Day 2: Rainy Day in Hanalei Bay

Sometime during the night, it starts raining, and the rain continues throughout most of the morning, with short – and sweet – sunny intervals that make every blade of grass glitter like a green jewel. Eric and his sister Karla camped with us, although “camp” is a bit of an overstatement in Eric’s case, as he prefers to wrap himself in a tarp in burrito-fashion and sleep directly on the ground.
We go for a dip in the ocean and afterwards head into Hanalei, where apparently Saturday morning is surfboard swap meet.

Swapmeet, Hawaii-style

Swapmeet, Hawaii-style

After hours of hide and seek with the rain and the sun, which follow in quick succession, Eric and Karla zoom in on a hefty 12′ board that can double as standup paddle board (SUP) and we go back to the beach.

The best of both worlds: stand-up paddling and surfing, on one board

The best of both worlds: stand-up paddling and surfing, on one board. Also, the raised posing arm runs in the family.

But not before I buy several papayas from the Big Save. I’m on a declared mission, on this trip, to stuff myself silly with those delicious small and fragrant papayas that grow on the Island like dandelions on mainland.
Back at the pier, I totally monopolize my friends’ board to SUP up and down Hanalei river and, through the river mouth, into the ocean. The rain picks up again, shrouding the river and its verdant banks in uncanny quiet, and as i paddle up the stream, Hibiscus flowers gently drop into the river, slowly changing colors from fluorescent yellow to warm, goldflecked jewel tones as the day goes by, and I feel like I’m in the right place, at the right time and wouldn’t trade it for a sunny day. But a half hour later the sun does burn through most of the clouds and it’s hot again.
Karla is an incredible swimmer and swims circles around me and the boys, who are surfing their brains off. When we get out of the water, we are all ravenous and we get burgers at Bubba’s, and then promptly move to dinner number two of burritos at the Mexican/Brazilian place.Yes. You counted right.

Clear evening sky above Kauai's mountains

Clear evening sky above Kauai’s mountains

Boards: One
Papayas: Two (these suckers don’t stand a chance)
Dinners: Also two!!! (I lost count of the carbs entirely by now)

Camelia, SUPer SUPper

Short Trip to Paradise: Kauai Revisited

First, a disclaimer: this is was not our first time in Kauai. In fact, in January 2012, when we were here together for the first time, it was sort of a honeymoon. But then we decided that only one won’t do, and followed it with another honeymoon trip to Cabo …

On our first trip to Kauai, we had the luck and fortune of a) being able to coordinate with our friends Meghan and Wes, who were also on the island for the first part of our stay
Ed and Wes get 'barreled' on the dry.

Ed and Wes get ‘barreled’ on the dry.

And b) got an incredible local guide in the person of our friend Eric, aka Holmes, who not only showed us the most incredible beaches and best spots for poke tuna (Foodland in Kapaa), but also took us on the beautiful, treacherous and spiritually loaded Kalalau trail, along Kauai’s Napali Coast. The 11 mile trail leads to the Kalalau Valley, a place that is basically Disneyland for adults: all you can eat fruit buffet, courtesy of mother nature, including fresh mangoes, lilikoi (passion fruit) and guava (watch out for your heads), room to run around barefoot, bamboo sticks to play Jedi-knight with, waves to bodysurf, crystal-clear lava rock pools to swim in and, of course, clothing is entirely optional…
The Kalalau trip came at a rough time for me and helped me re-focus and re-align my priorities

The Kalalau trip came at a rough time for me and helped me re-focus and re-align my priorities

For me in particular, the Kalalau trail at the time was a BIG milestone: the most strenuous backpacking I had ever done and, once in the valley, my first experience in a place that felt both welcoming and completely wild. Legend has it that the Dalai Lama was once in an airplane, flying above Kauai’s Napali coast and he was compelled to look down upon it and name it “the eye of the earth.”
View from the Kalalau trail on the Na Pali coast of Kauai

View from the Kalalau trail on the Na Pali coast of Kauai

Stories about Kalalau abound, and allegedly the valley was home to a few thousand natives way back in the day, before it became a US state and was evacuated and turned into a state park. Long disclaimer taken care of. Now, the fun part.
Day 1: Up There Someone is Laughing Hard at Our Plans.
We arrive at Lihue, two pasty white people, frail like two snowballs under the blazing sun of the Mother Island. Our friend Eric, his sister, Karla, and mom pick us up in their car preloaded with provisions for the long and strenuous hike to Kalalau. In the backseat, I carboload like I’m about to cross the Pacific in a canoe, on delicious sandwiches made by Eric’s mom and sister. There’s a reason they used to call Hawai’i the Sandwich Islands.  I am now told actual sandwiches have nothing to do with it.
Eric and Karla, browned to a crisp

Eric and Karla, browned to a crisp

But as soon as we get to the foot of the trail, we attract the attention of a ranger, who immediately asks for our plans and camping permits. This is pretty unprecedented and catches us totally by surprise. Later, we find out that the state park was doing a sweep of the valley, in an attempt to uproot some of the folks who’ve made Kalalau their semi-permanent home. The ranger is adamant that if we get caught on the trail without camping permits, we’ll be cited and brought to court, and face felony charges if we fail to show up. Also, the ranger seems to know our friend and singles him out as someone who goes to Kalalau often (with an implication of “too often”).
After some internal deliberation and considering our extensive travel plans, we make a 180. It’s beyond disappointing, as we both were looking forward to reconnect with nature and start the trip with a bang. But hey. We head to Hanalei and we all pass out at the beach for the rest of the afternoon, exhausted from the emotional travails of ranger rejection and sandwich-eating. We camp at Blackpot beach, right of the lovely, recently stored Hanalei pier, with the ocean view on one side and the gentle slope of the Hanalei river on the other. Dinner at Tahiti Nouie, where George Clooney shot a scene in his Descendants movie, and off to bed under the stars.
We'll take Hanalei Bay anytime

We’ll take Hanalei Bay anytime

Trails: None.
Carbs: sooooooo many………
Camelia, the Hungry-Hungry Hippo