So here is a little secret about our trip: we bought the tickets on a lark in January (I think Tyler mentioned we had companion fares about to expire). We've been crazy busy all summer. We've done no planning. Which means every day we just get to decide what we want to do and just do it.
After spending the first day with some pool time and the second day at my favorite Kauai beach, we thought it might be a good point in the trip to try and see Waimea Canyon. We went on our first visit, but the kids were too young to remember, and the weather was not really cooperating. We didn't see Waimea Canyon at all last time--it was a wall of fog. This time, fortunately, was a little different:
It's always hard to fully convey the scope and majesty of landscapes like this in photos, but it was magnificent.
The happy family, and Otto continuing with his tradition of not cooperating.... (PS look back at the left of us--notice the faint hint of a waterfall?)
A little further up the road we got a better view of the same waterfall!
Kids and no zoom for perspective
Past the Waimea Canyon viewpoint, you can get some views of Kalalau Canyon. Now, when we go to Ke'e Beach, we're at the start of the Kalalau Trail, which is an 11 mile hike to the beach at the base of this valley. It's pretty amazing to see it from this upper view--and someday the kids will be old enough to do the hike with us!
View of the valley--the clouds would waft in and out but never stay for long. For a sense of scale, you have to imagine that helicopters were flying through and looked like small birds. And the colors were spectacular--vibrants blues and greens.
Beyond the overlook, there are a few trails. We wandered a small way down the red dirt path before heading home (and for more Wailua Shave Ice...).
Valley to the left, jungle forest to the right, red trail ahead.
Otto pleased to be running around on the trail
Another rare family photo--the same nice Australian woman who took our picture at Waimea Canyon had another go at this look out!
More shave ice happiness--I swear this is the best I've ever had--served in porcelain bowls (instead of plastic) with real fruit and flavors that taste like the real thing. I have to finagle another reason to drive through Kapa'a....
The next morning followed what's become the pretty typical routine. The kids get up and play together, pretty happily, while Tyler and I putter around, have some breakfast, drink coffee and read on the lanai.
Now the kids are pretty obsessed with swimming in the pool. While they liked Ke'e, they LOVE the pool. Stella is into getting "mini-lessons" from me and is making real progress in the water. She is really going underwater and starting to glide. And Otto loves to kick around in the lifejacket (which is better than wearing his hands raw like he did the first day). So every day we have to argue a little over beach versus pool. And Otto, always good at remembering things we agreed upon, remembered this was a "beach" day. And Tyler had seen that this was supposed to be the best weather day of our trip, so it was a no-brainer.
I decided we should hit a couple of the beaches we thought the kids were too young for last time. Both require hikes and good weather to be swimmable. First stop, Queen's Baths. Queen's Baths are really close to where we are staying in Princeville, are a 10 minute hike and are some lava pools that get filled by waves but are like mini-swimming pools. We all win, right?
Halfway down at a waterfall. It was a bit muddy and slick--and definitely humid--but not too bad.
Hmmm. Well, it's not like we haven't done other hikes with dire warnings....
Bouldering to the baths
Well, no "queen's bath" for us today....
A panorama I took on the way out--the Napali Coast on the far left. Worth blowing up for the view. Spectactular. And awe-inspiring to see the force of the ocean.
Well, that knocked planned beach #2 off the list. Another hike down on the same coast, it seemed unlikely that it would be swimmable given what we saw here.
No big deal--we'd go back to Ke'e. I always regretted that we had only been able to go there once on our last trip. We knew the reef broke the waves, the kids like it, it would be an easy good time. Right?
So we weren't the only ones with that idea. As we drove past many parked cars far out, Tyler agreed to drop us off, park the car and walk back. The kids and I set up on the beach, ate lunch, re-applied sunscreen and got ready to get in the water. Tyler was awhile coming--the car ended up being about half-mile away. And right as he settled in, we heard the lifeguard say something to the family in front of us about Portuguese Man-o-Wars. A few moments later, they make an announcement. We walk down to the water, and the shore is littered with them--tiny, jellyfish like creatures that won't kill you but sting like a bee sting. They are small and all over the water's edge. Well, scrap that plan.
It seems there's always one day on a trip when things don't go quite according to plan. Well, easy solution--more shave ice and pool time!
After swimming (and more impressive strides by Stella in the swimming department) we decided we could make it to Kapa'a in time for the weekly farmer's market (one of my all-time favorite things to do while in new places), so we hopped in the car again.
We haven't managed to get a shot at the pool, but clearly two hours of swimming time tuckered everybody out!
I'd gone to the Hanelei Farmer's Market last trip and they had produce but also crafts and cooked food. This was a more traditional produce-filled market, but we got some fun things, like native mangosteens, a kaffir lime and calamansi limes to go with our papaya. Tomorrow's breakfast is going to be delicious! We didn't get more shave ice (that might be too much, even for us) but we did make a stop to the Kauai Juice Co. where we stocked up on some amazing cold-pressed juices and hot sauces.
Our haul: cherimoya; native mangosteens; starfruit; calamansi and kaffir lime; apple bananas; papayas; mango; avocados. We've also had a few longan and rambutan, as well as two perfectly ripe pineapples....
So even an off day in Kauai isn't half bad. It was more driving than we were aiming to do and no saltwater time, like I had hoped. But the kids' time napping in the car gave Tyler and I a moment to reflect on how much fun we are having travelling as a family now that the kids are older. We had actually hoped to talk some friends into coming with us this go-round, too, but now that the kids are more mobile and excited, we're having a lot of fun, just the four of us. So far I've gotten to eat lots of great food, read two books, and only respond to two text messages from work (I'm actually completely offline for work email!). While I can already sense that the time is going to pass too quickly, it's been relaxing and such a treat to have this time together.