Running Away For Mother’s Day

May always brings Mother’s Day and my birthday about a week later, and May also seems to be a good time for Hubby to take off from work, and we’ve definitely learned that it is advantageous to visit popular summer destinations in May before vacation crowds hit.  Taking a long trip in May, then again around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, works well for us these days, and we use our remaining vacation days with weekends and holidays in the RV the rest of the year.  Combining days off with weekends and holidays has helped us to really maximize our travel opportunities and keep Hubby from losing so many vacation days each year.

As we discussed where to go and what to do for our week of vacation in May this year, I told Hubby that all I wanted to do was be gone on Mother’s Day weekend and hopefully the following week, if possible.  I didn’t care where we went, as long as I didn’t have to spend that weekend at home for my first Mother’s Day without my mom.  I suspected that this would be a hard time, and I was correct in that assumption.  I probably even underestimated how hard it is right now leading up to this first Mother’s Day without Mom.  The closer we get to Mother’s Day, the harder it is for me.  I swear that Mother’s Day ads are everywhere!  Mom’s marker was finally updated with her date of death last week, and that only seemed to really drive home the point that she is truly gone in my mind.  It was really hard to drive out to the cemetery to take the updated photos, and I bawled like a baby while I was there.  Fortunately, no one else was around to watch.

As we discussed travel options for our May trip a few weeks ago, we were looking forward to possibly finding yet another new RV destination to explore.  We started discussing some options to visit a new Texas state park or two in the RV or even fly back to Denver and see Rocky Mountain National Park again, as well as more of the Denver area.  We even talked about booking a cruise.  There were pros and cons of each option.  Then, out of the blue, Hubby suggested a Hawaii do-over.

I first thought Hubby was kidding, and I reminded him that we just went to Kauai last year.  After my mom fell early last year and fractured her hip, we completely cancelled our initial plans for a 35th anniversary trip consisting of a week in Kauai, followed by a weekend in the bay area to see the kids.  A few months later, though, after she healed faster and better than expected, we re-booked a trip fairly last-minute in May, but we were only able to spend two days in Kauai before heading to the San Francisco area for the weekend and touring Big Sur with the kids.  It was a great trip, especially our weekend with the kids when I felt much better, but we were both a little disappointed to not have spent more time in Hawaii as we originally planned.  In addition to only having two days there, I was sick at my stomach for the entire five-hour flight from Los Angeles, that first night in Kauai, and part of our first day on the island.

Still, despite everything, we truly enjoyed our brief time in Kauai and even dined at one of our favorite little restaurants on our last night on the island after my stomach settled down for good.

Welcome to Kauai

Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge 3
Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai
Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park
Famous Kalalau Lookout at Kokee State Park

Even though we adore Kauai, we decided to look at another island destination this time, since we visited Kauai last year, as brief as it was.  Our second favorite island is Maui, so we looked at some lodging options and found what we believe will be a great one-bedroom condo for us for the week.  We prefer condos when visiting Hawaii, and this should be a nice resort experience, suitable for the anniversary trip we really wanted last year.  We have not visited Maui in about twenty years, when we took the kids on an island-hopping trip and saw Oahu, Kauai, Maui and Hawaii.  What a fun trip that was, too.

We’ve both had a pretty rough year so far, and it will be good to just get away and hopefully decompress.  I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as far as estate matters are concerned and closed my part on the rent house on Tuesday afternoon.  After some out-of-town family members sign their documents and return them to the title company, the house will finally be mine.  Hubby is nearing the completion of some extra job duties he temporarily inherited last year when another manager quit unexpectedly.  The timing for that development was just terrible for him, but he made the most of it and did a great job, cleaning up a huge mess that the manager left behind, all while we dealt with Mom’s illness and passing.

I think I’ve underestimated what Mom’s passing has been like for my hubby, too.  His mother passed away over a decade ago, so my Mom was our Mom for all that time.  She spent all of her holidays with us, not just me, and I think he wants to just run away somewhere for the week like I do.  We know what the first year is like after losing a parent, since we’ve done it three times before this year.  It is just hard, so hard.  I have also learned that after the first year, it does seem to get better, or at least be more tolerable, since all of the “first times without the parent” are finally over.  New routines will have time to start developing, estate matters will be done, and life can go on.  I know it’s going to be much different this year, though, since we no longer have any living parents.  It is very different so far, to be perfectly honest, and it may take both of us longer to adapt this time.  We’ll see.

Anyway, we are going to disappear for a week to paradise, leaving on the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  I am so grateful that we can go back to Hawaii, especially right now.  I have much to be thankful for these days, especially my hubby and my little family that I love with all my heart.  While I wish we could all be together this week, just like we did a few years ago in Kauai in this same week, but perhaps we will find a way to make it happen sometime in the future.  Our goal for this trip is to just relax and have some fun.

Leaving Kauai

I never expected to return to Hawaii this year.  Hawaii is a trip we only make every five years or so, if not longer.  Hubby outdid himself this year by suggesting we go back, and I’m looking forward to a special week with him, for sure.  Kauai (and Hawaii in general) is one of my all-time favorite “happy” places, and Hubby loves it there, too.  It’s pretty much impossible to not be happy while in Hawaii, and I hope that proves to be true once again on this trip.

I have scheduled one post for next week about our most recent RV trip to Lake Colorado City State Park, but I will most likely be offline until we return to moderate comments and read posts by others.  See you in a week, and Happy Mother’s Day!

D
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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.  😉

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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
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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.

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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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The Flight to Kauai

One of the most challenging parts of our recent trip to Kauai was simply getting there.  We had to change our outgoing flights three times, including a last-minute change due to a large snowstorm that hit the Denver area and could possibly have delayed or canceled our flight from there onto Kauai.  The airline was very good to work with us and allowed us to make the changes without any fees, including that last-minute change, since we had a good reason each time to make the needed changes.  Unfortunately, making the change to go through Houston instead of Denver caused us to lose almost a full day in Kauai, but we made the decision to make that change in hopes of just getting there and not get caught in the middle of the snowstorm in Colorado, which dumped a foot of snow in the Denver area.  It was a good decision.

We left on Monday afternoon and first flew to Houston, where we spent the night in a hotel near the airport.  Our flight was almost an hour late arriving at Bush Intercontinental, though, so we ended up having a late dinner with our dear friends that live in the area.  We ate at Pappasito’s Cantina, which is always a treat, to be sure, as we do not have one in our area.  I had the Shrimp Brochette, which was legal on my diet and so very good.

Pappasito’s Famous Shrimp Brochette – “A skewer of mesquite-grilled shrimp, stuffed with cheese & fresh jalapenos, wrapped in bacon with pico de gallo”

We had a nice visit with our friends, and just as we finished our dinner and headed to our hotel for the night, the rain began to fall.  I think it rained all night, which was quite welcome in that area.  As we left on the airport shuttle bus the next morning, it was still raining just a bit, but several roads in the area were apparently flooded, as it rained almost 3.5″ overnight!  Fortunately, we made it to the airport without any delays, and our flight to Los Angeles left right on time around 9 am.  I later learned that several flights that left after our flight were delayed, though.

Houston Rain
Raining in Houston

The flight to LAX was uneventful, which is always a good thing.  Hubby napped and I listened to some great tunes that I had downloaded from Spotify, which is a new thing for me and something that I am truly enjoying, I might add.  It is well worth the $10 each month for me.  I think we also flew over Meteor Crater on the way, too.

Meteor Crater Arizona
I think this was Meteor Crater in Arizona, as seen from our plane

When we arrived at LAX, we decided to find a place to eat lunch, which proved to be quite a challenge.  I had not been to LAX in many years, and honestly, I don’t care if I ever go there again after our horrible experience on this trip.  We were relegated to a very small area in the terminal that was extremely crowded with few options for dining.  After checking out our options, which took only about five minutes, we decided to eat at a 50’s style diner.  The food was terrible and very overpriced, and I ate only about three bites of my burger.  That was likely three bites too many because in about an hour, I started to feel quite sick at my stomach.

Our layover at LAX was just under five hours, and it was a miserable time there, to be sure.  It was about 100 degrees outside on that day, and part of the airport had no air conditioning, including a long hallway that went to our next gate area.  It was so miserably hot, and I started to feel even sicker for that reason.  Fortunately, when we finally made it to the gate area, the air conditioning was working well.  We waited there for about an hour, then boarded our flight to Lihue, Kauai.

As we boarded the flight, we quickly discovered that there was no air conditioning on the plane, and my heart just sank.  I had just started to feel a bit better, but after only ten minutes on that hot plane, my stomach started up with a vengeance once again.  I got up and went back out to the gate area for about fifteen minutes while they finished loading passengers, but then I had to get back on the plane as that task was completed.  I have never, ever been on such a hot plane.  The unit that was to cool the plane while it was on the ground was not working, or that was the excuse that was given to us, and I guess they had no problem loading us on a plane that was 100 degrees inside.

The first three hours of that six-hour flight were horrible, as the plane never really cooled off during that time.  Fortunately, about three hours into the flight, we heard a compressor kick on, and the plane finally started to cool off.  I must sadly say that our cabin crew was bad, too.  I have never had a stewardess refuse to get me a simple drink of water until this trip, but that actually happened.  On the entire six-hour flight, I only managed to get two small cups of water.  I learned a valuable lesson on that flight, and I will never get on a plane again without buying a bottle of water before I get on the plane.  In fact, we will also make sure that we buy food to take along on longer flights, too, as the food to purchase on the flight looked very unappealing, and many people just passed, despite the fact that we were in the air for just over six hours.  Lesson learned – do not rely on the airline to provide food and drinks, no matter how long the flight is.

By the time we arrived in Lihue, about 7 pm Hawaii time and midnight our time, I was pretty dehydrated and very miserable.  However, it still did not reduce my joy to just be back on the island once again.  It was cloudy and cool when we arrived, and the open-air airport is always a treat, and immediately you feel that you are a million miles from the rest of the world.  I waited with our bags just outside baggage claim while Hubby picked up our rental car, and it was wonderful to just breathe in the cool, moist air and realize we had finally made it back to paradise once again.

Welcome to Kauai
The welcome sign at the airport in Lihue

Fortunately, we spent our first night at the beautiful Marriott, which was only a ten minute drive from the airport.  I was never so glad to see a hotel room and comfy bed in my life either.  Hubby got me a cold drink from a vending machine across the hall, and after I sipped on it and took some nausea medicine, I finally felt much better and slept well that night once my stomach finally settled down.

Thankfully, the rest of our flights on the trip were very nice, and all of the equipment worked just fine.  However, if we ever go back to Kauai again, I will do everything I can to avoid connecting through LAX.  The connection through San Francisco was so much better.  SFO is a beautiful, well-equipped airport, and LAX does not even fall in the same category, in my opinion.  I miss the direct flight on Continental to Hawaii from Houston, but I guess that is now a thing of the past.  That flight was so much fun, and the cabin crew always dressed up in mumus and leis to really make the flight a lot of fun with outstanding service.  There was no such fun on this horrible flight, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirit once we finally arrived in Kauai.

In a future post, I will share about our time in Kauai, both on this trip and a couple of previous trips.

Update 6/26/14:  If you would like to continue on this trip journey with me, read Two Days in Kauai and Magnificent Big Sur!😉

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A Wonderful Vacation

We returned from our vacation yesterday afternoon and wasted no time in picking up our special four-legged family members who were very glad to see us after being gone for a week.  In a small way, seeing the excitement of our special pups once again made coming home a little easier to tolerate after such an incredibly fun and memorable vacation.  The trip started off a little rocky for me, due to an upset stomach on the day we flew to Kauai, but thankfully, it passed quickly.  I won’t deny that I was quite miserable on our flights that day, though.

Big Sur
Big Sur near Ragged Point

The weather was gorgeous every day of our trip in both Kauai and California, and despite the fact that we stayed in six different hotels in seven nights, we really had a great time and don’t feel too terribly tired now that we are finally home once again.  We made the most of our time in both places, while still enjoying some nice down time in Hawaii, too.  My birthday was last Friday, and it was fabulous to spend the first part of the day in Hawaii, then fly to San Francisco where my daughter and her hubby were waiting for us at the airport that night.  We all made a road trip to Big Sur on Saturday and Sunday, which was a lot of fun.  We stayed at a beautiful place on Saturday night that had some outstanding views of the ocean and cliffs, and we also celebrated my birthday with a gourmet meal that evening.  We even got to hike for a couple of hours at a beautiful state park there on Sunday afternoon, which we all definitely enjoyed.

Nenes
Nenes (endangered) on our lanai in Kauai

As always, good vacations are just too short, and this was definitely the case for us on this trip.  I would really love to just spend about a month in Kauai and now have that goal as a little “bucket list” thing that perhaps we can do after we retire in years down the road.

Hanalei Valley
Beautiful Hanalei Valley at Princeville

I will try to share more information about our trip and some of the beautiful sites soon.  Kauai was not a new destination for us, as we have now been there three times, and hopefully this will not be our last time either because I dearly love Kauai.  However, Big Sur was a new destination for us and one that we truly loved, too.  Our daughter and her husband go there often, and it was nice to have such knowledgeable “tour guides” to drive and tell us all about the area.  But more than that, it was just nice to simply spend some quality time with them again.

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Remembering How to Pack a Suitcase

This past weekend, I started to pack my bags.  That may seem like a pretty benign statement to make, but it turned out to be a little more difficult than I anticipated.

Two and a half years ago, we began to travel mostly by RV for the first time.  We often tent camped in our early married years before we had kids, but traveling by RV was a totally new experience for us.  I quickly discovered that I needed good checklists to keep from forgetting things that we needed, such as food.  Yes, we actually took off on a weekend trip in the beginning and forgot to get some of the food out of our refrigerator and home and transfer it to the RV.  That is when we vowed to work by checklists in the future, too.  But, after a few trips, we finally got the hang of packing everything we needed pretty much without fail.  Since then, if we want to bring something along, we just throw it in and take it with us.

In just under a week, we are taking our first non-RV trip in almost three years.  I flew out to the bay area of California two years ago for a long weekend to see my daughter, but this will be our first week-long trip together in that time frame.  Hubby travels routinely on business, so he packs a carry-on bag regularly.  Me… not so much.

We are going to be “on the move” for pretty much the entire week, staying at six hotels in seven nights.  We are also visiting two different climate areas, from what I can tell at this point.  So, it didn’t take me long to realize that trying to pack for such a trip in one carry-on bag was pretty much an impossible task.  We had decided to not check any bags on this trip, if at all possible, so I really tried very hard to test pack my bag and make it work.

Long story short… it did not work.

The main issue for us on this upcoming trip is packing for both beach and mountains and the need to take along warmer clothes and shoes, just in case we need them.  So, last night, we finally resigned ourselves to the fact that we will need to check one bag for the trip.  It will not be a problem, unless the bag gets delayed and they attempt to try to catch up with us once we are on our way.  It has happened before, including two lost bags over the years, but I will hope for the best this time, especially since my brand new Keen hiking shoes will be in that bag.

I honestly think it is easier to pack the RV, including food, cleaning supplies, bicycles, motorcycle and other things we like to take along than it is to pack an itty-bitty bag for a week-long trip, even if you add a second checked bag!  But, it is always nice to travel light once it is done, too.

We are so looking forward to this trip!  We actually cancelled this trip after my mother fell back in January, as all signs seemed to point to the fact that she would most likely be discharged from skilled nursing the same week as the trip.  It broke my heart to cancel, too, as it is a celebratory trip for us.  We are celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, my birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and will also have an early celebration with our daughter the last weekend of our trip for her 30th birthday in July.  We are so blessed to have been able to reschedule the trip a couple of weeks ago, and it is pretty remarkable how it all worked out with the airline, too.  I believe a little divine intervention may have been involved because it seldom works out so well for us with the frequent flier miles.

Kauai Sunset
Kauai sunset – May 2008 – taken from the front lawn of our condo

This will be our third trip to Kauai.  Kauai is what I refer to as my “happy place.”  If you ever go there, it is not hard to see why either.  I.  Love.  Kauai!  We will have three glorious days and nights there before heading back to San Francisco, then down to Big Sur for the first time with our daughter and son-in-law.

I’m so excited… I just can’t hide it!  😀

 

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