Monday Morning 1/13/2020: Back on Kaua’i

We traded clouds and rain in Portland for clouds and rain on Kaua’i. But it’s warm (80 degrees) and we’re happy to be here. This is the view from Alan and Cheryl’s lanai, looking out over farm and ranch land to the Anahola mountains. On a clear day, we’d be able to see the ocean.

I don’t think there are words to express how happy Brett and I feel to be back on Kaua’i. We’re treasuring our time with Alan and Cheryl, and it feels like we’re home again. Even though the weather has been windy, rainy and/or overcast since we arrived (and will continue to be the rest of the week), it hasn’t bothered us in the least since we know how to have a good time here in spite of bad weather. Yes, it’s still humid but less unpleasant than I remember (although when I woke up yesterday morning my hair had exploded from the humidity and looked like a giant dandelion puff). Something new has arisen though – I appear to be suffering from some sort of allergy this time and have been dealing with watery, itchy eyes and a runny nose ever since we arrived. I have no idea what’s causing it because when we lived here I never had any problems while Brett was the one who dealt with allergies.

You know you’re really back in Hawaii when you’re tossed a container of POG on your inter-island flight.

So far we have scheduled nothing for our time here – we’re all mostly having fun catching up and chatting with Alan and Cheryl, and just relaxing. We went to Costco yesterday to pick up a few things to use/eat while we’re here, and also some things to take along to Japan, like a couple of bags of the world’s BEST granola. Later today Brett and I are heading down to Lihue to do some banking (we still have an account here on the island) and may stop at Walmart to pick up some shampoo to take to Japan. Alan and Cheryl bought our car when we left in 2018, but are loaning it back to us to use while we’re here – talk about deja vu! Other plans for the week are to get together with our friend Joy up in Princeville and get down to Poipu for a Puka Dog and some Lappert’s ice cream. I don’t think the weather is going to improve enough for us to get to the beach until next weekend, but we’re OK with that.

It was sad to say goodbye to WenYu and YaYu on Friday, and we were grateful to have lots to do for our own departure on Saturday. We will be seeing the girls again in May at WenYu’s graduation, and when we’re in NYC, and I know that time will arrive sooner than we imagine. We had a really great time together this year, and we’re all planning to be back in Portland one more time next December, and will go through our remaining things with them. We plan to rent the same Airbnb as we stayed in this last time because it was just about perfect for us.

This morning I am:

