Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire

I need to vent a little.

As many of you might remember, last summer when we moved out of our house on Kaua’i, our landlord stood us up for the move-out inspection. And, although he had 14 days from the day we turned over the keys (July 29) to return our security deposit, either by mail or in person, along with written evidence if necessary for why he was keeping some or all of it, we have never received anything from him.

Up until a few days ago we hadn’t communicated with our former landlord since August, when he claimed he had mailed a check to us, but refused to say how much or if there was other paperwork. We had given him our mailing address (Brett’s sister) but whatever he sent turned out to be addressed to a completely different city in Texas. When we informed him and again gave him the correct address, the landlord claimed he would have the mis-addressed mail forwarded to the correct address but of course nothing ever showed up. That was the last we heard from him before heading to Buenos Aires.

Our former landlord is incapable of opening his mouth without lying. And once he starts he can’t stop, and the stories get bigger and better each time he tells them. Over the nearly three years we rented from him, for example, Brett listened to numerous tales of the landlord’s two years of military service. Brett still doesn’t know whether he served in the marines or the navy because his story changed every single time about what branch of the service he was in and what he did. And, his experiences in the military grew every time as well to the point where he apparently did every job short of commanding an aircraft carrier, and he was promoted at least four times over a period of six months because of his amazing skills and leadership ability (the last time was to the highest enlisted rank, E-9, at age 19)! We were always a bit weirded out that he would tell Brett these whoppers because the landlord knew Brett was a career sailor and had been in the service at the same time and knew a few things. Brett tried to call him on his tall tales a few times, but that never slowed him down.

Our landlord lied and exaggerated about everything. Constantly. We knew when we moved in that along with maintaining a good relationship with him we were going to have to keep track of him and keep records to protect ourselves. We stayed friendly, paid our rent on time every month, took good care of the house, and worried when he was diagnosed with cancer. In return he treated us fairly for the most part. But, the lies, crazy stories, excuses, etc. never stopped or let up, so Brett saved every message from him, a good thing because it turns out the man incriminated himself almost every time he wrote something to Brett concerning the house.

When we messaged him the morning of the inspection to ask if and when he intended to come, his first reply was he had forgotten. From there we started getting excuse after excuse after excuse for why he failed to show up until it finally got to the point it was our fault he didn’t come. This was in spite of him telling us at the same time we were his best tenants ever and he had planned to give us back our entire deposit (without ever making any arrangements to do so). Of course, in the next couple of days we were informed that following HIS solo inspection we had actually trashed his property and it was going to cost him a small fortune to fix everything we had damaged. He also made several flat-out crazy claims with no relation to reality. For example, at one point he wanted to know if we had we forgotten about our arrangement to swap our house in Texas with his on Kaua’i – ????? It was exhausting dealing with all the lies and stories over and over.

Last week Brett accidentally dialed the landlord’s number. Much to our surprise, the landlord actually messaged Brett back to say the check he sent last August had been returned to him in October (but of course he never contacted us about it). He asked for our mailing address for the third time and said he was going to resend the check and would send Brett the tracking number. That was a week ago and as expected we’ve heard nothing further from him. We still believe he has no intention whatsoever of giving us any of our deposit, and it would be the shock of a lifetime for us at this point if he follows through on his latest claim. We’re sure he’s convinced himself that we’re never coming back to Kaua’i so who’s going to care if he doesn’t return our deposit? What are we going to do about it?

Well, for one, we care. And, there is plenty we can do. We are fine with one of us (me) going back to Kaua’i to collect our deposit through small claims – it’s a considerable amount and worth making the trip. And, we know our former landlord does not want to appear in court – we saw last summer that the mere mention of a court appearance completely unnerved him, especially since there’s a very good chance he’s a tax cheat. Hawai’i places very strict limits on how long and for what reasons a landlord can retain some or all of a security deposit. They are required to provide loads of documentation to back up any claims they make for keeping any part of the deposit, and can be required to pay as much as three times the original deposit to their former renter if they fail to do so or make false claims.

The next time our landlord hears from us it will be with a summons. We have a full calendar year from our move-out date to file in small claims, and we plan to do so as soon as we return to Portland next May. We are going to sue for a full return of our security deposit along with the cost of my travel to Kaua’i. I will be bringing along the many photos we took of the very clean house, all the receipts and incriminating messaging from him. We also have witnesses ready to show that the house was well-cared for and left in spotless and move-in-ready condition, and that the landlord has never made any genuine effort to return the deposit or any part of it at all.

