A Mainland Rendezvous or Two (or Three)

Ready to go through Lihue airport security and head for the mainland along with four suitcases (one overweight), two backpacks, and two shopping bags.

We’ve had a whirlwind of a time here on the mainland these past nine days. We got a LOT accomplished, but overall it was exhausting for all of us.

Pre-flight cocktails before take-off: a mai tai for me, mango-passionfruit juice for YaYu

Our flight from Honolulu to Portland in first class was completely wonderful – I’ve never felt so spoiled in my life. I’ve always said I’m not a first class kind of gal, but after that flight I sure could get used to it. I doubt we’ll ever book first class outright again, but if the upgrade is affordable . . . who knows?

Our cozy cottage in SE Portland was in the perfect location for all we had to see and do. Plus, it was air-conditioned (It was 95 degrees when we arrived).

Everything went swimmingly in Portland. The car we had booked would have been too small for us and all our luggage, but the car rental company offered us an upgrade special at an acceptable price so we took that. Our Airbnb cottage was cozy and comfortable, and in a good location for us to get around town so YaYu could take care of her shopping needs. We spend two full days at the mall, but she found everything she wanted and needed and the only items she has left to purchase are a winter coat and boots but she’s going to get those in Pennsylvania.

The lobster had been alive moments before this amazing dish was fixed and brought to our table to complement our dim sum.

We were able to get together with a couple of friends in Portland and wished we had had time to visit with more. We had delicious dim sum brunch (along with some amazing lobster noodles) one morning with our good friend Sylvia, and went out to dinner with our long-time friend Joan for Vietnamese pho that evening. Joan is storing our household goods for us while we travel, for which we will be forever in her debt. We’re looking forward to getting our families together when we’re in Portland in December.

The old PDX airport carpeting (which was famous) was changed after we moved to Kaua’i, but the tradition of taking a picture of your feet on the carpet remains.

I wondered how I would feel being back in Portland again, whether I would feel a tug to return or something but that didn’t happen. It was nice being someplace where I knew my way around, but I also came to realize how much driving I used to do, whether it was doing the grocery shopping or going to the doctors or whatever. I used to feel like I lived in our car, and now I know why, and I’m really not interested in doing that again.

One of the many delicious things we enjoyed in Dallas was personalized, custom-made ice cream (mine was green tea + fresh strawberry). The ice cream was scraped into rolls and served with various toppings.

We spent two busy but fun days in Dallas with Brett’s sister and brother-in-law, who wined and dined us and spoiled us rotten. We ate out every evening, got together with some of their friends for a tasty Sunday brunch followed by going to see Crazy Rich Asians (highly recommend!!) that afternoon. We got important paperwork taken care of and turned over all our official papers for them to hold for us while we travel. All of our mail is being forwarded through them as well, and they had a big stack for us to go through when we arrived, including a jury summons for me from Kaua’i County! I can’t believe I got another one of those less than year after the last time I served (I emailed to let them know we don’t live there any more and have been removed from the rolls). Also, our former landlord almost non-stop messaged Brett while we there, wanting us to go to the post office and look for the check (“I sent it. Honest!). Brett sent him a simple message back that we were done with him and we’d see him in court. As of today it still hasn’t arrived.

Bags and bags of dorm accoutrement from Target . . . along with a mini-fridge YaYu bought for herself.

We left Dallas very early Monday morning for Philadelphia. The drive out to our hotel in King of Prussia was easy, but we all promptly collapsed when we got there. We were still somewhat on Hawai’i time and the jet lag had finally caught up to us, so we slept through to late Tuesday morning and then headed out to Target and the Container Store to find the remaining items for YaYu’s dorm room (pillows, lamp, wastebasket, etc.). Once that was done we came back to our room to cool off and relax for the evening – none of us felt like going out again, even to eat dinner.

Today was move in day! After enjoying our free breakfast at the hotel, we loaded up the car and headed over to Bryn Mawr and got YaYu settled into her dorm room. Brett and I made her bed, and set up her desk while she put away her clothes and other things. At noon she had to attend her first meeting, so we said our good-byes and Brett and I headed back into Philadelphia to catch our flight down to Miami, which is still delayed as I write this. We enjoyed meeting YaYu’s roommate and her parents (from California, near my hometown). We had a tearful goodbye – we were saying goodbye to our littlest bird and it was hard to let her go. She grabbed the golden ring though and we know she’ll have a wonderful time at Bryn Mawr.

