May 1, 2013

Kauai, Day 1: It rained but we hiked anyway

You guys are going to have to bear with me. As I noted on Twitter while we were in Hawaii, while I know how extraordinarily lucky I was to be able to go, I will always be my snarky, sarcastic self. Even in paradise. And that also applies when writing about paradise in retrospect.

So please don't take any sarcasm or complaints here as literal. Such as when I moan and groan about how it rained the first three days we were there. That's just me being me.


That picture makes me want to take some shears outside and carve my shrubs into a HELLO shape.

We arrived in Kauai on Saturday afternoon around 3:30 local time, which was 8:30 p.m. at home. Melanie and I rented a car and went to Wal-Mart for a few groceries while waiting for Sarah Ellen and Caroline's plane to arrive, then went back to the airport and picked them up. Unfortunately, Caroline's luggage didn't make it (long story; it finally arrived on Tuesday), so they researched that, we went back to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things to get her through the night, we went to supper and finally out to the house.

By the time we arrived at the house and got ourselves in bed, we'd been up for 24 hours! It had been a long day, but we were so thankful to have beds to fall into and to be on the beautiful island of Kauai.

The next morning, we awoke to the steady fall of rain, so we decided to drive back down to town (about 45 minutes away) to do more serious grocery shopping for the week. I got so excited when I saw some of Kauai's trademark chickens in the parking lot!

And when I say "in the parking lot," I mean they really were IN the parking lot. Chickens and roosters freely roam wherever they like in Kauai, including restaurant patios, parking lots, roads, golf courses, private yards, hotel property ... you name it, and chickens are there.

Being from Alabama, you might not think I'd be so smitten with chickens, but I am. Especially the baby kind.


They're not aggressive ... they just kind of do their thing and you do yours. They're so brightly colored, and a lot of them have blue and green in their feathers, which is really striking. I wish you could have seen me and my sister taking 60 pictures of chickens in a parking lot. Like, chasing the poor chickens around like they were Jennifer Aniston and we were TMZ.

Once we had our groceries and a sufficiency of chicken pictures, we drove back up to Hanalei and had a DELICIOUS lunch at the Hanalei Gourmet. I had a salad blah, blah, blah, but what's REALLY important here is that Melanie and I split the cranberry bread pudding for dessert, and they made it with croissants instead of bread.

CROISSANTS, INTERNET. I feel like there's been a seismic shift in the bread pudding industry that hasn't yet made it to the continental U.S. I will never be the same.

(That is my sister on the left, above. Not once while on the trip were we asked if we were sisters. That's Melanie on the right. I think we were asked either four or five times if we were sisters. Ha! My sister and I share very similar brains but external appearance, not so much.)

Below, me and Caroline, one of my sister's closest friends from Wyoming. I will give you a moment or eleven to compare and contrast Caroline's lovely, controlled hair next to my Whatever That Is On My Head. Good Lord.

After lunch it seemed to be clearing up some, so we drove about 30 minutes over to Ke'e Beach, the northwesternmost beach on the island. It's also my favorite beach on the island, and I honored it that afternoon by not looking AT ALL like a tourist.

Since we'd left the house that morning with a 100% rain forecast, we didn't have our swimming gear with us, so we decided to take a quick hike on the Kalalau Trail, just off the beach.

Sarah Ellen and Caroline, who hike every weekend in Wyoming, took off ahead of us and planned to hike however far they could within an hour. Mel and I hoped just to make it to the half-mile point and back down in that time.

I have to say, the views weren't ugly.

Within 15 minutes, we were already a pretty good distance above Ke'e Beach, looking down on the tiny snorkelers.

Most of the time we couldn't see back down off the trail to the beach because the vegetation was so thick, but we got glimpses of it here and there.

But even when we couldn't see the beach, the view was nice. Very lush.

Mel and I reached the half-mile point after about half an hour (we stopped a few times on the way up) -- for us non-hikers, it was a good climb. WHERE'S WALDO?

See? We were up a good ways from the beach at this point. Also, I was hot. Very hot.

We were supposed to be able to see all the way up and down both coasts from our vantage point, but the weather wasn't totally cooperating with us. Still, I've seen uglier places.

Not surprisingly, Hikers Extraordinaire Sarah Ellen and Caroline caught back up with us on the way back down, around the quarter-mile point. See how they look really fresh?

In yet another study in contrast, I was REALLY working my 'fro by this point. Also, a nice sweat necklace was beginning to form around my neck. Oh yes, by all means, LOOK CLOSER.

Now cleanse your eyeballs with this picture of Caroline with the beautiful reef in the background. She is sporting that big grin because when they were up higher on the trail, they saw a whale in the ocean. THAT'S RIGHT, A WHALE. God rewards athletic people with whale sightings, is what I get from that.

When we made it back down to the beach, we found more chickens! (People like me get chickens.)

But that's okay; I still love chickens!

These particular ones were kind of begging for Cheez-Its. I mean, can you blame them? People gots Cheez-Its on the beach, they ought to be sharing.

If you've made it this far, I'm about to reward you with possibly the most embarrassing picture I've ever posted of myself here. This is me, post-hike, post rain-hair, no make-up, SWEAT NECKLACE AND ALL.

Did I say "reward"? I'm sorry. That was probably more of a punishment.

MY reward for the hike was seeing those chickens at the end. Oh, and a cat. Because who flies thousands of miles to an exotic island surrounded by all sorts of sea life to see chickens and cats? I DO.

Dinner that night was at the Hanalei Dolphin. The Seafood Queens (everyone but I) had sushi, I think. I had teriyaki chicken. I just hope it wasn't one of the locals.

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