For the second year in a row, we left the land of gray drizzle for one of brilliant sun. My husband should be warned, this could become a most delightful habit! Last year we traveled to Sayulita, Mexico this year we had the opportunity to explore Kauai, Hawaii. We packed up the kids, brought along our parents and enjoyed six glorious days playing in the surf and sand of beautiful Hawaii.
Labeled the ‘Garden Island,’ Kauai is a tropical paradise full of black lava, white sand, turquoise sea, towering palm trees and brilliant flowers. It is a world of big shapes and saturated color. The tropical jungle of the mountains collides with the arid, sandy beach. Warm sun mixes with the moist sea air and background music is provided by the rustling palm fronds, crashing surf and all those chickens!
Our chicken experiences on the island were numerous. Chickens were everywhere. Sometimes it seemed as though the chickens ruled the road! We would often see a hen followed closely by her brood of chicks. One morning a chicken took me by surprise by flying up to my balcony… for this urban girl, ‘flying’ chickens were a brand new experience. In Portland we are very used to the sounds of urban poultry. But here in Kauai it was the sound of the roosters that served as our daily alarm clock. Every morning, they made their joyous pronouncement (again and again and again) that another day in paradise had begun.
My favorite moments were those spent on the beach with my children. I am always amazed by how brave children can be. In their everyday life they are constantly trying new things and navigating new processes. While on vacation I watched my children approach and conquer new challenges with grace and confidence. I remember attempting snorkeling the first time… breathing underwater that first time left me with a panicked feeling. But my children leapt into the water, excited to explore the magical world that awaited them. My son proclaimed the one that was bright yellow with black markings as ‘the awesomest!’. Their confidence under the water was matched only by their excitement to ride the the tops of the waves. My children didn’t hesitate when the opportunity came to try surfing on a boogie board with only the power of the waves to push them towards shore. My daughter mastered the boogie board riding the waves with her favorite bud only inches away and wearing a great big wide smile.
Our days were filled with a string of events, taking us away from our daily routine of schoolwork, chores and business into a world of new sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Some of our favorite adventures included finding the islands best malasadas (the Hawaiian donut) and learning about the native birds and plantlife in order to become Junior Rangers at the Kilauea lighthouse and bird sanctuary. We were delighted by the whoooosh and the pffffffth as a swell of water was pushed through a a narrow hole in the lava rocks in a geyser-like fashion and we were awed by the vastness of the chasm at Waimea Canyon composed of deep red etched walls. We bravely traversed a crickety, wooden, swinging bridge where a gentle breeze took on the feel of a tropical storm. We watched a cluster of sea turtles as the waves buffeted there huge bodies around and around and around with the crashing surf. But mostly we hung out on the lanai, three generations enjoying the slow and easy pace induced by the air of the tropics.
And as luck would have it, we shared vacation time on this beautiful island with a couple favorite friends. Family time and friend playdates all in the same vacation, my kids didn’t think it could get much better. One day we were invited to visit our friends staying on the north shore. We were invited to enjoy the beach, share a meal and play in the water. What we got was a great big hug, an open and inviting table and a spirit that will sustain me throughout the year. The afternoon became the highlight of the trip, not because of any big momentous occasion (although it IS where my children learned to boogie board!) but because of a cluster of shared moments, which, when strung together, create a picture of friendship and adventure, all within a wickedly beautiful setting.