June Joy

As of June 16, we have been married for 35 years! ❤

Hubby had to work on our anniversary and also had to leave town on business early the next morning to travel to Tennessee, so we just enjoyed a nice dinner at a local steak restaurant that we both like a lot.  As usual, the food was wonderful, and I even managed to stay on my diet, too, opting for a steak, fresh grilled asparagus and a small tossed salad.  We enjoyed our nice relaxing evening together, especially immediately after a fun weekend trip to the canyon with our son for the Father’s Day weekend.  It does not seem possible that 35 years have passed, and I grew quite teary as I posted about it on my Facebook page that same day.  You see, our days have not always been easy ones, but the growth we have both experienced as a result of the really bad times is something I would not trade for now.  We are both able to help others in their own time of difficulty now as a result of that growth, and that will forever be a part of our mutual life ministries, for sure.  God has seen to that already, even when we least suspect it.

I deliberately postponed my big spring cleaning push of the year at home until the “dust finally settled,” literally.  We have had so many days of blowing dust this year that is was honestly pretty pointless to embark on deep cleaning until it settled down with the summer rains and planting of the cotton fields in the area.

Haboob at Sunset
Haboob at Sunset earlier this year

Happily, that time has now come, and I have made some good progress on cleaning over the past few weeks.  I also had the carpet and tile professionally cleaned once again, and that is always a real treat for us.  I am taking my cleaning efforts a bit more slowly this year, as there is really no rush to kill myself to get it done.  Deep cleaning is definitely not one of my favorite things to do in life, but it is so nice to make progress and just “git ‘er done, ya’ll!” 🙂

Since we received our first big rainstorm that dropped over five inches a few weeks ago, we have been continually blessed to continue receive even more beneficial rain almost weekly, spaced just far enough apart each week to keep our lawns and trees watered regularly.  Our area has now received 9 inches, which is such a huge blessing!

Backyard Flooding
Backyard flooding

To bring us out of the drought, though, we still need about 30 more inches, especially for our water sheds, so the prayers will keep going up.  Since we are now in stage two water restrictions, the rain has been especially wonderful, as we have been able to refrain from watering the lawn completely.  However, we also received some hail, and we had to have a new roof put on the rent house two weeks ago.  The major damage likely came from a big hail storm that hit while we were away over Easter weekend, and the damage was made worse after a smaller hail storm recently.  Anyway, the new roof is done, and we will have an adjuster out in a few weeks to also look at our roof, too.  We have also had a reprieve from 100 degree temperatures so far, and this, combined with the wonderful rain, has kept our climate pretty much perfect in June, if not a bit unseasonably cool.  Cooler temps may now be coming to an end, at least for a few days, as the temperature should near 100 degrees this weekend, but I’m still so very grateful that we’ve had such a great weather month so far.

Our entire area is so green and beautiful, and it almost feels like I’m on a little vacation right here at home after months and months of dry and windy weather and dirt that literally seemed to be everywhere.  It’s not hard for anyone in our area to enjoy being outdoors among all this dirt-free greenery, and it makes me wonder if people who live in more temperate areas grow complacent with their beautiful scenery over time.  I can bet that will seldom happen for me, and I’m just so happy to be here right now.

I make it a point to spend time outdoors each morning these days, sipping my cup of Hazelnut coffee, reading my bible, working through my bible study homework and playing with the dogs a bit.  The dogs are happy to be out with me to explore the yard, look at the birds, lay in the soft green grass and chase each other around the yard.  Having two large, young dogs is something new for us, and it is so fun to watch them play with such energy, especially when they chase each other round and round the new tree in the middle of the yard.  If I get involved in the mayhem, I really have to watch them or they could knock me down, but it is still so much fun!

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Girly Girl and Red (aka The Complainer!) He did not like sitting still to have his picture taken.

My cannas are blooming with their pretty red blooms, and my Red Rocket crape myrtles are also starting to bloom right on time and should be in full bloom by the 4th of July holiday.  My little vegetable garden of tomatoes and peppers is making good progress, and I picked the first ripe tomatoes last Monday, just in time to serve to my girlfriends on Monday evening when they joined me here for a salad dinner outside.

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Our Red Rocket crape myrtles are in bloom once again.

