May 29, 2003

Waimea Canyon is Just Grand!

If you read Day Two and wondered how I could stay put for an entire day of "nothing," (even in paradise) you'll be happy to know that we hit the road and burned some calories on Day Three. Hey, we had to keep in beach shape somehow. I picked up the a rental car back at the airport and after another lazy morning of lounging about, we drove west across the southern coast of Kauai. It takes less than an hour to get anywhere on this island, so we were in Waimea before we knew it.

Now on Day 3, I realize that it's kind of funny to write about this trip - it's certainly different than the other trips we've taken from which I have funny stories to tell or we purposely did goofy things. (Oh just you wait until we get to Boring, OR and Epcot Center, among others.) On Kauai, we just lazily went from beautiful place to beautiful place, enjoyed food and drink, and laid around. It was great. Even though I have a bunch of cool pictures from our daytrip to Waimea Canyon, I don't have any cool stories. We drove there, we hiked around, we took some pictures, and we went back to our resort.

Okay, okay - it was awesome. I mean c'mon! Look at these pictures! Did you have any idea such a place existed in Hawaii? I have to admit, I did not. In fact, I've found in subsequent conversations that a good portion of people who have actually been to Hawaii still have no idea Waimea Canyon is there. Granted, I don't expect every traveler to go to the random places we do (Southernmost point in the US coming up soon!) but still... What a hidden gem.

But before we got to the canyon, we stopped at the Spouting Horn blowhole down on the southern coast. We've all seen blowholes at various coastal parks - this one made a little more unique because the water was being forced up through some volcanic tubes of some sort. There were a bunch of wild chickens running around at the blowhole park but we really wanted to get to Waimea.

Hoang thought a picture of me with some wild chickens would be nice...

And we both found a mom and son with the same hairdo to be quite funny.

Waimea Canyon is the largest canyon in the Pacific and truly a dramatic sight to behold. The canyon measures 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,500-feet deep. It was carved thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from Mount Waialeale's summit. The lines in the canyon walls depict different volcanic eruptions and lava flows that have occurred over the centuries. Even though smaller than the Grand Canyon of Arizona, Waimea Canyon rivals the beauty. Yeah, I stole this paragraph from here.

I've been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and it is certainly an awe-inspiring place. The colors and magnitude of it blow away most anything else in our country. But Waimea Canyon really isn't too far behind. It's certainly more lush, and volcanic rock doesn't get carved as severely as the Arizona rock does, but Hoang and I found ourselves staring in reverent silence many times during our short 90-minute hike. In my opinion, Waimea gives the Grand Canyon a run for its money. The state park takes up a huge chunk of Kauai's Western third and only has one road in and out. We parked at the headquarters and randomly decided which trails we wanted to explore. There are lots of options there. Gee, should we make our way to the part where parts of "Jurassic Park" were filmed? It would only make sense as we were soon going to be where the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" opening scenes were filmed.

The weather was perfect (of course) and the trails were fairly easy. We made our way down to the canyon-y part of the park - taking care to stop at several lookouts along the way. I think we ran into one other person the entire way, which certainly gave us a sense of peace on our journey. Looking at these pictures again now, I'm struck by how bummy I dressed. This was my multi-thousand dollar honeymoon for crying out loud and there I was in torn up shorts and dirty sneakers. Hoang, as ever, still looked ravishing. I particularly enjoy this shot:

Such studied concentration! Anyway, we had a great time at the park but we could only handle so much activity so we drove back to the Sheraton for our 3rd and final night at the resort. Once there, we noticed a small commotion down on the beach. Whoa! A huge Hawaiian Monk Seal was in need of a comfortable rest on the beach. Hotel staff quickly descended upon the beast and roped off his space. The thing proceeded to sleep for a day or two, totally hogging the beach.

As if we'd ever see such an engangered species.

Oh snap! Look at that!

Tired of staring at the lump of sleeping fat, we prepared for dinner. After two fine but somewhat disappointing dinners at the resort, we decided to go to "the best" restaurant in town. I have no idea what it was called or what we had, but I do remember two things vividly: The table next to us was populated by severely drunk teenagers acting like complete idiots. Sure, that detracted from our romantic evening, but when the worst offender passed out and fell over, it made everything okay. The other thing was that we got a dessert where the waiter lit it on fire tableside. I typically hate such spectacles, but it seemed like everyone was doing it, so I made an exception. I can't imagine anyone reading this gives a hoot though.

[Update: Hoang and I were talking last night and I asked her to recall what she remembered about this day. She said, "We went to that restaurant called the Beach House where that kid was really drunk. And that was my first experience with really dry, overcooked Ahi tuna when I asked for it to be rare." Wow, She was totally right about the name of the place and I won't argue about the tuna story. I mentioned this earlier and it's something that I found totally odd. Menus boasted of sashimi quality tuna and then no matter what we asked, they'd cook it all the way through. 3 different islands all different restaurants. There are 5 nice places in my CT hometown that know how to do it properly, you'd think they'd catch on in Hawaii some day.]

Afterwards, we enjoyed our final night at the Sheraton at Poipu Beach and looked forward to moving on to a new place on the island. Aloha!

Continue on to Day 4
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