Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Garden Isle wrapup...

Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday was wonderful. We're enjoying the island winter, full of wind and rain, mosquitoes, and pre-Sugar Bowl jitters. The island is going bananas with anticipation...can we beat Georgia???

A wrap-up of our vacation is past due. Our trip to Kauai was AMAZING!!! The summary includes a drive to the north shore, a day of relaxation, a day of hiking in the highest swamp in the world, and a day of driving through the mud to the most secluded, beautiful beach I have seen.

Without further ado...

GO! to Kauai. This plane was actually going to Maui, but we couldn't resist the rainbow advertisement for this Mesa-airlines based carrier. If you don't follow Hawaii airline wars, this is the "enemy"; Hawaiian and Aloha airlines have even relegated go! to a different terminal that lacks any sort of perks (including a proper entrance to your plane; you have to walk on the tarmac!)

Day 1: Northshore. Nenes and heiaus and caves, oh my! Here is a whole family of Nene geese, the native Hawaiian bird. We also saw endangered I'iwi , breeding humpback whales, and DEER!! along our travels.

There was plenty to do Princeville side, but we were headed for the southside, to our little villa in Poipu.

Sunset in Poipu, at Baby Beach. This was the closest beach to our house.

Day 2: The next day we rented hybrid bicycles and rode them to the end of the road. K took kindly to the sandstone cliffs (that small white speck on top is me!) and incredible waves that day. And, once again, another incredible sunset... It was a perfect day.

Day 3: Hiking the Alakai Swamp. This swamp is at the end of the road leading up Waimea Canyon:
It made us reminisce about its cousin, the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Very similar colors, but obviously not as long.

Kauai is full of wonderful hikes. We decided to retrace the old route the Hawaiians used to take to the north shore when the weather prevented ocean-based travel. Six miles each way, our guidebook told us that we would mostly be walking along a boardwalk through the Alakai swamp (the highest swamp in the world!). We slogged through a mile of mud before we got to said boardwalk, but after that, the hike was quite pleasurable.

Here's a view towards the end, when we were at about 4,000ft in high bogs. There is nothing quite like this on earth (except apparently, in Alaska, according to at least one source).

And, happily, the view from the end of the trail. Overlooking the bay at Princeville. Boy was it cold (probably 55d, but our blood is thin and it was windy, I swear!...)

Day 4: Last day...we decided we HAD to go to the western shore, Polihale Beach. On the map it looked like a three mile dirt road. The book warned that it should not be attempted in the event of rain. It hadn't rained for two days or so, so we decided to try it. Three miles of deep mud in a the low-clearance compact rental car later (I was sooo nervous), we reached the beautiful beach. We were one of 5 couples on the 17miles of undisturbed heaven. The pali cliffs are in the background. They are the reason you cannot drive around Kauai.

The perfect trip almost ending, we enjoyed some shave ice at the end of the Waimea pier, went snorkeling, and caught our airplane home.

I now believe that when you visit Hawaii, you should go here, to Kauai. It is a paradise. With no high rises, fewer people, and beautiful wildlife, vistas, and beaches, it seems superior to the other islands, but especially Oahu. But it is not for everyone. We heard several people say they preferred the hustle and bustle and warmer weather in Oahu. Now that we are back, it is clear that this place is still paradise too. It will always be the functional island where work has to be done for us, but there are moments of utter wonder when we get to sit back and say, "Wow, we live here." I felt it in Tucson too. Will the next place on the map offer up such moments? I sure hope so...


meg said...

So did Ms. Peach have to stay home because of the wildlife, the flight, or something else? Just curious....

Caroline said...

Ms. Peach stayed home because she was not invited :) This vacation was all about not having any responsibilities...

meg said...

Kyle isn't a responsibility?!?

Just kiddin', Kyle. You know I love ya.

Nice pics, C. It sound like y'all had a great time.

marsha said...

i am sooooooooo jealous. i would kill for a few quiet days on a beach somewhere, ESPECIALLY if i got to do that instead of christmas!

happy new year to you both!