It’s hard to actually write about the Faerie Festival because I get bogged down in looking at old pictures.  This was our 11th year heading off to Spoutwood and it was, as always, magical.

On Friday, Julianna had to go to school for one last day of Econ before an exam and Ben wanted to go to a sleepover birthday party, so it was just Lily and I piling into the van with Bev, Brooke, and Molly.  It was very strange to be two fairies down, I kept counting heads, but only had to get to “one.”  No one was particularly interested in fancy makeup, I was the only one in wings…subdued.

Fridays in general are a bit more low-key at the Festival, which is why I always go that day.  It’s free for kids under 12, so it tends to be a day heavy with baby fae, and who doesn’t love that?  As Bev and I watched a winged toddler dance about the hillside, I remembered the middle aged ladies staring hungrily at MY chubby baby faerie…and now that’s me.

Some of the yummy little winged ones:


She went up the ramp and down the ramp and up the ramp and down the ramp.  About a zillion times.


She was at last year’s fest in her mama’s painted tummy.


Her joy at being accepted by the “big” girls was a-flipping-dorable.

Here was my wee faerie, in 2005:


And thrilled to be with the big girls:


And here she is now, as captured by one of the professional photographers at the Festival:


Even people who’ve seen her within the last year were stunned to see her now.  It was sudden, it was.  One day, I just turned around, looked down to where her face should be and there were boobs there instead.  I really did need a “My eyes are up here!” b/c they were not where I expected.

Julianna has been keeping a 365 Days of Fairies Facebook page, so I took a lot of photos to help her out.  Here are a few of my faves from Friday:


She’s an English teacher and one of her students made her dress out of SAT prep books.  Luckily Julianna wasn’t there that day to set her on fire.



These guys were hunting faeries and chased squealing children, trying to bonk them on the head.  Note the bear’s head gauntlet.


Love a pun costume.


Oh, all right, one more baby fairy.



As usual, I loved the drum circle.  I like to watch the dancers, I love to be in rhythm with my fellow drummers and hear that great sound we make together. 




I swear, I’m actually smiling.  I’m like the Grinch, it takes great effort to curl my mouth up even that far.  I drummed so much Friday, my forearms hurt. And a good thing I got it all in b/c it was crazy-crowded on Saturday and I didn’t bother after a time on a lollipop drum.


My annual picture with Scheherezade.  She’s just lovely and always remembers us and exclaims over how big the kids have gotten.  Our Gypsy Auntie.

Saturday, the girls and I went back.  Chris (who joined us the second year we went and most of the ones after) met us there, as did Kara and Emma (Lily’s buddy from way back).  Here are Lily and Emma the fabled Year That It Rained:


And now:


the Mama faeries:


Why yes, we DID totally coordinate our outfits.

Julianna was off taking photos, so I forgot to get one of her until the very end of the day, at which point she’d taken off her corset.  But she still looks gorgeous.  She was made to dress this way, someday she’ll just succumb and dress as a barmaid full time.


Some of my other favorite shots of the day:


“He’s an albino corn snake!”  “I know.  Let me get a shot of this for your Nonnie.”

A troupe of folks in furry-like costumes were there, really, really impressive:


At the end of the day, after watching my beloved Cu Dubh, a bagpipe and drum group (Lily, on hearing the CD in the car, “What IS this?  I HATE it!”), I bent down to pick up my camera and felt my back seize.  At the time, I stretched and took some ibuprofen but the 90 ride home did me in and I spent the next 4 days in bed.  Not fun.  But totally worth it.  Next time, I hope to injure myself belly dancing…



Although we’ve all read  “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout,” we tend to let the recycling pile waaaay up.  And then fall over.  And then pile on top of the fallen-over pile.  And then we miss recycling day because it’s every other week instead of every week and we can ever remember which one it is and the truck comes at the crack of dawn and…well, there’s always a pile of cans, paper, and Amazon boxes next to the back door.

Monday, I noticed that handwritten notes on wee scraps of paper had scattered across the kitchen.  I picked them up, unsure which kid they were from, since they have nearly identically dreadful handwriting.  I saw this:

Note to Yemen

As I gathered them, I saw that they were all little notes passed at the Model UN conference Julianna attended at Johns Hopkins a few weeks ago.  She was representing Yemen on a reproductive rights panel (not a nuanced position, to be sure).

The other side of the note from Italy

The other side of the note from Italy

...PS  Come alone.

…PS Come alone.

uh, Columbia?  You're coming off a little needy.

uh, Columbia? You’re coming off a little needy.

Evidence of the Middle Eastern conspiracy

Evidence of the Middle Eastern conspiracy

"Do you like Israel?  Check one:  yes    no"

“Do you like Israel? Check one: yes no”

I don't even know what's going on here, but I like this kid.

I don’t even know what’s going on here, but I like this kid.

The fact that most of the kids have the same handwriting they had in 3rd grade, makes these all the more hilarious to me.  If I’d been able to see an i dotted with a heart, it would have been perfect.

the full pile

the full pile

I’m pretty sure the floor of the actual UN is just littered with notes like these.  It explains a lot, really.

There’s not a whole lot to say about our last day.  We had a red eye flight, so we had a whole extra day.  We decided to go see some of the nearby waterfalls, buy some souvenirs, and hang out at the Marriott pool.  We hadn’t even SEEN the pool yet.

Back to Sweet Maries for our last breakfast.  I wanted to burst into tears when we hugged Marie goodbye. I wanted to assure her that I’d be back, and soon, and I’ll come in for coffee every day.

