Friday, August 15, 2014

Kauai is paradise...even during a tropical storm

A couple of years ago Bryan and I had a discussion about family vacations. He wanted to go on a big one, an exotic one. Something along the lines of China or New Zealand or a Mediterranean cruise. We don't do many family vacations. Oh, we travel a lot. But not the whole family together. Other than mini-family vacays wrapped around a gymnastics meet or an extended family campout, we hadn't been on a big vacation since before Lilian was born. It would take some saving. And waiting for the right time. We decided that ideally a big vacation the summer after Rebekah graduated would be a perfect way to kind of have one last hurrah before she left for college and our family changed a bit.

When the aforementioned time started coming near, we did a lot of research. Where did we want to go, and what realistically could we swing...after all, we are a family of six and this year had already seen quite a bit of travel (gymnastics, choirs, theatre) taking bucks out of what could've been added to our family vacation budget. Not to mention that we were pretty much tied to one specific time in the summer that would really work with everyone's schedules....and it was a time when New Zealand was smack in the middle of winter and airfare to Europe was astronomical. And on a more personal level, darn it all if I wasn't yearning for something beachy after spending so much travel time in cities this year. So, Hawaii. But specifically not Oahu or Maui. As lovely as those islands are, we decided we wanted something a little less touristy. We chose Kauai, and settled on a condo in Princeville atop a cliff overlooking the ocean on the more rugged north shore.

A steep little path near our condo twisted around switchback style and led us down to the small beach at the bottom of the cliff. Strangely, we only went down there one time. I kind of wish I'd made it a daily thing. If nothing else, the steep path would've made for a great morning workout.

We arrived just in time to discover that we were in the direct path of Hurrianes Iselle and Julio. Hawaii hadn't really had a big hurricane since 1992 (Hurricane Iniki), and to have TWO just a few days apart from each other was absolutely unprecedented. That 1992 hurricane had decimated much of the island of Kauai so the locals were understandably nervous, despite the fact that Iselle coming in from the south would have to barrel its way through the big island (where it did the most damage), Oahu and Maui before it could even get to us on Kauai, the northern most island. All the same, we stood in long lines at the grocery store to stock up on bottled water and other groceries just to be on the safe side. The lines were long at the gas station as well. And we had numerous storm notices taped to our door keeping us informed as to hurricane procedure, etc. I even got hurricane emergency notices and flood warnings sent to my phone. But somehow I wasn't nervous. And maybe that was pure naivety...but though I did want to be prepared to have to hunker down in our condo, I was rather excited about the adventure.
Iselle, when she arrived, was a great big tropical storm. But nowhere near what she could've been. The morning of, we went to Hanalei Bay and bobbed around in the slightly larger waves and raindrops. We had lunch at Bubba Burgers. But it was only when the locals started closing up early so as to get home before the river rose and the bridge had to close due to the expected flooding, we decided we better go. As lovely as the little village of Hanalei is, we didn't want to be stranded there. We spent the late afternoon/evening of the storm in a grand Harry Potter movie marathon in our condo. And though it was hard to sleep through all the noise of the storm once night hit, Iselle passed fairly uneventfully.

Although our condo was in Princeville, the neighboring little town of Hanalei became our home away from home while we were in Kauai. We spent more time at Hanalei Bay beach than any other, went to church on Sunday in the Hanalei Branch, and ate many meals in Hanalei. And I absolutely loved all the houses up on stilts!

The next morning the weather was beautiful. We decided we might like to try some hiking on the Na'apali coast line. But on our way further north west, we discovered evidence of flooding and storm damage. We were disappointed but not too surprised to find the trail closed. The rivers we'd have to cross while hiking were running way too high because of the storm. In fact, we found out later that a girl and her boyfriend had snuck onto the trail regardless of the warnings, and had actually been swept away and drowned later that day.

I've never seen anything as beautiful as Kauai's rugged north shore. Just awe inspiring.

There were huge trees up at Ke'e Beach...the entrance to the Na'apali coast line. Since we were denied entrance to the hiking trail we decided to explore the beach instead. And ended up having a delightful time climbing the branches and playing among the roots, the waves from high tide having eroded the sand and soil around them. Wild chickens were everywhere on the island, not just the north shore. We heard them clucking and cockadoodledo-ing throughout the day and night. Rumor has it that during Hurricane Iniki in 1992 all the chicken coops and farms were destroyed and chickens were scattered all over the island where they've continued to reproduce and thrive on their own. They really are absolutely everywhere.

After spending some time there we drove a mile back to Ha'ena Beach Park and played there for a little while. Maniholo Dry Cave was right across the little street so we explored that as well.

As for Julio? We thought he might give us some grief as he was due to arrive right around our departure. But he changed course at the last minute and passed to the north of us. The only impact being the loss of the normal trade winds that keep the island cool and the humidity bearable. It was horribly muggy that last day and a half.

So other than the fact that we were unable to hike as much as we had planned and would've liked, our stay in Kauai was incredibly relaxing and lovely. We hit a different beach every day and on some days, two.

Kilauea Lighthouse

Stay tuned for more beachy pics and adventures and also our kayak/hike up the Wailua River to Secret Falls....

No comments: