And poof, it’s over. Am already back in Oakland which was shivery and cold and gray from the moment we returned through midday today, just depressing enough to make the already fading memories of the trip a little more vivid before they are gone.
Mornings: the balmy air, the papayas, morning beverages and books on the patio looking out at the grassy courtyard, steps from the pools; phase one of the day sometimes even involving employing a video first-thing, just so we could get ourselves up, meditated, and out of the room so that the child could…
Swim. In. The. Pool. All. Day.
Which, it turns out, is really stunningly awesome except for the rash that one might develop under one’s swimsuit if one doesn’t get aired out periodically, which finally happened the last day of the trip when the child literally stayed wet for eight hours straight, minus lunchtime.
Rashes heal. Memories of Kauai might actually be forever this time, or not. How much do you remember from being almost 4 years old?
I totally planned to blog every day of the trip so as not to forget it. But then not-blogging, and almost not-e-anything-else all week was so sumptuously satisfying I had to give in. Even TV barely got my attention.
What I remember from day 2 (or our first full day, technically speaking). Jonah woke up at 3:45 a.m. (despite having been up over 15 hours and going to bed late). Me awake in bed next to him thinking, I can’t believe I’m just lying here. Same day, 3:45 p.m., me on chaise lounge by pool thinking, I can’t believe I’m just lying here.
That first day Jonah also enjoyed one of the many special kids’ activities that the resort offered, the opportunity to decorate a cupcake with beautiful colorful frosting and delicious candies (adjectives from the flier, I swear), and to watch a movie on beanbag chairs in the youth lounge (Chicken Run). The actual movie was superfluous, or so I’m told by my sister who took Jonah to the event wherein he methodically decorated and ate said cupcake, vanilla, primarily blue and some pink frosting, gummy candies, marshmallows, and whatnot without ever looking at the screen. (As an interesting side note, Jonah COVERED himself in frosting while eating, while Dolphin Boy’s meticulous precision in the water apparently translated to clean face cupcake consumption on land.) When my father came at the halfway point to take over sitting with the boy, Jonah promptly fell asleep.
Yes, the child does, on occasion, if properly overstimulated and narcotized, nap.
The trip blurs more thoroughly from there. Day 3 must have been a lounge-y sort of day. We rented a snorkel and goggles for Jonah to see if that would help him learn to swim with his face in the water. Answer: no. But he did give them a good try for a little bit, and enjoyed wearing them on dry land periodically over the week thereafter.
I recall Day 3 started with feeding the Koi in the pond in front of the resort and ended with dinner at sunset at The Beach House, a favorite from trip 1, nearly four years ago. This time less-so as at this time of year (vs. spring season last go-round), a table by the open windows left us IN the sun, setting, which was particularly hot and uncomfortable. Jonah was restless and required much chasing on the lawn, and while others in the family had better luck ordering than I, the food was good, but not as spectacular as I remembered. In general, as in previous years, the meals we cooked with fresh local fish (oh mah gawd, the Opah!) and fruit and veggies from the farmer’s market surpassed those we ate out. But who wants to cook on vacation? Not all the time. So we alternate.
Day 4 we continued our beach and pool explorations, ending the day with a sunset family photo shoot. This is apparently something of a “thing” in Kauai that people “do” nowadays. We loved our photographer, a totally laid-back guy named Nick who may have a day job as an engineer of some kind I think, but also does this photo thing and is raising tilapia in a pond in his backyard, both as a source of fertilizer for his garden and possibly to sell to restaurants. He’s a Renaissance man.
It’s hard to get six people all to look good at the same time. Especially when one of them is 3.75 years old and a little bit of a trickster when it comes to doing what he is asked per looking at cameras.
After the pressure was off, Day 5 of the trip we went on an expedition to Lydgate State Park in Wailua to see some fish in situ.
I hoped to coax Jonah into the snorkel mask and float him around on a boogie board. But he wasn’t having any of it. Fortunately, there was another kid there who wasn’t having any of the special floatie-with-giant-magnifying-window his grandparents were trying to push on him, or push him on, and even more fortunately, all parties involved were up for a trade. So our boy got to see him some angel fish and unicorn fish and parrot fish et. al. And Scott and I took turns snorkeling around a bit ourselves.
Next stop on the day’s itinerary was the boat ride upriver to the fern grotto. Should you take the boat ride to the fern grotto? Depends on your stomach for nostalgia.
