Friday, April 19, 2019

Hawaii: Kauai Part 2

Kauai Part One | Maui Posts | Maui Oceanfront Marathon Report

Time for another action-packed day.  We grabbed breakfast from the hotel market before driving a few short miles to the Spouting Horn Beach Park that was home to the Spouting Horn Blow Hole.   Since we arrived early we didn't get a chance to browse all the souvenir/craft vendors that were setting up shop for the day.   The park is on a pretty little stretch of land with some interesting volcanic rock outcroppings.   Plenty of Kauai chickens to watch at this location.

We've yet to mention our "third wheel" for our trip - the GyPSy Guide App.    We bought apps for the three islands we were visiting (about $7-$10 each).  As we drove along the guide would start telling us information about where we were based on our GPS position.  We'd get helpful tips such as "...turn left to see X, or continue straight to head to Y".  It helped us to find sites that were not on our radar. Apps are offered for many locations across the country.   We also heard a lot of stories about Hawaiian history, legends, food, culture, geology, and received a language lesson.

We traveled along the south shore west to head to the Waimea Canyon (The Grand Canyon of the Pacific).  On our way we lucked into the seeing the monument commemorating Captain Cook's arrival to Kauai in the town of Waimea.   Along the way through Waimea Canyon State Park we pulled over to see a few sites like a small waterfall flowing through red clay.   Leaving as early as we did allowed us to get to the first canyon view point before the tour buses.  This was the only clear view we had in the park.    As we made our way further up the mountain the clouds and rain got heavier.  The view of Na Pali Coast from Pu'u O Kila Lookout was not in the cards for us today.  This spot is considered one of the wettest places in the world with over 300 inches of rain a year.

We waited it out as long as we could then called it quits.  On our way to our next destination we made a pit stop in Waimea for a snack at JoJo's Shave Ice.  It was the best of the entire trip!  Holly had the Lilo and Stitch (berry flavors) while Dave had the cold brew coffee.

Our next destination was Port Allen for two attractions:  a brewery and the launch point for our dinner cruise.  Kauai Island Brewery and Grill had the best kalua pork of the trip and the lumpia egg rolls were pretty good.  Inside the brewery is a pretty nice mural of the Na Pali Coast.  Beers were good, but Kauai Beer Company in Lihu'e won that contest.

We walked across the street to Captain Andy's office/waiting lounge.   We were signed up for a dinner tour of the Na Pali Coast, but given the seas were very rough on the west side (and would be for the rest of our trip) the cruise would alter course to sail east.   We had the option to bail with a full refund but decided a catamaran ride was going to be better than any alternative we could come up with,   The coastline is not as dramatic on the southern/eastern route but we did get to see our hotel from the water!  Along the way we saw one monk seal on shore, a few whales, and a dolphin pod pretty close to the boat.  Since we missed the Na Pali Coast by boat we now have a reason to come back to Kauai.

We docked after sunset and made our way back to Po'ipu and the Sheraton.   The problem we have with sunset dinner cruises is they feed you way too early.   Dinner at 5:00 is way to early.   Back at the Sheraton we went to Rum Fire to enjoy a few cocktails and the live entertainment for the evening.   Back in the room we enjoyed some of the snack food we had been hoarding.  Tomorrow was going to be another long day of touring.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Charities of the Month(s) - March and April 2019

Charity of the Month is a way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

In January and February we supported 
Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Pacific Historic Parks by donating cash online.   We picked these charities based on some of our experiences in Hawaii.

March and April Charities
Homes for our Troops

Lower 9th Ward Market: This pick is a little unconventional for us.  Usually we pick 501(C)(3) charities for our features.  This time we found inspiration from a podcast.  We may be latecomers to the Burnell Colton story of how he opened a grocery store to help his neighbors in New Orlean’s Lower 9th Ward living in a post-Katrina food desert.   Burnell goes to Wal-Mart to buy groceries to sell in his store so his neighbors can get food without traveling a great distance.   Many other sources have picked up his story, including The Ellen Degeneris Show.  We learned about Burnell on Phil Keoghan’s Buck-it podcast.  Dave listened on his way home from work and said he really wanted to send some money to help him and his community.  Below is the link to the video podcast episode.  You can search for more documentaries about Burnell on YouTube.


Homes for our Troops:  Following the theme of rebuilding we decided to look for another charity that helps to rebuild lives.  Homes for the Troops seemed to fit the bill perfectly.  From their website:

Homes for our Troops (HFOT) is a  nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post – 9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. Most of these Veterans have sustained injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). These homes restore some of the freedom and independence our Veterans sacrificed while defending our country, and enable them to focus on their family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives. Since its inception in 2004, nearly 90 cents out of every dollar spent has gone directly to our program services for Veterans. HFOT builds these homes where the Veteran chooses to live, and continues its relationship with the Veterans after home delivery to assist them with rebuilding their lives.

Our tag line is “Building Homes, Rebuilding Lives”. Rebuilding Lives is the most important aspect of our mission, therefore, we stay with our Veterans after home delivery. Homes For Our Troops provides a pro-bono financial planner for three years to assist in financial planning and household budgeting, in addition to homeownership education and warranty coverage to ensure that the Veteran is set up for long-term success as a homeowner. 

Please check out these charities to learn more. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Hawaii 2019: Kauai Part 1

The last place our group of eight was together was at Maui Airport's Sammy Hagar’s Beach Bar and Grill.  We mention this because Dave likes Sammy Hagar, the bar has an outdoor area within the airport, and they give all their profits to charity. One couple was heading back home, two other couples were off to Oahu, and we were heading to Kauai for five nights.

