Monday, June 6, 2011

Recharging Your Batteries....Energy for the Soul!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Can I just say….BEST.  DAY.  EVER.!!!!  It was early to rise this morning (and yes, all those roosters on the island crow at the crack of dawn!).  Today was catamaran day and we had to check in at 7:00 AM.  So we left the hotel at 6:00.  The sun was coming up over the Pacific and the sky was crystal clear blue.  Our tour of the Na’Pali coast began in Port Allen on the west side of the island.  It was about a 45 minute drive, but we didn’t mind it….how can one not love driving around this island with mountains to your right and ocean to your left?  Every other day, the ragged mountain tops have been hidden away, tucked beneath billowing clouds.  But not today!  This was the start of a day of recharging….giving energy to the soul, energy and humility.  I am always reminded, when traveling to new places in our great big world, of the humbleness I feel when given the opportunity to view God’s work with my own eyes.  It is a joy and humbleness I cannot express through any pictures I show you here on this blog.  It is my hope that all of you can one day experience this yourself….the Na’Pali coast….a fifteen mile stretch of rugged coastline that is inaccessible due to the sheer cliffs that drop straight into the Pacific Ocean.  It can be viewed from air, sea and even land…if you like to hike and camp.  It is an 11 mile hike that takes a whole day, so you have to camp out on a beach and hike back out the next day.  Some of you may have seen the movie “A Perfect Getaway”….this is where much of the movie, in which a newlywed couple hikes on their honeymoon, takes place….pictures to come, later in this post. 

So we boarded the catamaran with 34 other people and a crew of 4.  Greg was our captain and his first mates were John, Julie and Joe.  We sailed up the western coast of Hawaii looking at some beautiful scenery, including some now defunct sugar mills, an air force missile range facility, gigantic waves crashing on mostly secluded beaches, and farm lands.
Sugar is no longer farmed on the island, but these defunct sugar mills still dot the coast line.

The Air Force Missile Range Facility at Barking of the best beaches on the island....if you are military, you have exclusive access here.  Military families can rent the beach condos for just $90 bucks a night!

This flat, but sloped farm land was once a mountain that slid off into the Pacific, leaving it flat like this....looks like someone sliced into it with a huge knife!

Soon after we sailed, we had our first of many encounters with dolphins.  These are spinner dolphins, named because of their acrobatic performances jumping and spinning into the air!  They love to swim in front of boats and show off for people.  This pod was not really interested in circus acts, but they were interested in our boat, so they swam along with us, showing off in the water and eventually trailing off to the side.  Below are some amazing photos of these beautiful creatures, AND I have included a 1 ½ minute video of them…without sound, as the sound on my camera’s video setting is not working. :o(

We made the turn to the north shore and this is where the cliffs of Na’Pali begin, starting with some smaller cliffs and working up to gorgeous 4000 foot high sheer spikes into the sky!  

We didn't expect to see gorillas out here! LOL!

No type of vessel is allowed to come onto the shore of this beach...not even a kayak!  People come out here to surf and they can go on shore with their surfboard in hand, but that's it....UNLESS you are from Hollywood wanting to make a movie.  Then you get special permission. :o)  This beach has been the backdrop for several movies, including "Six Days, Seven Nights", "Pirates of the Caribbean", and "A Perfect Getaway".

Recognize this, from "A Perfect Getwaway"?  If not, you should rent this movie!  It is a thriller, and very suspensful....just a fair warning. :o)

Or maybe you recognize this pass-through cave from "Pirates of the Caribbean".  This cave has eroded so it is a pass through from one beach to another.  It doesn't look very big, but it is tall enough and wide enough for a helicopter to go through!

Dolphins were not the only sea life we saw!  These are a bunch of sea turtles just sunning and resting on a very shallow coral was low tide and this is where they love to come rest!

Another beautiful waterfall!

The native Hawaiians lived all along this coast.  This valley was an area where they had villages along the coast and up into the valley.  This was a rich, fertile area and farming was successful here.

