Spencer and I celebrated 10 years of marriage in June of last year…

For Christmas {2013} he surprised me and told me we were going to go to Portugal for our Anniversary trip—- however after weeks of thinking about it and trying to plan the trip, I decided to put it off…  I’ve had my heart set on returning to Portugal {where I spent 17 months of my life as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints} ever since the day I left {September 11, 2003}…  I’ve always felt I’d get to return- but going back now, at this point, didn’t feel quite right…  so that trip’s been delayed…


Instead of visiting Portugal for our anniversary, we decided to go to Kauai.

I can’t say I was thrilled with the idea of visiting Hawaii. again.  We’d already been to Oahu 5 years earlier…  we’d stayed at the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore for our 5TH Wedding Anniversary and had the time of our lives there— but it was HOT and toasty… outside of the fresh fruit and eggs available during our breakfast buffet there was no where to eat {that’s what stinks about traveling with food allergies! Eating gluten free isn’t really an option and eating gluten isn’t an option for me- so you see- there’s not much of a solution…  I can go an afternoon and perhaps an evening without eating but not a whole week!!!} Not to mention, I wasn’t exactly beach body ready {I’m still not! isn’t that pathetic?!  My baby’s almost 18 months old— no more excuses…  I’ve got to figure out a way to drop the extra weight- any and all recommendations welcome- except dieting… I don’t do diets.  My problem is figuring out WHEN to workout?!  But that’s another dilemma for another post I suppose}…  anyhow, point is, I had my heart set on traveling elsewhere…  Alaska perhaps… an Alaskan Cruise sounded peaceful and beautiful…  but Spencer told me he wanted to work on his tan and relax on the beach- so Kauai it was…  {not to mention, we also had a good friend who helped us arrange a super sweet condo in Kauai for a great deal- thanks again Steven and Danielle!}

Looking back- I’m not sure HOW on earth we would have ever managed to pull off a trip to Portugal over the summer!  We had just barely moved back from Texas to Utah in June- we began to settle into our home, when only 3 days later, we were on the road making our way up to Idaho for a family reunion…  we stayed an extra day to visit Yellowstone, then returned home and had just one week before our trip to Kauai!  Most of our belongings were still packed away in boxes that were either in the garage or down in the basement…  once we returned from our trip to Kauai, we had exactly one week to settle in {or at least try to} and unpack some more, before our boys began the new school year at their new school, so yeah- there’s just no way we could have possibly been ready to travel or even enjoy a trip overseas…


Contrary to what I thought— “If I’ve seen one Hawaiian Island, then I’ve seen them all!”- Kauai was so DIFFERENT than Oahu!

I’m so glad that we visited Oahu first, because I’m not sure I could have ever appreciated Oahu if we’d gone to Kauai first.

There’s definitely a reason they call it the “Garden Isle”— it’s so gorgeous, green and lush!  Beautiful flowers grow wild all over the island— in addition mangoes,papaya and coconuts grow wild everywhere as well!  I don’t believe I ever saw a single coconut growing on a tree on the island of Oahu- I’m sure there must have been some somewhere- but I just never saw them…  On the island of Kauai we didn’t have to look too hard to find them- they were EVERYWHERE!  In fact- we always saw dozens of them strewn on the shore under the trees from which they fell.


My husband knows me well.

He knows I’m a beach bum… sun, sand and surf is where my heart’s at after having grown up in San Diego…

I was worried about roasting under the hot Hawaiian sun {I don’t tan anymore} but the temperature on the island never rose above 80!  Every day was PERFECT {rain showers included}.


I didn’t have much time to prepare for our trip- in fact, my tan was non existent, so since I figured “Who goes to Hawaii pasty and white?!”, I visited my local tanning salon.  No I didn’t “fake n bake”- I had no time for that and besides, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have even been able to get any color tanning in a tanning bed either {I’m telling you- my skin pigment just isn’t the same since I’ve had so many children and since I developed Celiac’s and my gluten allergy}…  I actually opted for the spray on tan.  Truth is, I used to make fun of the girls who did spray on tans- only because I could tan on my own at the time- but boy, have those spray on tans come a long way since I was in college and while I wasn’t as bronze as the menu at the Tanning Salon promised I’d be when I purchased my spray tan, I at least had a hint of color on my skin for the first two days before it all wore off.

