The end of our trip to the southern coast of Kauai...A sunset like none other...A year ago, human and animal came to say their goodbyes...


A little strip of clouds added to the view of the setting sun in Poipu Beach, Kauai.
After we spent time at Spouting Horn as described in yesterday's post, it was time to head to our hotel, the Sheraton Kauai in Poipu Beach.  With valet parking only, we took our few bags out of the car on our own and headed to the registration desk.
The sunset started like this, bright and relatively clear.
With only one guest in front of me at the desk, we expected we'd be checked in quickly.  Their computers were down.  Well, up and down.  After 20 minutes it was finally my turn.  Tom waited in chairs with the bags while I handled the check in, our usual procedure.

Then, it progresses to this point, giving us hope the cloud would provide an amazing view.
Again with their computers up and down, the wait was annoying but, I stayed calm and friendly, especially since I was asking for a free upgrade to an ocean view room.  Another 20 minutes later, key cards in hand we were headed to our upgraded partial ocean view room on the VIP level (whatever that is).



It was getting more interesting by the second, not minute. Note the streak at the bottom right.
When we realized we had to cross the street to get to our room, I was tempted to go back and ask to be closer to the main pool and the ocean.  I decided to forgo this option realizing it would be another wasted 20 minutes. 

Off we went on an at least 10 minute walk to our room, frustrated as we crawled around tarps scattered all over the walkway floors.  There was construction occurring in almost every area. This stuff usually doesn't bother us.  But, at $300 a night, it would have been worth a mention when we checked in and perhaps provide us with a quieter area.

Here's the link to our review in TripAdvisor.


When it progressed to this point, we knew we were in for a treat.
As always, we chose not to complain. Low stress is a part of our motto. The room did have a nice view overlooking the pool and the ocean at a distance.  The king sized bed was comfortable and the d├ęcor and furnishings were of high quality and tasteful.  The over-sized bathroom was well appointed with amenities including two fluffy robes hanging in the closet.  We were content.

After spending a bit of time relaxing and making a reservation for dinner at the popular Merriman's Fish House Restaurant located in a new nearby center, Kakui'ula Village, a shopping mall which in Poipu Beach that would appeal to avid shoppers.

As darkness fell, it presented this view.
Leaving the hotel for dinner before sunset, we wandered over to a lookout area to take the sunset photos we're sharing today.  Other guests were equally enthused snapping photos with their cell phones.  It's amazing how quickly the sun makes its final descent, quickly changing if one so much as looks away.

Eyes peeled at the display on the camera, I stood in place, careful attempting to avoid making a single movement to ensure a clear shot of the breathtaking scene before us.  We couldn't have been more excited to add yet another sunset photo to the dozens we've accumulated over the past few years of travel.

View from our fourth floor lanai.
The only available dinner reservation at Merriman's was for 7:30 which can be a problem for me.  Since I exercise what is called "intermittent fasting," I only eat one meal a day during which I am never hungry based on my high fat, moderate protein diet which kills my appetite in 24 hour increments. 

When we arrived at Merriman's Fish House at 6:45, we asked if we could get in earlier.  They were booked although, downstairs on the lower level, they had a casual burger and pizza restaurant.  We decided to give it a try when the kindly hostess called to discover they did in fact have an available table.

Here's the link to the review we posted on Merriman's Pizza and Burger Restaurant at TripAdvisor for details.

With little sun remaining by the time we got to our room, we decided to spend an hour by this uncrowded smaller pool in the area of our distant room.  Oddly, we had to walk to the main pool to get beach towels.  That made no sense.
For those of you who don't click posted links, the food was mediocre but the service was impeccable.  The chef made a good effort to accommodate my way of eating which included a tiny salad, plain burger on the side and an extra order of avocado.  Tom had a burger and fries.  Our dinner was under $50 with tip. 

Back at the hotel by 9 pm, we settled in for a good night's sleep and an early morning exit with a plan to head to Costco and Walmart in Lihue.  More on that tomorrow.

Thanks, dear readers, for stopping by.  It means the world to us.
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Photo from one year ago today, February 26, 2014:


Louise and Danie came to pick up after our overnight at the Crocodile River Safari Lodge.  As we approached our home, we spotted these giraffes, necks in a tangled mess.  We all howled with laughter and joy for this scene.  It was getting to be time to say goodbye to our human and animal friends as departure day loomed.  For more friends that came to say goodbye including Clive and the returning Mr. Frog, please click here.

Barking Sands Beach...Spouting Horn...Amazing finds along the way...


The view as we walked toward Spouting Horn.
Low stress, easy travel.  It defines us in our ongoing worldwide travels.  A plan as to where we're going to spend from weeks to months give us peace of mind.  Having no plan as to how we'll spend that time in each location gives us joy.

This trip to Poipu Beach a week ago, although over a span of only 30 hours was a perfect example.  The only plans we had in place when driving into the sunrise early last Thursday morning was to visit Waimea Canyon which proved to be a dud in the vog and a trip to Costco on the return drive which, as always, was fruitful and spendy (an acceptable word according to the dictionary, mostly used in the northwest portion of the US).

The sea was relatively calm as we near Spouting Horn.
The overnight at the Kauai Sheraton was somewhat disappointing. We'll share  the detail with photos in tomorrow's post.  The dinner at a local popular venue was equally disappointing.  More on that later as well.

As we'd reached the end of the paved highway after passing Barking Sands Beach, we had no choice but to turn around and head back to Poipu Beach.  Many of the interesting sites we visited along the way were shared in the posts of the last few days.

Our mouths were agape when we saw the water spout through the lava rocks along the shore at Spouting Horn.
Remaining in the sites we visited along the way is our few photos of Barking Sands Beach and the unexpected Spouting Horn.  We'd seen the sign as shown in the photo below, having no idea what Spouting Horn could possibly be. 
The sign we spotted point to Spouting Horn.
Was it a resort community?  Did it have something to do with a horn using spouted water for sounds?  Did it have something to do with water and the sea? It proved the be the later in our speculations. 

With only an arrow pointing us in the direction of Spouting Horn we knew were in the right place when we saw a busload of tourists, most likely from the island hopping cruise ship that tours the islands week after week, Norwegian's Pride of America. 

There were several openings in the lava from which the ocean spouted as the waves washed in and out to the shore.  We could only imagine how majestic it would have been on a day when the waves were more aggressive.
(Having toured the islands by cruise ship on our way here in October we had little interest in this cruise especially when rated a 4 out of 6 possible stars.  Plus, it's pricey for the seven days seldom offering any discounts or perks).

Our jittery video of Spouting Horn.
Tom was especially relieved to see the tour bus most likely with 60 patrons on board pulling out of Spouting Horn's parking lot as opposed to pulling in.  As long as I had a good spot from which to take photos of whatever brought about all of the commotion, the crowds don't bother me one way or another.

One of the smaller spouting openings.
We parked the car and were stormed by no less than 10 chickens of varying ages, gender and size.  "Food for us?" they asked in the under-their-breath clucking.  "Nope," we replied as we scurried out of sight to head toward the walkway requiring us to walk through two perpendicular rows of local wares and handicrafts.

Of course, we purchased not a trinket but I did take the photo below of a cat sleeping in a hand-woven basket that intrigued an adorable toddler as shown below.

A cat sleeping in a woven basket, admired by a toddler, in a handicraft shop in Spouting Horn.
Another 50 yards beyond the tourist shopping area, we approached a chain link fence.  Maneuvering my way in between the other lookers I managed a perfect spot and found myself almost squealing with delight when we beheld the scene below.

Each spout was different from the last, some spraying straight up comparable to a geyser, others creating a wider spray.  The crowd roared with excitement.
In concept, it was no big deal...water spouting between lava rocks as the waves washed up and back to the shore.  But, in observation, it was a feast for the eyes, nature at its finest. 