Tick tock, Mr. Landlord.

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.

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.

#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.

I Could Get Used To This

Coffee on the lanai every morning . . .

Just two days in the condo and I never want to leave (well, almost).

. . . along with beautiful sunrises.

Whether w’re watching the sun rise and enjoying our morning coffee out on our lanai or sitting under an umbrella by the pool or just relaxing in our cool apartment, we feel like we’ve won the lottery. We enjoyed “living local” for the past four years, but I’ll be the first to admit that having air-conditioning is beyond fabulous. I had forgotten what it’s like to walk across a room or step out of the shower and not immediately break into a heavy sweat. Humidity has not been my friend here on Kaua’i so this is truly a special treat for me. I keep reminding myself though that going without A/C for the past four years is one of the reasons Brett and I were able to afford to stay here now and set off on our adventure next month.

The only time in my life I’m going to have a Sub-Zero fridge and Wolf range and oven. The dishwasher is so quiet we have to check to make sure it’s running!

The living room is very comfortable and inviting. All of the original art work in the house was painted by the condo’s owner.

The entire apartment is pure luxury and very comfortable, especially so in our case because of the last three miserable weeks we spent working on the house. The kitchen is equipped with very quiet appliances, and has more than adequate dishes, glassware, cookware and utensils. We have a full-size washer and dryer. All the rest of the fittings and furnishings are comfortable and top-of-the-line as well. It’s taken me a couple of nights to adjust to a different mattress, but the king-size bed is very comfortable now. I’m still marveling at how quiet everything is is overall – the apartment has been sound proofed so we don’t hear any noisy neighbors, roosters, traffic, pool noise, etc.

There’s a soaking tub for two in the bathroom and a separate shower in its own room around the corner to the right.

The view from our lanai includes a partial ocean view (we see more of the ocean from the living room). The building we look over is an air-conditioned fitness center.

After our last few weeks in our house and the disappointing end to that experience, I’m more grateful than ever that we chose to stay here for our last days on the island, and beyond thankful for the small inheritance from my mom that helped make it possible.

And of course there is the pool – even on an overcast day it’s fabulous.

I really could get used to all this. However, we have only three more weeks to enjoy it and I intend to make the most of it.

#Kaua’i: Miss/Not Miss

We have just 40 days left on Kaua’i, and I think daily now about all the wonderful things I’m going to miss about living here. It’s honestly been an amazing four years, better than I ever dreamed, and I’ve been blessed to have experiences and memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I could only think of three things that I will not miss or look back on with any fondness, and I will get those out of the way first:

  1. Humidity. I don’t think I need to say any more about this. I’ve never adjusted or adapted to it.
  2. Traffic. I cannot get over the change in the amount of traffic during the past four years. What was mildly problematic when we arrived is now nearly a daily pain in the you-know-what. And, it will be several years, maybe decades, before the infrastructure can be put in place to deal with it.
  3. Dust. Who knew that there could be so much dust generated on a little island out in the middle of the ocean? It’s been a never-ending issue, and mixed with the damp from the humidity it’s also been a frustrating one at times.

Although I find the chickens and roosters annoying at times, and I’m still terrified of centipedes and toads, those three are pretty much it though for the negatives.

There is no way I can compile a list of everything I will miss about this beautiful island, and I’m sure there are things right now I don’t know I will miss. But, in no particular order, here are some the things I do know:

  1. The absolute darkness at night With no ambient light to speak of, the sky is darker than anything I’ve ever experienced before and packed with stars. Also, the full moons here shine almost as bright as the sun.
  2. The deep, abiding spirit of aloha. It’s woven through everything here and is what truly makes Kaua’i the special place it is.
  3. Beautiful sunrises and spectacular sunsets.
  4. The ocean. I honestly never dreamed I would get to live where I see the ocean every day. It feeds my soul.
  5. Walks along the east side beach path. The views have never gotten old.
  6. The year-round farmers’ markets, and the amazing farmers who bring a bounty of fresh produce to the markets each week, including the best cucumbers I’ve ever eaten.
  7. An abundance of tropical fruit. Dragonfruit,  papaya, lychee, longan, mountain apple, rambutan, egg fruit, guava, mango, soursop and so many delicious varieties of bananas too. I’m not sure I’l ever be able to eat a banana from the supermarket ever again.
  8. Fresh papaya for breakfast. I wasn’t sold on them when we arrived but now they’re one of my most favorite things about living here.
  9. Coconut palms against a blue sky.
  10. The infinite variety of hibiscus. They still can take my breath away. Also, the scent of plumeria on the evening breeze is pretty amazing too.
  11. Going to the beach in the winter. Going to the beach anytime, actually. I still can’t get over that we live just five minutes drive away from a beach this fabulous.
  12. The luscious green of the island, and it’s breathtaking natural beauty. After four years here the amount of plants, the lush green, and the mountains still never fail to fill me with awe, and make me happy from the inside out.
  13. Shave ice.
  14. The people. I’ll miss them most of all. They’re the main reason we’ll be back.