We will not be flying American Airlines ever again. We knew we would pay $25 per checked bag fee and then $100 for YaYu’s second bag (overweight), but on our flight to Philadelphia from Dallas we were charged both the 2nd bag fee of $35 AND the $100 overweight fee. Every other airline so far had charged us an overweight price and then waived any other lower fee, but not American, so her two bags ended up costing us $160 instead of $125. Then, when we checked in for our Philadelphia to Miami flight we discovered American had somehow “lost” our original seat assignments, and we ended up having to pay $67 for two regular seats mid-plane so we could sit together (as well as the $50 luggage fee for our two suitcases). The very few “free” seats still available on our flight were way at the back of the plane, no two of them together, and people in those seats are not allowed to bring any carry-on other than a purse. There was no way we were going to check our backpacks with our computers, medication, etc. so we had to pony up for the new seats. They offered us a chance to board early for only $31 each – no thanks. When we checked in our bags in Philadelphia we were told they were overweight even though nothing had been added to them since our last flight. We rearranged a couple of things and were able to squeak through on our $25 fee, but something was up with their scale. Finally, to add insult to injury, our flight was supposed to take off at 5:45 p.m. but we’ve been delayed for a second time until 10:40, and now won’t get into Miami until 1:45 a.m. which means we’ll have to pay for a taxi to our hotel vs. the free shuttle. That’s if American actually ever gets us on a plane with our luggage. Let’s just say American has completely and totally failed to impress me in ANY way. 😡😡😡

But, tomorrow morning Brett and I still plan to head to Argentina, the “official” start of our Big Adventure! We’ve been communicating with our host there, Feliciana, who has arranged for a private taxi to meet us at the airport and take us to our apartment. The driver, Hugo, will be waiting for us when we come out of immigration. The flight down to Buenos Aires will be a long one – nine hours from Miami – but we are equipped with snacks and other entertainments to hopefully make it easier. And yes, I wish we were in first class again! All our fingers are crossed that we make it to Miami on time.

Aloha ‘Oe

Thank you Kaua’i for four amazing years!

Mahalo nui loa for sharing your aloha with us every day, in ways big and small, as well as the breathtaking beauty of your aina and the strength and love of ohana. We’re all leaving a big piece of our hearts here.

Aloha ‘oe – until we meet againSo very lucky we lived Kaua’i!

Last Bits of Miscellany Before We Go

A delicate white hibiscus out by the pool – I will miss the unlimited variety of these beautiful flowers.

A few final things not big enough for their own blog posts:

  1. My number one concern right now is getting my back into shape for travel. I really messed it up last Saturday working at the election, more than I realized. We sat almost the entire day at middle-school cafeteria tables, with no back support, and three hours in I knew I was in trouble. By the end of the day I was a wreck, but figured time in the hot tub, pain medication and proper sitting conditions all would be well in a couple of days. Nope. It’s getting better, but one false move and it seems I’m right back at the beginning again.
  2. This past Tuesday was the deadline for our former landlord to return our deposit, or an itemized list of deductions (which has to include receipts, not just figures he comes up with). If he mailed it to us he was required to supply us with proof of mailing before or on Tuesday, and if he didn’t, by Hawai’i law he is required to return the entire deposit to us. Brett messaged him on Tuesday afternoon and asked about the status of our deposit and got a message from him just a few minutes before midnight that the check would arrive by 8:00 p.m. Wednesday (at Brett’s sister’s house). He asked us to “confirm receipt of the tracking number” but of course never gave that to us and nothing from him has arrived in Texas so far. Maybe something will show up there later today, but at this point we’re doubtful, and there’s a better than good chance we’ll be coming back to Kaua’i next year to meet him in small claims. Update: We finally heard from the landlord on Friday morning that the check had been mailed . . . to a completely unknown-to-us address in Texas, in a different city from Brett’s sister! Where he got that address is anyone’s guess, but it’s definitely not the one we gave him. Supposedly now it will be delivered to the correct address in three days, but I will believe it when I see it.
  3. We’ve all been throwing away pieces of clothing for the past three weeks, things we’ve worn almost the entire time we’ve lived here and but that are now past the stage of being saved. All this tossing away though is rather bittersweet as it means we’re very close to heading out on the Big Adventure, but also marking how very close we are to the end of our time on Kaua’i.
  4. Brett and I packed our suitcases yesterday, and except for a last few items to go in on Sunday evening that task is done. Neither of the suitcases is anywhere near full, and they both weigh 37 pounds so we each have some wiggle room (our goal was to have each suitcase weigh no more than 44 pounds). Of course, we still have YaYu’s suitcases to re-pack and will do those on Sunday. She calls her biggest suitcase “the body bag” – it is huge, but has to be to hold her comforter and other linens.
  5. We’re eating some very interesting things these days (like curry over leftover spaghetti) as we finish cleaning out the fridge and cupboards here at the condo. I have no idea what we’re going to do on Sunday because we’ll be out of everything by then, and tired of going out to eat.

