Ah, an amazing December---first off, some Kauai highlights with more photos to follow.
It was a fabulous vacation on Kauai with Brad and the girls - though we arrived during one of the wettest 3 days of Kauai's history (considering the rainfall on that island is one of the highest on the planet---it was truly a wet 3 days!!). Here's a photo of Opaekka Falls from a website and then below, a photo we took---what it looked like our third day on the island!
While we were admiring the falls, (in the rain!) locals were there too, checking out the abundant cascading water---they said more was falling that day than after a few years ago when it'd rained over 40 days in a row! We laughed at our luck---but being Oregonians and rather used to rain, it didn't slow us down too much!
To show we didn't have to endure only rain, here's what we enjoyed our fourth day on the island:
This was our view off our lanai at the time-share we stayed at in Poi'pu on the southern point of Kauai. The place was luxurious and quite comfortable with amazing park-like grounds.
Our first couple of days we stayed in Kapa'a, north of the largest city - Lihue, where we were serenaded each morning by some of the abundant "wild life" on Kauai. The island is over-run with chickens---rumor has it they escaped during the 1992 hurricane Iniki, others say the chickens have been roaming free for years prior, brought to the island by the sugar cane industry to help control pests. Since Kauai doesn't have the mongoose population that was introduced to other islands to control rats (& consequently destroyed a lot of native bird populations...) the chickens have multiplied vigorously! They're hanging out in parks, beaches, alongside the highways, wandering through hotel grounds, picking their way through parking lots... truly everywhere! We heard them crowing at 7 am outside our first hotel, but once we moved south to the time-share we didn't hear or see anymore on their property---our theory is the gardeners caught them for supper! Of course we have lots of photos of chickens... They were quite pretty!
We loved snorkeling, and saw a lot of colorful fish, just 5 minutes away from where we were staying at Poi'pu Beach park. Because of the storms and rain the ocean was a lot less clear, and quite rough at times, even in the protected areas. It was Mariah & Eliza's first time snorkeling and they loved it as much as we did! It's so magical to be floating leisurely, kicking gently with your fippered feet, in just 3-4 feet of water and experience your own personal wild aquarium! One morning, when the water was particularly murky Eliza came upon what she initially thought was a big rock, then it moved & she thought---whoa, big fish! Then she realized an instant later it was a sea turtle, feeding just off the beach on some underwater rocks! She squealed through her snorkel for us to come see and we swam over---I was shocked how big the turtle was! Probably about the size of our kitchen table---3-4 feet across it's shell! We watched it bob in the surf, rise for air, and just marveled at our luck! We'd been seeing them off the rocky point where we were staying, coming up for air, then diving back down to feed, but this was truly a wonderful experience to be hanging out, inches from one of these gentle giants! Here's a photo of Brad and the girlies snorkeling at Poi'pu beach.
Our first night at the Point at Poi'pu:
While we were gone, Oregon experienced some of the snowiest weather ever. On our way home, they had to divert our flight to San Francisco, since PDX was closed! We spent an extra vacation day waiting in amazingly long lines, but then receiving vouchers to spend the night at the Westin Hotel near the airport. Our initial flight home left Honolulu after midnight, so we arrived around 9:00 am in San Fran---meaning some of us had very little sleep. I had been looking forward to sleeping at home, and none of us were prepared to spend any time outside in the cold! We had brought minimal warm clothes, planning to go from airport to warm car, to home. Since we ended up with a bonus day in San Fran, we couldn't just sleep away this opportunity, so after a fabulous meal at the Elephant Bar (about a mile walk away from the hotel) we took off on the airport shuttle, catching BART to explore San Francisco. This turned out to be a cold, wet, freezing adventure. Our light shell rain jackets weren't enough for the 40º temps, and after some wet wandering along the wharf, we tried to catch a trolley bus back to where we'd disembarked from BART. This for some reason took forever, and we ended up getting even more soaked & cold!! Once the trolley did arrive we were so happy to climb aboard with the heater blasting! Sadly though it only went a few blocks before it stopped and said it was the end of the line for this particular one, we had to get out and catch the next one!! Dang-it! That one of course was drafty, the front windows open to help defrost the driver's window, and by the time it arrived at our stop it was so clogged with people we were barely able to squeeze our way off! It was such a relief to dive down under the streets to the BART station, where we waited in an underground gust of wind for the next train.
The following morning we awoke to our alarms at 3:45 am to catch the shuttle back to the airport for our 6:00 flight. The hotel had contracted 2 shuttles to bring us there, but only one showed up, so the hotel paid for 3 more taxis to bring the rest of us to the airport where we were shocked to see an amazingly long line again to the NW ticket desk!! The day before it took over 2 hours before we were out of that line, so you can imagine our dismay as we headed to the far end of the line! It went quick though, and soon we were hustling to the gate where they bustled us on the plane, minutes before 6:00! It was the same crew, plane and passengers we'd traveled from Honolulu with. Lots of familiar faces, and smiles as we took off over San Francisco for Portland. We were sitting on the left of the plane, and I watched the sun rise through the windows on our right as we proceeded north. Then at one point I suddenly noticed the sun was on my side of the plane... what the?!?! and sure enough a few minutes later the pilot came on to tell us PDX was still closed, and we were on our way back to San Francisco!! AUGH! NW airlines told us our boarding passes would be good for up to $10 worth of food at a nearby vendor once we landed, so that was some good news considering probably very few passengers had eaten much yet that morning! All of the passengers disembarked once more, bringing all our carry-ons and soon we were sprawled everywhere around this particular gate at the airport. People slept, played cards, ate, read, little kids ran around & all their parents began to gather together, forming mini-play-groups, and amazingly everyone seemed in fine spirits! The departing time kept getting pushed forward, as the hours passed, so once they did say we could board again we all cheered! The biggest cheers & applause occurred when we actually came to a complete stop at PDX---after over 36 hours from when we first left Honolulu!!
Lastly, a couple of photos of our car at Brad's folk's house---they kindly offered to drop us off and pick us up from the airport in Portland---even in a snow-storm!
Here's Eliza helping to remove the snow so we could drive home - this was actually fun, since we hadn't had any chance to play in the snow yet! Unfortunately about 1/2 way home, the snow disappeared and we had no snow except one or two tiny hand sized patches here and there at our house!!
Yes, we miss Kauai, and we all could have stayed another week or more, but after our adventures coming home, we sure were glad to walk in our door!!