enter location Kauai.
the place where dreams are made of.
i mean that quite literally actually. because i had dreamed about this place before i had ever been there. and now that i am back and in normal life, i find myself often going back in my dreams. it is serene. and peaceful. and mostly, full of healing. it's strange that there is ap lace on earth that can hold all of those things. maybe it was just the timing in our life when we went. but i like to think that there is a certain Kauai magic. a magic that every human deserves to experience at least once in their life!
^^^ when i saw the island for the first time. i was giddy. i'd never been to Hawaii ... so experiencing it all for the first time was extra special.
^^^ our first dinner after flying in at a little restaurant on a river that i can't remember the name of.
since we arrived in Hawaii when the sun was setting, we didn't get to see much. i remember waking up that first morning and thinking i had died and gone to heaven. we surely had woken up in paradise! it was too good. but then i heard M snoring and realized there was no way we were in heaven because snoring would NOT be allowed there. so i got on my gear to do one of my very favorite things- run on the beach! M even joined me, which is an extra special treat because he is NOT a fan of running.
we then went on a little walk down our place to get breakfast...which ended up being big ol cups of shaved ice at 7:30 am. now that is the breakfast of champions!!
and in an effort to not just give a boring play-by-play of our trip, i'll just give you a few of my favorite highlights.
on the first day, we did a lot of exploring the island! the coolest thing about Kauai is how small it is - you can drive around the whole island in about in hour. it's crazy! the best part about that is how different each part of the island is. tropical and rainy on some parts, more populated on others, and deserty in others. it's so breathtaking everywhere. we saw Waimea Canyon - which reminded me a lot of Southern Utah with it's deep valleys and red rock/sand!
side note: my dSLR was broken for our trip (sad face emoticon)- so i brought my old Pentax film SLR and my Holga....and my instax mini and shot film most of the trip (and iPhone of course). it was actually super fun! i love film. if you look closely, you can tell which photos are shot with film by the extra grain that you get with film.
my very favorite part of the first day was seeing the incredible NaPali Coast for the first time. no picture you take can do it justice! it blows my mind that places like this even exist. honestly, i think the NaPali coast was at the tip-top of favorite things we saw there. more pics to come later.
and of course one of my favorite things about the trip was that we made an incredible amount of shaved ice stops. hawaiian shaved ice is tooooo gooooood.
another one of my favorite things about Kauai is that there are farmer's markets and little fruit stands EVERYWHERE! yes, they are expensive...but there is nothing like fresh local produce from an island! pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, and other exotic deliciousness ... yeah, it's definitely as amazing as it sounds.
one cool thing about going on a trip with your hubby sans children is that you can eat whatever you want! you don't have to worry about whether the kids will like it or whether or not the place is kids friendly or whether or not it's healthy. we ate at fancy shmancy places with sushi and smoking desserts and hole in the wall places with delicious hot dogs and lemonade. and we could do it so fast! or take it super slow if we wanted. and i got to eat all my meals without having to share or without fingers poking at it...and without having to cut another human's food first, making my food get cold. no, my meals were all piping hot. yeah. definitely one of my favorite parts of Kauai was the endless amount of yummy we had.
my favorite excursion we did was hiking the NaPali coast. basically M and i are idiots. we got up really early to drive all the way around the island to be able to hike the coast- we were super excited (naive) because we had heard such magical things about this hike.
we got to the map - and read that you could do a 2 ish mile hike to a secret beach. then you could do another 1 1/2, almost 2 up-hill to the first waterfall -- or instead of going there, you could go to the 2nd waterfall, which was an addtional 4 and a half miles or so.we decided to hike down to the beach and then decide what we were going to do... my parents had been to Kauai multiple times, and i was certain that they did the second waterfall and thought it was amazing, so i was leaning towards doing that. i couldn't be shown up by my ol' padres!
we started our hike - and the views were amazing! we felt incredible. the 2 miles to the secret beach weren't easy by any means - but we definitely felt good and pumped and energized.
we got to the Secret Beach and it was so beautiful! we saw the people who were continuing to the first waterfall - there were hecka old people hiking up that thing...and M was like, ahhh heck no, we are going to the second waterfall. because we are Bad-A's. can you tell this is not going to end well?
so, we agreed to start heading up the more treacherous terrain towards the second waterfall. the views were incredible. and it even started raining. hiking in the Hawaiian rain is incredible!
right up this ridge was my most favorite view of the whole hike. it was misting -- we were already covered in mud -- and the mountains looked covered in this mystical fog. it was so glorious! in retrospect, i kind of wish we would have just turned around here and called it good.
but alas, we kept going on.
it wasn't long before we felt like we were in a different world. a jungle world. and we felt all alone. there was hardly anybody on this trail. i wonder why? and then every hour or so, a wilderness looking man or woman would pass us. one who looked like they had been in these woods for like 999 days or something.
and then we just kept going. and going. and going. trudging and trudging and trudging. hiking and hiking and hiking. more and more switchbacks. never never never never ending.
and our water was running out.
finally we made it to this campsite where there were a few people. we went the wrong way to go to the waterfall and so we had to backtrack to find our way to the trail. it was very obscure, but we found it. up up up up we went. we were so excited to get to this incredible waterfall. because we had come a dang long way. with that detour, it was around 7 miles that we had hiked... which doesn't sound like a lot....but we were only half - way there, and the trail was just as much ups as there were downs. and just as much switches as there were backs. this party was barely getting started.
