Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hiking, lately.

October is my favorite month, and while it's been fairly busy with school, work, a couple of shows (The New Pornographers and Noah Gundersen), hanging out with friends, and our 4-year anniversary, we've still managed to find some time to hike - and I hope to squeeze in a few more before these mild temperatures finally leave us to make way for the worst season of the year.

(You think I'm kidding.)

I've posted some of these on Instagram, but here's where we've been lately in a bit higher-res (all taken on an iPhone), including Big Cottonwood Canyon, Millcreek Canyon, and the Alpine Scenic Loop.

I sure do love Utah in the fall.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our visit to the Garden Isle + tons of photos

Kauai, Hawaii is called the Garden Isle for good reason - its lush, green mountains, beautiful waterfalls, and stunning beaches are simply breathtaking. I knew as soon as I'd started researching the different islands that Kauai was where I wanted to go (though truly, I'd like to visit them all one day).

We only spent 7 days on the island, but I could've happily spent an entire month exploring it. I've heard that Kauai's residents are a bit tired of tourists constantly coming to the island (and I don't blame them), but every local person we met was nothing but kind to us. The general vibe of the island is extremely laid-back and no one is ever in a hurry to get anywhere - which definitely took some getting used to for those of us that are - ahem - aggressive drivers, haha.

We left Salt Lake City in the morning, but because of the 4 hour time difference, still made it to Kauai by 2:00pm. Even the glimpse from the window on the plane was epic.

The above photo is the view from our condo balcony. We spent A LOT of time sitting out there, reading and watching the spontaneous rainstorms. So peaceful.

I won't bore you with the details of every single thing we saw and did that week, mostly because it involved a lot of this:

Heh, heh, heh.

Our first night in Kauai, we decided to wander down the street from our condo because we'd read that there was a beach within walking distance and obviously we needed to find it. After much searching, we found a narrow little trail between two fence lines that led in the general direction of the beach (Pali Ke Kua Beach) and turned out to be EXTREMELY STEEP. I don't have any photos of that part because EXTREMELY STEEP AND SLIPPERY.

Yeah, those handrails you see on either side? They disappeared shortly after this photo was taken and there were just a few haphazard ropes and jagged pipes to hold onto instead.

After making the perilous journey back up the trail and onto safer ground (I may be slightly exaggerating), we stopped to catch the sunset before heading back in.

We ate a ton of good seafood (and shave ice - Mmmmm) during our stay, but be warned - everything is expensive. For standard walk up to the counter and pay for your food kind of joints, you can still expect to spend around $15/person (not including drinks). But, it is what it is. We didn't let that stop us, obviously, and I'll do a food post at some point detailing everywhere we ate for anyone interested.

Groceries are also pretty expensive, but you'll still spend less if you can buy some groceries and eat at home for most of your meals. We typically ended up eating out once a day (usually for lunch or dinner) and ate at the condo otherwise. But for reals, those grocery prices are no joke. $6 for a box of cereal...$5 for a pineapple...$15.99 for Spam-flavored macadamia nuts, which I have photographic proof of. Just...I don't even know, you guys.

The avocados were ginormous - we bought one and made an entire bowl of guacamole with it. Oh, and that macadamia nut ice cream? Yeah, that gallon cost us $10 and was worth every single penny. I'm still lamenting the fact that you can't buy it anywhere here...

Because you never know when you might have a craving for Spam-flavored macadamia nuts.

We also did a couple of hikes, the Kalalau trail which I've already blogged about, and the Awa'awapuhi trail, which I'll talk about at some point. Both hikes provided gorgeous views and a ridiculous cardio workout, ha. I'd love to go back and do the entire 22 mile Kalalau trail hike at some point...once I've trained for it!

A few final thoughts on Kauai:

  • Snorkeling was how we spent most of our beach days, and we generally snorkeled at Anini Beach (though we heard Tunnels Beach was great for snorkeling, too). The coral isn't very pretty at Anini, but we saw a ton of gorgeous tropical fish as well as huge green sea turtles on two different days. I'd suggest renting snorkel gear from Kapa'a Beach Shop. $15/week for the mask, snorkel, and fins and the people working there were super helpful and friendly.
  • There's one main road that circles the entire island, and the fastest speed you'll ever go is 50mph (but more realistically, 30 or 40mph). Plan your activities based on where you're staying, where you want to go, and give yourself plenty of time to get there. 
  • Hitchhikers are everywhere and it seems to be common practice for nice folks to hitch a ride to the other side of the island (since there's only one road, we're all kind of going the same direction anyway). We even picked up a lady who needed to get to work but didn't want to walk in the rain, which I couldn't blame her for!
  • Princeville, where we stayed, was a beautiful resort-like location but we did find ourselves driving 25-30 minutes down to Kapa'a on the east shore for cheaper food and groceries and gas stations, for what that's worth. There's a lot more in terms of familiar stores (Starbucks, Costco, etc.) on the south shore and much less of that on the north. I think I'd still stay on the north shore next time, though - it's just so gorgeous.
  • Buy as many pineapples as you think you can eat. Hawaiian pineapples are unlike any pineapple I've ever tasted. So. Freaking. Good.
  • Try poke (pronounced POH-keh)! If you're a fan of sushi, I guarantee you'll like poke and pretty much every place on the island sells it. 
  • Lastly, there are chickens EVERYWHERE. They seem to have no self-awareness or internal clock and will crow all hours of the day and night. Bring some ear plugs.