#Kaua’i: The Bucket List, Final Report

Here’s the final report on how we did with our bucket list:

Experiences:

  • Rent a beach cottage for a couple of nights at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, to enjoy the beach and experience the gorgeous sunsets. We spent two wonderful days here in early June and wished we could have stayed longer. It was peaceful and relaxing, and quiet. We’d go again in a heartbeat. The sunrises weren’t as gorgeous as this one, and while the sunsets weren’t spectacular they were still very beautiful.
  • Hike Waimea Canyon. Brett went hiking with two former work colleagues who happened to be visiting Kaua’i when we were staying out at PMRF – they had a grand time (while I spent the day on the beach).
  • Hike the Wai Koa Loop/Stone Dam trail. The trail and the dam apparently re-opened at the end of May but it had sort of fallen off of my radar so we never got up there. I guess we’re going to have to come back to Kaua’i some day so I can get this hike done! Note: Although I found a post on TripAdvisor with people saying they had walked the trail beginning in late may, Joe of Banana Joe’s fame commented below that the Wai Loa Loop trail and Stone Dam is still closed and will most likely remain closed until October/November of this year. I checked again and apparently the hikers only visited the mahogany forest. Thanks for the update, Joe!
  • Take an ATV tour out to Kipu Kai Ranch This was so much fun – Brett and I did it in April with our friend Denise, and it lived up to the hype.
  • Get up early and hike out to watch the sunrise from the Pineapple Dump. We’ve been up early to catch some gorgeous sunrises here at the condo, so we decided to skip this.
  • Take the tubing adventure tour. I did this with my grandson and daughter-in-law, and I count it as a highlight of our time here on Kaua’i – it was so much fun! I highly recommend this tour to any visitor!
  • Visit the Kaua’i Museum in Lihue. Another activity that isn’t going to get done before we leave. We’re sort of discouraged by the high entrance fees, even for kamaaina.
  • Tour the Limahuli Gardens & Preserve. The garden, located on the north shore, was severely damaged during the April floods and is still closed now.

Food:

  • Celebrate our anniversary this year at Duke’s Kaua’i. Brett and I enjoyed our dinner here: great food, a terrific view and a HUGE complementary slice of their famous Hula Pie!
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  • Have a lunch date at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler. Another nice outing earlier this spring. We somehow got seated right up front with a fabulous view, and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch.
  • Have dinner at The Eating House 1849. We have reservations for dinner here on Saturday night! –  and at Bar Acuda in Hanalei. We’ve decided to skip eating here.
  • Try breadfruit. Glad we got to do this with WenYu – she sure loved breadfruit! We all thought it was delicious though. WenYu enjoyed it with butter and syrup, but I liked it all on its own.

Off-Island:

  • Make an overnight visit to the Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park. Because of all the volcanic activity that was going on at the time we decided to skip this trip, which would have ended up costing a whole lot more than the trip we had reserved. But, if and when things settle down again, we have a good reason for returning to Hawai’i in the future.

I think we did pretty good overall with our list, and neither of us is feeling bad about the things we didn’t get to do because we’ve experienced so many other wonderful things the island offers these past four years. We know we’re coming back some day to visit, and we can attempt the things we missed then.

Sunday Afternoon 8/12/2017

The calm before the storm yesterday morning. We had a steady stream of voters in all day, and Hawai’i had its highest voter turnout in recent years. The entire state of Hawaii is moving to mail-in ballots in 2020, and scenes like this will be relegated to history.

Brett and I spent a very L-O-N-G day yesterday serving as poll workers for the Hawai’i primary election. It wasn’t exactly a volunteer position – we’ll both get paid a small stipend – but it was exhausting nonetheless because we had to be up so early (at the site at 5:30 a.m. to set up) and couldn’t leave until all the voting was over at 6:00. It was an interesting experience though, and the people we interacted with were very nice. The voters represented a real slice of Kaua’i life and its diversity, all the way from some in bathing suits (it was a gorgeous day) to one guy who looked like as soon as he took care of voting he was taking his yacht out for a cruise! Brett and I have decided we’re going to use our stipends to go out for a fabulous meal on Election Day (November 6) while we’re in Florence.

The sun was just coming up when Brett and I arrived at our polling station. Yesterday’s weather, while we were stuck inside all day, was gorgeous, but it’s been raining off and on today.

