Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Toes in the Water...

Nick and I LOVE the beach…good thing too, because all Navy bases are near water. However, despite Japan being an island, which means technically we live “by” the ocean…we really don’t have the “beachy” lifestyle that we have come accustomed to in our past duty stations. Sadly Nick and I haven’t even been to the beach since moving to Japan! (The beaches in Japan are not only far away due to the horrific Japanese traffic, but they are totally not the soft sandy beaches like Florida) That being said, Hawaii was just what we needed! Sun and sand!

“I got my toes in the water, toes in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today. Life is good today!” ~ Zach Brown Band

It was my second visit to Hawaii and Nick’s first. We stayed on the island of Kauai, Hawaii’s Garden Island. Known for it’s lush greenery and beautiful beaches, we weren’t disappointed.

Nick was there for training, a week and a half of “work” in Hawaii…yes please!?! Of course, I tagged along! (What else is a girl to do when evacuated from her home?)

We stayed in a tiny town called Wamea on an old sugar plantation, the Wamea Plantation Cottages. The houses were all unique, each with a different floor plan and it’s own charm. Built and lived in over 100 years ago, the cottages are a historic treasure.

The plantation houses were all set right by the water, giving me the perfect excuse to run on the beach every morning! Not that it was hard to get up early, we were awakened by roosters (yes plural) every morning! Hundreds of roosters and chickens inhabit the island of Kauai. They are famous in those parts…darting along the road and making noises ALL hours of the day! One local told me that the people of Kauai will never go hungry as long as they continue to have the abundance of chickens that they do!

Nick did a bit of surfing while we were there…the beach on base was gorgeous and the waves were perfect!

I might not have done a good job of capturing the poultry influx at the plantation on camera, but I am proud to show off that I properly documented Nick's first time catching a wave!!!

Nick did work most of the time we were in Kauai, but he got one weekend off…so of course we took advantage of that time to explore the island!

The Koloa Rum Company was recommended in several of the guide books I scoured over in my free moments...with only so much time to tour Kauaii, I wanted us to see and do the best of the best!

Located at Kilohana Plantation (built in 1936), the Koloa Rum Co. offers free rum tasting every half hour! There one can sample one of the companies' three award winning Koloa Rum's.
"Using only the best island ingredients available, most notably raw sugar and pure rain water squeezed from the clouds enveloping Mt. Wai'ale'ale, it all comes together in every bottle of Hawaii's finest premium rum."

The month we were there they had just released a brand new rum, which we got to sample, a very delicious spice rum! While at the Plantation you can take a tour of the historic residence, dine at the award winning restaurant called 22 North (which we ate at for dinner - highly recommend), shop at one of the many boutiques, take a train ride around the plantation (unfortunately we didn't have time to), and on Tuesday and Friday the Plantation hosts a Luau...Kauai's only theatrical luau experience! (again, we didn't have enough time)

Despite my fear of sharks and “open” water, Nick LOVES to scuba dive…Normally I stay by the phone fretting and waiting, for Nick to call me and tell me he has finished his dive, and that he survived! (Yes I am a bit of a worrier!) But since we didn’t have much time to explore Hawaii together, I didn’t want to sit this one out! So, I stayed on the boat and acted as official photographer!

Some of Nick's co-workers came with us....

Those darn roosters were everywhere....we couldn't get away from them!

Prior to boarding the boat, we were cautioned of the high winds and rough waves that day, and warned that we might get sea sick... (later, after much time on the boat, Nick and I did in fact get a bit green!)
Scuba Steve ready for take-off...

While everyone else risked their lives swimming with marine life, I stayed up top with the Captain! My parents did name me after Captain and Tennille! (Unfortunately the Captain didn’t let me steer the boat…boo!)

Nick might have seen sharks, octopus, dozens of different types of fish and coral, but I got a show from the top of the boat myself...

From up top, we saw dolphins, whales and many turtles!

