Archive for February, 2022

The Kuilau Ridge Trail, Sleeping Giant and Wailua Falls

February 27, 2022

Kauai Trip, January 2022 – Part 6 – I can’t just leave us in Kauai now, can I? Have to finish out the trip and get us home to Idaho again. We have about 2 days left of our 10-day vacation.

Enjoy the sunrise!

Princeville, Kauai, January 29, 2022 – 7:24 am

Hmm. What to do today? Let’s start by tossing some seed out for the birds.

January 29, 7:29 am



What? Do I really have to watch a video? Well, they’re pretty hungry. Okay here’s a photo, as well:

So Steph and Vic have chickens! Uh, yeah. Feral chickens that magically appear as soon as the feed hits the ground. They peck like maniacs till the feed is gone and then disappear. They’re likely nesting in the bushes on the north side of the house because you will hear a chicken fracas out there, good luck finding them. Do you know how to prepare a feral chicken? Boil it in a pan with a large rock. As soon as the rock is tender, the chicken is done.

What’s for breakfast? Starfruit! Harvested from the tree in Steph and Vic’s front yard.

Starfruit. Yum!

So what to do on our last two days? Hike! We love the Kuilau Ridge Trail: A pretty easy hike through lush hillsides leads you to a summit with a picnic table and stunning views of Mount Wai’ ale’ ale. There are two trails to the picnic table – the Kuilau Ridge Trail and the Moalepe Trail. We hiked both trails on this trip.

Of course, to get to the trailhead you drive through Kapa’a right past Sleeping Giant. Local legend tells of a Giant who feasted so much at a party in his honor that he laid down for a nap and never awoke. Here he is, lying on his back, stretched out across this photo which I took from the car. Painful for Eric to be so close to the Giant and pass up the hike!

Nounou Mountain (Sleeping Giant)

“Hey,” Eric pipes up. “I know we have hiked the east trail a couple of times, but we have never hiked the west trail to to the top of Sleeping Giant. We could still do that on this trip!”

“No, Eric. Not gonna do it.”

I tell you what, Eric. How about we go with this guy a.k.a. ‘Grizzle Gear’ who hiked the west trail to the top, filmed it and posted it on Youtube. You’ll be on top of Sleeping Giant in less than 8 minutes!

The Kuilau Ridge trail is perfect. About 3.5 miles roundtrip, you hike a gentle constant incline through lush forest and rolling hills, finally arriving at the picnic table. Here, let’s do it!

After Sleeping Giant we drive right past Wailua Falls. We pull over and take photos (with a mob of other tourists). Now this is what Paradise looks like!

Wailua Falls

And the view across the street:

On the Kuilau Ridge hike now! Luckily the trail is dry.

Megan is loving it

Lush rain forest, indeed!

Arrived at the picnic table

From L-R, David, Megan, Jody, Victor, Steph, Eric

Hiking back out

We’re starving and thirsty. And it’s a good hour’s drive back to Princeville. So of course we have to stop for lunch in Kapa’a at another one of our favorite hang-outs, the Olympic Cafe, which might possibly offer up the best Mai-tai’s on the Island (we have to keep sampling them to decide).

What? You were going to wrap up this trip and get us back to Idaho and now we’re sitting in a bar and grill drinking Mai-tai’s?

Yep.

Here, you can be here with us! Click on this link with photos of the open air restaurant. It’s on a second story with a huge balcony that overlooks the main drag in Kapa’a.

https://www.google.com/maps/uv?pb=!1s0x7c06e0ed2365411b%3A0x8a828e4936f54e81!3m1!7e115!4shttps%3A%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipMEq-KN9Ywb41roUURPImJba1lWZ0MvKZTfFY9y%3Dw160-h160-k-no!5sOlympic%20Cafe%20-%20Google%20Search!15sCgIgAQ&imagekey=!1e10!2sAF1QipMEq-KN9Ywb41roUURPImJba1lWZ0MvKZTfFY9y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjLov3_qaD2AhVRLTQIHeFnB8gQoip6BAghEAM

After the hour+ drive from Princeville to the Kuilau trailhead, hiking to the picnic table, and also stopping along the way to hike the west trail to the top of Sleeping Giant (just go with it Eric and check it off your bucket list), checking out Wailua Falls, sating ourselves with food and drink at the Olympic Cafe, maybe we should call it a day. I can go for another night of sweet slumber in our beds at Steph and Vic’s home in Princeville. Even if the chickens are making a racket in the bushes outside our windows.

