We awoke to cloudy skies our second day on Kauai. I looked at the forecast and confirmed that the clouds were due to give way to showers by noon, so we agreed that if we wanted to hike we should get out early. And we wanted to hike.
We had a couple in mind for this trip. The first, the Kalalau Trail from Ke’e beach, was immediately crossed off the list due to the flood. The landslides and washouts that closed the road at Hanalei also prevented us from getting to Ke’e. Such is life. Another on the list was Sleeping Giant. We’ve done both hikes before, but the day we hiked Sleeping Giant was overcast, so we really couldn’t see much of the island below. The weather made it apparent that we could expect the same, but the husband pointed out that if we waited for it to stop raining and clear up that we might we doing a whole lot of nothin’ on our vacation. Wise words.
As we drove to the trailhead I conversed via text with a girlfriend of mine. Her daughter lives on Kauai and visits on a regular basis, so I was sharing my impressions about the flood and she was sharing those she received from her daughter. She asked what we were doing that morning and I told her the trail we were headed to. Her response? “Oh, Slippery Giant?” That should have clued us in.
We were expecting a slick, muddy trail. If you’ve been to any of the Hawaiian islands and have experienced what happens to that red soil when it gets wet, you know what I mean. It clings to your shoes, it splatters on your legs, it helps you sliiiiide downhill, uphill, sidehill real easily.
There are three trails that take you up Sleeping Giant. We had selected one with about a 1000 foot gain. It was the most exposed of the three, chosen in hopes that the exposure would mean it was a bit drier. Delusional? Yes. Perhaps we had forgotten that within the previous 36 hours the island had endured a massive amount of rain.
Almost immediately upon stepping foot on the trail it became acutely obvious that this just wasn’t going to work. The trail immediately began to climb. One step up…slide 1 1/2 steps back. Within a quarter of a mile we stopped and looked at each other. We concluded that if we even managed to make it to the top relatively unscathed that there was no way we would make it back down without someone sustaining an injury. These bodies of ours are not twenty or thirty year old bodies…they won’t necessarily leap back up if they fall down and roll around. However, with age comes wisdom…so we turned back.
We washed the mud off in a handy stream running through the parking area (which likely hadn’t existed the day before) and got back into the car. The husband turned to me and asked, “So, what’s Plan B?” That would become a commonly asked phrase over the remainder of the week.
I pulled out the hiking guide and began flipping through it. “Hmmm…nothing on the North shore…nothing involving any kind of gain….uhhhhhhhhhhh….how about something south?” (This, too, would become a theme)
We settled on the Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail, a seaside hike that takes off from Shipwreck beach and winds its way along coastline cliffs. Good choice. Most excellent choice. Gorgeous views. A little bit of peek-a-boo sun. Enough of a breeze to keep us cool but not so much that sand was blown in our eyes. All-in-all…Plan B earned four enthusiastic thumbs up.
After a quick lunch at Savage Shrimp (garlicky, peel-your-own deliciousness) we headed back North. We needed to be well-rested for the evening luau. Our sites were set on the dipping pool on the back patio (the pool guy came that day an hovered out the rain water), but it turns out that little dipping pool was mighty, mighty cold…so we settled on swirling our feet around in the water. We never did get to truly enjoy that pool as it remained too cold. It wasn’t very big, but when I stood in it (which I only did once), it hit me at chest level. I’m 5’8″, so it was pretty deep.
The luau situation had been a bit touch-and-go due to the big storm. We had received a text on Sunday warning us that the Monday evening event might be cancelled due to the weather. However, we received an update Monday afternoon informing us all was good to go.
We drove South to the Smith’s Tropical Paradise Luau grounds in Kapaa. When we reached the parking lot we realized part of the reason they had sent the text; it was obvious that they had to bring in some equipment to scrape the area free from the mud deposited when the Wailua river spilled over. Other than the parking area, the remainder of the grounds looked good.
Now, this was not my first time to the luau rodeo. I’ve been to one other many years ago on Maui. In my opinion, once you’ve gone to one luau you probably don’t need to go to another. However, the husband had never gone, so we felt it was time. We stepped in line with a whole lot of people, got our photo taken with a couple of 20-year-olds in appropriate luau garb (coconut bra for her, loin cloth for him). From there, we had the option to hop on the tram for a tour around the garden before being deposited near the pig pit (where they roast the bovine), or meander on our own. Of course, we chose to meander on our own.
As we meandered, we strategized. There were a lot of people there. I don’t know how many…I suck at that sort of thing. But, a lot. After the opening ceremony we would be allowed to enter the dining space, where the open bar was immediately open. Cocktails of our choice…or mai tai. Obviously, we were focused on the mai tai, but the bar would only be open for a certain amount of time and we wanted to get our monies worth (obviously forgetting that we had also paid for a meal and a show).
We watched the imu ceremony, where they pulled that luscious looking pig out of the pit (they informed us they had four for the evening…that’s a lot of people). I love kalua pig. Love, love, love. Then the bar was open. I promise, we were polite. We didn’t shove any old women or young children. We each took two mai tais, as we were allowed, and made our way to our seats. Musicians performed on the stage and people got settled. Shortly thereafter they begin funneling people through the buffet. Before we got to the buffet, we returned for an additional two mai tais each. Like you wouldn’t have done the same.
Smith’s runs a tight ship. There were hundreds of people there but it didn’t feel that way. A smooth operation that one. Our wait in the buffet line was short. And the food was really quite good. Better than I expected from a luau buffet. The kalua pig? Ono. I loaded up.
We agreed that four mai tais were sufficient. They were scraping the bottom of the kettle and we could have gone to the regular bar for wine, beer or a cocktail, but we were sufficiently mellow and full of pig and drink. After dinner we made our way to the “Pele Amphitheater” (complete with erupting volcano!) for the “Rhythm of Aloha” show. It was…cheesy. And, much to the husband’s disappointment, there was only one fire dancer…though he was a character. But, though cheesy, it was well done.
After the show we made our way slowly back to the car. It was 9 pm. Way past our bedtime as we were still largely operating on PST. The husband pointed the car North and we headed back to Princeville…marveling over the fact that we didn’t get rained on at the luau.
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