Wednesday, July 11, 2007

11-July 07

Our grand finale (the blasted itinerary says we're scheduled to leave this beautiful isle tomorrow--whose idea was that?) was the 3,600-foot deep, 10-mile long Grand Canyon of the Pacific: Waimea Canyon.

Along the way, we stopped at the sleepy town of Hanapepe for a visit to Kauai Kookie Kompany (I'd bought a too-small package of their chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies earlier in the week and needed more). After that fruitful trip, we detoured to the town's main drag (all of about one block before it turns to a virtual ghost town with abandoned storefronts all around; Hanapepe has a rich and varied past, including a sugar plantation labor uprising-turned-massacre in 1924, marked by a memorial in the park). We peeked into some shops and galleries (the town hosts "Art Night in Hanapepe" every Friday evening from 6 PM to 9 PM) and then walked across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge (though not nearly as nerve-wracking as New Zealand swinging bridges with no barriers to prevent one from falling through, it definitely gave the kids the jitters when the wind picked up!). Sawyer and Sadie took pleasure in recognizing Hanapepe as the "home" of Disney's animated film, Lilo and Stitch (along with Hanalei and a few other Kauaian inspirations).

Then we slowly made our way up the ridiculously scenic Waimea Canyon Drive, aka Hwy 550. Now, I have yet to see the Grand Canyon in comparison, but I was more than impressed! The colors were so vivid--from the famous red dirt (our now-stained clothes may have to count as Kauai souvenirs; in fact, they permanently dye t-shirts with the dirt here...though I haven't come across a skin tone yet that would be flattered by those rather hideously colored "Red Dirt Shirts" sold at every nearby corner!) to the lush green vegetation, the crisp white waterfalls to the golden, brown, and gray rocks. We lucked out with the weather, too--while I hear that clouds and mist can creep in later in the day, our afternoon was crystal clear with bright blue skies and perfect visibility.

(Sadie is none too pleased with the slippery red dirt.)

I'd counted on eating at the Lodge at Koke'e, but we were too late, even for late lunch (they'd closed the restaurant about a half-hour before we arrived). So we had an even later lunch back down the hill at Shrimp Station Restaurant in Waimea (the coconut shrimp was over-the-top coconutty, but the beer-battered shrimp was outstanding, as were the fries; I regret not trying the sweet chili garlic shrimp, but in my lazy, hungry state, I was irrationally overwhelmed at the thought of mucking up my hands while painstakingly peeling those).

Stuffed with shrimp but incapable of passing up shave ice, Susie this time explored the "ono'licious extras" on the Jo-Jo's Anuenue menu and upgraded her rainbow shave ice over mac-nut ice cream (never said "macadamia nut" ice cream, mind you) to include azuki beans. She was mighty pleased (and is threatening to make us return before the airport tomorrow!). I tried root beer shave ice over vanilla ice cream--better than the fake fruit flavors for sure, but I'm still not feelin' the love like the rest of the Ikedas (it's just one of many ways I stand out--including the fact that the others have all been repeatedly mistaken for Hawaiians on, not so much, even with my bottle tan!).

Filled to the gills, we enjoyed the late afternoon (and a tremendous sunset) at Salt Pond Beach Park. The snorkeling wasn't any good, but Granddad enjoyed skipping rocks and the kids enjoyed wearing Papa out ("my turn, my turn!"..."again, again!"..."just one more time...pleeeeeeeease?!").

It was late and getting dark, and we were still rather full, so dinner was take-out sushi and instant miso soup with tofu from Big Save, along with Noby's last few bottles of Kona Golden Amber Ale (a local told him it was akin to one of his all-time favorites--Sierra Nevada Pale Ale--only better). We dined on the lanai while we watched the luau wrap up below (tonight's audience was treated to more fire-dancing than we got on Monday--I guess the rain cut ours a wee bit short) and braced ourselves to tackle the dreaded packing job for tomorrow's flight home.

Signs of the day:

"No vehicles beyond this point." (But gee, it looks like such prime parking.)

"No off-road biking." (Now, I know mountain bikers can be hard core, but seriously?!)


At July 15, 2007 6:39 PM , vianna said...

Very nice pictures and the kids are so lovely~~~


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