Luckily, the fence was low enough to allow me to shoot the included jittery video, difficult to take when I had tourists at my elbows rocking me to and fro.  Ah, perfection isn't what we offer here.  Real life is.  So jittery it will be.  Please try to enjoy it anyway.

Barking Sands Beach is located on the west side of Kauai on the grounds of the Pacific Missile Range Facility.  This beach is part of a 17 mile long stretch that extends from Polihale Beach to Kehaka Beach close to the end of Highway 50.
After a few photos and gleeful expressions between us, we sensed our time at the fence was coming to a quick end when others were obviously hankering for my good spot.  I acquiesced stepping back for them to hungrily move in.

Back in the little car, we'd yet to find our hotel and although we'd used accumulated hotels.com points for most of the $300 plus rate, we wanted to spend a little time enjoying the easy comfort of feeling pampered.  Well, forget that. We'll tell that story with photos in tomorrow post along with one of the most exquisite sunsets we've seen to date.

Although the sand at Barking Sands Beach was a deeper color, this expanse of perfection reminded us of the Indian Ocean when we lived in Kenya.  Click here for our photos of the white sand beaches in Diani Beach, Kenya.

Few bathers were to be found on this beach. 

See, Mother Nature seldom disappoints.
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Photo from one year ago today, February 25, 2014:

One year ago, only days before leaving South Africa after three months in Marloth Park, we were asked to spend a complimentary overnight in a tent along the Crocodile River at the Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge in order to write a review.  While seated on the veranda, we spotted these elephants, baby and the huge matriarch holding watch over the herd.  For details, please click here.

National Tropical Botanical Garden...A surprising find...



As soon as we spotted this sign on the highway, we decided to give it a try.
It was amazing how much we saw in one day when early last Thursday we headed to Poipu Beach to stay overnight for my birthday.  For once, we felt like typical tourists, rushing from one location to another, on a frenzy to see as much as we could see in the time allotted.

As we walked along the path, Tom spotted this tree trunk which sent me spiraling with joy. 
What a find!


At first, I thought this tree had been painted which would be ridiculous at the tropical garden. Upon closer inspection, I could hardly believe my eyes.  It is a Rainbow Eucalyptus or Eucalyptus deglupta
Usually, that isn't us on the tourist's mission to "see it all."  We've noticed the guests that come and go, living next door to us in our Princeville condo.  They come for an average of four or five days and rush out, day after day, hauling "stuff" to get out there and see what they can on their short stay.


What beautiful colors Mother Natures bestows upon her treasures!
Many who visit Kauai the first time stay for short periods as they often visit other islands during their vacation/holiday unaware at first that its hard to leave Kauai and for many its more difficult than leaving the other islands.  Nothing compares to Kauai as far as we're concerned. 

These plumeria were the only greenery and flowers growing on this otherwise bare tree.
There certainly is plenty to see in Kauai if sightseeing is their thing.  For us, the beauty surrounding us day after day provides us with such a sense of peace and contentment that we could easily get lost in time, never seeing much outside our immediate area.

These lemon yellow daisies were pretty.
But this time, we've made a concerted effort to get out and see as much as we can, especially when we feel so connected to this amazing island.  We continue to talk, asking ourselves if we could live here one day, but feel for a long term it wouldn't fulfill our objectives.

We've accepted that if we stay in one location for any greater length of time than three months we'll get bored and restless.  That's just us, having adopted a lifestyle we find exciting in its ever-changing nature.  Also, the affordability of living long term in the Hawaiian Islands becomes an issue that must be addressed before considering a move here. 

A gnarly truck stood alone.
Housing prices and rents are through the roof.  The cost of electricity, fuel and groceries are shocking at times. Trips to Costco helps tremendously often ending in spending hundreds of dollars and hauling huge oversized containers of products one hopes to eventually use.

Medical care, from what we've heard, is mediocre at best.  Many travel to Honolulu, Oahu for treatment of more serious illnesses than seek the local care in Kauai.

A papaya tree.
However, many find their love and dedication to the islands worth a struggle and with careful planning find a way to make it affordable and this we fully appreciate and understand. 

Here in Princeville, although an affluent area of upper middle class and wealthy, we have met many residents living on fixed incomes, managing to make it work.

The gift shop at the National Tropical Botanical Garden was filled with books on local history.
I suppose in a way, if we did ever settle somewhere, we wouldn't want a life of financial struggle.  In many countries in which we've lived the cost of living was less than half than the cost of living in the Hawaiian islands.

On occasion, we've spotted varieties on cactus in Hawaii as shown
in the lower left of this photo.
Tom reminds me not to focus on costs as much as when writing here, in hopes that our readers don't assume that's our only concern.  It's not.  But, many of our readers, I say, are curious about our lives wondering if they too could travel or live in another country (or area) and make it work for them.

This variety was shaped differently than other similar cactus we've seen in our travels.  Usually these paddles are thinner in other climates, where in this case they were double the thickness.
We'd love to see comments from our readers on this topic. Feel free to write a comment at the end of this or any post.

Anyway, back to our trip to the National Tropical Botanical Garden.  We had no idea of this property, stumbling upon it on the highway from Barking Sands Beach to Poipu Beach in our hunger to see more and more.  After parking, we walked a considerable distance taking photos along the way until finally we encountered what appeared to be a ticket office. 

These berries on palm trees eventually turn a bright red.
Self tours were posted for $20 each  and guided tours at $40 each, lasting for a few hours.  Still having much more to see as the day wore on, we decided to wander about for a short time on our own.  Soon, we're planning on arranging a tropical garden tour that has been highly recommend by locals.  To avoid redundancy, we decided to continue on.

For whatever reason, this palm tree's top exhibited stunted growth.  Any botanists in the room willing to explain?  Soon, we have a professional tour of a massive tropical garden.
We were thrilled to take these photos included today, a few of which left our mouths agape at the wonder of nature.  Wherever we may travel we find the majesty of Mother Nature's bounty, at times right outside our door and at other times, requiring a little bit of investigation.  One never knows what treasures lurk around the next corner.

Please check back.  We have a real treat for tomorrow's post!

Have a terrific Tuesday! 

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Photo from one year ago today, February 24, 2014:

The previous night, one year ago, we had a braai (barbecue) for our closest friends in Marloth Park. Time to depart was fast approaching. It was a fabulous evening as the sun set and visitors came to call, pleasing all of us.  For the exciting photos, please click here.

A visit to Kukuiolono Park...Another historical spot in Kauai...Sightseeing continues...




Stumbling on this site along the highway, we stopped to check out this historical location, Kukuiolono Park.
 
A quote from Kukuiolono Park website:
 
"In the town of Kalaheo, just off the beaten path lies a hidden gem, Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course. The park was once the site of an ancient Hawaiian Heiau and more recently the estate of the late Walter McBryde who was the owner of the McBryde Sugar Plantation and donated the 180 acre parcel to the state as his gift to the people of Kauai.
 
The park offers extensive walking paths and gardens with breathtaking mountain and ocean views. The challenging 9-hole golf course is popular with the locals for its beauty and the most inexpensive greens fees on the island.
 
The newly renovated Japanese garden is a great place for a stroll down a quaint path and over a footbridge where visitors can see fountains, statues, bonsai trees and other plantings. The garden path leads up to a unique and extensive collection of Hawaiian lava rock artifacts and a newly-built meditation pavilion."

Tom, history lover that he is, often reads every last line on such sign while I peruse the area for photo ops.
Obviously, sightseeing every day is impractical.  For several reasons, we've had more interest in visiting various sites here in Kauai than we've had on the other islands.

The chickens flocked to us the moment we parked the car.
Ending a cruise in Honolulu on October 5th, we were coming off several busy months needing a break; two cruises, a month spent in Paris and London, three days in Boston, six days in Vancouver, dealing with two broken laptops and preparing for the arrival of family to Big Island. 