In addition to the spray on tan, I had LOADS of packing to do!  Not for myself but for the children.  Yep- since we were splitting up the kids and sending them off in pairs to relatives homes for 8 days – there was A LOT of packing to do!


10346515_10152506784500169_5346095457366539482_nIMG_3378I put off trying to find any bathing suits or beach coverups until the very last minute- so as a last resort, I used Zappos.com.   Man I LOVE that company!  Lucky for me I found two suits I loved…

10530764_10152505159080169_1719662432212387103_nThe following pictures aren’t in order….  I’m not even going to attempt to try and put them in order… All you really need to know in addition to this collection of pictures is that we had a FABULOUS time in Kauai where we spent 8 days!  We loved it there so much- we’ve decided in 5 years it’s where we want to take our entire family for vacation!  Our boys will just LOVE it there!



We joined the local branch in Hanalei for Sunday services… I have to admit- I was a bit envious of all the locals there… what I wouldn’t give to live on that beautiful island!


Wandering somewhere thru the jungle in search of a waterfall… I’m not kidding when I tell you I was half expecting a T-Rex from Jurassic Park to come crashing through the trees behind Spencer here!!!


We found the waterfall we were looking for… it was called Secret Falls… but we only found it after hiking and slipping along the muddiest trail we’ve ever set foot on… we lost our shoes in the mud a few times along the way-… Something about being alone, not having a gang of kids tagging along after us, hiking thru the mud and being in the wilderness sure made us feel YOUNG again!


He conquered his fear of open water and took a swim under the beautiful waterfall!


Spencer was all game for conquering his fears on this trip… after watching me plunge off this cliff several times into the river, Spencer gave it a go… TWICE!!!


We canoed down the river near Wailua to see this amazing Fern Grotto- also known as sacred ground to the locals…


There were always clouds surrounding the peak of these mountains that ran along the Ne Pali coast… on some days, depending on the amount of cloud coverage we would see 2 or 3 big waterfalls plunging down the mountainside- on others we’d see just this one…


No worries- we didn’t take it with us, but we did find a piece of coral reef on one of the beaches we visited…


Hanalei Bay.


I believe the name of this beach is Waioli Beach- if not, it’s near there… it was the first of the many beaches we visited… what made it unique were it’s incredible lava rock cliffs!


Waioli Beach has a little river that runs into the ocean… beautiful hibiscus flowers float along the waters surface and at low tide, the waters current is pretty calm… I spotted this old rope swing across the rivers edge and had to give it a try… so I dove in and swam across… Spencer probably thought I was crazy but I didn’t give it a second thought! Out of all the places we visited on the island- this place was probably my favorite! Just wish I could have reached the rope! I couldn’t grab it from the water and I had to jump to try to reach it from the bank and I failed and slipped back into the water. We’re definitely bringing our boys here when we return in 5 years!


Just driving thru the valley where the rice paddies and taro fields were…


I’m sure this stretch of road has a name but I wouldn’t know what it is…. it’s from a scene from the movie “The Descendants”…. anyhow- it’s GORGEOUS!!! A mile {at least} of road covered by a canopy of tall trees and vines!


We spotted this little crane on the southwest side of the island near Mana…


Kilauea Point…


One of the gorgeous views on the island…


Spouting Horn….


A look from inside the old water cavern out onto the beach in Haena…


Just hanging out on a lovely quiet beach…


The sun setting as we prepared to land on the island of Kauai…


Looking down from Princeville onto the valley below… This location was just around the corner from the condo we stayed at…


He was probably pondering if this is what Heaven must look like… if not Heaven, Paradise for sure!


I love my Mr.


Visiting the Grand Canyon of the Pacific… Apparently a lot of the time, clouds or fog cover Waimea canyon, obstructing the view, but not the day we went… we lucked out!


