Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Can You Say Mele Kalikimaka?

"Let's meet in the middle for Christmas," said my mom. 

I took a quick look at the map. Ehhh, that would put us afloat in the Pacific Ocean.

Luckily, she had a more land-based destination in mindHawaii.

There are seven islands that make up the state of Hawaii. In order to pick the best one, I did what any Generation Y girl would do. I took a quick internet survey called "Which Hawaiian Island is Best for You?" The results sounded pretty good - "You like the outdoors, hiking, swimming and snorkeling - Kauai is where you should go."

And the internet wins again. It was an awesome vacation. Here are the highlights in numbers.

23 Plane Flights
That's how many flights it took me, Drew, my mom, my aunt, my uncle, my cousin, my cousin's girlfriend, and my grandfather to get to Hawaii.

1st in the water
Drew, of course. He's always the first in the water. Less than 60 minutes after our plane to Kauai set down, he was headed to the beach.

2 Monk Seals
I love going to a new places and seeing unusual animals that I didn't even realize were a possibility to see. This happened to me with echidnas in Australia and now Hawaiian Monk Seals. The Hawaiian Monk Seals are critically endangered with only 1000 left in the wild. Native Hawaiians call them "Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua" which translates into "dog that runs in rough water." During the day, these critters seek the sunny climes of Hawaiian beaches, in an effort to warm their bodies from diving deep for food.
This guy seemed to take the jingle "Time to turn so you don't burn" to heart, flipping sides every 15 minutes minutes.

36.7 Miles to a Climbing Destination
Naturally, one of the first things we look for when we plan a vacation is whether or not climbing is accessible nearby. Lucky for us, Kauai boasted a beautiful ocean side cliff on Glass Beach. Not only did we find some fun bouldering to keep us occupied for a few hours, the beach also had black sand and a section where all the pebbles were made from sea glass (due to it being an old dumping site).

Glass pebbles - click on photo for a larger version

100 Humpback Whales
This is probably an exaggeration. I don't remember how many whales we saw as I lost count after about 25. My mom and I saw the first two while sitting on the beach. Then we took a whale-watching sunset cruise and the water was just lousy with them! However, I don't have photographic proof of this as I was too busy watching to take pictures.

6 Geckos
As Drew has learned, my family has a streak of the bohemian in them and, when we get together with my aunt and uncle, vacations are guaranteed to be unusual and heaps of  fun. As a kid, our joint vacations included a stay at a rustic (read: no electricity and no running water) cabin in a National Forest for a week and a stay on a tiny deserted, private island off the coast of Connecticut to which we had to kayak all of our camping gear. This Hawaiian holiday found us staying on an organic fruit farm where the owner has constructed various minimalist cabins. My mom's cabin was a treehouse! Drew and I stayed in the Thai Garden House, which we quickly found was already occupied by 6 geckos of varying colors and sizes.
Coconut Tree near Mom's Treehouse

3 Original Wylands
The artist Wyland is famous for painting giant murals of marine life on the sides of buildings worldwide. While in Hawaii, we saw 3 different murals by him. Two of the "whaling walls" were in Kauai and one was at the Honolulu airport. It was really awesome to see the ones on Kauai up closethe attention to detail in the whales and other sea life is amazing.

1 Christmas Tree Decorated With SPAM Containers
We ducked into one of the government buildings for a quick pit stop and found a beautiful display of Christmas trees decorated with recycled material, including this SPAM tree.

Too Many Roosters
Kauai is full of feral chickens and roosters. The roosters crow at all hours of the night. As you can imagine, we had some seriously choice words for those roosters. The story goes that in the 1990s a hurricane swept through the island and destroyed one farm's chicken coop, thus allowing these miscreants to escape and procreate like rabbits. Drew and I eat a mostly vegetarian diet and hardly ever eat chicken; however, I had no hesitation at eating the local fowl fare while on Kauai.

...and Countless Beautiful Vistas
We had so much fun, hanging out with family and relaxing at the beach. Time to start looking into other 'middle' spots to meet up. Maybe Malta or Madagascar?

Looking down into Waimea Canyon

View from a rainy hike
The lighthouse at Kilauea


  1. Mandy, your photography skills are amazing - so enjoyed this blog!

  2. SO incredible! Great photos. I'm so glad you had such a lovely time--makes me jealous!


  3. Hey Mandy,

    Haven't commented in a while :) Just stopping in to see how everything is going. I forgot if you told me, how long are you guys going to be in Oz? We're hoping to be moving back, for good, at the end of the year, or beginning of next year - Mat applies for his citizenship here in June and once it is granted we are free to do whatever. Hope things are still going well!

  4. Awesome, Mandy! Hawai'i sounds great. And I think of your adventures in Australia often. Following your blog has gotten me addicted to red pandas--I love them :)

    Hoping you and Andrew are well and happy!



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