Letting Kauai Happen

In October, the Mister and I went to Hawaii for our second honeymoon. And it was GLORIOUS.

After researching our trip to within an inch of its life (as I’m wont to do), we settled on visiting Kauai since all I wanted to do was sit on the beach and just relax. Kauai worked perfectly since there’s just enough to do but not worry about missing out if all you DID want to do was sit on the beach and just relax.

We went for a week and while it was the perfect amount of time to do most of the things we wanted, it wasn’t long enough because who wants their vacation to end?

We rented a condo in Poipu on the South Shore that was probably a 5 minute walk to Poipu State Beach and offered a great view of the ocean from the lanai.

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Here’s all the fun we got into:

Tuesday: Tuesday was our travel day. After a harried arrival at Oakland International (we’re working on leaving earlier for the airport), we just made our flight by a couple of minutes (mahalo to the Hawaiian Airlines staff for working hard to get us through check-in and security!). Thankfully the rest of the trip was delightfully uneventful but the service on Hawaiian was great; they even serve food on the first leg to the Islands! AND once you reach Hawaiian airspace, they gave us a free rum punch. Yes, we were definitely on vacation. Once on Kauai, we geeked out over our first wild chicken sighting at the airport (they are EVERYWHERE), had lunch at Tortilla Republic and lunch dessert at Lappert’s (because vacation) and then settled into our condo.

Wednesday: We woke up early and walked down to the beach to watch the sunrise, saw a monk seal napping on the beach, went hunting for Wailua Falls (my first real waterfall sighting!) and enjoyed the Farmers’ Market at the Shops at Kukui’ula where I sampled some of the most divine lilikoi curd ever.

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Thursday: Our big adventure for the day was ziplining! We ziplined with Skyline Zipline and were treated to a fantastic view of the South Shore while we zipped along 8 different lines. It was a little nerve-wrecking in the beginning knowing that we were pretty high up but the thrill of gliding through the air was amazing. Our guides recommended doing a running start and that certainly amped up the thrills! That night we had dinner at the Dolphin and was treated to a great sunset view and a little begging from a very polite stray cat who sit next to you after you were served your meal. Then I tasted nirvana: it takes of shave ice (I’d go on to have shave ice several more times during the week).

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Friday: We started the day checking out Spouting Horn and then part of the afternoon at Kiahuna Beach. The Mister hung out and read while I swam in the ocean. I didn’t have any snorkeling gear but I still was able to see a blue tang swim by! That evening we headed inland to go to Smith’s Family Luau for our traditional luau experience. I enjoyed the show and even figured out that I like poi! It’s pretty good on pulled pork.

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Saturday: Saturday was our big adventure: a helicopter tour! While we had to sell our figurative soul by going to a timeshare presentation, we did enjoy the discounted tour that we otherwise wouldn’t have taken. It was a great opportunity to see the ENTIRE island – though if you go, try to get a seat on the right side of the copter. I was on the left and except for our spin through Waimea Canyon, I had a fantastic view of the ocean.

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After our tour, we made our way to visit the North Shore and Hanalei Pier but it was kind of rainy and overcast so our trip was cut a bit short. That night we had a delightful dinner at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House and more shave ice.

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Sunday: After surviving the timeshare presentation (which we are not allowed to do ever again), we had brunch at La Spezia to fuel up for our trek up Waimea Canyon. While we did see the Canyon during our tour the day before (as the Mister so generously reminded me several times), it was still a treat to drive and pull off at almost every possible lookout point (much to the chagrin of the Mister) to see the Canyon from a different perspective. It was definitely worth the drive up! We push through to the literal end of the road for an amazing view of the ocean and part of the Na Pali coast.

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Monday: Monday was our final full day and since we had done all the bigger adventures, we kept it casual, with a morning trip to Poipu Beach (really? Swimming in the ocean on a Monday morning? Be still my heart), followed by lunch at Merriman’s Fish House (it’s so weird to be having lunch while listening to Monday Night Football), then dinner and free hula show at the Poipu Shopping Village and our final sunset in paradise.

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In all, it was an amazing trip and I’m so glad we were able to make it happen. It was a great way to celebrate a second honeymoon and it was such a treat to get away with the Mister. I’m looking forward to coming back and discovering a new island (though Kauai will always be my favorite). Maui, you’re next!

Aloha Kauai. Until we meet again.

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Beautiful – even somewhere in the middle

After spending the winter break in Michigan with my in-laws (without snow! In December! I felt kind of ripped off), the husband and I headed back home in a new-to-us car. That’s right; we DROVE from Michigan to California.

3 days, 2,363 miles and 8 states later, we made it home in one piece AND still married. It was quite the feat.

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While this wasn’t my first cross-country trip (that occurred way earlier in life when my family moved from Georgia to California), I had a lot more appreciation for the views along I-80, especially coupled with the small portion of the Oregon Trail we travelled along (why else would anyone be excited (or even know about) stopping in Laramie? Or seeing a roadside sign for Chimney Rock?

There were ‘fording the river’ jokes a plenty.

America is beautiful. From the farm lands in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska to the snowy mountains of Wyoming, Utah, Nevada and Northern California, there was so much to see and enjoy; views that I normally fly over so it was a joy to be able to actually see them this time. While I took a lot of photos (follow me on Instagram to check them out at #thehalifeCATrail) there were so many more sights I didn’t capture and instead, just enjoyed in the moment.

We were blessed with clear weather after waiting out Winter Storm Goliath the entire way through, which was a major concern given the time of year. While it was interesting to sleep in a different state each night of the trip, boy are we glad to be home in our own bed without the threat of another 6-9 hour drive ahead of us.

That said, I’d totally be up for another road trip; the husband…not so much. But maybe I can start small and work things up. There’s always a mini roadtrip up (or down) the PCH!

Please, sir, may I have another Seattle?

When we last left our intrepid travelers, we had just finished adding to the eclectic gum gallery in Post Alley. From there we hopped in the car to head to see where we’d end up next. Capitol Hill was an option, as was the Chinatown/International district. However, we found ourselves ending up at Safeco Field to check out the Mariners.

I know; how awesome was that random decision? Amalia and I used to be pretty good fans of the Mariners back in the 90s when we were in junior high/high school [we will admit it was for Alex Rodriguez but we knew the ENTIRE team – as Amalia is just as nutty, if not more, about sports as I am]. In fact, we had spent the night before chatting about the team at dinner [with enough references to Jay Buhner and “little” Joey Cora to make JoAl to roll his eyes at us]. I got to check out the new stadium, saw some 90s era Mariners baseball [yay Junior Griff for hitting that game-winning double in the bottom of the eighth! Just like old times!], got to see former Giants Joe Nathan [who has filled out remarkably well!] and David Aardsma, and eat shish-ka-berries.

What’s are shish-ka-berries? Think chocolate-dipped strawberry kabobs. So delicious. The chocolate added just enough sweet to the berry. I think they should start selling these puppies down here! Plus points.

I enjoyed the new stadium but was put off by the old-school jumbotron. What is up with the two-tone binary stuff, people? You’ve got a fancy new stadium and it looks like you just dug up the centerfield jumbotron from the Kingdome and brought it here. Minus points.

After the game we headed to Ballard to stop by Cupcake Royale to finish the “Trophy Cupcake vs. Cupcake Royale throw down extravaganza.” Here I picked up the monthly special, Rainier Cherry [from the website: chunks of Rainier cherries from Olmsted Orchards, and a splash of Clear Creek Distillery Cherry Liqueur in a sweet pink buttercream topped with a sprinkling of uniquely crunchy organic, roasted cocoa nibs from Theo Chocolate]. Amalia picked up a Royale w Cheese for herself and a Peppermint Party for JoAl.

So what’s the final verdict? Cupcake Royale all the way. The frosting was also just sweet enough but the cake. Oh the cake was moist and spongy and definitely had the best flavor.

After polishing off the cupcakes, we headed out for some dinner at Ivar’s where I was introduced to a fabulous view of Lake Union [yup, the same lake they filmed the boat house scenes in Sleepless in Seattle] and of an awesomely unexpected landing of those floating planes. Oh, and a gigantic Alaskan King crab leg. Seriously, Amalia and I both ordered half a pound of crab legs and it turned out that just one leg ended up being half a pound. I kind of wish I had taken a picture of it. Anywho, they gave you the tools to tackle it but the shell cracker thing is completely useless when the cooked meat pulls away from the shell so when you press down on it, it just squeezes together instead of cracking open. So I had to be all Neanderthal about it and use my hands. It would have been cool had the legs not been so prickly too.

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