent on the beach.  Jack went over to say hello, and returned to tell us that they had reportedly left this very beach early that morning heading for Kalalau Beach, hiked 5 miles and then gave up, turned around, and hiked the 5 miles back.  They said that the trail conditions were just too bad due to the recent rains.  Hmmm...

As the sun slowly set, there were rampant rumors about the appearance of the mystical 'green flash' just as the sun disappeared into the water, but looking back, we think it was most likely the toxic affect of all the bug bites that we had endured on the trail that day. 

A lovely end to the day, nonetheless.

On the way back up the hill to the campsites, the frogs were out in force, and Ruth insisted on a picture of this guy.  Here you go, Ruth.  Unfortunately, the frogs were unable to hold the bug population in check.

The night in the tent went on forever, with temperature and humidity in the 90's, and not even a slight breeze.  None of us really got any sleep, but we did provide lots of good meals for the millions of mosquitoes and other biting bugs with which we shared the swamp.  We had the foresight to take a picture of a tall glass of ice water the night before, and spent some amount of time that night staring at its beautiful image on the screen of the digital camera.

It was decided over breakfast on the beach the next morning that we really didn't think that we would have too much fun pressing on with our hike to Kalalau, and would all probably slip on the muddy trail and fall over the edge of the cliff and die.  And so it was, with equal measures of disappointment and relief, that we about-faced and headed back to the trailhead from which we had, just 24 hours before, foolishly and optimistically departed with such enthusiasm.  And thus it is, growing old.  We crossed back over Hanakapi'ai Creek, and decided that the additional 2 days we now had available for snorkeling and lying around on the beach maybe sounded like a pretty good deal.

Jim and Carol had dashed ahead and reached the trailhead first, and Jim headed off down the road toward the Hanalei Colony to retrieve his car and return to the trailhead.  We made it to the trailhead a bit later, and recognized a couple that we had seen camping on the beach the night before.  They had gotten all the way to Kalalau and back without mishap, and were loading up their car and heading to a B&B for R&R.  We gingerly hinted that we could use a short ride back to civilization to retrieve our car at the Hanalei Colony, and were most appreciative when a ride was offered.  Just as we pulled into the Colony parking lot we passed poor ol' Jim hoofing down the side of the road.  Surprisingly, he had failed to get a ride, and we dutifully fired up our waiting car and drove back to offer him a ride for the final 100 yards.  He somewhat ungraciously declined.  We were able to get a room for 4 (Jack, Ruth, David, Sue) for the next 2 nights at the Hanalei Colony, got salads to-go from the Tunnels Bar and Grill for dinner, and enjoyed one of the best sights of the trip:

After 2 days of the Hike From Hell, this was just what we needed.

Meanwhile, the campers amongst us (Jim, Carol, Frank, Diane) did some grocery shopping at Princeville, then headed to Anini Beach Park and moved in for the next 2 nights.

The next morning we headed into Hanalei for a great breakfast at the Wake Up Cafe, and then headed to Anini Beach hoping to find the campers.  They had disappeared, so we wandered around for a while,

and spotted this guy having a Beck's brewski for brunch while sitting on his dolphin-themed recliner right on the edge of the beach.  We eventually made cell phone contact with the campers, and we all met back at Anini Beach, from which Carol lead us through the snooty neighborhoods of Princeville to a couple of good snorkeling spots that she knew about.  The first one was Sea Lodge Beach, which we reached after a short hike.

Here we are, modestly hiding up in the trees, preparing to streak across the beach and down to the water when no one was looking.

The kids got a chance to get out and enjoy the sunshine for a while.  After an hour or two, we packed up and headed for...

the Queen's Bath, another public-access spot along the seaside edge of Princeville. 

Dinner consisted of dehydrated Idahoan mashed potatoes thoughtfully provided (actually left over from the aborted hike) by Jack and Ruth,

and BYOJF (bring your own junk food) dessert.  The next morning we again hit the Wake Up Cafe in Hanalei, where we sadly noted a definite decline in the food quality compared to the previous morning, then wandered around town for a while,

wandering aimlessly through the entertainingly tacky trinket shops and enjoying the huge tropical flowers along the main street. 

We took a drive out to the Hanalei Harbor, and couldn't help but notice the rain in which we would have been hiking back from Kalalau - this would have been the last day of the big hike.

We relaxed for a while at the Hanalei Colony, then headed out for some snorkeling and met up with Frank, Diane, Jim, and Carol at the Tunnels, after which we took off for Ke'e Beach, where we did some more snorkeling.

Meanwhile, Jack definitely was not thinking about work.  While we were goofing off at Ke'e, the gourmets amongst us made a trip to a local seafood store for dinner fixin's, and we, the gourmands, returned to the Hanalei Colony in time for a pool-side bar-be-que and dinner.   

Limahuli Garden

As chance would have it, we ran into the couple that had kindly provided the ride back to the Hanalei Colony Resort after our ill-fated Kalalau Hike.  That's them on the right - Tuck and Jeanie - enjoying the Hawaiian leg of their "Tour of Discovery 2004-2005", during the course of which they traveled all over the US, got engaged, bought and lived in an RV, got married, and finally bought a house and (we presume) settled down..

Kilauea Lighthouse National Wildlife Preserve

Per Carol's instructions, we all stopped at Jo-Jo's in Waimea for Shave Ice before heading up the hill to Waimea Canyon and the campground at Kokee State Park for the night.

Looking down at a helecopter.

While we were busily busting our humps on our hike, the 6 slackers were hitting the scenic view points along the cliffs and overlooking the canyon.

The 'boys' just couldn't help themselves, and thoroughly embarrassed other tourists, and, one would assume, themselves, by parading around in the foliage in various stages of undress.  The ladies apparently did the same sort of thing, but discretion pleads loudly against posting the visual evidence to the web.

The historic Sloggett Lodge

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