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Kauai – July 4, 2007

Wednesday

Our plans to sleep in were interrupted by a rooster outside our window at 5:45am. We kept hoping he would shut up and/or go away, but he didn’t. At 6:15 I decided I wasn’t going to sleep any more, so I got up. While Chris snoozed on, I checked e-mail and caught up on news, and then made some coffee. Chris got out of bed when the coffee was ready at 7:00.

Polihale Beach

After a quick breakfast of cereal, Chris took her book and I took my laptop to the open-air lobby. We sat in a breezy alcove where Chris read and I wrote until the laptop battery gave out. The weather was cloudy and there were occasional short showers as we sat in our alcove.

Our plan for the day was to spend the afternoon at Polihale Beach on the western side of the island. After that, we would get cleaned up and go to the Sheraton in Poipu for a fireworks show. Back at the room, we packed a change of clothes and some toiletries into our overnight bag. We figured we could use the shower of one of our friends staying in Poipu before going to the Sheraton.

We would need lunch on the beach, so we drove to the nearby Safeway. There we bought drinks, a couple of deli sandwiches, snacks, ice, and a small cooler. Another shower blew through as we were packing our groceries into the car, making it difficult to pack the cooler without getting soaked. We got everything in order and, by 10:15, we were on our way to Poipu once again.

Traffic was light and we arrived at the Hyatt in Poipu about 10 minutes early for the 11:00 assembly in the lobby. Chris and I poked around in the shops and galleries in the hotel while we waited to see anyone familiar. Shortly after 11:00 we saw Mini and Heath talking to people we didn’t know. We joined them and introductions were made all around.

From the Hyatt we went to Polihale Beach. For reasons that will become obvious, I will not specify who drove or which rental cars were involved in the trip.

Polihale Beach is a long stretch of pristine beach on the western side of Kauai. The northern end of the beach is just south of the start of the Na Pali Coast. Polihale is the closest you can drive to Na Pali, and it is 4 miles beyond the end of the paved road. The dirt road that goes into the beach area appears to have never been graded. It is by far the bumpiest road I have ridden over. For about the first 2 miles we were taking the road at about 5 MPH, letting the car ease over the huge bumps and holes. After several other vehicles (including a van) passed us going much faster, we decided to speed up. We found that at 20 MPH, the road seemed much smoother. We still had to be careful to steer around the larger potholes, and the ride was not smooth, but it was much less bone-jarring.

The caravan of vehicles rendezvoused at the Queen’s Pond area of the beach. Queen’s Pond is a calm area of water surrounded by a reef. On other areas of the beach, waves come crashing in and there is the danger of a rip current. Within the pond, though, the water is shallow and calm. In high contrast to the Kapa’a area, the sky was clear and it was quite hot! We had to walk over hot, loose sand to get to the shoreline. Our group set up camp about 200 yards south of the actual Queen’s Pond. The waves were sometimes rough, but the water was fairly shallow out to about 30 yards, so swimming and body surfing were possible.

It was after 1:00 when we arrived, so Chris and I went ahead and ate our sandwiches. We had put on sunscreen at the hotel, but we refreshed it just after lunch. The sun was daring us to leave any skin unprotected, so it could burn us to a crisp.

There was a geocache near Queen’s Pond. I asked several people if they wanted to join the hunt, but I got no takers when they found out they would have to walk back across the hot sand and up to the top of a tall dune. I made the trek by myself, found the cache, and took some panoramic shots of the beach. While I was gone, Chris went for a swim with some of the others.

We spent about two and a half hours on the beach there, chatting with new and old friends, snacking, and occasionally wading into the water to cool off. Chris and I tried a walk down the beach, but the sand was so soft, it was hard slogging. We turned around after less than a quarter mile and came back. We refreshed our sunscreen again.

Turn Before You Burn

At 3:15, we were no longer convinced the sunscreen could do its job. The sun was beating down fiercely, and there was no shade nearby. Others were ready to go, too, so we gathered up our stuff and headed back down that horrible “road” away from the beach. The drive out was much faster than the approach had been, and we passed several other vehicles that were doing the 5-mph crawl through the holes. Several of the cars—including a Mustang and a Miata—had so little ground clearance, they had no business on that road.

By the time we were back on pavement, we had decided we were too tired for fireworks at the Sheraton, so we headed back to our hotel. It turned out to be just as well, because the Sheraton had cancelled its fireworks show due to dry conditions on the island.

We got back to our hotel about 4:30 with sand glued to our body with multiple layers of sunscreen. We both took nice, long showers. The skies in Kapa’a were still cloudy. The heat and the drive had sapped our energy and the gloomy skies made us sleepy. When we were good and clean, we lay down for a twenty-minute nap. Somewhat refreshed, we took our books to the deck by the hotel lounge to read and relax with some drinks.

At 6:30, we were hungry, but not in a mood to go out for dinner. We decided to give the hotel restaurant, The Palms, a try. The deck we had been sitting on while we read was shared by the lounge and the restaurant. We got a table on the deck fifty feet from where we had spent the previous hour, ordered another drink and enjoyed the view. The sky had finally cleared while we were reading, and there were only small patches of fluffy clouds left. As we watched them, they started turning pink from the setting sun on the other side of the island, and the eastern horizon began to darken with the earth shadow.

Dinner was pretty good. Chris had the Mahi Mahi with a fruit salsa. I ordered the Whiskey Pepper Steak. Both were better than average, and our waitress was very good. We even left a little room for dessert and split a key lime mousse that was quite tasty.

Fireworks

It was the Fourth of July and all through dinner we could hear fireworks being set off at Lydgate Beach below us. We even saw an occasional Roman candle or starburst above the trees. When we were finished with dinner, it was nearly dark. We walked down to the beach to get a better view of the amateur fireworks shows going on there. Many of the fireworks were fairly small, ground-level devices that made noise and sparkled, but weren’t very exciting to watch. However one of the groups had brought some good stuff. Every couple of minutes they would set off a series of starbursts that had everyone around ooh-ing and ahh-ing. They finished up their show just before 9:00 with a grand finale of about 10 starbursts with willow-tree trailers. When it was over, there was applause from all around them.

With the show over, we returned to the room, made some preparations for the next day and read until just after 10:00.


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