Concisely: On Friday, March 31, 2023, we left Milwaukee to fly to Denver, Colorado for an aircraft change, and onwards to San Jose, California to stay the night at Marriott’s Fairfield Hotel. On Saturday, April 1, 2023, we were joined by Robyn, Darin, Olivia, and Isabel for our flight to Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii, and our stay at the Marriott Kauai Lagoons at Kalanipu’u. On Friday, April 7, 2023, we flew to San Jose, California, where Linda and I stayed at an Airbnb in Lafayette, California, an hour’s drive from San Jose. On Wednesday, April 12, 2023, we flew back to Milwaukee from Oakland, California, with a stopover in Denver, Colorado for a plane change, arriving home at 2:00 am on Thursday, April 13, 2023.
On a personal note, in the past month, I have endured a 13-hour time zone change with Cape Town at one extreme and Hawaii at the other. To be perfectly accurate, on the day I flew to Cape Town, the time zone difference was 8 hours from US Central time. On my return, it was 7 hours because in the interim the US went on to Daylight Savings Time. Hawaii remains at standard time year-round, with a 5-hour time zone difference during our daylight-saving time. What we don’t do to our bodies with all these adjustments to new time zones.
It was two weeks ago that I returned from a trip to Cape Town, South Africa to celebrate our 60th high school reunion since graduating high school in 1963. I cannot recall a time when the 8-hour time zone difference had me suffering from jet lag this badly. I was tired in the afternoons, went to sleep early at night, and woke early in the morning. Thankfully, a week later my experience was history. We face a 5-hour time zone difference this time, so here is hoping for a better experience.
In brief, we had a fabulous time on Kauai Island, Hawaii, known as the Garden Island, with its tropical vegetation, never-ending beauty with plant life and wild chickens, scenic vistas, beautiful beaches, and everything to put one at peace with the world.
Kauai. It is the fourth largest island in the Hawaii string. Kauai Island is a place for a more relaxed vacation because there are somewhat fewer tourists when compared to the other islands in the chain. Kauai is also known for its natural beauty and its dramatic, beautiful sites. (For example, Waimea Canyon, and the Coconut Coast.) Kauai is a wonderful place for hiking and waterfall views.
Kauai has a population of 73,300 according to the 2020 census. Hawaii does not observe daylight savings time, so there is no need to have clocks spring forward or fall back. Kauai’s current economy is heavily dependent on tourism with 19.6% of locals aged 16 and over working in hospitality and 10.8% in retail-related work. Kauai’s GDP is $4.5 million for all industries. Kauai is an expensive place to live. In fact, it’s one of the more expensive Hawaiian Islands to live on. A lot of the cost is driven by Kauai’s housing prices, which can be the highest in Hawaii.
Oahu. Sometimes called “The Gathering Place,” Oʻahu certainly lives up to its name. The third largest Hawaiian island is home to the majority of Hawaiʻi’s diverse population, a fusion of East and West cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. It’s this fundamental contrast between the ancient and the modern that makes discovering Oʻahu — from bustling city life to laidback surf towns — so enjoyable. Here are the details of our vacation in November 2018.
Maui, also known also as “The Valley Isle”, is the second largest island in the chain. Maui is known for its world-famous beaches, the Iao Valley, migrating humpback whales (in winter), and spectacular Haleakala sunsets and sunrises.
Hawaii. It is the largest island in the chain. Big Island is known for the Kilauea volcano, which is located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There are also great beaches for swimmers, surfers, and snorkelers on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Molokai and Lanai islands make up slightly more than 1% of all visitor arrivals. Molokai Island is home to the tallest sea cliffs in the world.
To prepare for this vacation, we watched the 1961 Elvis movie Blue Hawaii. Having been released from the Army, Chadwick “Chad” Gates is eager to return to Hawaii with his surfboard, his native Hawaiian beach friends, and his mixed-race girlfriend Maile Duval. His mother, Sarah Lee, wants him to follow in his father’s footsteps and take over management at the Great Southern Hawaiian Fruit Company, the family business, but Chad is reluctant and goes to work as a tour guide at his girlfriend’s agency. His slightly scatter-brained boss is Mr. Chapman. Blue Hawaii was the first of three Elvis films to be shot in Hawaii, followed by Girls! Girls! Girls in 1962 and Paradise, Hawaiian Style in 1965. For the record, we did not see where the movie was filmed due to the challenge of getting to the remote location.
Update April 17, 2023. Demolition will soon begin on a resort once favored by Elvis Presley and other Hollywood royalty before it was heavily damaged by a hurricane three decades ago. The Coco Palms Resort on the island of Kauai will be torn down for a new 350-room hotel. The resort is best known in movie lore as the location where Presley and Joan Blackman’s characters married in the 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii.” It’s also the site of other key scenes in the movie, including the last where Presley sings the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” and holds Blackman’s hand while they board a raft to cross a lagoon. In its heyday, it was famed for being frequented by other Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, and Bing Crosby.
Day 1, Friday, March 31, 2023, Fairfield Inn, San Jose, California.
The first day of our trip to Hawaii started interestingly. After attempting to get to bed earlier than normal last night we woke at 2:00 am today to get to the airport for our flight to San Jose, California with a stopover in Denver, Colorado. We arranged to park at a surface parking area near the Milwaukee airport where a shuttle drives us from the parking lot to the terminal building. When we arrive back after our vacation, at 1:00 am, they will shuttle us back to our vehicle. Who would ask families or friends to fetch and carry us at that time of the morning?
Our alternate arrangement could be to have an Uber meet us at the condominium and drive us to the airport. Based on experience, arranging for Uber to meet us so early in the morning requires that we reserve a driver in advance. That service costs $30, plus the cost of the drive to the airport, and the tip for the driver. Parking for twelve days on the saver lot at the airport is cheaper than using Uber twice, so that was an easy decision for us. Total parking costs $97.
Our day started early needing to leave home at 2:30 am, drive to an outside car park at the Milwaukee airport, and report for our check-in flight to San Jose, California at 3:00 am. We decided that with this incredibly early morning start to our vacation, it made sense to spend a night in San Jose to recover from this leg of the journey before tackling the five-hour flight crossing to Hawaii.
One challenge we faced today was the threat of heavy rain. Fortunately, that did not occur. Each leg of today’s trip is 2 hours 40 minutes, and the flight across the Pacific is 5 hours 40 minutes. We elected to break up the trip by staying at a Marriott Hotel, a Fairfield Inn in San Jose. Tomorrow, Saturday, our daughter, her husband, and 15-year-old twin daughters will drive the hour from their home on the East Bay outside San Fransisco to join us on our trip to Kauai, the Garden Island, one of the Hawaiian Islands.
I do not often have a reason to drive so early in the morning in our community, so I found the traffic to be light, but the 16-wheeler trucks are more than intimidating. Speed limits are not a concern for them, especially with the occasional rain that we experienced. Getting through security at the airport was a painless experience aided by the fact that we are TSA Pre-approved, meaning that we were prescreened at a price and are not subjected to long lines waiting to get searched ahead of being cleared to proceed to the departure terminals. As it turned out we were the first to get to our gate fully an hour before the boarding process would start.
We elected to fly on Southwest Airlines since airfares are significantly cheaper than flying on Delta, my preferred airline. Our stay in Hawaii is at the Marriott Resort Hotel. We have a one-week timeshare with Marriott at Ocean Point, Florida, which allows us to normally exchange our home base for other facilities. On this occasion, we are only staying in Hawaii for six days. Our motivation for cutting our time short was the expense of the airfares. Our vacation coincides with the school Easter breaks. People traveling over this period face higher fares, so we booked our return to avoid the significantly higher cost one day later. This current week is Spring Break for our sons’ girls, and next week is Spring Break for our daughters’ girls.
Now that I am seated on our flight to San Jose, I got my first surprise. We are flying on a Boeing 737 Max8. I need to verify but these aircraft were grounded for many months after a few crashes. The seating capacity is 210, and this is a full flight. Having flown so much in recent weeks, I can attest to the fact that this plane has lots of legroom, and everything looked very new. Linda and I lucked out in that we sat in the window and aisle seats with an empty seat between us. What a pleasure. We are far back on the plane in row twenty-four.
The Boeing 737 MAX passenger airline was grounded worldwide between March 2019 and December 2020 after 346 people died in two crashes. Lion Air after taking off from Indonesia on October 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after departure from Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019. The FAA cleared the return to service for the MAX on November 18, 2021.
I must hand it to Linda in that she woke at 5:00 am yesterday to get our boarding passes. Southwest Airlines uses a strategy of open seating. Southwest goes to extremes to get passengers to upgrade to get an earlier boarding position and to put more money in their pockets. That said, our boarding assignment was B42 and B43. Southwest allows fully paying passengers to get boarding assignments in the range of A1 through A60, followed by B and the C boarding group. Southwest goes to extremes to get passengers to upgrade to get a better boarding selection at $50 per person per flight destination. We are frugal, so we stayed with what we were assigned. Those passengers who did not wake up early yesterday morning to book the flight would have been allocated a much later boarding assignment.
I must confess that this Boing 737 Max 8 must be one of the most comfortable planes I have flown on in recent times. It also offers lots of legroom. Our only refreshments on this leg were coffee and a packet of salty selection of tiny pretzel treats. We did have different drinks to select from including fruit juices and Coke. Both our ascent and descent were very bumpy with significant turbulence. The flight at 30,000 feet (9,000 meters) was quite calm. We landed in Denver ahead of schedule.
We purchased breakfast snacks in Denver. It never fails to amaze me the size of this airport. We landed at Concourse C and took off from C again. It has 66 gates. The good news is we had a long walk from where we landed to our takeoff gate. We could use the exercise.
The flight to San Jose was on a Boeing 737-700. The air hostess announcements are often given with humor. We sat immediately in front of the emergency exit row. The air hostess addressed those sitting in the row to instruct them on their duties. She started by saying “In the case of an emergency, I will not be anywhere near you.” Then continued her instruction. Linda and I arranged to have an empty seat between us, this time sitting in row 9. This aircraft holds 143 passengers, and this specific aircraft represents sixty percent of Southwest Airlines’ fleet.
As we took off, we encountered significant turbulence. The air hostess strongly recommended that we keep our seat belts fastened. Thereafter she said they would be giving us “outrageous services.” And yes, the bumpy ride continued for quite some time as we climbed to 30,000 feet. The captain informed us that the turbulence was caused by extraordinarily strong winds out of the west. The second leg was uneventful, and we were served refreshments including the same salty pretzels and other bits. On both legs, I made exceptionally great progress reading my book.
After landing in San Jose, we had quite an adventure. We collected our luggage and since our GPS said that the Fairfield Hotel was only a mile away, we decided to walk. The directions took us around the outer boundary of the airport and crossed some areas with warning signs that we were in a restricted zone. I can only imagine that because we were on the flight path of aircraft coming into land, there was concern that we might want to shine objects into the pilots’ eyes. What was even crazier is that the further we walked, the GPS kept saying that the hotel was further away. Eventually, we decided that we were walking in the wrong direction, so we retraced our steps. When we arrived back at the airport after walking for an hour, we decided that taking a taxi might be the more intelligent option. The way the taxi drove, and the way we understood the GPS, were different.
Getting to our room at about noon, we had now been up for twelve hours. The Fairfield is a surprisingly large hotel, covering a huge area structured in a U-shape, some with two floors and some sections on three floors. My estimate is that there are about five hundred rooms. When we checked in, we discovered that they had a shuttle, and requested a drive to the airport at 11:30 am tomorrow, Saturday, for the flight to Kauai, Hawaii. Next on the things to do was lunch. There are several restaurants immediately outside the hotel, but we played it safe and got snacks and drinks at Starbucks. For dinner we will try one of the other restaurants, possibly selecting the Vietnamese or Indian restaurants.
Linda checked us onto our Saturday flights.
While lounging in the courtyard outside in the sun, we saw an interesting history. “On March 27, 1968, Howard Johnson, one of the most successful motoring developers of his time, leased this vacant land upon where you stand. On this site, Mr. Johnson constructed a 94-unit motor inn and a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant. His well-known trademark was a distinct weathervane atop an obelisk. This notable weathervane graced the former Howard Johnson’s Motor Inn on this property from 1969 until 1997. The three 2-story buildings directly in front of you were the sleeping rooms of the former Howard Johnson Inn. Today these rooms have been extensively remodeled to better suit the needs of current travelers.”
For our evening meal, we walked across the road to Pho Bel-Air, a Vietnamese Noodle House, and enjoyed the BBQ Pork & Shrimp with Vermicelli. Aside from being a very tasty meal, we loved the background music from the 60s and 70s. The atmosphere was delightful, and the food was exceptional.
Needing more exercise, we walked around the neighborhood admiring many impressive office buildings. San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley, home to over 6,600 technology companies including Adobe, Cisco, Netflix, eBay, FICO, PayPal, and TiVo.
All in all, a long day of travel, and a special day in a wonderful city.
Day 2, Saturday, April 1, 2023, Marriott Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu’u, Hawaii.
Happy April Fool’s Day. I was lucky that Linda had a shower before me so warned that the shower head was the size of a dinner plate and sprayed all over the place. More important she warned me that the shower floor was lethal when wet. The grab handles were placed in two useless positions. Who designs these showers? We were surprised at how cool the day was, and we were ready for action four hours before being driven to the airport in the hotel shuttle. We were ready for breakfast.
The Fairfield provides an A La Carte breakfast featuring all the usual fares. I decided to be healthy and went with Oatmeal and passed on bacon and egg. I poured a cup of bold coffee. It was anything but bold, in fact quite insipid. Another guest recommended that I pour coffee from another container placed further behind. Much better. After breakfast, we took a long walk in the neighborhood. During this walk, we discovered another two Marriott hotels, Residence Inn, Springfield Suites, and of course our Fairfield Inn & Suites. By the way, our walk was in cool weather. We had jackets for warmth.
We learned that our flight to Kauai will be delayed 30 minutes, but our plans to catch a shuttle at 11:30 am will remain the same. As it transpired, the flight was delayed an hour. The flight arrived late at our airport and then maintenance had to change a flat tire in the front of the plane. Southwest uses an open seating policy. Each passenger is allocated a boarding position. The more you pay, the better position you are granted. After that, if you are flying economically as we were, then twenty-four hours before takeoff you apply for a boarding pass.
