Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday in Kauai

Our last full day in Hawaii! We drove up to Kealia Beach north of Kapa'a. On the way there, we stopped and looked at Opeka'a Falls.
Kealia Beach is a good surfing/playing beach, so we spent some time playing in the waves. My camera washed out all these photos, but it ended out looking kind of cool!
After playing, we went to Ono Char Burger, a yummy burger place across from the Sleeping Giant. We got a terryaki burger with pineapple, and a marionberry shake. Mmm.
Then we went to the best snorkeling beach on Kauai, Tunnels on the north side. But the surf was pretty bad, so the snorkeling was no good, though Mike did a bit. We played a bit in the shallows and spent a long time reading, which resulted in my crispy toasty burnt belly. I think Tunnels is one of the most beautiful beaches.
Then we ran into Wally the monk seal's cousin, Dotty, sunning herself. I can't believe we saw another seal! She was just hanging out, sunning her green belly.

After we were both thoroughly crisped, we headed back for a dinner at home, but not before one last shave ice at Wishing Well.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday in Kauai

Today, we had planned on doing a killer hike: The 11-mile Na'ololo/Awa Awapuhi trail along the Napali Coast. But, although it's been dry and sunny our whole time here, a storm came in overnight, making hiking along muddy cliffs a bad idea.

So we decided to eat all day instead. We heard of the snowstorms back home and thought adding another layer of fat might help us transition back into home. We started by going to the Kalaheo Coffee House, where we got day-old mac nut sticky buns. Delicious and a dollar each! I wish I'd discovered this place a week ago!
Then we made our way to the end of the highway on the west shore, to Polihale Beach. We'd never come here, but it was beautiful! The surf was so violent and majestic, and the hazy weather gave the Napali Coast a mysterious and romantic look. We walked all the way down to the end of the beach, which was quite a trek. It started raining at the end, and we got quite wet.

After Polihale, we (what else?) ate more Shave Ice. Krista, since it's the boys' favorite so far, we felt obliged to bring Kael and Aiden joy by eating more. This time I went extra crazy and had haupia cream (coconut) added to the top of mine.

On the way back into town, we stopped at the Kauai Coffee Company visitor center and museum. Not too interesting. We had a late lunch, grilling hot dogs by the pool, and hung out there reading for the rest of the afternoon.

This was our big night out for dinner. We went to the same restaurant we went to on our honeymoon for a romantic dinner, Tidepools at the Hyatt. It's so pretty. In this picture below, do you see the thatched hut on the right? That's where our dinner table was. In fact if you look really close, you'll see my back.

On one side of the table, you could watch the waterfall and a kingfisher who looked interested in the koi.

On the other side, you could see out to the beach and palm trees.

We ate pretty much the same meal we had on our honeymoon. Mike got a mac nut-coconut shake. I got a sweet corn-vanilla bean soup with crab. For main dish, I got mac-nut encrusted mahi mahi stuffed with crab with roasted banana butter. So good. Mike got terriyaki chicken. Then we split a molten lava cake for dinner.

After dinner, we wandered about along the grounds and then sat and listened to some live Hawaiian music. Lovely night.

And here's a pic of how Hawaiians celebrate Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday in Kauai

Today we decided to go kayaking. We kayaked the Hanalei the last time we were here, so this time we kayaked a shorter river, the Kalihiwai. On the way up this morning, we stopped for coffee and a mango danish at the Kilauea Bakery. Then we rented our two-person kayak in Hanalei and drove to the Kalihiwai Beach, where we put in at the ocean and paddled up the river.
The first part of the river was wide and calm. It was blanketed with peach-colored hibiscus flowers that looked like they had been scattered there for the arrival of a queen. There was no one else on the river but us and the white tropical birds. The jungles around this river are thick, and we felt like we were kayaking into the jungles of Brazil.
There were several places where we had to navigate under and around big tree trunks. After awhile, the river got shallow and rocky, so we ran aground and got out to hike it.
We forded the stream and hiked up a vague trail, over branches and under spiderwebs and around fallen guavas to this....It was pretty spectacular. And even better because we had to work hard to get to this isolated spot. Unfortunately, our underwater camera freaked out at this point and colored everything bright green (hence the black and white...Mike also Photoshopped a one-piece onto me for the modest reader).

After enjoying the brisk water of the waterfall, we paddled ourselves back to civilization. We had a late lunch in Hanalei, pork lau lau again from the Polynesia Cafe and 4th of July shave ice from Wishing Well.

Then we needed a rest, so we headed to my favorite beach, Hideaways. You have to scale an impressive couple of flights of slick and steep stairs to get to this beach, which is why it is so often deserted. Mike did a lot of snorkeling here and captured an incredible video of a sea turtle swimming, which is, alas, too large to upload.
Here's a view of the reefs at Hideaways; you can just barely see the beach on the right.
After Hideaways, we went to the Kilauea Bakery again for dinner, and had Hawaiian pizza. The end.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday in Kauai

Tuesday was my favorite day yet, because we went to the north shore, my favorite. On the way, we stopped at Banana Joe's and got banana frosties. We drove all the way to the end of the road to Ke'e beach (below). There is a natural lagoon that is so big and calm. We snorkeled here. Then we hiked the beginning of the Kalalau Trail, just so we could get the view (below). This is the trail that this new movie takes place on, but luckily no hippies tried to kill us.
On our way, we saw boat loads of dolphins when we looked down into the ocean below the trail! There were at least four different pods of at least 10 dolphins. They were swimming and jumping in formation and unision. Then they would do spins in the air. It was amazing. The water was so clear that you could see their shadows on the ocean floor, and this picture is taken from quite high up on the trail. (We had Mike's mom's super zoom lens.)
After our hike, we needed some refreshment, so we went to my favorite, Wishing Well shave ice in Hanalei. This truck still reigns undefeated in my book for best shave ice on the island. I had a Ha'ena Sunset (Guava, Pineapple, Papaya, Strawberry) with mac nut ice cream. Mike had his usual rainbow.
After our main course of shave ice, we thought we better eat some sensible food. The very good Polynesia Cafe in the Hanalei shops added a $5 lunch menu, so Mike got a BBQ pork sandwich, and I had pork lau lau--pork slow cooked inside a banana leaf. It was so good. Then we headed to the Hanalei Farmer's Market and picked up some fresh fruits.

We then headed to the Princeville Hotel, which was recently rennovated. They replaced the outright opulence with simple elegance. I preferred the opulence, but it's still nice. Here's their outdoor patio.
We hung out in their bar area for a good while. I read a book while Mike dozed. I also got this Lilikoi truffle and mac nut/coconut latte. Mmm....
We hung out on the Princeville's beach for a good while, watching the view from this hammock.
While sitting in the ocean (that's me below), we saw a missile launch! At least, that's what we're figuring it had to be. It was a fiery streak in the sky that moved faster than any jet and suddenly disappeared. It left a crazy trail that slowly unfurled in the dusk.
We finally headed home late and grilled hot dogs by the pool for dinner.

Monday in Kauai

Monday was a lazy day. First, we went to the Kilohana Plantation garden and looked at all the beautiful orchids and other flowers. We also saw a big kingfisher and wandered around the cactus garden.

After this, we went shopping at Poipu Village for Crazy Shirts with Mike's mom. Then we headed home and rested a bit. Next we went to Brennecke's for lunch (burger and chicken sandwich), which is open air and overlooks Poipu Beach. After lunch, we set up camp at Poipu Beach. I didn't go in the water because of the cuts I got snorkeling the day before, but read on the beach instead. I did get to see two turtles hanging out in the shallows. Here's a picture Mike got of them while snorkeling.

We headed home and hung out at our place reading for awhile. Mike's parents headed off to the airport, and we ate leftover pizza for dinner. Then we watched the sunset over our beach.

We went to Papalani Gelato for dessert and headed in to bed early.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday in Kauai

Here is what we did on Sunday in Kauai...By the way in case you think it's weird that I'm blogging daily from Kauai, I always keep a journal of our vacations that we go back and read so I don't forget what happened, so this is our own personal vacation journal. :)

1. Mike brought me breakfast in bed, waffles with bananas, coconut crumbles, and coconut syrup with Passion-Orange-Guava juice.

2. We found out that Liz had her baby girl, Micah, by c-section, about 2 months early. She is almost 2 pounds and breathing without the respirator. Pleas pray for her health if you know Liz!

3. It was a sunny day, so we decided to try for the Kalalau Lookout, and hiked the Pihea trail. Sadly, as usual it was completely clouded in in the valley. It's sad to be inches from one of the most spectacular views on the planet and not be able to see it!

But we still enjoyed our hike and lookout over the Alaka'i Swamp. We even did a small portion of the swamp trail.
4. Then we headed down to the canyon and peeked in.
5. Then we had what my father-in-law (right) called the single best dining experience of his life, Jo Jo's shave ice in Waimea.
6. After this, Mike and I went to Poipu Beach for snorkeling. We saw a huge sea turtle! I snorkeling just a few feet from him, and Mike even pet him.
7. Watched the sunset from our place.

8. Had dinner at Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo. Tara, guess who I ran into there...Jill, Keith and their kids! How funny to run into one of the two people I know on the island of Kauai.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday in Kauai

On Saturday, we woke up early and Mike and I went to Spouting Horn when no one else was there. Then Mike's parents dropped us off for a day at the Hyatt. First, we hiked the cliffs along the shore for about an hour. (Actually, I have no idea how far we hiked. All I know is it felt hot and far.)
After boiling in the hot sun, we went for a leisurely turn down the Hyatt's winding lazy river pool. Twice. Then we played in their salt water lagoon and got a Luau Pig Cuban sandwich for lunch. The Hyatt remains one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.
After our day at the Hyatt, we went to Lihue and picked up our rental car. The lady would stop at nothing to upgrade us to a convertible. "You're on your honeymoon, right?" "No." "But you're here by yourselves, so it's like your honeymoon." "No, I'm with my in-laws." "But you have your own car, so it's like a honeymoon." Alas, we walked away with our sensible sedan.
Then Mike and I drove ourselves to our first shave ice at Old Koloa Town. We ate it like ravenous monkeys. Then we spent a couple of hours reading at the pool and reading in the pool.
Then we went for dinner at a new place called Merriman's in Poipu, which strives to be completely local in the food it serves. It was one of those restaurants that gives you smaller portions and is very expensive, but is actually worth the hype. Delicious food.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Velociraptor Honeymoon

Yesterday after we'd stared at the monk seal for awhile, we decided to get into the ocean for ourselves. So Craig, Nancy, and Mike snorkeled, while I stayed in the shallows staring at a big sea turtle hanging out near the monk seal. I've never seen a sea turle so big or so close. But maybe he was just so big because I was so close. Then I swam in the pool and we dipped in the hot tub.

After that, we decided to go to the Allerton Gardens, a huge tropical botanical garden. The tour really got better when we discovered a velociraptor hatchling at the base of a nearby tree.
Velociraptors develop surprisingly quickly, and within a few minutes, he was up and creeping and slobbering and trying to bite all our hands off.
Well, the slobbering beast was so cute that we decided to take him home with us. The tour guide seemed eager to get rid of him anyway. Endangering the peaceful state of the garden or something like that.

So we took him home and made an Italian dinner at the condo of tortellini and garlic bread, and the velociraptor made himself useful by sauteeing some papaya and bananas in coconut syrup.

After this, we went to the Hyatt and the velociraptor and I wandered around holding hands, laying on beach hammocks, remembering our honeymoon. Then to 7:30. Still on Colorado time.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Little Morning Monk Seal

Good morning from Kauai! This morning Mike and I woke up at 6 am...10 am Colorado time. So we took a walk down to the beach so we wouldn't wake up Mike's parents. And what, oh what, did we see? A little monk seal taking a morning nap on our beach.

Isn't he cute? I posted this just for you, mom, so I hope you like him. I think his name is Wally.

Here is the view from our balcony. We're at the Lawai Beach Resort which is right across from the Beach House restaurant. The seal was laying just left of where this photo ends.

