New Love, New Earth, and New Memories, Part 2

So maybe you are wondering why it has taken me a month to write about the second half of our honeymoon trip to Hawaii.  To this I will say, in true Hawaiian fashion, I am in no hurry.  Hawaii is by far the mellowest place I have ever traveled to, so much so that even airport travel is a relaxing experience.

Dana and I woke to our fourth and last morning on the big island of Hawaii.  We hit the free breakfast at The Fairmont Orchid right as it opened.  We took boxes to go and hurried to the car rental place, where we turned in the beloved convertible and caught a shuttle to the airport.  We caught our flight on a small plane to the island of Kauai.  I loved our experience with Hawaiian airlines!  The flight attendants all had a genuine warmth to their personalities, and spoke in a relaxed manner, even when going over the safety features of the aircraft.  Then we enjoyed an hour-long flight to Kauai, sipping on fresh tropical juice and excellent coffee until we arrived.

After we deboarded we caught a shuttle to the car rental place.  As we went, the driver briefed us on some excellent dining options.  We got our second convertible at the car rental, which was identical to the one we rented in Hawaii.  Our first stop was the music store, where Paula, our travel agent, had an electric keyboard ready for us to rent.  Then we hit some $40.00 KFC, yikes, and headed to the Sheraton where we would be spending all four nights of our Kauai experience.  Dana and I spent the rest of that day resting, playing music, swimming and fine dining at Lava’s restaurant on the beach.

The next morning Dana was a bit shook up about the day ahead.  We were preparing to go on a back-country tubing trip we didn’t know much about.  All we knew was that we would be driven by tubing guides up a steep mountain road.  Once at the top we would hop into innertubes and be carried down a naturally flowing river through five dark tunnels to the bottom of the mountain.  I tried to comfort my sweet Dane by telling her that the tunnels would not be the scary dark places she was imagining, but could not seem to ease her mind.

Despite our worried minds we got breakfast, a delicious one at that, and headed toward the meet-up point.  When we arrived, we met our tubing guides, Jessie and Sherri.  Jessie and Sherri had both lived on Kauai their entire lives.  They were warm, relaxed, festive and full of a devil-may-care type of humor that I enjoyed to the max.  They invited us to relax and enjoy water and fresh bananas as they prepared the van for take-off. 

As Johnny, our faithful driver, delivered us safely up the mountain, Sherri and Jessie lavished us with jokes, stories, and fun facts about the island.  At one point, they tried to talk Johnny into re-enacting a crash seen from a movie, one that he thankfully did not fulfill.  It truly felt like an adventure where all plans were subject to change, although we all knew there was a plan and we would all hopefully come out in one piece.  My favorite story they told was of a fern that cured constipation in two different ways.  The first was through digestion, while the second was by stepping on the fern.  You may ask, “how does stepping on a fern cure constipation?”  Well, the fern grows over chasms and disguises itself as solid ground.  However, if you step too far onto the fern, it will drop out from under you, whereupon you will enjoy a freefall and a free relief to your constipation.

At the mountain top we hopped into our tubes.  We were instructed to be our own heroes if our tubes happened to capsize, because the water would never be so deep you couldn’t touch the bottom when standing.  We were also warned about a waterfall we would be descending during the tubing trip.  The waterfall was steep and measured at 900,      wait for it,          millimeters!

We soon learned there would be nothing to fear.  The water moved so gently you couldn’t even hear the current, and the sun was shining the whole way.  It did not take eyesight for me to know that I was in a very special and enchanting place, but, then again, all of Hawaii is that way.  We all wore helmets with lights upon them, which made the tunnels not so dark and scary.  They did make us go through tunnel five in complete darkness, however.  This of course didn’t faze me and, more surprisingly, didn’t faze my sweet Dane either.  Sherri was in front while Kyle was in back, making sure no one got left behind.  We were comforted though, for they had assured us that they had about an eighty-five percent return rate.

When we reached the bottom, we all hung out and ate sandwiches before taking the far shorter drive back to the take out point.  At the end Sherri and Jessie thanked us for choosing Back Country Adventures, for if it wasn’t for us they would have to “get real jobs!”

Sweet Dane and I headed back to the hotel, feeling quite refreshed and thankful for the new experience.  We spent the rest of that day relaxing, playing music, swimming, and talking to Kelly, a concierge at the hotel, about music.  Kelly’s father played quite frequently on the island.  She was hopeful that he and I would get a chance to play music together, which probably would have happened if only we could have stayed through the weekend.  We finished the day by heading off campus to a nice restaurant, where we sat outside by the ocean and enjoyed some surf from the island and turf from the main land.

