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Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday December 18, 2006 – Kauai

This morning saw Mom go off on her zipline adventure (she lived to tell the tale, and will be guest blogging about it) early this morning. I woke up when she was getting dressed at around quarter to seven, and then went back to sleep until 9:45 when Peter and Grampa called me to go get breakfast with them. Unfortunately, we missed breakfast in the main buffet, and the dining room, so we ended up in the buffet on the aft lanai, deck 11.

It was OK, but we’d managed to get there right in between them putting out food, so there was almost nothing left... Peter got an omlete made to order, and I ended up waiting for pancakes, and then going back for some bacon just before they closed at 11, so it worked out OK in the end, now we know we need to get organized a little bit faster in the mornings!

Peter and Grampa were originally planning to go on the Heaven and Earth Helicopter excursion today, but that got moved to tomorrow morning because of space issues, and I had nothing planned for today anyway, so we ended up going to a plantation I’d read about in a guidebook. The Kilohana Estate was an old sugar plantation owned by Gaylord somebody or other! It was at one time 26 000 acres, and when the main house was built in 1935, at 15 000 square feet and at a cost of 150 000 it was the largest and most expensive house on Kauai for quite some time!
(The plantation house from the back)

We took a lovely 20 minute carriage ride in a reproduction 19th century carriage pulled by Tuck, a 24 year old 17hh bay Clydesdale. He was lovely! He’s been doing this for twenty years, so to say that he knew his job would be a major understatement! We got to see the old gardens, go through a forest, around the grounds, and see lots of fruit trees, coffee plants, etc. It was very pleasant! Then, we stopped in at Gaylord’s Restaurant and had lunch on their covered patio. I had a chicken ceasar salad which was nice, and Peter had a fruit plate, with Grampa having fish and chips.
(our lovely horse - neither headed or tied as he waited for the next go around! He's a 24 yr. old clyde who has been doing this job since he was 4 - he knows the drill to be sure!)

The waitress suggested Koloa Town to us as a cute desination just about ten minutes away, so we asked the hostess to call us a taxi. When the taxi driver arrived, she slipped the host a twenty, and thus began the great ‘Kauai Kidnapping Kaper’! Jo, who worked for Sue’s taxi partially railroaded and partially convinced us (quite a bit more of the former!) Into a two and a half hour tour of the island, where, incidentally we never stopped at Koloa Town!

The first thing she did was get into her fairly beat up late 80’s van/taxi, and turn on the meter, while saying:
“Now I don’t want you folks to be looking at the meter, I just have it on incase any cops stop me. In fact, it’s too distracting like this”, at which point she picked up her napkin and covered the meter for the duration of the ride. She did point out to us that while there was a county mandated tour charge of $60/hr for the van, she’d been known to take a bit of time off at the end, which, she confided in us, her boss didn’t know, but since she ‘brings in so much money to her anyway, she’ll never care!’
(covered meter, the first sign of trouble on the Kuaui Kidnap Kaper)

We went to see a cool blowhole where the ocean pressurizes under the rocks and forces the water up in a dramatic spray, followed by a mandatory shopping stop at her friend’s stalls (we didn’t buy anything, though I think she did). Then we stopped at several beaches for photo ops (both rocky and sandy and both), and then continued on for a drive through Koloa Town, and then a twenty-minute drive up the coast to the Cocoa Palms Hotel, where Elvis got married in Blue Hawaii. It’s looking pretty run down though – it’s actually been closed since the hurricane in 1992. Then, we went up to some waterfalls and a big river canyon, and then back to the boat, with a brief stop at the Meneuhenue (sp??) Fish pond on our way.
(dramatic coastline and blowhole)
All of that was fine, except that it wasn’t really our choice. Granted, we could have put our feet down collectively and got dropped off somewhere, but we were fairly happy to be doing stuff and seeing the island, the main problem we were having was her constant running commentary. There were no stories about Kauai, or the history, or Hawaii, or anything, just her feelings on life in general.

For instance, we heard a forty five minute rant about the building going on down by Poipu Beach area, where they will developing some of the huge fields and turning them into million dollar homes, supposedly. She said she’d be all for it if they were low income houses, but she was very annoyed by the fact that ‘snobby rich people’ would be moving in, given that ‘there are enough of them around here anyway’. Looking at the big fence which has been constructed around the soon to be construction site, she bitched about how it blocked the mountain views several times (fair enough), but the classic comment came as follows:

Rant, rant, rant...”I mean, it’s not like that wall needs to be that high, and I should know, I’ve pretty much dated every construction worker on this here island.” Umm good to know? Looking back on it, it was pretty entertaining, but in the car, we kept shooting each other some ‘OMG what bus did we go on?’ looks. I did however pick up several tips I could have used to make waaaay more money driving Kabuki Kabs this summer ! For instance, don’t ask where your passengers want to go, continue to insist on adding more stops, continually add on ‘just this one last thing’, etc. I was just way too polite when I did my tours, obviously!

Finally, about an hour and forty five minutes into the ride, she asked the first question about us (after talking about the development (for a good solid hour), the practice of training rottweilers to hunt wild boar (she’s not a fan), how she wants to fence her backyard, how she’s rescued her Dalmatian from the neighbors, how she’s a fantastic cook who wants to turn her garage into a kitchen and feed her (unsuspecting I would imagine), guests some of her famous bbq chicken during their tours, etc.) The question she asked was ‘what do you all do?’ A simple enough question, until Peter revealed that we live in Tokyo. Well, that sparked off another one of her massive rants, based on her work with Japanese tourists, mostly during the bubble years I think, when she used to work at a restaurant.

