We flew through the air and landed in Paradise…Pinch me…Kauai is heavenly…

This type of scene we noticed along Highway 56 in Kauai could be found in many places on the mainland.

Without a doubt, Kauai may prove to be our favorite of the four islands we’ve visited in Hawaii. The four months, we’d anticipated that may be too long, will fly by too quickly. 

We arrive in Kauai on a gorgeous day. Excuse the date stamps on some of these photos. I’d failed to remove it after taking photos of the existing damage on the rental car when we picked it up.

Upon arriving at the Lihue, Kauai airport, we hauled all of our bags to the shuttle bus stop for a ride to the Dollar car rental. We lucked out. They agreed to rent us the vehicle for the entire four months, preventing us from the necessity of going back once a month to renew.

There are many shops along the highway, an attraction for the tourists as shown here today in the village of Wailua.

Most likely they gave us the oldest and cheapest car on the lot with over 31,000 miles and no automatic door locks.  When did automatic door locks become popular? Thirty years ago? At only $685 a month, we hardly complain.  

There appears to be several Mexican restaurants in Kauai.

After all, this is Hawaii and rental cars are notoriously high here. Having booked online enabled us to get this great price. We took no less than a dozen photos of all of the dings and scratches on the car saving them in our Kauai file for future reference and we were on our way. 

A pineapple and coconut stand.

We had to ditch our intent of shopping at Costco. There wasn’t room in that tiny vehicle for a single item sold at Costco when everything is the jumbo size and the car was packed with our stuff. Instead today, we’ll return to Lihui for a much-needed trip to Costco. 

The ever-popular Bubba’s, known for their burgers.

Finding the condo was a little tricky although driving through upscale Princeville was delightful. We’ve landed in the most exquisite area we’ve seen in the islands or perhaps on any island we’ve visited thus far in our travels.

Traveling along a two-lane highway makes photo-taking difficult while driving.

Our condo is located in a well maintained four-unit building. We’ve already met everyone in each unit including permanent residents photographer Ted and vacation home manager Gloria and, vacationing neighbors from Toronto, lovely couple Sarah, Mario, and baby Kayden, staying only a few days. We have a sense that making friends in Kauai will be easy.

We stopped at a scenic overlook on the way to Princeville.

The condo, although smaller than we’d anticipated, is perfect for us. Newly remodeled, it appears new with lush finishes, quality workmanship, and pleasing design.

A proud rooster meandering with his family in the parking lot of the scenic overlook.

While moving in with the doors open a zillion mosquitoes entered the condo requiring we leave the AC on overnight. Mosquitoes hide in cool air.  Today, the doors and windows will be wide open after we return from shopping.

Two hens were hanging out with the above rooster.

In a way, the condo is comparable to a two-bedroom hotel suite with a kitchen. The comfy memory foam bed, soft pillows, and covers created the best night’s sleep we’ve had in ages. The shower was ideal, an aspect we’ve really come to appreciate.

Views of the ocean are always appealing.

More than anything, the scenic views from our lanai and the front of the building are breathtaking as shown in these photos. A white sand beach is across the road where we can take beach chairs for whale watching.

Another scenic overlook.

Last night, we dined at a restaurant tucked away in a condo complex also across the road, the Hideaway, when neither of us felt like shopping and cooking. The food was mediocre, the ambiance was noisy and our table was wobbly. I doubt we’ll return with many other options in the area.

We stopped when we spotted this beach.

We’d mailed a package to ourselves with all of our leftover foodstuffs. To my error, I failed to ask the owner if we could do so and we simply used the address for the condo when we mailed it at the post office in Pahoa.  Later, the owner informed us that only UPS will deliver to the condo.

A beautiful beach scene. The contrast between greenery and sand is particularly appealing.

As a result, this morning, we’ll head to the post office to see if the package has arrived. If it hasn’t, we may decide to wait to go to Costco to avoid duplicating some of the items in the packed box. Then again, with four months here in Princeville, duplication may not be an issue.

Since our arrival, we’ve taken many photos to share. From what we’ve seen so far, we’ll never run out of photos to share on this island. Known as the “garden island” the abundance of birds and vegetation is unlike anything we’ve seen since Tuscany in the summer of 2013. 

A bar and restaurant along the highway.

This morning shortly after awakening we heard the pleasing crow of a rooster. More later on why Kauai is known for its many wild chickens freely roaming about. Yesterday, there were several in the rental car parking lot.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos of the condo and much more. Stay tuned, dear readers. The exploration of the garden island has just begun.

                                            Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2014:

On our way to the Blyde River Canyon for a three-day mini holiday, we drove through Kruger National Park. We stopped at a distance to watch this elephant. She was obviously annoyed with our visit, moving to the road to come toward us. Luckily, we were back far enough and Tom quickly backed out to get out of her way. Finally, she backed off, content that we weren’t a threat. For details and more photos of our ride through Kruger, please click here.

More amazing vegetation…What’s a Monkey Pod?.. A village visit in the rain…The magic of Life..