but first! the waterfall!
which resembled more of a trickle. (insert sobbing face emoticon)
i mean, can you even believe they call this thing a waterfall?? ugh! definitely NOT what we were expecting to see. and you cant really tell by the pics, but the best part about this little pond/waterfall was the incredible amount of frogs that inhabited the place. these teeeensy tiny frogs and tadpoles that populated the thing to the brim, and huge ole bullfrog type toads too. sick. we later found out that it was mating season for frogs......... which we didn't need someone to tell us by the amount of somethin-somethin we saw for ourselves. i actually wouldn't even get in all the way because of how many huge toads and frogs there were. i mean that just can't be sanitary! M on the other hand was desperate.
after we ate our packed lunches and sipped a little sip of our depleting water supply, we decided it'd probably be time to head back... the clock was ticking against us.
and so we started our trek.
about 2-3 miles back, M started to get mad. and i started to get mad. and that's when the majestic NaPali coast started taunting us and it started looking like a huge jerk and so we naturally started swearing at it. because there aren't many things that feel better than being all alone in the middle of the jungle and swearing at the cliffs for being so rude and hot and steep and treacherous.
in case you ever wanted to see what M looks like when he's mad, ^^ that's it. very, very mad.
and so, when the swearing and angering weren't working, and we still had miles and miles ahead of us, we decided to say a prayer together to help us out of this stupid mess that we had gotten ourselves into. we apologized for not being more prepared, for thinking we were so tough, and for swearing at the mountain....and asked if He could please just get us the heck out of there!
and that He did. prayer works, people.
heaven bless the burger shop with bottomless drinks and the greasiest burgers and fries i'd ever eaten for filling me up after that kick-our-trash NaPali Coast day.
after that crazy day, we decided to just take it easy. we spent lots of time on the beach, reading, sunbathing, sleeping, and just generally chillaxing.
wherever we go, i feel him there too. ^^
then we decided we really wanted to see this NaPali coast that had kicked our butts a few days before - and so we did one of the coolest things i'd ever done...we took a helicopter tour! i felt like we were on the bachelorette. Kauai is the perfect place to fall in love, after all.
other noteworthy Kauai faves:
painted skies every night....
^^^ that sunset picture gets me every time. i mean. (heart eyes for daaayyyyyyysss)
seeing some of the sites - like waterfalls, Queen's Bath, & the beautiful Lighthouse
^^^ i think something black got on the negative when this pic got scanned in, dang it. either that or some huge bug is biting M right in the eye at the exact moment i snapped this photo!
snorkeling at Tunnels Beach - which was probably my very, very favorite thing we did...because not only did we get to see thousands of spectacular fish just steps off of the sand into the water, but we got to swim with a mama turtle and her baby....for almost an hour! i usually have an insane amount of words - but this literally took my breath away. it was an experience i'll always, always remember.
and renting some longboards to go surfing! you can't go to Hawaii and not surf! i even got up a couple of times! it was gnarly. and stuff.
finally, going to church in Kauai was such a special experience.
we attended the Kalaheo ward - and i wrote in my journal the following excerpt:
"A mother and her little daughter, maybe 9 or 10 years old, were just confirmed members of the church and received the Holy Ghost. I haven't felt the spirit that strongly in a long time. It felt so warm and peaceful- and overwhelmed me to tears. It was so tender and sweet to see these new members of the church at their own new beginnings, with new fresh resolve to follow Christ. I want that and need that in my life.... I felt the spirit again in the same magnitude that I had felt with Max for one of the first times in a long time. I felt what I really have been needing for these months..."
it's interesting because i realize that part of my own personal grieving process was an internal struggle with spirituality. i can't really explain it. i never turned away from God or was angry at Him or anything like that. i just felt like it was painful to go to that spiritual place i often found myself in when i was doing the extra things like praying and scripture study and attending the temple. it was because every time i would do those things, i would feel vulnerable all over again and often fall apart all over again. but it's like what you hear all the time - you are either spiritually progressing or spiritually digressing .... there is no neutral. and so not doing all of those little things had me spiritually digressing. going to church in the Kalaheo ward woke me up to the sweet purity of the Spirit again. seeing that little family receive the blessing of the Holy Ghost after making covenants with our Heavenly Father made me realize that i could have that same new beginning that day in that Sacrament Meeting if i repented and tried to be better. immediately as i had those thoughts, i felt the spirit again so strongly and knew Heavenly Father's love for me. it was a special day in that humble little Kalaheo ward. a day of real healing.
^^^ (i love this little old church in Koloa -- such a cool building! not where the Latter Day Saints meet- i wish! but i had to snap a pic because i thought it was so beautiful)
and so i guess we got what we went to Kauai for most - healing. emotionally and spiritually. we got time together. we got to cry together and laugh. we got to not worry or stress. we got to love each other freely without schedules and daily tasks and responsibilities. without the reminders of death and the funeral and bills around every corner of our house.
and with all that we were recharged and re-energized to go back to our world and continue on. enduring is a hard thing - and sometimes you need a boost to help you do it. Kauai is definitely medicine for the soul.
Mahalo Kauai! can't wait to experience your magic again someday. hopefully that someday isn't too far away.