  • Reading: I’m slowly making progress through Killing Commandatore, but haven’t had a lot of time for reading the past few days.
  • Listening to: Roosters! Although we’ve seen them around we haven’t really heard them (maybe because of the rain?), but this morning they have been out in force even though it’s still damp and overcast. Who knows? They really are the background sound of Kaua’i.
  • Watching: I watched the Downton Abbey movie on the plane before I fell asleep, and really, really enjoyed it (and laughed out loud a couple of times – Maggie Smith as the Dowager is a treasure).
  • Cooking: I’m not cooking much of anything this week. We bought a few easy things to fix at Costco (lumpia and Polish sausages; Alan and Cheryl bought a giant pizza and Costco’s stuffed peppers), and we also plan to eat out a couple of times. We made a supreme effort before we left Portland and finished just about everything we had bought – all that was left in the refrigerator when we left was a tiny bit of whipped cream and a little bit of jam.
  • Happy I accomplished this past week: Packing to leave Portland was a bit of a challenge because the grandkids’ Christmas presents are taking up a lot of room in our suitcases. We finally gave up and decided to check Brett’s new bag (no extra cost) and carry-on the giant Erector set we got for our grandson instead when we couldn’t make everything fit otherwise, and that did the trick. 
  • Looking forward to next week: In spite of the weather Brett and I are planning to take at least a couple of walks on the beach path, and we’re looking forward to eating at a few of our favorite places: lilikoi chiffon pie at Hamura’s, pancakes at the Tip Top Cafe, Puka Dogs, and lau lau from Pono Market. I’m especially looking forward to seeing my friend Joy later this week.
    Getting to know the bunnies at the Hoppy Hour experience.
  • Thinking of good things that happened: WenYu and YaYu had a wonderful time at the bunny petting experience I had booked for them in Portland, and both were happy they got to go (they love rabbits). I had a great visit with a friend last Wednesday and then went for a much-needed manicure and pedicure which was very relaxing. While we were glad to be in first class on our flight over to Hawai’i, it was an older plane and sort of “old-style.” While we were served breakfast on china with real cutlery and a linen tablecloth on our tray table, and we had more legroom, the section still felt cramped, and the seats didn’t really recline all that much and there were no foot or leg rests. The seats were more like economy plus, but were still a good deal for what we paid for them and much nicer than what we would have endured in the main cabin. Kai Kahele, the Hawaiian state senator that’s running for Congress, was on our flight over to Kaua’i from Honolulu and it was exciting to meet and chat with him. We’ve been followers of his since he announced he was running last year.
    Breakfast on the plane was a tasty chorizo and cheese omelet accompanied by a chicken sausage, potato wedges, a bagel, and fresh fruit.
  • Thinking of frugal things we did: I received close to a $300 refund from the dentist; we will use that as part of the $400 cash we’ve budgeted for commissary shopping when we’re in Japan. We were expecting to have to pay nearly $150 to get our luggage over to Kaua’i on Hawaiian (no free checked luggage) but we only paid $70 for four bags. We think it may have been our Hawaiian driver’s licenses that did the trick and got us a kamaaina discount. We spent less than $150 at Costco, which I think is a record.
  • Grateful for: Both of us are very thankful for this opportunity to be back on Kaua’i, especially since our daughters just surprised us with their thoughts about us coming back to live here. It really does feel wonderful to be here again – we’ve missed it more than we realized. We’re glad we’re experiencing some of the things we didn’t care for before (humidity and traffic, for example) to see how we feel about those now. Overall, we love the feeling of familiarity with the island – this was a happy place for us.
  • Bonus question: Do you think you could actually move back to Kaua’i? Off the top of my head, yes. For a variety of reasons, this would be a great place for us to settle down, especially since it would just be Brett and me, and we would not be beholden to the girls’ schedules and needs. They all said they would love to have a strong reason to return as well. If we return, we would not need as much furniture or as many things as we did before, and very little to ship over. We are also more aware of the things ahead of time that became problematic for us before, like the humidity, and hopefully, we can better deal with those things on a second time around. There are still negatives about living here though, like Hawaii’s isolation, which would make it expensive and difficult for future travel if we wanted to continue doing that and also for the family to come and visit us. It’s also still an expensive place to live (although we felt Portland was almost more expensive now), and we’d of course have to have a car here. But overall, the positives outweigh the negatives and we are giving the idea of returning real consideration.

I’m not sure how much I’ll get posted this week but I will try my best. We’re looking forward to relaxing as much as possible while we’re here and not overdoing things, so we’ll see if I can squeeze in any writing. In the meantime, I hope everyone had a good week, and that your new year is off to a good start!

31 thoughts on “Monday Morning 1/13/2020: Back on Kaua’i

  1. I like the fact that I guess it would be closer to your son and grandkids? Would that make it easier for them to visit you and vice versa? Or would Portland or California be easier (and cheaper) for visits??? Its hard to know where the girls are going to end up working because they are so young, but your son seems to have settled in Japan, or that is my impression. So maybe a central location to where you think it is easy for everyone to travel? I so understand the need to be sorta central to all your children. I have four kids. Three live in the same state, but are scattered in several different locations several hours apart, and one lives 2000 miles one way from me…sigh. As we age, we need to take into account medical facilities also, unfortunately. I really have no advice because I cannot even decide where I need to retire when the time comes…lol.

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    1. Living on Kaua’i we really would be halfway between our son in Japan and the girls back east (nine hour flight each way from Honolulu, and equally expensive too). We like the fact that all four and the grands love coming here. We’re falling in love with the idea of coming back, but have to give a lot of thought to when – we already have plans ready and have to get through them.

      Our son has bought his burial plot in Japan – he’s there for the duration.