I’m also cherishing travel memories of trips I’ve made over the few weeks, too.  I have been especially blessed to have seen so many cherished family members and friends in a thirty-day period.  I even reconnected with one of my best friends from high school recently, finally meeting her for lunch at a nearby restaurant on Wednesday and visiting for three hours.  She recently retired from her job and contacted me out of the blue to meet for lunch, and I hope this will just be the start of many more wonderful visits with her.  She was, and still is, a beloved sister in Christ and holds a special, unique place in my heart to this day.

I’m glad to finally be done with my posts about our big trip back in May, and I still have posts to come about my epic road trip with my 93 year-young mother and my 83 year-young aunt to Oklahoma, as well as a quick Father’s Day weekend trip with our son to the canyon.  We also have a longer trip planned for the 4th of July weekend back to a nice private campground with full hookups in northern New Mexico with some friends in our RVs, and we are definitely looking forward to going back there with them once again, just as we did twice last year.  Having full hookups is always a special treat for us, since most of the parks we visit only have water and electric hookups on site.  That is fine for a weekend trip, but for anything more than two or three days, having the sewer line is a real blessing.  Ah, the simple things to be thankful for on vacation now, including unlimited showers in our very own RV.

The last news of the past month is our purchase of a DISH Tailgater satellite system for the RV.  Even though we took our wonderful trip to Kauai and Big Sur back in May to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary, we also decided to finally purchase the satellite as our gift to each other, too.  We do not intend to sit around at camp watching television too much, but it will be nice to have it for the times we are inside the RV and would enjoy having some decent programming to watch, especially on hot summer afternoons and cold winter nights.  Also, most places where we camp on the weekends nearby have no cell phone or over-the-air television signal available, and one issue that results from that fact is not knowing if we are at risk of severe weather or tornadoes headed our way.  Up until now, we had no way of knowing if we were at risk, except for our NOAA weather radio, which travels with us wherever we go and stays alert for us overnight when we are at home as well.  Now, we can tune in to local television news and know exactly what is happening most of the time and if bad weather may be headed our way soon.  We also camp in the RV in the winter months, and we will enjoy having some viewing options at night for a change, as I think we have now watched every DVD movie we own several times.  We just subscribed to a pay-as-you-go plan for the satellite and will only pay for the months we want to use it.

Married for 35 years to my sweet hubby.

Having a clean house, almost free of dust.

Rain, rain, rain!

Green grass. Green trees. Flowers blooming. Vegetables growing.

Hazelnut coffee. Bible study.  My sweet dogs.  Cool mornings.

Getting to see special family and friends again.

Seeing the Oklahoma City area without fear of blowing away in a tornado for the first time.

Father’s Day weekend with my two favorite guys.

Satellite TV when camping.

Looking forward to a trip with good friends very soon to the mountains of New Mexico.

Sharing my joy here.

My heart is filled with such joy on days like this!  Isn’t God wonderful to bring us to these times where our “cups” can be filled up once again?  Such are my days right now.  Life is good, and I am blessed!  😀

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Magnificent Big Sur

In my previous post, Two Days in Kauai, I shared about the first part of our big celebration trip back in May.  However, I failed to mention exactly what all we were celebrating.  We opted to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary a month early, as well as my birthday and Mother’s Day which fell during that same week.  On my actual birthday, we ate breakfast by the ocean in Kauai, ate dinner in San Francisco and saw our daughter and son-in-law again for the first time in several months.  Even though my 56th birthday was shortest one ever, due to the time we lost crossing time zones, I have to say it was probably the best one ever!  Now, back to the second part of this fun trip!

This second part of our celebration trip took us on a fun weekend excursion through Big Sur with both of the kids.

Map of Big Sur Area

 On that Friday, our flight from Lihue, Kauai to San Francisco International Airport, arrived about 9 pm.  Thankfully, this flight was the total opposite of our flight to Kauai a few days earlier, as I shared in a previous post, and with a good tailwind behind us, we actually arrived almost an hour early.  This gave us time to grab a late dinner at the airport before the our daughter and son-in-law arrived to pick us up and take us to our hotel for the night.  It all worked out perfectly, and we had a great visit in the car on our thirty minute drive to the Hilton hotel near their apartment.  I couldn’t have asked for a nicer way to end my birthday than to see my girl once again.

The next morning after a quick breakfast at the hotel, we all headed directly south to Monterey via Highway 101 from the San Jose area.  From there, we continued to head south on scenic Highway 1 through Carmel and on to the Big Sur area.  On previous trips to the area, we spent quite a bit of time in Monterey and a little bit of time in Carmel, as well as driving the famous 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach.  I love this beautiful area, and this was our first time to venture further south from Carmel.  The kids frequent the Big Sur area on weekends to hike and to go backpacking, so we had two very knowledgeable tour guides, for sure.

 Our plan for the weekend in Big Sur was to basically drive the entire length of Highway 1 to Ragged Point, which is at the southern end of Big Sur, have a nice dinner, spend the night there, and then begin our drive back to San Francisco on Sunday with a few stops on the way.  It was a perfect itinerary and could not have been nicer.  The views around every turn in the road were picture postcard perfect and did not disappoint.  This was also the first time that the kids had driven all the way to Ragged Point, so the southernmost end of Big Sur was new to them as well.  While I found our overnight lodging in Ragged Point, our son-in-law was in charge of planning most of our sight-seeing stops, and he did a great job!

Our first stop on Saturday was in Monterey for lunch, and our favorite place to dine in Monterey is Fisherman’s Wharf for seafood.  Sadly, I cannot specifically recall the restaurant where we dined, but the food was wonderful once again, as was the company.

After a quick stop in Carmel to get gas for the eighty-mile drive each way through Big Sur, we then stopped at the Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant in Big Sur.

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Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant

We just wanted to grab a quick cup of coffee, and the others also had a little sweet treat.  I was good and passed on the sweets, although it was quite tempting to indulge right along with them.  It was worth a stop here just to see all of the beautiful landscaping at this quaint little place, too.  It is not a big restaurant, but the landscaping is amazing, and I could have spent even more time just taking in all of the unique plants growing there.

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Beautiful landscaping at the Big Sur Bakery

We then drove to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, where we parked on the side of Highway 1 and walked along a scenic trail to view the famous McWay waterfall on the beach, where we were certainly just one of many groups of people doing the exact same thing.  This is such a gorgeous sight that is not to be missed when in this area, and we very much enjoyed the short hike to the overlook where it can be best viewed.  Click on the picture of the waterfall below to see it larger, too.

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Driving through Big Sur on scenic Highway 1
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McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

From there, we continued driving south on Highway 1, pulling over occasionally to take pictures and taking a few short walks at sites the kids had previously visited and wanted us to see.  We also crossed two scenic bridges, including the famous and frequently photographed Bixby Creek Bridge, and also passed through a newly completed tunnel along the way at Pitkins Curve, too.

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One of the scenic bridges along Highway 1 through Big Sur

Around 6 pm, we finally arrived at our destination for the evening at the beautiful and quaint Ragged Point Inn, where thankfully, we had reservations for Saturday night.  We discovered a couple of months prior to this trip that reservations for lodging are an absolutely must in the Big Sur area, as almost every lodging option there sells out on weekends.  While Ragged Point Inn is a bit more expensive than some other places, we were thankful to get reservations there for the night, and it was well worth the price, in our opinion.

Big Sur Sunset Silhouette
Sunset at Ragged Point Inn

Ragged Point Inn is a gorgeous place that sits right on the edge of the cliff.  Pictures just cannot do it justice.

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View from the front door of our room at Ragged Point Inn
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Beautiful landscaping at Ragged Point Inn
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A neat picture spot at Ragged Point Inn
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Secluded pond at Ragged Point Inn
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Garden walkway at Ragged Point Inn

We enjoyed dinner at the hotel restaurant that night just after sunset as a belated birthday dinner for me from the kids.  The food was absolutely fabulous, too.  The kids also gave me a beautiful pair of emerald earrings, which was very special, since emerald is my birthstone.

The next morning, we all met back at the restaurant for yet another great meal together, then daughter and I stayed behind with our coffee cups as hubby and son-in-law hiked the steep trail down to the beach below.

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Restaurant at Ragged Point Inn
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The hike down to the beach below at Ragged Point Inn is quite steep!

