We savored our last breakfast in Kauai (I went all out at the made-to-order omelette station, and Sawyer helped himself to the French toast bar, where he garnished generously with chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, and powdered sugar--as if the grandparents hadn't dispensed enough sugary candy, cookies, and soda in the past 10 days). Afterward, we soaked up the hotel grounds and views one final time before making our way to Lihue Airport for our trip home.
Sawyer mourned the loss of his beloved minivan before boarding our uneventful flight (barring the absolutely beautiful sunset we caught as we neared the California coast). The kids were dreamy travelers once again (one fellow passenger spent the entire trip pacing his quiet but antsy 7-month-old up and down the aisles--every time he passed, he commented on how insanely jealous he was of our contented babe!), and the time passed quickly and painlessly. (Sadie slept for about two hours; right upon waking, her cheek still imprinted with the texture of the booster seat, she announced, "I can't believe I've stayed up this whole time!") The little ones were tucked into their own comfy beds at home just before midnight.
As we drift off, we want to send a hearty mahalo to Kauai (and all the warm and friendly people of Kauai) for the unforgettable stay! You've won a permanent place in our hearts.
What we'll most remember about Kauai: wild roosters and hens (and their chirping chicks), cats roaming around hotels and restaurants, and geckos (especially the wee babies)...the saturated colors...the scent of plumeria...the come-as-you-are, idyllic, escapist lure of the island...rusted vehicles holding up surfboards...tiki torches...joyful music and graceful dance...the smiles...
What we'll take away from this trip: the relaxed pace and the balance and harmony of the island...the shaka sign (perhaps you've noticed how readily Sawyer adopted the extended-thumb-and-pinky hand gesture? It means aloha, hello, howzit, have a good day, have a good time, hang loose, right on, cool, peace, thank you, until next time, take care...you get the idea...all goodness and light)...the 'ohana (family) focus...the gracious and welcoming aloha spirit...
Our hope for Kauai: We hope that the blessed island will retain its funky, homegrown, family-run charm in the face of the many big-box stores (Costco, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Home Depot) and chains (Borders, McDonald's, Starbucks, Jamba Juice) that have already found their way there, as well as the coming of the controversial inter-island Hawaii Superferry. We dream of visiting with our children's children as Susie and Noby have done with theirs--and finding it much the same.
If you're going to Kauai, feel free to check out some of our favorite resources for planning and getting into the aloha spirit...
• www.tripadvisor.com (their real-person traveler reviews and their forums, in particular, are unparalleled!)
• www.kauaiworld.com (The Garden Island, Kauai's newspaper)
• Kauai Underground Guide / Lenore and Mirah Horowitz (especially good for families; tons of practical beach information, reliable restaurant reviews, etc.; and it comes with a nice music CD!)
• The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed / Andrew Doughty (known as the "blue bible" and carried by every other tourist on the island; while we didn't always agree with the reviews and advice, we always appreciated the great maps, detailed driving guides and area descriptions, and more)
• Kauai Trailblazer: Where to Hike, Snorkel, Bike, Paddle, Surf / Jerry and Janine Sprout (highlights some of the less touristed, more obscure places on the island; we look forward to exploring more of these on future trips when the kids are older)
• Hawaii's Fishes: A Guide for Snorkelers, Divers, and Aquarists / John P. Hoover
• Hawaii Birds: An Introduction to Familiar Species / James Kavanagh (Illustrated by Raymond Leung)
• Franko's Dive Map of Kauai, The Garden Isle / Frank Nielsen (two-sided, water-proof, and tear-resistant; includes dive and snorkel recommendations and even fish identification; it's not a driving map--you don't really need one of those if you pick up the aforementioned guidebooks--but it orients you to the island beautifully!)
• The Sleeping Giant: A Tale from Kauai / Edna Cabcabin Moran
• Surf's Up for Kimo / Kerry Germain (Illustrated by Keoni Montes)
• S Went Surfing: An ABC Book for Keiki / Illustrated by Ruth Moen Cabanting
• Hula Lullaby / Erin Eitter Kono
• Aloha Is... / Tammt Paikai (Illustrated by Rosalie Prussing)
• How to Draw Sea Creatures / Kidsbooks
• I've put together a "Hawaiian Holiday" iTunes playlist (the perfect accompaniment to an evening cocktail back home--if you close your eyes, you can almost feel the island breeze and hear the swaying palms!)...it's available as an iMix through iTunes, or you are welcome to email me for details.