We had a plan today. Kauai had other plans for us.
Mr. B had read about a festival set for today on the west coast of Kauai. It was printed in various calendars, tourism websites and the newspaper. Looked to have good stuff for the whole family, particularly the kids' activities. So, we gathered our goodies and set off for the long drive along the south shore and around to the east. (While only about 26 miles, the average speed limit along Kauai's main highway is 30 mph, and passes through residential and commercial districts....many locals seldom bother to go to the "other" side, citing it as "too far.")
When we arrived, we were welcomed by a nearly empty parking lot. And the visitors center staff who apologized (the festival was canceled for uncertain reasons), then welcomed us inside to look around. They also had a table set up for visitors to try their hand at lei making. The girls each took advantage of the lei opportunity while Mr. B and I read about island history in the small museum.
Grandma Lynn and Grandpa Doug joined us just in time to set out to lunch and, after a recommendation from the lei maker, we found our way to Wrangler's. The pu pu platter offered a delicious selection of appetizers for the table including crab cake, kalua pork, calamari, ahi tuna and calamari. Then the girls and I took the local's advice and were rewarded with the kau kau tin: a three-layered stainless steel lunchbox loaded with steamed rice, terriyaki beef, tempera vegetables, and pickled cabbage. Rather than take our leftovers home in a box, Grandma Lynn bought us our own kau kau tin! (E already has plans for it into next summer.)
Then, we had our greatest discovery of the day: Hawaiian Shave Ice, mmmmm! We happened upon the "RIGHT" Jo Jo's Shave Ice in Waimea. (Apparently, the shop on the main drag doesn't do it justice. We were at the hole-in-the -wall around the corner - and I don't think it could have BEEN any better!) Sure, it's basically a snow cone, but when served in deluxe fashion it's delicious! A scoop of ice cream under a layer of flavored shave ice, then topped with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk (or simple cream). It was a taste sensation - and certainly sugar overload!
With our afternoon suddenly free, we decided to head to Kokee State Park. Rather than follow the signs on the highway, we followed Mr. B's map, which led us to some great overlooks as well as a really interesting patch of barren red soil with it's own stream and miniature waterfalls that cascaded from pond to pond. At each overlook we were rewarded with spectacular views of "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," and drawn to the heart of the island. This would be a spectacular place to return with backpacks for some in depth exploration of the trails throughout the backcountry.
As we headed back toward Moloa'a Bay, we veered off the main highway and into Hanapepe to revisit Talk Story. The girls and I had read several of our books and were interested in making a swap at the used bookstore. We found Friday Art Walk in full swing, with galleries and art shops as well as other downtown shops open for business, musicians playing along the sidewalks, food vendors and art vendors along the street and locals and tourists alike enjoying the wonderful night air. The event reminded us of San Luis Obispo's Thursday Night Farmers' Market, but with the emphasis on art rather than food.
After a walk up and down the street and our book swap, we made our way back to The Shack via our favorite local pizza place, Brick Oven Pizza where the pizza is delicious and the service friendly.