It was so nice to have an hour alone with my girl, and we had a great chat.  I would have loved more time alone with her, but as this was just a quick weekend trip, that would be our only time to visit together alone on this trip.

After the guys finished their strenuous hike and after daughter and I finished our nice chat, we all headed back north through Big Sur, retracing our drive from the previous day back to San Francisco.  We stopped for about two hours at a Limekiln State Park, where we hiked two stunningly beautiful trails through some nice sequoia trees to a waterfall, then to the old lime kilns.

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Creek in Limekiln State Park
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Our hike took us through the sequoia trees and beside babbling creeks in Limekiln State Park.
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Plaque on a bench in Limekiln State Park – a great quote by John Muir
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Hiking through the sequoia trees at Limekiln State Park
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One of the old lime kilns at Limekiln State Park
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Waterfall at Limekiln State Park
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Waterfall at Limekiln State Park

The trail crossed the creek several times, which is something I’m not used to on a hike, for sure.  Thankfully, son-in-law let me borrow his hiking stick, or I would probably have landed right in the water more than once.

After we finished our hike on the beautiful trails, we walked down to the beach and just enjoyed a few more minutes there, sitting on the big rocks, listening to the waves, and visiting with a fisherman who had just come in from a fishing trip.

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Beach at Limekiln State Park
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Beach at Limekiln State Park

After our wonderful hike at Limekiln State Park, we made one last stop for a late lunch at Nepenthe, which is a great place to dine outside while experiencing the fabulous view along the coast.  While we waited for our table, we enjoyed shopping at the Phoenix gift shop on the lower level and found some unique souvenirs.  The food was great, and we would definitely stop here to dine again when we go back to this area.

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Menu at Nepenthe
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The view from our table at Nepenthe

Sadly, Nepenthe was our final stop of the trip before the kids dropped us at our hotel near the San Francisco airport around 7 pm.  We had to catch a very early flight the next morning, and the kids still had to drive back to their own town and get ready for work the next day.  Hubby and I ate a quick dinner at the hotel, repacked our bags for our flight home, and headed to bed.

Our celebration trip to Kauai and Big Sur was such great fun for us.  While we were a bit concerned about being on the move so much during the week, we both found it to be a non-issue this time.  Our weekend RV trips give us plenty of opportunities to get away and just relax for a few days, so our week-long on-the-move sightseeing trip proved to be a nice change and a memorable experience, for sure.

We also celebrated our actual 35th anniversary here at home on June 16 by dining out at one of our favorite local steak restaurants for dinner together.  I just could not ask for a nicer anniversary celebration this year, and I will always treasure these special days of celebration together!

P.S. – I just found this great link for a one-week itinerary to travel the grand circle of San Francisco, Yosemite and Big Sur that would be a fabulous trip!

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Wordless Wednesday – Juxtaposition

Dog Days

D All Original Content — © fivefs.wordpress.com — All Rights Reserved

Two Days in Kauai

“Two days in Kauai is better than no days in Kauai,” or at least that is what I kept telling myself after we had to change our outgoing flights due to inclement weather in Denver last month, causing us to lose the better part of a day on this fabulous island.  We actually had three nights and two and a half days there, after the flight change, and we made the most of our brief time there, especially since this was our third trip to this special island.

On this particular trip, we wanted to just get away for a little relaxation and relaxed sightseeing before heading to the bay area of California to see our daughter and son-in-law, and that is exactly what we did with our brief time on the island.  As it turned out, this is actually an itinerary that I would highly recommend to others that might have only two or three days on the island, with the possible exception of quick visits to Poipu Beach,  Waimea Falls and/or Wailua River State Park, all of which we have seen on previous trips to Kauai.  Unfortunately, we had to cancel a planned lunch visit at Gaylord’s at Kilohana near Lihue on our arrival day, since our flight did not arrive until 7 pm that night after the flight was rescheduled.  We hope to go back again sometime and dine there and see this beautiful place that came highly recommended by a friend.

To see a good map of attractions on Kauai, including most of the attractions listed below, I recommend checking out Frommer’s map here.

In an earlier post, I shared about our experience at LAX and our subsequent flight to Lihue, both of which were definitely not pleasant.  But despite those experiences, we were just thrilled to finally be back on Kauai once again around 7 pm Hawaiian time, as it had been six years since our last visit there.  Kauai is one of those special places that we “connected to” right away back in the 1990’s, and we will likely try to return for a visit as often as we can do so for the rest of our lives.

Welcome to Kauai

The Marriott:  We spent our first of three nights on Kauai at the beautiful Marriott hotel and resort, which is only a ten minute drive from the airport.  This is a truly fabulous hotel, and it was even gorgeous at night.  We opted to stay here on our first night for two reasons.  We had never stayed at this gorgeous place before, and they had a $199 special for that night.  We also wanted to visit Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park before driving to Princeville, where we would stay the next two nights, so staying near the airport saved us quite a bit of driving time.  As it turned out, staying here was also a God-send for me, because I was so sick at my stomach when we arrived that I don’t think I could have made it on the longer drive up to Princeville anyway.  I was never so glad to see a bed and some nausea medicine in my life.  😉

The Marriott near Lihue, Kauai

After finally taking some medicine to help settle my stomach, I slept like a baby that first night.  The next morning, we ate breakfast by the amazing pool with a great view of the ocean just in the distance.  Despite the fact that my stomach was still a little “iffy,” I enjoyed a good Eggs Benedict and a cup of Hawaiian coffee.  Eggs Benedict is my favorite breakfast food, so things were now off to a great start.

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View from our room at the Marriott
Breakfast by the pool – what a view!

After breakfast, we took a long stroll around the property, and we had a particularly nice stroll along the beach and through the beautiful garden.  The hotel put out cups of fish food for the Koi fish, so we grabbed a small cup and fed the fish for a few minutes, along with several other hotel guests.

Garden at the Marriott

After winding up our tour of the property, we opted to go ahead and check out of the hotel to continue with the rest of our time on the island, starting with out next stop at Waimea Canyon State Park.

Waimea Canyon State Park:  The “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is a must-see in my opinion, and it is an amazing sight.  We stopped once again at the popular lookout point where Waipoo Falls can also be seen in the distance at the far left in the photo below.  Photos just cannot do justice to a place like this, as the canyon continues to the right, all the way to the ocean several miles away.

Waimea Canyon and Waipoo Falls
Waimea Canyon and Waipoo Falls

After taking a few more photos, we then continued on up the mountain to Koke’e State Park and the Kalalau and Pu’u o Kila Lookouts.

Koke’e State Park / Kalalau and Pu’u o Kila Lookouts:  The view from the Kalalau and Pu’u o Kila Lookouts, which are only about a half mile apart, still remain the most impressive views of nature that I have ever seen, without a doubt.  The dramatic drop from the 5000 foot lookout points directly to the Pacific Ocean below, and through the beautiful Na Pali Coast State Park land, is nothing short of breath-taking.  While many people stop at the Kalalau Lookout and never proceed to the end of the road at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout, we actually prefer the fabulous view at Pu’u o Kila.  You are not confined to a small area behind a fence, and you can actually see a more unobstructed view up there.  This is also where the Pihea hiking trail begins.  If you bring small children along, be especially careful at Pu’u o Kila, as the terrain is much rougher and there is no fence to protect people from falling over the edge.  It is a very long way down, too!  Wear good tennis or hiking shoes at Pu’u o Kila, or just visit the Kalalau Lookout if wearing flip flops.

Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park
Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park (panorama)

As we spent some time up here at Pu’u, our view was partially obstructed by clouds once again, just as it did on our last visit here, but the clouds did not bother us.  Literally being up in the clouds at this place is an unforgettable experience on its own.

Pu'u o Kila Lookout
Our family was literally up in the clouds at Pu’u o Kila on a previous trip!

After leaving the lookout, we made a brief lunch stop at the cozy little restaurant in Koke’e State Park and enjoyed both a good sandwich and the wildlife there, including many of the famous wild chickens that are now found pretty much everywhere on the island.  “What’s Up with All the Chickens? A Bit of Kauai History!” tells more about how this plethora of chickens on the island came to be.  Trust me, they are everywhere!

After lunch, we drove about two hours, which is about as far as you can drive around the island, up to the amazingly beautiful Princeville resort area on the north shore to check in at the Westin resort for our next two nights on the island.  The entire area along the northern part of Kauai from the small town of Kilauea to Haena State Park at the end of the road is nothing short of paradise to me, as the scenery is absolutely spectacular.  Just think of the scenery in Jurassic Park and that is what you have here, as that movie was filmed not far from this area.