So, no. We’re not flying back home to Idaho just yet. But to give you a clue as to what greets us when we get home let me just say it’s been a cold, dry winter, albeit, the large snow that pelted us before Christmas is still there. And accumulating. I took these photos out our front window two days ago.

Friday, February 24, 2022

Check out this video!

Glad to push that “Easy” button. Easy Peasy!

We finally got smart and hired someone to shovel us out.

Things are looking up a bit today, though. The sun has come out and David has cleared the snow off the deck.

Sunday, February 26, 11 am

Current temperature – 15 degrees – Fahrenheit that is. Cover ourselves with down, and we might be able to enjoy our Idaho happy hour out on the deck?

Yeah, I gotta get us home from Kauai. But, hey, what’s the rush?

The Magnificent Laysan Albatross

February 21, 2022

January 2022 Kauai trip Part 5. No, no! Can’t leave Kauai yet! It’s so hard to say goodbye to the incredible sea birds that return to the north shore of Kauai every year to mate and breed and raise their young. The Laysan albatross arrive in November from as far north as Alaska and the Arctic to begin their 9-month mating and breeding season. Whereas, the majority of the world’s Laysan albatrosses live on Midway and other small islands around no humans at all, during the past 50 years several hundred nesting pairs have established their breeding grounds in Kauai. Many of them return to the National Wildlife Refuge at Kilauea Point. A few pairs have built nests in already-established residential neighborhoods in Princeville, scratched out their 3-foot wide, shallow nests on the ground, in grassy front yards, under people’s shrubbery. It’s a hoot to be walking in a neighborhood and see an Albatross sitting on a nest near someone’s front porch. Do they have a dog?? A cat? How does that nest survive?

I’ve fallen in love with the albatross, learning more about them each year we visit Kauai. I couldn’t wait to see them this year, witness their crazy elaborate mating displays, their awkward wobble on land; watch them take off in a little run to launch into flight, then soar overhead. We stay with my sister Stephanie and husband Victor on our 10-day visits every year, and they have a perfect location for albatross watching – on a golf course built on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. Except the golf course is closed for extensive repairs after a huge storm several years back. There are three albatrosses sitting on nests just on their street. A close friend and neighbor has a nesting albatross at the end of her front porch. Well, it is a front porch, and so, well, just walk to the end of the porch, point your camera down, and capture a photo. I did it quickly and told her (him?) thank you for sharing your life experience with me!

That white corner is the porch railing!

Our second afternoon in Kauai I took a walk on a golf cart path behind the private residences and heard this big racket. Three albatrosses having a patio party, near a bedroom window of someone’s home, hey, we’re taking a nap here, please stop disturbing the neighborhood! I took a video:

Don’t wake up the person in the next room playing this video!

All of the birds without mates will participate in elaborate mating displays that include a piercing whistle, a loud rapid clacking of beaks, bobbing, pointing their neck straight up and placing their head under their wing. Hey, they are picking a mate for life! Laysan albatross don’t mate until they are 8-9 years old. But then, the oldest known bird on earth is a 70 (71?)-yr-old albatross named Wisdom, on Midway Island. Here is a link to Wisdom. She gave birth to her 40th chick in 2021 (at 70 years of age!):

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/05/wisdom-the-albatross-the-worlds-oldest-known-wild-bird-has-another-chick-at-age-70

That article is 11 months old – written last March, maybe we will hear an update this year – At age 72 did she birth yet another chick?

The couples are extremely committed to each other.

