Sunday, December 4, 2011

Tiny Volcanic Paradise

I’ve got to get better at this whole keeping-up-with-my-blog-thing. I feel like every time I write an entry I’m apologizing for the massive gap of time between now and the last time someone reminded me that people actually DO read this and really wonder what in the world (or rather, lately more importantly, where) in the world I’ve been up to. So once again, I apologize for anyone who is anxiously awaiting on the edge of their seats and give you my not very trustworthy promise that I will try my best to be more prompt in my writings.

If one HAS to go back to work after almost a month at home, it might as well be in Hawaii. I was lucky enough to be staying on the island of Kauai, which landed as #1 favorite when asking random people or telling friends I was going to Hawaii. Extremely picturesque, even the airport, giving you everything you’ve ever dreamed Hawaii to be in one island, small enough to be driven in half a day. Landing in Hawaii kind of felt like I was flying into the island of Lost (which made me miss the series and also remember how confused I was during the last episode. I guess that happens when you join a show halfway through its lifetime). There below the wings of the plane I could see the beautiful dark volcanic mountains in the middle surrounded by a green you only see at the first of Spring, with the coconut trees waving in the breeze. The sun was shining; the flowers were vibrant (however not fragrant and only in half bloom). And at the luggage rail everyone was greeted by a jolly fat man with a tiny ukulele playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow…” Okay, I made that up, but really there wasn’t much missing from what I had pictured Hawaii to be.

My first two days were going to be spent camping on the Beach with my friend, and co-worker who had spent the previous summer on this island. I was excited to get back to some rough and tough outdoorsy type stuff after my successful Float/Camping trip where I not only got the tent set up and slept on the ground, but I also managed to get the tent back into its original bag…to me that spells success. :) Liz picked me up, since she arrived earlier in the morning, in a Jeep with the T-top off allowing the sun to shine down. A little Jack Johnson and we were on our way to meet her friend from the previous summer who generously offered to take not one, but TWO very well prepared (read high-maintenance and over-packed) girls out for a couple nights of beach camping. Bless his heart.

It took a little longer than expected to get our things arranged into one vehicle and get moving. So our beach barbeque dinner because grab and go Asian, which was just fine after a 12 hour travel day and crappy airline food. We drove along the West coast all the way to the northern tip of Kauai. We got to the beach and drove down until we found a perfect spot and set up camp in the sand. Lawn chairs, wine, veggies and rice, a camp fire and the waves you could only hear because they were hidden by the dark that come when there are no building lights, no street lamps, no cars. My best memory from Hawaii will be this night. Our camp didn’t include a tent, just a blanket to lay on and one to cover up with. You didn’t need a pillow; all you had to do was wiggle your head back and forth until the sand was built up under the blanket just right. The stars were so brilliant that it reminded me of being back home in Dawn on the front porch looking out with Daddy’s orange telescope. But my absolute favorite, the thing that I swear cannot be replicated or recorded, was the sound of the waves slowly and consistently crashing into the sand. I haven’t slept that well in a long time.

The next morning we awoke before the sunrise. The ocean was grey but just as beautiful as the sounds had led me to believe it would be. I went for a run as the sun was rising through a valley of two mountains not far away. I ran past a Polynesian woman who was meditating, and if I had had my camera I could’ve taken the most beautiful picture of her. That gorgeous sunlight was shining directly down on her like she was some sort of Hawaiian Goddess in all her meditative peacefulness. I returned from my run (which once again, running in the sand proved to be frustratingly difficult, not a fan) to Troy grilling up some breakfast. He even grilled eggs…without a pan. Just stuck the egg, shell and all, on the grill and cooked it like a vegetable or something. It proved to be quite delicious actually with the outside of the egg cooked and the inside still a little runny. We lazed around for quite some time and eventually decided to move out before it got too hot. We went to Troy’s house to switch cars and Liz and I set off on our, just so we could have some jeep time. We drove down the West Coast and back around to the East Coast where we were going to meet Troy to do a hike through the mountains and then campout for a second evening. The plans to meet up went a little awry, but the hike was breathtaking (both because of the views and because we were trying to hurry to catch up with Troy and then had to hurry back out before it got too dark to see…who let us wander off into the woods on our own without water or flashlights anyway?). At the turnaround point of our hike was a rocky, wooded (or palm-treed) stream leading down to another gorgeous beach. We were able to catch glimpses of the sunset as we were speed hiking our way out of the jungle-ness. It too, was beautiful. Making it back to the car in time for the rain to start, we headed back towards town to get some food. We ordered pizza since it was the easiest and sat to eat it there in the little shopping center. We still had to set up camp and that night we would most definitely be using a tent, so we headed out together to pick out a spot on another beach.