Princeville Resort:  Princeville is a large resort area on the north shore, and this is where we like to stay on the island.  The small town of Hanalei is a short drive to the west on the other side of Hanalei Bay, but the resort area actually has a nice little shopping area with a good grocery store nearby, too.  More information about Princeville can be found at the link provided.  If you want to stay at a top hotel, pull out your wallet and stay at the St. Regis on Hanalei Bay.  We dined there on Mother’s Day on our previous trip, and it was fabulous.  I would also highly recommend the fun activities at the Princeville Ranch nearby, too.  On our last trip, my daughter and I took a guided horseback trip with them through some beautiful inland countryside, followed by an energetic hike to a hidden pool and falls where we even went swimming.  It is a special memory that I will always treasure with her, and we had a fabulous time.

Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas:  This was our first time to stay at this beautiful resort, and our second time to stay in a condo in Princeville.  After our first trip to Kauai in the 1990’s when we stayed with our small children on the east coast, we knew that we would most enjoy our time here on future trips by staying in the Princeville area on the north shore, especially if we could rent a cozy condo.  Condos are the most prevalent lodging option in Princeville, and staying in a condo absolutely fits our style for a laid-back vacation like this.  We previously rented a larger condo for the five of us in our family from The Cliffs and Princeville and would absolutely rent from them again if we took everyone in our family back again.

Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
Nene Birds
Some endangered Hawaiian Nenes wanted to come in and join us for breakfast in our condo
A long waterfall can be seen in the distance behind the Westin resort
A long waterfall can be seen in the distance behind the Westin resort

Kauai North Shore General Store Pizza:  After settling into our condo, we drove to the shopping center in Princeville and ordered a couple of take-out pizzas from the Chevron station (aka the North Shore General Store).  Yes, we ordered pizzas at the gas station store!  This is something that I read about online from another traveler, and we decided to give it a try.  The small store actually has a brick pizza oven in the back, and we found that we were not the only ones ordering take-out pizzas that night.  They cooked our two small pizzas while we bought a few items at the grocery store nearby, and we just picked the pizzas up when we were done.  This was the first pizza that I had eaten since I started my diet back in January, and it was so good!  After dinner, we took a quick walk around the property, and at 9 pm, which still felt like 2 am by our time at home, we headed for bed.

Hanalei Bay:  We did not have time to visit Hanalei Bay on this trip, but I grabbed a quick photo of it from the lookout point on our drive to Ke’e Beach.  We visited this beautiful spot on our previous trip six years ago, including Mother’s Day brunch with my whole family at the amazing St. Regis Resort there, and that will always remain one of my most precious memories ever!

Beautiful Hanalei Bay
Beautiful Hanalei Bay (panorama)

Ha’ena State Park / Ke’e Beach:  This is my favorite beach in the entire world and what I like to call my “happy place.”  It is such a dramatic view to see the tall mountains that literally sit right on the ocean at the end of the beach.  This is where the famous Na Pali Coast begins, including the epic hiking trail that goes for about eleven miles along the Na’Pali coast.  Ke’e Beach is as close to a perfect place on this planet as anywhere I have ever been, and if it was possible to go and not have to almost fight for a place to park, it would be absolutely perfect.

Ke'e Beach Mountains
The beautiful mountains and lush greenery at Ke’e Beach
Ke'e Beach
Ke’e Beach is protected by a coral reef and is a great place to swim and snorkel.

Hanalei Valley Lookout:  This famous view can be seen just off the side of the road in Princeville.  On our previous trip, my husband and I actually drove along the road seen below for several miles through the back country on a beautiful drive.

Hanalei Valley Overlook
Hanalei Valley Overlook

After our morning at beautiful Ke’e Beach, we came back to the resort, ate the rest of our pizza from the night before, and enjoyed a couple of hours at the pools on the property.  We also enjoyed visiting with another couple from Texas for much of that time, too.