In several spots we saw mountain goats scaling the cliffs…


Noah, Ian and Cohen stayed with my sister and her family- while Bentley and Atticus spent the 8 days we were gone with Grandma and Grandpa C. and Isla stayed with Spencer’s sister.


Spouting Horn…


The sand at Glass Beach… as you can see, bits and pieces of smooth colored glass make up the beach sand…


I can’t begin to tell you how amazed I was to discover so many of the beaches on Kauai empty!!! What a BIG difference between beaches on Kauai and beaches on Oahu! That’s probably one of the things I appreciated most about Kauai- it’s a smaller island so there are less tourists…


When we made our arrangements to visit Kauai, we didn’t have much of an idea of what to see or do while on the island… in fact, we didn’t even have a rental car reserved until we arrived on the island {we sort of lucked out that there were cars available!}… we just wanted to relax and explore the island on our own… as chance had it, we stumbled upon this AMAZING shaved ice place… Ono Ono. Ok, so it’s not the North Shore’s Matsumotos- but it was pretty darn good!


We found this little strip of beach near the light house that had this beautiful tree and swing suspended from it; it hung over the waters edge… a little piece of Heaven…


Sadly, our little piece of Heaven was invaded by bees… well maybe not bees, but at least one bee- who thought it wise to wander near the waters edge… The very second I stepped out of the ocean water, onto the sand, I stepped on that bee! I felt what I thought was a pinch, so immediately I thought I’d been pinched by a crab! I was dumbfounded when I realized it was a small bee… I also knew I was in big trouble because the last time I’d been stung by a bee {9 years ago} I suffered an allergic reaction… luckily, my life wasn’t threatened, but even with the stinger removed, lots of ice, Benedryl and rest, my foot looked like this!!!! It was impossible to walk on for 2 days— I had to hop around on my right foot to use the restroom or go anywhere… It was horrible and I can honestly say, there was a point I panicked and wondered if I’d ever be able to walk on my foot again!


Sure I’m all smiles here… just seconds away from stepping on that darn bee!


I joke and tell Spencer this looks like a Senior Photo… Pretty dreamy, right?! Joke aside- he’s only 1 year away from his 20 year high school reunion!!!! CrAZy!


Go ahead and say it… it looks like fun right?! Well it was!!! Whomever it was that had the BRILLIANT idea to suspend a swing over the ocean… THANK YOU!!! #Heavensplayground


Getting around on my gimp foot…. Yep- after one whole day of being stuck inside our condo— I couldn’t take it any longer! I made Spencer pick up a compression bandage from the store for me, which I wore and then I hobbled around from beach to beach!


Exploring the old sea cave…


We found a random coconut at that beach that had just fallen from the tree- so of course, Spencer tapped into his Polynesian roots {ok- so he’s not really Polynesian, but he was born in Samoa, so that counts right?!} and he cracked that thing open on a rock! Who needs to pay a fortune for coconut water when you can find it at the beach?!!!


I had a friend in college who once told me she knew I was from San Diego… when I asked her how she knew, she told me it was because of the wrinkles around my eyes… she explained I must had gotten them from staring into the sun too often! Looking at this picture- I suppose she’s right- I do have a lot of wrinkles! I guess I could just consider it another sign of the times that I’m getting OLD- that, or that I’ve spent too much of my life at the beach staring into the sun as my friend once suggested… I like the latter thought.


So we may have made our way back to Ono Ono for shaved ice three times during our 8 day stay on the island… Not only were those things GOOD, but they were HUGE! Look at that thing- it’s as BIG as my head!!!


I could pitch me a tent and live on this beach for the.rest.of.my.life. It was PERFECT! Lumahai Beach {or at least near that}…


Have I mentioned before that Kauai is the Garden Isle?…. There was vegetation all over the island- even the beaches were no exception! This was my view from the spot on the beach where I was laying out… #Ispywithmylittleeyecoconutsdanglingfromthetreeaboveme !


So this one time during our vacation we found a completely vacant beach… then came along this dog with no owner in site. Just me and Spence, and oh, the dog, hanging out in Paradise!


Kilauea Lighthouse


As strange as it sounds- there were roosters all over the island of Kauai… right there on the beaches, crossing the roads, in the mountains, in the “Grand Canyon” of the Pacific, on the balcony of our condo, OH and even in the parking lot right next to Kentucky Fried Chicken!


If the roosters hadn’t already reminded me of Portugal, these hydrangeas did. I LOVE these flowers! I saw so many of them growing in Vila do Conde {the first little village I lived in when I served my mission in Portugal} and I hear that the Portuguese islands of the Azores grow hydrangeas all over in the wild too!


Just had to park our canoe along with all of the other dozens of canoes and kayaks when we went on our muddy adventure to find The Secret Waterfall.


Found this canopy of vines and ivy that made an awesome {also very beautiful} shelter from the rain…


We found the King and Queens Sacred Bath along our hike to the Secret Waterfall…


Sacred ground. King and Queens Bath.


After slipping and sliding all over the trail of mud for 2 miles, I was relieved to climb this hill and see that we could use the trees roots as natural climbing stairs!


Am I right or am I right??? Doesn’t this look like a scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids ?! I’m pleased to say no dinosaurs or giant ants chased after us on this hike- although we did get bitten a couple of times by mosquitos…


Secret Falls


It looks like Spencer’s lost deep in thought here, but really, he was just trying to decide if he wanted to eat a bag of Cheetos or Doritos…. #soserious


We drove all over Waimea using GPS, in search of this Captain Cook monument— it was only on our second visit to Waimea that we found it by mistake… we’d been searching for it, again on the 2ND day, and after driving around in circles for half an hour, we decided to give up on our search.. We pulled over, looked to our left and there it was! We had driven past it several dozen times!!!


Our “detailed” map we were given when we rented our canoe… The local assured us that we couldn’t get lost along the river or on the hike if we just followed this map, but I was a little doubtful… It sure looked like a lot of jungle we could one way or another find ourselves lost in! Thankfully, like Louis and Clark, we navigated our way through the jungle and and back up the river, returning safely to civilization!


When the man we rented our canoe from told us that the trail to Secret Falls was muddy, he wasn’t kidding!!!


Old church in Hanalei..


I grew up reading copies of my brother’s Surfer Magazine, so when I saw this little tree tribute in Hanalei, I knew immediately who the Andy was that was being honored… Andy Irons.. One of the greatest surfers on the planet and local.


Panorama of Hanalei Bay.


So people often refer to the “Pearly Gates of Heaven” but I like to imagine that if and when we arrive at Heaven, we first must arrive at a loading dock like the one pictured above… then we sail across a sea of memories, right up to Heaven’s Isle. #Heavensdock


I don’t recall seeing a single Seagull while we were on the island of Kauai… instead there were other critters like this one- a cardinal of some sort!


I couldn’t help but sing the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon every time we saw or visited Hanalei Bay…


The old Royal Coconut Grove near Lihue… hundreds and hundreds of coconut trees!


On our last day on the island, before catching our flight back to the mainland, we discovered large green sea turtles swimming all over at the beach in Poipu… when we go back in 5 years with the kids, we’ll have to bring some snorkel gear and hit up this beach for sure so they can see the turtles! They were beautiful!!!


We had to check out of our condo several hours before catching our flight back to the mainland, so we picnicked at this beach for an hour or two. We enjoyed some reading, some snacks, the ocean breeze and the sights, of course!


We found another lighthouse as we drove around the island our last day… this one was right next to the airport… a bit off the beaten path… the waves that crashed against the rocks here were ginormous and the planes flew in directly above us… it was pretty terrifying- the possibilities of all the dangers being there, on those rocks, but also pretty spectacular! Sometimes this Mr of mine surprises me and takes me on the greatest adventures!


Thanks Kauai! We sure made enough memories that will last us a lifetime but we hope to make more there soon enough with all of our clan, so this isn’t goodbye- it’s just a “see ya later” in 2019!