Friday, March 12, 2010

Three More Days on the Garden Island

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Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were each wonderful in a different way. Our south side of the island was supposed to be rainy on Tuesday, so we set out for the sunnier west side. There are certain experiences here that I feel are not to be missed after that long 10-hour flight. One of them is Hawaiian shave ice at the original Jo-Jo's. Another is to gaze upon the misty forbidden island of Niihao off in the distance and contemplate what life would be like in such a place. I also wanted to see how the Hanapepe Cafe was doing because a few years ago, we had dreamed about buying it with our family and moving to Hawaii. We began our day with a big, delicious breakfast at Grinds Then we spent several hours on a vast, deep beach called Kekaha that we reached by walking through a small public park called MacArthur Park. The man for whom the park is named had the first name of MacArthur (Dela Cruz) according to his plaque. The beach was extremely windy and the surf rough, but we could look over and see Niihao on one side, and watch the rain clouds over Poipu on the other. The beach had a foot-high plateau of sand which we had to stomp into a slope to allow us to get down to the water easily. Ari and I tried to fly his pocket kite again, but the wind was so strong, it snapped the string and he had to retrieve it from some people that grabbed it about 200 yards down the beach.

After a few hours, we had had enough sand-blasting and headed over to Jo-Jo's where the six of us chose only two flavors between us--haupia (coconut) and cappuccino/macadamia nut. When we returned home, sitting at the hot tub and pool, Ari figured out a way to accomplish a few other of our goals on this vacation. Randy was anxious to see a sunset, and we all wanted to see the new Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland movie that had opened on Friday. We showered and dressed and went off to The Beach House restaurant again, timing it so that we could watch the sunset at Poipu from their patio as we finished our tropical drinks and appetizers. Then, we drove to the small movie theater on the island to see the movie. Our reactions were mixed. Like most Tim Burton movies, I enjoyed watching it, but I am never wowed by anything but the artistry and imagination that is so unique to him. I always yearn for a more cohesive story line.

Wednesday was Ari's 31st birthday. He had received both good and bad news the previous day. Within an hour of learning that he had lost the home he wanted to buy, he also learned that a buyer had been found for his condo. So, because of the time difference (5 hours), he needed to take care of the paperwork on the morning of his birthday. We had a breakfast of poi (taro) pancakes with local coconut syrup, Anahola granola with milk, and fresh tropical fruit. Then, we all headed off along a winding scenic walkway past beautifully-landscaped homes, condos and parks, to the Grand Hyatt where Ari took advantage of their business center to sign the papers for the sale of his condo. The business center had a balcony with small tables and chairs overlooking the magnificent interior pool area of the Hyatt. Ken and I spent a pleasant hour there while Saul and Ari took care of the paperwork, and Randi and Larry went shopping. Larry bought the most expensive shoes he has ever owned, which are MBT anti-shoe sneakers that have a rounded sole which is supposed to provide ergonomic exercise as you walk. When Ari finished, we all meandered around the magnificent facilities of the beachfront Frank Lloyd Wright-style Hyatt, which included incredibly beautiful chandeliers and sconces, a huge indoor/outdoor tropical garden lobby with colorful parrots stationed at various points among the fauna, a huge koi pond with a white swan, and acres of cascading colorful flowering plants and water features. I had a difficult time tearing myself away from that Garden of Eden.

We hung around the house for a while after our walk, lunching on leftovers of our tuna, among other things, and catching up with business on our computers. After some time in the pool and lava-stone hot tub, we showered and dressed for our reserved birthday dinner at Roy's, for which (thanks to Ken and Randi) we all had gift certificates. We had chosen Roy's that night because it is indoors and does not have views of the ocean. We thought we would save it for a rainy evening, and rain is what we had that night. When we arrived, our table was decked out with colorful ticker tape streamers that surrounded our anthurium centerpiece and draped over our goblets. When we opened our menus, a special page had been inserted commemorating our birthdays. Our service was extremely attentive and the food was delicious and beautifully presented. I ordered a prix fixe dinner with wine pairings that included prosecco, sauvignon blanc, malbec, and muscat. We had a wonderful evening together, topped off by sharing slices of rich and creamy flourless chocolate cake with a pink birthday candle for me and a blue one for Ari, Roy's signature chocolate souffle, an assortment of small desserts from the prix fixe, and a buttery, flaky apple caramel turnover.

Even though our Roy's excursion had turned into a late evening, we decided that if we all awoke early enough, we would leave the house by seven to spent a day at Ke'e beach in the far north. Ke'e beach is my ultimate "must do" for Kauai. Although Poipu is consistently listed as the number one best beach in the world, I think Ke'e deserves the title. Ken and Randi were not up at that hour, but the rest of us were, and we decided to embark on the two-hour drive. We stopped at Costco for gas, and then at the Olympic Cafe in Kapa'a for a breakfast of superb omelets and pancakes. Ke'e is a remote beach and reaching it takes you past Princeville and Hanalei and then over narrow, winding roads, across several one-lane bridges, to a mountain-shielded cove of calm turquoise water, snorkeling reefs, and exotic forest. During our day there, part of the beach was roped off by the lifeguards, who were protecting a seal that came ashore to doze among the sandy boulders. We were amused watching the colorful wild chickens and local birds, who are not afraid of of humans, scrounging for food. One black hen was being followed by a white chick and a brown chick. A woman nearby had doves perched on her thumbs eating crumbs from her hands. We stayed as long as we could, again, having a sense of being yanked from the Garden of Eden as we left.

On our way back, we stopped at the Princeville Golf Club to purchase another cap for Alex, who had worn out the one he had bought on a previous visit two years ago. We stopped at Long's in Kapa'a to get Australian Gold sunblock, and decided to have dinner at Pho Vy a few doors down. While we waited for the doors to open at 5:00 p.m., I checked the reviews on my iPhone, and all of them were extremely complimentary. It was exactly as billed by the reviews. The restaurant was very attractive, tastefully and sparely decorated, spotlessly clean, with beautiful white porcelain tableware set on a white-paper-covered white linen tablecloth. We were the only ones seated in the restaurant the whole time we were dining, I hope because of the early hour. Our waitress was extremely pleasant and attentive. The pho and noodle dishes we ordered were well prepared and tasty, and not overly salted or spicy. The prices were very reasonable. When we returned, Ken and Randi had just left for dinner at Casa D'Amici, a nearby favorite of theirs. After a long-awaited shower, I went to bed early, exhausted by my amazing, near-perfect day.

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