Watch Me Whip…

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…just don’t feed the nēnēs!


Yeah, I know it’s corny–but I have approximately 12 minutes to post something, I’m not even home yet, and my brain is a bit fried. Plus, every time I see this sign that song gets stuck in my head….

But since I’m also feeling the need to be educational: the nēnē is the state bird of Hawaii and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, is found exclusively on the islands Oahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Molokai, and Hawaiʻi. In case you’re wondering, we discovered these on Kauai:


Aloha!

A Yo Ho Ho Thirsty Thursday

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

I know, I know: I’ve already featured the Koloa Rum Company on Thirsty Thursday before…and yes, I’m featuring them again.  I mean, is there such a thing as too much rum?  I think not.

Please note that any and all complaints will be actively ignored while drinking from my stash of Koloa…

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Here we are congregated at the tasting bar as our lovely bartender took us through all the rums that Koloa offered: White, Gold, Spiced, Dark, and Coconut.  We all graciously took turns finishing April’s tastes, as she would take a small sip of each for prosperity’s sake and then would slide her glass down to each of us in turn–we couldn’t let delicious rum go to waste!

After running through the line-up, we got a brief lesson on the Mai Tai and Koloa’s version for anyone who wanted one (yes, please!).

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Tastings are daily–but there are a limited number of slots per tasting, so the first thing you need to do when you get there (of course you’re going to go–why wouldn’t you?!?) is sign up for a tasting.  After that, do take the time to walk around the picturesque grounds and visit the gift shop (just don’t miss your tasting!).

For the store and tasting room hours–not to mention directions, recipes, descriptions of their current rum selections, and their e-gift shop can all be found on their website.

The best part of perusing their website is that I noticed that they’ve added a new rum to their collection since we visited: coffee.  Helllllllloooo gorgeous!!!!  Could there be a more perfect rum for me?

My only question (because the previous one was rhetorical) is: who wants to go to Kauai?!?

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Aloha!

A Sugary Float

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The most fun we had (in my humble opinion) on any excursion during our entire trip was visiting the Lihue Plantation, an old sugar plantation on Kauai.

I know you’re thinking: what is so fun about visiting an old sugar plantation unless it is now a rum factory?  Alas no rum–what we did was float down part of the irrigation system on tubes.

A little bit of history on the Lihue Plantation: construction started on the irrigation system in 1856 with the Rice Ditch (created by William Harrison Rice). It wasn’t quite what they needed it to be, so in 1870 the Hanama‘ulu Ditch was built–by hand (well, and shovels, sledge hammers, etc!). It is said that it took up to 1,000 workers at one time to build each section of the ditch and it took two years to finish all the sections.  All in all, the Lihue Plantation’s water system is made up of 51 miles of ditches!  You can read more about it here.

We booked our tubing tour with Kauai Backcountry Adventures, who would be guiding us down part of the Hanama‘ulu Ditch.  After checking in, we were weighed (yep….weighed!  I probably should have had less malasadas for breakfast!!).  After weigh-in, we were handed hard hats, headlamps, and gloves.  We were then herded into large vans (nicer than the ones in Ka Lae) and we drove down some tiny backroads until we reached a clearing where we were dumped out and watched helplessly as the vans drove away.

Just as we were about to panic that we had been abandoned in some Hawaiian Lord of the Flies experiment, we were greeted by a younger version of The Rock (that would be Dwayne Johnson, not Rockefeller Plaza or Alcatraz), who explained the rules:

  1. Stay in your tube
  2. If you’re having issues, let one of the guides know
  3. Stick together as a group
  4. Do NOT say the water is cold

We were then given a series of directional code words and what they meant, which were mostly for when we were in the tunnels and couldn’t see.

Everyone in the group (about 20 in total) agreed to all the rules and dutifully practiced our code words while we lined up and proceeded down a little ramp where the younger version of The Rock would select a tube for us and help us into it.

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April was the first in our group, who declared the water to be refreshing.  Although she is from Minnesota and the fact that the water was in liquid form meant that it wasn’t the c-word.

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I walked up and–with all the grace of a hippopotamus learning ballet–managed to get into my tube aaaaand HOLYFUCKINGSHIT the water is uh, uh, brisk/refreshing/invigorating/bracing.  I sounded a little like Rainman with a thesaurus, but I did not say the c-word (yay me!).