Setting up a tent is pretty easy once you know what you’re doing and if it’s your own tent. Setting up a tent in the dark, however, is not. After tugging and pulling, twisting and turning, all in the dark and in the sporadic rain, we managed to have a “roof” to sleep under. This night was not so much my favorite. I was dirty from our hike, stinky, sticky, cold, exhausted, and it was pouring down rain. There was a failed attempt at drinks and games and a long sleep until the next morning, when the rain had finally stopped. I showed to the best of my abilities, using mostly the bathroom sink and we had a breakfast out on the beach of prosciutto, brie, and crackers. We went for a walk down the beach and as we walked away a herd of wild chickens attacked the European style breakfast. Lucky for us, we were full. Liz and I spent some time at her favorite beach, then slowly made our way back towards work. Troy had to go back to work, taking some of things so we didn’t have to pack them all day long. We ran ourselves a little short on time and had to hurry to move luggage when we got to Troy’s work. In moving grocery sacks from the back of the jeep to the front, a condensated, full wine bottle fell through the paper sack and onto the top of my right foot. I dropped the bag as I doubled over which caused beer cans to crack open and spray all over me and the car. I have not felt pain like that since I cracked my left foot on the walnut. I was seriously hurt. Trying not to cry or scream curse words caused me to hold my breath for a good 2 minutes. I wanted so badly to bust that wine bottle on the gravel just to get back at it, but couldn’t help but think of the $15 going to waste. I couldn’t believe something I love so much and think about so often, could hurt me so bad. Sounds like a bad relationship, and maybe it was a sign that I should break things off…but we attended some therapy sessions together and I’ve almost completely forgiven it. :)

Off to work we went, but still some time for play. One day I was able to go sea-kayaking. It was an amazing experience! We shoved off in two-man kayaks and rowed together for a good 30 minutes up the West coast of the island. Along the way we saw “spirit dragons” which were holes in the rock formations that water was pushing in and out of so forcefully that it spouted up into the air. I was about 3 feet from giant sea turtles…and they really are giant. I got to see tiny spinner dolphins too! On our first beach stop we tried a bit of body surfing. I was horrible at, not really grasping the concept of when to catch the wave. BUT one of the instructors allowed me to hold onto his shoulder while he caught one, creating a type of tandem body surfing. The second leg of our journey was 1 ½ hours long…on the rocky, wavy, non-stop motion ocean. About halfway through I started to get a little green around the gills. I couldn’t wait to be on land again. When we finally pulled in at stop #2 I was ready for a little bit of a beach nap. I napped and had a conversation with “Uncle Bobby” who reminded me of a beach version of my friend Bob from the 5-star resort I worked at my sophomore year of college. Uncle Bobby is one of the many people who came to Hawaii on vacation, fell in love with the Hawaiian lifestyle, and never left. The conversation revolved mostly around living your life to the fullest, right now, before you don’t have the life to live. He almost had me convinced I should move to Mexico the following day…but my job is too amazing to give up just quite yet. :) Also at stop #2 I was able to try my hand at Japanese fish-catching. I thought I was doing so well when I would cast and come back up with all 5 hooks on the line full of squirmy little fishes…then they told me we were sitting over a school. Owell, I still felt accomplished! After that we kayaked to our stopping point, just another 15 minutes and I returned ot work exhausted, a little sea-sicky, and sun-burnt. But it was an amazing experience!

The next big thing didn’t happen until the participants left and we had time to go take surfing lessons! It was something I was wanting to do for myself as a birthday treat, so I was excited when we were cut a bit of a deal thanks to our contacts at the hotel! We got there and took some land lessons on how to pop up…I felt like that movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” when each pop-up is either too much effort or not enough effort. Getting out in the actual water was awesome and kind of scary, paddling is a lot harder than it looks! We met our teachers out in the water and they would hold our soft long-boards until it was just the right time to catch the wave, then they’d give us a little shove and we’d pop up and hopefully ride the wave in. I caught a few and only had one ridiculous dismount! I got hit by a crazy surfer who couldn’t stop his hard long-board; he landed on my good food, thus leaving me completely bum at this point. This was another amazing experience, although I will say I’m a little disappointed I wasn’t better at it than I was. I suppose I excepted to get out there and catch on and be perfect. Silly me, we all know the motto for life, “ Practice, Practice, Practice!” Ugh…I hated that saying all through high school!

When it was time to leave I was okay with it. I was over being in paradise. I liked Hawaii, but for me it was lacking that magical feeling that a lot of people get from being there. I’m not complaining by any means, I mean, who DOESN’T want to work in paradise? But we can safely say that this chica would get island fever living out there, with $5.00 quarts of milk, in the middle of the ocean. So relax Dad, "Beach Bum" isn't on the radar for future career...well, at least not in Hawaii. :)

1 comment:

  1. Hello There!
    Years ago my husband and I met Colleen and Vass (sp?) while in Tuscany. Colleen is originally from Michigan like we are. Colleen and Vass prepared us a lovely lunch at their house. (this is approx. one year before she had her twin girls). Anyway, we lost their contact information and never got the chance to thank them for their hospitality. We have no way of reaching them, and I just stumbled across your blog after another trip we recently took to Tuscany. Do you happen to have any website or e-mail information for them? Or, can you pass along my information to them? Our names are Tom and Dawn, and here is my e-mail: Thanks! :)