Valentine’s Day night 13 people were planning to arrive in Kauai. — Sue, Al, Heather, Kenny, me, Dorin, Bob, Mitchell, Sam, Rachel, Steve, Pat, and Tom (mother in law, MIL’s fiance, wife, son, me, sister in law, SIL’s husband, SIL’s two sons, other SIL, other SIL’s husband, MIL’s sister, MIL’s sister’s partner) — for a week’s stay built around Sue and Al’s wedding on the beach on Tuesday. Incoming Northeaster froze the eastern seaboard, we got about 8″ snow in Syracuse instead of the 2″ forecast, presumably lots of planes got stuck in Atlanta and so on; the flight out of Syracuse for the first nine of the above travelers got canceled and we were told we couldn’t get seats on a flight out until Wednesday. But we could get out of Chicago on Monday. So… we rented a 12-seat van and drove to Chicago. Stopped at Pat & Tom’s house near Buffalo for pizza on the way… they were still scheduled to fly to Hawaii Saturday. Rachel and Steve flew out of DC Friday and arrived that night. 2014-02-14 13.39.04

Saturday Al traded in the van for another vehicle, something cheaper and better working. The first van had marginal windshield wipers, was losing oil, and had a heating system that couldn’t seem to do anything other than blast very hot air at floor level, at least where I was sitting. I was either chilly or baking.

We also checked out of the hotel we stayed in Friday night (we only had reservations for one night, made at a time we were hoping to fly out on Saturday) and moved into another one.

The weather forecast for Monday didn’t look great, and all sorts of plans were proposed, including driving on to Las Vegas, getting Sue and Al married there, and then on to LA and fly to Kauai from there, but we stuck with the plan to spend the weekend in Chicago and try to get to Hawaii on Monday.

We spent Saturday in the great city of Chicago doing… well, just about nothing. Other than changing vans and hotels, we ate three meals. Did laundry. (Did I mention we didn’t have winter clothes besides what we wore?) Hung out. Recharged after Friday’s stress. Lunch at White Castle, dinner at the hotel restaurant. I captured some Munzees. The women had a bachelorette party in the hotel that night. The men, or two of us at least, turned in early.

Sunday afternoon most of us spent at the Field Museum. Sue the Tyrannosaurus was pretty cool, but I’ve always had a softer spot for Apatosaurus and Triceratops so particularly enjoyed seeing those.

For dinner, after deciding against going into the place we’d been headed, we instead went to Cucina Biagio based, I think, solely on seeing its sign along our route. Turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve had in a while, even though I kind of liked the looks of everyone else’s dinner better than my ravioli. The manager, Tony, spent a long time chatting with us, ending up with his singing Sue an Italian love song and then showing us the celebrity pictures on the wall. He’s a character. No plans to get stuck in Chicago again anytime soon, but I’d consider going back there if I did.

Monday we got up at about 4 am for our flight to LA, which was delayed about an hour waiting for the captain to get there. We were sitting in separate places all over, me isolated in a middle seat, a cramped flight but we got there. Lunch at LAX, more Munzees, and then we caught our flight to Lihue. Arrived about on schedule. Steve and Rachel picked us up in our two rental vans and drove us to the house we’d rented for the 13 of us. Very nice place, right across the road from the ocean.

I went on a couple walks Tuesday, both directions with respect to the shore. Found two geocaches, my first ones west of Rochester NY, and captured a few more Munzees. Saw some crabs and sea turtles, and something that clings to rocks whose identity I didn’t know until Heather googled it up (shingle urchins), but no whales.IMG_2337

A wedding happened.

Then dinner at the Sheraton. We had a choice of three entrees but I think 12 of the 13 of us chose the swordfish… good choice, too. Bob had chicken.

I saw some whales from the porch Tuesday morning, and then on a walk more crabs — hermit and otherwise — and shingle urchins, and snails, tiny bivalves, some fish, a sea urchin, and some different rock clingy things.

A lot of the volcanic rocks on the shore have features I don’t understand: elongated holes, maybe about 4 cm wide and deep and 10 cm long. Not particularly aligned with one another. Not clear if they riddle the volume or are only on the exposed surfaces.

Wednesday in the early afternoon Sue, Al, Heather, Kenny, and I took a drive to Waimea Canyon for a bit of scenery-gawking and, on the way back, shrimp-devouring. IMG_2420In the evening we all went to Wailua for a luau.

Thursday early Pat and Tom left for a day trip to Oahu. After breakfast I started off on a little walk that turned into a multi hour expedition to Poipu, looking for a multicache there. I had some trouble getting started, because I hadn’t paid enough attention to the directions, and I had some trouble with the final stage, because I’m an idiot. Really, it should have taken me about a minute, especially once the cache owner verified the final coordinates for me. Instead it took, ah, much longer. In fact long enough that I went for a lunch break — a fairly long walk to get a puka dog and lemonade, then back again. Finally a local came along, not a geocacher but she knew about the cache and gave me a hint. Then it became as obvious as it should have been in the first place.

Meanwhile I’d seen some nice ocean scenery and spouts from a pod of whales. On the walk back to the house there was a monk seal (endangered species) resting on the sand in the middle of a public beach, with a yellow rope barricade around it and signs saying not to approach it. IMG_2453Got back to the house at 3:15. Heather, Kenny, Sue, and Al had gone shopping in Kapa’a, and the Laufers were out ATVing, so I napped on the porch until they got back and disarmed the alarm. Dinner was burgers and dogs at the house. In the evening we found out Tom was having a kidney stone attack; he went to the ER on his return to Kauai and was there until early morning, I guess.

Rain Friday morning, after a couple sunny days. There were dolphins across the street, and a whale much closer to shore than the others I’d seen. In the afternoon some of us drove out to Kalaheo where I went into Scotty’s Music and came out with a new Islander tenor ukulele. IMG_2462Mitchell looked at a couple of ukes, too, but they were more than Dorin wanted to pay, and I think he’s going to get my Makala tenor. Meanwhile he got a cabasa. There were a couple of other stops for souvenirs; I bought a dirt shirt and an aloha shirt. The rain having let up, though the clouds were still with us, we went to the beach when we got back. It was the first and only time I went swimming on this trip, though I’d gotten my feet wet a couple times earlier. I wish I’d gone more than that once.

We cooked pizza for our last dinner Friday night, and sat on the porch playing ukes and percussion and singing songs.

Saturday morning we vacated the house, stopped for ice cream and to look at the Spouting Horn (and more dolphins), and went to the airport. Pat and Tom excepted, we all flew to LA, then Sue and Al went from there to Tacoma, Rachel and Steve to DC, and the rest of us to Syracuse via Chicago, arriving around noon Sunday. Tired, lagged, stressed, hearing impaired from blocked up ears. But a good trip.

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