Finally! A business trip that went somewhere a bit exotic. I had an opportunity pop up out of the blue to make a two-week jaunt to Kauai. My old boss needed some help with an Information Assurance tasking out at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) and he asked me if I could break away and lend a hand. It turned out that the timing was good as we were in a slight lull time waiting for a new series of testing to begin so I was able to clear it with my current boss. The only thing that would put this over the top is finagling a way to get Rhonda out there with me.
I’ve been hoarding a bunch of “travel reward” points for a number of years now waiting for an opportunity like this to come along. Rhonda kept wanting to use them up with some mundane flight to Topeka, KS or what not and I kept refusing. I was finally vindicated!
This was clearly the kind of opportunity I had been holding out for. Within hours of booking my ticket we had hers booked too. Out of pocket cost so far…87 cents. Lodging is a bit of a challenge since the PMRF is located on Barking Sands Naval Station which is clear out on the SW end of the island. Poipu Beach is about the closest you can find hotels otherwise you end up clear back in Lihue with over an hour drive to work each morning. I ended up finding a ground floor 1 BR cottage which was just under the company per diem rate at the Kiahuna Plantation Resort which had a full kitchen and was only 50 yards from the beach. I still ended up with a 40-minute drive into work each day but the resort area was really nice.
Rhonda got a lot of beach time and just general “relaxing” which she needed after having a rough winter health wise. Kauai has some interesting topographical features. Mount Waialeale is the highest point on the island at 5,148 ft and is also the wettest spot on the planet getting on average more than 460 inches per year. Whereas, the SW coast where I was working is considerably more arid. It did in fact rain most of the time we were there, especially on the North Shore. We were on the South Shore and saw much nicer weather with a reasonable amount of sunshine. Also on the SW part of the island is Waimae Canyon which has a striking resemblance to the Grand Canyon just not as big. We went hiking with my friend, Mikki, who had moved out here last year to work. Mikki also took us out to the beach at Polihale State Park where Rhonda got to do a little snorkeling and we had a nice beach cookout. Thanks, Mikki! You ROCK!
One of the highlights of the trip was a boat tour up the amazing NaPali coastline. This fifteen-mile stretch of rugged coastline on the NW shore of Kauai literally means “the Cliffs.” Most of the Na Pali Coast is inaccessible due to its characteristic sheer cliffs that drop straight down, thousands of feet into the ocean. The boat was rigid inflatable Zodiac style craft that seats 35 although there were only 20 or so of us willing to take on the 10-12 foot swells that were predicted along the NW shore. We took our Dramamine and went out anyway. It was a heck of ride, somewhat roller “coastery”, and an awful lot of fun. Nobody got sick and we saw some incredible scenery along the coast, some whales, porpoises, and sea turtles. The whole ride was three hours or thereabouts. (Matt didn’t mention the outrageously gorgeous coast and the Hidden Valley. The marks where the waterfalls used to drop 3,000+ ft down the cliffs to the lovely translucent aquamarine waves makes you wonder if the scene took sailors breath away when they first laid eyes on it with Captain Cook.)
On our final day we drove up to the North Shore and saw Hanalei Bay and took a short jaunt out the Kaulala Trail but our time was limited so we couldn’t go very far. Then it was back to the airport and catch the red-eye flight back to the mainland.
Rhonda’s note…. we were able to have some absolutely fabulous meals on the island. The chefs there are creative in their culinary presentation and their skill. The local fish was great, especially at their hand. Most of our dining was in lovely gardens but wherever it was, it was always open air and often by the water. My advice, though, if you venture to Kauai, skip the Loco Moco! It is a favorite with the locals but not the mainlanders. Truly lacks inspiration!
Matt is not a Kona coffe fan but found that Kauai has its own coffee company. One of the sugar plantations is being converted to a coffee plantation. He truly enjoyed their coffee and we brought Kauai coffee home to share instead of Kona. The plantation is gorgeous Matt photographed it but am not sure if he displayed the photos here.
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