Three steps up the wooden porch and just to the left of the front door to our cottage in Kauai sits a large cat carrier wrapped in a palm-leaf tarp. Inside lives Snowflake, a 16 year old, blue-eyed short hair cat. Her presence is mentioned in nearly every on-line review of the Aloha Sunset cottage, almost as if she’s one of the investors in the property. “Thanks Catherine, Allen and Snowflake for sharing your peaceful slice of heaven with us.”
Sometimes, she’s even mentioned before the humans: “Dear Snowflake, you, Allen and Catherine made our 25th wedding anniversary unforgettable!”
And sometimes, the humans are disregarded altogether: “Other than the peace and beauty of this tropical paradise, Snowflake, you really made us feel welcome!”
Being the cat people we are, Michael and I flew here with as much anticipation for meeting Snowflake as we were for setting our eyes on the mountains, waterfalls, canyons and beaches. You can see mountains, waterfalls, canyons and beaches just about anywhere. There is only one Aloha Kitty.
Before heading off the property for day number one of sightseeing, we made a beeline fifty feet across the grass to the citrus trees, where Michael promptly picked three of the pinkest grapefruits his eyes could spot and started juggling them. I might have been tempted to make a gently snarky comment about how much my boyfriend loves to juggle (he even joined a “juggling club” at work). But I thought better of it. After all, it would be just as easy for Michael to post a picture of me on his website with the caption, “Here’s Gary on a Sunday, watching his ninth episode of Password Plus.”
Michael brought those grapefruits back with us into the house, and ten minutes later I was sipping on the sweetest, freshest juice I’d ever tasted in my life. It was immediately decreed an every-morning ritual: The Granberry “pick ‘n juggle,” which sounds like a cross between a local food store in Hooterville and a sex act still banned in conservative states. But we’re sticking with it.
By the way, here’s a picture of the two us on Delta Flight 1735 heading to Lihue Airport from L.A. I’m fake-smiling either because we’re close to landing or I have traveler’s gas. I can’t remember which. And don’t worry about that horrified look on Michael’s face. We haven’t been ordered to put on life vests for a water landing. He’s just watching Maleficent on the back of the seat in front of him. (His official review – “It was like Lord of the Rings for nine year old girls.”)
We saw more roosters on our first day in Kauai than we saw people. That’s no exaggeration. They’re everywhere, running wild and sneaking up behind you so they can steal your fish taco! They’re beautiful to look at, but they don’t just cock-a-doodle-doo when the sun comes up like you read about or see when you’re watching Doc Hollywood on cable. Here in Kauai, they do it all day long. At one point in the day, I asked Michael, “Are roosters just super stupid?” He quickly came back with, “In relation to what?” That short-circuited my brain enough that I dropped the subject altogether and finished my fish taco in silence, huddling over it to keep from being “rooster burgled.” After all, if a Hawaiian rooster manages to successfully steal your lunch directly out from under you, the question of stupidity does, in fact become, entirely relative.
Our first official tourist stop was the Kilauea Lighthouse off Kolo Road. Built in 1913, it’s at the northernmost point of the Hawaiian Islands and it’s a great first-stop in Kauai because it provides plenty of scenery and doesn’t require much in the way of walking, climbing or interacting, and at the end there’s a gift shop! Colorful placemats, coasters with hula girls, bright pink and orange mini-tees, and all the scenery your camera can devour. Do not miss it.
Next, Michael, tired from learning about local lighthouses and juggling citrus, took an afternoon nap with Snowflake back at the cottage. So I hopped into the Chevy Malibu on the hunt for what’s known as Secret Beach. Secret Beach is about a ten-minute hike off the side of the road somewhere between Kalihiwai Bay and the Kilauea Lighthouse, down an unmarked path cutting straight through the woods.
When I emerged from the sticks, I came upon a nearly empty stretch of silvery sand to my right, and black lava rocks on my left crowding the shore as far as the eye could see. I took seventy pictures in the span of about one minute. I had the shore all to myself. It was definitely an “I could have sat there all day eating Nutella with a spoon” kind of moment. And as Lonomakua as my witness, before this vacation ends that’s exactly what I’ll do.
My final stop on Day One was the secluded Lumaha’i River. I don’t know what “Lumaha’i” translates into, but from the crowds I came across in the turnaround off the road nearby, I’m going with “drive your VW bus up here and blaze up with your buds while staring at the water from your front seat.” That’s not a judgment. I used to get stoned and stare at my shower head for hours on end. I don’t know if any of the tour books point this out, but the Lumaha’i River is one hundred percent dedicated to the worshipping of the blunt. The place had the heavenly aroma of a Beatles convention, and even the roosters were eating Doritos.
It was a long day, so Michael and I decided to stay in and watch one of the many movies provided to us in the cottage. We found a copy of South Pacific – perfect viewing for our first night in paradise! I was primed and ready to shimmy around the cottage while I washed that man right outta my hair, but the 1989 videotape gods chose not to smile on us. Who’s up for Uncle Buck?
Later that evening from the couch, we caught Snowflake gently padding across the front porch heading for home. “What an adventurous life she must have here!” I said. Michael answered, “Yeah. She poops five feet away and then goes back to bed. A real Indiana Jones!” He’s right of course, but if we lived on this gorgeous island year round, both of us could adopt that same routine pretty damn quick. It’s not hard to adjust to leisurely life in Kauai. Just find Aloha Kitty, and let her show you the way.