Friday, October 25, 2013

Agent finds a Home

I just found out that Agent was adopted on October 17th.
I was just thrilled to hear this as he is such a sweet dog and I'm sure his new family now has a great new addition. I wish Agent and his new family all the best for the future.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

September 28

Day 15 - The long road home...

Travel always stresses me out so I wake up before the sunrise this morning.
We have no concerns about our luggage making the weight requirements as my bag will more than likely be 20 lbs lighter than when we flew out since I had lots of food stuffs in them that we have long since eaten.

We have our final Apple-banana macadamia nut pancake breakfast before starting our packing for the trip home. We have a 1:30 flight to HNL so we figure on leaving the house around 11:00am.
After we pack up and give the house the old triple check for anything remaining we head down to the cove to say farewell to the turtles that have given us so much enjoyment on this trip.

 We load up the car and head to the airport. Car drop-off is uneventful except that the guy from Budget tells me that there may be a cleaning fee because I had a dog in the car. I was amazed by this considering the red dirt and mud they have to deal with everyday dog fur seems like a simple vacuum away. I make a mental note to cut up my budget card if they charge a cleaning fee and we push on.

Bags checked, security line completed we hit the souvenir shop to pick up those last minute regret items. This time is different because they actually have a pullover that Cori has wanted since she first saw it but the shop did not have her size. This is a good score as they have both her size and desired color. It's the small victories!
We wait in the Hawaiian Air lounge until it's time to board our flight and we see the flight is delayed. Shortly they call our names and inform us that they need to put us on the flight that is currently boarding so that we will make our connection to JFK. No seats together but I'm sure by now Cori probably wants a break from me so we take our seats and say goodbye to Kauai.  What is kind of a bummer is that our original seats would have provided a nice Pearl Harbor view on approach but the current seats don't. Oh well at least we make our connection.
We are only waiting about 10 minutes in HNL before our flight begins to board for the long flight home.
As we pass by the big island it's mostly shrouded in cloud cover. 

This is our last glimpse of paradise as we wing our way back to our working lives. The end of a vacation is always bittersweet. I never want the fun of the vacation to end but I do miss my pets and I am anxious to see them again.
Our flight lands in NY at 6:51am the next morning and to our surprise our bags have actually made the flight. We had thought with our last minute flight change that these might not have made it but there they are sliding by on the belt. Our good luck continues as our driver is within sight as we walk to be curb. Two hours later and we are walking into the house and the reunion with the kitties begins.
We are both exhausted so we take a nap until about 1:00pm and then we head up to Cori's house for the second pet re-union of the day.

This has been a fantastic trip. The trip wasn't perfect but it was as close to a perfect trip as I've ever experienced.
This was my seventh trip to Kauai and my prior experience actually helped and hurt.  It helped in knowing a little more about which activities are worthwhile and which are not. It hurt in that my prior trips were all based out of Kapa'a which is the perfect place for an active traveler as the entire island is in play everyday.
I know lots of folks don't like the east shore. I am not saying it's the perfect place to stay but if you are using your room as a sleep place only Kapa'a is a great option.
Staying in Poipu changes this equation a bit. Points west are easy access, Ke'e beach is a haul. Not as the crow flies but in real drive time with the speed limits on Kauai you are talking 1.5 hours best case. I didn't take this extra time into account and as a result we spent minimal time on the north shore. On my prior trips the condo was a place to sleep and maybe take a morning/evening beach walk but other than that I spent very little time in residence.

This house was fabulous, the view from the balcony, and the turtles in the cove made you want to linger at home and forget about the world. I didn't expect or account for this "home time" in my trip planning. Now believe me I wouldn't trade our turtle time for anything it just meant that we didn't go on as many hiking trips as I had originally planned to.
For those of you that are planners like me, the lesson here is to be flexible. We didn't hike the Hanakapiai trail on this trip, I planned it for our first morning but life sort of got in the way. Part of the magical nature of a trip to Kauai is the unplanned discovery. Watching turtles and Roosters & Chickens with babies cannot be planned but it is so satisfying and relaxing when you just sit back and observe nature.

 We went on a lot of excursions and some organizations were great to deal with and I would use them again and recommend them. I have posted reviews on Trip Advisor for most already but vendors I would use again or recommend in no particular order are;

Outfitters Kauai - The staff energetic, helpful and fun. They offer the widest range of physical activity of any tour vendor on the island and a small discount for booking multiple tours. We did four excursions with them. I would do the ocean kayak and the standup paddle again. I would pass on the "secret falls kayak" because it's too crowded and the zip line because we have been on much better zip lines.

Capt. Andy's - We did the lowest cost Napali tour they offer but you wouldn't know it. Treated all the passengers very well and showed us all a good time.

Kipu Ranch Adventures - The ATV's are in excellent shape. The guides were very personable and it's a nice change of pace. It's too bad they don't offer some sort of hike option down to Kipu Kai.

Kauai Eco Clays - Probably the most unusual activity we did. Given 100 guesses about what I would be doing in Kauai shooting clay pigeons would not have been among them. Ben is an excellent teacher and even if you have never handled a gun before he will have you knocking those targets out of the sky. This is great fun and a very good value.

Hike Kauai with Me - I would use Eric again as a guide in a heartbeat. The only thing I would change is to pick a more challenging hike.

Mauna Loa Private Helicopter tour - We did doors off flight and loved it. Sure you get a little wet when it rains but so what. The price is only a little higher than the companies that put six people in a chopper but the difference is you are guaranteed to have a great view

Each of these vendors were friendly, professional, and most of all they made the activity fun.


We had most of our breakfasts at home but we did eat a lot of dinners out and I can happily say we didn't have a bad meal anywhere. For us the Halelani dinner at the Sheraton was the best overall experience but that was a special meal so it's not fair to compare that to the other restaurant meals we had. I would do that again even though it was pricey. The overall experience of the private outdoor table and waiter was outstanding as was all the food.
Unlike the excursion vendors, I am going to list the restaurants in descending order from best overall. They are all good if they are on this list though.

The Beachouse - This was our most expensive meal after the Sheraton dinner but the combination of well prepared food, professional wait staff, sunset views and atmosphere make this a winner.

Tidepools - Excellent food in a gorgeous setting. You really can't go wrong here. Great dinner and then a stroll around the beautifully manicured Hyatt grounds is good stuff.

Kauai Ono 560 - A 5 course tasting menu cooked in food trailer, served at a picnic table under a tent in Hanalei sitting with new friends you just met. This is an experience not to be missed. Go, eat, meet new people and enjoy.

Keoki's Paradise - Keoki's serves pretty good food and the service is very professional. It's a fun place it seems for both the patrons and staff. If you order the hula pie you have to finish it.

Dukes -  Same restaurant group as Keoki's. Great views of Kalapaki bay. Very good food while service can be a little spotty it doesn't detract from the experience. The Mango bacon BBQ Burger was the clear winner for us in the best burger we had during the trip contest!

Josselin's - They make great pork belly, on our first visit Sam Choy came in and that's what he ordered! Tapas are a fun a way to dine. The food here is expertly prepared and people rave about the sangria cart.

Right slice pies - While not a restaurant this lady sure knows how to make a pie. Sweet or savory she hits them out of the park every time.

Puka Dog - Yes I am recommending that you try the full on Puka Dog experience. Load it up with the flavors or mustard and tropical relish you want, get a lemonade, don't forget to push the dog down into the bun so you don't end up with just bread at the bottom. It's yummy and so different.

That's pretty much what I can remember. Our trip to Kauai is now just memories which I hope to replay in my mind countless times.
I owe much gratitude to the regular contributors and destination experts on the Trip Advisor Kauai forum. They all provide valuable insight that potential travellers can use to help plan and have a better vacation experience.
Until I return I will continue to eat dessert first and grin like a dog...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

September 27

Day 14

Dog Day Afternoon...

When I planned this trip I had put in three open days with nothing on the schedule. We had hoped that on the middle of the three we would take a dog out for the day from the Humane Society. Turns out that our second open day fell on a Sunday and the Humane Society is closed on Sunday so we had to push our dog day to our last day on the island.

We have our pancake breakfast on the lanai while watching the turtles. I have one package of premixed pancake batter left and we have one morning left so that worked out!

Since the dog pick-up has an 11:00am start time we decide to head to Mahaulepu beach. It's a pretty beach and I want Cori to see it so we drive out to Gillians beach and walk the rest of the way. We know dogs are permitted here but I wanted to take the dog to places were we would encounter more people in the hope that someone will notice the dog and possibly give them a home. At this hour there is not a soul at Gillians and while we see a pickup truck near Mahualepu beach we don't see another human.

It's a nice morning and we decide to drive to the Opaeka'a falls overlook. In our two weeks here each time we have driven through the tunnel of trees there has been some kind of giant white vehicle in front of us but on this morning karma is on our side and it is clear ahead.

 This one is my favorite. It's so funny that it took two weeks for this opportunity to present itself and we even have sunshine. perhaps a good omen for the rest of the day.

When we arrive at the falls overlook the sun is going in and out but we get some good pictures.

Cori finds that there is a Geocache near here so we go about searching. After a brief time going in circles we find it, sign the log and then walk over to the Wailua river overlook and the Heiau.

We spend a little time laughing about our kayak trip up this river a few days ago and then hop in the car to head to the Humane Society.

We both love animals. Cori has an entire barnyard of creatures great and small. I have two cats and have had cats for most of my adult life. I had dogs growing up but since I sometimes travel for work cats fit my lifestyle better. My definition of a dog is that it has to weigh more than a cat, it can't be something I can drop kick 40 yards, and you can't cover them with a shoe box. If the animal fails these tests it's a Dogent. If you have a dogent that's fine but they are not for me.  Dogs to me are Labs, German Shepperd's and the like. We don't yet know what we'll find at the Humane Society but we will learn soon enough.

The Kauai Humane Society is the nicest facility of it's kind I have ever seen. It's bright, clean, modern. We are directed to the dog pens and we walk down the isle as the dogs all look at us with that patented "Pick me" stare.  It's heartbreaking seeing all these dogs waiting for someone to love. We finally pick two potential candidates and head back to the reception area.
The person tells us we have chosen dogs that are polar opposites in personality and that the older more docile dog was adopted and then returned for reasons unknown.  In the hope that this older dog will be adopted once again we decide to take the higher energy dog "Agent"

.Agent is a handsome boy. He is lean and super strong. He pulls like a locomotive but he seems very sweet. We load him in the car and head for Kalapaki beach. Agent is pretty excited about going out with us.Our plan is to have lunch in the park across from the beach, take him for a walk then to head up for a walk on the Kapaa beach path in order to get him the most people exposure and hope somebody wants to own this cute guy.
I take him for a little run before we walk along the Kalapaki beach path. He was very good on the first walk. We took a water break and he did show some fear of the golf carts that the Marriott employees were driving in but he recovers quickly.
Cori remembers that there was a great looking burger option on the Dukes menu so she goes off to order us some food while I find a shady picnic table with Agent.
While we await Cori and our lunch a shirtless tattooed guy walks up and asks me if Agent is my dog. I explain that he is a Humane Society Dog and I am taking him for the day to try and help get him a home. He tells me that the Humane Society is stealing dogs. Says the Hawaiians don't treat dogs like pets but they are hunting dogs and as such not house pets. They live in the woods, know where their owners start their hunts so they show up, do the hunting job and get a reward but they live in the woods. He says Agent is/was someones hunting dog. I explain that I am just trying to do a good thing. He continues to explain further about how his island is being contaminated by all these outsiders that "know" better and now that he is back after 28 years in prison he is upset with the condition of Kauai. He tells me he doesn't mind me visiting he just wants me to go home!
I find myself hoping that this person, who I now know is most likely a violent criminal, excuses himself before Cori comes back with our lunch. During his manifesto he is also paying attention to Agent so there is something nice happening as well.
He doesn't leave before Cori gets back with our lunch but he does finally move along shortly after she gets back. We let out a collective sigh of relief and dig into our Mango BBQ Bacon Burgers.
I have no idea if what he said was valid but his description of the Hawaiian attitude towards animals does match up with information we got from our hiking guide so maybe he did have a point. Either way I am hoping Agent finds a home because he is a good dog.
We move to the Kapaa walking path and Agent is pulling pretty hard but he also has times where he just decides to flop down and do frog-dog
We stop every so often to get him a drink and give him some snacks. He's being a very good boy and doesn't seem concerned with other dogs, or chickens!
I had promised Cori that I would show her Rainbow Eucalyptus trees and I recall there were quite a few at the Keahua Arboretum so after we finish our walk in Kapaa we move to the Arboretum. The stream across the road is flowing a little too fast for me to feel comfortable driving the rental car over it so we get our feet wet walking across. Agent doesn't mind at all.
There are rainbow eucalyptus trees here and we would have gotten much better photos with sunlight but there are a lot of clouds today. Cori does manage to get a few pictures when the sun peaks through the clouds.

Agent meets some new people while we wait for Cori to admire the trees and snap pictures. We are walking around without a care in the world when I suddenly notice the time is 4:45pm. We need to get Agent home by 5:30pm!
We dash across the stream. Towel off his paws and are on the road. Now Agent seems to want to ride in the front and Cori has to play goal keeper to ensure Agent remains just a passenger. Soon they come to an understanding and we get back to the Humane Society at 5:28pm!
It is nice to see that Agent is happy to be "home" so that indicates he is being well taken care of.
We bring him inside and say our goodbyes. One of the volunteers calls Agent by name and I watch as he takes him around the corner. The last glimpse I have of Agent he is smiling ands his tail is wagging. He is a great dog, so full of energy and good natured I hope he finds a home. I have not been able to check on him since our trip as I couldn't bear to hear any bad news.
I'm happy we chose to spend our last day with Agent.

We visit with the turtles when we get home.

We head back to the Beachouse lawn for sunset.

Hard to imagine that this is our last sunset in Hawaii on this trip. It's sad but we decide that we are putting off any packing or talk of leaving tomorrow until it's actually tomorrow.
We decide to try Tortilla Republic for dinner. The Kukui'ula shopping plaza looks great in the evenings.Tonight there are several musicians playing in front of different shops and restaurants. Each seems to have a slightly different musical style.
We get a table and are looking over the menu when Cori overhears the server informing another table that they do not have any guacamole. Great Horny Toads! No Guacamole. This is a deal breaker for us and we decide that if true we will abandon this dinner plan. The legends turned out to be true. A tex-mex style restaurant that has run out of guacamole. The Menehune can build a fish pond in one night but there are no avocados to be found. Kind of like a pizza place running out of cheese but what can you do.

What did we do?

We walked about 15 paces and got a table at Merriman's. They had a nice Jimmy Buffet type guitar player outside and we shared a Pork pizza, some truffle fries, and a beet salad. I did give the tinniest bit of pork to a kitty that was passing by but other than that it was all for us. The food, entertainment, and company were all good and on the walk home we ducked into the photo galleries again. We talked to a couple from Maine while we were watching the sunset and they told us that one photographer told them it took him almost 9 months to get a shot of the sunset inside a wave curl. Can you imagine the patience and dedication this takes? Speaking of patience where do they get the gasoline pumps on Kauai? These have got to be the slowest pumps on the planet.
Anyhow we walk as slowly as possible back to the house as we know this will be the last time we do this.
We relax in the hot tub, talk about our adventure with Agent and admire the night sky one last time before turning in.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

September 26

Day 13

We are meeting at the Outfitters office at 7:00 this morning for Ocean Kayaking. No breakfast since I don't want to chance it.
We meet our guides for the trip Adam & Tina as we load up our gear into dry bags. It is a pretty morning and there are two other couples going out with us today. One of the couples decides to split up and each joins forces with one of our guides so we have four kayaks going out.
Cori is ready to go!