On the plus side: The same family has run the operation for many many years. They are varying ages but all play a mean Hawaiian folk tune, several on ukelele. On the negative side, once the boat reaches the dock and you walk up to the fern grotto, you only get to see it from a distance, however you will be regaled for half an hour about how great it used to be when they could take groups of visitors all the way up into the shallow cave up the hill, how the ferns used to hang down like curtains, how they used to fill it with candles and have weddings there, all before Hurricane Iniki ripped out the ferns and unsettled the rocks making the whole thing too dangerous to enjoy close up. So if you like to go places and visualize how great they used to be, then I give this a two thumbs up.
I truly enjoyed the family and the music. Especially on the ride back when they added in the hula dancing, and forced the lot of us to learn the moves and perform “Going to a Hukilau” at the end. AWE. SOME.
Another warning however: Their website also is living in the past, and boats no longer take off every half hour, but rather just a few times a day. Call ahead to check the schedule.
(Scott and I have discussed, as one does when one visits Hawaii, what we would do if we lived there. I said I wasn’t sure there would be work for me. He pointed out, “Your first job could be updating the fern grotto website!”)
And then, holy heck! — Day 6!
We had one more activity to cross off our list. Jonah wanted to go fishing. Fortunately the resort had a lagoon stocked with tilapia for catch-and-release bamboo pole fishing, another kid-centered activity. So Jonah fished. And he caught TWO fish. It was VERY exciting. And hot, and lacking shade. And I’d forgotten to re-apply sunscreen after lunch and before hitting the lagoon. And my skin turned a chocolate-beet hue that I never thought possible. And it itched.
And yet, Day 7 arrived with the mandate that we get out in the water one. more. time. (Day 8 would be travel-back-day.)
There were two stressful aspects to the whole week. Resort inertia: In which one finds oneself inexplicably stuck in place, whether inside the air-conditioned condo, or on a lounge chair, or simply within the confines of the resort rather than venturing outside the perimeter, for longer than one intended. Resort panic: In which one cannot decide which thing to do next, nor how long to stay engaged with any one activity before switching to another activity.
I had both. Especially the latter as I would bop down to the beach, dip in the ocean, decide I really wanted to lay down, end up in the pool, pop out to make lunch, etc.
We also had the snorkel gear we’d rented for the week and so felt obliged to try and use it one more time, to get our money’s worth. Which turned out to be a good thing. Because I had finally noticed that lots of people were snorkeling in the waves and in the quieter waters along the spit that demarcated our resort’s little cove. So we joined them. (Well, not Jonah, as the waves would have been rough for him and in any case we didn’t have the magnifier float thing to borrow this time.) FANTASTIC fish. Helpful on this day was the family that had brought a tube of fish food, purchased from Wal Mart (which is right by the airport, in case you need to know) and they kept waving me over to see all the fish they were attracting.
Our cove also hosted daily visits from a pair of sea turtles who would frolic in the waves, and then one would haul itself up onto a dune for a nap; around which officials would rapidly erect a 3-sided rope barrier with signs to protect it.
On Day 7 Jonah continued his nascent beach combing habit, out on the spit in the tidepools where he collected shells and loose bits of coral. (We admired but did not bring home the tiny hermit crabs but we might get him one as a pet at a later date if they turn out to be low maintenance.)
And on Day 8 we flew home. I left behind 3 papayas in the fridge, ranging in size from small to ginormous, that I hadn’t had enough time to eat. Did you know that papayas come in variations including “sunrise” and “strawberry”? Yeah. That good.
Jonah was an ace flyer, what with the fact that we now let him stare at videos for the entire flight. Two years ago I wouldn’t have let him even do so for 30 minutes. I recall reading a lot of books and pacing the aisles and giving him little wrapped gifts every half hour back then. This time it was the entirely insipid but he loves it The Land Before Time and the more educational and less annoying Dinosaur Train on endless loops.
(Even though he’s really moved on from dinosaurs to sharks. Almost entirely. He brought Rexie the T-Rex on this trip but I guarantee the boy is on the lookout for the hammerhead stuffie destined to replace it.)
To deal with ear pain on descent, this time I had the menthol rub with me but that didn’t do it. Twizzlers from the stewardess helped, as did her suggestion of tugging on his ears and periodically pinching his nose shut. She suggested we have him blow into his pinched nose but I remember that being accompanied by an EXTREMELY uncomfortable ripping sensation in my ears when I was a kid so I’m going to check that tip with my pediatrician before applying it.
The ear tugging really seemed to help. Or sufficiently distract him. Anytime one of us would stop, he would yell at us to KEEP PULLING.
And he barely cried at all.
So there we go. Another Kauai trip gone. I miss the air, the water, the king-size bed, the Jonah-size swimming pools at depths of 1-1/2, 2, 3, and 4-5 feet, the sugar cane, the poke salads, the moon shining on the ocean…