Winter is not my favorite time of the year. You may have noticed this already. But it's all a matter of location. See, Chicago winters can be pretty dreary, and to avoid discrimination, just about every city that has regular snow can be pretty dreary in winter.
This year, though, the stars aligned! There were air miles, in-laws with an empty bedroom in a condo that they rented on Kauai and all of a sudden, I got a phone call from The Boy asking if I wouldn't mind going there for a visit.... I pretended to think about it for a grand total of a second before I yodeled, "Yes! Not just yes, hell yes! When do I leave!"
In the fullness of time, I left. And it is paradise. Make no mistake.
Sunrise over Bali Hai. It was a little cloudy that day, but not for long.
The rocks at the beach at Lumahai. Even if you've never been there, you've seen this beach. The movie "South Pacific" was filmed there. It's considered one of the most beautiful beaches on Kauai, but it's also called "Lumadie" because it's very dangerous. No non-tourist would ever try and go in the water there and they particularly won't get up on the rocks.
See, there is no reef at Lumahai. Nor is there any form of shallow water or shelf going out off the beach. The waves break on shore and are incredibly powerful and violent. One writer pointed out that Kauai is nothing more than a mountain-top in the middle of the ocean, and Lumahai is proof of that.
There are warning signs all over the place. The Boy (a lifeguard in a former life) says that he would NEVER jump in and try and save someone because once you go it, that's it for you. The maytag catches you and your next stop is Japan.
It's my favorite place in the world. I think I caught some of the wave action in the next couple of pictures. It's mesmerizing to watch.
Remember the warning signs I told you about? Didja see the way the waves hit those rocks? Well, stupid is universal apparently, because the couple in the photo appear to have a death wish. As they were getting off the rocks, a massive wave hit and almost had them in the water. They were laughing, too dim to see just how lucky they got.
This intellectual bright light took his two small children to a space between one set of rocks and the next and stood in the water....
...where this happens... and thought it was grand fun. At this point it was about 3:00 p.m. we declared cocktail hour and left the beach. None of us said it, but the real reason we left is that we couldn't watch the dumb any more. This potential train wreck was too much.
Oh, and when this wave broke, the guy AND the two kids were in the water with it. See what I mean?
This will never put me off Lumahai, though. It's still my favorite place. My mother-in-law loves it so much that we've all been instructed to scatter her ashes there when the time comes.
I decided to head to another beach one day. This is a very small beach below the condos at Pali Ke Kua. There is a sandy beach, but the rocks are right off shore. Surfers and swimmers can only get into the water at one end, but the snorkelling is gorgeous and the waves are always good.
I decided to take my camera at low tide and (very, very carefully) explore the tidal pools. I say carefully because those rocks are a combination of lava and old coral. You can't be barefoot on them. Even the sand is very coarse, so surf socks are a must. It's so much fun that I went for a few minutes and stayed for two hours.
And here it is, kids, the photo you've all been waiting for... me in a bikini! And that's as much as you get to see, too.
The first time I went to Kauai the spiders creeped me out in a big way. They still do if they're big and in my face, but the webs are something else again. This is about the best photo I've taken of an orb web. It's a relatively small one, only a foot across.
Another perfect sunset over Bali Hai. Looking at postcards of this particular view (and there are a lot of them), you'd swear they were touched up because the whole thing looks sort of unreal, an idealization of what sunset should be. They aren't. This is it.
It was not easy to board that plane home, I can tell you. Now I'm planning the next trip out there.
(All photographs copyright 2011, all rights reserved.)