For instance: “...and they were BIG! I mean, the women, they had like boobs and everything! I guess from all the hormones in the milk they drink and stuff now, because like, they’re grandparents would be these miniature people, but the newer generations, they were like tall, if they keep growing like that, they’re going to be big over there!”

I think safely, they have a LOT of catching up to do to get to US sizing standards! Its not like there are too many Japanese people you’d even want to classify as chubby, and given the massive industry based in the padded bra sector, the milk hormones have only been marginally successful!

She also told us about how one guy from the countryside went to pay for his beer by pulling down his pants and extracting his cash from his underwear (and she was surprised when the table started laughing at her face?), and also how she used to work at a golf course with some Yakusa clients “just the sweetest baby faced guy you’d ever want to meet! And a big spender too; obviously” Just don’t get on the wrong side of his non existent pinky finger I suppose!

Anyway, it was a bit trying while on the tour (probably not helped by me not being a huge fan of ‘scenic drives’ in general, but looking back at it during dinner, we realized how funny it had been!

We ended up back on the boat at around five, and met up with Mom for a quick snack of fruit and bread and salad in the buffet. I also had some yummy apricot sorbet. Then, we headed down to the Blue Lagoon Nightclub to see Chris Alpine perform. He’s a standup comic who has been on Comedy Central, according to the Freestyle Daily. We all agreed that he was pretty funny, but not great – we weren’t tempted to buy his CD or anything. In his defense though, it was an all ages, clean show, and he only had 40 minutes to try and put together a show to entertain the 8-80, crowd, which can’t be easy! Even though he spent a lot of time (entertainingly, but still), picking on various members of the audience, and we thought he could have maybe prepared a bit more of a set, we certainly laughed most of the way through it...

Then, we headed straight for the Broadway medley show put on by the NCLA cast in the Stardust Theatre. It was pretty good! They had lots of energy, good costumes, and decent choreography. Given, I’m so musically challenged that I’m impressed by just about anything, but I thought it was good. I love Broadway, so I was excited to go to the show, which featured medleys from Hairspray, Wicked, Mamma Mia, and more. I was sad to see there was no RENT involved, but that’s OK, the show was definitely enjoyable and a good hour or so of entertainment.

At this point, it was 8:45 or so, so we decided to head to Crossings, on of the main dining rooms (the one most at the aft) for dinner. Initally, when we got there, we were told there would be a thirty minute wait if we didn’t want to share a table, but it ended up only being about five minutes, ten at the absolute most. We were also the only one in our server, Anne’s, section, and she was great! Our table all hit it off with her right away, and had fun entertaining her with stories of our cab ride (and assuring her we’d be on shore ex the rest of the week).

She was from Texas, and couldn’t have been more friendly! She offered to combine the lobster and prime rib onto one plate if anybody wanted that, so Mom, Grampa, and Peter all had that, with a salad to start, while I had the Vermont Cheddar Soup to start and a red curry noodles with Shitake mushrooms. It was good, not so curryish, but that’s good because I don’t like super hot food! Then for dessert, we all got cappuccinos, and Mom and I split the crème brulee with chocolate covered Macadamia Nuts and the apple pie a la mode, which were both delicious! (I also tried some of Mom’s dinner and it was all good too, including the lobster, which for me to even try, is ummmm amazing!
We finished dinner at about 10:30 or so, and it was lovely to have the nice relaxed dinner, they didn’t rush us at all, even though we ended up being the last table in. It’s amazing how early everyone is eating, I guess I’ve gotten very used to eating later in Tokyo, but to see a restaurant THAT big, completely empty that early seems very weird!

I think we might be requesting her section in the future, which is pretty rare for us all around, we’re so go with the flow about stuff like that, but we all really liked her, so when Mom and I go for breakfast in the dining room tomorrow, we’re going to get reservations in her section seeing as it’s the optional formal night and we think more people may eat in the dining room because it’s the half sea day.

After dinner, we all came back to the staterooms, and Grampa and Peter went to bed in preperation for their super early morning tomorrow. Since we don’t have to be up so early, Mom and I ate our yummy mint chocolate pillow candy (our cabin steward has so far been great, though we haven’t me him yet), and headed back to the Blue Lagoon for the sock hop. What a difference from the HAL cruise!! There were actually quite a few people dancing, off all ages from mine up to about 65. At about 11:15, they announced that everyone under the age of eighteen had to leave (not that there were any kids in there anyway), and we all boogied away for about an hour. We requested a Grease medley which was quite a hit, and learned the hand jive, as well as doing the twist, dancing to Elvis songs, etc. The 50’s were so cute! And the music so completely danceable! It was good fun!!

At midnight, we finally came back up to our stateroom, worn out and ready for tomorrow! Mom and I are going to go to the Marriot hotel down the road and rent boogie boards for the morning, while Grampa and Peter are doing their helicopter tour. We have the half day at sea, so we’ll be finalizing and booking shore ex, watching the lava, dressing up for formal night, and generally having lots more fun! It’s now one am, and I’ve blogged 2300 words, which I’m sure is about 2000 more than you wanted to know! If I’m not going to die at the 8am wake up call, I better grab some sleep, so-


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