Meanwhile, Julie went to return the unused boogie board (knowing that it was unlikely Tahia would get to play in the water tomorrow), and when we returned to the room, she told us that it was quite festive down at street level.
I guess it was that thing where we could be suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), but then again, was it worth contracting COVID-19 (assuming we didn’t have it already) by being within the action?
- Day 1 (November 18, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Diminishing Returns and Immediate Successes”
- Day 2 (November 19, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Not Spring Moa Anymore”
- Day 3 (November 20, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Heiau, Heiau!”
- Day 4 (November 21, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Fitting In”
- Day 5 (November 22, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Vegas-like Atmosphere”
- Day 6 (November 23, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Lepto Risks”
- Day 7 (November 24, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Leaving It On The Table”
- Day 8 (November 25, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Low Key Ending”
- Day 9 (November 26, 2021 – Los Angeles, California): “Cutting It Close”
Day 1 (November 18, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Diminishing Returns and Immediate Successes”
It was 4am when we awoke, which was about a half-hour earlier than my typical workday. But perhaps even more surprising was that Tahia actually got herself up at this early hour.
Clearly, she was looking forward to going to Hawaii for her first time.
It was a hectic hour as Julie still had some last-minute packing to do while I was getting the stuff that was charging into my personal carry-on items as we were trying to maximize the likelihood of not needing to check anything in except for Julie’s large luggage, which stored all our liquids like shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash as well as snorkel gear among other things.
After trying to clean out the fridge over breakfast and some munchies for the airport and plane, we ultimately left the house at a little after 5am and then we pretty much got to the familiar LAX shuttle vendor, which was no longer the 105 Airport Parking.
It was now called the South Bay Airport Parking with a dramatically different logo and color scheme (probably because their previous branding was too close to their competitors at LAX).
However, when it was around 7:25am-ish, we overheard on the PA that the Pre-clear wristbands were being distributed at the United Airlines customer service kiosk around the corner and not at our gate. And when we swung around to their customer service kiosk, we saw that the line wrapped around a corner and there was no way we would make it to our flight if we were to wait in this line.
So we decided to cut our losses and just show our QR codes and vaccination records and stuff at the Lihue Airport. We didn’t think that we would be able to wait for this line and still make it to our flight before they close the gates despite the gate clerk saying he won’t close the doors until 8am.
Thus, we eventually were one of the first of group 3 to board our plane to Kaua’i at around 7:45am, and so we had no trouble getting our carry-ons in our overhead compartment as well as my day pack and Julie’s day pack in a single slot of the overhead locker on the opposite side of the aisle.
The flight would eventually take off at around 8:15am as scheduled, and it pretty much went uneventfully as all of us were in and out of dozing off given how little sleep we had been getting throughout this week (especially me).
Eventually by about 12:20pm Hawaii time, we landed in the Lihue Airport without incident. And after waiting patiently to deplane, we then promptly walked towards the line to check out vaccine status via the QR code from Safe Travels Hawaii.
The queue actually wasn’t more than maybe 6 parties deep, and the part that the wristbanded passengers through pre-clear would have cut past was actually non-existent.
Julie and I were thinking that all those people waiting in that huge line to get their pre-clear wristbands would have waited at least more than 30 minutes or so, and here we were already about to get past the safe travels filter before getting to the baggage claim and finally getting to the shuttle to get to the Avis office at 12:40pm.
Indeed, by about 12:55pm, we finally got our rental car and after loading up the rather spacious compact car, we were off headed towards Wailua Falls as I was thinking that we mind as well get this trip started straight away.
After all, I always say that the trip doesn’t begin until we see our first waterfall, and Wailua Falls was pretty close to the Lihue Airport anyways.
And by the time we got to Wailua Falls at 1:15pm, the main car park was crowded (not surprisingly) and so we made a U-turn and started to do some what others had already done by trying to park in some informal shoulders down the road. We were actually somewhat protruding near a rough pullout by the end of the fencing that was put there to discourage people from going down to the bottom (just so people should be able to go around us since we didn’t expect to stay here for long).
So once we got out of the car, we then quickly walked towards the roadside railing with a partial and semi-overgrown view of the familiar Wailua Falls.
There was actually a rainbow that was visible a little further downstream of the mist of the waterfall itself, and as we were there, we also saw that some people were scrambling up amongst the trees from behind the other side of the fencing. That kind of piqued my curiosity even more just to see how bad that scramble was to get to the bottom.
It didn’t take long for the family to get their fill of the overlook of Wailua Falls, but as more and more people were getting to the fencing to see whether or not they should go down, I saw the barricade that one couple hopped, and I went ahead and did that now that I saw that from there, it’s pretty straightforward to make it down to where I saw the couple go up.
From there, that couple I saw hopping the fence followed me as I was slowly making my way down the steepest part of the descent. There were other young people going up that seemed to have come from foreign countries (so I guess our borders are open to Europeans now), and they confirmed that this steep section was probably the worst past of the scramble.
And I could see that care was required as I really had to evaluate where to put my weight considering how muddy and slippery the roots and available “footholds” were. There were also rope to help with holding onto something as leverage if a tree root wasn’t available (though some of those roots and branches were loose).
Once I got down to the bottom of this nearly vertical part of the descent, I then saw more rope that kind of guided me towards my right before going down to the left as there was a more obvious trail at this point. The trail wasn’t a walk in the park because it was still slippery and muddy in spots with some degree of erosion, but at least the steepness was nowhere near the initial stretch.
Eventually, I got towards the bottom of this “benign” stretch where there was another fairly steep section that could really end badly if it was too muddy from rain or if you weren’t careful with where you chose your steps. Indeed, this wasn’t really a hike in my mind as it was more of an adventurous scramble, and there’s definitely a difference here.
Regardless, I found some rope and some roots and did a similar deliberately slow descent as I went backwards while utilizing the rope and the roots to eventually get down to the last of the “trail”. From there, I then went carefully towards the rocky and rooty base around the opposite side of the large plunge pool before Wailua Falls just as one woman went past and became an inadvertent photo subject for me.
Like the top, there was also a nice afternoon rainbow lifting just above the large plunge pool and there were a handful of people that were already nearly behind the waterfall. There had to have been between 6 to 12 people down at the base though I looked up and couldn’t see where the people would be looking down at the falls would be though I knew they were atop that cliff off to the left of the falls.
Anyways, it was definitely a satisfying experience down here and I went ahead climbed onto a large rock to get my videos and photos before I got my fill of the waterfall and headed back up so I wouldn’t keep Julie and Tahia waiting too long.
At least going up was a bit easier than going down since I could see where to place my hands and feet as I evaluated which way to go up the tricky spots, but once I got up to the initial descent (now final ascent), I decided to go left instead of right, which went around some bluff.
This route was a bit muddier but it was less vertical. And it ultimately got me to climb up towards the backside of the fencing and locked gate. From there, instead of going left towards our parked car, which was more overgrown, I just backtracked to the right to go back over the barricade, and then backtrack to the car.
By 2pm, I rejoined Julie and Tahia, telling them that this scramble wasn’t that bad compared to others that we had done. However, I could see how in this liability-fearing state with their screwed up slip-and-fall laws placing responsibility on the landowners instead of the indidivual choosing to do something (whatever happened to you proceed at your own risk?), things can easily go badly if someone not as experienced with hiking does a misstep, get injured, and then decide to try to sue the state or landowner to try to capitalize on our messed up laws in general (though especially so in Hawaii).
Anyways, we then proceeded to drive back towards the Kuhio Highway (just as there seemed to be even more cars en route to Wailua Falls), and then we headed north to go to this locals spot called Konohiki so we could get a bit of an ahi poke fix as well as some ginger fried chicken (and even some kind of butter mochi cake). We got there at about 2:20pm where there was quite a bit of traffic on the Kuhio Highway so we had to time when to make that left turn into the unassuming plaza that didn’t seem to see as many tourists as it was really more locals here instead.
There weren’t any picnic tables or whatnot to eat the foot so we just used one of the concrete barricades by the laundromat next door and then just stood up and ate the food instead of baking in the car or idling the car to run the AC while eating.
By 2:40pm, we then got back into the hot car and proceeded to drive back into the main part of Lihue where we stopped by a Safeway at 2:55pm to get some basic groceries and water jugs. This wasn’t Iceland where we could just drink straight from the tap. Now, we had to be mindful of where we drink water since it’s more bacteria-prone and hot here, and so we had to get over our plastic pollution guilt when we bought 4 big jugs (at least we brought our stainless steel water bottles or Julie’s Sagan filter bottles to fill them up with).
We also picked up some fruits and eggs and other basic stuff so we eventually paid our $60+ worth of groceries and then at 3:25pm finally headed down to the Sheraton Kauai, where we were going to be staying for the four nights that we were staying on the island of Kaua’i.
It was a surprisingly longer-than-expected drive to finally get down to Po’ipu where we then had to check in to the Sheraton at 3:55pm. But this check-in took a bit of time because they were very strict about showing our QR codes through Safe Travels Hawaii. Apparently we have to do another trip or profile to go from here to O’ahu on Monday.
Finally at 4:20pm, we finally parked and started to unload into our room, which was actually on what appeared to be a new part of the Sheraton. It wasn’t the long sprawling part with extensive garden that Julie and I remembered when we were last here 15 years ago! We were well aware that the big pool on that side was under construction and wouldn’t be available for Tahia during this trip and so she’d have to settle on a smaller pool on our side of the road.
Anyways, after getting settled and changed, we got back into the car at 5pm. And then we proceeded to drive towards Nawiliwili where Julie had made a reservation for this place called Hualani’s. The drive there seemed like a stroll through another row of resorts, but we’d eventually get to Hualani’s at 5:35pm where we had to valet and then we proceeded to check out the view from the balcony towards the ocean above the dining area.
Once we got down there, we then promptly got seated and got into our dinner where we actually ordered quite a bit of food – coconut shrimp (that Tahia didn’t really want), a kid’s burger, a whole fried snapper, and a seared Ahi tuna dish.
Indeed the food really hit the spot though we thought that the snapper could have used sweet chili (like the coconut shrimp did) instead of the soy sauce that kind of reminded me of eating fried or stinky tofu.
We topped it all off with a dessert of their chocolate lava cake with ice cream, and throughout the dinner, we were enjoying the views, taking pictures while waiting for the food, and checking out the full moon (making me aware of the surf conditions) as well as the planes landing at the adjacent Lihue Airport.
By 7:15pm, Hualani’s was actually quite busy at this time, and I was glad that we were done with dinner so we could had back to the Sheraton.
The drive was a bit darker than I expected so I definitely had to use the high beam from time to time, and we ultimately got back to our room at 8pm where we could finally crash for the night knowing that it felt more like 10pm as opposed to 8pm thanks to the jetlag.
Day 2 (November 19, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Not Spring Moa Anymore”
It was just before 4:30am when I awoke, which preceded my alarm because I heard mouse clicking, and that meant Tahia had also gotten up to try to sneak in Roblox time on my computer.
I immediately put a stop to that and it turned out that we all got up without problem considering that our bodies were still used to LA time, which was 2 hours ahead of Hawaii time at this time of year.
Anyways, we then got to our errands of making our quick breakfast of eggs and kefir while Julie wisely foresaw us needing picnic sandwiches and made some of that.
Then by 6am, while it was still dark outside under a full moon, we got in the car and started the long drive out to Waipa Park and Ride just past Hanalei Town on Kauai’s North Shore.
Even though the GPS said it was only about 24 miles from here to there, it was still going to take nearly 90 minutes, and that would put us right into my 7:30am shuttle bus departure time.
And so we promptly made the drive as it gradually started to get light out some time after we got past Kapa’a. The roads looked like there lots of cones and construction zones.
There were also lots of cars on the road already, but I suspected that the majority of them were driving to work.
As we made it past the turnoff for Kilauea Town, I was on the lookout for Kalihiwai Falls, but now I could see that the pullouts or shoulders that I was used to seeing 15 years ago looked overgrown.
The lines were also seemingly repainted to not allow any parking on the road, and so I thought to myself that perhaps it wouldn’t be a good idea to try to take a picture of the falls on this trip.
Eventually by 7:20am, we made it to the Waipa Park and Ride, where there were already quite a few cars parked here. There was one person who was directing where to park, and that was where we stopped the car as I got out of the car with my readied pack with 2 30oz bottles of water.
Julie made sure that I had a sandwich for me, and by the time I got my QR code for the shuttle bus and went to the line, Julie made sure that I got a sandwich. She was also telling me other stuff about being careful on the trail and other things that she’d usually tell Tahia, and this wasn’t lost on one woman sitting near the front who told me with a chuckle, “OK Mom”.
I told Julie that I expected to be back around 11am and that I’d text her when I’d get back, but I also learned that the shuttle wouldn’t be running between 12 and 1:30 so I thought to myself that I needed to get back by 12 and that 4 hours would be plenty of time to do so.