We’ll all be leaving a piece of our hearts on Kaua’i – how lucky we’ve been to live here!

Hiking Waimea Canyon with Friends

At long last, I got to hike in Waimea (reddish-brown water) Canyon, and with friends from the mainland, on the Canyon Trail no less! Two of my former coworkers came for a week’s visit to Kaua’i which happened to span our weekend getaway at Barking Sands, so a hike in the canyon was practically unavoidable. Our inclement weather plan was to enjoy wine on the lanai as we watched storms roll by, but as far as the weather we got lucky.

sharon, brett, christi

Former co-workers Sharon and Christi and me on a windy afternoon at the Waimea Canyon Overlook

We thought about taking the first trail we came to, the Kukui Trail, but after reading a few reviews online we thought better of it. The Illiau Nature Loop, between the eight and nine mile markers leads to the Kukui Trail which consists of 2.5 miles of switchbacks into the canyon—2,700 feet down. Because the trail is so steep and exposed, reviewers recommended continuing down through the canyon toward the ocean rather than hiking back up, and making arrangements for friends or family to pick you up in Waimea.

As we didn’t start out until after 2:00 PM, we proceeded to the Waimea Canyon Overlook (3,120 ft/951 m), just past the 10 mile marker for our first stop. At at the top of the walkway to the viewpoints, I looked to my left and saw two women who had climbed over a protective fence and descended beyond the WARNING sign along a steep slope strewn with loose soil to the edge of a precipice. I mentioned to my friends that I was reminded of Over the Edge, a book about foolish and unfortunate visitors to Grand Canyon National Park.

A little further on one of my friends spotted a beautiful small flower that she wanted a photo of (neither of my friends had remembered to bring their cameras or phones). I’ve searched but cannot determine what this little plant is, so I’ll just show it. Maybe one of you recognize it?

Rock hugging 8-petal white flower with yellow center, and sawtooth leaves on woody stem at Waimea Canyon

White blossoms bursting from rock

While we were at the Overlook, I also captured a panoramic view of the canyon. In the process I spotted what looked like Warner Brothers’ Roadrunner, just left of center, created from the pale green of the new understory as it grew out following April’s torrential flooding.

Panoramic View from Waimea Canyon Overlook

Panoramic view from the Waimea Canyon Overlook

We continued on up the road,  just passed the 11 mile marker and stopped at the Pu‘u Ka Pele overlook (3,662 ft/1,116 m). The Hawaiian name loosely means a large protuberance where lava flowed forth. One of the best views of Waipo‘o Falls (headlong waters, 800 ft/244 m to be precise), as well as another perspective of the canyon, is available from here.

Waipo'o Falls and Waimea Canyon

Waipo’o Falls and Waimea Canyon from Pu’u Ka Pele Overlook

Up the road another two miles, between the 13 and 14 mile markers, lies a more developed overlook, Pu’u Hinahina (3,606 ft/1,099 m), meaning gray or grayish outcrop. Beginning in the overlooks’s parking lot, a relatively new spur trail links up with the Canyon Trail. Halemanu Road, just beyond the 14 mile marker, is strictly for 4-wheel drive vehicles and leads to a dirt parking lot beside the original trailhead of Canyon Trail where the new spur ends.

Trailhead of New Spur to Canyon Trail

Trailhead of the new spur trail to the Canyon Trail

From the onset, the new Spur Trail was deceptively easy looking, until we met mud spattered hikers near the first dip. While many of the flowers with which I’m familiar were well past their prime, and a few were showing early fruit, there was still quite a lot to take in along this undulating path. I say undulating because it did not merely switch back and forth in a steadily toward the falls, but rather rose and fell steeply, crossing two major streambeds. Philippine ground orchids had gone to seed on the slopes while guava were just beginning to blush and yellow ginger along the streambeds still bore fresh blossoms and were heavenly fragrant.

