Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hawaii - Day 12

Today was adrenaline day on the adventure tour. Jimmy and my mom have both been in helicopters (Jimmy lots, my mom once) but Mac nor I had ever been up in one. Until today.

I'm not going to lie to you. I was scared.

A helicopter crash is not the way I want to die, although there was some consolation that a helicopter crash in Hawaii would be a better way to go than a helicopter crash not in Hawaii.

Mac and me listening attentively to the pilot as he explains where the fire extinguisher is. Just in case.

the Fantasy Island waterfalls. Da plane! Da plane!

Flying over and around and down into what is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific (Waimea Canyon)

the beautiful Na Pali Coast

We even saw whales from the helicopter!

And finally, our favorite - Hanalei Bay!

We ended the afternoon with the more leisurely pursuit of putt-putt at the most expensive, but most exquisitely landscaped putt-putt course I've ever played.

Hawaii - Day 11

Next up on the adventure trip was a kayaking/hiking trip up the Wailua River followed by hiking to Secret Falls.

My mother has never kayaked before and let's just say we're not compatible paddlers. It's a wonder we're still not going in circles in that stupid kayak.

It was a beautiful trip but I'll probably not kayak with the Giginator again. Ever again.

Fording the river in the rain, which is the only daytime rain we got in 2 weeks. We were SOOOO blessed on the weather front.

Secret Falls

The delicious lunch that was provided by our tour company and ever so artistically presented by our wonderful guide.

If you find yourself in Kauai, I highly recommend Rainbow Kayak Tours. You can find them here. Their service is AWESOME and our guide Thomas was amazing.

Hawaii - Day 10

Okay, so I'm way behind on Hawaii postings and I hate to be way behind because it drags me down. I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about it. Have I ever told you I'm a Type A kind of gal?

So the long and short of our last week in Hawaii is that I'm meant to live in Kauai on the North Shore.

I'm about 99% positive about this.


Wouldn't you want to live here, too?

On Tuesday, Day 10, we hiked 4 miles round-trip on the Na Pali (which means cliff) Coast. Remember this place is only accessible by hiking, boating, or helicopter.

Seriously off the beaten path.

I have to give a shout-out to my mom. Her grandkids call her Gigi and we sometimes call her the Giginator. Well, let me tell you that the Giginator was in action on this entire trip but particularly on a day like today. This was not your average stroll in the park. This trip in general has required a lot of physical work that was tough for this 40 year-old, so I can't imagine what it was like for the one of us on the trip who's in her mid-60s. Today we climbed mountains and forded streams and the Giginator hung in there the whole way. It was awesome. a view of the coastline from the trail
Me, still smiling, but we're only at the .5 mile marker

fording the river (more like a stream when we were there, but I bet when it rains, it's a rushing river)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hawaii - Day 9

Today we enjoyed the beach at Hanalei Bay (where surfer Bethany Hamilton learned to surf), which is near our Princeville neighborhood. It's a pretty amazing setting and provided the perfect waves for Jimmy and Mac to boogie board. We also had a taco lunch from Pat's Taqueria food truck before we took off to drive to "the end of the road" which is where the road literally ends before the Na Pali Coast starts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hawaii - Day 8

Today we flew from Oahu to Kauai. One of things Jimmy really wanted to do to make this Hawaiian experience complete was to rent a Jeep. We made his dreams come true. Alamo had a 4-door Wrangler with removable soft top. Oh boy!

We drove our Jeep up to the North Shore (how Hawaiian does that sound?) to check in to the Tiki Tower (the name of our rental house in Princeville). It's a fabulous 3-story number with a view in the distance of the ocean. It's going to be a nice week....

Hawaii - Day 7

Today was our last full day on Oahu so we decided to spend the whole day on the beach in Lanikai (our "home" beach). It was so beautiful and calm and perfect.

We left only to walk the 15 minutes or so to and from the Kailua Beach Park to visit again the Lanikai Shrimp Shack. Remember the fish tacos we missed out on the other day? Well that wasn't going to happen a second time. Today we were all able to enjoy these amazing fish tacos, of which there is no photographic proof. Trust me when I tell you these were piled high with blackened mahi, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and ranch. Yum.

And I got my first chance to run a food truck today! That might be stretching the truth a little bit, but the guy left us to watch the truck while he ran to the bathroom. All these people came up and I really could've started cooking to test things out, but I was still eating my fish taco and could.not.stop. As our "pay", the very nice food truck man (who made Mac that extra-large shave ice the other day) gave him a very big rainbow shave ice. A really, really nice guy.

We then spent the rest of the afternoon back on the beach - it really is a slice of heaven on earth.

Hawaii - Day 6

Today we slept in as well as you can sleep in when there's a cacophonous serenade of tropical birds outside your window. Even though we are staying in a lovely residential neighborhood, it sounds like the jungle early in the morning.