Headed back to Port view....not too bad

This trip normally includes snorkeling, but the way the tides and trade winds were bringing in waves, the water was not clear enough in the best snorkeling spots, so Greg put down anchor for us to take a swim and have lunch.  He pointed out that there was a pod of dolphins about 100 yards away from us, and that it would be illegal for him to park us in their midst, BUT….if they came to us it would be okay.  He also pointed out that this would be highly unlikely.  Well, these spinner dolphins had great plans for us!  Pretty soon, they began to swim all around us!  There were in front of the boat, behind and on both sides of the boat, swimming underneath us to pass by and performing their spinning acts no more than 20 feet away!  It was amazing.  Several people wore masks and could see underwater that they were swimming right under us!  You could go underwater and hear them squeaking, talking to one another I guess….and I wonder what they had to say. J  All I know is that I was floating in the Pacific with dolphins swimming in a circle about 100 feet in circumference and I was right in the middle of it!  I had my water camera and hopefully some of those shots will show this amazing adventure!

Once we were back on land, we picked up one of the guys Andy is working with at the airport, went back to the hotel to shower and change clothes.  The remainder of this day, we would see the east coast of the island, working our way back up to the north shore where the road eventually winds to an end….halted by those cliffs of Na’Pali.  This side of the island seemed much greener than the west coast.  Lots of farm land and lush vegetation.  I tell you, it must be nice to be a cow with the view they have….a beautiful green pasture with the Pacific in the distance!  This side of the island is dotted with little hidden beaches everywhere!  Andy’s GPS was showing some of them, so we just turned down random roads and found little narrow, winding roads with beaches, beautiful beachfront homes, lots of rentals, some nice, some very classic old-style Hawaiian, parks, surfers, people gathered on a Sunday afternoon with their families, LOTS of tent campers, set up right on the beaches! We drove all the way to the last town, Hanalei.  This whole area seemed to be more sophisticated than the western side of the island….more beautiful homes, more upscale shops, more people on the beaches.  This may not actually be the case, it was just my impression after visiting both sides of the island.

Headed up the east coast.

On our way up this side of the coast, we stopped to see the Kilauea Lighthouse.  This is the northernmost point of all the main Hawaiian islands.  It was built in 1913 and guided ships to and from the Orient.  It is on a peninsula that makes up part of a National Wildlife refuge, which is a santuary to nesting sea birds.   

I just thought this was the cutest thing!  As we were riding down some of the winding beachside roads, this little swing was hanging just over the water from a low tree on the beach!  Couldn't help but think this is a photo op. just waiting to happen!

We drove over quite a few one lane bridges on this side of the island.  This was the largest of them, and Andy thought the sign was funny...something you would never see on the mainland!

Fertile farm land.  They grow a lot of taro here, an edible plant used to make poi.  Poi is a Polynesian staple food.

We finished up the evening with dinner at Dukes Canoe Club.  This restaurant is inside the Marriott compound and came with high reviews.  And it did not disappoint!  We had an open air table looking out over the bay and beach for the Marriott, which was the perfect way to end a beautiful day!  Tomorrow, Andy works, so I will most likely be hanging at the pool or checking out some shops nearby. 

Our dinner view!

I feel blessed to have this opportunity and I am thankful to have gathered energy for the soul with my soulmate, the love of my life!  
Good Night All~ 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Flora and Fauna of Kauai....

Some of the beuatiful flowers I have seen up close....

Don't know what this flower grows on a tree and it smells sooooo good!

This was on the coffee plantation.

This is a silly coconut someone placed on a wooden stake near the Wailua Falls....just thought it was cute!

And for the Fauna of the island so far....we have chickens!  A park ranger told us they have no natural predators on the island, so they live quite well here.  All the other Hawaiian islands have mongoose...which keeps them off those islands.  Kauai is the only place in Hawaii where they roam free!  And they do roam....we have seen them at the airport, in the canyon, in the Walmart parking lot,  on golf courses, on the side of the road and in the middle of the road!  Cock-a-doodle-doooo!

What a Wonderful World!

June 4, 2011

We were plenty rested and ready to go for our first day on the island. We began at the concierge desk. Another fabulous Karen helped us plan some awesome tours and we were so excited to get started.

