Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kaua'i, 2011

During my visit to Oahu in December, I took a side trip to the island of Kaua'i the "garden isle".  Airline flights took off every 30 minutes, sort of like commuter trains that fly and they were packed!  Of course it was Christmas vacation time so what did I expect? It is a very short flight so the little kids didn't get too squirmy but they did spread their little germs around. A Merry Christmas sore throat and subsequent laryngitis ensued.
My friends Madalyn and Jeff picked me up at the airport in Lihue and off we went to their side of "Island", Poipu beach which is the southern part of the island. I had no idea which direction we were going, this being my first trip to Kaua'i. The landscape is very lush with pink plumerias,  red & pink ginger and other flora and fauna most of which I couldn't identify.

I met them when they lived in Manhattan Beach, CA before Steve and I got married. They went to high school with Steve in Park Ridge, IL.  We hit it off immediately and shared a love of kitties. Steve and I had never owned a cat but fell in love with "Streaker" the Burmese cat that "owned" Jeff & Madalyn. Well, she had kittens the next year and we got one! Jeff and Steve came up with the name "Barley" as Steve's beverage of choice was beer. Barley came to own us too! She traveled with us when we moved from San Diego to Chicago and subsequently back to San Francisco. I could write another blog on the cats we had and loved and just may one of these days.
My hosts gave me a brief history of how they came to live on Kaua'i and we caught up on our lives since we had seen each other last.  Madalyn was raring to go to show me around. We had 2 days so had to make the most of it.
Their home is beautiful and borders a golf course ( both of them golf).
there is a purple hibiscus bush, pink ginger and plumerias plus the newly painted front door

 It came with a feral cat that had kittens underneath the house, one of which decided to stick around. I think they gave the rest away and the Momma kitty took off. Pancho definitely won their hearts. He was in the process of training them to wake up early to feed him,  give him treats on command and put cushions on the lanai furniture so he could take his naps in luxury while I was there. He won my heart too. The current Burmese kitty in residence, Binky, stayed indoors and pretty much ignored her outdoor competition.
Pancho lounging on the lanai

 Jeff is a vegetarian. I admire him for not eating what he doesn't want to and eating exactly what he likes. He rarely goes out to restaurants for that reason. Madalyn is a fabulous cook and has his menu preferences down to a science. She had the refrigerator stocked so he could make his own lunch or dinner while we were free to explore the island.  We stayed in the first night and enjoyed a dinner of  spinach lasagna, vegetables and salad as well as wine. I think we overdid the wine ( Jeff doesn't drink) but we had a great time talking about Steve's antics in his heyday back in Park Ridge. It made me feel good to laugh about those memories. Too often people are afraid to bring him up in conversation.

 I had a little list of places my friend Tim from Cayucos  had given me so we started checking it off.  The Grand Hyatt Regency and Sheraton hotels were in Poipu beach so we made sure we walked through them. She said they were good places to stroll over to on Sundays and have coffee while reading the newspaper on the lanais. Really beautiful surroundings.
Madalyn at the Grand Hyatt Regency, Poipu

The next day we hopped into M's pickup truck and headed through Lihue and up towards the north coast.  First stop was the Kilauea Point Light Station.

 It was a bit blustery but I loved the views and history.

Nenes, a goose like bird, roamed around and is a protected species. There were hundreds of other seabirds that nested on the cliffs as well.
Nene, tagged

Speaking of birds, Kaua'i is home to thousands of chickens. Hurricane Iniki in 1992 broke open tons of chicken coops and off they went, pecking, proliferating and making themselves at home on the entire island (even Costco's parking lot). They are really pretty but I imagine a bit of a nuisance. Free range (island) or not, I stuck to eating seafood while there.
After the light station we drove north in the rain and wind to Hanalei and Princeville. Not a very good day for photos but a good day for girlfriends hanging out together. I was reminded that Kaua'i is the Garden Island, no droughts, and has the most rainfall in the world! It is the oldest and most northern island in the Hawaiian chain. Check out the travelers website here.

On the way back we stopped in Kapaa for lunch and a visit to a local craft fair.  One of Tim's suggestions was to go to the Pono Market for "box lunch" but at 1:15 pm they were all sold out. We opted for the "Ono Family Restaurant" next door.  It is a favorite stop for locals and tourists. Madalyn ordered the special of the day, Teriyaki beef sandwich and I ordered Grilled Opah sandwich which was delicious. I ate the sandwich open face, Opah, grilled and placed on top of incredible local greens (garden isle!) served with the ubiquitous french fries. It came with a cup of Portuguese bean soup that I am pretty sure had chunks of spam in it. Good though. I had to go next door to the Pono Market to get a beer to go. They wouldn't sell me a simple 12 oz bottle, nooo, it was a 22 oz can or nothing. More than I could finish. A very friendly woman was having lunch across from us and we struck up a conversation. It turned out she was a widow and once she found out that I shared the same status she grilled me about how long it had been me:"four months"...Her "oh my God, you haven't even begun to heal", me: sobbing by now. Madalyn ran interference and we ended the conversation but not before she told me to look for a book by Joan Didion " The Year of Magical Thinking".  I did pick it up when I came home and it was really helpful.

The craft fair up the highway was really good. They had what I called "surfer necklaces" with carved fish hooks, plumerias and various other surfer type charms. Scored for the nephews ( and myself)!

We stopped at Costco so Madalyn could get some food for her Christmas Eve dinner and I picked up a gift card for my hosts back in Honolulu. That is where I spotted this chicken in the parking lot.
Costco parking lot Chicken

K-Mart was next for tee shirts for my nephews. What a great selection they had! I snagged a few for myself as well. 
That evening Madalyn and I went to Brennecke's on Poipu beach. We weren't super hungry so had pupus, Seared Ahi rolled in furikaka, Coconut Shrimp and Thai Chicken Sate were among the offerings. It would have been really neat to be there during the day as it is right on the beach. Check that one off Tim's list!
The next morning we went on a walk through an incredible Orchid garden, one of Madalyn's favorite walks. It is near the Sheraton Hotel that is undergoing renovations. I couldn't believe all of the different species of orchids.

It was time to go... We had enough time for lunch at the infamous "Dukes".  Was that good?! Barefoot bar, on the sand, Kaluah Pork on Taro bun=Mango BBQ Pork, wowzer! Taro bun??? I need to figure out how to make those.
Off to the the Lihue airport and back to Honolulu for Christmas. 
It was a wonderful mini vacation and I will be back, right Madalyn?