Oh what high expectations we had for this holiday! And it was to start with a week-long family vacation to Kauai thanks ito the timeshare of Sandy and Victoria. Gwen and I, Kyle (our son) and Suzie (his wife, 6 months pregnant), Courtney (our daughter), Joey (her fiancee) and Sarah (her daughter), and of course Sandy (Gwen’s sister), Victoria (her partner) and Seth (their son) all in attendance.
Off Gwen and I went to Kauai on Christmas day. Sandy, Victoria and Seth were to precede us by a couple of hours (flying from SF to Maui to Kauai), while the rest were to join us the next day. The flight to Lihue, Kauai (yes, unlike 44 years ago when we honeymooned in Hawaii, each major island now has its own airport large enough to handle the big jets) was quiet and uneventful.
Upon arrival, there was a phone message from Victoria with very disturbing news: Sandy had developed a medical problem just before they were to depart from Maui. As a result, she was hospitalized there, going through the process to determine what had happened. A worried call to Victoria ascertained that Sandy was stable, thank goodness, but the doctors were yet to complete the tests necessary to determine what had happened, so of course no prognosis was yet available. OK, problem 1: there was some possibility that we would have to move the whole party to Maui if Sandy was declared unable to fly. Chances were, however, that she would recover sufficiently to make Kauai, but perhaps a day or two later.
Gwen and I proceeded to the timeshare, duly reserved by Sandy, and reconfirmed two days previously. Problem 2: when we arrived, they could find no records of any reservation. It was as you will remember, Sunday, Christmas day. Highest week for Hawaii’s long tourist season. The timeshare agency was as helpful as they could be, but spare accommodations for ten people for a week on Kauai was just nonexistent. They did find a suite to put the two of us up for one night, so tonight’s problem was solved. Sandy was the key because she had made the reservations. But she had no written confirmation, and her electronic confirmation was on her computer back home. They’ve been involved with this timeshare company for many years, and had never had any problems before.
Gwen was working hard with the timeshare folks, and with one of her college roommates, Sylvia Woods. We were looking forward to spending some time with Sylvia while in Kauai, as we hadn’t seen her in over four years. At that time, she made the move to Kauai, making it her permanent residence. So, Christmas day ended with Sandy feeling better, but no answers on the travel to Kauai front, and Gwen and me sheltered for one night.
The next day Sandy was doing better, but still undergoing tests. Much work was needed, however, to find accommodation for all of us. Thanks to Sylvia’s friend, Marsha, by the time we picked up Courtney, Joey and Sarah, we had reservations for that night sufficient for all except Gwen and I. We eventually took the three of them to the Westin Resort in Princeville, and when Kyle and Suzie arrived late that evening, they went straight there, our temporary haven. Sylvia was kind enough to put Gwen and me up for the night.
The next day, things finally began to get resolved. Happily, Sandy was getting better, and the doctors finished their testing. They couldn’t find anything wrong, and determined she could fly to Kauai, and so she, Victoria and Seth made those arrangements. In the meantime, Victoria got on to the timeshare folks by phone, and found out (eventually) that their international reservations group had been hacked. Someone had gotten into their computer system and re-sold the timeshare weeks, wiping out our reservations (and presumably others), pocketing the money. The timeshare company decided to take the financial responsibility, so the only problem left for us was to find places to stay.
It was Kyle who resolved this last aspect of problem 2 for us once and for all. He got onto the internet and discovered that even though all the humans at the Westin were unable to find us any rooms, they indeed had enough for us all over the time we planned to be in Kauai if we reserved them through his favorite internet app. So Kyle booked reservations for us online, and we all happily checked in.
By the evening of 12/27, we were finally all together on Kauai, and ready to start our delayed vacation.
The next day we spent our time investigating what the Westin had to offer, mainly swimming and sunbathing. Sarah spent much time in the pools, accompanied by one or more of us adults relaxing for the first time since we got to the island.
Sylvia told us that up at this end of the island (Princeville is on the northeast corner of Kauai), we were close to the Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge, so one of our first trips was to this historic landmark.
The point on which the lighthouse stands, we are told is an excellent vantage point for seeing saline, like whales and seals and the like.
We saw none of that kind of thing, but we enjoyed the views very much.
The wildlife we did see was of the flying variety — the Nene bird. This state bird is endangered, we were told. The bird is about the size of a Canadian goose, which we are also told is a relative.
The next day, we decided to go in the other direction, down to Hanalei town and the beach beyond it. We started out with a late breakfast at a “lunch wagon” called Fresh Bite. Ten people ordering at once turned out to be quite a tall order for them, but as long as we were willing to wait, they were more than happy to serve us. Wait we did, but in the end, they provided a surprisingly good breakfast as agreed by one and all.
Walking to Fresh Bite, we noticed this restored red “woody”, complete with a chicken standing where the hood ornament should be. It, as we quickly discovered, was artificial. We had already noticed that the island seemed overrun with the birds. They provided a morning chorus every day we were there.
After breakfast, we made our way to the beach. Gwen and Kyle quickly got their feet wet, but were soon joined by Suzie.
Sarah was not far behind. She and Kyle enjoyed jumping up just before the wave hit. Gwen and Suzie were so concentrated on watching the fun, that the wave soon got to them as well!
Soon all were on the beach. Victoria and Sarah decided to bury a coconut.
Seth and Sarah spent time catching waves on the beach, and all spent time talking and enjoying the sand.
It was cloudy and getting cold, so we decided to go back to the resort. The resort sits on an overlook well above beach level, so there were some opportunities to get a broader view of the area as we drove along. The first below shows the valley that leads to the town of Hanalei and the beach to its right, while the second one shows the rain coming down on the hills beyond the beach.
The road to Hanalei town took us past a very interesting warning sign, immediately followed by a one-lane bridge, which in its turn was followed by another strange warning sign, which turned out to have immediate meaning.
You know you are in Hawaii when you see large red flowers high up in the trees by the road. For some reason, the pine trees have seem tall and spindly against their continental cousins we are more used to.
Other strange plants include the Hala tree below, whose branches seem to grow down into the ground rather than up to the sky. Lots of colored flora adorn the garden areas around the Westin resort.
Next door to the Westin is the St Regis, a related resort, with marvelous views over Hanalei Bay. We went over there to take advantage of the viewing deck (and their excellent restaurant, but that was a different time). We watched a sunrise one morning. Unfortunately, we were not on the side to see the best color. I do love to watch the colors changing on the clouds as the sun comes up.