As coincidence would have it, Linda and I got B61 and B62. Robyn, who checked in at the same time from her home in Moraga, an hour away, got B63 through B66 for her family. By the time we boarded, there were only single seats available, so we were seated throughout the aircraft. Not a fun way to begin a 5-hour 40-minute flight over the Pacific. To be honest, we were concerned about who the twins ended up being next to a passenger, trusting that they would not be harassed in any way.
I was in a row with a father and his 5-year-old son Jason. Jason’s first task was to kick the chair in front of him with all his might. His father removed his shoes and pleaded with him to stop kicking the seat. Jason’s next trick was to give a running commentary about all activities, but loud enough so that everyone on the plane could hear it. Here again, his father had to keep pleading with him to tone it down.
I purchased snacks for the six of us to share as all Southwest offers are those same salty mini pretzels. I will keep it for a treat in our hotel room since we cannot sit together. When our snacks were presented on the flight, it consisted of a pack of 100% Whole Grain Wheat Thins, Parmesan Peppercorn Gourmet Cheese spread, our regular salty mini pretzels, and finally a small pack of fruit snacks. In all honesty, I think that I ate everything in anger. I am still smarting from the fact that our family is separated. It may be another reason that I will pay the extra and fly on Delta where passengers have a choice of where they can be seated, limited only by the class of ticket purchased. Then again, the repeated screaming of Jason did not help.
What I omitted to say earlier is that we were lucky to be flying on a Boeing 737 Max8 again. Providing comfortable seating and reasonable legroom. I used my five hours to read. Talking about the five-plus hour flight, I can attest to the many times Jason asked or shouted, “Are we there yet?”
About four hours into the flight, we hit turbulence. Not fun. At one point the plane dropped dramatically. Now we understand the requirement to fasten our seatbelts. I have flown extensively and would rate this experience on a par with one I had many years ago flying from New York to South Africa across the Atlantic and watching in horror at the aircraft wings shaking up and down like a bird in flight. I think it is horrific experiences that prevent me from getting airsick as I am no longer afraid. What will be, will be.
The bad news is that Avis kept us waiting an hour for our car to be delivered. The good news is that this resort is fantastic. We have three rooms, each with an en suite bathroom, a large kitchen and dining room, a lounge area, and a washer and dryer. It may be the best timeshare we have stayed in.
Day 3, Sunday, April 2, 2023, Marriott Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu’u, Hawaii.
To wake up to such luxury is more than a treat. The way our three-bedroom, three-bathroom unit is organized, two of the rooms are close to each other and one is placed at a short distance along a corridor. To preserve Robyn and the family’s privacy Linda and I used the distant room. Everything was top-class. The bedroom and bathroom are exceptionally comfortable, and we enjoyed our sleep and the early morning shower. I cannot overstress how great it feels to be pampered by such luxury. I would be remiss if I did not point out the beauty of the surroundings. A veritable paradise. If I try hard, the only complaint might be that the air conditioning is too cold, but I still must discover how to increase the heat.
Sitting on the balcony, overlooking the ocean, I am fascinated by the helicopters flying overhead. I understand this is one way we can tour the island, and based on the frequency that three helicopters fly overhead, apparently in unison, they have a roaring trade.
We went to a restaurant for breakfast this morning. Kountry Style Kitchen is located eight miles (12 kilometers) from our timeshare. With its strong reviews and high recommendations, we had to reserve a table before we started the twenty-minute drive. The total cost was $200 for the 5 of us, expensive as food goes, but we brought enough leftovers back to make this more affordable. The selection was extremely wide, well prepared and presented, and very tasty. Papaya (or pawpaw to South Africans) was a specialty and we had it both as a drink and slice of fruit. The coffee was bold and the omelets tasty. The company was great.
The drive to the restaurant was a wonderful experience. I almost felt that we were in a foreign country. The roads include a series of speed bumps every few yards to ensure that you will not and cannot speed. In fairness that is only on the side roads and not present on the main arterial roads. The vegetation reminds one that this is a tropical climate, with lush verdant, and green vegetation. Palm trees are another reminder that we are in Hawaii. On the way home we stopped in at a huge grocery store to stock up on provisions so that we were not dependent on restaurants for all our meals.
Looking around from our timeshare balcony, golf courses, and walking paths are evident, as is the nearby swimming pool. My guess is that if you chose to swim in the very nearby ocean, that option is available.
Our daughter Robyn is the greatest planner and organizer. Today we went on a five-hour tour of the southern parts of the island. Robyn used the services of Shaka Guide, a self-guided GPS audio tour. The guide provides detailed information about precisely where to drive and while motoring gives information about the history and status of the terrain you are passing through. Robyn linked her iPhone to the Apple Car Play in the rental vehicle, so we could all follow along hearing through the vehicle’s speakers.
As an aside, most of the trip was on regular roads, but occasionally we had to take dirt roads that were the most potholed and rough roads that I have ever encountered, and we were pleased that I was not the driver. The specific guide we followed was the Poipu and Kuloa Driving Tour. There are sixty-two stops along the way, but I have no plan to spell out all that detail. We stopped to admire Prince Kuhio Park, Lawai Beach, and Spouting Horn.
The Prince Kuhio Park is a monument to Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole who was raised in Koloa. Had Hawai’i not been annexed to the United States, he would have reigned as king. Instead, he was elected as a congressional delegate for Hawai’i for ten consecutive terms. He was known as a tireless champion of Hawaiian culture and is so revered that his birthday, March 26, is a state holiday. The foundation of his home and fishpond are protected in the park. It is very well maintained with a pleasant view of the ocean.
Lawai Beach is a little speck of a beach that can disappear during high surf. But when the ocean is calm Lawa’i is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Some folks even call this beach the ‘Beach House beach’, courtesy of the restaurant that resides next door.
Spouting Horn is a blowhole located on the southern coast of Kauai in the Koloa district. This area of Kauai is known for its crashing waves (nearby Poipu translates to “crashing”). These waves erode lava rocks on the coastline which can create narrow openings, as is the case with Spouting Horn. With every wave, water shoots upward when it is forced through an opening and creates a sound suggestive of hissing. The spray can shoot as high as 50 feet in the air. The original Hawaiian name was puhi, meaning blowhole. The Spouting Horn is a part of the Koloa Heritage Trail, a 10-mile trail in the Koloa district.
Spouting Horn. According to Hawaiian folklore, a giant lizard (“mo’o” in the Hawaiian language) once protected this area of the island. One day, a young man named Liko was swimming in a body of water, but the giant lizard saw Liko as a danger, so she attacked him. Liko then jumped into the ocean, luring the lizard into the water. Liko then swam through a small lava tube in the rocks leading to the surface. The lizard followed Liko and got stuck in the lava tube or blowhole. Today, you can hear the lizard’s roar every time the Spouting Horn Blowhole blasts into the air.
Koloa Landing has an international following for Kauai scuba diving. Scuba Diving magazine named it one of the Best Shore Dives in the Pacific. Seasport Divers and Fathom Five offer daily Kauai activities from here for those seeking underwater adventure. This protected bay is also known as Hanakaape which means “headstrong” in Hawaiian. In the olden days, Koloa Landing was the third-largest whaling port in all of Hawaii. Now the only humpback whales seen in this area are live ones making their annual winter migration to the tropical waters. When whaling was king, dozens of ships anchored here to trade for provisions. As the only port of entry on Kauai, it was used exclusively by the sugar industry through the early 1900s.