All the sitting at middle school cafeteria benches took a big toll on my back though (no support), so I am once again dealing with pain that has got to be gone before we leave next week. I spent some time in the hot tub as soon as we got home last night which helped a lot, and will be there every day this week, and hopefully I can get this taken care of once and for all. Just to keep things even more interesting, YaYu has apparently developed a case of allergic pinkeye. Fingers are crossed we can get her in to see the doctor this week and get that taken care of. Brett is fine and looking out for us all.

Today’s post will be my last Sunday Afternoon post for a while – we’ll be packing all day next Sunday and getting ready to go, and I don’t think I’m going to have a whole lot going on this coming week to write about anyway. After we depart on the 20th I won’t be following a regular posting schedule, at least not for a while, because I don’t know how often I’ll have time to write. I am going to aim for posting once or twice a week while we’re on the road though. I will be pictures up more frequently on the Occasional Nomads Instagram site while we’re traveling, so I hope you’ll follow us or check in from time to time.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I still have two books going: I read Our Towns during the day (but it’s due back at the library tomorrow!), and The Great Influenza by John Berry at night. Sluggy over at Don’t Read This; It’s Boring recommended it, and I thought it sounded like something I’d like to read. My grandmother occasionally talked about the flu epidemic (she was born in 1890, so was 28/29 when it was going on) and how terrifying it was. I’ve also been reading our Buenos Aires travel guide to get ready for the first stop on our adventure.
  • Listening to: Another blissful day of peace and quiet. I’m listening to nothing right now but the sounds of my own thoughts (and they are happy ones for the most part).
  • Watching: I watched last week’s episode of The Great British Baking Show and a repeat episode from Season 4 of Sherlock on PBS, but also started a 10-episode series on Netflix, The Five (which I’m watching on my computer). It’s really good. Commercial/cable TV drives me nuts to the point that I can’t stand watching any of it.

    No cooking required – my favorite breakfast these days is nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh peach and a sprinkle of granola.

  • Cooking/baking: We’re eating lunch out a few time this week (Ono Char-Burger, Hamura’s, Kauai Pho); are going out to breakfast at the Tip Top on Friday morning; and having dinner at the 1849 Eating House next Saturday evening, but otherwise our task here will be to finish up as much as we can of the food we have in the condo, which isn’t a whole lot at this point. I have a two-pound pork tenderloin that I’m going to cut up – we’ll have grilled pork one evening, and use the rest to make pork yakisoba and pork curry on other evenings.
  • Happy we accomplished this past week: We took care of a few more address changes that we had somehow missed, and we also got rid of a few more things that we brought over with us to the condo that we thought we might need but don’t. We also signed up for a free walking tour of Paris through Paris Greeters.
  • Looking forward to this week: Besides getting to eat at some of our favorite places on the island, I am also getting my hair trimmed up on Wednesday (Brett is getting a haircut too), and having a mani-pedi at the resort spa on Saturday morning so I’m ready to go! I’m also looking forward to getting all of our travel things packed, and as much time at the pool as possible. The weather was very gloomy last Thursday and Friday and more rain is predicted this week.

    YaYu’s right cheek was still a bit swollen two days after her wisdom teeth came out but everything else is going well (that’s her beloved kamaboko – Japanese steamed fish cake – that she’s getting ready to break into).

  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu’s oral surgery went well and she’s healed quickly, although she was quite swollen for a couple of day. She had her surgery on Monday and was back to eating regular food by Wednesday. Brett stopped at Costco for some fruit last week and discovered key lime pie. We lived in Key West for a while, so know good key lime pie when I taste it and this pie was good! 

    A BIG piece of key lime pie and coffee for dessert out on the lanai

  • Thinking of frugal things we did: The condo provides the nicest 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, and I stopped by the office the other day to get another tube and they gave me three of them, so I now have everything I need for my carry-on toiletries. We were surprised to get refunds from both our water bill and our gas bill – we had thought we would owe on each of those, but had forgotten about the deposits we put down when we opened the accounts and those covered everything with money left over. The refunds will go into our first month’s travel budget. We have spent very little at the grocery store this week, just picking up things as we need them, like fruit or bread or yogurt. We have no plans to buy anything this week.

    My favorite Kaua’i-made product will forever be Monkeypod Jam’s lilikoi curd. It is a taste of the island right out of the jar.

  • Grateful for: I’m feeling very blessed and thankful for all the wonderful local foods we’ve gotten to eat over the past four years, from restaurant meals to fresh produce from the farmers’ markets to locally produced food products. This little island produces a lot! I am especially going to miss all the tropical fruit and the cucumbers – the ones grown here are the best I’ve ever tasted.

    I have fallen in love with this pool!

  • Bonus question: Which do you prefer, the beach or the pool? When we arrived here four years ago I couldn’t tell you how long it had been since I’d been to the beach, but I quickly fell in love with it all over again, sitting in my beach chair, swimming in the warm water and diving through the waves. If you’d asked me a few weeks ago which I preferred it would have been easy to answer. Going to the beach is the quintessential Kaua’i experience and a great way to spend anywhere from a couple of hours to the whole day.  But I have fallen completely in love with the pool here at the resort and now if asked to choose between heading down to the pool here or going to the beach I would choose the pool. There are plenty of chairs, chaises, and umbrellas to choose from, there’s a variety of things to do from hot tubs to slides to the lazy river, and it’s big enough that it never feels crowded. Towels are provided and the sandy bottom of the hot tubs is pure luxury. As one commenter on Instagram wrote the other day, the beach is for sitting and a pool is for swimming. I agree, but at this pool I can sit and look out at the ocean without having to deal with sand or carrying all our beach accoutrement to and from the car. So, for now I’m feeling somewhat torn – I will forever love the beach, but I’m also enjoying being spoiled rotten by the experience of this pool.

Less than 10 days to go, and just one more week to go from tomorrow until our departure!

I’ve always enjoyed writing the Sunday Afternoon posts these last few years – they’ve been fun to do – and hopefully I will be able to pick them up again in the future. Sunday Afternoons have been a great format for writing about our family and lives, and connecting with so many readers over the past few years. I hope you will continue to check in and comment while we’re traveling, and I promise to keep answering your comments. Thank you for being the best readers a blogger has ever had!

One More Time . . .

Duane’s Ono Char-Burger in Anahola

Last night at dinner Brett, YaYu and I came up with a list of local places we wanted to be sure to eat one more time before we left. We have enjoyed some wonderful food here on the island, but in the end we came up with just these three locations:

Brett’s favorite at the Char-Burger: the Old Fashioned

  • Duane’s Ono Char-Burger: Located in Anahola, the Ono Char-Burger was the first place we ate at on our first visit to Kaua’i back in 2012, and their burgers are still our favorite. YaYu isn’t eating beef these days but plans to order their fish and chips which are also very tasty. I’m going to have one last Local Boy burger (my favorite), and Brett will probably have his favorite, an Old Fashioned burger.

    Hamura’s famous saimin

  • Hamura’s: There’s no way we can leave Kaua’i without having one last bowl of Hamura’s famous saimin and one last piece of their lilikoi chiffon pie.

    Food of the gods: The lilikoi chiffon pie at Hamura’s

  • TipTop Cafe: We’re planning to go out for breakfast at the TipTop the morning before we leave. YaYu says she has to have one more big bowl of their ox-tail soup, and Brett and I want one more of their big, fluffy macadamia and banana pancakes and a couple of big cups of their delicious coffee.

    Tip Top’s ox-tail soup

    Plate-size banana-macadamia pancakes at the Tip Top.

I also want to enjoy one more TegeTege green tea shave ice, and we’re planning on going out for a special dinner down in Poipu, at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849, on our last weekend, but otherwise we’ll be finishing up as much as we can of we’ve got here in the condo before we hit the road.

Two Weeks Left

I’m torn between whether I want time to slow down or speed up right now!

Actually, less than two weeks now as our flights back to the mainland depart the morning of August 20th!

We’ve taken care of everything we need to do here on the island including selling our car, so only have/had three more things left to do:

  1. Close bank account: We plan to close our local checking/savings account on either August 16 or 17th. Everything outstanding should be cleared by then. I have a small IRA at the bank but I’m leaving it in place right now as we’re still Hawai’i residents and keeping an account here helps solidify that. Once we settle again someone I will move the account.
  2. Make final payments on all utilities. I thought this was going to get done later this week, but Brett went around to all of them yesterday morning while YaYu was with the oral surgeon. We only owed for our final electric bill, which wasn’t as much as we expected, and will be receiving refunds from our water and gas accounts!
  3. Pack: We’re going to do this the weekend of August 18 – 19, and I predict it will be a major event. Brett and I are going to lay out everything we’re taking onto our bed and then repack all of it into our two suitcases and backpacks. We both think it may take more than one try to get it right. Each of us will be carrying half of the other’s clothing so if one of our suitcases gets lost or damaged along the way we will still have clothes to wear. YaYu’s college-bound things all need to be repacked as well. I am hoping we can get this done in a day, but it could possibly take longer.

Otherwise, we are ready to go! We did a good job downsizing and getting things taken care of ahead of time so we could be at this point now, and other than the landlord drama everything has gone according to plan. Pretty much our only challenge here at the condo will be making sure we finish up the food we brought along and/or have bought since we arrived. YaYu has decided that instead of working right up until the end her last day will be August 9 so she has time to spend with friends, and can pick up her last paycheck/tips before we leave..

It looks like the next two weeks will mainly be spent reading, relaxing by the pool or at the beach, saying good-bye to friends, and otherwise savoring our final days on Kaua’i!

 

Sunday Afternoon 8/5/2018

Sixty-six years old and this is what my life has come to.

Most of our time these days is like the picture above, but the high drama continued with our former landlord who was in full loon mode on Friday. Brett messaged him on Friday to ask the status of our deposit. The landlord (LL) texted back that we had broken the freezer basket tracks and the freezer was “unusable” until it was fixed, and we would be charged for those repairs. The freezer basket worked fine when we left the house, the same way it worked the entire time we lived in the house – we told him we had a witness to its condition. Suddenly the refrigerator was still  under warranty and there would be no charges for repairs. I had told Brett ahead of this that I was sure LL was going to claim we broke the oven and damaged the floors, and sure enough he did not disappoint. When we mentioned that the oven had been “unusable” for nearly two months before we moved out and he had not seemed in any particular hurry to get that fixed he outright lied and said he had had three “licensed experts” look at the oven door, and they had concluded it was impact damage that we had caused. He could have stopped there, but no, he went on to say they had saved the shattered glass as proof. Uh no – Brett had helped the one repairman who ever showed up throw the piece of broken glass away! So LL backed down to two “experts,” but we said if they had ever come and looked at the glass they did so when we weren’t in the house, which was a major violation of our lease, so the whole oven argument was also quickly dropped. Then he started in on the floors, saying they were a mess and we hadn’t stripped or re-waxed them or gotten rid of the salt damage. We reminded him for about the fourth time that we had it in writing from him not to do the floors before we moved out! It took some back and forth, but he finally backed off that as well. The arguments and accusations went for on for a couple of hours, with almost every text from him containing a new (supposed) violation or some personal wrong we had done to him. He told Brett at one point that he was just a poor, sick old man, an honorable man and a former Marine, and we were disrespecting and dishonoring him (he’s only two years older than Brett, who spent 22 years in the navy versus getting kicked out after a couple of years so you can guess how that went over with us). He said we hadn’t cleaned the house while we lived there according to his directions or methods so therefore the house was not clean! Also, apropos of nothing, he told us he thought we were friends because we had discussed doing a house swap with him between Texas and Hawaii!  WHAT??? Anyway, at the end of all this he said we had been his best tenants ever and he had planned to give us back our whole deposit without even looking at the house (first time we heard this), but we screwed it up because we got angry when he stood us up last Sunday for the walk-through inspection. Everything, absolutely everything, according to him has been all our fault and we turned out to be nothing but a big disappointment. He said he is only going to mail a part of the deposit along with a list of all our transgressions, which we’ll believe if and when we ever see it. I have a strong feeling we’re going to be back on Kaua’i and in small claims court next year. The tax man will be coming for him in the interim though.

The landlord said he is going to have to charge us for the brown spot in the tub, but where is it??? I think he forgot we took LOTS of pictures, and had witnesses with us.

We continue to enjoy all that the resort and our condo have to offer. My favorite daily activity has been to soak in one of the hot tubs every morning for about 20 minutes, and then get some exercise in the pool. The hot tubs have a sandy bottom which feels great on my feet, and the temperature is wonderful – just at the point of being too hot when I get in but that I adjust to quickly. I love that I usually get the opportunity to chat with other visitors while I soak – I’ve met some very nice people this past week. And, I try to go down the pool slides every day. I keep telling myself I’m doing it for my grandson but the truth is I do it for myself because I LOVE pool slides and the ones here are awesome! The lazy river feature provides maybe too good of a workout – it feels like I’m carrying 50-pound weights on each leg as I walk back and forth.