Our first of activity of the day was eating at Giovanni's food truck up in Kuhuku on the North Shore. Giovanni's was featured in Man v. Food so it seemed like a good bet. We all ordered shrimp scampi and it was good but let me assure you that Giovanni believes in a lot of garlic in his shrimp scampi. A whole lot. We didn't think it was worth the hype of Man v. Food but it's always nice to try new things.

After lunch we went to the Poynesian Cultural Center to learn about, well, Polynesian cultures. Mac had a ball learning how to make fire by rubbing sticks, watching this guy climb a coconut tree, watching a show where this Samoan guy taught us how to open coconuts, etc. We also enjoyed a very delicious luau and their very cool night-time show that included fire dancers.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Hawaii - Day 5

Today we headed to the southeastern part of the island to snorkel in Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is a volcanic crater that was opened to the sea after the ocean rose and covered over one side of the crater wall. Now it's a protected nature preserve that's equivalent to snorkeling in a giant aquarium. We intended to snorkel for a little while and leave, but ended up staying for 5 hours. Total paradise.

We then drove the 30 minutes or so back to Kailua, stopping just to see the Halona Blowhole (around the corner from which is the "From Here to Eternity" beach).

Our lunch spot today? The Lanikai Shrimp Shack right at Kailua Beach Park. The fish tacos apparently are to die for, but by the time we got there around 2pm, they was sold out. So Jimmy and I had coconut shrimp that came with a homemade dipping sauce that was to die for and my mom had garlic shrimp. Mac had an extra-large orange shave ice.

Fortified with good food, we then hiked up to the World War 2-built "Pillboxes" which overlook Kailue and Lanikai beaches. The hike was a little tougher than expected (notice the dirt on my mom's pants) but the views were totally worth it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Hawaii - Day 4

We started our day early today with a somber trip to Pearl Harbor where we were lucky enough to meet two Pearl Harbor survivors who are now 91 and 92 years old. Really amazing.

After Pearl Harbor, we headed back to the North Shore to do a little hiking in the Waimea Valley. This botanical garden is so lush and beautiful - Jimmy and Mac were rewarded for their hard hiking efforts with a dip in the waterfall pool.

It should come as no surprise that we went back to Bluewater for another lunch today. (We did ask employees at Waimea Valley where the nearest, best food truck was and they sent us to Bluewater, even though it was a town over.)

After our late lunch, we set out to find the big waves that were forecast for today alone as part of some crazy storm. The North Shore was expected to have 30-foot waves (that's on the face of the wave). We went to Ehukai Beach (where we'd been the day before to see huge waves) but then backtracked to Waimea Beach where there were dozen of surfers in the water waiting to catch the perfect wave. I think they all had some screws loose for getting out in water like that, but who I am to judge. According to this one crazy dude that my mom chatted with while we were watching (along with hundreds of other people who had the same idea), this is the hangout spot of Bethany Hamilton, Kelly Slater and similarly famous surfer types.

I am totally captivated by this surfing business. Now I need to figure out how to make a few million dollars so I can buy my ocean-front house on the North Shore. Then I can park my food truck on the beach side, sell to the beach crowd and pay off my mortgage. I am looking for investors if you're interested.

Hawaii - Day 3

We went to the North Shore town of Haleiwa today to go on catamaran trip to look for migrating humpback whales. Haleiwa is this very cool, old surfing town. We got to town early and decided to partake of the famous Hawaii shave (not shaved) ice from the famous Haleiwa landmark, Matsumoto.

The whale-watching trip did not disappoint. Jimmy's "money shots" of the two whales we followed:

After we got off the boat, we started in earnest Jimmy's quest to eat lunch from a shrimp truck every day we're on vacation. Everybody told us to eat at Bluewater Shrimp and Seafood Co ("by the 76 gas station") and oh my, was it good. I have decided in retirement, I'm going to figure out how to have one of these trucks. And I am going to serve this garlic shrimp with this garlicky sauce and two scoops of rice and a tossed salad. But I will charge more than the little bit of money Bluewater charged because I don't see how he makes any money.

Good food + good whale-spotting + cool beach towns = great day in Hawaii

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hawaii - Day 2

You can take the boys out of South Carolina, but you can never take the South Carolina out of the boys. In case you didn't hear the good news, the Gamecocks beat the Cornhuskers in the Capitol One Bowl on Tuesday morning. Since there's a 5-hour time zone difference between Hawaii and SC, Jimmy had to set his alarm clock early to watch the game. Mac joined him shortly after kickoff.

My two happy boys watched the game in the hotel room while my mom and I went to the Ala Moana Shopping Center, which is billed as the largest open-air shopping mall in the world. I don't know about the accuracy of this statement, but I found everything I needed.

Once the boys picked us up, we headed out to Kailua on the east coast of the island to our rental house for the next 6 nights. We checked in, changed into swimsuits and walked the 5 minutes to the world-famous Lanikai Beach. If I don't return to Bogota on January 17, this is the first place I'd look for me.