Infinity Pool at the Westin
Infinity pool at the Westin
Oceanside Pool and Hot Tub at the Westin
Oceanside pool and hot tub at the Westin

Anini Beach:  After our nice, relaxing time poolside at the resort, we decided to check out a new-to-us beach nearby that we still had not seen on our two previous trips to Kauai.  The drive to Anini Beach was a beautiful drive, and if we ever go back to Kauai and stay at Princeville, I think we will definitely try to spend some time at this nice beach and possibly try some snorkeling.

Hanalei Dolphin Restaurant:  We discovered this great seafood restaurant in Hanalei on our previous trip in 2008, and we did not hesitate to go back and eat there for our last dinner on the island on this trip.  Once again, the seafood was delicious, and the sunset ambiance along the Hanalei river was so very nice, too.  On our previous trip, in addition to dining here, we also purchased fresh fish from their fish market at the back of the building to grill back at our condo.

Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei
The Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei is one of our favorite places to eat in the area.
Dolphin Restaurant on the Hanalei River
Dolphin Restaurant on the Hanalei River

Hanalei Shopping – Ching Young Village:  After we checked out of our condo the next morning, we took advantage of our remaining time on the island to first buy a few souvenirs in Hanalei at Ching Young Village, where we also purchased some souvenirs on our previous trip.  We found some good quality shirts and hats at a small store there once again.

Kilauea Lighthouse and National Wildlife Refuge:  This is yet another of my favorite places on the island, and I’m glad that we found a few minutes to stop here once again before we had to leave for the airport.  I’m very fond of lighthouses and do not get to see them very often.  This is such a beautiful and peaceful place, and it was a perfect farewell stop for us.  It is one of the most scenic lighthouses in the world, and the bird watching is magnificent, since it is also a wildlife refuge.  It is a popular stop for tourists, for good reason.  We arrived just before 10 am and waited outside the gate until the refuge opened for the day.  That was a great time to visit, since there were few others there that early in the day.

View of Kilauea Lightouse
View of Kilauea Lightouse
Kilauea Lighthouse
Kilauea Lighthouse
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge 1
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge 2
“Bird Island” at Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge 3
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge

Lihue Airport:  One of the best things about arriving and departing from Kauai is the airport itself, in my opinion.  You know you are in paradise when the main areas of the airport are open-air and have beautiful flowers growing all around.

Beautiful flowers at the Lihue Airport
Beautiful flowers inside the Lihue Airport

We grabbed a quick bite of lunch in one of the restaurants at the airport before boarding our next flight to San Francisco and the rest of our trip.  We would soon meet up with our daughter and son-in-law for a beautiful weekend in Big Sur for the first time!

Leaving Kauai
Leaving Kauai

If you would like to read the first post in this series, please read The Flight to Kauai, and if you would like to read the last post in this series, please read Magnificent Big Sur. 🙂

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Making Progress

Making progress toward goals is such a great thing!

I have started writing several blog posts that I am making progress on at this time.  I am excited to share about our recent trip to Kauai and Big Sur, and my post on Kauai is coming along pretty nicely.  Once it is completed, I will share it, then hopefully begin another post about our wonderful weekend in Big Sur for the first time.  I have also started a couple of posts on other topics that I am interested in sharing as well, including a possible new “page” on my site.  Life has been quite busy the past few weeks, and I am headed out of town (weather permitting) for the next two weekends, home two weekends, then gone again for four days over the 4th of July holiday.  While progress may be slow, progress is still progress, and that is a very good thing, at least for me with all of the frequent surprises that often seem to land on my doorstep, often with a sense of urgency attached.

I’m still making progress in other areas of priority, too, which makes me very happy right now.  There have been plenty of times in my life when I desired to make progress in some areas but failed to do so for various reasons.  Thankfully, at this time, some things are working together nicely, and I am so grateful to just make progress in these areas without too many distractions to take me away from my commitments.

My commitment to ongoing bible study is in tact, and I just started a new summer bible study this week.  Since my women’s bible study group does not meet through the summer, I have opted to participate in Beth Moore’s summer bible study that will be supported online for eight weeks, Children of the Day.  This particular study is actually very exciting for me, as I feel that I am part of a nationwide, if not worldwide, group that is studying God’s word together at the same time.  Since I am going out of town this weekend, I have already completed all five homework lessons for this week, and I am hooked, for sure.  This is going to be a great study, and there is plenty of time to join in, for anyone that is interested.  The homework sessions are not quite as intense or time-consuming in this study as compared to some previous Beth Moore studies, which quite welcome for a summer study.  I also purchased the optional audio CD’s so that I can complete all portions of the study this summer.