YaYu will have her wisdom teeth removed early tomorrow morning. We know that everyone’s procedure goes differently – I was laid up for a couple of days eating nothing but applesauce, ice cream and mashed potatoes while Brett was eating pork chops for dinner the same evening he had his removed – so we’re just going to play it by ear afterwards. We can easily get over to Safeway for whatever she needs or wants to eat.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I am almost done with The Child Catchers. It’s been very thought-provoking, and at times has challenged some of my own thinking on adoption. I am still working my way through Our Towns. It’s very interesting, and my biggest take-away so far is that many people and places in the U.S. are not doing as badly as what gets reported. It’s reminded me of the old adage that a good story will only be repeated once while a bad one will be shared at least fifteen times.
  • Listening to: Again, I am loving the peace and quiet here.  I honestly had no idea how noisy our former neighborhoods were until we left: the chickens and roosters, loud cars, noisy neighbors, loud music, weed trimmers, saws and lawnmowers, and dogs barking were almost constantly making some kind of noise, even in the middle of the night. Yes, there were times when I could hear the breeze through the trees, and birds singing, and I sort of got used to the noise after a while, but it didn’t take long for me to appreciate how much I enjoy true peace and quiet.
  • Watching: Although we have cable TV here, the only things I’ve been able to bring myself to occasionally watch are the Food Channel or HGTV, and only in very small doses. After only Netflix or Amazon or PBS for the past several years, the commercials drive me nuts now. I did enjoy watching Endeavour and the Great British Baking Show on a regular TV screen this past week versus my computer.
  • Cooking/baking: I baked a cake yesterday! The condo came equipped with a cake pan, mixing bowls, and measuring spoons and cups, so I made a butter cake with a chocolate glaze (which used up the last of our expensive chocolate powder and confectioners sugar). We’re having grilled steak for dinner tonight, and I plan to make chili-pork burritos and Chinese stir-fired tomatoes with eggs some time this week. Otherwise I’m not sure what else we’ll be having.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: We took care of the last bit of banking we had to do here on the island, and will be ready to shut down our local account a few days before we go. We also got our VPN account set up – we needed one here at the condo and will need to have one as while we’re traveling. I otherwise accomplished nothing other than getting myself out to the pool every day because there was nothing else that needed to be accomplished! We officially transferred the Civic over to Alan and Cheryl this week, and are in the process of assembling a few things more to go to the thrift store but that’s the extent of our busy-ness these days.
  • Looking forward to: Brett and I are going to look at our travel calendars, pick dates and start making museum reservations for Paris, Florence and Rome. Otherwise, I’m not looking forward to anything more than spending time by the pool. The weather wasn’t ideal last week (warm, but always a bit overcast) so hopefully we’ll have some more sunny days this week. Hurricane Hector is currently passing by and has brought wind and some rain, off and on, but the past couple of days have been lovely most of the time.

    YaYu’s future dormitory at Bryn Mawr!

  • Thinking of good things that happened: YaYu got her dorm assignment this past week and will be sharing what appears to be a quite small room with a girl from the Los Angeles area. They’re already chatting and getting to know each other, and we’re all anxious to see what the room looks like inside. The dorm itself is in a great location on campus though and reputed to be one of the most desirable. Although dealing with our former landlord this past week was aggravating (which is putting it mildly), we did get all of his lying, bullying, inconsistencies, etc. on the record because his whole tirade was done through texts (Brett has messages from him going back to early May). Brett has taken screen shots of everything and stored them, making it much easier for us if we do have to go to court. Otherwise, just being here at the resort has been a very good thing!
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: Other than buying the few things we need from the grocery store we’ve been using up what we brought with us from the house, trying not to waste anything.

    In my happy place

  • Grateful for: I hurt my back the day before we moved out of the house doing who knows what, and am very thankful I can sit on the bench in one of the hot tubs, have the jets massage my back, and voilà! any residual morning pain is gone. I climb out of the hot tub feeling terrific and my back doesn’t bother me the rest of the day!
  • Bonus question: What’s your favorite type of chocolate: dark, milk or white? Although I like dark chocolate (in particular, dark chocolate with orange) and it’s pretty much all I eat now, my favorite type of chocolate will always be milk chocolate. I don’t eat much of any type of chocolate these days, and when I do it’s almost always dark chocolate now, but I still prefer milk chocolate. I’m pretty particular about it too – my favorite milk chocolate comes from See’s Candy, but I also like Lindt and authentic Cadbury chocolate from Great Britain (and I adore Cadbury Creme Eggs). Godiva is only so-so in my opinion. Hershey’s used to make a thick milk chocolate bar with almonds that was fabulous, but they discontinued it several years ago for some reason and I still miss it. I don’t care for white chocolate at all, or even consider it chocolate.

That’s a wrap for this week! How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you? And most important, what’s your favorite type of chocolate?