A very short distance beyond the clearing at the intersection of the New Spur and Canyon Trails the Cliff Trail branched off to our right. Since we were already a little behind our turnaround time, we decided to go out that way rather than proceeding a further steep mile to the falls.

Cliff Trail Viewpoint

A Long Way Down from the Cliff Trail Viewpoint

We could barely make out the light feathery red blooms on the Lehua (red ashes), the sensitive trees said in literature to be Pele’s sister.

Friends at Cliff Trail Viewpoint

More proof that everyone enjoyed hiking in Waimea Canyon – Sharon and Christi at the Cliff Trail Viewpoint

Descending from Pu’u Hinahina Overlook we headed back to Barking Sands. Sharon and Christi had brought wine so we enjoyed that and talked story over a lovely Italian sausage dinner that Laura had prepared. I’m grateful I got to make the hike into the canyon, and also that I got to do it with two good friends – it was a memorable day.

A West Side Getaway

Sunday evening’s beautiful sunset (the unihabited island of Lehua can be faintly seen on the horizon).

Sometimes you just need to get away from regular life, to decompress and forget about all the everyday things that you have to do. Here on Kaua’i, we discovered that going just 35 miles away from home put us in a completely different environment, both climatically and culturally.

The weekend before last Brett and I took care of an item on our Kaua’i bucket list: a little holoholo to the island’s west side, to stay in one of the beach cottages at the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands (PMRF). The getaway was supposed to be part of YaYu’s graduation celebration, but since she’s now a working girl and couldn’t take time off, and because reservations are currently hard to come by (summer season), Brett and I decided to head out on our own rather than cancel.

Our cottage

The view from our lanai

The beach cottages are run by the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation department, and are available to all active duty and retired military members, some reservists and other classes of military veterans and civilians. We were surprised to learn when we checked in that we had been “upgraded” which meant we were assigned one of the oceanfront cottages versus one in the second row back. Our two-bedroom cottage was clean, spacious and very well-equipped, including a in-house washer and dryer – the only thing missing was a dishwasher. We had a good Internet connection (a surprise), and cable TV was also available. Our bed was comfortable, and there was air-conditioning in the bedroom which made sleep heavenly. Best of all was the amazing location – besides the view of the pristine Barking Sands’ beach and the 24/7 background sound of the surf, we could also see Niihau and Lehua islands.

Barking Sands beach, looking east. We walked out to the far point and back in the mornings

Saw loads of these on our beach walks – can you guess what it is*?

After the past few months of craziness, our time at Barking Sands felt like indulgent laziness – it’s been a long time since I’ve felt so relaxed. We woke when we were ready to get up, and took a long walk on the beach each morning. Brett went hiking in Waimea Canyon one day with friends who were visiting from the mainland but I stayed back and pitched our umbrella out on the beach and relaxed there for a few hours. We enjoyed our coffee in the morning and a glass of wine each evening out on the lanai while listening to the sound of the surf, and we headed out the beach at dusk each day to catch the sunsets.

Mango-lilikoi pie (and yes, we brought whipped cream with us!)

We brought all our own food along from home, and with the low daily price we had a very affordable little vacation. We made a couple of stops on the way down to pick up fresh pies from two of our favorite places: a mango-lilikoi pie from The Right Slice in Kalaheo, and a lilikoi chiffon pie from Aunty Lilikoi in Waimea, to bring home for YaYu. We had planned to stop at the original JoJo’s in Waimea for a shave ice on the way back, but were sad to discover they had closed.

On Sunday I had the beach all to myself. Sadly, Barking Sands is not a swimming beach – there’s a dangerous shore break and lots of rocks hidden just under the water.

Brett and I have decided that when we come back to Kaua’i to visit this is where we want to stay. Besides being affordable, it’s also sublimely quiet and peaceful, and the drive back to the south or east sides of island is not too bad. The west side is more relaxed, and there are fewer tourists. Neither of us was ready to leave when our time was up, and we wished we could have stayed a few more days. We’re happy though our our experience, and excited about the prospect of coming back some time in the future.

*This little guy and his (or maybe her?) friends were responsible for all the holes and sand hills on the beach. He’s about as big as my fist, and didn’t like having his picture taken!