They build a nest about a yard wide and 2″ deep and by the end of November, have likely laid one egg. That egg has a 50 per cent of being viable, but both parents take turns sitting on it for the 60-65-day incubation period. One parent will roost while the other goes on foraging trips lasting up to 17 days, flying as far as 1600 miles over the ocean, landing on the ocean’s surface and plunging with its beak to capture squid, fish eggs and crustaceans, and of course, sometimes plastics, which are lethal to the birds. The foraging parent returns to the nest and takes over the roosting and frees the other to forage.

Meanwhile the single birds are busy, busy! One afternoon I heard them out on the golf course. I shot out the back door of the house. A group of them had gathered about 3 houses down right in the middle of the course. A meet up? Speed dating? The group started with four, then five, then, well, I was taking a video, zooming in from a distance, when number eight arrived.

Oh boy, now Charlie has arrived, further complicating this social situation

One by one they each take flight. They run into the wind to launch their bulky bodies

Until finally there’s one left. She (He?) wobbles toward the edge of the course and takes flight.

Just seems like it’s a ‘she’

There are several albatrosses nesting in a neighborhood near Sea Lodge Beach and if you visit there you might see nine or ten.

Mr. Big Stuff checking out the scene

I have several fantastic links about albatrosses to share with you. First of all, a fascinating YouTube video by Robert Waid will take you through the whole breeding season in Princeville from the moment the albatross return in November to when the chicks fledge in July.

That YouTube video is embedded in this web site: http://www.albatrosskauai.com

– Written by Bob Waid who lived with his wife on the North Shore of Kauai From 1998 to June, 2016. Their home was located in a neighborhood which has been chosen by the albatross as home.

Another Princeville local, Cathy Granholm, kept a running blog containing news about the Laysan albatrosses in Princeville. Really fun! Here’s the link: https://albatrossdiary.com

Meanwhile, back to our trip, the last day of our visit, Saturday, January 29, big news came from the neighbor’s house three doors down. The chick had hatched! She took photos off her front porch.

The parents will stay with the chick for two weeks, and then both of them will leave the chick alone in the nest while they forage for food. One parent will return every 4-7 days to feed the chick. The chick will remain in the nest for about 165 days, while it develops into adult size. It will wander a bit off the nest to exercise its wings as it prepares to fledge. In late June or July, the time to fledge has arrived. The adult sized chick finds a path to a 15-story bluff overlooking the ocean. Then runs and jumps off and takes flight for the first time. It heads out to sea where it will remain for 3-4 years, never even touching land.

After three or four years at sea, the same albatross will return to its place of birth (imprinted on its brain) and begin to socialize with its peers and engage in the elaborate mating dances over the next 5 years. The albatross return every November and eventually choose a mate by the age of 8 or 9.

Albatross are able to fly over 2000 miles in a single stretch through a process called dynamic soaring and can stay at sea for up to 5 years without touching land. They sleep on the water. No wonder they look so awkward on land.

Such incredible birds!

Meanwhile back here in southeast Idaho we’ve just shoveled ourselves out. Here’s the view outside our front door this morning.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Yeah, well the salmon don’t start returning till May.

Do you really think I’m ready to leave Kauai?

I’ll take the beach over … Sleeping Giants and Dragons

February 14, 2022

Part 4 – Saturday, January 22, 2022. Good morning, Princeville!

Day 2 of our vacation. It’s sunny! And the pressure is on to plan something great, fun, fulfilling, inspiring …

“Let’s hike Sleeping Giant!” Eric jumps in. His inner mountain goat must have been whispering in his ears last night in his sweet slumber. Okay Eric. Yes, so Sleeping Giant is a great hike. We haven’t done it in four years. But, no. I tell you what. In an effort to appease your inner goat I’ll post some photos from 2018 of the east trail hike up Sleeping Giant.

Eric and David. Sleeping Giant hike, January 2018.
Hiking up to his ‘chinny-chin-chin’
Channel your inner goat – uh, if you have one
Almost there. Thank goodness, not afraid of heights. Oh, afraid of heights…

Steph, Vic, David, Eric and I also hiked the same east trail to the top of Sleeping Giant 8 years ago. I blogged about it. Here’s the link:

And as a teaser, here’s a photo of Victor…

Channel your inner crab?