Kauai is not as developed as Maui and contains many natural wonders, which is why it is called the Garden Island.  We picked up our rental car from the airport in Lihu’e and drove to lunch at Duke’s in the Marriott.  This was our first visit to a Hawaii resort and we liked what we saw.   Our condo in Maui was very nice, but we are hotel people.    After lunch we made our way through the tree tunnel, passed the Koloa plantation, and through the cute little town of Koloa to get to our hotel in Po’ipu.   The Sheraton was a great choice for us.  We could walk to many dining options, our hotel had a great on site restaurant, our end of the beach was less crowded than other sections, and our room had a direct line on sunset (and our first green flash).   Holly picked an ideal room category that put us pretty close to the water.  We enjoyed sunset on our patio, had some craft cocktails at the bar while listening to live entertainment, and enjoyed a great meal on-property at Rum Fire.


The next morning we grabbed breakfast items from the hotel market (reasonably priced considering we were captive and six packs of local beer were only a buck or two more than the grocery store) before heading back to the airport for our island tour on Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.  We had perfect weather that morning for our flight with plenty of sun and no fog.  We had great views of Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, and we even got to see a whale breach directly below us.   Since it was dry the few waterfalls we saw were low flow, but this also allowed us to go pretty close into the crater walls.

The trip lasted around 50 minutes and gave a great overview of places to visit during our stay.  We would definitely recommend the helicopter tour for the early portion of your trip.   We did not have to think much about where we were eating lunch because there was a brewery in Lihu’e.  The Kauai Beer Company was a great find.  We tried all 8 beers on tap and had some great mac & cheese.  We walked out with some souvenirs. 

We headed back to the resort and spent a little time snorkeling the reef by the Marriott.  We had some good sightings but the water wasn’t too calm and there were a lot of folks doing the same thing we were.  Dinner was going to be early tonight since we were going to the Auli’i Lu’au which happened to take place at our hotel.  We bucked up for the preferred package giving us closer seating, included booze, and first dibs at the food.    We lucked into front-and-center seats!  The food was pretty good.   The entertainment was actually very good with enough historical and cultural facts thrown in to give the show purpose beyond just watching people dance.   After the show is was back up to Rum Fire and discovering the lilikoi martini.

Our next couple of days were pretty packed with canyon touring, sailing, and climbing things with the wrong footwear.   We will cover that and more in the next post.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Hawaii 2019: Maui Part Two

Part One  |  Maui Oceanfront Marathon

Monday was designated "chill day".  Our group of eight started the day with a mile walk to have breakfast at Kihei Caffe.   The line was out the door and all the seating is outdoors on the main drag of town.   Fortunately the long line moved quickly at the cash-only restaurant.  The food arrived by the time we found seating that worked for our larger group.   The dishes were varied - Holly got a kalua pork loco moco (which lasted another 2 breakfasts) and Dave got the macadamia nut/banana french toast.  On the way back Dave stopped for shaved ice while everyone else got to pet a cute dog.  

Our afternoon was spent south of Wailea on Big Beach in Makena State Park.  This was a perfect place to spend the afternoon.  The beach was both long and wide, allowing visitors to spread out.  The water was a little rough at times, but still very clear.   This is where we saw our first sea turtle swim by.  There's a small outcropping separating Big Beach from Small Beach so we took a walk to see the other side.  To our surprise it was clothing optional.   Put the cameras away kids.

That evening we broke off from the rest of the group to visit with friends that live on the island.  Mike took us to a secret area along the Kihei shoreline where sea turtles frequent.   No turtles tonight, just some kids playing on the rocks.  Right after a lovely sunset his wife Nora got off work and we walked over to the Kamaole Bar at the Maui Coast Hotel for a lively cocktail hour with a live musician.   For dinner we headed into Wailea (via Uber) to a newer restaurant from a local chef called Lineage.  Dishes were served family style and there's a "dim sum" cart that comes by with other smaller samplings.    Within the same shopping complex is The Pint and Cork, a gastropub with a nice beer and bourbon selection.  We made it back to Kihei via a crazy Uber driver.   For once we used our better judgment and decided not to follow our younger friends to The Moose for one more.

With one more full day left in Maui we had to decided not to do the Road to Hana - a 100 mile round trip to the town of Hana and back filled with beautiful views.   None of us were up for it.  We chose to tour the Iao Valley State Park, a place considered sacred by the original Hawaiians.   

After about an hour we left the state park, drove through the cute town of Pa'ia, and stopped at Ho’okipa Beach where the turtles hang out.  We could see about 24 turtles on the beach lounging while others were making their way in from the sea and out to the sea.   We were amazed at how close some of the surfers were going to the grounded turtles despite the signs.    Lunch was near the airport at a locals favorite: Da Kitchen.   

On the way back to Kihei we enjoyed Happy Hour at the Mill House on the grounds of Maui Tropical Plantation.  We became obsessed with the Mill House when our friend Mike was working there and we'd see the pictures of the wonderful views that were quintessential "Maui".  

Before going to dinner at South Shore Tiki Lounge (finally got our excellent pizza) we spent one more night on the beach and lucked into a great sunset with multiple whales breaching in the distance.

Maui was a surprising destination and we only scratched the surface.  We were amazed at how friendly everyone was and it wasn't as commercial as we expected.  We are definitely looking forward to returning to Maui again sometime.

Here's some video from Maui, primarily Haleakala, whales, and turtles: