Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Greetings from Hawaii! (after the fact)
I had intended to actually post some pictures and fun stories while we were in Hawaii, to gloat and whatnot, but didn't get around to it, since I was busy loafing on the beach and swimming and eating tropical fruit and hiking. So, we are back on the mainland now (North Dakota at present), so I'm finally getting around to posting.
By the way, we both survived the semester. Both of us did well in language classes, and I'm waiting to hear back on my Exegesis paper. Hopefully it will be graded by the time we get back from Vancouver in early June. Anyhoo, on the the stuff from Hawaii...
We visited the island of Kauai. There was an unexpected visit to Oahu as well... more on that later. Kauai was much more easy-going than Maui--still a lot of tourists, but a lot less ritzy and very friendly. It's a smaller island, but there's still lots of stuff to do.
Snorkeling and Swimming
We went snorkeling almost every day! There's such an amazing variety of sea life! I didn't spring for the underwater disposable camera this time, so you just have to believe me on this one. Keith enjoyed seeing the fish, but not having salt water in his mouth. I guess it takes getting used to. I got to swim with sea turtles! That was a major highlight.
Usually after swimming in the ocean, a rinse in the pool or hot tub was nice to get the salt off. Although a lot of other people had the same idea... the pools at our hotel had a very high salt and sand content!
We went on two major hikes, and a number of shorter walks. The first hike was along the wild and rugged Na Pali Coastline, and up to a spectacular waterfall. It was amazing how hearty we felt because of the oxygen-rich rainforest air... until we ran out of water.
The path took us over spectacular headlands to a beach...
...then up through a forest where coffee trees were growing wild. We met some people along the trail who taught us how to gather coffee beans! We've yet to see if the beans we collected are any good.
At this point, we were extremely hot and sticky, so the waterfall and pool were most welcome. Dad looked for frogs while I got pummeled by the waterfall.
Our other hike was into the world's highest swamp, near Waimea Canyon. We experienced some of Kauai's famous red dirt, some fog, some small lizards sunning themselves on the path, and eventually a great view, albeit still a bit foggy! Keith and I tried to take the shorter, better trail back, but found out at the end of the trail that it came out at a 4 mile long 4-wheel-drive only road. Whoops. Our hike ended up being longer (and possibly muddier) than everyone else's.
We also went on a lovely walk down the coast near our hotel at Poipu Beach.
We took a catamaran along the Na Pali coast, which is not accessible by car. We went snorkeling, saw beautiful scenery and some interesting sea creatures (dolphins, sea turtles, and a shark), and (most of us) enjoyed the wild ride on the way back... sitting at the front of the boat was like constantly having buckets of water dumped over our heads! Unfortunately Dad got rather seasick...
In addition to an abundance of tropical fish, we saw spinner dolphins...
...a big nasty centipede...
...and... chickens?! A bunch of chicken coops blew open during a hurricane a few years ago, and they thrived in the wild. They were everywhere, even on the beach and on our porch.
We have a tradition of "frog hunting" while in Hawaii. A favorite evening activity for Colin and I when we were younger was to search for frogs in the garden of our hotel.
Cooking and Eating
This was a big part of our trip! Most of the time we made our own meals, using fresh, local ingredients. We started with a trip to the farmer's market, fighting the crowd for the freshest pineapples! We sometimes had a list, but often our menu would revolve around what was available at the market.
Sometimes unusual things were at the market, such as raw macadamia nuts in the shell. We quickly discovered that our kitchen was not very well equipped... no nutcracker! Dad and Colin improvised.
Keith was our grillmeister (as usual). Highlights were kalbi chicken, fresh fish (wahoo and mahi mahi), and grilled pineapple.
Our best/most elaborate meal featured mahi mahi with fruit salsa, grilled pineapple, purple coconut rice, grilled corn, and salad!
Colin and Dad picked wild strawberry guavas on a hike, which I made into jam.
So, we thought we were leaving... but the plane on our flight from Honolulu to Seattle decided we would stay for a few more hours. I noted that we did not seem to be climbing... that was because the flaps refused to retract completely. So, we circled for a couple of hours in order to lighten the plane by dumping and burning off fuel (meanwhile we became more and more nervous, the more the pilot tried to reassure us), then returned to Honolulu. Due to what happened next, I would heartily recommend Hawaiian Airlines... They shuttled us to Waikiki Beach (here we are waiting for the shuttle) and fed us dinner at a hotel! Meanwhile, our plane got fixed.
We had several hours to wander around the beach.
Keith enjoyed the Banyan trees... and the Japanese tourists! All the signs were bilingual.
So, the second try (on the same plane) got us all the way home, albeit 11 hours later than expected. After a couple of days to recover (and can some of the pineapple we brought home), we set out for the geographical center of North America... more on that soon! :)