Kauai

Andrew and I are celebrating 10 years of marriage this year. 10 years…it’s crazy to think that time has gone so quickly. It is getting harder and harder to remember life without Andrew.

I like it that way.

We decided the best way to celebrate was with a huge holiday…and when I say huge, I mean huge…3 weeks huge. It was an awesome idea.

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Our trip started in Kauai

As we approached the U.S. customs officer at 5 am he said “How are you doing today?” I responded with “Well, we are heading out on a big holiday, so I would say we are doing pretty great.”

He looked at me and with no expression on his face said

“Well you are in the US now, and we take vacations. Have a good one.”

They call Kauai the garden state, and the minute we landed, it was clear to see why.

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This island is incredibly lush and jungle like. The air is humid and it can (and does) rain often and many times a day. It doesn’t seem to deter anyone because the rain is warm and never lasts long…except the rain that comes overnight. That is unlike any rain I have ever heard. And was is really interesting about Kauai rain…no thunder or lightening. I’m used to the crack and crash of thunder accompanying my Alberta rain storms, but in the 5 days we were in Kauai, there was none.

Kauai has one little thing that Andrew neglected to tell me about before we left…chickens. There are crap-loads of chickens and roosters on the island. Hurricane Iniki leveled Kauai, releasing many domestic birds into the wild…and well, they just wander free. This was quite a stress at the beginning of the trip, but as the week went on I became a little more desensitized to them. Don’t get me wrong, my hate for birds in general is still very strong, but at least I didn’t want to run every time I saw one…because I would have been doing a lot of running…

Unlike lots of our holidays, we did not spend a lot of our time at the beach. There was so much we wanted to see and do on the island that it really only left us one dedicated beach day at the end of our time (which led to some pretty wicked sunburns…)

While on the Island we-

Hiked the Mahaulepu Coast

This easy hike started less than a kilometer from our hotel and goes along the coast and through the trees. We didn’t hike the whole thing, but we made a significant dent in it. I have never been somewhere where my skin is constantly wet…not because I am sweating but because there is so much moisture and humidity in the air.

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Went to the Kauai Coffee Company

Kauai Coffee Company

The Kauai Coffee Company is the largest coffee plantation in the US. They have 4 million coffee plants on the island. We toured around the grounds and got a quick education in coffee production, then we promptly drank as many samples of coffee as our bodies could handle.

A Coffee Plant Up Close
A Coffee Plant Up Close

Saw Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Kauai…and they aren’t kidding when they call it that. We started the drive up to the lookout point and it was just a steady climb up, up, up. At the bottom the temperature was around 89 degrees Fahrenheit (who the heck knows what that is in Celsius…) The road wound and we passed waterfalls and drove into thick treed areas, and when we reached the lookout point parking lot, the temperature around us was 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The view was breathtaking and the pictures we got really don’t do it justice. It was unlike anything I have ever seen before.

Waimea Canyon

Went to the Queen’s Bath

The Queen’s bath is an outcropping of rocks on the Kauai coast that, when the tide is out makes a pool that warms up in the sun and you can swim in. Now getting to the bath is somewhat treacherous and taxing, but once you are there you will forget about what it took to get there and be happy you did it.

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Finding parking will be your first hurdle. The entrance to the Queen’s bath is a small cut into the trees that leads down a dirt path. It is right in the middle of a neighborhood in Princeville and the parking is at a premium. 10 spots at most with no street parking to be seen for blocks. I am sure that the people who chose this lovely neighborhood to live in curse the tourists who mill around and try to block their streets so they can go for a swim.

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It is quite a trek down to the rocks and, because it is constantly raining there, the ground is wet and slippery. We saw many people walking barefoot, flip flops in hand, to try to get a better grip on the slippery slope through the trees. You are greeted by little waterfalls along the way which makes for a happy reprieve as you try not to fall head first down the treacherous red path.

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Once you make it to the bottom, you walk along the black rocks past a few inlets where the seawater splashes in a sprays up. At the first one we saw two guys swimming away in the water. They would dive in and it would churn up and spit them back out on the rocks as the waves crashed over. Very, very dangerous, very, very stupid. I naively, thought this was the bath. I looked at Andrew and said “You’re not going in there and neither am I!”

But after a little walk farther, we saw the calm little pool, full of people, with water lightly trickling over the rocks. We made our way down and dove right in. It was warm and calm and so much fun.

The hike back up was much easier though not much drier. We cleaned as much red dirt off our shoes and legs as we could, hopped in the car and continued on our tour of the island.