Adam explains that we will be doing our trip in three segments.
The first paddle from our starting point in Poipu to Lawai Kai beach which is 1.5 miles west. We will stop at Lawai Kai for breakfast and a swim break.
We will continue west on the second leg of the paddle for  6 - 6.5 miles where will we beach again for lunch.
The final leg will be another half mile paddle west to our pick up point near glass beach/Port Allen. Seems simple enough.
We paddle out into the small harbor area and get the rudder adjusted and we are off heading south.
 This is a different view of Spouting horn than we've had before. It is kind of cool observing sites from a totally different angle
 The paddling is a tad more difficult than river kayaking but we are doing pretty well.
 As we begin the turn into our first landing point Adam goes over the hand signals he will use to guide us into the beach. He must time the wave cycles and he will tell us when to paddle like hell and when to stop so we can stay on top of the waves coming in.
Adam is a very experienced Kayaker but I have to say this first beach landing was a little disconcerting. At one point we were riding the crest of a wave and as a result you loose sight of land. Following the cues from Adam we make it to the beach without any real difficulty.

We are now on Lawai Kai beach. This is the same beach we saw from above when taking the bus in for the Allerton Gardens tour.

Lawai Kai from above
Lawai Kai from below
 Allerton house & Queen Emma cottage
Adam and Tina get a breakfast of banana bread, juice, coffee, and cliff bars ready while we busy off taking photos and just plain gawking at this lovely beach.
It really is a very pretty and peaceful place without another soul around. The property is owned so we can't go explore up by the Allerton house but we are allowed on the beach itself.

 That first paddle was easy, notice we are still smiling
 There are the remains of turtle nests here and there

Fueled and rested we once again get back into the water for the 6+ mile paddle.
This paddle is a little more effort. The waves are sometimes helping and sometimes hurting our progress but I think we are getting better as we go. the group separates a bit as some get a little tired. We do a decent job trying to keep up with Adam but we are still probably 4 boat lengths behind him for most of the trip. We get some excellent views of the shoreline before we group up again for the landing at the second beach.  This beach doesn't have the waves breaking as close to shore so all we need to do here is follow Adam in.  This is another beautiful beach and once again Adam and Tina get our lunches out for us.

After our lunch of the now very familiar turkey wrap and veggie wrap we explore the beach, while Adam takes a couple of folks snorkeling and Tina sacks out.
Cori looks for shells and find some nice ones
Our stay here is probably a little over an hour as everyone needs a little rest. While I am not tired I do appreciate the opportunity to walk and go up the hill towards the coffee field and snap some photos of the beach below.

Soon we are getting our life vests on for the short final half mile paddle of the trip. The paddle is easy but the channel to get to the beach is narrow so we have to paddle fast and hard to ensure that we keep the line for the landing and soon enough our kayak is scrapping the beach. This was a great trip we both enjoyed it very much.
We relax in the van on the way back to the Outfitters shop and munch on some Kauai Kookies.
On the walk back to the house we decide that we've earned a treat so we detour into Lapperts for some gelato.
We do some souvenir shopping and some daydreaming about photos we might purchase before taking our newly acquired treasures back home.

After we get cleaned up we decide to head towards Shipwreck beach for short hike

I just love this coastline. On the hike back we see someone jump off the rock into the water by the Hyatt. I would do this if I was a better swimmer.  These waters scare me so I am staying on terra firma. We talk about what to do for dinner and we decide that we are going to give Josselins another try. Our first visit here was hampered by the fact that we didn't know how were going to get into the rental that first night so we were tired and a bit cranky. We wanted to give Josselins a chance for a positive memory. Ordinarily I don't like to repeat on vacation but this just seemed right.
A much more relaxed night at Josselins, not worried about where and when we might get to sleep!!

Oven roasted AHI belly

Roasted Lamb meatballs

These ribs were outstanding

36 hour pork belly, so tasty yet so bad for us
Slow cooked butterfish

This was a meal to remember. The ribs, butterfish and pork belly were all standouts. I am glad we decided to come back and give Josselins the chance for a better memory. I really enjoyed his food back in the days of "A Pacific Cafe" and he is still working some magic.
After dinner we look at more photos we more than likely won't buy but that doesn't mean we don't admire the art. Nearly everything in my home is nature art so why not something from Kauai?  I suppose I first want to determine if anything I've taken myself could suffice?
Now it's back for a dip in the hot tub before going to bed. We've decided our last full day on Kauai will be a dog day...