How about this, Eric. Larsen’s Beach! It’s a hike to the beach and then you could hike further while we bask in the sun. Well, to be honest, Eric will never turn down an opportunity to hike Larsen’s Beach. Off we go!

The walk to Larsen’s beach is easy. Along the first quarter mile the path weaves through a jungle of shoulder-high brush. Watch what plant you brush up against, it might move and curl up and freak you out. I mean it kinda freaks me out. Plants don’t have muscles, do they? Well, somehow the ‘mimosa pudica’ or the ‘sensitive plant’ moves and curls up when you touch it. It’s a very strange sight. I blogged about it on our trip in 2015. Had discovered it on a different trail. Here, I take a photo and video of it on today’s walk to Larsen’s beach:

Mimosa pudica – growing near another plant that looks similar but isn’t the least bit ‘sensitive’

You can order a mimosa pudica grow kit online and grow your own ‘sensitive’ house plant .

https://www.etsy.com/listing/997747768/small-mimosa-pudica-starter-grow

A potted sensitive plant might be a great addition to our emotional support station in our kitchen. Push the ‘that was easy’ button to gloat, grab the kitty squishies to decompress, and touch the mimosa pudica plant for sympathy when we feel hurt or slighted.

We should definitely add a mimosa pudica!
Mimosa Pudica (yeah, just try growing one from seed)

Well maybe add a lava lamp to the mix, as well.

Mais oui! I digress! We’re going to be stuck in Kauai forever the way these blogs are going. Huh… I’ve blogged about Larsen’s Beach numerous times. Except this time we have Megan with us!

On Larsen’s beach there’s a good chance you will run into at least one monk seal and maybe a sea turtle or two sunning themselves on the narrow beach. We run into both of these endangered species today.

Soaking up the sun. Boy do monk seals know how to relax. Look at that face!

There are two sea turtles sunning themselves on a narrow area of the beach.

Larsen’s beach. Saturday, Jan 22, 2022

One of them decides to head for the water, at a slightly faster pace than a snail:

Eric decides to hike further to the arch at the end of the cove. Here, hang with the rest of us on Larsen’s beach for a minute and enjoy the surf…

Yes! We wander back toward the car. Eric jets back from his hike and meets us at the trailhead.

The following day we come up with a plan that works for everyone. Steph and Vic have business to take care of at home. Eric, David, Megan and I drive to Kahili beach. Megan and I will sunbathe on the beach while Eric and David cross a stream and hike up along the cliffs to one of Eric’s favorite places at the end of yet another cove, Hissing Dragon. We have hiked here at least three times before. It’s in my 2017 Kauai blogs. Hissing Dragon can really be fierce if you hit it in high surf. It actually roars through a crack in the rocks and almost ate Eric when he was standing with his phone trying to catch a video next to where the dragon explodes. So imagine that you now go with Eric and David across that stream and hike along the rocks at high tide to the end of the cove. You hear the dragon’s roar through a crack!

January 20, 2017

Now you’re standing where Hissing Dragon explodes. My video camera is ready…

Hissing Dragon!

Of course, Eric is not satisfied with his video. He steps closer for a better shot. He gets it alright. Maybe that angry dragon is tired of curious tourists gawking at his resting place. In any case the dragon explodes and darned near sucks Eric back into his crack with him. Alas, Eric survives this 2017 adventure, captures the video and posts it here:

https://m.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Feric.seneff.98%2Fvideos%2F234042560339373%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Okay, so that’s how your adventure could go today should you choose to go with Eric and David and hike along the rocky shore to Hissing Dragon. There they go! They are crossing the stream that separates Kahili Beach from the hike to the cove.

Put your shoes back on!

And so begins the hike to Hissing Dragon

They disappear and Megan and I pick out a perfect spot on the beach to set our blanket down.

Kahili Beach – a great place to people watch, except there’s hardly any people

We just sit and relax (channeling that monk seal) for the next hour. The beach is practically deserted. Megan plays music on her phone and we watch the waves. And the surfers. And the happy young couple near us. She is sunbathing while he attempts to break open a coconut that has just fallen off a tree (forget it!). I take a video of the surfers while Megan sings along with her music:

Another sunbather walks by

and some surfers

The couple next to us goes in for a swim.