The Moir Gardens (35 acres) are botanical gardens located within the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation. The gardens were created in the 1930s by Alexandra Moir while her husband was manager of Hawaii’s first sugarcane plantation, Koloa Plantation, near the site. By 1948 the private gardens were reportedly identified as “one of the ten best cactus and succulent gardens in the world.” They opened to the public in 1954.
Poipu Beach is actually two beaches in one. A tombola (known as Nukumoi Point) separates the two bays. Tombola is a narrow sand spit that extends from the shore to an island. The tombola at Poipu Beach is the favorite spot for the napping, endangered Hawaiian monk seals. The area on the western side of the beach is a favorite for beginning bodyboarders. Small waves break gently on the shallow sandbar and create a fun area for children to play.
On the left of the sandbar is a lava rock-protected and shallow area for swimming. This is usually the play area for families with small children. Poipu Beach Park has been voted the #1 beach in America. During the weekends this is a favorite spot for birthday parties, picnics, lawn games, and family activities. The outdoor playground was built with donations from the community. You can find parking, snorkel rental, and surfboard rentals nearby.
Few beaches on Kauai are as striking and wild as Shipwreck Beach. Locals named the beach because of an old shipwreck that once rested nearby. Although the wreckage is long gone, it remains a favorite spot for visitors who love hiking and exploring the rugged shoreline.
Shipwreck Beach is a “headline performer.” This is it, folks: the most epic, the most beautiful, and probably the most visited of all Kauai beaches. This gorgeous Kauai beach offers something for everyone, from long walks up and down its golden sandy shores to beach sports like boogie boarding or kayaking, to sunbathing and TV-worthy scenery for honeymooners looking for that perfect tropical paradise.
Shipwreck Beach is perhaps the most-visited spot on Kauai for adventurers. The natural 40-foot cliff jump is one of the only spots on the island to get that kind of jump. It’s also easy to keep your adrenaline pumping because whale watching is another activity you can do here. Thousands of people have seen whales while visiting Shipwreck Beach.
The prominent cliff has a warning to not jump or dive from the top or it may lead to severe injury or death. We watched several younger guys jump, disregarding the warnings.
Makauwahi Cave. Visitors generally agree that this place is unlike any other public site they have encountered. At the center of its many attractions are Hawaii`s largest limestone cave, the richest fossil site on the islands, and a uniquely preserved archaeological site. It’s a living museum dedicated not just to the past, but also to experiments in native species conservation.
On abandoned farms and quarry lands surrounding the cave, native plants and animals have returned in response to innovative restoration techniques. Acres of restored forest land, dune vegetation, and wetland habitat feature almost one hundred species of native plants, including many endangered species, as well as endangered waterbirds and even an underground ecosystem of blind cave invertebrates.
Old Town Koloa is a renovated sugar town from the 1900s located on Kauai’s South Shore. Within the clapboard buildings are art galleries, souvenir shops, and restaurants. The Koloa Heritage Trail offers a 10-mile hike through this historic region. ld Koloa Town is on Kauai’s South Shore near Poipu Beach and is rich in history. Our story begins in 1835 when Sugar put Koloa on the map, literally. The cash crop attracted investors, families, adventurers, and businesspeople the world over. Soon, plantations popped up here and there as families set down roots. The infrastructure of Koloa boomed as well when shops, mercantile stores, and other businesses opened, making Koloa one of the first influential sugar towns in Hawaii.
Although times have changed, with the help of restoration, Old Koloa Town looks very much like it did back in its heyday. Some visitors describe Old Koloa Town as looking like a village from the Old West with its clapboard storefronts.
My treat for the day was pineapple ice cream from Koloa Mill in Old Town Koloa. All in all, a highly successful day touring. We returned home to watch a movie and get a great night’s sleep. One bit of luck we had today is with our weather. The forecast said that we should get rain starting at 2:00 pm, but fortunately, that did not transpire. If it did, we would have needed to cut our touring short.
Day 4, Monday, April 3, 2023, Marriott Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu’u, Hawaii.
Why did the chicken cross the road? I am not sure of the answer, but I can attest to several carcasses alongside the road. Motorists will slow as the chicken tries to get to the other side, but the oncoming traffic may not have the same visibility. Then too at daybreak, we have a cacophony of roosters waking up the neighborhood. Roosters and chickens roam wild over the island. There have been hens and roosters on the Hawaiian Islands as long as there have been people there. The origins of these birds on the islands go back to when Polynesian voyagers first came to the area now known as Hawaii around 300 AD, possibly coming from the Marquesas Islands or Tahiti.
Kauai’s name has no historical meaning; however, through the legend of Hawaii loa who is thought to have been the Polynesian founder of the Hawaiian island’s original inhabitants, “a favorite place around one’s neck” is suggested. According to legend, Kauai was the name of his favorite son, and a favorite place around one’s neck was (and perhaps still is) the universal place to carry one’s most beloved child. Despite the mystery behind Kauai’s proper name, an important part of Kauai’s History is in preserving the ancient Hawaiian dialect, before it was extinct, which differs distinctly from the current accepted Hawaiian language.
European traders did not discover the islands until the late 1700s when in 1778, James Cook found and called them the “Sandwich Islands” after one of Cook’s expedition sponsors. Unfortunately, the interaction between Cook and the Hawaiians ended up proving to be less than “friendly”, and he was met there with his untimely death when he tried to ransom a Chief and was killed during the altercation. Before his death, however, Cook managed to introduce the Hawaiian Islands to the European world, and with that introduction came other European travelers, traders, and business ventures.
Kauai, though, remained relatively untouched by the traders in comparison to the other islands. This could be because Kauai was the only island in the Hawaiian chain that resisted domination from the reign of King Kamehameha, who during his reign in the late 17th century to early 18th century had conquered and united the rest of the islands in the archipelago. King Kamehameha had gathered armadas to conquer Kauai twice, and each time he was met with utter failure – due once to a storm and rough seas, and the other due to an epidemic that crippled his forces. Eventually though, the king of Kauai, King Kaumualii, united forces with Kamehameha, probably to avoid future invasion attempts, and to prevent continuing hostilities and any possible bloodshed which would ensue.
After Kaumualii agreed to become Kamehameha’s vassal, however, he engaged in secretive negotiations with the Russian American Company in an attempt to gain militia support against Kamehameha’s rule. When these negotiations ceased due to the company’s lack of support from their Russian Czar, Kauai’s historical fort, Fort Elizabeth, was abandoned. Fort Elizabeth remains, and along with the coconut and sugar plantations that were established during Cook’s trading era, is one of Kauai’s many popular tourist attractions.
Kauaʻi County (Hawaiian: Kalana o Kauaʻi) (officially known as the County of Kauaʻi) is a county in the U.S. state of Hawaiʻi. It consists of the islands of Kauaʻi, Niʻihau, Lehua, and Kaʻula. The county seat is Līhuʻe.
List of Street Names in Kauai County, Hawaii.
- Aakukui Rd
- Ahe St
- Ahina Rd
- Ainako St
- Akalei St
- Ala Eke Rd
- Alamihi Rd
- Alamoo Rd
- Alealea Rd
- Aliomanu Estates Dr
- Anahulu Rd
- Ananalu Rd
- Anini Vista Pl
- Beach Acc
- Berry Flat Trail
- Cane Haul Rd
- Cane Rd
- Canfield Rd
- Club Dr
- Eleu Rd
- Faye Rd
- Haena Pl
- Haiku Rd
- Halehaka Rd
- Halemanu Rd
- Halemary Rd
- Halewili Rd
- Hana Hauoli Pl
- Haul Cane Rd
- Haul Cave Rd
- Hawaii 530
- Hawaii 540
- Hopoe Rd
- Huehu Rd
- Hukipo Rd
- Hwy 50
- Imiloa Rd
- Kaahele St
- Kaalani Rd
- Kaao Rd
- Kaena St
- Kahili Rd
- Kalae St
- Kalalau Trail
- Kalepa St
- Kaluahonu Rd
- Kamole Rd
- Kaneka St
- Kao Rd
- Kapoli St
- Kauai Beach Rd
- Kaumualii Hwy
- Kealia Rd
- Kipu Rd
- Kokee Rd
- Kokole Point Rd
- Koloa Rd
- Kuhio Hwy
- Kukui Grove St
- Kumu Rd
- Kumuela Rd
- Kumuwela Rd
- Kumuwela Trail
- Larson Beach Rd
- Laulea St
- Laulima St
- Lehia Ln
- Leho Dr
- Lele Rd
- Lilia St
- Lio Rd
- Lokokai Rd
- Lower Saki Mana Rd
- Maalo Rd
- Mahaulepu Rd
- Mahea Rd
- Makai Rd
- Maluhia Rd
- Mana Rd
- Mcbride New Mill Rd
- Mehana Rd
- Mikala Pl
- Milia St
- Mohihi Rd
- Mua St
- Muhihi Rd
- N Nohili Rd
- N Sparrow Dr
- Nalu Rd
- New Hulemalu Rd
- Nohea St
- Nuhou St
- Ohi Pl
- Ohiki Rd
- Old Hulemalu Rd
- Old Mana Rd
- Oneone Rd
- Paliku Pl
- Papaa Rd
- Pau Kaohela
- Piai Pl
- Puahau Pl
- Punee Rd
- Puu Ki Waialae Trail
- Puuana Rd
- Quarry Dr
- Regulus Dr
- Rte 50
- S Sidewinder Rd
- S Sparrow Dr
- Salt Pond Rd
- State Highway 520
- State Highway 550
- State Highway 580
- State Highway 583
- State Route 50
- State Route 56
- Talos Dr
- Tarter Dr
- Uku Li I Pl
- Ulu Maika St
- Wainiha Powerhouse Rd
- Water Tank Rd
- Wwvh Rd
So, the question you might rightfully ask, is why would I list all the street names on the island? Simple, to get an appreciation of the cultural differences between the islanders versus what we might be familiar with on mainland America, or any other English-speaking Western country.
Linda and I went for an eighty-minute walk in the morning. However, our walk was interrupted by rain, so we had to take shelter for twenty minutes. We contacted Robyn and Darin who was at the pool not too far away, and they did not experience any rain. So, we had a very localized shower. One more time on the walk we experienced the unbelievable beauty of the tropical climate and the colorful vegetation. To take shelter we stopped at the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club, one of eight Marriott on this island.
Just before the rain interrupted our walk, we stopped at Skinny Mike’s Ice cream parlor for a milkshake. It probably goes without saying that everything on the island is more expensive than on the mainland. Gas/petrol is at least $2 per gallon more than we pay at home.
Each day in Kauai provides a new experience. Today we stopped at the farmers market to buy papayas (paw paws) and followed that to shop at Costco, the wholesale club that we frequent at home. It is always fascinating to see the merchandise that they carry, different from what we can purchase at home. As is always the situation, the retail stores cater to the tastes of the local population. The big surprise for me is that this store is significantly bigger than the one near our home.
I am not driving our rental car, but it occurred to me that we have not seen any traffic lights. I did a search to find that there are only one or two on the island, and apparently few in our area.
For dinner, we went to a Thai restaurant, Thai Food, and Sushi. I ordered stir-fried rice and beef. The serving portion was so large that I was unsure that I would conquer it all. Fortunately, several family members requested a taste and collectively we solved my problem. Then I learned something new. Robyn was presented with the bill that had a barcode or QR code at the bottom. Robyn scanned the code, opened her Apple Pay, and took care of the damage. Linda responded by opening our Apple Pay and funding Robyn for our portion of the bill. Amazing technology.
Day 5, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, Marriott Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu’u, Hawaii.
We woke to another pleasant day. Believe it, or not. The only organized function today is dinner at JO2 Restaurant. It is a farm-to-plate restaurant about 20 minutes drive up the east side of the island.
That said, we did a five-hour North Shore Kauai driving tour using the Shaka Guide. Our first stop was King Kong-Hole in the Mountain. The mountain overlooking Anahola town has a hole in the ridge and is called the Kalalea mountain range. Locals here simply call it “Hole-in-the-Mountain.” Yup, it’s that simple. But it is not just a name, this mountain does have a hole in it, some say it’s about the size of a helicopter. Someone flew one through it! But you can’t see this hole unless you climb up the mountain and get up close to it.
Hawaiians have many legends explaining why there’s a hole in the mountain. One legend says a supernatural bird pecked its way through the mountain to get to the nearby Anahola town, likely to create a shortcut for itself. Another legend records a powerful demigod hurling his magical spear through the mountain piercing its side.
But this hole-in-the-mountain became world-famous as the filming site of the original 1976 movie King Kong. After King Kong, another Hollywood blockbuster was filmed at this mountain. Can you guess which one it was? It’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This mountain was used as the backdrop during the opening credits.
Now, the mountain is sometimes nicknamed the “Kong Mountain” because, from a certain angle, the mountain looks like the profile of King Kong’s head. There is this perfect spot to get a better look at this beautiful mountain range for yourself – and you tell me what you think it resembles!
The next stop is Moloa’a Beach. The picturesque Moloa’a Beach is great for a stroll, or even a little swimming or boogie boarding when the ocean is calm. Well, not only does this beach look like it came off a postcard, but you might recognize it from an old TV show as well! Remember the 1963 show Gilligan’s Island? It was filmed right here on this beach. In fact, the director had looked all over Los Angeles and Catalina Island, but just couldn’t find that perfect white sand beach covered with palm trees. Well, that was until he came to Moloa’a Beach on Kauai!
Now, after the film crew for Gilligan’s Island arrived in Kauai, they realized that they needed a boat for the story. For those younger folks who didn’t watch the show, the whole story of Gillgan’s Island was about a group of people being shipwrecked. So, the film crew went looking for a boat. Eventually, they found one in Honolulu and towed it over to Kauai. Then the crew banged holes in that boat with a sledgehammer to make it look all beaten up. And so, the USS Minnow of Gilligan’s Island was born! Later, as the show continued to the 2nd and 3rd seasons, the filming location was changed. But it all got started in this little bay of Moloa’a.
On to Kilauea Lighthouse. The original Kilauea Lighthouse was built in 1913 to assist commercial shipping between Asia and Hawaii. For some 62 years, this lighthouse shined as a bright beacon in the vast Pacific Ocean. However, this lighthouse doesn’t shine anymore; it was replaced some years ago by a high-power LED tower in front of the lighthouse.
But more than just a lighthouse, this area called Kilauea Point is also a wildlife refuge. If you are here during the right season, you might see spinner dolphins and monk seals in the ocean. But for sure, you will find lots of seabirds flying overhead or nesting on the cliffs. The most visible bird is the red-footed booby, but there are also albatross and great frigate birds with massive seven-foot wingspans. It is amazing to watch the birds glide in the air above the cliffs and dive down in search of a fish. But! There is one note of caution, as these birds fly overhead watch out for their…uh.. how should I put it… heavenly gifts. Well, if you don’t get that, let me just say it bluntly… watch out for their poop! Some say that with all the visitors, these birds have a lot of practice and are a dang good aim!
Lastly, you should know that the lighthouse is open Thursday – Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. If the lighthouse is not open the day you visit, there is a lookout outside the lighthouse that you can check out.
In truth, we did not get out of the car here. It started raining heavily. So, after seeing what we could from the car, we drove on.
Our next point of interest: Secret Beach. Take a short, 15-minute hike to the shore where you’ll find an expansive white sand beach. Why is it a secret, you ask? This spot was relatively unknown in the past making it a popular nudist beach for hippies. But it’s not so secret anymore. The reality is that as a family we elected not to take this hike. I might be sad if I missed all the nude bathing. We did, however, stop where we could see the starting point.
We spent quite some time in Hanalei Town. There’s plenty to do in Hanalei and the surrounding area. From surfing to beach hopping, here’s a list of things to do in this quaint Hawaiian town.
- Hanalei Bay.
Hanalei Bay is a great place to spend some time. Waioli Beach Park takes up most of the bay’s shore and features two miles of beach and coastal lava rock ridges. The swimming at Hanalei Bay is usually excellent since the crescent shape helps calm the waters. However, during the winter, swells do increase to the point of being dangerous causing strong riptides and currents to form.
- Hanalei Beaches.
Kauai’s North Shore, where Hanalei is located, is full of outstanding beaches. Keep in mind that most of these beaches are not swimmable during the winter when swells create dangerous conditions. You can find Waioli Beach Park right in the center of town. Across the Hanalei Bridge on the east end of town, you might consider Hideaway’s Beach, which has excellent snorkeling.
Waikoko Beach just west of town isn’t as long as others, but it’s also not as crowded. Just west of Waikoko, Lumaha’i Beach is gorgeous, but conditions are rough year-round. Even further west you’ll find Tunnels Beach, named for the underwater lava tubes that protect tropical fish for some of the best snorkeling on the island.
- Hanalei Surfing.
During the summer, Hanalei Bay is a great place to learn to surf, since the bay’s crescent shape protects it from larger waves. During the winter, the bay becomes a favorite surf spot for more experienced surfers since even the crescent shape cannot hold back the roaring winter swells. If you’re traveling during the winter, stop by to watch the pros catch some waves.
- Hanalei Pier.
If you’re looking for a great place to take a walk, the views from Hanalei Pier are breathtaking. You can sit beneath the pavilion and take in the coastal ridges or even jump in for a swim when the conditions are right.
Our final stop before returning home was Lumahai Beach. Lumaha’i Beach on the north shore of Kauai, just around the western edge of Hanalei Bay, is the epitome of the picture-perfect beach with a crescent of golden sand ringed with greenery. There are two beaches here with two distinctly different personalities.
Lumaha’i Beach at the far western end is a local hang-out spot where Lumaha’i Stream enters the ocean.
Kahalahala Beach on the eastern edge of the beach is commonly called “Tourist Lumaha’i” for its popularity with visitors and/or “Nurses Beach” because of its prominence in the filming of the famous “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair” scene in South Pacific.
With all this travel, I have come to a personal realization. For my entire life, I have lived a very conservative life living in built-up suburbs. As we drive around, the beauty does not escape me, but I am fascinated by seeing people living in small homes in the middle of nowhere. I am puzzled by how they earn a living to enjoy this isolated living far away from the maddening crowds.
We stopped in at Chocolate Hanalei to purchase a few handmade chocolates. The owner was very proud to tell us that his wife who is of German heritage hand makes all the chocolates at home. He asked where I was from and spoke fondly of visiting Milwaukee, staying at the Pfister Hotel, and eating at Mader’s restaurant.
We had a fabulous dinner at JO2 Natural Cuisine in Kapaa, Hawaii. JO2 transforms nature’s bounty into exquisite dishes incorporating Kaua`i-grown heirloom vegetables and the freshest ingredients from the sea. With the culinary influences of Josselin’s native France, clean flavors of Japanese cooking, and ingredients inspired by Hawai`i’s multiethnic community, JO2’s succulent offerings are both creative and rooted in tradition.
I must attest to the fact that the presentation of the food was very attractive and the taste the very best. If I had a complaint, we were left waiting for 30 minutes past our reservation time. Linda had the Wok Charred Ono, vegetable green curry ($34), I ate crispy duck confit salad, Korean pear, pistachio, and Kale ($17), and we shared for dessert a double chocolate crème brûlée, chocolate sorbet ($14), total $65, plus employee benefit $1.95, plus tax $3.15, plus service charge 20% ($13.00), for a grand total of $83.10 or an average of $41.55 each, and I can honestly say, significantly more than we normally pay for a meal, but then too this is an exquisite restaurant and not one that we would normally spoil ourselves to enjoy.
Day 6, Wednesday, April 5, 2023, Marriott Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu’u, Hawaii.
The day started in a very relaxed mood and allowed us to do our laundry. Sitting outside on the verandah and taking in the breathtaking views is a tonic like no other. The beauty of this island is hard to describe as it must be experienced to appreciate its all-encompassing magnificence. Currently, my only concern is an increasing cloud cover that I hope will not distract from our small airplane sightseeing trip this afternoon.
We decided to go for a walk. Partway heading out it started to rain and we doubled back to the timeshare unit as quickly as we could get back. What was annoying was it rained for less than two minutes. We headed to relax at the pool. Later at about midday, we did accomplish a rain-free 30-minute walk.
The GippsAero GA8 Airvan 8 is a single-engined utility aircraft manufactured by GippsAero (formerly named Gippsland Aeronautics) of Victoria, Australia. It can seat up to eight people, including the pilot.
The GA8 has been designed for use in remote areas and from austere airstrips, performing tasks such as passenger services, freight, sightseeing, parachuting, observation, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and search and rescue operations. Its design emphasizes ruggedness and ease of use.
In our AirVan, we can give you the highest quality Kauai airplane tour, bar none. This roomy plane has huge bubble windows which give you an unobstructed wrap-around view as well as a downward view. Our state-of-the-art headsets allow everyone to communicate with the pilot, as well as with each other, and listen to the hand-picked music provided by your pilot.
This AirVan Grand Deluxe 65-Minute Tour is still the lowest price on the island. We have been working diligently to try to keep our prices within reason and looks like we have managed to do it!
If you can find or make the time to watch this one-hour video, you will not be disappointed. It is expertly narrated and informatively presented by pilot Marcus. The scenery with ragged mountains and vegetation is magnificent. We thoroughly enjoyed this relaxing flight around a very unusually mountainous island with strikingly blue waters and white beaches. A unique sightseeing experience. Better yet, try and watch it on a large screen. I have a larger screen attached to my computer and the detail is stunning. Indeed, as the music plays, it says it all: “What a wonderful world.”
Naturally, we saw parts of the island that are impossible to see on foot or to get access by any type of vehicle. In effect it puts the island in perspective with all the dramatic cliffs, some reaching 4,000 feet (1,200 meters). The hour-long video was taken by the pilot using a GoPro, one on each side of the wing. Our pilot was Marcus Matson. He grew up in a small town in Minnesota, visited the island with his wife shortly after leaving college in North Dakota, then moved to the island some twelve years ago to fly visitors on an hour-long tour. He did say he was raised on a farm, so big city life did not appeal to him, and the island suited him and his family just fine.
One of the twins recommended we eat a hot dog for dinner. We drove for 30 minutes to Puka Dog for Hawaiian Style hot dogs in Poipu. To order they take you through a four-step process 1) what kind of dog, 2) how strongly do you want your dog to get from mild to lava hot, 3) what kind of relish, and 4) what type of relish? After that, you can add potato chips and freshly squeezed lemonade. The price for two is $33.51. But in fairness, it did taste great.
With our hotdog in hand, we walked to the beach to get another surprise. There were eight Hawaiian Green Turtles on the beach. Hawaiian green sea turtles, or honu, are native to Hawaiʻi. They are the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world, reaching lengths of four feet and weighing over 300 pounds. Out of the seven types of sea turtles, the Hawaiian green sea turtle is the most common in Hawaiian waters.
Their carapace (upper shell) ranges from brown with yellow and light brown streaks to black, and their plastron (bottom shell) is light yellow. As adults, honu mainly eats algae and seagrasses, which turn their fat layer green and give them their common name.
With lungs two-thirds as long as their carapace, it is believed they can stay underwater for many hours depending on their size. The longest recorded downtime for Hawaiian green sea turtles lasted five hours. Imagine holding your breath for that long!
Day 7, Thursday, April 6, 2023, Marriott Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu’u, Hawaii.
We woke to another gorgeous day again today with the sight of a large luxury passenger liner entering the bay. My guess is with all those additional visitors it may be wise to avoid the popular tourist spots. Today turned out to be a fun and adventurous day.
We saw a large rainbow, hopefully, a good omen.
On our drive, our first stop was at the Wailua Heritage Trail.
The next stop was the Hindu Temple. We could not go into the Temple as we did not have a reservation, so we enjoyed the temple surroundings. To enter the temple would have required us to remove our shoes, not a great prospect with all the rain, and how would we have got our feet clean again? No one was allowed to enter with bare legs, but sarongs were provided for those requiring them. It was not too uprising that many visiting the temple were Indians.
Our next venture was the 80-minute Smith’s Wailua Cruse to Fern Grotto. It is a two-mile river cruise allowing a hike through the rainforest to visit the lush Fern Grotto. In trying to interact with the 140 passengers, they asked how many newly married couples were on board. Three couples identified themselves as honeymooning on Kauai having married five days ago. Sharing “Songs and Legends” of the Wailua River Valley is a Family Tradition on the cruise. In 1946, Walter Smith, Sr. and his wife, Emily, started a cruise family business with a small rowboat and a borrowed outboard motor. Four generations later, they continue Grandpa’s tradition of sharing their love of Kauai and its rich cultural heritage.
During the two-mile river journey, we heard songs and stories of ancient Hawaii — like the King’s Highway, sacred Mount Kapu, and the First Hau Tree. In addition, guests enjoy learning the hula during a lesson provided by one of the cousins. Everyone gets into the act during the river cruise!
Smith’s famous Wailua River cruise boats are powered by an ingenious rear-engine system invented by Walter Smith, Sr. The spacious, open-air boats provide excellent views from either side during the trip upstream.
The Wailua River is known as “the only navigable river” in all of Hawaii. The river’s fresh water pours down from Mt. Wai’ale’ale, one of the wettest spots on the planet. Lands along the river were the sacred capital of ancient Kauai and the birthplace of the island’s ali’i, or royalty.
At the Fern Grotto landing, we enjoyed a short nature walk through the rainforest to the lush Fern Grotto.
The Fern Grotto is a geological wonder of Kauai. Ferns grow upside down from the roof of the grotto, which was formed millions of years ago. Native Hawaiian plants and colorful exotic tropical plants provide a rainforest atmosphere.
On our home-bound drive, we stopped at Konohiki Seafoods to pick up lunch to eat at our timeshare. Linda and I selected shrimp and rice, certainly not plain rice, but spiced up for a delicious treat.
This afternoon I started packing for our journey back to the mainland. We must check out of the timeshare by 10:00 am after which we will get breakfast before heading to the airport for our 2:05 pm departure.
I spent time at the pool this afternoon, but only to read in the shade, and did not put on my bathing costume. Later I watched the news on TV. This is the first time while on the island. Fascinating to hear the pronunciations of places and people’s names. Even “Hawaii” is pronounced differently from the way we say it.
For our last supper in Kauai, we went to Scorpacciata for pizza in the Harbor Mall, Lihue. We ordered one Hawaiian and one Mediterranean, each with six slices allowing us to have one slice from each pie. It was voted the best pizza we have ever tasted.
Day 8, Friday, April 7, 2023, Marriott Kauai Lagoons, Kalanipu’u, Hawaii, and Airbnb, Lafayette, California.
Sitting on the balcony at our timeshare on a beautiful warm day realizing that it will be sad to say goodbye to this gorgeous island. After we check out this morning, we will have breakfast at a local restaurant, and head to the airport for a five-hour flight to San Jose, California, followed by an hour’s drive to our Airbnb in Lafayette, arriving there at midnight. After a four-night stay, we will head back home, arriving in Milwaukee at 1:00 am.
Our breakfast was great. We ate at Hualani’s Restaurant, and each enjoyed their choice of breakfast. I am predictable and selected eggs and bacon with French fries. After handing in the rental car, we walked to the airport building and spent a few hours watching people. The airport is predictably busy with flights to other islands and popular connection points from Lihue, Kauai to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Denver, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.
If I had set a goal to photograph the varied species of flowers available on the island, I have no doubt that it would have exceeded a thousand examples. The beauty and variety of this tropical paradise must be seen to be appreciated.
On our flight to Hawaii, we encountered a significant amount of turbulence. On the return journey, the pilot warned us that we could experience turbulence for the first hour or so, but the flight was smooth all the way. Arriving back in San Jose, required us to collect our luggage. That turned out to be quite challenging because Southwest had several flights arriving from separate locations and all using the same conveyor belt to return luggage.
The next challenge was to wait for a shuttle bus to take us to the long-term parking lot. With so many people needing to board the bus, and each responsible to get their heavy and bulky luggage onto the bus, and then find a place to sit or stand was no joke, but all six of us managed.
The hour-long drive to Lafayette was uneventful at midnight, and our Airbnb was waiting for us. It was great returning to a familiar place, and the owner Masha, left us a welcoming note and Ukrainian cake to celebrate Easter.
Day 9, Saturday, April 8, 2023, Airbnb, Lafayette, California.
Naturally, we woke up late after getting to bed well past midnight having to unpack and get ready for bed. But the new day welcomed us and felt good to be alive again after a shower and clean clothes. I should add that it is great to be in familiar surroundings again.
Linda and I set off to find breakfast. The first place we stopped, one that we went to previously had a line that was so long, that we continued our walk to Millie’s American Kitchen where we had eggs, bacon, toast, and fruit, plus an orange juice. The total bill was $55 so our next stop was Safeway where we bought provisions for breakfast to last us for the next four days, and the total cost was $19.
I made quite a technological breakthrough and achievement today for the first time. When presented the bill for breakfast it came with a QR code. The first step, grab my iPhone and open the camera. Read the QR code and the phone asks if you wish to pay this bill, and which credit card you wish to use. A few clicks later, the bill is settled. Curious I asked the waitress how she would know that I paid and did not just sneak out the door without paying. She showed me the seating plan on her computer terminal. Those customers still eating are colored yellow, and those that have paid show up in white. Smart simple control.
I have mentioned this in previous blogs, but when I walk these streets, I am amazed by the number of Teslas on the road. Then too I wonder what Elon Musk is doing to kill the sales each time he opens his mouth to make some insane statement. I believe he loves being constantly in the news with his ridiculous utterances. Tesla motorists are not pleased with his extreme political positions, not in a liberal state like California. As Trump and Musk clearly understand there is no cure for stupid extreme views.
I must hasten to add it is great being back in familiar territory and staying in our Airbnb that we so enjoyed this past Christmas. Today was a very big day for our granddaughter Olivia who had her first formal ninety-minute driving lesson.
Day 10, Sunday, April 9, 2023, Airbnb, Lafayette, California.
We woke to a beautiful day with bright sunshine. Breakfast was in our Airbnb after our grocery purchases yesterday. We went for a 50-minute stroll around Lafayette and purchased a few Easter Eggs for the twins. During the short walk, we encountered two dozen coffee shops and restaurants. For this Easter Sunday, they were very successfully busy. Robyn took us to her home. I know this is getting boring, but on these walks, I remain amazed by the number of Teslas on the road and keep wondering about the damage Elon Musk is doing to the brand. Today he is recommending opening Russian bank accounts. After his disastrous purchase of Twitter, he has dropped to the second richest person in the world.
Enjoying the weather in Moraga, we went for a second walk to celebrate this perfect day. We walked to the local park, then detoured to a community nearby with mansions that sell in the $3 to $5 million price range. Robyn treated us to a delicious ham and salad meal.
Quite an unusual day. We went for three walks today. Robyn’s latest treat was a three-berry pie. We are really spoiled today.
I do get concerned that I need to be busy and have difficulty relaxing and doing absolutely nothing. Today I watched the hour-long video taken during our flight over the island.
Day 11, Monday, April 10, 2023, Airbnb, Lafayette, California.
We woke to another beautiful day. We are on our own until the afternoon with Robyn and Darin back to work, and Olivia and Isabel back to school. Our plan is to take a long walk along the trail that was previously a railway line, now reclaimed for walking, running, and biking.
In our Airbnb, we have access to an unlimited number of TV channels. While sitting and wasting time, we scrolled through to see what was all available. Who has time to watch all these media? Lots of talking heads, not too sure how much of value.
Today Linda and I went for a 90-minute walk and just before returning to the Airbnb stopped in at a coffee shop for a bagel, shake, and chocolate eclair. What a treat. Reading today’s news, I see more stupid statements from Elon Musk again. Now he wants the federal government to cut the amount they pay to retired people because the government is running out of money. We paid into the social security fund from the day we started work, in my case I have contributed for over thirty years. We rely on this monthly payment to help with regular expenses. The reality is that people like Musk pay almost zero in taxes because the laws are written to shield the uber-wealthy and the very large corporations. If they would pay their fair share, then there would be less of a problem. Warren Buffett used to say that his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he did.
Day 12, Tuesday, April 11, 2023, Airbnb, Lafayette, California.
I had a rude awakening today at 6:00 am. Linda had set her alarm to wake me to shower, have breakfast and pack, and be ready when Robyn collected us at 8:00 am to spend our time at her home until she took us to Oakland Airport at 1:00 pm for our flight home. This signals the end of our very enjoyable vacation.
I keep learning. High school for the twins starts at 8:30 am. But they get dropped off at 8:00 am because as the time approaches 8:30 the traffic buildup is intense. There are no school buses to drive the students to school, and with many of the high schoolers with motor cars driving themselves to school, they are obliged to park in the street. That helps with the chaotic buildup of cars as parents drop their children off, and the rationale behind Robyn or Darin dropping the kids early. After school, Darin parks about three blocks away in an off-road parking lot, and the twins, along with many other students walk to meet their parents for a ride home. What is challenging with heavy rains, the girls get soaked.
When Robyn met us to drive to her home, she used back roads to avoid driving past the middle school where there too, the traffic buildup was intense. With Robyn and Darin working, Linda and I were left to entertain ourselves on what turned out to be a surprisingly cool day. In four hours, we will be off to Oakland airport to begin our journey home. In all sincerity, I will be sad to say goodbye to East Bay, California as I have enjoyed my stay here.
Linda and I managed a 52-minute walk ahead of our trip to the airport. This is a wealthy neighborhood judging by the Tesla, Merced Benz, BMW (and at least one electric that we saw on charge during our walk), Subarus, and many other brands many of which are parked on their driveways or on the street.
A curious fact about Moraga, where Robyn and their family live. There are two roads running north and south, Moraga Road, and Moraga Way. Moraga Way turns from Orinda into Moraga, and Moraga Road runs from Lafayette into Moraga. The two roads merge at Canyon Road.
We decided that we needed sustenance at Oakland Airport. We bought a spinach croissant, a chocolate croissant, a cappuccino, an orange juice, and a Kind bar, total price with tax and a small tip of $34.96. We are looking forward to coming home and ceasing the spending spree. We have a two-hour wait in Oakland and a three-hour wait in Denver.
Day 13, Wednesday, April 12, 2023, the journey home.
Our two-hour flight to Denver was on a Boeing 737-800. There were only fourteen open seats on this flight. Linda and I sat in row 29. We had Coca-Cola for refreshments and elected not to have snacks.
It is quite amusing to see incredibly stupid people. We were sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to start boarding. Across the way was a girl, who I would guess was about 15 years old. She had a water container, one that would keep cold water cold, and hot water hot. A type of thermos. She also had a bottle of Coke that she opened and upended the drink to fill her water container. No surprise, with all the carbonated liquid in the Coke, the water container was overfilled in a heartbeat, with Coke spraying all over her clothes, luggage, and seat, and leaving her with a huge cleanup.
With so much time to spare in Denver, we ate at a restaurant. The meal included a cup of soup, French fries for Linda, and a pulled pork hamburger for me. We each had a beer, and the total cost was $49.36.
Day 14, Thursday, April 13, 2023.
We arrived in Milwaukee at 1:20 am. We took a shuttle to our car parked in an offsite saver lot and made it back to our condominium safely. First to unpack and then get to sleep.
Looking back, it was an amazing experience. What a beautiful tropical island with the most magnificent fauna and flora, peaceful, and restful. The weather is great too. If you have not had the opportunity to visit this Garden Island, then my wish for you is that you get to enjoy the pleasures of this magnificent Kauai Island soon.