Our day began with a driving tour of Waimea Canyon. This canyon was referred to by Mark Twain as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We drove the rim of the canyon as far as the road would let us go. Stopping for pictures along the way, we saw such a magnificent creation we could scarcely believe it was real! The concierge told us to go to the top and we could see several beautiful waterfalls. We were highly disappointed to get to the Kalalau Lookout and the rain began to pour down! The lookout was shrouded with clouds and there were no falls to be seen! Little did we know at this time, the good Lord was setting up the best part of the day for us. We had a 4:00 helicopter tour planned and headed back down the canyon, having lunch at a little hole in the wall called Shrimp Station. Very fresh and very good lunch! Next, we visited the Kauai Coffee plantation. This is a large coffee plantation right on the coast. When you get out of your car, you know you are in a coffee plantation. The coffee smell tells you so! We made our way back to Lihue and found Sunshine Helicopter Tours where we took flight….and found wonders only God could create! It was magnificent, tremendous, humbling, awe-inspiring, and a very special memory for Andy and me! We ended our evening at a hotel next door to ours in a restaurant called . A nice lady and gentleman played and sang Hawaiian music, we ate appetizers, and we soaked in another beautiful day of memories in a wonderful world!

Headed up Waimea Canyon Road...this is looking back at the town of Waimea.

Waimea Canyon....the Pacific Grand Canyon

Lunch in Waimea....Shrimp Station....YUM!  You know, those "hole in the wall" places are just the best!

Kauai Coffee....a view of coffee trees with the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Mt. Wai'ale'ale...the wettest place on earth!  This is a rare photo opportunity.  This mountain is usually shroudded in clouds.  Our helicopter tour would take us here, and little did we know when it was pouring rain at the Kalalau Lookout earlier in the day, that it would set up a rare opportunity to actually fly into the crater of this extinct volcano with hundreds of waterfalls to see!  The helicopter company said this mountain top is visible about 10 days out of the year and that only about half of their helicopter tours can fly into the crater due to the low-hanging clouds.
This is the Jurassic Park the film Jurassic Park.
Back at Waimea Canyon...this time by air!
The Na'Pali coast....not accessible by car....only by air, sea or foot.  We saw it by air today, and tomorrow we will see it by sea.  Can't wait to see how tall these cliffs are from sea level!

Inside the Wai"ale"ale crater.  This was one of those times when tears came into my eyes, and I whispered a prayer thanking God for His wondrous works!  This is just a small glimpse of a huge crater filled with many of these waterfalls.  Most often, these are just black lines going down the crater.  When the rain comes, it has to go down, so it fills the crater with the falls....and more spectacularly, normally when this happens, it cannot be seen due to the low clouds that cover the view.  God brought the rain, then parted the skies so that we might see this!  He is so good! Fantasy Island.....Niagara style!  Yes, we know this waterfall as the one in Fantasy Island...."the plane, the plane"! (If you don't get's too bad you did not live in the 80's!)  Normally this waterfall is not so brown and not so strong.  This is Wailua Falls on the Wailua River and it is so huge due to all the morning rain.  We stopped to see this fall on the way back to our hotel after the helicopter tour, but we also saw this fall from the air.

A picture of a picture....this is our "ride".  Our pilot, Steve, is inside the chopper.

We ended our day here.  This was a restaurant recommended to us by the concierge.  Fabulous appetizers and beverages!

The view at dinner!

The entertainment at dinner.  A local man told us this couple has been playing Hawaiian music together for 50 years.  They were so sweet!  Even gave me a beautiful flower lei....just like the ones they are wearing!

Getting Lei'd!

June 3, 2011

Our trip to Hawaii was filled with anticipation! Can I just say….It. Takes. Forever. To. Get. Here!!! Once we finally arrived in Kauai, and once we got to our hotel, everyone has been so nice! Karen at the front desk gave us leis and welcomed us in true Hawaiian style. We spent our first evening in Kauai getting unpacked, checking out the hotel and having a few yummy rum drinks. Our flight from ATL began at 10:50AM EST and we finally went to bed at 3:00AM EST…which was 9:00 PM Hawaiian time. Good night from Kauai, Hawaii!

Getting Lei''d in the hotel lobby.....something I never thought I would do! LOL!!
The view from our hotel room....not bad!
The pool....will be spending a little bit of time here while Andy is working!

Enjoying a beautiful, breezy first evening at the hotel.

Andy and Cindy are "Crewsin'"!

Welcome to our blog! We will try to add daily updates about our trip of a lifetime. Check back here to read highlights from our travels.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ephesus, Turkey

Ephesus, Turkey

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece

Corfu, Greece

Corfu, Greece

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy

Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy