Friday, February 12, 2016
Our journey to Hawaii began with a 6:45am butt-crack-of-dawn flight from Denver to LAX. As I normally do with every flight, I dragged my sleepy-eyed self through the first-class section eyeing every single first-class passenger wondering who. on. Earth. were. these. people. that could afford cushy seats up front. Seriously. Who?!
Well, Ben Higgins was one of them, to be exact!
(If you could care less about Ben and my star-struck story, skip to the picture of Ben below and get straight to the fun Hawaii talk!)
If you follow along in the silly drama shows on TV, you’ll know that Ben Higgins is currently the Bachelor of America. When I first stepped on the plane and saw a dark-haired, good-looking guy digging beneath his seat for something, I turned around and whispered very calmly to Pie, “Ha! That guy kinda looks like Ben.”
I’ll have to “out” my hubby here and confess that ever since we met in 2011, he has watched every single Bachelor and Bachelorette season with me. Sorrybutnotsorry, we love watching this ridiculous drama together and at the very least, it is a great reminder of how lucky we are to have each other and that we didn’t have to go through a crazy show and 25+ boyfriends/girlfriends to find each other!
So anyway, hubby knew who I was talking about when I simply threw out the name “Ben.”
We continued down the short first-class aisle and I kept my eyes on this guy who, at each millisecond, was looking more and more like the Ben we had just been watching on TV for the past several Monday nights. When the guy that looked like Ben finally looked up, I whispered again to Pie, “That really does look like Ben.”
Thinking that Pie hadn’t heard what I was saying, because
sometimes he’s deaf he was neither confirming nor denying my suspicions, I whispered more excitedly and assuredly a third time, “I really think that’s Ben!!”
This guy that looked like Ben was sitting in a single seat on one side of our tiny plane and a middle-aged couple was sitting across from him and talking to him. I locked eyes with the woman he was talking to and she could see the excited glimmer in my eyes and as if she could read my thoughts [or perhaps just overheard my not-so-silent, squeaky, excited whispers to my hubby], she then ever-so-slightly nodded and smiled at me, seeming to confirm that he was who I thought he was.
When I finally walked by Ben, I couldn’t help but squeal out in the most high-pitched, but still don’t-want-to-make-a-scene hushed voice, “Are you Ben?!” (Hubby later pointed out what a silly question this was, but hey, what if he wasn’t?)
He confirmed he was and he let me take a picture with him, asked my name, and with a permanent smile on my face, I continued to my sorry seat in the back and quickly texted almost every Bachelor fan friend I knew about this ridiculously exciting news before I had to turn off my phone.
Okay, that was a long story, but after that, we were off to our Hawaii adventure and off to a great start!
Approximately nine hours later we were flying into Kauai and ready to get the first glimpse of our tropical vacay! It was such a bummer that the side of the plane we were seated on did not have a view of Kauai or any of the islands as we flew in (but hey, we were just lucky that we at least got to sit next to each other on the flight). I was so eager to see what the island looked like before we set foot on it, so this just meant that we would definitely have to take advantage of a helicopter ride later to see the whole island from above!
The first thing we noticed about Kauai was that there were chickens everywhere. Chickens at the airport. Chickens in the car rental parking lot. Chickens underneath our feet while we ate lunch and dinner. Chickens at the beach. Chickens at 3400 ft elevation in Waimea Canyon. Chickens in our back yard at 3am (they made sure we knew they were there). And yes. There were chickens crossing the road.
Supposedly, a hurricane in Kauai caused a bunch of domestic chickens to be released from their cages and the feral chicken population became uncontrollable. We were fascinated by them at first, annoyed by them when they woke us up the first morning while it was still dark outside, and apathetic about them the rest of the trip.
Our first thrilling thing to do in Hawaii was eat! Turns out airlines, at least not the one we flew with, do not serve you food on the plane any more, even for a six hour flight with zero time during your layover to grab a bite to eat.
While we ate our late lunch at a popular place near the Lihue airport called Mark’s Place, we thumbed through the touristy magazines and determined that our next activity would be to check out a place nearby that had rum made right there in Kauai called Koloa Rum Company. The weather outside was ridiculously hot and sunny when we arrived, so we were looking forward to getting a nice bottle of Hawaiian rum we could enjoy in some refreshing drinks back at our rental house.
We toured the store, which had five varieties of rums, and figured the only way we could decide on a rum was to sign up for their free rum tasting. During the rum tasting, they explained how their rum was not made with a bunch of artificial sweeteners and they used cane sugar grown on the island.
They had me at “rum.”
We purchased a bottle of spiced rum, a bottle of coffee-flavored rum, and two tiki-man-shaped cocktail glasses and we were on our way from the Koloa Rum Company on the southeastern side of the island to the north shore where we were staying the entire vacay.
On our drive up the east coast and along the north shore, we only saw glimpses of the beach. The whole island was green and lush and it was so amazing how there was foliage growing everywhere. Flowers growing out of trees and trees growing out of other trees. Wowzers!
The east shore had a gorgeous backdrop of tall, towering green mountains, but the north shore was definitely different than the rest of the island. As we traveled further along on the north shore, the road got narrower and more windy and was lined more densely with lush green foliage. Just like the books and blogs described, the north shore was indeed prettier!
One unique thing about the north shore were the bridges. Not only were the roads narrower, but bridges that went over small streams and rivers that lead out to the ocean were so narrow that they were only one way. And when I say one way, I don’t mean one way in each direction. They were literally one way. We had no idea to expect this, but luckily, most of the local signs let you know it’s the “mahalo” way to let 5-7 cars go at a time on each side.
Fortunately, the north shore wasn’t nearly as primitive and isolated as I pictured it being from all the stories. There were a few shops and restaurants, two decent grocery stores not far away from where we were staying, and even quite a few big resorts, just like the more popular, touristy east shore had.
The rental property we stayed at, called the Tiki Hut, was located close to the town of Hanalei and was almost all the way at the end of the main road that loops partially around the island. The rental property was mere feet away from the owner’s house next door and both were encompassed in a tree-lined yard that looked more like a botanical garden.
We were about five minutes down a private road to the beach and although it was a shame we didn’t run to the beach right away when we arrived late that afternoon, we were both so exhausted from the day, so decided to explore later. I unpacked our bags while Pie took off to get a few groceries for our entire stay and our first night was spent grilling some fish in our quiet little abode and soaking in the hot tub.