Shortly thereafter, the bus took off, and we eventually got to a parking area under some impressive pali and a garden at around 7:50am. I didn’t remember parking here before, and I suspected that we’d have to hike a little to get to the familiar Kalalau Trailhead. There was someone who worked here that said the hike to the beach and back was 3 hours while the hike to the waterfall would be 6 hours.
Based on that, I realized that perhaps I should have told Julie that I probably wouldn’t be back until well after the 11am that I had expected and now she was probably going to unnecessarily wait for me. But without cell reception here, there was no way I could let her know about it.
By 7:55am, I started the hike, which went through a pretty scenic boardwalk between tall cliffs and a garden area before going through a conventional dirt path underneath the shade of trees.
It didn’t take long before we got to the Kalalau Trailhead, where I noticed some people heading towards the beach and then realizing that the Kalalau Trail was actually more inland than that. Meanwhile, I just went right through the familiar trailhead’s signed shelter and then proceeded onto the long and slippery climb that instantly reminded me of how strenuous this hike was.
It didn’t take long before I was already sweating bullets, but at least it was nice and quiet save for the odd helicopter as there were already those scenic chopper flights breaking the silence from time to time. I didn’t recall this hike being that quiet before, but then again, we had more of a late morning afternoon hike back then.
The hike continued in its muddy, undulating conditions as the first two miles were going in and out of a couple minor gullies, but finally at around 8:35am, I made it to the 1-mile point of the hike, which was pretty much past the initial uphill climb that took up the better part of the first half-mile.
Ten minutes later, I got my first glimpse of the familiar profile of Na Pali Coast, which was shortly after a bluff that rounded a corner with a view towards a beach back in the other direction.
At this point, it felt like the trail only had short stretches of climbing but I was definitely sweating profusely by now and my shirt was already a soaking mess, which also messed up my notebook as my shirt had soaked through.
In hindsight, I should have put it in my camera bag.
At 9:10am, I finally made the descent towards the Hanakapi’ai Stream, where there were more attractive views of the Na Pali Coast as well as Hanakapi’ai Beach.
There were quite a few people down here apparently trying to figure out how to get across the stream without getting wet (as most of them had boots or shoes on instead of water shoes like the KEENs that I was wearing).
I was on the lookout for the familiar death tally sign of people who have drowned at Hanakapi’ai Beach, but I didn’t see it. I wondered if they moved it or they got rid of it altogether.
Anyways, I took some time to get the trekking poles out of my pack and then proceeded to wade through the stream without worrying about trying to stay dry. I recalled the last time I did this hike, I figured out how to get across while staying dry just like most of these people (with the aid of trekking poles), but I decided not to bother this time around and just go through.
Immediately after the stream, I then saw the sign pointing inland towards both Hanakapi’ai Falls and Kalalau Trail. There were a pair of women who weren’t sure where to continue the hike as they probably went down to the beach and realized that the trail dead-ended there. I recalled a similar confusion when Julie and I were there 15 years ago.
Anyways, I promptly went inland past a pair of helicopter landing sites as the trail was still somewhat well-defined as it made its way through more jungle with some bamboo trees as well as some rocky spots.
The trail was narrower than the first couple of miles of the trail, but at least it was easy to follow.
By about 9:50am, I got to the first stream crossing up the Hanakapi’ai Valley, and I noticed that there was another one of those flash flood warning signs, which I’d imagine would be placed at each of the major stream crossings along the way.
Again, I waded my way through the stream with my trekking poles, and then ended up on the other side where there were a couple more minor crossings and some muddy stretches before getting to another significant crossing of Hanakapi’ai Stream at about 10:35am.
At this crossing, there was a nice waterfall and some cliffs underneath acting as a backdrop, and I didn’t recall noticing this spot before, but it would have been a nice destination for a short hike if it wasn’t part of the longer hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls.
Anyways, during this crossing, there were some deep stretches where I didn’t feel comfortable wading through so I decided to try to go across some slippery rocks, but it was here that I picked the wrong rock and took a spill.
In that spill, one of my water bottles came out of my pack and started drifting downstream, but there was one young lady that was nimble enough to spot it and grab it for me.
She was concerned for my well-being after seeing me take a spill, but because my backpack broke my fall, I was actually not injured.
Aside from that, I got my bottle back, the ladies were looking back at their parents also struggling with the crossing, and then we proceeded with the final stretch of the hike as we could already see more of the falls ahead though the terrain was even sketchier than up to this point.
Based on this experience so far, I was already of the mindset of making the difficulty of this hike a 4.5 instead of a 4 as I stated before. I guess when you’re younger, you tend to view risk and effort differently than you do these days, and this hike definitely felt slower and harder than it did back in the past.
Heck, I thought about how I did Hanakoa Falls as a day hike on the day after doing Hanakapi’ai Falls with Julie and I still shake my head that I actually did that back then. Now, it feels out-of-reach as I’m not a spring moa anymore.
Finally at 10:55am, after getting past more sketchy muddy ledges and really watching my step as I went, I finally made it to the familiar Hanakapi’ai Falls.
There was no way I was going to head back and get the 12pm shuttle as I had promised Julie, and I guess the 6-hour average hiking time was pretty much spot on though I would probably end up taking a little longer than that.
It was hard to capture the whole waterfall in one horizontal frame, and I’d ultimately have to take portrait shots to even have a chance at showing the whole thing.
There were quite a few people swimming and just having a picnic here as I was doing, and I was amused at listening to other people reacting to their first sight at the falls – most of which were of the effect of relief or that “well at least it was worth it” after having suffered through the hike to get here.
After documenting this place with videos and more pictures, and putting my wet wallet, notebook, shuttle QR printout and other things into my pack so they don’t get any further soaked from my shirt and pants, I then finally started to head back down at 11:30am.
By now, my feet were feeling quite pruny, and I was certain that my feet were probably worse for wear which probably wouldn’t be a good thing for any further hiking throughout the rest of this trip. After all, I only packed Keens to hike with and I didn’t have the “luxury” of hiking with boots and wool socks.
I guess that the one drawback of hiking in Keens for a long period of time, and now I have to watch out for any blisters or sores allowing the leptospirosis bacteria in.
Mercifully by about 12:45pm, I made it back to Hanakapi’ai Beach, which seemed more like a scenic beach with waves though the waves weren’t as violent as I had recalled 15 years ago. Heck, I even noticed some people trying to catch waves here as they were surfing and clearly they must have been very strong swimmers let alone surfers.
By this time, I was definitely tired and pretty over this hike, but I still had 2 more grueling miles to go, and I knew there was going to be a long ascent in the sun at this point.
As I huffed and puffed my way up and down this trail, passing numerous hikers along the way, I’d finally make it back to the Kalalau Trailhead at about 1:55pm where I could finally use the toilet for the first time throughout this hike.
Then by 2:10pm, I finally made it back to the shuttle stop where I showed my wet QR code (which apparently still worked), and he was able to fit me in to the next shuttle bus. With still no reception, I couldn’t text Julie that I on the way back to the Waipa Park and Ride.
I thought to myself that we probably weren’t going to hike to Ho’opi’i Falls today (and probably not throughout this trip).
And that we’d just drive straight back towards the Luau with stops for a shave ice place as well as maybe a shopping run at a Walmart so Julie could get replacement sunglasses that Tahia managed to break yesterday.
We did make one stop for the Hanalei Valley Overlook on the way back, and then we got into the very busy Wailua/Kapa’a area, where we found this spot called the Hee Fat Shave Ice.
After Julie and Tahia’s disappointment with their shave ice experience at Hanalei, they wanted this do-over to see what good shave ice was like.
By 4:05pm, we were back in the car, but then we had to contend with snarling traffic through the rest of Kapa’a, which took forever. And after a 4:50pm stop at Walmart, we then made it to the Lu’au Kalamaku at 5:30pm.
I was already changed and deeted up in the Walmart bathroom, and so we were all ready to go though we could definitely use a shower.
From there, we checked out the imu, got the usual pictures taken for sale, and even Julie and Tahia got some freshwater pearls.
We also got cocktails from a strong mai tai to a “blue Hawaiian”, and then we gorged ourselves on the dinner which wasn’t really a buffet though I did manage to get a second helping before they took away the food.
The server was having fun with us because apparently I noticed that there was no poi so I had to ask for it, and he gladly brought us a bunch. When he saw that I had finished three little plastic cups of them, he kept asking if I wanted more as he busted out a semi-pidgin accent.
Anyways, after we were fully stuffed, we then watched the performance, which took place at a center stage as seats and tables were surrounding that stage. And so that was a bit of a different experience than previous luaus that Julie and I partook in when we last week on our Hawaii binge.
To sum it all up, this luau told a story that we were able to follow as it seemed to be about love between two polynesians in Tahiti where they courted and ultimately got their blessing from the father, and then the woman was pregnant just as the males had to go on a dangerous and intrepid journey to what would eventually become the island of Kaua’i.
Of course, through all the choreography and song, there was the fire dancing where the women did their part twirling fiery sticks while the high energy male was doing mroe daredevil fire dancing routines that we’ve come to know from other luaus and South Pacific cultural demonstrations that we’ve experienced over the years.
When all was said and done, we left the luau at around 8:35pm, and we ultimately got back to the Sheraton at 8:50pm, where we pretty much crashed for the night despite needing to tend to things like setting up the Safe Travels Hawaii for the O’ahu part of our trip. We’ll have to make time to do those things before getting to O’ahu, but we just couldn’t get to it on this day as we had a long day and needed to clean up, brush teeth, and crash.
Day 3 (November 20, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Heiau, Heiau!”
It was 4:30am when we awoke, and once again, we got into a routine where we were having ourselves some basic breakfast of kefir and yogurt though I also had some leftover cinnamon churro french toast or something like that, which Tahia and Julie had at Hanalei yesterday but left some for me to have (a day later).
So I left the whipped cream alone and pretty much ate the soggy treat as breakfast, which actually wasn’t that bad. But at the same time, it was very sweet and I was already lamenting all the pounds we were racking up in Hawaii after having gained so much weight back at home from a sedentary lifestyle combined with COVID-19 and then eating out a lot to celebrate my birthday, our wedding anniversary, and Julie’s birthday.
Anyways, we were heading out by 6am so we could get to the Duke’s kayak meeting spot by 7am. We ultimately got there at 6:40am though it wasn’t obvious where we were supposed to meet up because there wasn’t anywhere that said anything about Duke’s Kayak.
Instead, we had to text the person who told us to meet in front of the SUP (which stood for Stand Up Paddleboard), and eventually by around 7am, some other people showed up and so did the guide whose name was Robert.
He then proceeded to distribute dry bags as well as some safety instructions before we all got back in our cars, then headed down the road, and ultimately to the Wailua River State Park Marina (which was actually on the other side of the Wailua River from the Kuamo’o Road (which we initially thought was where the marina was).
And then we pretty much spent the next hour padding with the group though it quickly became Tahia and I lagging behind everyone because she wasn’t keeping a rhythm and thought paddling faster would result in propelling us faster. But you’re supposed to paddle with long strokes in rhythm together, and it showed.
Tahia kept splashing water onto me and she even had her baseball cap fall into the water, which I had to pick up (luckily not quite turning over our kayak as I went to pick it up).
Ultimately by about 8:50am, we arrived at some banked area where we docked our kayaks. At that time, we left Tahia’s cap to dry in the sun while we also left our dry bags there after taking stuff out.
And so we were off as we had to cut through a pretty thick grove of invasive buffalo grass that apparently took over the island five years ago and continues to grow at about 3 inches per day!
Then, we got to a part where we had to make a wide crossing of the Wailua River which was only about thigh deep for us though we had to watch our steps, especially since I was holding the Sony Alpha A7 3, which couldn’t survive in water.
Anyways, we got past that stretch and after a brief muddy climb, we had to go through some roots and some slippery rocky spots as well as another extensive field of buffalo grass before we then followed the familiar Secret Falls Trail.
That boardwalk was something that I never recalled was there before.
So that made the walk go by a lot faster, and meanwhile Rob told us about this edible purple flower that reminded us of eating mushrooms, which was kind of cool.
He also told us about these tall majestic trees that were actually an invasive species from Africa that was causing driftwood issues on the beaches as well as changing the pH makeup of the water around Kaua’i’s beaches, which impacted sea life.
Amazing to think that the forest service actually brought those trees in for erosion control some 30 years or so ago, but now they’re trying to get rid of them.
Eventually after getting through the boardwalk stretches, we then had to make a pair of minor stream crossings, where the second one was in front of a familiar small waterfall.
Rob said that this waterfall was actually artificial as it was fed by pools created for the King and Queen (he said it was called King and Queen’s Bath; not the one at Princeville).
Beyond that small waterfall, the trail then made a familiar steep and rooty climb before getting up to another crossing of what we realized was the Uluwehi Stream.
And sure enough, we finally made it to the familiar Uluwehi Falls (or Secret Falls) for the first time in nearly 15 years.
Of course, there were lots of people here, but there were also lots of roosters as well, which was kind of surprising as I didn’t recall seeing them the last time we were here.
Rob told us that Hurricane Iniki in 1992 pretty much messed up all infrastructure that kept the domesticated animals confined and now they were pretty much feral animals throughout the island.
Apparently, these feral animals were also now protected as you couldn’t kill them for consumption unless you named it, domesticated it for at least 30 days, and then you could kill it for food. Something like that reminded me of some Portlandia episode.
The sun was hitting the very top of the falls, which made taking pictures a bit tricky when the sun came out, but other than that, it was another divine waterfall scene, which I guess could be thought of as a smaller and less strenuous version of the Hanakpi’ai Falls from yesterday.
So we spent probably a pretty solid half hour or so just taking pictures and just admiring the Secret Falls. We didn’t do as what other people have done which was to swim towards the base of the waterfall and let the 110ft waters strike them in a bit of a massage I suppose.
I also realized that my blister that had formed on my right food was already rubbed raw so any time I put my foot into water, it stung a bit. That was not good news as far as leptospirosis exposure, and I suspected that those blisters came from yesterday’s challenging hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls, and this made me wonder if I was subjecting myself to more issues later on when we do other hikes like the potential Waipo’o Falls either this afternoon or tomorrow, or the anticipated O’ahu hikes, especially to those I hadn’t done before like Lulumahu Falls and Waimano Falls.
Finally by about 10:40am, we started to walk away from Uluwehi Falls and proceed back down the trail we came from.
Aside from a couple of spots where we had to squeeze past parties going the other way on the boardwalk sections, we made it back to our kayaks at 11:35am without issue.
Then, we got back into our kayaks where initially Tahia and I were making pretty good progress getting in front of the group.
But eventually Tahia started to get tired and made increasingly frequent and less-effective strokes (undoing the work that I was doing in the back), and at the same time, getting back into the familiar pattern that got us to fall behind on the way there again.
This time however, there were wakeboarders causing us wakes which also further slowed us down, and by the time we finally got back towards the marina, I was pretty tired and sore.
Mercifully, we got back to our car at 12:25pm, but not before I realized that I was missing my lens cap for the Sony Camera. So after taking some pictures of the marina with the mirrorless camera, I then went back to the kayak and saw that hidden under the seat was the lens cap! Good thing I noticed this and didn’t drive away without it!
And with that, we then drove back towards Kuamo’o Road at 12:45pm, and about 5 minutes later, we arrived at the familiar car park for Opaeka’a Falls. This time, it looked like they set up an elevated lookout behind the railings while there was a fence-lined walkway leading to more semi-overgrown views of the falls before reaching a crosswalk leading to a lookout over the Wailua River.
I didn’t spot where it might be possible to get to the bottom of Opaeka’a Falls, but apparently hardly anyone went for it anymore, and we even noticed that the latest version of the Kaua’i Revealed book doesn’t have it in its adventures section anymore either (though they did talk about the two women that died trying to get down there literally days before we arrived back in December 2006).
After getting our fill of this spot, we then got back in the car at 1:05pm though we were wondering why there was a police officer talking to some people at this car park. He left us alone but it definitely draw quite a few stares in his direction.
Anyways, we then drove back towards Po’ipu, where we ultimately made it to a parking lot containing the Waikomo Shave Ice, which was actually a food truck sitting at the end of the parking lot there. We also ordered a quick lunch of some bowls and a quesadilla at Da Crack, which was nearby as well.
While we were enjoying our shave ice, there was a couple saying hi to me because they recognized me from the Hanakapi’ai Falls hike yesterday. I was the person that took their picture in front of the falls.
But at least this place served up real fruits with their toppings, and perhaps since they were in a food truck, maybe they didn’t quite have the equipment to make the shave ice as finely flaky as how the Hee Fat place did it from yesterday.
And so finally at 2:30pm, we were back in the car, and by 2:35pm, we were back at the Sheraton. At this point, Tahia was asking to play in the pool, and at that moment, after seeing how it took another hour to drive towards the trailhead for the Waipo’o Falls hike, I ultimately decided against doing that hike so I could spent time with Tahia at the pool.
That pretty much meant that we’d have to punt Waimea Canyon and that hike for tomorrow, but perhaps it might be better done that way since Port Allen (where Captain Andy’s Na Pali Coast tour took off from) was much closer to Waimea Canyon than Po’ipu anyways.
And with that, Tahia and I spent the next hour going to the pool on the quiet adult side behind the lobby of our annex part, where we were playing our usual games of wrasslin’ moves, Marco Polo, splashing each other, and other silly stuff to keep her entertained.
Then, when we got back to the room at 3:55pm, Julie and I then decided to walk towards the supposedly under construction pool.
But to our surprise, we saw that people were swimming in it and it was totally open! Not only that, but there was Po’ipu Beach, which was also happening.
Once we realized that Tahia and I should have spent time here instead of the other side, Julie and I immediately headed back to our room so we could get Tahia out here. But on the way back to our room, someone was throwing rocks at us from the third floor of the Sheraton. Julie threatened to talk to hotel management about this, but I was pretty sure that there’d be no way to chase down the three girls, get their room number, and get the hotel staff to do something about them.
Anyways, by about 4:15pm, Tahia and I headed back down to the beach and larger pool area, but Julie decided to sleep and heal up her sore arms from the kayak. She said she’d probably never do something like that again, but I figured she was sore because she never really physically exerted herself in that way (for many years) until today.
So it was just Tahia and I, and when we got back to the larger pool, Tahia put her hands to her mouth and was thinking just as Julie and I were thinking. But then when I showed her the beach, she immediately saw that it was going to be more fun there instead of the shallow pool with waterfalls and stuff.
Of course, my trepidation with that was that the waves weren’t exactly small and they could easily pull you out to sea if not careful. In fact, they had this narrow beach with the odd barrel break that kind of reminded me of something I recalled seeing in Cabo San Lucas.
At that point, we then both got into the water, but only to the point where we could still stand on the sand and not where the sand dropped off steeply (right where the waves were really breaking).
It was a bit of a test trying to stay upright both when the waves came crashing on us (I was guessing the waves were on the order of 2-3 feet but maybe closer to 3-5 feet), and then when the water would rush back out to sea, it wanted to drag us in that direction too!
Despite the risks involved, Tahia was really enjoying herself and thought it was better than the wave machine at the Great Wolf Lodge or something like that. And so we kept this going while I always stood sideways with one eye out at the waves (adhering to the mantra of never turning my back to the ocean) and another eye on Tahia making sure she wasn’t going to get washed away.
It was such fun that she didn’t want to leave, but then what did us in was the ever expanding dark clouds that ultimately overtook the area around the resort, and then we pretty much had to leave just as it was starting to rain on us.
So with that, we finally made it back to the room at around 5:15pm, where we then finally got cleaned up and waited for the next couple of hours before we would finally attend our rather late 8:30pm dinner reservation at Keoki’s Paradise.
With another early start for tomorrow, having a dinner this late wasn’t ideal, but at least this dinner spot (which was a sister restaurant of Duke’s) was in Po’ipu so at least some time could be shaved off from driving for a fairly long time in the dark.
By about 8:15pm, we got back in the car, and then we drove towards the neighboring Keoki’s Paradise Restaurant. Once we got there a few minutes before our reservation time of 8:30pm, we had to wait for a few minutes before we were seated in the booth.
It didn’t take long before Tahia was just about out, and so we quickly got her a keiki teriyaki chicken along with a coconut shrimp. Then, we ordered the seared ahi main as well as a fish duo dish.
However, after the moist muffin that was complementary, when the food came out, it was a bit disappointing.
The coconut shrimp didn’t seem to have coconut in its batter, and the fish duo I had was so so where the mahi mahi was bland and needed the sweet chili sauce while the panko crusted swordfish had gluten in it so it was a cheat for Julie though whether it was a justified cheat was questionable.
Finally, we got the anticipated hula pie, but it didn’t seem to have more of that Oreo cookie crust that we were used to at our previous experiences with Duke’s-related restaurants. So even that was a bit disappointing though it was always an indulgence about the mac nut ice cream and whipped cream with thick chocolate fudge.
By about 9:55pm, we were finally back at our accommodation to end off the night. We still had to brush, floss, and change out into sleepwear, but it was yet another long day full of adventure, and we’re anticipating another early morning wake-up and full day of adventure tomorrow – the last full day of the Kaua’i part of this trip…
Day 4 (November 21, 2021 – Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii): “Fitting In”
It was 4:30am when we awoke to the alarm again. This time, our early morning wake-up had to do with getting ready for the much-anticipated Na Pali Coast Cruise that Julie had been wanting to do since the first time we were in Kaua’i in late December 2006.
So we took our time having breakfast and getting prepped for the day though I also had to bring a second change of clothes so I could pursue the hike to the top of Waipo’o Falls via the Canyon Trail after the Na Pali Cruise was over.
While plans seemed to come and go very easily given how things just tend to take longer than anticipated in Hawai’i, in general, I knew that this was our last full day of doing stuff on Kaua’i. So it was pretty much going to be now or never when it came to trying to fit in Waimea Canyon on this visit.
Eventually by about 6:25am, we started to head out, and as anticipated, it would still take us some time to drive over to Port Allen, where we were supposed to check in to our Na Pali Cruise before 7am.
We ultimately got there at about 6:55am, where there were many people that were already out and about in anticipation of their cruise. Although Julie and I had anticipated a rather bumpy boat ride (so we took some dramamine to help with motion sickness), the conditions outside looked quite calm and almost cloudless where we were at (though clouds were building towards the east, it seemed).
After getting arranged with the parking and check-in (which was now a more efficient self-check-in system using QR codes), we then picked up some waterproof camera case that was significantly better than the cheap one we bought from Amazon which wouldn’t stand a chance at keeping water out.
In fact, Julie spent a solid $30 each on the waterproof phone cases bought at the adjacent gift shop to the Captain Andy’s office and we knew straight away that it was able to maintain an air pocket with the phone while also letting us twist the top, which I knew was employed with regular-sized dry bags to keep even more expensive equipment dry.
From there, we then went through the mandatory safety briefing before the boat took off from the harbor and we were pretty much on our own to enjoy the sights while the boat was moving.
As we were leaving the harbor, there were some dolphins that were swimming up to our boat and essentially “riding the wave” caused by our vessel.
It was kind of interesting to see though we really needed the big camera to quickly capture their activities since there was always a delay when taking photos with the phone.
After the dolphins, the pilot then continued cruising west from the southern shores of Kaua’i pointing out things like Waimea Canyon, the sugar plantations to the south, the Robinson Family who were sugar barrons that now used their land to profit off of other endeavors when sugar was no longer king, Ni’ihau Island, the military base at Barking Sands, and more.
The waters weren’t nearly as choppy as we had anticipated going into this cruise since we were well aware that the giant swells from the Winter time were supposed to be around now, and that would be why people could get seasick on this cruise. But on this day, it was sunny and nearly perfect.
The only bad thing was that I knew we were going to look against the sun at the fluted cliffs of Na Pali Coast along with its waterfalls.
Anyways, initially Tahia was really enjoying herself as this cruising experience was new to her. But eventually, she really wanted to snorkel and ultimately got tired and retreated to the dry underneath part of the catamaran where she’d spent most of the time there with Julie.
In the mean time, I was busy taking pictures and soaking up the scenery where I could.
By the time we finally got to the main part of the Na Pali Coast to the island’s northwest, Julie and Tahia re-joined me at the top deck.
From there, we noticed that there were several waterfall streaks that we were apparently dried up because of ditches built to siphon water towards the sugar plantations further south.
That was a shame because it seemed like there could have been many more giant waterfalls dropping hundreds or even a thousand feet into the ocean.
Thus, the initial western part of the Na Pali Coast seemed kind of meh, but soon enough, we were getting into the fluted pali as we were approaching some of the sea caves and permanent waterfalls just to the west of Kalalau Beach.
There, we could see some waterfalls whose names I forget the captain mentioned as well as one near Nualo’o and one hidden near the Honopu Sea Arch.
The pilot did what he could to get us in the shade to better experience the sights against the morning sun, but he could only do so much, especially when we cruised towards Kalalau Beach, where we could see the Hoolea Falls.
After Kalalau Beach, we then cruised by Hanakoa Valley, where the pilot mentioned something about this word meaning “to make strong”.
But given how far away this was from Kalalau Beach, this gave me an even greater appreciation of how hard of a backpack it would be to even complete the full 11-mile hike from the Kalalau Trailhead all the way to Kalalau Beach.
Given the calm conditions, the boat then continued further to the northeast as we were spotting hikers on the Kalalau Trail (including a pair heading back on the very narrow “Crawler’s Corner”).
We then got towards an impressive sea cave with a waterfall flowing right into it, and that must be the one that we saw a bunch of art galleries featuring. Later, I saw on Gaia GPS that it was the Waiahuakua Sea Cave and the waterfall was called the Waiahuakua Falls.
So it was really neat that we got to see that, but we’d really need a small vessel and really calm seas to even think about going in there.
Finally, the boat turned around somewhere not quite at Hanakapi’ai Beach (at a section labeled “The Gate” on my Gaia GPS map) and then started heading back to the southwest.
At this point, the pilot took a route that was further out from the land so taking pictures back towards the Na Pali Coast was kind of futile.
During this time, I got to chat with one of the crew members who I think is Hana Or Tana (it was hard to hear), but he told me about there being a lunar eclipse a couple of days ago, which we must have missed out on though I did notice the full moon. It was a nice conversation overall about the conditions today, and apparently he said it was also calm at sunset yesterday.
This was what Tahia was looking forward to as we both got into the water with our snorkel gear and checked out some of the reefs underwater though the more interesting things we noticed were some school of fish near the boat as well as lots of what seemed to be tiny jellyfish surrounding us.
There were no sea turtles (or honu) on this snorkel run, and it seemed kind of meh to be quite honest (especially after having seen the Great Barrier Reef in Australia as well as some atolls in the South Pacific.
Tahia was having trouble with her snorkel mask and then was starting to get cold because the water felt cold to her. So we then got back to the boat pretty much before most of the people came back. Julie opted to stay out of the water.
Speaking of trouble with the equipment, I learned that trying to push the screen button on the iPhone encased in the waterproof carrier was useless when under water because the pressure or something was all off. In hindsight, I should have “taken a screenshot” by using the side buttons in unison since that would surely work since they involved real buttons.
Oh well, that’s a lesson for next time – whenever that will be. I still had a GoPro as a fallback, but who knows what kind of photos I took then?
It lunch wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it was still nice that we got to eat the food without feeling seasick – again, a testament to the calm conditions that we found ourselves in on this unusually calm and beautiful day. Indeed, this was turning out to be money well spent since we knew that it was a roll of the dice to go on this excursion at this time of year.
After lunch was over, it was kind of blur to our family as we were pretty much napping the rest of the way back. I was overhearing some music, including John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son” (an anti-war song during the Vietnam War) as I was thinking about the military base we were passing by.
In one interlude, we were awoken as the pilot spotted a whale (actually two of them) that did their tail dive. Even though we could only see them from a distance, it was kind of cool to get to see something like that this early in the whale migration season.
Finally by about 1:25pm, we were back at the Port Allen where there were lots of people going towards the marina for their sunset cruise while we were leaving our cruise. And by 1:35pm, we were back in the car, where Julie and Tahia pretty much dozed off in the car as I was seizing the moment and driving towards Waimea Canyon.
But soon enough, I then turned inland and drove up the steep road leading towards Waimea Canyon.
While I was busy looking for the Iliau Nature Trail (for Wai’alae Falls in the distance), it turned out that my pre-trip waypoints were off. And that I wouldn’t be making any stops on the way up as I decided to punt for going on the way down to see them (hopefully before it gets dark).
Finally at 2:30pm, we arrived at the busy Pu’u Hinahina Lookout parking area and trailhead. And right off the bat, I got my day pack, backup hiking sticks, and wore my hiking socks within my stinky Keens in an attempt to alleviate the bursted blister on the bottom of my right foot.
By the way, the thought did cross my mind that the leptospirosis bacteria can be a big problem when I do waterfall hikes on O’ahu so I’d have to figure out how to close the wound or disinfect it before things get bad over there.
Anyways, I left Julie and Tahia alone as I immediately got hiking on the trail. Most people were coming back from their hike and I seemed to be only one of a handful of people still heading down towards the top of Waipo’o Falls via the Canyon Trail.
One thing that wasn’t lost on me was the amount of downhill that this trail immediately presented, and even though it did make a brief ascent as it approached an alternate 4wd trailhead for the Canyon Trail, I had a feeling this was going to be an upside down hike overall.
In fact, the trail continued to descend after the alternate trailhead before ascending past some gully then briefly flattening out near a trail junction where the right fork went over towards some kind of canyon view.
After another brief hiking interlude on the spur trail, I ultimately got to the fencing designating that Canyon View or Cliff View at 3:05pm.
That view was actually set back from what appeared to be a lower bluff at the very end of the cliff, but there was fencing set up to discourage going down there. That said, I did see the open area that appeared to be where the hiking trail would ultimately end up, and so I got my fill of this lookout briefly and headed back onto the Canyon Trail.
The trail continued its somewhat brief flat trajectory before descending steeply towards yet another trail junction at 3:15pm. Keeping right at this junction, the trail continued its steep descent and I kept thinking to myself that it was going to be brutal going back uphill.
Anyways, at 3:25pm the trail ultimately started to reach an open ridge past some jumble of boulders that I could maze my way between. And on this ridge, the views were once again expansive back in the direction of the Waimea Canyon Road (not visible from here).
However, as I continued further along the ridge, the trail made another steep and slippery descent where many more people were struggling to go back up.
I also noticed here that there was a distance natural arch across the gully that I suspected Waipo’o Falls was supposed to be, but there was no way you could see that waterfall from here. In fact, I doubted that it was possible to see the main drop of that waterfall at any point throughout this Canyon Trail.
The trail then disappeared back into the thick vegetation from the exposed ridge, and I then found myself at another trail junction where I decided to go left just to see where it went.
It didn’t take long before I ultimately witnessed the first of what I knew were two waterfalls above the main drops of Waipo’o Falls, and this particular one was idyllic and probably conducive to a swim (as I did see quite a few people who were wet).
After having my fill of this falls at around 3:35pm, I then continued descending on the main trail, which eventually got down to the top of the second of the small waterfalls. I saw that it was possible to cross the small stream here and stand atop the second waterfall, but I was more interested in getting in front of this falls by making the steep scramble below along the continuation of the main trail (now becoming more of a scramble).
And from down here (which I got to at 3:45pm), I was able to look across the pair of segments of this waterfall as well as hop onto a dry patch of rock in the middle of the stream where I could look downstream over the top of the not-visible Waipo’o Falls and the natural arch above to the left. And then I was also able to look upstream right at the waterfall.
While there was no way Waipo’o Falls could be seen from here, it was still a nice and refreshing experience though my thoughts now were to get back to the Pu’u Hinahina lookout in anticipation of meeting up with Julie and Tahia again.
And so I embarked on the long uphill climb where I had to pace myself to make it all the way back.
While the uphill hike on the way back to the trailhead was rather tiring, it was actually not as bad as I had anticipated (at least compared to the Hanakapi’ai Falls experience from a couple of days ago).
After passing quite a few families struggling with their return hike, I ultimately made it back to the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout parking lot at 4:35pm, which was a bit faster than I told Julie went I’d be back.
So not surprisingly, Julie and Tahia weren’t here yet, and so I took this time to check out both the actual Pu’u Hinahina Lookout (which didn’t have a Waipo’o Falls view) as well as the Ni’ihau Viewpoint behind the restroom facility.
And so by around 4:50pm, I was back at the parking lot pretty much waiting for Julie and Tahia to show up except I was being entertained by chickens or roosters eating scraps of food that people carelessly left behind (especially shrimp bits).
So I took some time to eat their leftover shrimp as that was going to be the dinner for the day, and then we proceeded to drive back to the Sheraton Kaua’i at 5:45pm.
At 5:50pm, we briefly checked out an angled view of Waipo’o Falls, which was right across the road from some picnic area. That said, Waipo’o Falls seemed to be a bit lighter flowing that I had remembered it from 15 years ago. Nevertheless, I felt that this was probably like the last-chance view of Waipo’o Falls, which could be seen as early as the Waimea Canyon Lookout, though this particular spot wasn’t the greatest spot since the falls was also blocked to some extent.
At a little after 6pm, we made it to the actual Iliau Nature Loop, where I could finally see the Wai’alae Falls in the distance. And that was where bringing the telephoto lens finally paid off. Even though it was low lighting, it was at least more fully brought into frame though I was hoping that the shots wouldn’t turn out too blurry.
And with that, I returned to the car at 6:10pm, and then made the drive back down to Waimea Town in the twilight conditions.
By about 6:30pm, Julie had me stop at the Big Save in the town since we were getting tired and didn’t want to drive more than we had to.
So she got in there and picked up some local produce that you probably couldn’t get at the big box stores, and then finally at 6:45pm, we left Waimea Town and got back to the Sheraton Kaua’i at 7:15pm.
In anticipation of packing for the short inter-island flight tomorrow, we brought everything up. But even though we were supposed to do some packing and organizing, we were simply way too tired to do any of that stuff on this night.
Gonna have to do it first thing tomorrow when we’re refreshed though I’m hoping that we might sneak in a visit to the Hindu Monastery just to see what that’s all about before heading back to the Lihue Airport to return the rental car and embark on the latter half of this trip…
Day 5 (November 22, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Vegas-like Atmosphere”
I had originally planned for us to check out the Hindu Monastery before going to the airport, but after realizing how much time it took for us to pack up for the 30-minute plane ride, the more I realized that our time would be better spent checking out and chilling out at the resort here.
That was where we were enjoying beautiful sunny skies though clouds were budding out to the east of us.
We saw that there were already some people lounging about around the kiddie pool with waterfall fronting the resort, but there were also quite a few people already sun bathing and getting in the water.
Tahia wanted to get in the water, but neither Julie nor I were in swimming gear since we didn’t want to get to the airport all sanded up and wet knowing that we wouldn’t have access to a legit shower and change of clothes.
So we let Tahia play only in the shallow area of the beach and she spent some time building a hole or some kind of mound while Julie and I were watching her under the trunk of one of the trees on the beach.
At that point, we drove back towards Lihu’e, where we then stopped at the Walmart at around 10:40am so Julie can do some last minute Hawaiian dress shopping before knowing that it would probably be way more expensive in O’ahu.
By 11am, we were back in the car, and then by 11:05am, we were back at the Avis Car Rental return, where we promptly emptied out the car, and then caught the shuttle bus to the terminal of the airport.
Immediately afterwards, we walked towards the Hawaiian Airlines check-in, where we were worried about the size of our carry-ons, but we managed to get on there no problem as we were told that the flight was not full.
We only had one checked luggage and in this instance, it looked like Julie wasn’t charged for it. I guess we probably could have checked in our respective roller bags if we wanted to.
By about 11:50am, we eventually got past security and we had some time to kill so we hung out at the airport cafe for a bit before meeting up at the gate at 12:20pm. We then boarded the plane no problem at a little after 1pm and took the short flight on time to O’ahu.
Once we landed it O’ahu, there was a bit of a delay to deplane due to some kind of issue with a worker just arriving that was supposed to man the bridge or something. But once we got through that, we got into the airport and then went looking for our baggage claim carousel.
It took a bit of time to look for it because there were signs that said Baggage Claim 1-11 pointing everywhere, but it wasn’t clear to us which carousel we were supposed to get our bags from. Plus, Carousels 1-5 seemed to be missing as all we saw were signs for carousels 7-11.
Eventually, we asked someone which carousel we were supposed to get our stuff from, and we were told Carousels 9 or 10. But when we got there, it wasn’t running and the luggages were gone. That was when we asked another employee and he told us that we should check the office, and sure enough it was sitting there along with a handful of others.
I guess we were really slow to find our carousel as well as taking a bathroom break.
Anyways, we then shuttled over to the car rental parking structure, and boy did it look busy. Fortunately, I was Avis Preferred and of all the times we had rented from Avis with this perk, this was the one time that it paid off!
That was because we didn’t have to deal with this crazy busy chaos at the rental car counters, and we got to go towards the elevators and ultimately to the Avis Preferred counter which was adjacent to another premium check-in counter.
And ultimately after showing the ID, we got our car at 2:35pm, which happened to be an SUV so we must have been upgraded from our compact car that we had asked for. That made me a bit concerned about any tight parking we might have to deal with, but at least we would have plenty of space.
Finally, after loading up and doing our walkaround, we then drove off and headed towards Waikiki to check in. However, as we left and got onto the H1 Freeway, we saw that there were lots of rain clouds covering the mauka, but it was fronted by a bold bright arcing rainbow.
Julie managed to take some shots for me using her phone and then finally with mine (the latter when it was kind of too late), and then we got stuck in traffic as we were crawling our way east towards the turnoffs leading to the resort.
Eventually by about 3:15am, after circling quite a ways up the structure (almost to the roof where there was no cover), we made it to the Sheraton Waikiki reception, where we promptly got wristbands that acted as both our room key as well as the parking lot entry/exit pass.
I realized that Julie must have splurged with our points for this spot, and both Julie and Tahia were quite happy with this room’s view.
Of course, the balcony and the butterflies-in-the-stomach dropoff made me worried about dropping anything down, but you couldn’t ask for a better view of the signature beach on this island, in my mind.
Eventually at about 4pm, after getting settled, Julie had this idea that we should go downstairs and right to dinner knowing that this Udon place she coveted as well as Duke’s were way busy for walk-ins.
We eventually decided to walk along the beach to scope out the scene at the base of the Sheraton, and that already got Tahia excited. In fact, she started to become annoying as she didn’t want dinner and made sure we knew about it the rest of the time.
Anyways, by about 4:40pm, we made it to the Duke’s Canoe Club, where there was no longer open access from the beach to the restaurant like I had remembered from 14 years ago when we were last in O’ahu.
Regardless, we swung around the front where there was now a very busy Kalakaua Avenue before going through the front corridor underneath the Moana Surfrider and adjacent to the Royal Hawaiian Resort.
One thing I Noticed about Kalakaua Ave was that there seemed to be a lot more expensive shops and Christmas consume-til-you-drop infrastructure along this street that reminded me more of the Vegas Strip than the vibes that Julie and I got in the past.
I guess it just goes to show you what the economy and peoples’ sentiment lean towards and I’m sure people could care less about the environment as I was certain that all this stuff going on couldn’t be good for it.
Moreover, the people with the money and making the money couldn’t care less either since their very activities that got them the wealth was typically at the expense of the environment which can’t defend itself as well as exploiting people who have no choice.
Anyways, after finally getting to the front of Duke’s Canoe Club, we learned that the walk-in wait wasn’t until 6:40pm or thereabouts and that we’d get texted when our table was ready.
Having to wait at least two hours (who knows how accurate that wait time would be?) was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow just for a dinner. And after the Keoki’s Paradise experience a few days ago, I wondered whether this was justified.
That said, Tahia and I then decided that we would go back to the room so we could change into swimming wear so she could finally have that beach time that she wanted to do.
In the mean time, Julie could do a little exploring of the immediate area so she could figure out where to eat and hang out tomorrow. But the Udon place was too far this late to go for even though they said it was about a 30-minute wait.
And so we all got back to our room, where Tahia and I got changed, and then we got back down to the Waikiki Beach at around 4:50pm.
We allowed ourselves some time to play in the waves after getting our beach towels, and that was when Tahia was really enjoying herself even though the waves down here weren’t as strong as what we had experienced at Po’ipu Beach.
That’s OK though because aside from the odd dead coral potentially cutting up our feet towards the outer parts of the very busy beach, we were enjoying the small breaks that rolled through and created endless entertainment for the kids and adults alike.
I kept thinking to myself that perhaps we should rent Tahia a boogie board so she could feel what it’s like to ride the crest of a wave as I saw most of the other kids struggling to even catch one (clearly most of them were first timers).
This went on for a while as I figured out a way to shorter myself by doing a backwards handstand while my legs were out in front of me so I could let the waves knock me backwards.
Now that Tahia was pretty happy with the experience, I knew that whatever happens from here on out should be icing on the cake though I’m sure she still wants to play Roblox which we still don’t want her to do. But at least the noise coming from her would be less at this time.
By about 5:45pm, we made it back to the room where we then showered and got back into our evening wear for the anticipated dinner.
We eventually got back to the Duke’s Canoe Club at around 6:20pm as we were around 6th in line at this point, but it turned out that we wouldn’t be seated until 7:15pm. In hindsight, we probably should have played in the beach a little while longer but then again we didn’t want to be caught off guard in losing our spot if we got texted and we weren’t ready.
And with that, we then had another pretty expensive dinner where Julie got another run at her Ahi Steak dinner (which was actually the original Seven Spices of Ahi dish that we were familiar with) while I got some kind of seafood dinner that reminded me of Tom Yum Goong except with prawns and langoustine.
Tahia got her keiki teriyaki chicken (boring) while we also got appetizers of Ahi Taco and Coconut Shrimp. While the Coconut Shrimp was better than what we had at Keoki’s, the Ahi Taco was quite good, and the whole time, we were thinking that Keoki’s was dragging this chain down (as we almost considered not doing any more Duke’s on this trip).
Julie made sure to let the server know about our Keoki’s experience, though I wasn’t sure how helpful that was. He must be thinking “Oh boy, another difficult customer to deal with.”
Anyways, after having another go at Hula Pie (which I was surprised that Tahia didn’t like it though I attributed to that to the Mac nuts; I guess with her it was subtraction by additionk), we finished the dinner and started walking back to our room.
Julie wanted to walk around town for a bit, but Tahia was complaining about a stomach ache (maybe it was the Cheetos bag she finished on the plane).
Whatever it was, that cut short our night time exploration to soak in the Vegas-strip like atmosphere here, and by 9:25pm, we were back in our room, where we cleaned up and crashed.
Tomorrow was looking like it was going to be a divide-and-conquer day where I was going to hit the hikes to Lulumahu Falls and perhaps Waimano Falls (in a bit of an audible considering how hard it might be to drive around everywhere).
And with that blister burst still under my foot, that was cause for concern regarding the lepto issue. So we’ll have to see how that goes, but regardless, I would be on my own and perhaps the next day we could do North Shore stuff along with Likeke Falls and Waimea Valley after the shrimp trucks. And then on Thanksgiving Day, we can see if we got lucky with Hanauma Bay for snorkeling as well as Pearl Harbor and the Ko Olina Lagoons all the way to the west of the island.
It’s a lot to pack into this trip, but we’ll see how the reality plays out against what we were aiming for on this go of our Hawaii redux trip…
Day 6 (November 23, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Lepto Risks”
It was 4:45am when I awoke without the aid of an alarm.
With today being a planned divide-and-conquer day where I was going to do a couple of waterfall hikes that I had never done before, I was concerned about the open blister wound on the bottom of my right foot.
And upon checking its state, it still appeared to be open with some white on it (indicating white blood cells are there to stave off infection apparently).
So I had to spray more alcohol on it to clean it up, then put some kind of oily ointment on it (which Julie says bacteria doesn’t like to grow on) before dressing it with another bandage.
Still, it wasn’t just hiking with such sores knowing that there is a leptospirosis risk in the freshwater streams of all the Hawaiian Islands.
Actually, the risk is especially acute on O’ahu where it wouldn’t surprise me if there was more of a pollution and feral animal feces risk.
Eventually Julie and Tahia awoke at around 6:30am and when that happened, their minds were on trying to compete for limited spaces for permits to snorkel in Hanauma Bay, which would start to go online at 7am this morning.
I decided to stick around to help them compete for it, and I had myself a quick supermarket-style ahi poke breakfast, which was actually pretty terrible.
And when 7am came around, I had 5 windows open, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t allow me to book for 3 people (2 adults and a child). It kept saying there was only 1 spot left for the slot I got, which was ridiculous.
I guess in hindsight, I should have tried to book for 1 person on one reservation but try for 1 person and 1 child on another (making the latter one the priority).
That was totally lame, and eventually all I could do was to secure a spot for one adult, but I knew that I wasn’t going to go there alone since snorkeling wasn’t my thing and the Tahia wasn’t going to go there by herself either.
Well, at least they only took cash payment so even though we snagged a single slot for an adult, we weren’t financially obligated to go, which I thought was kind of lame, too. Apparently, they only take cash payment of $25/adult, which also seemed kind of backwards.
No wonder why these slots fill up within a minute of opening. At least with Reservation.gov, you could snag camping spots once you’re financially obligated to do so, which extended the process but also only let serious visitors commit financially.
And with that, I was geared up and in the car by 7:15am, where I was already surprised at seeing the amount of activity in the lobby area of the Sheraton resort. I guess a lot of people are like me in that the desire is to seize the day early, and perhaps this is an American thing.
It took a while to drive out of the parking structure of the resort since we were on the sixth floor, but once I got out, I then took a small street (Lewers Street) before going west on the Ala Wai Boulevard along the Ala Wai Canal (the very reason why Waikiki has a beach and is dry thanks to the diversion of water that otherwise would have made this whole area into a marsh).
The Ala Wai Blvd eventually intersected with McCully Street, and from there, I slowly made my way through the congestion over the H1 and towards Dole Street.
From there, I went left and followed this smaller street towards Alexander Street before making a left and then going onto an obscure H1 freeway on-ramp that reminded me very much of the type you might find in Alhambra, CA or something like that where you have freeway entrances in residential neighborhoods.
Once on the H1, I then slowly made my way through the rush hour traffic before heading north on the Pali Highway (Hwy 61) and that was when the traffic finally let up as I went further north of Nu’uanu Valley and its developments.
Regardless, I made sure nothing was in the car, and I packed both my waters as well as my Chacos and hiking sticks as I knew there might be some getting wet required on this hike (and that was what worried me concerning Leptospirosis).
At first, I followed the narrow opening by the car park, which took me into a narrow bamboo-laden path with some muddy patches. There were already a few trails leading to the left, and I wondered if any of them were the paths that I should take.
The details about this hike were sketchy, and I had my doubts about pursuing overgrown trails as that could easily go bad real fast.
Within a couple of minutes, this path then dumped me onto a much wider and open path, where I looked right and saw that there was a fence with an opening beside it.
Upon getting a closer look at that fence I saw that it was facing the Old Pali Highway right by the return to the Pali Highway.
So knowing that, I figured that the little bamboo interlude that I just went through wasn’t necessary.
And so back in the other direction I went, where I then continued following the wide path until I got to a junction that my printout suggested that I should keep to the left onto a narrower (but still somewhat wide) trail.
Upon following this path, I went past some branches that looked felled as well as a fallen sign before getting towards some hoses fronting a fence.
Then, upon following another narrow path, it led me past the end of the fence blocking further progress, where I then found myself in a tall grassy area where it wasn’t clear where to go next other than to continue following the base of this hill I was beneath.
After continuing to follow the hoses, the path continued to look somewhat doubtful even though there were hoses to follow, and this was when it dawned on me that perhaps the so-called “mysterious stone steps” were supposed to be.
I did notice that there was another path going back down the hill, and so I wondered where it went. It turned out to go to another dead-end where there was some muddy construction going on, and I knew that wouldn’t be palatable.
That said, it appeared that the path I had taken earlier before I deviated seemed to lead to this spot, and perhaps that was why the dashed line on Gaia GPS didn’t connect the lines from other side.
So after this investigation, I went back up the hill and back to the dead-end, where there was a nice view back across the dam towards the Ko’olau Mountains with its wrinkles and the morning sun just starting to hit it before clouds would cover it up again.
I continued to pursue this path, which then got me towards another fenced area, where there was an open gate that then went through another squarish area before going through yet another gate back into the jungle.
In a bit of a going-against-my-instincts moment, I decided to go left, which followed some muddy path that eventually put me towards a dam by a man-made waterfall at 8:45am.
Beyond the dam, the only way forward was to go into the Lulumahu Stream so I took some time to get out the trekking poles and start going into the stream realizing that I was now exposing the sore on my right foot to leptospirosis though the running water and yesterday’s rain ought to keep the bacteria from multiplying I assumed.
At this point, I pretty much scrambled upstream though I quickly saw that there were some paths alongside the stream that I could follow to keep myself moving quickly instead of making things harder on myself than need be.
In some spots alongside the stream, the bush was a bit thick so it seemed to block out the daylight.
But I knew that I was on the right track when I saw one fallen tree that I had to duck under with a bunch of etchings on it.
After a couple more stream crossings, there was one cascade where I had to scramble to the left of it that looked kind of dicey but I still managed to scramble my way past it.
When I finally got past the cascade, that was when I finally saw the Lulumahu Falls up ahead. And by 9:15am, I finally found myself standing before the impressive Lulumahu Falls.
It seemed like I showed up just in time for a little bit of some rain, which concerned me because of the flash flooding risk here.
And so I wasted no time taking videos and photos of this place that was once so forbidden back when we first came to O’ahu in 2007 that some hikers were even cited for trespassing here.
I guess these days, it seems as if it’s now a sanctioned activity, and I wondered if it wasn’t worth the trouble to enforce the trespassing and/or permits in this area by the City of Honolulu Water Board or something.
As I was busy trying to take pictures of the falls from different positions (including in the middle of the stream), I couldn’t help but notice that there were hidden upper tiers.
So perhaps this was why this was proclaimed to be a 70ft waterfall though there the last 50ft or so was mostly visible.
By around 9:30am, a couple of local women showed up and were taking pictures in front of the falls. They asked if I was done before going there, and I affirmed that to them.
And so after a few more parting photos, I went ahead back downstream as I had my fill of this spot. As I went around the familiar cascade obstacle, I saw the pink ribbons again that had me go across the stream on the opposite side which was apparently easier than the way I took on the way up.
It definitely wasn’t on the Oahu Revealed book when we were here in 2007, but now that it was, I suspect that this was why it had increased traffic. Plus, AllTrails.com had it too.
There was one false trail that seemed to go back towards the fencing that I now understood to be the perimeter of the Honolulu Water Supply Board property, and I noticed another couple that was headed up this way.
As I continued further downstream, I then got to another clearing where I saw a foursome going up the other way so clearly there must be something to this path that I had forsaken earlier. This was around another fence, which made me wonder if this fence was what “broke the dashed line” on Gaia GPS.
As I continued through another grove of thick bamboo, there was another family that was making their way upstream, and there were even more people that I encountered in this stretch.
Finally, I got to some kind of concrete channel where I was easily able to hop across it just as there was an ill-prepared Asian family making their way in the other direction.
Beyond this channel, I had to get across yet another muddy path before going uphill through a much wider path, and it didn’t take long before I reconnected with the spot that I had deviated earlier on.
By the time I got back to the fence by the Old Pali Highway junction with the main Pali Highway, I realized that this path I had just taken was perhaps the sanctioned path that I should have taken in the first place.
Any bit of going through fencing and going to the dam and such (while it was good from a landmark perspective) wasn’t really the path and I guess should be deemed as trespassing. Yet the locals seem to know about this or have followed old directions.
Anyways, I eventually followed along the onramp to the Pali Highway where I saw that the fencing continued all the way past an opening. However along the way, I saw that there were two hole-in-the-fence access points, and I took the latter one, which got me into a thick bamboo grove.
The path here was sketchy at best, but it didn’t take long before I got to a steep uphill where I did manage to fall forward briefly on a muddy slippery spot, but once I gathered myself, I climbed back up and right onto the concrete path with the familiar dam up ahead.
I did see that there was another path leading down to a hole in the fence (actually two of them) and I took that path, which ultimately took me towards the bamboo path that I had taken at the very start of this hike.
Finally at 10:40am, I was back in the car where I could finally get out of the stinky Keens and get moving towards Waimano Falls, which was the other waterfall hike that I had never done on O’ahu before.
I then made my way past the Pali Lookout before going down through the familiar tunnels and then noticed that there was a nice view towards Kaneohe so I went ahead and stopped briefly at that lookout before continuing on.
Next, I followed the Pali Hwy towards the connector to the H3. Then, as I went west on the H3, it was a scenic stretch where the road got closer to the fluted Pali facing east.
Once I got past another tunnel, I then descended towards the H1 again, where I then followed the highway towards Pearl City.
From there, I followed the exit to Moanalua Road before taking it to Waimano Home Road. Then I followed that road north towards Komo Mai Drive, which then proceeded to go uphill towards ultimately a residential area.
I’d ultimately take this road all the way to its end, where the Manana Ridge Trail and ultimately Waimano Falls would start from, but I had to turn back and find street parking in something that reminded me a bit of the Maunawili Falls excursion in the way it started in a residential area.
By about 11:25am, I finally stopped the car and got out to gear up and try to keep a low profile.
10 minutes later, I then walked back towards the dead-end, where I saw chickens clucking around. This kind of cast some doubt regarding Hurricane Iniki releasing all the domesticated farm animals because I knew it hit Kaua’i really hard, but did it also affect O’ahu in the same way? I wasn’t sure.
Either way, there was seemingly just as many feral chickens and roosters in O’ahu as on Kaua’i.
This trail seemed to be a lot more established and sanctioned than the Lulumahu Falls hike as I was following the Manana Ridge Trail, which was apparently a path to the Ko’olau Summit.
The trail was generally going uphill past a bunch of power pylons, which was likely serving not only the local community here, but they were probably also serving the nearly Pearl City as well as the central valley residences which I could see in the distance from this trail.
I know of a coworker whose family lives in Mililani, and that was where I knew a lot of locals live in which was away from the craziness of Waikiki.
After getting up towards a water tank fenced off with barbed wire, I then continued briefly climbing towards what seemed to be the peak (or near peak) of this hike as I knew somewhere nearby I had to descend towards the drainage containing Waimano Falls.
It was about 12:10pm when I finally got to the signed junction, where I saw that it was still another 5.75 miles to get to the Ko’olau Summit from here while it was supposedly another 0.75 mile to get down to Waimano Falls.
I wondered to myself why I hadn’t noticed this waterfall before (and I wondered if I overlooked it from my Stuart Ball book).
Anyways, it was fairly quiet along this trail as I saw many two or three other parties, but as I made my way down, there were a handful more on the way up as I was making my way down. So clearly this place wasn’t that unknown though I wondered if this was mostly locals here.
The path continued to be pretty straightforward for a short stretch, but then it started getting steep, slippery, and a bit dicey in stretches.
I had assumed that this was the top of the infamous “Cardiac Hill” that they talked about regarding this hike.
And so at this point, I was slowly making my way down this path as I was grabbing onto trees, roots, and even the odd rope that was tied for better leverage.
There were a few false trails (one of which I actually did take before I saw that I was deviating from the dashed line on Gaia GPS), but the sketchy downhill was relentless almost the entire way.
There was one respite from the descent where the scenery opened up nearly by some kind of tall palm tree before going down another sketchy section ultimately leading down towards a rope swing where I could hear voices.
Once I got down there, I saw the rope swing and one woman really hesistant to use it as she was holding onto it.
As I continued scrambling further upstream, I was then on a precarious ledge where I finally was able to see the Waimano Falls. There was another rope here to aid in a nearly vertical descent to the plunge pool, but with my gear and knowing the loss of traction on the Keens at this point, I was content to get my shots from here.
It was about 1:05pm when I finally got to this waterfall so whoever said this hike was only 30 minutes on AllTrails or something must have been either trolling or a local who can go at light speed compared to most hikers.
After having my fill of the main waterfall (after opting not to go down though still saying hi to the two girls that were here playing with the rope swing), I then scrambled back downstream towards the front of the lower pool that had the rope swing.
The scrambling here was even more slippery and dicey, but I did figure a way down just as another family was showing up to the upper waterfall and then scrambling down to the rope swing.
So I took a few more videos and photos from here before finally having my fill and making my way back up at 1:30pm.
Now, the hard part of the hike began as I was now using all fours to scramble back up the Cardiac Hill but at least I wouldn’t get sidetracked by any false trails this time around.
There were probably three more parties of people that I encountered on the way back up Cardiac Hill (including one woman who asked how the water was flowing today; which made me wonder if this one goes dry if it hadn’t been raining).
And finally at 2:10pm, I made it up to the Manana Ridge Trail again, which made me drenched in sweat as I was definitely breathing heavy and dispelling all the heat from that ascent.
Finally at 2:35pm, I made it back to the Manana Ridge Trailhead where there was a group of UK guys (who I thought at first were Australian) as well as another couple just getting started.
And at 2:45pm, I recovered the car and got out of the stinky Keens again so my feet could finally breathe and help out that annoying sore beneath my right foot.
From there, I took the familiar roads back down to the H1 and then followed the congested rush-hour freeways back towards Waikiki, where I’d eventually park near the same spot I had parked at yesterday at 3:35pm.
By 3:50pm, I was back in the room, where I got a much-needed shower while Julie and Tahia were making their way back to the room.
When they finally got back and I was done showering, we were headed back downstairs for that anticipated cheap Udon place at 4:15pm.
By about 4:50pm, we were waiting in line for the Udon place, which actually wasn’t that bad, and by 5pm, we were finally inside the Marugame Udon, which was basically a cafe-style place where you order the food and then try to find a table to eat at.
The tables were disgusting as people didn’t clean up after themselves, and so we had to spend some time to do the wiping.
Eventually, we were done with our meal of Curry Udon, some kind of Nikutama (sp?) Udon, and Tahia’s teriyaki Chicken Katsu over rice bowl.
The food wasn’t the greatest and it was probably overly sweet, and I considered it a typical Japanese eatery though Julie realized that ramen was more her thing than udon.
Anyways, the bill ended up being all about $27 total, which was less than a single dish served up at Duke’s Canoe Club. So that more than anything was probably why there were 10k reviews on Yelp about this place and why it has a line.
By about 5:25pm, we left and then 5:45pm, we went to Ross in anticipation of boogie boarding for Tahia. I gave them the idea that perhaps we should just buy one of those boogie boards which were cheap (at $20 or less) and then just discard it when done using it.
After all, you wouldn’t have to wait in line to rent one and it probably would cost even less than buying this.
Anyways, after getting this, we then waited in line for the Island Vintage Shave Ice truck at 5:50pm. It took some time to get this “dessert”, but after having it, I came to the realization that shave ice was really a gimmick in my mind.
That’s because it’s basically drinking sweep syrup that was trickling through finely cut ice. I dunno if I’m going to have another one of these again.
When Julie got back to the room some time after 7pm, she saw that Tahia was already sleeping, which was quite early, and she took it as a sign that maybge little girl wasn’t feeling well.
Sure enough, she suspected Tahia had a fever and after running downstairs to get a thermometer, then coming back up to measure her, Tahia was running a low-grade fever at over 99F with measurements topping out at 100.3F.
That depressed Tahia because she was really scared about contracting COVID-19 even though we had been very careful, but I guess when you have people who weren’t as careful (actually careless and inconsiderate when you think about it), it seems like an inevitable thing.
And as strict as they are in Hawaii, it seems like there’s only so much locals can do to protect themselves though now I was starting to wonder how much of the locals actually care about this too.
Regardless, this is part of the mentality where you have to be an a**hole to make money and participate in the American economy, and that in turn makes people a**hole to other people and to Nature. And the more money people make, the more a**holes they become.
Think of it like the system making everyone out to be a**holes since we need money to do the stuff we need to do to live, and the attitude towards COVID-19 was no different.
So with that, we now have to consider whether to reconsider tomorrow’s intention of going to the North Shore. We’ll have to see how this plays out…
Day 7 (November 24, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Leaving It On The Table”
It was 4:30am when I awoke to the alarm as I got up and tried to get caught up on yesterday’s happenings knowing that Julie and Tahia would take some time to get ready.
However, with Tahia fighting off some kind of bug as evidenced by her elevated body temperature that started manifesting itself yesterday, we weren’t sure whether this was going to be another divide-and-conquer day or what.
But our plans to go to the North Shore and come back in a day was definitely in jeopardy.
In any case, as we took our time getting ready and Tahia finally got up at 6:30am, we measured her temps and saw that she still had a low grade fever.
That made Julie and I wonder what we were going to do about today, but eventually we decided that the show must go on, and that Tahia could sleep in the car while we were out and about trying to experience the North Shore for the first time in nearly 15 years.
So it wouldn’t be until about 7:45am when we finally went downstairs, and by 8:20am (after buying some more water and waiting for Julie to get her forgotten iPhone from the room), we finally started driving out of the Sheraton structure.
Unlike yesterday, the traffic heading back towards the H1 westbound was surprisingly light.
I don’t know what the difference was, but perhaps more people were taking today off or something, or that we were beyond the rush hour.
Anyways, it didn’t take long before we were back on the H1 and then onto the Pali Highway as we ultimately made our way towards the windward side and descended towards the Kamehameha Highway before hanging a left onto Kionaole Road.
This rather obscure road went back underneath the H3 before traversing through a jungle area in a drive that was eerily reminiscent of what it was like to drive towards Maunawili Falls, which included a right turn by some kind of road closure or something.
We did notice that some cars showed up and parked at some dicey pullouts (perhaps to avoid paying the $10 fee to park in the Ko’olau Golf Course lot), but we just decided to do the safe thing and take the ramp going into the property.
It seemed like a non-trivial drive to maze towards the Ko’olau Golf Club property, where we paid the $10 in cash, and the guy directed us to drive to the backside of the building so Julie and Tahia could use the restroom. We got there at about 8:40am.
I quickly geared up in my stinky Keens, one water, and a couple of trekking poles just in case it was going to get muddy and slippery, and then I was off while Julie and Tahia stayed in the car.
The path was already somewhat muddy and slippery, but it wasn’t too bad as I briefly made my way around a bend before reaching a graffiti-laced water tank.
To the right of the tank, there was a little bit of a clearing revealing the fluted pali of the Ko’olaus here, but to the left of the tank, there was a pink-tape-indicated path going up a very muddy path. The tape had “Likeke Falls Trail” written on it so clearly there was no ambiguity on where to go.
I wondered if the money collected by the Ko’olau Gold Club was like a secondary income for them so they could do some basic trail improvements like these pink tapes.
Still, it was rather muddy and slippery as I started the ascent, and it got even dicier as I got towards the top of this climb. I knew that going back down, it was going to be non-trivial so I made a mental note to use the trekking poles to maintain my balance on the way back.
Beyond this muddy interlude, the trail narrowed considerably (but not too overgrown) as I found myself going through a well-shaded but muggy jungle path that went under one power pylon with power lines and a view towards a distance natural arch somewhere near the Pali Lookout.
It kind of helped to orient where exactly I was since the last time I did the hike to Likeke Falls, we were coming down from the Pali Highway and did some interesting scramblings underneath the Pali Highway and then towards some closed roads before getting into the bush.
It now felt like I was going in the opposite direction as that first time around.
It didn’t take long before the muddy path traversed onto the bouldery “road” path that I recalled from before though it was still slippery and muddy (probably from the rains that I had been seeing the Ko’olaus consistently getting while we were in O’ahu thanks to the northeast trades).
And as I continued to make my way through the semi-muddy boulder-surfaced path, I eventually got past a pair of downed trees that I could easily climb over.
One of the trees had a blue spraypainted arrow to the right while another upright tree had another blue arrow pointing right as well. There were also more pink tape pointing to the opening on the right.
I never recalled these indicators were ever here before, but perhaps that was one of the things that the Ko’olau Golf Club folks did as part of that “easier path” to get to the falls instead of coming down from the Pali Highway as a bit of an adventure.
This even narrower path was now consistently muddy and sloshy, and I definitely had to pick my steps to avoid a slip-and-fall. Especially with me wearing the stinky Keens, I was keenly aware of the open sore under my right foot that posed a bit of a leptospirosis risk.
Strangely, I saw one family making their way back during this muddy stretch, but by 9:25am, I finally made it to the familiar Likeke Falls.
This waterfall seemed taller than I had remembered, and now I’m thinking that it might be more like 30-40ft tall, especially considering that its uppermost section was overgrown so it’s hard to capture in pictures its full height.
I carefully made my way towards the middle of the stream to take the pictures and videos in all the ways that I could, and I also got adjacent to the lower drop of the falls so I could get a more angled view of the whole thing as well as its shallow plunge pool.
Since I was heavily deeted up, the mozzies were definitely around, but they didn’t get me except maybe through my Kuhl Airspeed shirt that I was wearing on this day.
After having my fill of this waterfall, which I surprisingly had all to myself, I then went back the way I came as I now got out the Black Diamond Alpine FLZ poles to better handle the muddy terrain.
They definitely helped me to keep upright because it’s better to have four “legs” while dealing with this sketchy muddy terrain than just having all my weight on two legs (or one at a time when stepping carefully).
And so after going back down through the familiar short trail, I was back at the parking lot by about 10am.
In a brief moment, I had forgotten that on O’ahu, our rental car was a black SUV instead of the tiny white KIAs, but Julie eventually set me straight.
Anyways, we went back to the restrooms one last time before heading out, but during that time, we caught one last look at the Ko’olau Range since this was a rather scenic golf course that I’m sure the rest of my family (especially my parents and by younger brother) would enjoy golfing at.
By 10:20am, we headed out, and we then headed to the Byodo-in Temple. When we got there at 10:40am, we saw that it was now quite the busy place.
I remembered the last time Julie and I were here in January 2007, we were only one of a couple of parties here, and it was a very quiet and serene experience.
But today, it was far from that as the lot was full and there were many families out and about here. Not only that, but they charged $5 per adult and $2 per children here now, when we didn’t have to pay anything the last time we were here.
I guess times have changed since we were last here, and it just comes with the territory as you get more people coming and more maintenance required for upkeep given the inevitable mess that guests (and more of them) would make.
The quick stroll around the koi ponds fronting the temple was scenic as usual though we were somewhat looking against the morning sun, which was practically on top of the Ko’olau Range that we were looking at.
Tahia got out of the car for this excursion and enjoying gonging the bell while also encouraged to buy fish food to feed the koi since the lady at the ticket booth let her in for free so she could use her discount to buy said fish food.
That really got her all entertained while I was busy taking more pictures of the Japanese-inspired Shinto shrine.
Indeed, this place did indeed bring me back to the temples that I witnessed in the couple of times that I’ve been to Japan.
By about 11:25am, we were back in the car, and now we were to continue driving north to try out the familiar Kahuku Shrimp Trucks.
I had flashbacks of the La’ie Falls hike when we were here in January 2007, especially when passing by the Polynesian Cultural Center (where we attended a luau there) and the Foodlands plaza (where I picked up a permit to do the hike).
So we went ahead and had ourselves some of the famous garlic shrimp though we were disappointed to learn that they didn’t farm their own shrimp anymore since COVID-19. Moreover, when we finally got the food, the garlic was burnt (though they did give us a lot of it).
Julie was so disappointed with this experience that we decided to have another go at it by going to Fumi’s.
So by 12:50pm, we were back in the car, and then drove to Fumi’s, which just so happened to be a short distance to the north of Romy’s.
This place had Chinese signage as well as a lot more people and even a performer entertaining the guests.
It turned out that the owners here were Chinese, and when we got our shrimp, they did theirs very simple with large plump shrimp though not a whole lot of garlic to go with it.
Thus, the shrimp was very good and fresh, but it lacked the sauce and quantity of garlic that Romy’s had (if only they didn’t burn their garlic).
By 1:20pm, we were back in the car as we were now rather sated.
Julie wanted to have one last go at Giovanni’s, and so we decided to drive back down there for a try eventually getting there at 1:30pm.
However, that place was very busy, and it seemed like half the people here waiting in line didn’t wear masks. So it was also a bit of a COVID-19 risk here.
While Tahia and I were standing in line, Julie walked around to see the quality of the shrimp that other people were having, and upon seeing that it wasn’t impressive enough to justify waiting in line, we ultimately decided to stop waiting and return to the car at 1:45pm.
However, as we drove north towards Haleiwa going past some attractive surfing beaches like Sunset Beach and the vicinity of the Banzai Pipeline, we then found ourselves stuck in traffic at 2pm.
That traffic was at a total standstill for at least 20 minutes, and we wondered if there must have been a significant accident there.
As much as we were curious about having a go at the Mastumoto Shave Ice (apparently they put mochis in there now), it didn’t seem justified for us to wait it out just to wait in another line for shave ice.
I knew that with tomorrow being Thanksgiving Day, we were unlikely to have our go at Matsumoto’s, but then again, perhaps it just wasn’t in the cards for us on this trip.
And, it was getting too late in the day to even explore the Waimea Valley for Waimea Falls.
So the North Shore sights and experiences that we were after on this day just wasn’t meant to be, and by 2:20pm-ish, we decided to head back the way we came.
It was shocking to see how much the line grew as we went the other way, and whatever happened here (an ambulance and a cop started to get through the traffic during our wait), it must have just happened prior to us attempting to getting around the North Shore.
That was a total bummer.
Anyways, so back down the Eastern Shore of O’ahu we went as we followed another long caravan of cars. And the traffic was moving somewhat fluidly until we got back towards Kaneohe, which was very busy again.
At least there wasn’t a problem with an accident there, and we even made one quick stop to pick up a locally-made lilikoi mochi cake by the side of the road while waiting in traffic.
During this slow down, we ultimately considered going around Diamond Head in the vicinity of Hanauma Bay before we aborted that attempt given the high volume of traffic even going in that direction.
So instead of taking the H3 towards Pearl Harbor before taking the H1 back (which most people did), we ultimately took a different highway that went directly to the H1 so that we could return to Waikiki after having turned around and taking a wrong turn.
Thus, we left yet another thing on the table on this day, and by 4:10pm, we finally made it back to the car park for the Sheraton Waikiki.
And after putting her name on there in Hakata Ramen style, we then had to wait for our party to get called, but after seeing how slow the line was moving, Tahia and I decided to go back to the car park, pick up the stuff, and deposite them in the room.
But just as we were doing that, Julie texted me to say that the parties before us were no showing so we had to hurry.
Thus, Tahia and I ran to the Ramen Nakamura (Tahia was getting out of breath), and when we finally returned to Julie at 5:20pm, we were apparently in time (maybe) though it still took a few minutes before a worker finally checked our IDs and vaccination cards before getting seated at 5:25pm.
All three of us were getting their signature ox tail ramen with some combo or thereabouts. So it was familiar Hakata Ramen style that we were used to getting back at home.
Anyways, since Tahia couldn’t finish her food (always picky about whether meat has too much fat and really not wanting to eat the veggies), and Julie not able to finish her fried rice, I was really stuffed eating my Ox Tail Ramen Combo (which included fried rice and 3 pieces of gyoza) and eating what the girls couldn’t eat.
Meanwhile, Julie went to return the unused boogie board (knowing that it was unlikely Tahia would get to play in the water tomorrow), and when we returned to the room, she told us that it was quite festive down at street level.
I guess it was that thing where we could be suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), but then again, was it worth contracting COVID-19 (assuming we didn’t have it already) by being within the action?
So that feeling of FOMO wasn’t as strong with Julie and I and we pretty much crashed for the rest of the night while everyone else outside were out on the street partying the eve of Thanksgiving Day. Indeed, it was surprisingly busy here at the time, which I wasn’t expecting.
Christmas and New Years Time is going to be bonkers, I’m sure…
Day 8 (November 25, 2021 – Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii): “Low Key Ending”
It was 6:10am when I awoke as I opted to just sleep in knowing that it was Thanksgiving Day today and that we really didn’t have anything planned today other than a light day of touring both the Diamond Head and Ko Olina – both of which I had assumed would be open on this day.
So I took some time to get caught up on blogging as usual and it wasn’t until around 7am when Julie and Tahia finally woke up.
Tahia was running a fever still when she got up though she insisted that she was fine.
So of course, that made us concerned about her contracting the COVID-19 virus, but with Julie and I still not feeling symptoms, I started to wonder if Tahia caught a bacteria infection or food poisoning.
In the meantime, I had been checking out our premium view across Waikiki Beach towards Diamond Head from our room as the sun was in different stages of pre-dawn to sunrise to full-up sun-going-right-into-the-room.
Anyways, by about 8:30am, we finally got into the car as we left the Sheraton and into the somewhat holiday-light traffic as we followed the familiar road towards Ala Wai Blvd to McCully St.
Then, instead of taking McCully all the way to Dole St then Alexander St like we had done earlier on throughout this trip, we instead headed east on Kapiolani Blvd before catching the H1 East towards the end of the freeway.
As we kept driving east on the H1 and then towards some signs for Koko Head, I kept thinking to myself that Diamond Head couldn’t be this far away yet the GPS kept insisting on continuing east.
I don’t know what the pre-trip waypoints that I had labeled for Diamond Head was doing, but when I finally had Julie check on her iPhone, it told us to make a U-turn and head west again.
It turned out that we went way past Diamond Head and had to backtrack almost towards the far east end of the H1 before cutting left along Kilauea Ave and then past the Kaimuki Middle School, which was in the windward shadow of the Diamond Head Crater (looking very much like a crater from here).
From there, we turned left onto 18th Ave, and then got up to the nearest approach for the Diamond Head Road, but after some cones that were arranged to make you go against the traffic, we eventually got to the Kahala Lookout.
However, there was signage and a gate blocking the tunnel for further progress to the Diamond Head Crater when we got there at 9am, and apparently it was closed today!
I thought it was supposed to be one of the few things open today, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
So we took some shots against the morning sun eastward from the Kahala Lookout, and then we studied Gaia GPS to see if there was a trail that would take us up to the crater.
Alas, it didn’t appear that there was a way to hike up there as even a secondary approach required going through a tunnel.
Thus, doing Diamond Head just wasn’t meant to be on this trip (along with a couple of other things that we had missed out on concerning the North Shore and Hanauma Bay).
So with that, we then drove back towards the H1, and ultimately followed the somewhat light-flowing freeway west towards Ko Olina since we were intending to spend most of the day out there anyways.
After Julie and I did a little debating about whether to stick to the H1 all the way or take some H-2101 interlude before rejoining the H1, we’d eventually get west of Pearl Harbor, and now we were in a part of O’ahu that we had never been in before.
The terrain out here was definitely more reddish and brownish as we were clearly on the leeward side of O’ahu.
Eventually, the H1 freeway would end, and then we were driving on a pretty busy road before taking an exit for Ali’inui Drive.
During the drive, Julie kept complaining that something was stinking up the car and she kept blaming me. She thought it was either a really stinky fart or a topic burp or something.
It was at that moment that I realized that perhaps it was Tahia who might have gotten food poisoning and perhaps that was the cause of her fever as opposed to COVID-19.
Anyways, we passed by some gate leading to Ko Olina where a woman there was beckoning people to keep moving.
But we also saw that there were available parking space indicators showing that lots 4 and 2 were already full and that there were only 13 spots in lot 3 and 1 in one other lot.
I guess that made us think that maybe we were too late to show up here and so we decided to drive towards Lagoon 3 and wait for a spot to open up thinking that perhaps we wouldn’t have a prayer of finding parking in Lot 4.
Eventually by around 10am, I had Julie and Tahia go to the lagoon so they wouldn’t have to wait in the car this whole time.
So with that, I finally joined Julie and Tahia who at first were chilling out in what seemed to be a pretty sunny part of the lagoon.
When I did some exploring around this Lagoon 3 (which was apparently half-occupied by Marriott Ko Olina Resort as well as the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club), I found the other side of the public part of the beach, where there was a much better shadier tree to chill out at.
And so with that, I convinced Julie to take our stuff over there so we wouldn’t have to contend with the sun that was intensifying.
Once we finally chilled out there, then we spent time indulging Tahia by going in the water though we found out that her floatation device was no longer functioning.
So we had to stay in the shallow area as this lagoon felt a little deeper than the beach at Waikiki.
Tahia was being mischievous by trying get into a wet sand fight as we were chucking lumps of wet sand at each other.
But eventually Tahia then wanted to build a sandcastle, which lasted only as long as she realized that the sand could be used as ammo to continue the wet sand-throwing fight.
Eventually, it was Julie’s turn to keep Tahia occupied while I was busy checking out the waves crashing against the unprotected part of the lagoon.
At some point, Tahia got bored with Julie just floating in the water and leaving Tahia alone so Tahia and I were playing catch with some kind of nuts that had fallen from nearby trees.
This was initially her trying to pelt me with the nuts, but playing catch with it was good enough.
Once Tahia had her fill of doing that, she then complained that she wasn’t feeling well and had to lay down on the towels in the sand.
At that time, I wanted to go explore the neighboring Lagoon 4 just to see what that was like, and so we ultimately let Tahia have a rest on the towels while Julie and I went over there to see what was going on.
We had read that that was supposed to be the best lagoon, and when we ultimately got there, we could see that it was very similar to Lagoon 3 that we were chilling out at.
However, the big difference was that Lagoon 4 was fully public access, and there was even a much larger parking lot. Maybe we didn’t need to have waited 20 minutes for a spot to open up, but the flip side to that was that at least we got plenty of shaded parking.
After exploring around this fourth lagoon which seemed quite festive with lots of visitors and locals having a Thanksgiving chill-out, we then rejoined Tahia.
By now, it was nearly 12pm, and we decided to get our stuff, put it in the car, and then head over to the remaining lagoons as Julie wanted to see what the Aulani Resort was like.
I remembered Julie had coveted that spot when Tahia was younger, and now that we were finally here in O’ahu for the first time in nearly 15 years, I guess we could finally scratch that curiosity itch she had.
However, once again, Tahia said she wasn’t feeling well and wanted to rest in the car. I think her food poisoning was definitely not doing her any favors, and so we made the tough decision to let her rest in the car under the shade while Julie and I would continue exploring.
Since we were looking for a lunch to take away, perhaps this was our opportunity to knock off two birds with one stone.
Anyways, it took some time before I was able to get changed and Julie finally rejoined me so we could do our walk.
And so we pretty much followed the beach walk north as we skirted around Lagoon 2, which was another fully public beach with a neighboring time share here.
And when we finally got to Lagoon 1, this was perhaps the most private one as there were two properties sharing this large but rocky lagoon with a sliver of public beach here.
It was definitely way busier at this lagoon as there were also lots more kids.
Then, Julie was conversing with someone at the stairs before the Cafe Ko Olina that seemed to serve decent food as we suspected we’d get ripped off at the Aulani.
So we decided to come back to the cafe once we were done scoping out the Aulani.
When we got to the resort, we saw that indeed this place was all about the kids. There was a large pool area with some artificial rocks arranged in a sort of sea arch or sea cave ccnfiguration.
On the opposite side, there was some kind of water slide and jungle gym-like thing ala Great Wolf Lodge.
There was also a snorkel pool with an area where we could see under the water the fish that were there without needing to get wet.
Finally, we saw the lazy river, which looked like a lot of fun, but man was it busy.
Indeed, this place had that amusement park feel to it (or more accurately a water park), but since there was nothing more for us to do here, we retreated back to the cafe, where we then went upstairs to the actual spot that was adjacent to some kind of chapel.
However, the Garlic Shrimp had some kind of white cream sauce on it, which was disappointing. Still, after sampling the garlic shrimp dish, we left the rest of it and carried that with us as we now had to make the hike back to Lagoon 3 parking lot.
It wasn’t until about 2:15pm when we finally got back to the car, where Tahia was telling us that she was crying because she was worried about us (taking so long).
I once had those thoughts before when I was about her age and was left alone because I didn’t feel like joining the parents on a walk or something (and it took a couple or more hours – probably felt longer, especially as it was getting dark). So I could understand how she was feeling.
She even said that one lady was trying to console her when she was crying, so I guess that made us look like the bad parents.
Anyways, that was done and over with, and Tahia at least got to eat up shrimp though we were trying to get her to finish her greens since this trip had lots of bad-for-your-health goodies but little in the way of healthy stuff in terms of veggies and ferments.
As we drove out of Lagoon 3, there seemed to be a lot more cars on the road now as apparently it wasn’t as Holiday Light as I would have anticipated, but at least there wasn’t a traffic jam as there would typically be on the H1 going east towards Waikiki.
To our surprise, this truck was actually open!
Then, on the way back towards the Waikiki vicinity, we then followed the Pali Highway towards the exit with the Nu’uanu Cemetery (the GPS insisted on making me U-turn somewhere I wasn’t supposed to when I could have exited on Wyllie St).
Eventually, we found the turnoff we were supposed to take to lead to the trailhead for Kapena Falls, which was going to be the last waterfall of this trip.
And eventually we got to the trailhead, but when we got to the car park for Kapena Falls, which now looked more sanctioned and contained several parking spaces, we saw a sign saying that the gates would close at 3:30pm.
Well, that was pretty much now so we had to leave this car park and find parking where we weren’t supposed to park in the cemetery area.
Since I knew that this was going to be a short visit while Julie and Tahia would stay in the car, I went ahead and sprayed on Julie’s bug spray, and then made the walk back down to the trailhead after ducking the just-closed gate.
Then I went into the shady confines of the established trail going past some graffiti and apparently petroglyphs as well as under some giant-rooted banyan trees before finally making it to an angled view of Kapena Falls.
I wasn’t sure what possessed us to not finish this sanctioned trail the first time we were here (or maybe we did do that but just had bad memory), but the falls looked just as small as I remembered.
I also saw that there was a red tent here, and I wondered if that was some staffer who tents here or someone squatting illegally.
In any case, I got my photos and videos from the sanctioned side, and I opted not to cross the stream and risk further leptospirosis exposure (with my right underfoot sore still open), and then headed back.
By about 4pm, I was back at the car, and then we drove the rest of the way to the busy Waikiki area as we returned to the Sheraton Parking Structure and parked at 4:30pm.
It was definitely busy here as this place was way more happening for Thanksgiving than I would have anticipated, and I wondered what Christmas would be like in a month’s time.
By now, Tahia learned how to say “Mele Kaliki Maka” (which was Christmas in Hawaiian) as there was a red and green sign that we had seen numerous times when turning right on Lewers St.
And with that, we returned to the room at 4:40pm, where Julie and I then promptly went back down at 5pm to get some takeaway food in the nearby food court as we opted to go low key for dinner and eat in the room.
Tahia opted to stay in the room (obviously wanting to play on the iPad or something), and so Julie and I ended up getting something from the Champion’s Steak stall, where we picked up some garlic shrimp, chicken, and ribeye steak on the go.
It took some time to get the food and walk it back up to the room, and as it was getting dark, Julie and I split up so she could try to get some last-minute sunset shots while getting a coffee.
Meanwhile, I went back up the elevator where people crowded the elevator I took, including two unmasked people making a delivery.
And finally at 5:55pm, I made it back to the room where Tahia and I were sharing a moment on the balcony having dinner and checking out the view.
Julie finally joined us some 30 minutes later (the food was cold by now), and we insisted that Tahia finish off her greens, including the Tommy Bahama’s broccolini and asparagus that was bought yesterday next door to Ramen Nakamura.
And with that, we were watching the Vegas-like luau show from way up here so we weren’t totally missing out on the happening festivities down below (there were lots of music from various venues and crowd reactions) so we weren’t totally suffering from FOMO.
But we still had ourselves a low-key ending to this Hawaiian trip. And thus, we had to spend some time getting all packed so we could carry on most of our stuff on our way home.
Once that was done, we eventually crashed for the night one last time as tomorrow, it was time to go home.
My left knee was really swollen again as it probably wasn’t helped from the wheat rich diet we’ve been having throughout this trip, and I’m hoping that my legs will recover enough for the cramped flight home.
Day 9 (November 26, 2021 – Los Angeles, California): “Cutting It Close”
It was 4:10am when I awoke without an alarm, but my left knee was really feeling swollen so clearly the Leonard’s Malasadas from yesterday wasn’t helping my cause at all!
Definitely when we go home, we’re going to have to get back to wheat-free and gluten-free eating as we definitely reverted back to old habits on this trip (and this past couple of months since Iceland).
We’ve been packing on the pounds and now my joints were hurting just like what Julie had warned when her gut health had been suffering all these years (since March 2015 to be exact).
This pretty much confirmed our suspicions that these ailments had more to do with gut health and diet than anything else, but at least we know about it now, and now we can act accordingly.
Tbat said, we still scheduled a COVID-19 test for tomorrow just in case so we don’t put people around us in jeopardy.
By about 5:30am, Tahia finally woke up and we took her temperature, which was now reading in the 98F range. She still wasn’t totally in the clear yet, but now it seemed like her body was getting the upper hand on whatever infection she was getting.
By 7:10am, after Julie went downstairs to pick up some stuff from the Lawson Station, we then had one last breakfast on our balcony as the sun was rising over Diamond Head Crater in the distance.
We basically finished off some prosciutto and Swiss cheese along with some fresh pineapples, paw paws, and berries. I also helped Julie finish her almond milk though the mini-fridge was too cold so some of it was ice and slush that wouldn’t come out.
With our flight scheduled to be at 9:50am, I knew that we were probably cutting it close though I assumed that maybe with today being Black Friday, perhaps the traffic should be holiday light.
Sure enough, the drive to the H1 (while not empty) was pretty smooth going and we ultimately made it back to the main airport at 8:15am, where we promptly returned the rental car and then got our stuff.
From there, we hiked over to the United ticketing counter to drop off Julie’s big luggage though we had to do the LAX thing and take it through agricultural inspection first.
Then, after getting our boarding passes, we had to walk all the way to the other side of the airport just to get into Security Checkpoint.
Finally by 9am, we arrived at the gate, where there were lots of people there. Apparently, this was going to be a full flight and it wasn’t as holiday light as I had thought.
Indeed, we showed up just as they were boarding the pre-boarding and first class folks before calling in groups 1 and 2, and we were in group 3.
Finally we got into our seats towards the back of the plane and got our carry ons in the overhead compartment (always a concern of ours when on domestic flights). And with that, we waited patiently to take off, which didn’t happen until around 10:10am (so we were practically on the runway for about 45 minutes which seemed unusually long).
Regardless, with no in flight entertainment on this 757 plane, we were pretty much relegated to reading the same November 2021 issue of Hemispheres as well as watching Tahia’s iPad, which already had downloaded some Chinese Netflix shows as well as Twilight.
Finally, we landed some time after 5:15pm just after the sun had set in LA.
When we finally de-planed, we then hiked over to the Baggage Claim Carousel, where we promptly picked up Julie’s checked-in luggage, and then we had to take our stuff upstairs in the departures area so we could wait for our airport shuttle to show up.
Unfortunately, the airport shuttle company wasn’t picking up the phone as Julie said she called like around 17 times until someone finally picked up the phone.
Not long after that call, I saw the South Bay Airport Shuttle van show up, and we quickly took our stuff over to him.
It seemed like a rather long 20-30 minutes of wondering how we were going to get back to our parked car, but in the end, it worked out.
Once I got back our car and it started (always a concern when we come back from our trips), we then promptly drove home in what seemed to be holiday light on the carpool lane before we finally decided to stop for a Friday night dinner at an Indian Restaurant.
We got there at 6:30pm though the service was rather spotty today as they were quite busy. Still, we got our fill of an exotic curry dish, fish in brown curry, Tahia’s usual chicken tikka masala, an aloo gobi (roasted califlower curry), and some mango lassis.
It was a rather expensive dinner for Indian food, but it hit the spot. Though the included nan bread and gulab jamun didn’t exactly help my swollen joint issue since those things had wheat in them.
Finally at 7:55pm, we arrived at home to unload the car and finally get settled back at home. And so ended this Hawaiian trip where it seemed like we reverted to old (bad) habits as far as food was concerned, and our bodies were paying for it.
I guess we now have to get re-settled with our day-to-day lives at home again, and who knows what the future brings as Julie’s doom scrolling on her phone informed us of some new variant from South Africa that seems to defeat COVID-19 vaccines…
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