Ah, but before we know it, here come David and Eric. Crossing the stream back to the beach after their hike to Hissing Giant.

Dig that hiking shit!

Wow! How did the hike go? Did you make it to Hissing Dragon?

Yes, we did.

So how was it?

We didn’t see anything. Nada. Tide’s too low, I guess.

Oh, so Hissing Dragon was more like, uh, ‘Sleeping Dragon?’

Yep.

I think I can guess what was inside David’s head about agreeing to the hike to Hissing Dragon with Eric after I shared my beach photos and videos with him.

What was I thinking???

Then again, that Hissing Dragon can be extraordinarily fierce when awakened by a high surf.

Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s North Shore

February 10, 2022

Part 3 – Friday, January 21, 2022. Good morning Kauai!

Okay, so our Kauai vacation is totally redeemed with this sunrise after yesterday’s travel day from hell. I want to show you a map of Kauai and specifically the location of Princeville and the north shore, and the route to Princeville from the airport in Lihue (the red line). The drive to Princeville from the airport takes about an hour.

The drive from the airpot in Lihue to Princeville

That was the last leg of our trip yesterday, the drive to Princeville from 11pm to midnight after we (luckily?) snagged our rental car. You will see from the map that the roads in Kauai largely lay along it’s perimeter. There’s no cutting across the island to get to the other side! I suspect on this trip we’ll experience most of our adventures near Kauai’s north shore.

So what to do today, our first full day in Kauai?

For someone reading this who might be planning a trip to Kauai, let me just say that our main guidebook over our nine visits has been this one, by Andrew Doughty:

It’s a fantastic guide book. You can also download the “Hawaii Revealed” app by Andrew Doughty that offers a wealth of information about each island, history, sites, beaches (including current surf conditions), activities, restaurants, with recommendations and reviews. He also offers narrated driving tours.

We have driven as far as we can go around the island on previous visits. Hey, we were younger! Our last trip here was three years ago. Our first trip was 10 years ago. David and Victor are both 75 years old now, Stephanie a few years behind, I’m pushing 70, and Eric, well, there’s still a young mountain goat trapped inside his 64-yr-old body. Megan is 33 with some physical limitations so she fits right in!

It’s a beautiful sunny day! Let’s head to Hanalei Bay, on the north shore of Kauai just a few miles west of Princeville. – Home of ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ … (FYI, for all you youngins’ under the age of 65). We always walk the beach at Hanalei, cloudy, rainy, windy, or whatever, but I believe the weather today is the sunniest I’ve ever seen it. We walk to the end of the dock and back. Perfect day for surfing!

Catching a wave by the dock at Hanalei Bay

That Beach Boys ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ tune is dancing in our heads (okay, my head…)

The original, man!

Hey, come on! Post something a little more recognizable to the under-60 crowd!

How about this ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ remastered version featuring Blake Lively on the surf board (yea, that’ll help you get your surf on! …)

Surfin’ U.S.A.!

I took a video while standing on the dock:

Surf to shore, paddle back out again! 

If everybody had an ocean across the U.S.A.
Then everybody'd be surfing like in Hanalei

After hanging out on the Dock of the Bay we walked the full length of the beach. Megan paused for a photo. Perfect day with just one fluffy cloud in the sky.

Megan with the dock and surfers in the background

Walking back from the far end of the beach

Victor, Steph and Eric

A last view of Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay

Time to hit our favorite lunch spot in Hanalei, the Kalypso. Good news, the Kalypso survived through the COVID-19 shutdown over the past two years. Bad news, they open at 3 PM now on weekdays because of a shortage of employees. Yep, that sounds about right. Typical new normal for restaurants. However on Saturdays they open at 11. We make it to the Kalypso for lunch at least twice, to burn up the $300.00 gift card Eric had bought for Steph and Vic. (While we gave them a measly wooden sign with a cow on it?)

Lunch at the Kalypso is on Eric

In that case, let’s order Inikis!

… A wicked Mai Tai named after Hurricane Iniki, which hit Kauai on Saturday, September 5, 1992, which also explains all the feral chickens

The restaurant is practically outdoors as one whole wall is open with outdoor seating. To comply with the indoor mask mandate put on your mask before you enter any restaurant and wear it till you get to your table. Take it off once you are seated. Put it back on at your table after you finish eating and wear it as you leave the restaurant. Take it off when you get outside. It gets quite complicated. Like, you may not realize when you leave an outdoor restaurant that you are indeed outdoors and can now take your mask off. But if you find yourself crossing the street then you are likely outside and others in your party might cue you that it is now safe to take your mask off. Unless, of course, you wish to keep it on.

David – Secret Agent Man

There’s a nice shopping plaza in the area behind the Kalypso with lots of small shops. We stopped to look at bathing suits hanging on a rack outside. Huh, based on the styles I saw on the beach today, I could use an upgrade. What do you think?

Yes, Jody, just right for a 68-yr-old woman

Now all I need is a surf board!

So what do you suppose we’ll be doing tomorrow?

Kauai 2022 – ‘Do you know the way to Monterey?’

February 6, 2022

Part 2 – Wednesday, Jan 19, 11pm. Are you asleep yet? We’ve completed the first leg of our trip to Kauai. We have driven from Idaho Falls to our motel in Bountiful, Utah and are now within reasonable proximity of the Salt Lake airport to catch tomorrow’s 6am flight to San Francisco. Get to bed, David, Jody and Eric, and cop some shut-eye! Megan’s the smart one of the bunch, tucking herself into bed as soon as we check into the room.

Thursday, January 20 – The alarm blasts me out of bed at 3:30 am. David has already showered. The four of us, David, Eric, Megan and I, have 30 minutes to get ready for the airport sharing one bathroom (could have planned that better…). Hot washcloth to the face will do! No need to pack much in the way of food. Did I mention we have booked tickets all the way in first class? Sweet! It’s going to be a great day!

At 4 am we drive to the Salt Lake City airport in David’s truck without incident; David pulls into the parking garage right across from the terminal. We got it covered, man! No need to check bags, we all have carry-on. Easy-peasy! Check-in is a breeze. Except we have to get from terminal A to terminal B, in the newly remodeled/vastly expanded SLC airport, now more like the Atlanta airport except without the trains. What if you have a bad hip or knee? No mobile carts in sight to assist … anyone? We seriously clock about a mile of steps on our fit bits to get to our gate. No problem. Plenty of time! Oh, except United had already informed us that we will be riding coach on this first flight – the original plane we booked in first class had been downsized to a smaller plane with no first class section. Oh well, it’s only a 2-hour flight.

We board the plane to San Francisco on time. It’s smaller all right. At least we’re seated at the front of the plane. A narrow aisle runs down the middle of the plane for about 30 rows with 2 seats on both sides. The aisle is narrow enough to create an obstacle course for anyone over 100 pounds navigating to the bathroom at the back of the plane. “Watch your arm!” “Excuse me!” “Oh, sorry!”

We’re circling San Francisco now, and … circling. Uh-oh. Our flight is still in the air … we are not landing on time. Okay – we’ll just run to our gate when we land. The pilot interrupts the silence with an announcement, “This is your captain speaking. Uh, a situation of dense fog has prevented us from landing in San Francisco, the plane is running low on gas, and we are being diverted to Monterey to refuel. Good news is that Monterey is only about a half-an-hour away.” Okay, somehow that good news in his sexy voice about how we’re ‘only 30 minutes away from Monterey’ is a comfort. I wonder if all prospective pilots have to pass a “Sexy Joe Cool’ voice test that casts a hypnotic effect on passengers for when they announce the exact opposite of what the passengers hope to hear: “This is your captain speaking. Secure the plane for landing in San Francisco…” Yes. That’s what we want to hear! Half an hour later we land in Monterey. We sit on the tarmac for 3 hours, along with 8 other United flights diverted from San Francisco. The pilot gets on the intercom periodically to update us; the fog might be lifting and we can return to San Francisco, will update you in 40 minutes. Oh … we are waiting on another update …