Children of the Day
Summer bible study – Children of the Day. There is still time to join the study online, too.

My commitment to connect with Christian friends regularly has a new and exciting twist, as I have joined an (in)courage group.  I am excited to see where this new journey takes all of us together and hope to be a faithful contributing member there.  I never cease to be amazed how God works in our lives to bring us together from all parts of the country and the world these days.

My commitment to my eating plan continues to be strong, and I am continuing to lose weight and inches.  I am now entering my sixth full month on the diet, and I feel better than I have felt in years as I slowly but surely inch on down to my first target goal of losing 35 pounds.  Having a new and smaller size wardrobe of summer clothes has been a treat, and it is wonderful to receive nice compliments that encourage my commitment to losing weight and improving my overall health.  Without a doubt, my commitment to regular bible study and prayer has been a factor in keeping the faith and hope that my new eating plan would in fact help bring about these results.  I will be honest and also say that I really have not struggled at all in making this change, which is most definitely an answer to prayer.  God has helped me to just accept this change as a part of my life, and in hindsight, I am truly amazed how simple and satisfying this has been.

My commitment to care for my elderly mother is being renewed, as is her health.  We went through a very difficult and trying time together for the first months of this year after her fall, but slowly, things are turning around for both of us.  I learned much about her present state of mind and health during that time, and I am talking more openly with her about some of this now, especially her depression and her loss of faith and hope.  Her hope in life has been slowly deteriorating over time, but it has become especially acute since her fall in January, despite the fact that she has recovered nicely from the fall.  If you would bless her today, I would appreciate prayers for her that God will help her find her way out of this darkness and back to a better place.  I am going to be talking much more openly with her about matters of faith and hopefully recruiting others to visit her from her church as well.  I pray that God will use me as he will to help her while keeping me silent when I need to do so, and I have turned her situation over to him for safekeeping and care.

My commitment to raising our new puppy well is starting to pay sweet dividends.  Red is almost seven months old, and he is the cutest thing ever!  He is a lovie dovie big ol’ puppy that enjoys sitting right on top of my bare feet while I’m at home.  He insists on being loved on several times a day, and he is my little red shadow all day long, never leaving me alone while I am home.  Red potty trained very well, and he has even learned several commands, despite the fact that I still have not enrolled him in puppy school, something that I hope to do this summer when things hopefully slow down just a bit.  No doubt, he and Girly Girl, who is still my special sweetheart, are going to be such a huge blessing to us and help to mitigate some of the sorrow that I have in not having grandchildren to love on.  God has been good to allow us to raise these two special dogs and have them as life companions, for sure.  There is just nothing like a big ol’ poodle hugs several times a day, and I’m glad that I have two hands to be able to loved on both dogs at once, as they often insist that I do.

Red is such a cutie, especially after a trip to the groomer.

My newest commitment is to try my best to keep our yard, plants and trees alive this summer, as we are now in stage two water restrictions, despite all the wonderful rain that we received two weeks ago.  Our watersheds are still down, and the summer months are the worst months for water usage.  (Our backyard thermometer registered 110 yesterday afternoon!)  So, while we are in such tight restrictions, I am going to work a little harder to try to just maintain our yard as best as I can, working within the restrictions.  We cannot water as much as before, but I am just grateful that we can still water one day each week for now.  The beneficial rains of two weeks ago are certainly buying all of us time and a reprieve from watering, at least for now.  However, with the intense heat that usually hits this time of year, that won’t last long.  Yes, we are still desperately praying for rain.

I took the picture below to show what our yard can look like after a good rain.  Just two short weeks ago, our yard was only half-covered in grass, and it was definitely struggling.  Now it is thriving, thanks to five inches of rain and a timely application of turf builder just as the rains moved in, and we will definitely enjoy it while we can!

Green Backyard
For now, our yard is beautiful after five inches of rain and an application of turf builder.

Making progress is a good thing, especially when making progress has been so hard to do in the past.  God willing, progress (and rain) will continue.  😉

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