Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sunshine Babies | Our Trip to Kauai

We got a really great start to summer by packing up and heading to Kauai for a week.  We didn't really have any expectations, we were just excited to be alone together for a week in Hawaii and it turned out to be one of the best weeks ever.  An all time favorite vacation, that is for sure.  This was our first trip alone as a family; we weren't visiting family, we weren't traveling with family and there weren't any friends going with us.  Not that we don't love our family, we adore our family, but being just us was exactly what we needed.  The girls were great ages to travel.  We didn't have to push around a stroller (our first trip without a stroller in 4 years!) and Sawyer was old enough to be able to take in an appreciate the things that we were doing and seeing.  We would wake up in the morning and leave our condo by 7:30 and be gone all day whether it be playing at the beach or visiting waterfalls.  It really was perfect.  

Prepping for vacation is one of Sawyer's favorite past times.  She was packed and ready to go several days before we got on the plane.

Getting through the airport is one of the hardest parts...lugging around car seats, suitcases, and making sure not to lose our kids.  The kids did great maneuvering through LAX and it was such a treat having Harper in her own seat once we got on the airplane.  Everyone was really well behaved on the flight, no embarrassing crying outbursts or anything. Traveling definitely gets easier the older your kids get!

When we got to the condo the kids couldn't wait to check out the view.  I gotta say, the view wasn't bad :)

Our condo was in Princeville right above Hideaways beach.  It was so beautiful.  

The girls shared a room and a bed.  This was a pretty big deal for both of them, and it turned out surprisingly well.  One night Harper fell out of her bed three times, but other than that, it was smooth sailing.

Each night before bed we would plan our adventures out for the next day.  Day 1 of our trip we decided to stay on the North Shore.  We made the trek down to Hideaways (going down the steep scary trail was ok, making our way back up was a challenge...I was struggling carrying Harper and the zipper broke on our backpack and my really good camera and lens took a tumble down the hill.  My camera was brought up to me by a kind samaritan covered in dirt and rocks).  Camera episode aside, the day was really great.  In the sand by 8AM, we visited Hanaelei and a farmer's market.  We had a shaved ice (not one of the better shave ices on the island but it was decent), drank out of a coconut (my first time!), swam in the pool, and visited Pu'u Poa Beach.

Journeying down to Hideaways wasn't as scary as the journey back up.

You gotta love that Hawaiian sand.

Our visit to the farmer's market was fun.  The coconut girl was awesome, for $5 she would first make a hole in the coconut so that you could drink out of it, and then once you were done with that you give her back your coconut and she would shave it and chop it up for you so that you could eat the fruit.  Me and Marc loved it - the girls, not so much.  Sawyer did like picking out a bracelet for herself from one of the vendors though, and she picked out a hand-stitched mermaid for Harper.  Since we have been home the bracelet hasn't seen the light of day (where is that thing anyways?) but the mermaid is still very popular.

The Hanalei Lookout

Heading down to Pu'u Poa Beach was a much easier task than Hideaways.  Having the St. Regis sitting right behind the beach made it a lot less secluded and private, but it was still beautiful none the less, and I appreciated the stairs as opposed to the treacherous hike ;)  Ok, lets be honest, the hike down to Hideaways isn't that hard, but we had a mishap so it tainted my perception of it.  

We didn't eat out a lot, so we spent a lot of time on our patio snacking, eating, and watching the sunsets.  

The East Shore of the island was perhaps not our favorite side of the island, but we made the most of what it had to offer and had a fun day exploring.  When leaving the North Shore was saw the Kilauea Lighthouse then visited Wailua Falls and Opaeka'a Falls, played at Lydgate Beach, enjoyed breakfast at Olympic Cafe, devoured some shave ice from Hee Fat General Store (great ice, the flavoring wasn't quite as great as Jo Jo's though) and spent some more time in the pool. I think Lydgate was our least favorite beach, but it was a pretty good place for the kids to play.