The massive short trunk Monkey Pod tree we found in the village of Wailuku on Saturday. 

Yesterday, we took off at 10:00 am for Costco to return the floor model laptop Tom purchased in Boston on September 15th. Costco offers a 90-day no-questions-asked return on all digital equipment enabling him to purchase a new preferred Acer model online, transfer his files, and finally be done with the problematic floor model. 

With the new laptop data transfer completed and assured he’d taken everything off the old one that he needed, we were ready to return the old one. True to their commitment, Costco handed us the cash for the return in a matter of minute, indeed with no questions asked.

With our RFID wallets (security enabled) there isn’t a lot of room for that much cash. For safekeeping, we purchased a gift card for $500 which we’ll use toward the purchase of food and supplies for our upcoming family gathering next month. The gift card (now in a secure spot) won’t put a dent in it, but we decided it’s better than carrying cash.

A pretty scene from Wailuku in the rain.

After Costco, we headed the few short blocks to the airport to sign a new contract for the rental car. The 30 days was up and renewing can’t be done over the phone for more than a few days, as we’ve learned from past experience. 

Luckily, we were able to get the same excellent online rate, prorated for the remaining 15 days. At $725 for 30 days, we were content with a total of $1100 for the six weeks in Maui. We’d expected it would be considerably higher in Hawaii. Booking cars online makes all the difference in the world on pricing (as opposed to booking from a vendor’s website).

Another tree in Wailuku that had a variety of plants growing in the “Y” of these branches.

We’d hoped to explore Maui on the return drive but, as it seems to be the case each time we attempt to explore, it was raining in buckets. Determined to get a few decent photos, we decided to follow another path and check out Wailuku, the city for the mailing address where we’re now living, although several miles from our condo.

I didn’t hesitate to get out of the car in the rain to take some shots. What’s a little rainwater? As it turned out, the most exciting find of the day was the huge Monkey Pod tree as shown in these photos with Tom getting the car in a perfect position enabling me to get out of the car with unobstructed views of the enormous tree.

Could this Bird of Paradise look more like a bird?

Tom is great when I’m trying to take photos, maneuvering the car to the most advantageous spot, driving around blocks retracing our steps in order to avoid missing a possible subject we’d passed and couldn’t stop to capture. It’s a perfect pairing, to say the least.

As the rain escalated, it only made sense to find our way home. It’s hard to get lost in Maui. It’s merely a matter of finding the sea with major highways that follow the coastline to some degree or another.

Once we were back home to find the sun shining we put on our swimsuits to head to the pool. Sun in one area and not another is not unusual in the Hawaiian Islands – raining in one area of an island and not the other; raining when the sun is shining, both frequent occurrences in Hawaii.

As we welcomed the warmth of the sun, we came to a mutual observation. We are not only drawn to wildlife but, we are almost equally mesmerized by vegetation in any form; a tree, a flower, a plant. 

Ah, we still get our “animal fix”  in Hawaii including this free-range chicken in Wailuku.

Vegetation in any form has a life cycle that is often mysterious and profound. In our travels, we’ve strived to gain knowledge and admiration of vegetation with the same passion we glean from all forms of life. 

Sure, a tree may not have a brain with an endearing personality and behavior patterns that humans find appealing. Instead, they have a unique life cycle that we are free to enjoy at varying stages, as they cross our path.

We discussed the Milo tree we’d shared in yesterday’s post and now the equally interesting Monkey Pod tree that we happened to encounter in the rain, a tree that also has its own unique story to tell as illustrated in today’s photos and links.

Link to documentation of the University of Hawaii’s report on the Monkey Pod tree.

Monkey Pod tree flower which only blooms for one day, later becoming the shown pods with a green bean-like structure. (Not our photo).

Based on this article, the Monkey Pod tree is now banned from new plantings in Honolulu due to its massive structure which can reach over 60 feet tall and 100 feet wide, obstructing and destroying everything in its path.  Luckily, many of these gorgeous trees still stand on the various islands of Hawaii. 

We expect, with the people of Hawaii’s reverence and regard for their surroundings, the Monkey Pod tree will remain as a legacy for its citizens.

We drove down a dirt road to get this rainy photo of the hills near Wailuku.

Ten minutes later, the sky clouded over and heavy rain began to fall. We hurriedly headed back inside, by no means disappointed, especially when we consider that the rain provides much-needed moisture for the exquisite vegetation surrounding us.

Hawaii is no Masai Mara or Marloth Park with wildlife all around us, although hopefully soon, the whales will arrive in the islands, a treasure for our viewing. Having seen the sea turtles now on several occasions, we’re hoping to soon see the whales. 

In the interim, we continue to find joy and fulfillment in our love and appreciation of the “Life” surrounding us, in whatever form it may be, wherever we may be.

                                           Photo from one year ago today, November 16, 2013:

A year ago we wrote about the size of Africa as compared to other continents and countries. As shown, it’s huge comparatively. For details of that story, please click here.