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  2. Kauai is still the best place to live. Busy time with doctors, etc. prior to my surgery on Jan. 21. Three medical appointments at the hospital on Tuesday, then another blood test and then left hip surgery. How long will you be here? Our condo looks like a hospital room in preparation for all this. I sure with our weather would clear out. This is the longest it’s been this crummy for so long since we moved here!!! (into our 6th year!) So glad you’re back!!!

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    1. It is a wonderful place. What we’re appreciative of this time is that because we’ve already experienced negatives and pitfalls and had the chance to step away, so to speak, we can make sure to avoid those things the next time, or at least do our best.

      Looking forward to seeing you on Friday and catching up! We’re glad to be back too!

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  3. Ahhh, the familiarity of a home! It’s hard to beat that feeling. Have a fun week and soak in all you can-time with friends, walks, the salty air, even that humidity,,,

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    1. It honestly feels at times like we never left. Yesterday we were driving around (in our former car), and came up to the intersection to turn left to our friends’ house, and without thinking Brett turned the indicator to go right . . . because that’s the way to our old house! Muscle memory, I guess.

      So far I am dealing with the humidity, but we’ve already said that if we come back there will be air conditioners. Some of the buildings we’ve been in though have been cooled and it’s almost been too much. Never thought I’d say that, but here we are.

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      1. Yes it is. It’s on the list. The only place we’re not crazy about returning to is Kapahi – we grew to dislike the drive either through Kapaa (traffic) or taking the bypass because it dumped you right on the highway on that one-lane stretch in front of the Coco Palms. That gets old fast.

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      2. We make sure we head down to Lihue while the cones are down. Never get caught in the Kapaa crawl that way. North shore is quieter too. Love Princeville, safe, too. Well, the whole island is pretty safe!!

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    1. Now we’re talking. We’re going to the farmers’ market on Wednesday, just like old times, and Brett said he is on the lookout for apple bananas. I want cucumbers – I have missed them so much.

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  4. Yay! I’m glad you’re back on Kauai now. I’m surprised about the humidity because it was far less humid when I was there in December than it was the first time I was there in 2016. The ocean temperature was also noticeably cooler. Hope the rain passes soon.

    As far as moving back to Kauai, my thoughts are you could move there and see how it goes. If the girls have no trouble visiting and you are better able to visit your son, or he can visit you, then you’ll know that’s the place to be. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back to traveling or move elsewhere. Might as well give it a shot, and like you said, you’re not tied to living near the HS so you can live anywhere on the island you like. Regarding cost, I have never lived there so I don’t know the daily expenses like you do, but other than the cost of groceries and gas, I feel like everything else is the same as it is where I currently live. I did see $7 bread at Safeway, but I’m sure Costco is better for that sort of thing anyway (and for gas).

    Hope you enjoyed the POG on the plane! 😉

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    1. Apparently Kaua’i is going through a near record-breaking stretch of overcast and rain for some reason, with higher than usual humidity levels. So far it hasn’t been a problem for us, and the sun is due back later in the week (fingers crossed).

      The longer we’re here, the more we’re drawn to coming back. After driving around and experiencing traffic, etc. we’re getting a better idea of where we might want to live and where we definitely woudn’t want to live.

      There are always places to find things cheaper on Kaua’i – no $7 bread for us. You just have to know where to go, and when to buy. You also have to know when the price isn’t going to be lower and if you can live with buying something or afford it at a higher price than you’d pay on the mainland.

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      1. Les and I stopped at Ross’s in Lihue prior to my last medical appointment. Les got the car and I waited at the curb. A gentleman came over and offered to help me. I just had my cane and don’t look real steady on my feet. This is one of the many reasons I love it here. The caring is palpable.

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  5. Enjoy your return to Kauai.

    We had our first long haul flight without extra legroom or upgrade. San Fran to Sydney, 14 hours. It wasn’t too bad. Actually OK. But for the 24 hour flight to London I am going to get premium economy. I need the extra room, wider arm rest and foot rest.