Me in my 22 weeks of pregnancy glory.

Our little powder lover.

Visiting the West Shore was one of my favorite days.  We visited Fort Elizabeth and saw where the Waimea rivers runs into the ocean.  The sand here is black and interesting to see.  We visited Salt Pond Beach where Sawyer finally decided she would play in the ocean with Marc, we drove up through the Waimea Canyon and visited one of the wettest spots on earth (ironically it was a sunny gorgeous day), we got to have one of our all time favorite treats...Jo Jo's, and we visited Glass Beach (or "Treasure Beach" according to Sawyer) and found sea glass and we drove down some crazy bumpy dirt road to Polihale Beach which was both breathtaking and unbelievably dry and hot.  We finished the day off with an evening swim.  Perfection.  This day was undoubtedly a highlight and packed with loads of good memories.


One the South Shore was our most favorite stretch of beach - the Maha'ulepu beaches were a little slice of heaven.  We took a long walk along a rocky trail and the view was glorious.  It took a bumpy rocky road to get there, but it was well worth it.  Sawyer caught a crab on the South Shore, we enjoyed some Puka Dogs, saw the Spouting Horn, and played in the water at Po'ipu Beach.  

We headed over to the St. Regis to watch the sunset.  Our plan was to figure out how to sneak into the pool, but we chickened out and never did do that.  The sunset was gorgeous and Sawyer frolicked in the water.  It started to rain on us which was a fun/funny finale to the night.  Our vacation felt magical.

The next day was  North Shore kind of day.  We woke up and headed straight for Ke'e Beach since parking can be difficult there later in the day.  Marc did some snorkeling and then we headed to Banana Joe's for a frozen treat and some exotic fruits and then on to Anini Beach.  My favorite part of the day was our stroll along Ke'e Beach and our encounter with the monk seal.  The Na Pali Coast is a gorgeous sight.

We decided to be adventurous again and make the hike down to Secret Beach.  The hike was pretty easy and the girls did great - Sawyer even walked the majority of the way herself.  I didn't get to see the lava pools but Marc said they were cool (I stayed back with the kids while he walked along the rocks down on the beach).  We didn't take very many pictures while we were down there, I don't really know why.  The girls showed us their muscles once we got back to the car.

The busy days led to tired nights...

We spent our last day on the North Shore again.  We started our day at Tunnels, the kids had McDonald's (Harper was so happy about this), visited Pu'u Poa Beach again and watched the sunset.  Marc also cracked his iPhone screen (well, we think Harper did) and stepped on and broke his favorite sunglasses.  Everything can't be perfectly perfect, can it?

Sawyer gave us a Taylor Swift performance on a ukulele...

Getting ready to go home was kind of sad, but we felt like we really saw the island and made the most of the time we had in Kauai.  It is possible I cried when the plane took off and we were headed back to California...it wasn't so much that I was sad to be going home, it was more that I was so happy for the week that we had together.

Getting through the Kauai airport is painful.  The agricultural check alone makes me want to rip my hair out...it seems like everyone moves so slow and my kids get cranky in the meantime.  I guess they are on island time, huh?

Starbucks "ice shakes" made the wait for our delayed flight bearable, maybe even enjoyable.  Harper was on a sugar high after this and she was hilarious.

Somewhere over the Pacific.  The kids did great on this flight too, but Harper had a few moments of imperfection...she was ready to be home and in her own bed.

We landed at LAX really late and we were all super tired.  Reality hit hard bright and early the next morning when I had to get up early and go spend the day shooting a wedding in San Diego.

This was easily one of the best weeks of our married life and spending this uninterrupted time with our family created some of the most cherished memories.  I couldn't have asked for a better vacation or for a better group of people to vacation with.  

We are lucky.

(It is fun comparing this trip to Kauai to our list trip to Kauai in 2010 when we had our Dimick family reunion.  My our babies have grown! Kauai 2010)
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