I can’t quite remember what the punishment for saying the c-word was, but when someone who looks like the younger version of The Rock tells you not to do something, you listen!

However as I floated by the younger version of The Rock, he noticed that I couldn’t get comfortable, so he called me over.  After a couple of seconds of watching me struggle to paddle back to him, he walked over and towed me back to the shore.  All of this time, mind you, no one else has gotten in the water and were all watching us.  He very politely and quietly whispers, “I think you need a slightly bigger tube.”  At which point, I start laughing hysterically.

Christi, who was next in line, had a worried look on her face “what’s wrong? what’s wrong?”

Through the laughter I roared “my ass is too big!!”

The younger version of The Rock looked slightly mortified and said “I didn’t say that!  I just think a different tube would be more comfortable.”

And he was right, of course…but I couldn’t stop giggling.

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Once everyone was in their tube, we set off–stopping periodically to let the stragglers catch up to the group.

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The irrigation system had a current moving fast enough to keep pushing us along, but not so fast that we felt like we were in white water rapids.  Along the way we came to 4 different tunnels.  At each tunnel entrance we’d turn on our lights, which afforded us to see things nearby our tube, but little else.

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We laughed, we floated, we got to know other people in our group, and along the way saw some spectacular views.  Once we were finished navigating our section of the irrigation ditch, we had a picnic lunch and were offered up in sacrifice to the mosquitos.

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All too soon, we found ourselves back in the van navigating the windy roads back to Lihue.  It was so much fun! And if you find yourself on the island of Kauai, tubing should be on top of your Things To Do List–just don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray!

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For more information or to book your tubing adventure, click here: Kauai Backcountry Adventure.

Aloha!

 

A Hawaiian T.G.I.F.

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I don’t know about you, but it has been one of those weeks and I am so very glad the weekend is here!  I’m looking forward to doing a whole lotta nothing and adding in a few trips down to the pool.

Naturally at 4 minutes to midnight, I remembered that I didn’t actually schedule anything to post today.  And then of course my laptop picked that very moment to randomly freeze and had to be restarted.  And in not wanting to miss out on the fun, my phone was blatantly refusing to connect to the interwebs…so yes, this post is a little late, but since I’m posting a picture of Hawaii and it’s still early evening in Hawaii (thank you time zones!), I’m totally proclaiming it still to be Friday!

Furthermore, I totally know that you stopped whatever you were doing to read this–so I’m going to keep it short & sweet in order for you to go back to drinking/eating/dancing/sleeping/dozing on the couch while pretending to watch a movie.  This is the view from our balcony in Kauai…and perhaps the moment when I decided that I wanted to stay in Hawaii forever (spoiler alert: I had to come back–no one was willing to send the pupcicle to me!).  Have a great weekend!

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Aloha!

Day 32

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I just realized that I’m approaching the ⅓ mark of my 100 Days of Blogging Challenge and I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I’ve started!

Today I’m finding myself short on words (aka what I really want to work on are posts for other days, like Thirsty Thursday or Sunday Comics), so I thought it might be a good day to share with you some (or perhaps a lot of) pictures of Waikiki.

 

Aloha!

 

Eggs ‘N Lava Java

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If you are thinking I’m going to talk about eggs or maybe even coffee, you would be wrong.  Today I’m going to talk about pancakes.

For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever met a pancake that I didn’t like.  But, OMG, Hawaiian pancakes are just absofuckinglutely amazing.

You might say that it’s just the scenery.  And I can’t argue, the views are spectacular–and we did make it a point to visit as many restaurants with an ocean view as possible.

But no, you would be wrong.  What makes them so scrumptious are macadamia nuts + coconut syrup.

That’s right, macadamia nuts and coconut syrup.

Like these that we got on the Big Island at Island Lava Java in Kailua-Kona.  The pancakes were light and fluffy and the macadamia nuts and bananas and coconut syrup just made them sing!

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But ever so slightly better are the Macadamia Pancakes at Eggs ‘N Things in Honolulu.  The macadamia nuts are cooked into the pancakes, which make them taste even creamier.  Apparently they were so good that we totally didn’t get a picture of them!  But I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I went to their website and pulled this picture.