#Kaua’i: Eating Out in Kapaa

The view from our table at the Olympic Cafe

About a week and a half before we moved out of our house we found ourselves sick to death of microwave-heated processed food. The microwave needed to be sold anyway, it was obvious the oven door wasn’t going to be repaired before we moved out, and the stove top needed to be cleaned, so we decided the time had come to eat out until we got into the condo with its functional kitchen. It would also be a great time to try out a few new-to-us places and rate them for affordability and flavor (and/or see what we had or hadn’t been missing).

Paco’s Tacos make look unassuming, but they serve some tasty Mexican food. Al fresco dining is also available (tables are over on the right, out of the shot).

We started our dining adventures at Paco’s Tacos, a little restaurant located between the Bank of Hawaii and the Deja Vu surf shop in Old Town Kapaa. Paco’s Tacos has been one of YaYu’s favorite places for a long time, but Brett and I had never been before. Hawaii has a reputation for not having good Mexican restaurants, but Brett and I thought our dinners at Paco’s were very good and authentic. YaYu ordered a big carne asada quesadilla, Brett had an absolutely huge carnitas burrito, and I had the chili rellenos platter (chili rellenos are one of those things that if they’re on the menu, I have to order). Brett also ordered a Jarritos lime soda, and we got an order of churros to share for dessert. We were served a lot of food, spent less than we expected, and left happy and full. We all came home with leftovers too. We would go back, and give Paco’s Tacos four out of five stars for taste and affordability.

Sorry for a picture of half-eaten chili rellenos, but I didn’t wait to take a picture because I was overwhelmed by finally being able to eat something that had not been heated in the microwave.

The Olympic Cafe served us a great tuna melt (with sweet potato waffle fries) and some very tasty coconut shrimp.

For our second night out we headed over to the Olympic Cafe, where YaYu is working this summer. The Olympic is located upstairs in one of the original Old Town Kapaa buildings, and there are several tables at the front of the restaurant that overlook the highway and shops. YaYu was working that evening so Brett and I decided to keep dinner simple: we shared a plate of coconut shrimp (one of their happy hour specials) and split a tuna melt. We came prepared though to indulge in the Olympic’s signature dessert: a slice of Kauai Pie (chocolate ice cream surrounded by coffee-macadamia-toasted coconut ice cream which is then surrounded by more chocolate ice cream, with the whole slice topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream). The shrimp and sandwich were both great, but our eyeballs popped out of our heads when we saw the piece of Kauai Pie. It was MASSIVE, probably more than a quart of ice cream. The pie was absolutely delicious though, and I’m almost ashamed to admit that Brett and I managed to finish it (but continued to feel full for most of the next day). We left the Olympic Cafe full and happy so we gave it all five stars!

I still can’t believe we ate this whole thing!

The Scorpacciata trailer contains a stone pizza oven!

We’d been wanting to check out the pizzas at the Scorpacciata food truck for a while because the truck is owned and operated by the parent of one of the girls’ swim team members, and it has also gotten good reviews for its made-to-order pizzas. Scorpacciata is also located in Old Town Kapaa, in a small vacant lot right next to the Wailua Shave Ice trailer. YaYu was dining with us this time so we ordered two pizzas: sausage & pepper and margherita (typically my favorite pizza). We thought the sausage pizza was quite good, but all of us thought the margherita was just “meh.” Still, there were no leftovers. We finished our meal with shave ice from Wailua, a mango-pineapple one for YaYu, and Brett and I shared a “lava flow” (strawberry and pineapple with a haupia foam topping). It was another affordable, relaxed evening out, and another place we would return to if we had the time. While both YaYu and I gave Scorpacciata four stars for taste and affordability (we deducted a star for the weak margherita pizza), Brett gave them only three – he said he wasn’t bowled over by either pizza. Wailua Shave Ice gets a solid five stars from all of us though!

A margherita and a sausage and pepper pizza from Scorpacciata.

Shave ice from the Wailua Shave Ice trailer.

We also ate at a couple of restaurants we’d eaten at before and wanted to try again (Sam’s Ocean View and Bubba’s Burgers) and tried two new-to-us Italian restaurants: Kauai Pasta and Bobby V’s. They were very different from each other, but both had good food – we especially liked the cannoli at Bobby V’s! All the restaurants we ate at fell within the “affordable dining” range in our opinion. Although I’m glad to be able to cook again, it was sort of fun eating out every day, trying new places and going back to old favorites, almost like we were on vacation versus trying to escape what was going on back at the house. If you’re ever visiting Kaua’i, any one of these restaurants (or food truck) is worth a stop, in our opinion. We are leaving Kaua’i happy that we had the chance to them all.