Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hawaii - June 4 - A Walking Pooch and a Sleeping Giant

Kauai's Humane society lets visitors you "check out" a dog for a day.  That's not exactly standard practice among dog shelters, but we thought it was pretty cool.

As soon as we found out it was an option we wanted to do it, but we needed to find the right day and weather.  Once we did, we went down and picked up a canine hiking companion!

We decided to head for a relatively easy trail called the Sleeping Giant.  Easy though it may have been, there was still a bit of bouldering to do and it turned out that our trail mate was a bit skittish in such situations.

He (and we) persevered though and we did eventually make it up to the top with a view of our adopted home town of Kapa'a in the distance.  Good times were had by all.  Treats were had by some.  It was a good day.

Hawaii - June 3 - Duke's Restaurant and Smith's Luau

The morning of June 3rd had started off with an awesome flight around Kauai, leaving us excited but a bit hungry.  We opted to head back down to Nawiliwili Bay again, this time to visit Duke's for lunch.  The restaurant is located right on the beach and has patio seating.  Pretty nice.

All that lunch had us exhausted, so we drove back up to Kapa'a to rest up for dinner.  Which was to be at Smith's Luau.  Which it turns out is a giant tropical garden park.  They had fancy canoes and fancier peacocks.

Different areas of the garden were themed after different cultures in the pacific - Japanese, Samoan, Hawaiian, etc.

What a luau really needs in order to be a luau though... is a pig in the ground.  And they delivered on that too!

Dinner featured live Hawaiian music and a lesson on how to hula, even with some audience participation.  Touristy, but neat.

After amateur hour, they brought in the pros.  The evening show was an hour of dancing, once again themed after the many pacific cultures.

I'd never been to a fancy luau before so I didn't really know what to expect.  I wouldn't eat there every night, but it was a good adventure.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hawaii - June 3 - Wings over Kauai

Flying around Oahu was one of the coolest things I've done as a pilot (which, as any pilot will tell you, puts it pretty high on the list of coolest things I've done ever).

Based on the strength of that adventure, we figured we'd give Kauai a try.  We found an outfit that would rent a 172 dual and gave them a call.  After a quick weight-and-balance calculation, we were in!

Nice livery!

Pre-flight with the CFI
 Kauai is less populated than Oahu, which means it's actually even greener.  Didn't seem like that would be possible, but apparently it is!  Compared to the big storms of the day before, the weather was much more conducive to flying and good views.  There was a bit of rain towards the south and some low ceilings over the Waimea Canyon, but we'd be able to see the south side of the canyon and, perhaps more importantly, good views of the northern Na Pali Coast.  We'd gone hiking there earlier in the week and it was beautiful.

Southeast side

Lihue Airport (same one we flew into commercially)

East side

Southern coast

Na Pali coast - too pretty!

A bit west of where we had gone hiking earlier in the week

Hanalei Bay

The flight went by without any issues and the views were amazing.  We even got to see a bunch of the inland waterfalls that can really only seen by air or via relatively extreme hiking trips.  Another great flying adventure.

Here's a stop-motion of the trip if you're interested:

Hawaii - June 2 - Hanging in Kapa'a

We had stayed out late on the 1st partying with the frisbee crowd so the 2nd was probably going to be a  slower day.  Throw torrential downpours and flash flood warnings into the mix and the 2nd was definitely going to be a slow day.  We got up late and waited out the worst of the storm before venturing out for some BBQ brunch at Chicken in a Barrel.  They had slow-cooked chicken, pulled pork, and of course local grass-fed Kauai beef burgers!

After the exertion of eating lunch, we retired to the grass hut bar by the pool at the vacation rental for some well-earned relaxations.  Our bartender was a friendly fellow who explained to us some of the finer points of the Fiji surf championship that was being contested on the television in the hut.

After a few hours of drinking and board game playing, we had a quick dinner at a Japanese restaurant that was a short walk down the road and retired to our beds.  Rough day in paradise.

Hawaii - June 1 - South shore of Kauai, Waimea Canyon, Ultimate

We had seen Kauai's northern shore and it was awesome.  On June 1, it was time to check out the southern shore.  Along our way was the Feral Pig.  We'd been there once for lunch but not yet for breakfast.  Their beer-mosas were pretty okay and the breakfast tacos were something particularly special!

After that, we basically drove straight out to the end of the road - the Waimea Canyon.  They call this the "Grand Canyon" of Hawaii's islands, and it didn't disappoint.  I took scads of pictures.  Here's are two of them:

After looking around for a while, spotting some crazy-huge "frigate birds," and then subsequently rained and misted out, we set out to check out the rest of the south shore and look for some food before evening ultimate.

Food we found in Hanapepe - the Kauai Island Brewery.  The food was better than it really needs to be at a brew-pub.  The beer was pretty decent to.  From there we checked out the nearby harbor, went to the Kauai Cookie Company to get some supplies for the potluck dinner that had been called for after the ultimate game, and then made our way back east.

Port Allen 
The US's western-most independent book store?!?
The ultimate game was to be played at Lyndgate Park, not too far from our motel.  I'd found them online and emailed prior to the game.  It appeared that this was a special game - their once-a-month meetup between the south shore and the north shore folks.  That meant a bigger-than-usual turnout and a potluck following the game.

Okay by us.

Lyndgate Park is actually on the beach.  This beach in fact:

The game was great - we played until we couldn't see anymore, then took out a disc with some LED lights on it and then played some more.  After that, we ate and drank the evening away.  The folks were super-friendly and welcomed us to their game and party.

It doesn't really get any better than that.

Hawaii - May 31 - Northern Shore of Kauai

May 31 was our first full day on Kauai.  We were staying on the east shore.  The west shore is not accessible to cars.  So that left the north and the south.  On this day, we opted to head south.

Melch had found a farmer's market on the internet that sold local fruit as well as BBQ pig and chicken.  The rest of us liked the sound of that, and it was on the way, so we went.  It was amazing...

We got our food to go and pulled over to eat it at an overlook above the Hanalei Bay.  

After all of that time looking at the bay, we figured we'd hop in:

After goofing in the bay for a bit, we continued on westward along the northern coast.  Once you run out of road, you're at the head of the Kalalau trail.  The trail goes for a few hours to a beach and then a few hours more to a waterfall and then a few hours MORE to a campsite.  We had time only for the beach leg unfortunately, but even that was worth the trip!

Once we wrapped up our hike, we went back to Hanalei to eat at a place that was recommended by a coworker.  The meal was as good as the location.