On the ground in Monterey. ‘This is your captain speaking…’

After sitting in our seats for 2 hours they finally let us off the plane. We enter the Monterey terminal and half the passengers make a mad dash for the restrooms. David buys a snack size bag of potato chips from a vending machine mostly to share with Megan. Delicious! ‘We’re on vacation, Megan!” 30 minutes later an airport announcement exhorts all of us to return to the plane. Which we do. Uh, all but one passenger (there’s always one) who apparently missed the memo. The jet engines are blasting, the stewardess is ready to close the hatch, but where’s the missing passenger? The stewardess even polls the passengers, should we leave him? We sit there speechless. Sure enough he finally blows on, thank goodness, she shuts the hatch and off we go – back to San Francisco.

Will we land this time? The pilot announces our descent into San Francisco. Sure enough a low blanket of thick fog looms below. I snap a photo

“De Fog! De Fog!” (Is our plane encircled by a rainbow?)

But miraculously, the blanket of fog has shifted, exposing the view of the runway. We land in San Francisco! It’s now 3:30pm.

It just so happens that 5G cell towers were rolled out yesterday (for real, wish we had known about that plan when we booked these flights last July) and there had been warnings from the airlines that flights in certain cities could be affected. We found out later that because of the fog numerous United flights into San Francisco were diverted to Monterey, San Jose and Sacramento. Certain plane models were not approved for landing in extreme fog because 5G could interfere with radio altimeters, which provide data on how high a plane is flying, vital information for landing in poor visibility. So I guess in the interest of safety it was a yet another comfort that we were diverted to Monterey (???) -(I’m reaching my limit here on ‘comfort’ potential …) If you are curious to learn more about the 5G situation, here’s a link to an article published in the Washington Post on January 20, possibly simultaneously to our sitting on the tarmac in Monterey: https://www.washingtonpost.com/transportation/2022/01/20/5g-flight-diversions-airplanes/

So its 3:30 in the afternoon, we are finally in San Francisco, and we have been rebooked on the United 6:30 pm flight to Lihue. Oh goody! At least we got on the flight! Okay, so flying first class was a pipe dream. We’ll take our seats in coach! And we have time for a meal. We pretty much flop into a booth at the first restaurant we come across in the San Francisco terminal. No idea what it was called. We’re starving. We order drinks and hot wings and hamburgers and fries.

David and Eric at the airport restaurant. “No, we’re not hungry”

We practically inhale the meal. That’s my margarita. I don’t think it needs an explanation.

Yeah, well who’s picking up the lunch tab?

Yikes

Let’s just start spending that hefty refund we should get for getting completely bumped off first class.

So are you getting exhausted yet? Do you want to hang in there with us through the rest of this travel ordeal? Next stop, Arm Bands! You will not gain entry to Kauai without one. The Covid passport. Of course ahead of your trip you’ve completed all the requirements to obtain a QR code and printed it out for each member of your traveling party, filled the paperwork out online, followed the testing protocol, or made copies of your vaccine passports (bring them with you!). Remember to get your armbands before you board your flight at the Covid armband area set up in the terminal near the gate where you will board your flight to Lihue. Of course, that’s assuming you have a long enough layover to stand in line and handle that detail along with everyone else on your flight. Because, you can’t get into Kauai without it, so you stand in line in San Francisco, or stand in line after you get off the plane in Lihue. Which, it does occur to us that there was no way we had time to stand in line in San Francisco to get our armbands with our original itinerary. We would have flown first class only to stand in line in Lihue getting arm bands. I’ve heard horror stories about those long lines on the other end. Whew. So glad we missed that flight in first class (yeah right).

Okay, can we land in Lihue now? I won’t overload you with details of our 5 1/2 – hour flight from San Francisco to Lihue. Megan and I ordered a cheese plate with our complementary bag of pretzels and cokes. There were no TV’s on the plane. We were instructed by a prerecorded robot-voice message to access United’s movie and TV selections by downloading the United App on our smart devices with head phones. WHA? No friggin TV’s??? Even the message about their dumb app in a sexy pilot’s voice would offer no comfort on that one.

