Thursday, December 29, 2011

On Location: Kauai's Waimea Canyon & Barking Sands Beach

The two hour time difference hasn't set in yet so we've been waking up quite early each morning. We decided to take advantage of the early morning hour by driving to the other side of the island on Monday.
The North shore of Kauai is wet, lush and resembling a rainforest environment while the South and West end of the island is very dry and desert like. In fact, Waimea Canyon resembles Arizona's Grand Canyon but is distinctly Hawaiian.
We drove the entire 18 mile access road along the canyon's edge to arrive at Kalalau lookout. From there we hiked yet another muddy, precarious trail out to the Pihea vista.
This is one of the more beautiful, magical trails we've encountered. Yeah, yeah, I was waxing lyrical about the last hike as well but seriously, folks, this one feels as if you are at the edge of the world. Over 4200 feet above sea level with no guardrails, this one is not for those who fear heights but since the trail itself is mostly flat, the Pihea trail is a more multi-level hike.
Upon finishing, we drove into the town of Waimea where my father had insisted we try the poke at the local Japanese market. Poke is ahi sashimi chopped into 1/2" cubes and lightly marinated in sea salt, soy sauce, sesame oil and scallions. Often it is mixed with sushi rice and garden greens to create a poke bowl, one powerhouse of a meal. On the mainland it is one of my most favorite dishes but on this island, it is truly beyond words. Fish has never tasted so good!
This market had an impressive array of different poke, from ginger to red chile pepper and even tako (octopus) poke. We got 2 lb. between the two of us and headed out to Barking Sands beach. 
This is the western most beach on Kauai and at over 12 miles long it is also Hawaii's biggest beach. After finishing every last bite of our poke and rice, we dove into the ocean together. All in all, it was a simply perfect day.
The sun began its descent as we dried off and took it all in. DH and I began waxing lyrical about our adventures together and I mentioned our misadventures too. "Things don't always go our way but it never feels impossible with you" I said, explaining what I meant by misadventure. And that's when he popped the question. "How 'bout joining me for one more misadventure?"
I said yes.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Breakfast; Kauai Style

For as long as I can remember and probably long before that, my parents have hosted Christmas morning breakfast. Being a nuclear family of three, it was a big shift having the 9 McFadden's up to the house. The festivities have only grown over the years as spouses and children have come into the mix. Somehow though, there's always enough space and food to go around. It is, and long has been, my favorite Christmas tradition. A very close second being Christmas pajamas!
Being the food obsessed lunatic I am, I've been controlling the menu for the last six years. I've managed to drive just about everyone crazy with my elaborate baked eggs, stratas and egg sandwiches.
This year though, DH and I decided to go out of town for the holiday, but that doesn't mean the tradition would die. I was relieved to hear my cousin Maggie would take the reigns at home. As for us, after an idyllic sunrise dip in the Pacific, we whipped up some macadamia nut pancakes and poached eggs. Since we didn't have any real maple syrup and since buying any on this island would cost more than my car payment, I decided to make a syrup!
Instead of maple though, I opted for a ginger infused simple syrup. 
DH is and old pro at the poaching station so the eggs were perfetto too!
Hope the family is managing without me...mele kilikimaka everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

On Location: Hiking Kauai's Kalalau Trail

It is estimated that as much as 3/4 of Kauai is inaccessible. The Robinson family owns the majority of the northwest, including the breathtaking Napali Coast.
The solutions to seeing these stunning, steep cliffs is to:
1. take a helicopter tour of the island
2. take a 16 mile kayak tour to the all but uninhabited Kalalau Beach
3. Hike the 11 mile Kalalau Trail to Kalalau Beach.
We set out on the Kalalau Trail beginning at Ke'e beach but planned to hike only the first 2 miles to the Hanakapi'ai Beach. We packed only a few snacks and some water assuming we'd be back before lunchtime.
so steep and so muddy!
slippery switchbacks
By no uncertain terms is this 8 mile (roundtrip)hike like any other hike either of us had seen before. This hike is NOT for the faint of heart. Steep, stair-like boulders along the first 1/2 mile give way to a muddy, slippery trail. Intermittent rains and strong head winds add to the adversity...and that's just the first 2 miles!
But if you can hack it physically, its 1000% worth it. 
The views of the Napali Coast boggle the mind with their dramatic natural beauty. The Hanakapi'ai beach below is equally majestic both from a distance and up close.
Upon first discovering the beach, 2/3 into the trying hike, DH and I both (silently) envisioned jumping directly into the water. Not 100 yards later, this sobering sign forced us to reconsider!
Oh well, the beach made a pretty idyllic picnic spot all the same. DH even found a feline friend to bribe with a little cheese. There are a strange amount of cats on the sands of Kauai!
Taking in the dazzling sands and waves of Hanakapi'ai, we decided to trek onward toward the Falls. 
Whoa. Compared to the second 2 miles, the first 2 miles were like a walk on the beach (somewhere other than Kauai, of course).
Wild mushrooms and orchids cheered us up along the way.

No amount of descriptors could have prepared us for the amount of red dirt mud that we would encounter on the Hanakapi'ai Falls trail. The first mile is a mud bath, slogging through thick, slimy mud. The second mile is a water bath, with river crossings up to my waist...and I'm on the tall end of things! 
No amount of pictures could define the agony of this trail nor the ecstasy of finishing at the face of the waterfall. Hungry, tired, wet and muddy, I'd still do it again tomorrow...or maybe tomorrow's tomorrow! 
***a very important wardrobe note***
Foolishly, the guidebook advised wearing long pants the ideal attire would be lightweight, waterproof(ish) shorts, tank, a top layer (jacket, button-front shirt or large cotton scarf) for the rains and a one piece swimsuit underneath. DO NOT wear ANYTHING you couldn't stand to ruin as the red dirt seems to stain irrevocably. We both wore hiking boots but I'd even consider something like...I can't believe I'm saying these words...Tevas. There, I said it. Now let's all pretend this part never happened! 

On Location: Kauai!

Apologies to the loyal readers of butterdate for the long absence. Since the Thanksgiving festivities I've all but kept out of the kitchen. In fact, just about every waking minute's been leading up to DH and I's Christmas vacation to the garden isle of Kauai.
I am not one to boast but the beauty and natural bounty of this island are too good not to write about; its just so 'butterdate' here! Throughout the next two weeks we will be posting highlights from our adventures here. Hiking, kayaking, biking and beaching...and of course eating will be the focus of these travel guide-posts.
Hope these find you well, warm and full with holiday cheer, wherever you may be!