I think we had beauty fatigue by this point because the waterfalls were, of course, gorgeous, but it felt like “yeah, they’re lovely.  of course they are.  EVERYthing is.”  We went into Kapa’a to shop and I got some Japanese fabrics to take back.  For lunch we had huli huli chicken, a local bbq specialty.  There was a mother hen and chicks at our feet, greedily fighting over every scrap we tossed them.  Yes, cruel lesson folks, chicken’s favorite food?  chicken.  My gals can clean an old soup carcass like pirhana.

I finally got a shave ice, which was yummy, but I forgot to get the kind with beans in the bottom.  Then we just hung around in the pool for a while until it was time to go eat dinner and leave.

I've gone native by this point.  I want to wear a plumeria bloom every day.

I’ve gone native by this point. I want to wear a plumeria bloom every day.

Opaeka'a Falls

Opaeka’a Falls

Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls

Wailua River

Wailua River

A historical Hawaiian village that I couldn't help imagine as the Hawaiian Punch Village at Sea World in Geauga Lake

A historical Hawaiian village that I couldn’t help imagine as the Hawaiian Punch Village at Sea World in Geauga Lake

Totally badass dude that rappels down that mountain wielding a chain saw to cut brush.

Totally badass dude that rappels down that mountain wielding a chain saw to cut brush.

Abundant chickens at the Opaeka'a Falls stop

Abundant chickens at the Opaeka’a Falls stop

Old guy pulls up on a moped and the chickens go NUTS.  he feeds them.  As soon as he walks away, they jump up and start pulling bread out of the basket and dropping it down.

Old guy pulls up on a moped and the chickens go NUTS. he feeds them. As soon as he walks away, they jump up and start pulling bread out of the basket and dropping it down.

Wailua river

Wailua river

Sign in Kapa'a.  The shop was abandoned.  I didn't check the liquor store

Sign in Kapa’a. The shop was abandoned. I didn’t check the liquor store

rooster that was hassling us for some shave ice

rooster that was hassling us for some shave ice

Kalapaki Beach Hut, home of our last meal, a damned fine burger and fries.

Kalapaki Beach Hut, home of our last meal, a damned fine burger and fries.

Delta Airlines did their level best to make our exit as unpleasant as our stay had been lovely.  The very cranky desk agent told us our bag was 9 lbs over.  it would cost $100 to ship it at that weight.  We’d already paid the $25 ransom to have a bag at all (don’t even get me started).  The groom had given us bottles of wine and removing those brought us back down to 50 lbs.  So we could either stow the bottles in carry on and check another bag or leave the wine.  Regretfully, after making sure we couldn’t just break one open now (open container law.  bummer), we gave the bottles to some employees.  Steve even gave one to the nasty gate lady.  I wanted to crack it over her head (I realize these are not her policies, but she was just awful about it.  and rude to other folks besides).

The flight was cramped and condensation dripped on Steve’s head.  We got to LAX at 5 in the morning and hunkered down to wait for our Virgin Fight to Dulles.  The actress that plays Meredith on “The Office” plugged her phone in next to us.  and then was on our flight.  Going from Delta to Virgin is much nicer than the other way around, feels like there’s room to stretch out.  Ahhhh.  Uneventful flight, and we landed in Dulles in a cold grey drizzle.  Sigh.

We’re already plotting our return.

We had stayed the night at Kevin’s house so that we could wake early and go for a hike.  While the road ends at Ke’e beach, there is a hiking trail that continues on.  We planned to hike roughly two mile segment that would take us to Hanakapi’ai Beach.  Kevin and Hyun Joo had hiked it before, with the kids, so we knew it wouldn’t be TOO grueling.  Still, I was annoyed to find I’d forgotten my hiking sandals.  Kevin loaned me his reef shoes, which were a bit big, so I tucked them into my pack in case I needed them.

Our early start got us a good parking place and we headed up the mountain.  I was wearing my Birkenstocks and feeling pretty smug about my ability to climb rocks with them on. Must be that I’m such an old hand, wearing the ‘Stocks since the 80s, hiking all the time…

Footwear and smugness was soon forgotten, however, as nature just hurled one gorgeous thing after another at us.   We kept saying “This is actually REAL.”  It looked like what other places try to be and each time we rounded a bend, something more lovely than the thing we’d seen before would come into view.

Look, lantana just grows wild!

Look, lantana just grows wild!

Ooo, that's pretty, take a picture of us in front of that view, which is surely as nice as it gets.

Ooo, that’s pretty, take a picture of us in front of that view, which is surely as nice as it gets.

Hyun Joo and Hana forge ahead

Hyun Joo and Hana forge ahead

Oh there's Ke'e beach, surely THAT'S the prettiest thing!

Oh there’s Ke’e beach, surely THAT’S the prettiest thing!

A light misty rain started to fall, making the path kind of slimy and slick.  But then we rounded a corner



Get our picture here, for it cannot get any more beautiful!

Get our picture here, for it cannot get any more beautiful!


The rain stopped and we continued climbing, constantly exclaiming over the beauty.



At the coconut festival and in shops, we kept seeing photos retouched with lurid paints.  We wondered who on earth would want such a tacky thing.  But when I uploaded all these photos, I felt like no amount of saturation would get the blues blue enough, the greens green enough.  I can see how you’d reach for your black light paints in desperation.

As we neared the summit, the rain started again.  Would we get another rainbow?



I mean really, it’s almost showing off at this point.  The rain made the descent rather treacherous, even for an old Birkenstocky like me, so I took off my shoes and went barefoot the rest of the way down.  I don’t think it hurt, but I was pretty distracted.

too much!

too much!

Hi Kevin!

Hi Kevin!


This is really a place.  I saw it.

This is really a place. I saw it.

There were ripe guavas overhanging the trail and sometimes I’d find one that had fallen yet wasn’t rotten.  We came to a stream and found a whole bunch floating in it, cool and preserved and waiting for us.  It pays to get up early.


