This trip to Kauai was more than just a vacation. Our year has been full of transitions, the biggest being my pastor hubby leaving his position of eight years to start a new church plant in our community. God has made it abundantly, amazingly, graciously clear that we are to give our lives to seeing our area transformed by the gospel. In leaving our comfortable, supportive, stable church and entering the world of church planting, raising support, and being on our own, we've encountered some major stressors. After eight years at our big church, we were looking forward to taking a much-needed sabbatical this year. We started saving up money and exploring options. We really hoped to get to the Holy Lands. But God had other plans. By the time it was clear we would be sent off from our church to be local missionaries, we realized there would be no long-term sabbatical. So we used the money and our gifted flyer miles to spend some much-needed family time together as a buffer between one job and the next. And if you're going on a family vacation, there's pretty much no better place to relax, recuperate and recharge than the beach!
That's me, with Bali Hai in the background. South Pacific turned the pointy peak into a magical island. For us, it's just a beautiful photo backdrop. On our seventh day, we took a trip to the North Shore. Tunnels Beach is an incredible snorkeling location. There are two reefs, an inner one with all kinds of amazing fish and sea turtles to see, and an outer one that is unlike any other coral reef formation I've ever seen. Because I was still recovering and not feeling as strong as usual, I took very short swims in the shallower, closer reef formations. After a few close encounters with the unpredictable ocean while swimming outside the reef, I've become a very safe snorkeler. I always pay attention to where I am in relation to the beach and in relation to the open water. Since I was alone, I was especially careful. I mostly stuck to the backside of the inner reef, where it drops off into open, sandy water.
In about twenty minutes' time, I saw hundreds of fish, a few kinds I've never seen before. The most brilliant, fluorescent, vibrant colors and some of the craziest faces. I watched parrot fish eating the hard coral and observed as they shot it out their backsides, pooping sandy bits of coral back into the sea. I could hear their beaks pecking away at the coral! I saw trumpet fish, including one with large teeth that had its mouth open as it swam along, catching its lunch. And I also saw about ten sea turtles around the reef, all different sizes, feeding and swimming and just being awesome.
My little buddies spent most of the morning playing pirates and mermaids in the shade and exposed roots of the enormous trees that line the back of Tunnels Beach. When not using their imaginations, they were helping me look for smooth white shells in the coarse sand.
Look: Maddie is actually posing for a shot! It's a miracle!
My sweet, sweet girl. She's such a beauty, inside and out.
On the way back South, we stopped at this little overlook to snap a quick photo of the beautiful, verdant taro fields. Thank you, taro fields, for providing me with the delicious wrapping of my precious pork lau lau. Moment of silence.
We grabbed fish tacos (me, sans tortilla) at local taco truck hotspot on Hanalei Bay (famous because we named our golden retriever after the beautiful, 2-mile long crescent-shaped beach). Then it was time for dessert, Hawaiian style. You know what that means: shave ice. And there's no better place on the island than Aunty Kuiny's spot in Anahola.
On the same property as the shave ice place is a funky little shop that sells the strangest assortment of items, from fresh fruit to dusty old jewelry boxes to shell trinkets. And, there's this picturesque little baptist church:
In the shade of the awning, my girls' eyes were at it again. Killing me softly. She was a fairly willing participant. After all, she was waiting for her shave ice to arrive.
Since Maddie was a baby, we've always remarked on her upside-down half-moon smiling eyes. In this picture, she's pointing them out for me:
While Sam slept in the car, Maddie ate a shave ice as big as her head.
She did NOT nap that day.
Day eight started bright and early. I woke up around 4 and Ben left for a deep-sea fishing adventure around 5. By the time Maddie and Sam rolled out of bed, I was starving and so I made us all almond flour pancakes with carmelized sugar pineapple and coconut shavings. This breakfast was da bomb. (Recipe forthcoming).
The kids wanted to go to the pool. Since Dad's not a big fan (hello, we're in Hawaii, we swim in the OCEAN), I treated them to a morning of swimming. Except that day they were exceptionally crabby and difficult. They had been asking for days to go swimming at the pool, and so I packed my book and magazines, ready to
sit poolside lay prostrate on a lounge chair while they frolicked in the sandy-bottomed kiddie pool. Except they laid on me, whined at me, and did this most of the morning:
Why, yes, that is my five year-old daughter rolling her eyes like a fourteen year-old. Awesome. I tried everything to get them swimming on their own: getting in the pool with them (imagine that), going down the water slide, splashing, playing, feeding them snacks; nothing interested them. FINALLY our friends (who happened to be visiting Kauai at the same time) showed up, and it was the best. thing. ever. The kids were reinvigorated and with the new friends and pool toys, they hopped right in. I was so exhausted by this point that I ordered them lunch from the poolside restaurant (grilled cheese and french fries for $7 plus tax plus pool boy tip) and I called Ben and told him he needed to come pick us up on his way home from fishing because there was NO WAY I was walking these crazy bones back to the condo.
What, me? Attitude? No, I'm pleased as punch:
Adorable little stinker.
That evening we went back to the Hyatt in Poipu for drinks. We all needed it. Maddie posed by the pool with her plumeria blossom after watching some hula:
Peeking at the black swan on the hotel grounds:
Next up: a trip back to the North Shore, more swords, and more shave ice.