Ok, how about another Road Trip!?
After another filling breakfast of buttery mini-croissants, honey, and blueberry muffin (we've got to buy some cereal soon), we're off for some more SIGHTSEEING.
"DA-aad. Why do we have to go out in the car again? Can't we just lounge around the pool at the hotel? We're on vacay-tion!"
"If we wanted to just sit in the sun by a pool, we would have gone to Palm Springs and spent $thousands less - I'm in Kauai, I'm gonna see those things you can only see in Kauai [damnit]!"
We did compromise by snorkeling/swimming in the ocean for an hour or so before we left (or at least the girls and I did - Cody needed his beauty sleep). Back in the room at ten, we waited while Shaine - god bless teen-age girls - washes her face and does her hair for an hour. Then down the road to - Burger King! - for a quick ten minute stop to fuel up before our adventures.
Just past Lihue, we turn up the road to Wailua Falls. About 4 miles in, Al announces "Hey, there's a canyon over here!" We'd been traveling along the coastal lava plain, through cane fields, and didn't expect the gouge in the earth to our right. Cody decides to stop, and we all pile out to peer over the edge. Ann points out the weird trees growing on the canyon's sheer face. These trees have no limbs or leaves near the bottom, but fan out to a flat, multi-tiered canopy of light green pointilist shelves on top. Like seeing a rain forest from above. Ann then directs our attention over to a window in the trees lining the pull-out. "Look! A waterfall."
Indeed it is. But not the Wailua Falls, so back in the bus we go, and around the corner, hit the end of the road. Cody parks, and out we troop once again, to gaze down on the Real Falls, the double-barreled ones seen at the start of Fantasy Island , just before Tattoo starts babbling about "Da plane, Boss, de plane!". Or so they say - I've never seen the show, so the falls look pretty natural, not Hollywood at all, to me. If you peer at them just right, they can look like they're somewhere in the Venezuelan jungle.
Cody finds the trail down to the falls (there's another one leading to the top of the falls, but since it snakes along the sheer edge of the cliff, we decide not to jump the padlocked fence blocking entrance to it). The trail down is just that - goes almost straight down, over roots and slimy, slippery red clay. After the first 50 yards, crude rope handrails, with knots every three feet, are tied from tree to tree. And someone placed wood steps in the dirt, which is just one more smooth surface to slip on. We all gather our courage in our own ways - Cody racing ahead to be the Discoverer, Ann going barefoot, Cheryl riding herd on her, and Shaine and I psychologically supporting each other.
It's Shaine who discovers that going down backwards (basically, rappelling) makes it easier in the steepest portions. After what seems to be half an hour and about 200 feet straight down, we hit bottom, filled with lava rocks and jungle, and opening onto a 100' by 200' natural pool leading into a gentle stream. At the other end, a not-so-gentle double fall, including one blast coming thru a tube in to rock face. We hear Cody screaming, but can't see him. Finally, Shaine and I spot this little human dot waving his hands, crawling out from under the second, and larger, fall. Cody has traversed the cliff face, barefoot and shirtless (luckily, he's not about to order food).
Fifteen minutes later, he's returned to tell his story of harrowing mud, treacherous rocks, freezing spray, and deafening thunder. Ann, of course, wants to go immediately. She eventually talks Cheryl into letting her go. Shaine and I follow. Basically, w got down on all fours, to stabilize on the slippery mud and hidden lava rocks.
But once there, we all line up and smile as we're doused by the blow-back behind the first fall. Every now and then, a particularly cold and windy blast hits us, and we long for the yellow rubber coats we wore when emerging from the rock behind Niagara two summers ago.
Back at the staging area, we each pose for our heroic poses in front the the great Wailua Falls we've now conquered:
Cheryl insists on getting her picture taken, too, even though she got nowhere near the fearsome freefall. We grudgingly oblige.
The trip back up, after cleaning and drying feet, and replacing shoes (all save Ann), goes much faster, and a lot more safely. We basically just haul ourselves up by the ropes (never would have made it without them). Back on top, we revel in the knowledge that among all the tourists we see roaming around the view area, we're the only ones who went down and actually felt the fall's full force. We judge that, due to the angles from above, no one actually saw us down there, so our time spent playing and climbing was our own private Wailua Falls.
Back in town, we stop at 7/11, picking up $43 worth of sunglasses and junk food for the kids. Our second lunch of the day.
On up to the town of Wailua, where we start the sacred heiau pilgrimage. We follow the trail of seven sacred temples (seeing only 2 or 3 of them), built by the first Hawaiians for their own particular religious rites. We clang the Bellstone, making a hollow granitic thunk to call the faithful from the taro fields below. We watch the tour boats cruising up the Wailua to the Fern Grotto. And we stop for a view of Opaeka'a Falls, which, thankfully, has no trail to either the top or the bottom. At the rest area there, Cody discovers a coconut, and pounds it open, allowing Al to drink the juice inside. But without the lime for the coconut, her finds it quite bland and shallow to the taste.
On up the road, we come to a lush jungle area (not quite as lush as the road to Hana), and the road gets bumpier and twistier (but not quite as nasty as the road to Hana). Despite the urgings of the teenagers, we stop at a dam over which four inches of water flow across the road. Al will not risk the rental car across the flood. We do, however, admire the locals having a picnic at this overgrown "arboretum", and head back to town.
We hit the beach once again for the evening's swim, then Cheryl, Ann, and Al go into Koloa for dinner at TomKat's. The big kids do whatever it is that teenagers do when they vege out in front of TV. And so to bed.