Shave Ice Safari

One of my favorite things about Kaanapali is the Beach Walk. It’s a rare day that doesn’t see us walk there at least a short distance (even if it’s only getting from one part of the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Villas complex to another). Most of the walk is near the beach; lots of it goes past hotels and shopping.

Today, we decided to walk the southern part of the trail. Our goal was Ululani’s Shave Ice at the Hyatt Regency, about three miles away.

We took our time and enjoyed the scenery, flora, and fauna that we saw along the way, starting with these Java Sparrows.

The ocean was a beautiful blue, and so was the sky. Moloka’i and Lanai were visible in the distance.

This is all that’s left of the Keka’a Landing Pier near Black Rock.

We couldn’t ignore the hibiscus flowers blooming all along the path.

It looked like it would be a great day to go parasailing (not that I’m likely to do it!).

In past years, we’ve been able to go the entire distance on pavement or boardwalk, but a large stretch of the beach walk fell into the ocean a couple of months ago! We walked along the beach until the path resumed (we could have taken a detour inland, but what fun would that have been?).

Finally, we reached our goal and enjoyed a delicious (but non-photogenic) shave ice.

We continued on the path until its end at the south edge of the Hyatt property. We went into the Hyatt to enjoy their koi and penguins.

On the way out of the Hyatt, we noticed a cockatoo (Madison) in a cage. Apparently she’s been there for a few years, but I don’t remember seeing her before.

I guess I’m a real sucker for orange hibiscus. Here’s another one.

As we neared our resort, we saw a few more birds of interest – Great Egrets and Common Mynahs.

All in all, we walked more than 10km for shave ice – and it was worth it!

We had a light dinner at Pizza Paradiso at the northern end of the beach walk. We drove there.

Our Seinfeld moment

We flew from Kauai to Maui today. We were entitled to access the Hawaiian Premier Club lounge at Lihue Airport on Kauai; it’s unattended, so you have to scan your boarding pass to get in. I couldn’t get the reader to recognize either of our passes, but fortunately, the passenger in the lounge let us in when she left for her flight; it reminded me of the bad old days of pay toilets.

I felt better when the next passenger arrived and couldn’t get her boarding pass to scan; of course, we let her in. And she let the next person in. And so forth.

Our flight was uneventful, and our bag was waiting for us when we got to baggage claim. I’d gotten a “Carfirmation” from Hertz telling me to go to the Five Star area and take any car, so we did just that. There was only one problem – there weren’t any cars there. Nor in the Gold or President’s Circle areas.

My chat with the agent was only slightly more satisfying than the one in Seinfeld; we got put on a waiting list. Every so often, they’d come out and give someone a car; once in a while, they’d come out and ask if anyone wanted to take a huge truck (we declined). After we’d sat for an hour, they finally gave us a car – a 2019 Impala with well over 40,000 miles on it. I took it.

The infotainment controls were less than self-evident; eventually, I found a way to make the car lift up the console touchscreen and expose a USB port, but there was no way to plug anything into the port and put the touchscreen back down into driving position. I did finally figure out how to get the car to pair to Diane’s phone via Bluetooth, but I couldn’t see her screen well enough to navigate.

We stopped for a quick bite; I searched the web for hints. Eventually, I found the owner’s manual, which had only one page for the infotainment system, telling me to read the infotainment manual. I found that manual and learned that the mysterious “Projection” icon on the touchscreen was the gateway to CarPlay (or Android Auto) – but I still had to figure out where the USB ports were, and the manual was silent about that. Back to the web, where I found the answer thanks to a Chevy dealer near Wichita, Kansas – the ports are in a hard-to-see location in the center console. And then we were all set.

Things improved from there. The line at Safeway was short, our room was ready for us when we arrived, so it was still early enough to go to Snorkel Bob and rent gear for the week. We had dinner with our friends from California who are also staying here – they even did the cooking!

All is well.

Albatross!

Today, we paid the price for Wednesday’s 2-for-1 helicopter ride deal by going to our timeshare’s Owners’ Update presentation. We had no intention of buying more points, but I did want to find out about the changes from the Marriott Vacation Club/Vistana (Westin) merger. Our agent, John, described his role as “marketing”, and he took us through the entire merged portfolio and the options it gave us, none of which actually required us to spend more money.

So far, so good. Then he started explaining what we could do if we did spend money and buy more points, and then he brought in his sales manager to run some numbers. By this point, we were two hours into our 90-minute commitment, and I have to admit that I was considering the deal, especially with the incentives she dangled. Diane was less eager, and we decided to go back to our room and look at the Vistana website to see what the additional points would buy.

That gave me a chance to look at my email, where I found an email from Vistana with some details about the new program. I discovered that we were going to be put into the new program at the same level as we would have gotten by buying the points; I also discovered that I couldn’t find out how many new points it would cost us to take the trips we usually take to the timeshare. So we decided not to buy anything and went back to “check out”.

It took a while for the final person to come and talk to us, but that conversation was less than five minutes (of course there was one more offer, but it was easy to refuse).

We left the resort and finally had lunch at Lotus Garden in the nearby Princeville Center; both of us had the Ono Thai Curry, which was interesting, but not thrilling.

Diane suggested we go to the Kilauea Lighthouse. We’d tried to go on our previous Kauai visit in 2017, but it was closed. I went to the website and made the necessary reservation and we drove over.

Somehow, we hadn’t realized that the site wasn’t just the lighthouse; it was a wildlife refuge, too! We parked and walked up to the main viewing area – we were a few hundred yards from a large colony of red-footed boobies (a bird we’d barely seen in the Galapagos).

The refuge includes Moku’ae’ae Island, which showed signs of frequent bird visitations.

I spent a long time trying to get a clear photo of a Leysan Albatross (Mōlī); it was only after I got back to the room and looked at the photos that I discovered it was one of the first birds I’d photographed on the visit.

There were others, though, like the White-tailed Tropicbird (Koa’e kea).

I finally got a fairly clear picture of the red-footed booby in flight!

The Great Frigatebird was also familiar from our Galapagos adventure.

And here’s the lighthouse itself (they don’t allow visitors to enter any more).

It was too early to go back to the resort, so we headed for another ocean viewpoint at Kaiakea Point, just north of Kapa’a. We parked and walked down to the Ke Ala Hele Makālae path and started going south.

There was a beautiful rainbow to our North; I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an omen.

The path is supposed to be a good place to see dolphins and whales. We didn’t see any, but there was interesting vegetation like this Portia tree.

We turned around and started back – and the sky opened up. There was no thunder or lightning, so we took shelter under a path-side tree and waited for the squall to move on.

We drove back to Kilauea and had dinner at the Kilauea Fish Market: ahi wraps. It was very good.

We’re packed up (mostly) for our flight to Maui tomorrow morning. Onward!

Flowers and Sculptures

We spent the morning at Na ‘Aina Kai (“Lands by the Sea”) Botanical Gardens and Sculpture Park. They mostly offer guided tours, but on Thursday morning, you can walk around the place (well, just the “Formal Gardens”) on your own, though they did give us a useful brochure and there were lots of docents to guide you.

The property was built by Ed and Joyce Doty; it was a flat cattle pasture when they bought it in the late 1970s but they built lagoons, hills, ponds, and turned it into a botanical garden, which they eventually deeded to a non-profit foundation and opened to the public.

The grounds are filled with flowers and sculptures – here are a few of my favorites from today’s visit.

We stayed at the gardens until they closed at noon, then we drove to Hanalei for lunch at Tiki Tzatziki and shave ice at Jojo’s Shave Ice in the Ching Young Shopping Center. We wandered around the center for an hour or so; I was glad to see that it had survived the 2018 storm.

On the way back to the resort, we stopped at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge scenic overlook and saw the taro fields we’d seen on our helicopter ride yesterday.

We finished the day with dinner at The Bistro in Kilauea; I’m pretty sure we were seated at the same table we’d had in 2017. Happily, the food was still good.

Up in the air

We had lunch today at Chicken in a Barrel BBQ in Kapa’a. It was probably the least expensive meal we’ll have on Kauai, but it was tasty and popular, even with the chickens who are all over the island (there were “don’t feed the chickens” signs in the seating area).

After lunch, we took a short stroll along the beach path and admired other wild birds.

We were in Kapa’a on our way to Lihue to take a scenic helicopter ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters – it was great. I took a lot of photos, but many of them were ruined by reflections (I guess I should have worn long pants!). Here are a few of the ones which survived.