The Island of Kauai (July 4 & 5, 2012)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We woke up for our last morning in Oahu, packed, loaded the cars, and ran over to Hula Dogs, a rather unique hot dog restaurant, for lunch. At Hula Dogs, you choose your bun and type of dog, then you choose your toppings. They have a bunch of salsas to pick from as well as unique condiments.

What really set this place apart, however, was that they toast the inside of the hot dog bun then they load it up with fillings & the hot dog.


We had a 20 minute flight from Oahu to Kauai. I don't understand why you have to be there an hour and a half earlier for a 20 minute flight, but we keep trucking...until Kris loses his driver's license.

Losing your driver's license is not ideal. Luckily we told the airline in time, and they were able to find it. They didn't find it for a few hours, so we would up not picking it up until we were heading to Maui.

This meant poor Heather had to drive again. She's an awesome sport. First up - shopping at Walmart for some provisions. Heather got to use her new married to a Walmart employee card.

Finding the community for the AirBnb we booked was easy...just look for the gorgeous fountain.

After checking in at the new AirBnB condo in Princeville (which really just consisted of using the lockbox code I'd been mailed months before to open the box on the door with a key to the front door), we figured out a few things to buy and headed to the Foodland.

Casthead was the master grill chef of the night. Heather made the burgers, Kris cut the potatoes, Casthead grilled, and I washed dishes when were were done.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

We had an early departure time, as we needed to drop the guys off at Ke'e Beach and the beginning of the Kalalau Trail at 6 a.m.

This trail requires a permit for people to hike it due to incredible erosion issues. The Na Pali coastline is the second fastest eroding coastline in the world. (The fastest is the white Cliffs of Dover.)

It's eleven grueling, difficult miles of trudging through flooding rivers, slippery mud, and elevation changes equivalent to a 1,000 story building. Most people do it over four days. Kris and Casthead hiked the 22 miles roundtrip in two. Nuts!

While our guys were embarking on their potential death march, Heather and I were off to go skydiving. Bad morning weather almost kept us from being able to dive, but it cleared up just in time to afford us a brilliant rainbow on our dive.

I was nervous, in theory, while signing the 13 pages of paperwork that said, "I understand I do not have to go skydiving. Most people never go skydiving. I understand skydiving may lead to my death." You have to initial on every page of the 13 pages that you understand you may die. That was a bit nervous making. I was rather amused though when reading the line I had to sign that said, "I understand I may be touched in a way that may be construed as sexual in nature. This is only for my safety."

However, once it was time to load on the five seater plane (pilot, two guides, and two passengers) for our skydive, exciting overthrew any other emotion I might have felt.

It was a tight squeeze in the plane. I had to hug my knees to my chest to fit.

My diving guide was named Mike. Heather's diving guide was JR.

They were both fantastic! When we were up in the air, they pointed out a great rainbow. The scenery was something else.

Pre-flight, when harnessing us, our guides gave us instructions. Mike told me, "After we reach 10,000 feet, the door will open. After I put out my left foot, you'll put out both feet. While I'm putting out my right food, cross your arms over your chest."

"After I jump, arch your back and put your feet in between my legs."

"After I double tap your left shoulder, put your arms in front of you palms down."

I ran through this several times in my head so that I could execute it perfectly, and I was proud of myself for handling it well. Heather and JR did a good job too!

I had one scared second...when we hit 10,000 feet and the door flew open, I got a whoosh of air in my face and thought, "well, that isn't supposed to happen." I got over this super quickly though, because Mike put out his left foot and I had a plan of action to follow.

I was dorkily excited about this skydive. It was so exhilarating.

You don't even feel like you are free-falling for the first 30 seconds. You feel like you are suspended mid-air.

When the parachute opens, you really have time to look around.

Wow was it gorgeous!

As an added plus, I even got to steer the parachute as I floated down to earth!

During landing, I was instructed to put my legs parallel to the ground. The guide actually does the landing and tells you when you can stand up. They are pretty darn precise.

This would have been enough for most people to do in one day, but not Heather and I. We had another 5-6 hour excursion booked.

Our next adventure was Captain Andy's Na Pali Coast Expedition (or zodiac tour as some like to call it). Captain Danny and Mads were our guides.

The guys were hiking the coast...we were boating to it in style.