“This is the captain. Prepare for landing.” Yippee!!! We land in Lihue about 10:30pm Kauai time. Catch a bus to Avis rental car. At least half the people on the bus had also been diverted from San Francisco on a United Flight. That’s how we heard about San Jose and Sacramento. Our big honking GMC SUV, that David reserved, was still waiting for us. A seven seater. Except it’s so dark inside and outside the vehicle David can’t figure out how to work the mirrors. Or the wipers. David just leaves the wipers flapping through the whole hour it took us to make it to Stephanie and Victor’s house in Princeville. We arrive near mid-night, all told, 23-hours of travel after we hit the road at 4am from our motel in Bountiful.

Stephanie and Victor greet us with broad smiles, open arms, and pantry and fridge stocked with our requested food items and abundant farm-to-table goodies.

Stephanie and Victor waited up to welcome us!

Aloha! Welcome to Kauai! Let the adventures in Paradise begin!

Kauai 2022! Let’s Do It!

February 4, 2022

We pulled it off! A trip to Kauai in the midst of the seemingly endless Covid pandemic. Our last trip there was in 2019. We visited Kauai every January from 2012 to 2019 and every year when we returned home I blogged about our adventures, 50 blogs, covering seven visits. (Find them all in my Kauai category.) We booked this trip about six months ago, July 2021, you know, about the time the world was declaring the peak of the pandemic behind us. Yay! Then Omicron hit, which, has it peaked yet? … Even in January 2022 pulling off a trip to Kauai without incident feels like no small miracle.

We got blasted with snow here in Idaho Falls in early January but of course, who cares, we’re headed to Kauai for 10 days. And when we return January will be behind us! Well, we’ve been back from Kauai for five days, the snow hasn’t melted one bit, and February feels just like January. I know! Let’s go back to Kauai! Do you want to come along? My sister Stephanie and husband Victor have invited us to stay with them at their house in Princeville! Although I have to warn you, it’s a bit of a trek getting to Lihue, Kauai from Idaho Falls. Are you ready? … We’ll experience it vicariously thorough our January trip.

So here’s the travel plan: Wednesday evening, January 19, we drive to Salt Lake and get a motel. Then Thursday morning we catch a 6am flight from Salt Lake to San Francisco. One hour layover in San Francisco gives us plenty of time to catch our 8:30am flight to Lihue, landing in Lihue about 1 pm. Perfect!! Gives us a full afternoon and evening to enjoy on our very first day in Paradise! Here we go…

Wednesday, January 19, 4pm – We’ve hit the road to Salt Lake from Idaho Falls. David is driving, my brother Eric is riding shotgun and Megan and I are in the back seat. (Yes! Our daughter Megan is coming with us this time.)

Megan couldn’t be more excited!

An hour into our trip we’re approaching McCammon, Idaho

Near McCammon, Idaho

Gorgeous winter landscape! I wonder what it will look like in 10 days?

Sailing down I-15 south at 80mph near Downey, Idaho, we nearly own the freeway

The sunset bursts into bright yellows and oranges

Who says there isn’t a God?

By 7pm we pull over in Layton and stuff ourselves with dinner at Red Lobster, as is our tradition.  Pull over at Red Lobster, feast on lobster, scallops and crab, and then pull into Country Inn and Suites just off the freeway in Bountiful, Utah, where we’ve reserved a king suite. Now try to sleep!  We’ll be up at 3:30am to catch our 6am flight from Salt Lake to San Francisco.

Wonderful! Well, let me just say, Megan is in bed by 9pm, but David, Eric and Jody (myself) are naughty; stay awake way past 11pm, feeling chatty, and not sleepy at all.  But had they known about the travel debacle that lay ahead, starting in just a few hours, they might have behaved differently.

So, we’ll call it a night. Sleep, I say!  3:30am is nigh upon us.  In a few hours a new day dawns. We’re headed to Paradise!