After a long morning of scuba diving, everyone in our party was hungry...since I made buddies with Captain Zach (a native Hawaiian, with a thick accent) I found out about a local spot for us to dine at for lunch! As Zach put it, "it's da best!"

As the Captain suggested, we were to order the #7...which of course we all did! Zach didn't steer us wrong, the meal was tasty...not exactly the best meal I have had, but definitely "local flavor"! After eating mainly touristy food, (albeit delicious) the local flavor is just what we were looking for!

Bobbie's is in Hanapepe...a quaint historic town, which all the guidebooks told us to visit. (Another check in the box for the Holman's.)

Also in Hanapepe is the famous Swinging Bridge. The view from this bridge is gorgeous...watching the sun set over the Wamea Canyon with no other buildings blocking the scene!

On Saturday we decided to take a drive along the Na Pali Coast...the island of Kauai has only one main road that snakes around the coast of 3/4 of the island, the rest of the island is only accessible by foot (or in Nick's case helicopter)! Therefore it is possible to drive from one side of the island to the next in under 3 hours! (Which we did!)

At the end of the road (literally) we parked our car and got out to continue exploring on foot... (which apparently is what 700,000 visitors do every year!) Below is a picture of one of the landmark caves located in Ha'ena State Park.
In order to see the scenic treasures of the state wilderness park, one has to take the trail...or at least part of it.
Feeling adventurous, Nick, 5 of our 51 friends and I set out to find the famous waterfall which was reputed to be 4 miles into the trail.

Two miles into the trail is Hanakapiai, a tropical valley with a river and sandy beach...breathtaking!

The site of several movies…one can see why!

The Hanakoa Falls was worth the 4 mile hike (on an empty stomach, with improper footwear and one big fall on the slippery rocks)!

One night we went to dinner at a local restaurant called Wrangler’s Steakhouse. The food was decent, not at all exceptional, but the dessert we ordered was DELICIOUS! Lilikoi Dream Pie…I would go back just for that alone! This lilikoi (passion fruit) pie is a made out of ice cream and topped with whip cream! So yummy!

For Nick's last free day, we booked a zip lining tour! Both of us had never been zip lining and thought Hawaii was the perfect place to do it!

The tour included 6 hours of trekking through the secret forest trails of Kipu Ranch and zipping along on 8 diverse lines!

The famous Kipu Ranch, is 4000 acres of lush diverse greenery, and the place where many movies were filmed.

Countless films have been made on the island of Kaua'i, (most recently – the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean, Just Go With It and The Decendants) but Kipu Ranch specifically has a long list of movies made on it. The picture below is one of the most famous spots, where movies have been filmed…Jurassic Park being the most famous!

The final zip line was 18 hundred feet high and a quarter-mile long! This line was done in pairs, so Nick and I got to experience it and the gorgeous scenery along the way, together!

The tour ended at a secluded Blue Pool, where we zipped and then dropped into a mountain stream-fed, natural swimming pool.

After a long afternoon of zip lining, we stopped by the Kauai Coffee company for a tour and caffeine boost!

Kauai Coffee Company is Hawaii's largest Coffee Plantation. It is 3,100 acres of coffee in the making!

While at the Coffee Company, guests are able to sample all of their coffee flavors (over a dozen and all delicious) and take a walking tour through the coffee plants.

Shaved ice and then dinner at the Wamea Brewing Co. on my last day in Kauai made for a perfect trip!

The week and a half spent in Hawaii was a wonderful vacation for Nick and I. We said our goodbye’s at the airport and parted ways, not knowing when we would see each other again. He was heading back to Japan and I to Texas, to wait out the rest of the evacuation, until they allowed the dependants to go back to Japan as well.

I spent the last 4 weeks in and around Texas, visiting friends and family in Austin, Houston, Fort Worth, Dallas and Norman Oklahoma. Tomorrow however, I start my journey back to Japan…after 7 weeks in the States, I am ready to finally be back home! Nick will be there to pick Beretta and I up from the airport and though I am dreading the long trip, I am anxious for the reunion!