Saw Ke’e beach and tried to hike the Na Pali Coastline

Ke-e beach is known for its snorkeling so we headed there. The weather was poor that day but Andrew braved the water. Our big goal was to hike part of the Na Pali coast but because of all the rain the trails were closed. Good thing it was a beautiful drive up.

Courtesy of planetware.com

Saw Wailea Falls

These are the falls from the Jurassic Park movie. It was a quick and easy drive up with a view that did not disappoint.

Wailea Falls

It’s amazing how fast 5 days can go. We were ready for our next adventure: Tahiti and Moorea, but first a quick stopover in Waikiki

Waikiki

Since we had to fly out of Honolulu anyways we decided to take one day in Waikiki to say we had experienced it. From the moment we got off the plane and waited for our transfer, I knew Honolulu/Waikiki were not the places for me. When I go somewhere warm and tropical I want the idyllic, unspoiled, natural, slow-paced style of life. Not “L.A. on an island” like the guy at the airport proudly reported to us. It was a sea of people, high-rise buildings and shopping. We couldn’t even see the beach until we were on it. I am sure that Oahu has lots of beautiful things to see and do that do not require you to be in the hustle and bustle of the city, but I don’t know that I would return to find out.

Waikiki

Give me calm, quiet and scenic any day over the craziness of Waikiki.

Thankfully Moorea did not disappoint in that respect…

Road Trip to BC

We had so much fun on our road trip through BC last year that we decided we would do it again this year. We already did our big jet-off-to-a-beach somewhere this summer and we thought one last road trip before school begins would be a nice break.

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Andrew loves a good road trip. I, on the other hand, only tolerate the drive. I love getting to the destination but the long hours on the road or even (gasp) having to drive myself doesn’t really appeal to me. Full disclosure- I forgot how long it took to get to Vancouver last year…I’m not sure I would have agreed if I remembered. But in the end it all worked out and we had a wonderful time.

Our dear friends Ryan and Paula are such incredibly gracious hosts. They make us feel so welcome and show us all the fun things there are to do in the Vancouver area. This trip was no exception!

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Our first adventure was to Lynn Canyon. As we sat in Ryan and Paula’s living room brainstorming all the things we could do, the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge hike came up.

BC Road Trip

Paula looked a Ryan and said “Should we tell them?…Well I guess we have to tell them…”

He looked at her blankly.

She turned to us and said solemnly,  “Someone died there.”

My mind begins picturing a rickety old suspension bridge miles and miles up where people were falling over the edge, plummeting to their death. I have a small issue with heights so I was starting to feel really panicky.

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Ryan piped up incredulously “No one died there! Where did you hear that?”

“There was a plaque at the beginning of the bridge, I read it” Paula said “I read it last time we were there.”

As this exchange went back and forth,  I was trying to find a way to back out of a trip to a place where I may never return from…

In the end Lynn Canyon turned out to be a short (but somewhat panic inducing) suspension bridge walk that led to a beautiful forest hike. I am so glad we were not deterred.

In case you were wondering who was right…well they both were, kind of. Someone did die there but not from the bridge.

Our next big outing was to Richmond for a little shopping and the night market. Here is what you need to know about Richmond: It’s like going to China/Korea/Japan without ever leaving Canada. It is so amazing.

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Our first stop was the mall in Richmond…specifically to spend a little time at a store called Daiso. It is basically a Japanese dollar store (that is literally what I googled when looking up the store). 2 floors of interesting items all priced around $2-5 dollars. I bought all kinds of neat items from wrapping paper and gift bags to a head massager to replacement bento boxes for my lunch!

After that fun experience we headed off to the Richmond Night Market.

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This outdoor market is filled with food and vendors selling mostly Asian fare.

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We had dinner and did a bunch of shopping. I bought my fill of cute socks and shoes at this great market.

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We had separated from Paula and Ryan for a bit during our shopping and while we were apart I found the cutest panda eye mask at a little kiosk that was stuffed full of cute Japanese trinkets and I bought it instantly. When we met up again, I was so excited to show her what I bought because we had been talking about our mutual love of pandas. Before I could tell her, she excitedly pulled the exact same mask out of her bag. She had bought it for me…

BC Road Trip

If you are in the Vancouver area and get a chance, check out the Night Market, it was the highlight of our trip!

Our last morning was spent at Granville Island. We had a roaming breakfast of pastries and crepes and a delicious coffee from J. J. Bean.

BC Road Trip

We are thinking of making our trip to BC a yearly ritual. But I did suggest to Andrew that we fly next year instead of drive…