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You would think (I thought) that the coconut syrup would be too sweet and cloying, but it wasn’t.  However, you do have to like coconut.  If not, both places offered a variety of fruit syrups, which we also tried and liked.  We just thought the macadamia + coconut combo worked the best together, which then led to a hunt for the perfect coconut syrup to bring back stateside…

If you asked me, I don’t think I could actually choose which breakfast spot I preferred.  They were both delicious and thankfully, they are on different islands (Oahu and Hawaii), so I don’t actually have to choose!!  😉

Aloha!

 

 

Margarita Monday: Hawaiian Style!

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I wasn’t actually planning on Margarita Monday to be a regular thing, but I figured what the heck–who doesn’t like margaritas?!?!?  Btw, if you’d like a picture of your tasty margarita to appear here for Margarita Mondays, please tweet it to me @epicurioustexan or send me a message on FB!

I know, I know…it’s been awhile since I’ve posted for Margarita Monday and honestly, I didn’t think I’d have a margarita post whilst posting about Hawaii.  But in looking through all the pictures, I realized that we did have margaritas while we were there.  And by “we,” I mean Christi and Tracy–but I had a tasty sip, or perhaps two…or maybe four.  I mean how could you not when pineapple margaritas are on the menu?!?

These are from the Goofy Cafe & Dine in Honolulu, where we stopped to indulge in a bit of poke, bibimbap, and corn penne before we departed for the Big Island.  Goofy doesn’t have an extensive menu, but everything was fresh, delicious, and locally sourced!

Aloha!

Thirsty Thursday Mai Tai!

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

You cannot go to Hawaii and not have a Mai Tai.

SIDENOTE: Autocorrect wants to change Mai Tai to Man Tai, which is making me snort coffee out of my nose!

Sorry [wiping coffee off the laptop], where was I?  Oh yes, “you cannot go to Hawaii and not have a Mai Tai.”  Unless, of course, you are not 21 then you can totally go to Hawaii and not have a Mai Tai.  Same applies if you don’t drink.  Or can’t drink.

But if you can drink and do drink and are old enough to drink, then I feel like you cannot go to Hawaii and not have at least one Mai Tai.  It’s part of the experience.

I guess now would be a great time to mention that we’re in Honolulu–and we’ve just landed after a 9 hour flight from Atlanta. After we dropped our bags at the hotel, we walked around Waikiki for awhile and stopped in at Duke’s for a late lunch and our first drink (you can read about Tracy and my drinks from previous Thirsty Thursdays.  Christi had the Mai Tai pictured at the bottom of this post).  After that we walked around a bit more and then ended up at the hotel bar.  And before you make a I-cannot-believe-you’re-in-Hawaii-just-sitting-at-the-hotel-bar face at me, it’s not the standard-tucked-away-in-the-back-of-the-hotel bar.  It was a rooftop hotel bar where you could lounge by the pool or overlook the beach.  And the drink of the day was none other than the Mai Tai.

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Ironically, the Mai Tai did not originate in Hawaii or any where in Polynesia (where it tends to be the go-to drink), but in San Francisco.

Like all great things, there are some discrepancies about who created it and when, but the over all consensus seems to lean towards Trader Vic’s in the mid 1940s.  I don’t really know enough to weigh in heavily one way or another.  Plus, in the grand scheme of things Mai Tais are not my drink of choice–even in Hawaii–so I’ll leave the debating up to the aficionados.

However, I feel like with all this talk about Mai Tais, I’d be remiss if I didn’t leave you with a recipe for one!  I found Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai recipe in an article by Rick Carroll.  If you click on the link, he is kind enough to give you a brief history of the mai tai, the recipe, and a list of places throughout the islands where you should drink one.

Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai
  • Pour only 80 proof J. Wray & Nephew Rum over shaved ice.
  • Add juice from half a fresh lime.
  • Some orange curacao.
  • A dash of rock candy syrup.
  • A dollop of French orgeat (it’s an almond syrup usually made with rose or orange flower water).
  • Shake vigorously.
  • Add a sprig of fresh mint.

I’m also going to suggest an umbrella…just because!

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Aloha!

A Little Geography Lesson

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I don’t know about you, but when I think of the location of the Hawaiian Islands I tend to think of it as smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean due west of California.

