kauai, hawaii.

Blog was quiet last week because I was in Kauai with friends. In what turned out to be the strangest week of my life.

We knew the weather wasn’t going to be great after checking the forecast, but no matter, it was still Hawaii, it would still be warm, and it rains a ton on Kauai anyway–if it didn’t it wouldn’t be so tropical. Well.

There were three of us going, and two of us arrived on Saturday. The airport is about halfway up the one road that goes nearly all the way around the island. We were staying on the North Shore, not too far from the end of the north end of the road. Driving up to our house, it started to rain. And it kept raining. And raining, and raining.

Bit gray and rainy, no? I had thought I left this behind in Seattle.

We were supposed to go back to the airport on Sunday to pick up the third friend who was spending the week there. Except between Hanalei and Princeville there is a particular bridge across a river and a particular stretch of road that is very low-lying. It closed. No one could get through. So our friend was stuck in Lihue, forced to get a hotel room. (OK, she stayed at a nice resort, but still, it was a bummer of an unexpected expense.)

On Sunday, while we were waiting for the bridge to reopen, a neighbor called and said we’d better go to town to get some food before the road out of our neighborhood flooded over. Yikes. So we did, thinking we’d be able to pick our friend up Monday.

It kept raining.

Monday, we both finished books.

It kept raining. Then, the flash flood. Good thing our house was on stilts.

Taken up, from ground level. Watch below to see why this is the case.


I sound like I’m yelling really loud, but only because I couldn’t hear myself over all the rain.

Car Line in HanaleiWaiting with all the other Hanalei folks to get out of town.

rearviewBored and waiting.

On Tuesday, word on the (flooded) street was that the bridge was going to open. So, along with 100ish other people, we drove into Hanalei and got into line, waiting, hoping that they’d open the bridge. We ate some tacos, listened to the radio and waited. Finally, between three and four hours after we started waiting, they opened the bridge!

Marriott LihueThe Marriott in Lihue.

Three DrinksCelebratory drinks with all three of us—finally.

That night we stayed in Lihue at the Marriott Resort (which is lovely if you’re a resort kind of person) to ensure we could get on our snorkel/sailing trip up the Na Pali cost the next day.

Holo Holo Charters SailboatOur boat, and my boarding pass.

On to the boat trip. I get sick on boats. Pretty consistently. So I put a motion sickness patch on the morning of the trip, hoping it would help. It didn’t.

Sunshine on the boatAt least it was a sunny day on the boat.

DolphinsDolphins!

Coastline with ladderPart of the coastline had ladders all over to get up and down.

Jurassic Park BeachOne of the spots where Jurassic Park was filmed.

Laurelin and JohnLaurelin—the singleton on the trip—chats up the adorable crew member, John.

Sailboat CaptainYes, at one point the captain was steering with his foot to keep his hands free for the sail ropes.

SailboatSailing!

We didn’t get to see the Na Pali coast, as that side of the island had 20-foot crests. We went out and around the south side of the island with 2- to 3-foot crests. It was still a rough ride, and I was sick. I can’t imagine 20-foot crests. But the coast was beautiful and we saw a turtle, dolphins, a seal and humpback whales, so it was worth it.

waimea_canyon1Waimea Canyon

waimea_canyon2

waimea_canyon3The waterfalls were spectacular after all the rain, though we didn’t get to see any up close.

waimea_canyon_helicopterSee the white and blue speck on the right? That’s a helicopter. Maybe next time.

That afternoon, since we were really close, we drove out to Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii.” It didn’t disappoint. There is hiking there, but we didn’t have time, and were a little afraid it would start dumping rain again.

(None of these are of me) There were seven zip lines zig-zagging down the valley.

One of our guides, Asher, showing off for my photo. Our other guide, Chris, looked just like Bud Bundy. In fact, it was the first thing he said to us.

The next day was zip lining. It was awesome. Really. Do it if you get the chance. As someone afraid of heights, I can say it wasn’t that bad. The worst part is stepping off, but in the middle, when you’re hanging up over a valley, it feels like you’re in a chair. It was actually a bit bizarre not to be more scared. But so beautiful.

Island Soap and Candle Works has the best-smelling soap and candles. For lotion, go to Garden Isle Bath and Body in Kapa’a. Their Intense Moisturizer & After Sun Treatment is awesome.

The lighthouse. Bummed we couldn’t go in.

We also got some shopping in after zip lining, and I found a beautiful pair of earrings and a cuff, plus lotion, soap and candles. I love buying that stuff when I travel, and it’s usually from a local artist, as these things were. We also drove out to the lighthouse on the north end of Kauai, but couldn’t go in because we got there too late. Still, it was beautiful from the lookout point.

That night while sitting around, I suddenly saw a critter run out from under the stairs. Screaming, I jumped on a chair. I tried the rest of the night to convince myself it was a mouse, but took to wearing shoes and clomping around so said critter could hear me coming. The critter was also spotted by the friend sleeping on the pull-out, which she quickly abandoned to head upstairs and share the bed with me. I don’t blame her. The next day, the thing I tried so hard to convince myself was a mouse? The neighbor, Jim, informed us it was probably a rat. We didn’t really sleep that night. “Ratty” as we named him, was lurking somewhere.

See this? The graph ends at 12 feet. Seven feet or higher, the bridge automatically closes. I think the river averages about three feet. By the way, this is the week we were in Kauai. Guess what days we went sailing and zip lining?

The next day we were all ready to get up early and take our friend to the airport for her flight back to Seattle. Except that night, the bridge closed again. We were stuck in Hanalei. Again. We waited a bit in the morning, got some lunch (by now she’d missed her flight by a few hours), and waited some more before we figured it wasn’t going to open. Back to the house we went, moods definitely not so great, to wait another night and hope the bridge was open in the morning, when I was supposed to fly out with my other friend.

This is when things really got interesting. Suddenly, there was a comment made: “I think there is a man without any pants on in our yard.”

What?!?

No-pants man. I love this photo, it reminds me of Sasquatch photos.

Sure enough, a neighbor was chopping down palm leaves with a machete, shirt and shoes but no pants. No shorts. No briefs. No boxers. Below the waist, he was hanging free. I admit, it was really odd. Really, really odd. I would think, if one were going to leave off an item of clothing while chopping down branches, it would be a shirt. But not for this guy.

It stormed again that night, and once again, we didn’t sleep very well.

Miracle of miracles, the next morning I woke up at 6 a.m. (no alarm, we weren’t sleeping) and called the local police number for road closures. The bridge was open! We were so excited I think we were out of the house at 7, putting us at the airport hours before our flight. The friend who missed her Friday flight ended up having to fly to Honolulu and staying overnight until she could fly out the next day. Yikes. But now we’re home, with the most interesting vacation I’ve ever had.

One of the many rainbows we saw while there, with all the rain.

And a note, according to locals: Don’t go to Kauai from February until April. The weather sucks. It could have been worse, however. We did hear about one poor couple that had to reschedule their wedding–THREE TIMES–with all the weather.

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