Oh, you brought trail mix?  I'll just eat this guava that fell from the sky.

Oh, you brought trail mix? I’ll just eat this guava that fell from the sky.

Finally we turned a corner and saw our goal, Hanakapai’ai Beach:

Accessible only on foot and by boat.

Accessible only on foot and by boat.

As we climbed down, Hana started complaining about the ants.  That’s when we noticed that the ground was aswarm.  Ants EVERYwhere and if you stopped walking, they’d go right up your legs.  I was barefoot (unless mud counts as shoes), so I was very motivated to keep on truckin’.  They didn’t bite, but it was still icky.  Steve noted that there appeared to be two different sorts of ants, so maybe it was a turf war.  Move along, monkeys, this is not about you.

Continuing the “the water is trying to kill you theme” of the trip, we passed this sign:

"Hanakapia Beach.  Do not go near water. Unseen currents have killed (tally marks to 82?) visitors."

“Hanakapia Beach. Do not go near water. Unseen currents have killed (tally marks to 82?) visitors.”

Kevin says the tally has never changed that he’s seen.  But what I want to know is: Where did the sign come from?  I’m assuming the Park Service didn’t put it up.  Did some one walk two miles and decide to stop for a carving break?  Make it at home and pack it in?

Cross a stream and down to the beach.



KauaiZTuesday38Kevin and Hyun Joo said that they’ve come in the spring in the past and those stream rocks are underwater.  There is a rope strung across them and you hold on while feeling for the rocks.  i like this way better.

There were lots of caves in the cliff walls.  Apparently, these are often underwater as well, so we picked a good time to go.

Steve and Hana in the freshwater pool coming from the stream

Steve and Hana in the freshwater pool coming from the stream


Hana catching tadpoles in the pool

Hana catching tadpoles in the pool

From inside one of the caves.  The sand in here was wet, so no camping.

From inside one of the caves. The sand in here was wet, so no camping.

We spotted light inside the cave and Kevin decided to slither out.

We spotted light inside the cave and Kevin decided to slither out.

Daniel and Hana followed suit

Daniel and Hana followed suit

Steve stacked a rock pile for me.

Steve stacked a rock pile for me.

The hike back out was more treacherous and I stayed barefooted for much of it.  Passing hikers admired my badassery, but I assured them it was just a lack of proper footwear.  At one point, I switched to the reef shoes because even my own grippy toes weren’t cutting it.

Go away rainclouds.  Rainbows are nice, but now we just want a dry trail, thanks.

Go away rainclouds. Rainbows are nice, but now we just want a dry trail, thanks.




Lizard about the grab that wasp that is a black blur in front of him.  The wasp escaped his mouth and was then just an angry wasp.  So we left.

Lizard about the grab that wasp that is a black blur in front of him. The wasp escaped his mouth and was then just an angry wasp. So we left.

Back to Ke'e

Back to Ke’e

Hana got a little schmutzy, too.

Hana got a little schmutzy, too.

Big ol' parking lot spider.

Big ol’ parking lot spider.

We’d worked up a powerful hunger, so we drove to a taco truck in Hanalei Bay.


Taco Truck

Taco Truck

We ambled up to the truck to order.  The woman taking the orders is English and has an East End accent.  Kevin asked if the tortillas were corn or flour.

“Ermmmm..” she looks off into the truck. “They’re all, er, flour.”

“Okay, could I just have the insides of a taco on a plate or some foil?”

She smiles at me, “Could you just not eat the taco?”

Yeah, sure, okay.  Kevin orders.  His kids are 5 and 7, so that means food issues.  he asks for the fajita burrito without beans.

She smiles.  ‘Yeah, we’re not good with special orders.  We usually just forget.  I’ll write it, but it probably won’t happen.”

For the record, it didn’t.  Also, he ordered four steak tacos, asking her several times “did you get that I want four of those?” when he saw that she didn’t write down a four.  She only gave him one.  The “kids” quesadilla that was to be jalepeno-less had jalepenos on it.  Daniel took one bite and burst into tears.  It was wicked spicy.  She was never snarky or anything, just utterly unconcerned.

I heard another customer ask “When are you open?”  And she replied “12-3, most days.”

This, my friends, is a Good Gig.  Three hours a day, if you feel like it, and you don’t actually have to give people what they ask for.  Really, she should just move to a “You sit down and I’ll bring you what I think you should eat” model.  it would work.  I tell you, I’m moving to Kauai.

After trying to convince these big snails to come out on our hands, no dice, we headed back to Princeville.

KauaiZTuesday56We pulled off at a sign that said “scenic view.” We’d passed it several times, but finally thought, “hey, if THEY say it’s scenic, we should probably look.”  Good thinking, us.

Those are taro fields in the valley

Those are taro fields in the valley

We spent the rest of the evening at Kevin and Hyun Joo’s , swimming in the pool and relaxing.  We got some takeout and then headed back to Lihue.

Hana took my photo when I put the plumeria behind my ear.

Hana took my photo when I put the plumeria behind my ear.

The menfolk and the kids in the hot tub

The menfolk and the kids in the hot tub

The view from the backyard.  There's a waterfall bifurcating the bigger mountain, see it?

The view from the backyard. There’s a waterfall bifurcating the bigger mountain, see it?

Actual real hibiscus.  Just growing in the yard like it was nothing.

Actual real hibiscus. Just growing in the yard like it was nothing.














Monday and Sweet Marie’s is still closed, so we set off in search of something called Rainbeau Jo’s that had good reviews on Yelp.  We followed the map and ended up at the end of a runway.  We tried entering the address into our own map app and ended up looking at a space in the middle of a golf course.  Luckily, our under-caffeinated brains were able to recall reading in the guide book that the GPS coordinates are usually off by a small amount.  Went to the Rainbeau Jo’s website, discovered that it’s actually a food truck, and clicked the “where are we?” link.  Ta-da!  there it was, in an industrial park.  And utterly, utterly charming, even with dump trucks and noise all around.  Beau and Jo are adorable and make top-notch coffee.  They gave us our breakfast sandwiches in cups (since we can’t have the bread) and it was delicious.  They were full of good advice and good cheer.  Go find them.

Steve, making reservations for the luau Beau and Jo told us to go to.

Steve, making reservations for the luau Beau and Jo told us to go to.

Snorkling was on the menu for today.  We’d been told that Po’ipu was the place to go for still water snorkling and that there’d been a lot of sea turtles there lately.  The hotel concierge suggested we just go the Marriott in Po’ipu and rent our equipment there.  It was our first trip to the southern end of the island.  We went through the “tree tunnel” on the way:

Aptly named

Aptly named

The terrain turned flatter, more agricultural looking.  From what we’ve heard, there isn’t much large-scale farming going on, but it looks like this is where it would have happened.  It’s drier here, but not as dry as the western side, which is more desert-y.  We never made it over there to see Waimea Canyon.  Apparently it’s stunning and not-to-be-missed but we did so much driving from Lihue to Princeville that we just couldn’t face more commuting.  Next time.

I didn’t even take photos at Po’ipu but other people did!  Here’s the beach:

It was a bit more crowded for us, but still not bad.

It was a bit more crowded for us, but still not bad.

You can see the reef at the top of the photo.  There are beaches on either side where people were swimming and snorkling.  We rented our stuff at the Marriott Waiohai and set up our chairs near their pool.  We met a couple from South Dakota who are owners at the Aruba property next to the one Steve’s folks have.  They were surprised that our hotel had sent us down here since cross-property use is forbidden in Aruba.  Pleasantries exchanged, we headed down to the water.

It took me a minute to get the snorkling rhythm back.  I’m not much of a swimmer, so I have to get the anxiety under control so I can breathe properly.  An underwater camera is too much for me to add to my list.  Luckily, there is an internet.  These photos are all from Keoki Stender’s Marine Life Photography.

I saw a lot of these guys:

Pebbled Butterflyfish

Pebbled Butterflyfish

We saw a lot of these guys, too.  The top bit flutters behind them quite fetchingly.

Moorish Idol.  The fish, not the Moroccan TV show.

Moorish Idol. The fish, not the Moroccan TV show.

These guys reminded me of the cowfish in Aruba.  I do so love the cowfish.

Female spotted boxfish

Female spotted boxfish

And then I’d spy one of these and just gasp.

male Christmas Wrasse

male Christmas Wrasse

I thought of them as Lilly Pulitzer fish, all hot pink and lime green and turquoise blue.  Bonkers.

Steve, meanwhile, realized that he could swim under the water, too, and took to chasing the fish.  With fins on, swimming with the very strong tide, he could nearly catch them.  He said he felt like a dog in a chicken yard.  I was happy to just remember how to breathe.

I grew tired first and headed back to lay in the chair and read.  I was nearly dry when a Marriott guy came over and told me that my towel color suggested I was from a different Marriott and would have to leave.   I told him that our hotel had sent us there, but he was unmoved.  We were ready to go anyway and I’m disinclined to argue.  But still, dumb policy Marriott.  Just let folks be and deal with problems if they arise.

On the way back to OUR Marriott, we stopped at the farmer’s market beside the KMart (why didn’t my dad ever get stationed HERE?  It’s rather nicer than Evansville, IN).  There was abundant local fruit for very little money.  I wanted it all.  Except the durian.  Blech.

Those green mangoes were INSANE.  I shall crave them forever.

Those green mangoes were INSANE. I shall crave them forever.

Nice setting, too, eh?

Nice setting, too, eh?

Guavas, mangoes, passionfruit, pineapple, longanberries, bananas, starfruit, papaya…all locally grown, just trees in folks’ yards!

We got some things to eat ourselves and some to take to Kevin’s family since we’d decided to head up after the luau and stay the night to get up for an early hike the next day.  We popped into the KMart to get some bugspray for the luau–mosquitoes, alas, like Hawaii, too.  The front of the store held a Halloween display that felt so incongruous– bales of straw, piles of pumpkins–after we’d just been buying summery fruits.    Along with the bug spray, we got some Maui Style potato chips that had a surfing onion and lots of surfer slang on the label.  Turns out they’re just Frito Lay and taste like Funyuns.  But hey, Funyuns!

We had just enough time to go back to the hotel and pack for our overnight up north before heading to the Smith Family Luau.  The only luau name with a 4:1 consonant to vowel ratio!  I’d said I wanted a luau as utterly unchanged from 1962 as I could find and I was not disappointed.

I squealed when I saw the sign.

I squealed when I saw the sign.

This was a Professional Operation.  It’s a family business, in operation for over 50 years.  The grounds are a botanical garden, so the setting is gorgeous.  They herd you in, hand you a shell lei, get you on a tram, and off you go.  The tram goes around the grounds while a guide dispassionately recites facts that sound like a Wikipedia page. Might be, I wasn’t really listening because:





Easter island head!

Easter island head!

banyan trees!

banyan trees!



Vengeful chicken in a field of skulls and bones!

Vengeful chicken in a field of skulls and bones!

Okay, it’s really coconuts and cane.  But it totally looked like The Chicken Fields.

The time came to un-earth the pig.  Kalua pork is cooked in an underground oven, and it needs buff young men in skirts to dig it out.

First, the brief history of the kalua pork.

First, the brief history of the kalua pork.

then, the blowing of the shofar, I mean conch shells, to signal...something.

then, the blowing of the shofar, I mean conch shells, to signal…something.

The pit is dug out with hoes and the pig is lifted out.  Hooray!

The pit is dug out with hoes and the pig is lifted out. Hooray!

The crowd dispersed to the pavillion where we found endless mai tais (Mahalo!) and other beverages to keep us calm while the food was laid out.  More orange-shirted family members entertained us.

Required-by-law ukelele playing.

Required-by-law ukelele playing.

hula lesson!

hula lesson!

And then the shofar called us to dinner!

and then later, he's a busboy!

and then later, he’s a busboy!

We were surprised to find that the food was actually good.  The kalua pork was outstanding, there was poke (yay!) made with salmon, and other good stuff.  And yes, there was poi.  We don’t get how anyone could work up an opinion at all about it, it was utterly tasteless.  Apparently, it is sometimes sweetened or fermented, but this stuff was plain and not unlike cornstarch and water.  We were told that it’s good to dip the pork in it to cut the saltiness of the meat.  which, fine.  We ate a LOT of food.  Mostly kalua pig.

After the meal, we were herded down to an amphitheater not unlike what you got at Sea World in the 70s.  Bleachers around pond that has a stage in the middle.  Behind the stage was a set like a Polynesian Village.  At Disneyland when it opened.  I could tell this was gonna be good.

The show opened with a gout of flame shooting from the top of the set, volcano-like.  A figure rose up and gestured grandly while the sound system played a script from an elementary school production.  “I (arm wave) am the goddess PELE (other arm waves out)!  The goddess of Fire (swoop down) and the Hawaiian people (both arms out)!”  I was tapping my hands together in glee.  The show was perfect, utterly without irony.  Never smirky or self-aware.  Not so much as a Jungle Cruise-type joke.  Just roughly 6 young men and 6 young women doing the Dances of Many Lands.

The rough “plot” was that we’d be introduced to all the cultures that came to Hawaii to make it who it is.  “Our cousins from Japan came to work in the sugar cane fields, bringing us their humble nature and artistic spirit.” And then four of the gals do a dance with fans while wearing kimonos.  “Our friends from the Philippines came to harvest pineapples”  and then, some how, for some reason, one of the guys is standing in a spotlight on the side of the stage, holding a rooster.  The narrator says something about the Philippine love of cock fighting (but he says “coch”), and somehow ties this in to hypnotising chickens, which is a really shaky connection, and then this kid proceeds to stroke the rooster’s belly.  Stroke, stroke, stroke…and the rooster pops up and shakes off.  He flips him over.  Stroke, stroke, stroke…and the rooster pops up.  Finally, he just grins (the kid, not the rooster) and tucks the chicken under his arm and walks off.  At first we thought, why not just use a stuffed rooster?  We’re 50 ft away, who’d know?  But you’d have to buy a stuffed one, real ones are literally underfoot.  Anyway.  Then the two girls that weren’t doing the Japanese dance come out with the boys and do some dancing over sticks thing that we all associate with the Philippines.  I assume.

Mostly, there was some fast hip shaking

"Our Tahitian cousins" wearing coconut bras and shaking their hips like CRAZY.

“Our Tahitian cousins” wearing coconut bras and shaking their hips like CRAZY.

And some slow hip shaking


And then the big closer, the Samoan fire knife dance, which is why I came.

drumming and fire.  I'm there.

drumming and fire. I’m there.

We opted not to hang around for photos with the cast making the shaka sign (that “hang loose” thumb and pinky out gesture) and did not purchase the 8×10 taken of us when we arrived, in which we were flanked by bare-tummied maidens making the shaka sign.  Instead we headed up to Kevin’s house where we managed to stay up and chat over half a glass of wine before Kevin and I started nodding off.  Maybe Hyun Joo and Steve stayed up to party, but I kind of doubt it.  Old.

Much to our sadness, Sweet Maries was closed on Sundays.  We had to have coffee at (shhh) Starbucks.  We stopped by the Coconut Festival in Kapa’a on our way to the wedding brunch.

–side note:  the Hawaiian language uses only 13 letters, five vowels and 8 consonants (one of which is really just a glottal stop).  This means all the words look the same to me.  There are W words, P words, K words, and H words.  Other than that, I’m lost.  It was a couple of days before I even tried to say them in my head.  They’d just kind of bounce off my brain, not even trying to get in.  By the time we left, it was easy, of course they’re all different.  But I despaired for a while there.–

The Coconut Festival was every small town festival in the US.  There were some 4-H kids with chickens and bunnies, the Lions club was selling sandwiches, various churches had booths.  There was a stage set up for performances from various musicians and dancers.  Much to our excitement, there were more Taiko drummers!  Only these were kids.  They went to a school at which the older kids taught the younger.  They were really good and utterly adorable.

KauaiSunday4KauaiSunday3There were vendors of all sorts of things, most of them decorated with plumeria or hibiscus patterns.  I had to wonder, do people in Hawaii just get sick of that?   Do they think “All I want is something with a pine tree on it.  A daisy, even. A moose.”  I was on the lookout for tiki and was not disappointed:

i didn't pick any up, of course.  I've seen The Brady Bunch.

i didn’t pick any up, of course. I’ve seen The Brady Bunch.

Chicken family!!

Chicken family!!


After listening to as much of the “here are all the things you can do with coconuts” spiel as we could stand, we headed up to the brunch at the St. Regis.

We’d been pretty impressed with our Marriott.  It seemed pretty grand.  The St. Regis is bonkers.  This is the view once you make through the huge lobby:

I wonder how many times a day the front desk staff hear "Holy crap!"

I wonder how many times a day the front desk staff hear “Holy crap!”

The wedding brunch was down by the pool:

Yes, everything on the island looks like the cover of Conde Nast Traveler.

Yes, everything on the island looks like the cover of Conde Nast Travel.

The omni-present zebra doves and chickens were hanging around the pool deck, waiting for us to get sloppy.  The moment one guest stood up, the doves hopped onto and into his bowl.

you were done, right?

you were done, right?

The food was terrific and we tried one of the yummier local dishes–poke (poe-kay), a raw tuna salad.  Serious yum, we ate it at every opportunity after that.  I’ll worry about the mercury later.

While Steve chatted with his friends, I wandered the grounds.  There were all these little coves and nooks along the beach.  I couldn’t stop taking photos.




KauaiSunday17Steve and I on the porch of the hotel:


We decided, after lunch and after refusing the groom’s offer for us to go to Tokyo with the honeymoon posse, to go to the house Kevin and Hyun Joo had rented and then head to the beach.

Hyun Joo is a house-finding wizard and had secured them a huge house in Princeville (yay!  a word I can pronounce!).  It had a backyard pool and hot tub and a different orchid growing on every tree:






The drive through Hanalei to Ke’e beach was ridiculously beautiful.  The town of Hanalei has the feel of studied funkiness that reminded me of areas of Nantucket and of Carmel, CA.  A look that says “We’re groovy, but you can’t afford to shop here.”  But like both of those, it was gorgeous and inviting.  The road is very wind-y and each turn afforded a new gasp of “LOOK at that view!”  Keep in mind, we have a lovely view.  It’s why we live in this attractive nuisance of a house.  But it’s just a plain ol’ backyard compared to this.

One road goes around the coast of most of Kauai.  It does not, however, go ALL the way around.  Ke’e beach is at the end of the northern part of the road.  Drive ’til the road runs out, turn around and find a parking place.  Easy to find.  We had to cross a half dozen one-lane bridges along the way.  In Hawaii, the custom is for 5-7 cars to go at once, as opposed to our take-turns policy here.  So if you get annoyed by someone slipping in out of turn at a one lane bridge, just assume he or she is Hawaiian and give ’em “hang loose” hand (they really do that here).

The beach, like all that we visited, was not crowded.  In fact, given that it’s often said to be the best beach on Kauai, it was downright deserted.  I cannot imagine how these trees at the edge of the beach were not full of children (*I* sure climbed around in them):



Because of an off-shore reef, the water coming in at the beach is gentle and the area is good for snorkling.  Kevin and Hana went off looking for sea turtles and bright fish.  When they got too far out (easy to do), the lifeguards called them in, a reassurance that they were, in fact, watching from their cute little lifeguard huts.  The constant warnings about the rip tide currents were gently brought home to me, too.  Hana joined me in water that was waist-deep to me, but up to her neck.  As she paddled beside me, chatting, a receding wave just grabbed her and pulled her out.  Because we were in this cove, it wasn’t all that strong, and I was easily able to jump behind her and pull her back in, but even there, her paddling was useless and it was clear that the water was, in fact, trying to kill everyone.  It was easy to see how you’d develop a belief in nature gods here.

Looks peaceful, though, doesn’t it?

That's Daniel in the blue rash guard shirt

That’s Daniel in the blue rash guard shirt

It's perfect for me because I can SEE the waves breaking, which I like, but they're not near me.

It’s perfect for me because I can SEE the waves breaking, which I like, but they’re not near me.

This is as close as we managed to watching a sunset.  Just never remembered in time.  Next trip.

This is as close as we managed to watching a sunset. Just never remembered in time. Next trip.

The water was, of course, the perfect temperature, warm but not too warm.  Clear.  Gently wavy.

Here’s the weird thing, though.  No seagulls.  Albatross migrate through at some point in the year, but otherwise, no seagulls.  So instead of waves and the cries of gulls you get waves and cockadoodle doo.  There are chickens on the beach, going up to beach bags and picking through them for snacks.

Chicken of the sea?

Chicken of the sea?

This guy was hanging out on the beach.  The kids were hassling him, kicking sand up on him.  I’d tell them to stop, to let him live his life, and then try to shoo him into the water or a hole.  But no, he just hung around.  So eventually, I left him to his own devices.  My interest in your welfare only extends so far, buddy.

he's probably sick of everyone saying "Hey, where's Spongebob!"

he’s probably sick of everyone saying “Hey, where’s Spongebob!”

Once we were all exhausted and hungry, we headed back into Hanalei for sushi.  The kids were bored and tired and whiny, so I got to bust out our friends the Donald’s “What’s missing” game: everyone closes their eyes and one person takes a thing from the table and everyone has to guess what it was.  They were reluctant to stop once the food got there, but sushi always wins.  We also had more poke and I had my first mai tai of the trip.  Mmmm.

Then, shortly after our nightly “Holy crap, it’s only 7?  It feels like 9, at least!”  followed by “Wow the Coconut Festival was just this morning!” we headed back to Lihue.  Maybe my favorite combination of feelings: sun-warmed, sandy, salty, full, and with the buzz of one good cocktail.  Perfect.



Before I move forward on my timeline, I’ll fill in the photos that were on my actual camera and the details I forgot because I was jet lagged.  I’m now jet lagged in the other direction, but Steve helped jog my memory.

We had a layover in LA that was fairly long.  Steve’s cousin Arik came to meet us and took us to The Humble Potato, tagline “the Original Hambaga.”  It has American fare with a Japanese kick and was really good.  The french fries were outstanding.  Seriously, if you have a layover, taxi over there.  It’s near LAX and worth the trip.

More photos from our hotel.  I didn’t get any shots of the pool, but it was pretty impressive, too.  No lazy river, like in Aruba, but a very nice swimming space with FIVE hot tubs.

Seems you've gone well past "Wet" if there are fish swimming in it.

Seems you’ve gone well past “Wet” if there are fish swimming in it.

NeNe, the state bird of Hawaii.  It's been brought back from near extinction to endangered status.  Pretty cute for a goose.

NeNe, the state bird of Hawaii. It’s been brought back from near extinction to endangered status. Pretty cute for a goose.

Another shot of the...promenade?  Let's just say they clearly bought columns in bulk.

Another shot of the…promenade? Let’s just say they clearly bought columns in bulk.

That “Feral Moco” that Steve had for breakfast turns out to be a variation of a common Hawaiian dish–Loco Moco.  It seems to mean “rice topped with burger topped with egg topped with gravy.”  Hawaii is a place where “local delicacy” does not mean “yummy.”  Remember: Spam Sushi is a thing here.

On our way home from the rehearsal, we stopped at The Coconut Experience, a roadside stand run by a darling gal named Sativa (yes, like the strain of weed).  I forgot to take a photo, so I’ll just snag one from Yelp:

Nope don't know that guy.

Nope don’t know that guy.

She had her nearly one year old baby in a high chair, handing him coconuts and fruits to entertain him, slinging him onto her hip when needed.  She opened the coconuts by holding them in one hand and whacking them with a rusty machete.  It was pretty badass.  She had a table at the wedding and was providing the guests with coconut water with or without added booze.  more on that later.  Steve and I were in love with her.

After our coconut water, we went back to Lihue to change and then all the way back North to the rehearsal dinner.  It was as if the wedding activities were in DC and we were going back and forth from home.  Lotta driving.  But much prettier than the Beltway.

The dinner was at a restaurant called The Cafe at Common Grounds.  It’s a field-to-table restaurant on what was once the largest guava plantation in the world.  We didn’t get any guavas here, though.

Shot from Common Grounds toward road

Shot from Common Grounds toward road

The day of the wedding, we had to buy the coconut rum and vanilla vodka that the groom wanted for the coconuts.  Yuck.  But one cannot have 100% good taste, right?  We all have blind spots.  I like stale circus peanuts.  We stopped at one liquor store and it had the rum, but not the vodka.  Rather than drive all over looking, Steve used his new favorite toy–the credit card concierge.  He said ‘Find me a store near Lihue that has both of these liquors and is open now” and they called back with the info.

On the way, we stopped at Sweet Marie’s, a gluten free bakery.  Best cup of coffee on the island.  Kona, nice and strong.  AND really good gluten free food.  But even better, was the owner, who called us “the kids” and “bubbelehs” and was from Philadelphia.  She was in constant motion and was named businesswoman of the year.  We took to her instantly, realizing on the way out, when I saw her framed photos of her parrots, that she reminded me of Marlene Brown, Bubbe, Stacey’s mom.  Not physically, other than the red hair, but in spirit.  That “you are now part of my family” feeling that she conveyed immediately.  Go to Kauai just to eat here and hug her for us.

This is her.  Seriously, hug her.

This is her. Seriously, hug her.

Marie directed us to the liquor store where we got the booze.  I got to check out the cuttlefish-snack heavy rack by the register:

Hmmm...fried cuttlefish legs or gummy apples?

Hmmm…fried cuttlefish legs or gummy apples?

In the parking lot, a flock of gawky young chickens, still young enough to peep, came running up to us.  I resisted the urge to herd them into the car.  They look a little like gang in the photos, like they were roughing up tourists for scratch.  When you’re a hen, you’re a hen all the way, from each grain that you peck to each egg that you lay!

Nice car ya got there.  Shame if someone was to...oh, I dunno, poop on it.

Nice car ya got there. Shame if someone was to…oh, I dunno, poop on it.

We got there early, since Steve was officiating, so I took some photos of the plants and the grounds.  It never stopped amazing me that orchids just grew EVERYwhere.  They were so plentiful that everyone just used them as decor, common as baby’s breath.

pond near the ceremony

pond near the ceremony

orchid just growing out of some bush

orchid just growing out of some bush

The ride from the garden where the ceremony was held to the meadow where the reception was help was amazing.  It looked like a dinosaur might jump out and eat us at any moment. Unfortunately, it was dusk and we were moving, so I couldn’t take photos.  When I search for images of Na Aina Kai, I get lots of brides, the hedge “maze,” and the horrid bronze sculptures that are all over the park–you know, the ones of kids at play that always harken faintly to Pompeii.  So trust me–amazing.

Steve and I got a coconut from Sativa and headed down to the beach.

The path to the beach

The path to the beach

Can't you just feel that salt air?

Can’t you just feel that salt air?

I had no idea owning a vintage Hawaiian dress would come in handy!

I had no idea owning a vintage Hawaiian dress would come in handy!

When we heard the drumming we headed back to find the Taiko drummers:

I neeeeed to do this.

I neeeeed to do this.

The second one in is a kid, she appears about 10-12 years old.  They all have massive biceps.  The video, as promised.  I’ll spare you the one that includes digeridoo…

The cackle you hear in the background is Kevin’s son five year old son, Daniel.  Or maybe his daughter Hana. One of them.  Daniel was very taken with the fire dancers and kept practicing his routine using the little LED marbles.

When we walked to the beach the second time, it was dark.  We’d stopped for a smooch only to find that the flashlight valet was right behind us.  You heard me.  Flashlight valet.  There were dudes whose job it was to shine lights at our feet so we could make it to the beach.  And all this time I’d been doing it on my own.  Sucker.

tent at night.  You can see the cabana tents glowing in the background

tent at night. You can see the cabana tents glowing in the background

Dark fell earlier in Kauai prompting us to EVERY night, say “Really?  It’s only 7?  It feels like 10.”

I was seriously amused when the father/bride dance was to “Country Roads” by John Denver.  Hyun Joo leaned over and said “Koreans LOVE this song.  This and ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra.”  Well okay then.


Okay, so, weddings are over. The peak has been reached, it’s all downhill from here.
That was one helluva party. The wedding itself was lovely. The whole thing took place at the Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden, which is just stunning. We’d gone into this trip with the “this wedding is going to be aMAZing” notion because the bride and groom are successful and clever and have good taste. When I saw the set up for the wedding, I was impressed, but not as overwhelmed as I expected.
The ceremony was under a tree, followed by cookies and drinks in the hedge maze.

Steve did a great job with the service, by the way. Just the right balance of humor and sincerity, nice measured tones. He’s available for all your wedding needs. Look how cute he is in his stole:

So they got married and turned us loose on the cookies and it was lovely, but you know, just nice.

Then they took us down to the reception.

Ho-ly crap.

The bride is a visual designer and money was no object. Trams took the guests to a meadow near the beach. There were tents and pavilions with fluttering curtains and comfortable furniture. Nary a folding chair in sight.



I’ll have more pictures when I’m home and can download from my non-phone camera.

Then the Japanese taiko drummers started:

Video to follow, it’s amazing.
A terrific dj took over from there while the cater waiters circulated around, bringing us wonderous food while we sprawled on our various divans. As night fell, someone scattered little LED marbles around on the lawn. They winked in and out like fairy lights. Children in fancy wedding clothes gathered them and tossed them around. Magical. Steve and I walked out to the beach and returned to find a scene out of a Coppola movie. The spectacle parts, not the strewn-with-bodies parts. There was a troupe of fire dancers, their hoops illuminating the crowd. We were behind the show, but it may have been even better from that angle. We got to see the spangled, synchronized twirling AND the girl whose job it was to snuff all those fires as the dancers exchanged hoops for batons or batons for fire poi balls.

A fire was built on the beach and s’mores fixin’s were laid out. There was a local gal whacking open coconuts with a machete to offer ice cold coconut water (you could also get rum and vodka mixed in, but really, why mess with it).

In the dark, each cabana was lit a different color, the paper globes bobbed in the breeze, the marbles winked in and out…it was a thing to see. Impressive. I felt bad for as-yet-unmarrieds, because you can’t compete with this.

So, it’s pretty here. We woke to find that this is the view from our room:

We’re at a Marriott property, and they’re always nice, but this one is…grand. Huge columns holding up those open-air spaces that you see on TV. Massive ceramic urns. 10 ft tall concrete fish. Where do these things come from? It there a factory that just makes giant hotel decor? And can some one find me video of the 10 ft high fish factory floor? Or maybe the truck filled with them?


We hadn’t gotten our car yet, so we had to walk to breakfast. We ate at The Feral Pig (because why wouldn’t you?) and watched a chicken think about crossing the road. Service here is famously leisurely, so there was lots of time. Steve got something called a Feral Moco, which was a bed of fried rice topped with a burger, topped with pork belly, topped with fried eggs, topped with brown gravy. I got porky tacos.


They were under spiced and not very exciting. And it turns out chickens are EVERYwhere, so we didn’t even need that.

Seriously. There are chickens all over the place. Mostly roosters; it’s like a Fire Island for chickens.


On the walk back, Steve took his life into his own hands:


Look out! Bear shark! Wave!

We got our rental car from a local place for way WAY less than the chains were charging. It’s run by a couple that opened it as a way to live here. They used to visit every year and decided to find a way to move to the island. I can see how that would happen. Look at this:



Yes, I’m keeping an eye out for Vincent the dog and the smoke monster.

We went to the rehearsal for the wedding. It’s being held at a botanical garden. Plants here look fake, like silk plants you’d dismiss as unrealistic.


Of course it’s killing me to not know the names of these things, I’ll have to get an app or a book. Turns out this is where they grow those cell phone towers:
(Photo is at the end. Hard to edit on my phone)

I spent my time at the rehearsal dinner trying to avoid social interaction. Sadly, making small talk with strangers is not a thing that has gotten easier with age. I was looking enviously at the women with babies-they get to pretend the baby needs them. That sure made things easier. I should rent a baby for social occasions…

On one of my forays into solitude, I noticed that the night sky looks different. Logically, of course it does, but it was still weird. I’m no astronomer, but things were clearly not where they should be. And so MANY stars, really beautiful. Like everything else.

In the preview, it’s showing that the last two paragraphs are underlines and blue. Don’t know why. Not going to worry about it. I’m all Mahalo, yo.


We’re in Kauai! We left Dulles at 9am and arrived here around 7:45, which is 12:45 in Real Time. I’m trying to hang on until 10. So tired.

We flew Virgin from DC to LAX, Delta the rest of the way. It was like going from a well-maintained 2010 Infiniti to a 1986 K car. A K car filled with unhappy babies. We were grateful to finally land.

Waiting for the bags to arrive we got to hear a video being played over and over. The gist of it was “the ocean is a death trap, best to just stay on your room.” The oft repeated mantra was “when in doubt, don’t go out.” Actual quote: even when walking too close to the surf, a wave can knock you down and a rip current will take you.. And then “don’t panic,” which is fine for the Hitchikers Guide, but near useless if you put me in a phobia situation. I’ll maybe stay well up the beach with an umbrella drink, thanks. And I won’t pick up any tiki heads.

More when I’m awake and there is light by which to see.


February 2023