However, it is actually a little bit further south than “due west of California.”  Okay, quite a bit south of “due west of California.”

The Hawaiian Islands lie just below of the Tropic of Cancer–so if you want a “due west of” think Southern Mexico. To put it in USA geography terms, Key West (the Southernmost point in the continental United States) lies north of the Tropic of Cancer.  In fact, Hawaii is so remote that it is not even considered part of the North American continent (see the map from World Atlas below)!

USA map

The reason I’m mentioning this is because we decided to split our trip to the Big Island by spending a couple of nights in Kona and then a night in Hilo.  April & I were in charge of selecting the route and finding fun things to do along the way to Hilo.  We opted for the Southern Route, which afforded us options to drive through the mountainous terrain of Kona, the overlook of Kealakekua Bay (where the fate of Captain Cook was decided), the volcano lava fields, the Mauna Loa macadamia nut company, a green sand beach, and the actual southernmost point in the United States.

After we left Greenwell Farms, we headed south down the main “highway.”  Actually, highway was a bit of a stretch–much like our “yacht” in Greece.  Winding, narrow two lane road is a bit more accurate, but it was scenic, so we didn’t care!  Or perhaps Tracy did, since he was the one driving….but we girls didn’t mind one bit!  😉

Our first stop came only a few minutes down the road when we drove by the South Kona Fruit Stand.  We decided that smoothies were the perfect thing for our trip south, along with some very interesting fruit we had never heard of…or heard of but never tried, like lilikoi, star fruit, and dragon fruit!

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With smoothies in hand and fruit in the trunk, we continued south along the Mamalahoa Highway taking in the picturesque coastline views on one side and the lush mountain on the other side.  Our next destination was Nā‘ālehu, home to both a green sand beach (more about that later) and Ka Lae, the southernmost point on the Big Island, which is the southernmost island, thus is the southernmost point in the United States.

Why, yes, I do like saying southernmost–thankyouverymuch!

So we turned off the “highway” onto an even smaller road and wound our way here and there whilst following signs to the green sand beach and Ka Lae.  We actually went to the beach first but it is deserving of its own post.  After our trek to the beach, we stopped at Ka Lae for a glimpse of what seemed to be the edge of the world.

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For those of you who would love the chance to jump off the edge of the world, there was even a platform–and a group of people willing.

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And just in case you didn’t feel like scaling the steep wall back up or drifting out to sea (although I don’t see why not, after all the Kiribati Atolls are only 1200 miles away!), there was even a ladder to help you.

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I peeked over and decided I was perfectly happy not jumping and drifting off to sea and/or climbing the ladder of death back up.

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A few more quick shots and then we were on our way–having crossed off another item on our Hawaiian to-do list!

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Fresh Open Air…Port?

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I have been to a lot of airports in my life, but thus far, have never experienced any quite so open as the ones in Hawaii. 

Literally.


I haven’t really traveled much in the tropics, so perhaps all airports in the tropical places of the world are like this?  Certainly no airports that I’ve been in, not even the bane of my existence LAX, where you have an outdoor trek to get from terminal to terminal.  


I do confess that I didn’t notice it in Honolulu, other than to think that the walk from the gate to the outside was like 30 seconds, especially when compared to places like JFK, DFW, or even smaller airports like Tampa that tease you with views of the outside, but it takes a train ride and a walk to actually breathe fresh air.

Not true on the Big Island or Kauai, where there was plenty of fresh open air inside the airport terminals. It seemed that pretty much just the walkways, seating areas, and restaurants were covered and not much else. It was a little surreal (in a very good way) when we deplaned on the Big Island and could see palm trees and stars.


A very nice reminder that we were, in fact, no where near home.


PS–in case it wasn’t clear because I did write about other airports, ALLLLLLL of these pictures were of Hawaiian airports, like Kona, Hilo, and Lihue…but maybe not in that order. OBVIOUSLY if you saw yesterday’s post, you know that copious amounts of adult beverages were consumed and things start to go fuzzy. 

PPS–I know there are (and I have been to) multiple airports where you have to walk outside to transfer terminals, however, I never miss an opportunity to remind the world LAX is the bane of my existence.

Aloha!