Mike and I got in yesterday at 2, sick and tired. Oh, but Kauai does wonders for a person, and we're feeling better. Each time I visit here, I can't help but ask myself, why does anyone live anywhere else? We're all fools not to live here. We went to Tropical Burgers last night at the Poipu shopping center. I split a rum guava burger with Mike which was way to sweet. Then we went to bed immediately!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'm not here.

I'm here.

Big Blue

Since the unveiling of my new blue piano, several people have come forward to admit how awful they thought the idea to paint my piano blue was. My mother's exact words were, "horrendous." But in retrospect, they have all admitted that they like it.

This makes me happy because us angsty artsy types love adversity. I wouldn't have been happy had you all jumped on my idea, but find great satisfaction now in the vindication of my artistic vision. (We also like to be melodramatic.)

I still haven't taken many pictures of Bluey, as we still need to attach the music stand. But here are a couple more. I wasn't sure what to put on it, until I remembered that old books make everything look better. So now my great grandmother's copy of Little Women along with some of my favorite old books adorn the piano.
It also now matches the hand-painted cross Roberto gave me from El Salvador and is the resting place of our candy dishes. (A set of these are still up for grabs for Christmas, family.) I included the window in the picture, so you can see out to the snow this morning! I'm still considering if I want another coat of polyurethane on it. We put on one coat of satin polyurethane, which is why in the photo on my first post it looks glossy. (It looked especially glossy in that photo--it doesn't look that glossy in person.) I love the gloss, so I'm considering adding one coat of semi-gloss polyurethane. Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Praise the Lord!

At work, I communicate more with people from other countries--Ghanaians, Burkinabe, Australians, Bengalis, French, Brazilians, etc, etc--than I do with Americans. So, as you can imagine, there are lots of miscommunications. Luckily, I work with gracious people.

One thing you notice interacting with Africans is their much more formal but warm greetings. One man greets me each time, "Shalom, dear friend!" How can you not smile at that greeting you in your inbox each morning? My African coworkers almost always follow a set greeting before moving on to the business at hand.

One of my coworkers in Uganda begins every email with, "Dear Amber, Praise the Lord!" followed by whatever we need to deal with that day. Sometimes the email can be quite humorous, considering the context. The other day, I received this email: "Dear Amber, Praise the Lord! The cholera outbreak in Uganda has spread to another county." Being the 9-year-old that I am, I couldn't help giggle at this email...Cholera is spreading, Praise God!

Immaturity notwithstanding, I certainly could learn from the ritual communication of the Africans. No matter what bad thing is happening that day, Conso says, "Praise the Lord!" In some of the countries we work in, if you only said "Praise the Lord" on the days everything was going good, you'd never say it.

So in all situations, on our good days and on our bad, in disease and in health, in plenty and in want, praise the Lord.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wambua Meets His Sponsor

Our friend Wambua got to meet his sponsor a week ago, and it was caught on video! Check it out.
Jimmy comes on at about 3:45, so you might want to skip ahead. Warning: this made me kind of emotional, as you'll read in my intro. (Note to self: Don't write when emotional.) Jimmy said that after one woman saw this, who had been planning on ending her sponsorship to tighten her budget, decided not to. It's pretty cool how Jimmy is impacting others!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Symphony Blue

It's here...the big reveal! I inherited this piano from my coworker Becky. Perhaps it was the blue of her trip to Greece, but I got a hankerin' to paint my piano blue. We still have a couple of steps left, but here is the transformation thus far!

Before: A nice quiet piano.
1. I taped the keys and pedals, and put down a painting tarp.
2. I cleaned it with tri-sodium phosphate and desanded it using liquid desander. Then we painted two coats of Symphony blue. (How appropriate.)
3. Mike antiqued it with Van Dyke brown glaze to give it depth. Then he added a coat of polyurethane, which protects it from dings and gives it this glossy look. Tada!
Now we just need to add another coat of polyurethane, then reattach the hardware and music holder...And figure out how the heck to accessorize a big blue piano to make it part of the room.
But I love it!