As soon as we exited the car, this determined rooster indicated he was anxious to find out if we had any food.  We did not.  However, his familiarity with humans visiting the park made him unconcerned as I approached for the photos shown below.
On top of it all, we were worrying about the lava flow reaching the two houses we'd rented in Pahoa, feverishly checking online for other options.  By the time we arrived in Maui on October 16th after spending 11 days in Oahu in a condo we found uncomfortable, we needed another break.


We'd never been close enough to a rooster, to notice his sharp spurs.

Arriving in Maui we immediately prepared for predicted Hurricane Ana shopping for the possibility of being without power or water for days to come. Once that risk subsided we hardly felt like driving around sightseeing.  We ending up spending lots of lazy days at home in the lovely condo overlooking the sea.  It was easier to do nothing than plan trips. 

Upon closer inspection, we saw how dangerous this spurs could be.  Undoubtedly, roosters know how  and when to use these.  We kept our distance although he was a friendly fellow.
By the magic of life on the Hawaiian Islands we were able to take photos to share and we never missed a single day of posting in the six weeks in Maui.  We did venture out on a handful of occasions to check out local attractions but, had little interest in long drives in the car.

There were a few flowers blooming in Kukuiolono Park.
Now, here we are, after over four months in the islands and we've got the bug to check out everything we can find on this exquisite island.  At this point, we've accomplished traveling the entire perimeter of the island of Kauai as far as the paved roads allow.

The park had several trails leading to the rock displays.
From here?  There's plenty more.  We feel excited to investigate the nuances only particular to Kauai along with many other sites we've yet to explore.  With only three months remaining, we have time for planned and unplanned social activities and taking our time to see what magic lies beyond that which we've seen thus far.

Each of the historical displays had signage to explain its significance in Hawaiian history.
As a bonus to us, we'll continue to observe and photograph the growing albatross chicks.  We'll be long gone by the time they've fledged the nest to take off on their own, when the last time their parents headed out to sea, never to return, as each chick impatiently awaited their next meal. 

Zoom in to read the sign.  This basin was used by fisherman to keep their catch fresh overnight.
When the days pass as the chick waits in the nest and the parents don't return, the chicks eventually realize that their time has come.  They are on their own.  And sometime in July or even August, the day will come when they too, head to sea to begin their lives. 

Offerings were left by the fisherman for the Divine One.
Lessons can be taken from wildlife who have the sense to know that at some point we must let the offspring go to build their own lives.  Its never easy to do. 


Tree molds were formed over 2 million years ago when lava poured into the trees.
We humans may come to realize that giving them the opportunity to go off on their own only makes them stronger and more confident in the perpetuation of the species whether human or animal, ultimately to achieve fulfillment in their own lives.

A salt pan was used to gather salt from the sea, to be dried for everyday use.
Wildlife teaches us many lessons.  As Tom and I have spent considerable time in our travels observing the life cycles of animals, we've seen how resourceful and determined they become to provide for their own when needed and to let go when the time is right.  It's the wonder of life.

We were intrigued by the oblong shape of this palm tree trunk at Kukuiolono Park.
And the wonder of our lives continues, whether sightseeing or relishing in lazy days at home, whether writing to our readers, our family or friends or, whether blissfully engaged in mindless dribble.  All of it matters. 

Another fish storage basin made of rock.
Every single day that we're given life matters.  Its how we spend it that shapes who we are, who we want to be and the legacy that eventually we'll leave behind.
Having seen everything we wanted to see, once again, we were back on the road to what proved to be some of the most exciting finds of the day.  Check back tomorrow.
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Photo from one year ago today, February 23, 2014:

As we busily prepared for our upcoming goodbye dinner party we were hosting, the visitors came to call as always.  We seldom missed an opportunity to say hello, offer a few pellets and take a photo.  For details on this date, one year ago, please click here.