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    1. I honestly don’t think I could do 14 hours without extra legroom. We did 11 hours back from Japan without an upgrade last year and that was the last straw for us – we were miserable. The foot rest, I’m learning, is the addition that makes all the difference – it was so disappointing that we didn’t have them on our flight over to Hawai’i. We won’t have them on the way over to Japan either, but will on our flight back to the U.S. (14 hour flight). The extra expense for comfortable seats has become more than worth it for us.

      We are so happy to be back on Kaua’i. Even with the overcast and humidity we’re having a wonderful time. And you know, Honolulu is one of the best places to depart from to get to Australia!

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      1. Well if you move back to Hawaii, we may catch up. My husband’s US cousin talks about having a holiday there together – halfway for each of us.

        I could do the 14 hours again in economy. With Qantas. They give good food and service so the time passes well. Not having a proper and decent cup of tea makes the cramped conditions worse. Qantas has perfect tea and is generous with the alcohol. Still, I am going to book premium economy with them for our UK trip for 2021.

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      2. I wonder what sort of plane you flew on as well – I could do economy in the 787 because the seats are more comfortable, the air is humidiified, etc. That plane is just flat out comfortable. And yes, the service makes a big difference. Delta is upgrading their economy service on international flights – we’ll get a taste on our flight over to Japan.

        I would love to see you here some day. It’s a gorgeous place with lots to see and do, and very friendly people. I know the perfect vacation place to stay as well!

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    1. Toughest decision in the world: San Clemente or Kaua’i. Seriously! We are loving it here though, even with the less than ideal weather, and can definitely see coming back.

      Today we’re off for lilikoi chiffon pie at Hamura’s in Lihue. Another good reason to move back here.

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  6. Somehow cloudy and gray sounds so much better at 80 degrees. 🙂

    I loved that Downton Abbey movie…what a pleasant two hours! I really should go back and watch the whole series, but for some reason, I’m not one to read a book over or watch something more than once. Too many new options, I guess.

    We got a random refund from the dentist late last year, too. At the time, we weren’t sure why, but we didn’t hesitate to cash it. Turned out we had better insurance than they realized and it paid more of DH’s crown than they expected. Nice surprise.

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    1. Cloudy and gray at 80 degrees is pretty nice. If the sun were out and the humidity was this high this time of year . . . not so much.

      That’s what happened with our dentist – the insurance paid more than they thought. It was a very nice surprise for us, almost $100 more than expected.

      WenYu and I talked about binge watching Downton Abbey again – she and I did that back when we first arrived on Kaua’i and we thought it was time to do it again. The movie was great – I thought they chose a clever storyline, and had just the right amount of twists. Moseby was perfection. But Maggie Smith was amazing, and so funny (“I will lick the stamps for you!”).

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  7. No matter how fun the holidays are, they are exhausting! So smart to have a month on Kauai where you can just relax and recharge.

    Weren’t there a few things on your Kauai bucket list that you didn’t get to before leaving the island? Would you be able to do them now? Or maybe I’m remembering the trip to the big island that was canceled due to the eruptions.

    One of my older relatives has always said, “If you have water, they will come.” Meaning if you live close to water the kids and grand kids will visit!

    My grandparents also gave the advice that if you are going to move away for retirement, to not wait too long. That it is important to be young enough, with enough energy and mobility, to establish yourself in the new community before the aging process catches up and limits what you can do.

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    1. We’re sadly only on Kaua’i for nine days – just six more to go. Sob! This trip is about seeing friends, and eating at all our favorite places (we went to Puka Dog yesterday and then had ice cream at Lappert’s; today is lilikoi chiffon pie at Hamura’s). The visit has also turned into an assessment of whether or not we want to return, and I’m happy to report that the longer we’re the stronger the possibility of that happening. It would be a very good place for us to settle, for a variety of reasons.

      I love your grandparents’ advice! We were very involved with the school community before, but have already been thinking of other ways to become involved in the community when we don’t have kids with us.

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  8. Please please please I emplore you to not forget Australia and ask you to ask others to help in any way possible I live very close less than 50 or so miles to the nearest non stop fire I am fine however many could use assistance

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