I literally kicked off the next morning with a nice swim.  This worked up my appetite for breakfast.  By the second day I had gotten hooked on my eggs, pineapple, bacon and Portuguese sausage, while Dane ordered her French toast with guava cream, delicious stuff in deed, I would recommend it to anyone. After breakfast something peculiar happened that was enjoyed by everyone including me.  A Hawaiian Monk Seal had come in to shore to rest on the beach, capturing the interest of everyone close enough to see.  I felt vicarious joy through everyone else and was also happy to witness the event.

Dana and I spent that afternoon exploring the island.  It was a beautiful day for rolling around in the convertible with the top rolled back, I can tell you that!  We stopped at a friendly little shop where I bought my only memento from the whole trip, a wooden coffee cup that I still haven’t drunk thing one out of, for some reason it just seems wrong.  We had heard legendary stories about Hawaiian Shaved Ice from friends and family who had been there, and that day we were on the hunt for it.  Guess what?  We found it!  As we walked by the little shaved ice parlor we could hear people raving about the number 15.  They didn’t need to tell us twice, we had to try it.  Imagine a slurpy with no fake toxic crap.  Instead of that, the slurpy is loaded with freshly sweetened pineapple and coconut juice, topped with sweetened cream and, just when you think the fun is over, there is a generous mound of macadamia nut ice cream at the bottom to round off the experience.  What a treat!!

On the way back we stopped at Puka Dogs, the finest hot dog establishment I have ever tried.  First of all, Hawaii has some damn good quality hot dogs.  Second of all, they are topped with your choice of fruit relish, which sounds a bit strange but can be compared to a real gourmet chutney.  Third, they are surrounded with special toasted Hawaiian buns.  FANTASTIC!!

At the hotel we had some time to rest before our second luau of the trip.  This luau was not at the hotel like the one on the big island.  We drove a good ten minutes to get to this one, and when we got there it was huge!  The outskirts of the event were filled with vendors, all very friendly and festive.  Now that I’m writing this I am remembering that I lied about the wooden coffee cup being my only memento from the trip.  Somehow, I found myself buying a bamboo horn.  This one note horn was nothing more than a hollow bamboo shaft, but boy was it fun to make noise with it.  I don’t remember having that type of fun since I was a kid blowing on those silly party favor horns you get for New Year’s. 

Then we ate, and to avoid being the fool who eats through the entire show, I ate far too much, far too fast.  I was still pretty comfortable for the show right after dinner.  Since there were probably multi-hundreds of guests attending the event, the show was not interactive with the audience.  Instead, it was more like a play, and although I couldn’t follow the story line very well, I appreciated the music, the acting, and the fuzzy outline of a story about a sailor who bravely journeyed to Hawaii to be united with his daughter.

After the event I was in serious pain as we headed back to the hotel.  I spent the first part of that night sleeping flat on my belly, I will never eat like that ever again!

After swimming and breakfast the next morning, we headed back to the room.  The day before we had borrowed an extension cord so we could make some beach tapes.  We brought the keyboard out through the sliding glass door and set it up right near the beach.  That morning we caught piano music with ocean waves in the background on Dana’s phone.  It was a truly great beach tape except for the muffled vocals, in hindsight I should have just kept it instrumental.

After the beach tape sessions, it was time to get ready to drive to our next planned adventure, a sunset dinner cruise.  I was proud of my Sweet Dane for taking this cruise with me because she tends to get sea sick easily.  Check in was at 2 o’clock.  A woman checked us in and steered us in the right direction for the captain’s introduction where, after the introduction, “if we were still interested,” we would be good to go.  That day had by far the most wind of any day we had been there.  Because of this we both felt apprehensive.

Captain Glenn turned out to be a funny guy.  He said he would do his best to keep our cruise a pleasurable experience and keep us away from survival mode.  This trip wouldn’t be for the faint heart, and so, in Captain Glenn’s words, “if you have a headache or a bad attitude, we should talk.”  He promised us that he would show us as much of the Napoli coast as the weather permitted, warning us that he would make the executive decision to turn around where and whenever he saw fit.

We decided we were in good hands and to go ahead with the cruise.  We took our seats at the back for the smoothest ride and in minutes we were cruising in the mellow breeze and sunshine to “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles.  Aaron and Jacob were the other crew members, and boy did they do an outstanding job.  When we reached the Napoli coast they had ziplock bags at the ready for cellphones and electronics.  The coast was the bumpiest part of the ride, and no we did not see the whole coast, not even close.  People sitting in front got soaked, and even my stomach started feeling a bit whacked out, which doesn’t ever happen.

Unfortunately it was too much for my poor Sweet Dane’s stomach, and when she got sick they had a bucket at the ready.  At that point we had been on board for about an hour with two hours left to go, I was worried that Dane wouldn’t enjoy the trip from there on out.  I was wrong!

As sunset approached, Dane began feeling a whole lot better, and for the last hour of the cruise we were jamming!!  The ride was gentle, the music was fun and uplifting, and our cheeks were cracked from smiling, not literally but you know what I mean.  At the end, Jacob and Aaron had dinner to go all boxed up for Dana, who hadn’t felt well enough to eat.  We threw a 20 for a tip and shook everyone’s hands, thanking them for the wonderful experience.  We headed back to the hotel, happy and refreshed.  

The next morning began our last day on the island.  The good news was that we had a full day ahead of us and a flight that wouldn’t leave until after 9 at night.  I started the day by swimming too long and cheating us out of our last free breakfast.  This turned out to be a good thing, because we were forced to eat our left over lunch meat and not feel quite so wasteful. 

Check out came at 11, but we still had one more mission before leaving the hotel.  After we checked out we set up the piano for the last time out in the courtyard in hopes to make some videos, and would you believe it, Dana’s phone camera chose that moment to malfunction.  We didn’t let this stop us though and caught plenty of audio footage, and even took one backwards selfie video of “Tapestry of Dreams,” a new song I’ve been writing.  I did get questioned by a security guard, but after I explained that I had been a guest, he told us to carry on.  It turned out that he had a twelve-year-old son that was learning music, and was interested in taking a card and listening to more BDC recorded music.

Afterwards, we returned the extension cord to the hotel and the keyboard to the music store.  After some $40.00 Burger King, yikes and yuck, we headed to “one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”  Kilauea Point, Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge, was a must see while visiting Kauai.  When we got there we spent $10.00 to spend the last half hour before the resort closed.  I enjoyed spending time with my Sweet Dane there, but did not get the hiking experience I was imagining.  For the most part I noticed cement under my feet, but the air smelled very nice, as it usually does on the Hawaiian Islands.

Afterwards Dana found a garden for us to explore, which had a far more natural feel to it, and then it was time for us to start making our way to the airport.  On the way Dana saw a smoothie/coffee/shaved ice stand.  We had a little time, so we stopped.  A young guy named Kawai was manning the stand, and let me tell you I have not met too many happier people than Kawai, if any!  He seemed to radiate this joy that could only come from living a full life on the island, and, as it turned out, one other special ingredient. 

As Kawai went over all of the coffee and smoothie options he mentioned a drink made from Noni Fruit.  He didn’t sell too many Noni Fruit smoothies, for they possessed a particularly nasty flavor, and definitely required a chaser.  However, if you could tolerate four ounces of this drink, you would feel euphoric and rather like a champ, not in an intoxicated kind of way, but in a nourished “I just got a lot of vitamins I’ve needed for a long time” kind of way.  I was game!! I got a Noni Fruit smoothie and a Dragonfruit shaved ice for the chaser.  Noni Fruit tastes like liquefied parmesan cheese with about ten times the strength, mixed with another special twiggy taste I can’t quite describe.  You have to take it in carefully metered sips, for it is a NOSE HOLDER!!  Fortunately the Dragonfruit had a sweet, watermelon type of flavor to wash away the taste.  I think Kawai may have been mildly impressed that I made it through that one!

When we got to the airport about a half hour later I could feel a light, radiant feeling all through my nerves and skin.  It was like I had visited a fountain of youth, a perfect thing to do before cramming yourself into a plane for 7 hours, which does quite the opposite.

We caught our last meal at the airport, reasonably priced teriyaki steak plates that were actually quite good, and boarded the plane.

Dana sleeps well on planes.  Me, not so much.  I half slept through most of the flight, and really freaked some people out once when taking a wrong turn for the lavatory.  Maybe they thought I would walk through a window, or take over the cockpit, who knows, but this one dude really had his panties all up in a wad over it!  At about three AM I was tempted to increase the aloha spirit on the plane by giving a loud blast through my bamboo horn.  I wish I had had the guts to do it, or, then again, maybe not.

At about 6:30 we arrived in Denver, a cold, drab place to be after Hawaii, especially in the Winter.  Times were hard and we had no caffeine, that is, until our friend Lisa, who had so lovingly taken care of our dogs, arrived to pick us up.  She came bearing coffee, mountain dew, and a vivacious, positive spirit.  This really helped us out through our first cold, dark morning back in Colorado.  Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but if you have ever returned to Colorado in the winter time after being in Hawaii you know what I’ma talkin about.


*I want to give a special thanks to Paula & Karen, of Travel to Paradise.  Without their help, we would never have been able to piece the trip together so well.  I would recommend them to anyone who was planning a trip to Hawaii.  They will spend hours of time on the phone with you, planning the perfect vacation.  They see to every detail and are not satisfied until they know you are. 

Brian Collins