Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kauai Camping con Keiki | 2015

We try to go on international trips with the kids every couple years, regional trips every couple months and local trips every couple weeks. Very roughly. But now that we live on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific, it has been all local, until last week. We took advantage of Mommy's spring break and headed out to Kauai for five days of camping, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, cliff jumping, swimming, birding, exploring, 4WDing in our 2WD rental, all that stuff. The short version:

Our entire planned first day was nuked to smithereens by massive rain on the windward coast, so we headed leeward and tried out the whole drive-up-to-a-viewpoint-and-turn-your-back-to-the-scenery-and-get-your-picture-taken thing, which just everybody was doing. It was a pretty ridiculous view.

Waimea canyon.

We dropped by Koke`e State Park to let the fellins chase roosters. Daddy promised to make some fried chicken but the kids were just too slow.

We drove down to Polihale, where we would be camping that night. It's a wild, wide-open 12-mile dune beach at the end of a dirt track. But when we got there there was just a maniacal gale, so just walking to our swimming spot [Queen's pond] resulted in millions of little lacerations on all our exposed skin. It's hard to overstate how windy it was and how stubborn Daddy was to walk across the sandblasting.

Littler does the hula.

Splashes went up. That's how windy it was.

We found a little nook behind a dune that was protected from the wind and set up our tents. The girls found a chunk of plywood and made us a dinner table, complete with a centerpiece. We don't even own a dinner table so we have no clue where they learned about centerpieces.

Our camp spot was right on the beach, so it was not that hard to see a pretty good sunset. There were lots of fellin gyrations going on until well into dusk.

Budsto got hops.

Daddy taking the above pictures.

Before going to bed, Little wrote about the day in her "reflections" book.

In the morning we went back to Queen's pond and it was perfectly still. And yes, Daddy was there too.

Of the many things that just up and flew away the previous day, Bud's swimming noodle was the only one we recovered.

We drove back up along Waimea canyon to Koke`e.

We drove our little rental up a gnarly dirt/rock/mud track that led right into the heart of primary forest in the Alakai wilderness. At one point Daddy had to get out and find a bunch of soil and gravel to fill the road in. Don't tell our rental car company. We hiked the Kawaikoi Stream trail, which was dazzling, looking for some of the rarest birds on earth who make this their home. No luck with birds, but it was sweet nonetheless.

Budsto jumped from rock-to-rock [in slippers] in the most reckless way imaginable. We generally let our kids do just about any dangerous thing they can think of but Daddy felt he had to rescue Bud from himself here.

We camped at Koke`e, which was fantastic except for the 547,374,109,574 roosters that started to crow at 2am.

And it's all cell phone pictures from here on out. Daddy did something just plain stupid and drained the camera's batteries to empty.

The next day we set off on the Pihea trail and hiked down into the Alakai swamp. All told we did over 5 miles in native bush, saw Kauai amakihi, anianiau [which literally say "anianianianiau"], Kauai elepaio and gobs of apapane. None of the extreme rarities that make this area special but it was still a fantastic day. The kids were phenomenal, with Buddy leading the way the whole time.

The Pihea trail has a bit of a view.

We had time to spare when we finished the hike so we drove back up that slippery dirt road and just hung out at the Kawaikoi stream for a couple hours, doing what we do best. Which is to fall into water.

Daddy kept a diligent sentry for puaiohi but didn't see anything.

After another night camping at Koke`e, we drove out to Wailua on the windward side and rented a couple kayaks. We spent most of the day paddling as deep as we could up the Wailua river.

This is a tradition. Whenever we canoe/kayak the kids insist on jumping out even though they always have a ton of trouble getting back in.

We tied up at a pig wallow and ate lunch and generally just hung out, shaka-ing the whole time. This became our designated "special spot" of the trip.

Buddy just hopped right out of the kayak once he noticed that it was manned solely by the girls.

At one point Mommy and Daddy just sat back and relaxed while the girls towed us downstream.

Even the phone batteries died at this point so you get no cliff-jumping pictures. And it's just as well, since cliff-jumping is always more epic in the imagination than in pictures.

The next morning we hiked along the Na Pali coast and watched humpback whales breech out on the open ocean. Once again, the kids hiked like they were born to do it [Buddy just puts his head down and goes and just stops for nothing... well, nothing but humpback whales, which to him are the coolest things in the universe].

And that's it! We did a bit more stuff but this is pretty good as it is. We definitely need to go back, not just to find puaiohi, akeke`e and akikiki [our three missing birds], but to go to Kilauea Point [which we tried to do twice on this trip, but it was closed both times], hike much more in the Na Pali area, get more snorkeling done, etc.

As far as family trips are concerned, this one was hard to beat. And, as a good family trip, we are just more fond of each other now after getting home.