If you haven't been on one of these high speed rafts, you should go...but not if you have any serious back/shoulder/neck issues. You get really bounced around on this ride. In fact, they make you remove your shoes so that you can put your feet under a floor mounted rope at all times. This way, if you weren't hanging on for a second and they hit a bump, you don't fly out of the boat. Then they give you a glove for the hand that you plan to use to hold on with to one of the other two ropes mounted on the boat.

There were enough people for two speed boats, so we all grabbed drysacks, and the color of our drysack determined which boat we'd be on for the trip. We got a great boat of people super enthusiastic to go on this raft ride. Heather and I were so glad.

Captain Danny was telling us how you had to share the four "princess seats" at the back of the boat with a rotation schedule, but we never had even four people in those seats. The only people who sat in them were the two honeymooners.

Captain Danny says that never happens. He usually has people fighting for them.

Both our captain and our skipper were a wealth of awesome information. Storms had come in earlier in the day, but our weather was perfect.

We learned about how farmers redirecting rivers and streams have caused burned out waterfalls.

I told Captain Danny about Kris and Casthead hiking the Na Pali coastline. Mads seemed to instinctively know they'd be at mile eight (accounting for the inclimate weather and time we dropped them off). She was spot on! We actually got to see our guys on the trail (and they saw us and knew we weren't dead from the skydiving).

When Captain Danny saw them, he immediately turned 90 degrees and stopped the boat. Our whole boat started screaming and waving their arms. Kris said that he had often been a tourist attraction that day, but it was pretty easy to tell which boat was our thanks to the reaction of the people on board.

Due to the great weather and the positive enthusiasm of our group, we got to go further than most of the boat tours (including the other one who left at the same time as us) and go into some really cool caves.

One cave had a waterfall over the opening.

Another cave we went into was a spitting cave during high tide. You could see the line of humidity in the cave. Crazy!

The clarity of the sky also allowed for us to be able to view waterfalls that aren't typically viewable due to cloud coverage.

Mads and Captain Danny pointed out one of the most treacherous sections of trail that the guys had just passed when we saw them. It looked terrifying.

We were also able to see the guys again whenever the boat was heading back. Captain Danny stopped the boat again.

I snapped one final photo of the guys as the raft pulled away.

Our raft trip is one of the few with a license to park the boat at a beach that serves as an archaeological preserve of an ancient Hawaiian civilization called Nualolo Kai.

We parked the raft and all had to hop out and wade in the water to the beach. (This is why we needed the drysacks.) We all got to the beach to be served a phenomenal lunch by the crew. They put out salad and fresh pineapple and other fruit. They also put out pulled pork, teriyaki chicken, rolls, sides, and bite-sized pineapple fruit tarts. This was the best meal I've ever gotten on a tour - and one of the best meals I ate on our Hawaiian vacation. I went back for thirds! There was a ton of food for everyone.

After eating, we went to look at the old ruins of the Hawaiian village.

Led by Mads, we learned about gogi fruit (stinky but very medicinal) and how to open a coconut.

We were also told about how wild goats are the leading cause to erosion along the Na Pali coast.

In the cliffs about the village, the number of volcanic eruptions the coast has seen is fairly evident. Each layer in the rock was an eruption. The x formed in the rock was caused by the shifting of rock and a new eruption that filled in the holes.

It was then time to snorkel. Captain Andy's provided all needed equipment. You just needed to supply the bathing suit, sunscreen, and towel - and a good attitude.

In all honestly, the water in our afternoon tour was churned up and murky. The fish were hard to find. Heather and I snorkeled a bit, but we had already seen better this trip.

The snorkeling wasn't why we'd gone on this trip though, and the Na Pali coast did not disappoint. It leaves this blogger, fingers curved and itching over the keyboard, without adequate words to describe the beauty. The blues of the water and emeralds of the cliffs - the mist and lore - were a feast for the eyes.

Mads told us all about King Kong living on the Na Pali coastline.

King Kong has Richard Nixon for a nose.

On our ride back, our boat got a bit crazy. We wanted to race the other rafting tour - and then the occupants of our raft just kept yelling faster. We were bouncing and having a grand time and turned a 45 minute boat ride back to shore into a crazy rollercoaster ride. Captain Danny said that he never drives like that with people in the boat and said we were crazy. I grabbed another glove during the ride so I could better hang on.

The waves were much bigger than the ride out, so we were going up and down a lot.

It was a blast, but Heather and I suffered for the fun that night and the next day. Ouch our poor muscles!

Pizza was a must needed treat for dinner.

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