Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Kauai vacation recap, Day 6: River kayaking and rum-ful recovery

Saturday, August 15, 2015

For this morning we had planned our last "adventure," which turned out to be more rigorous than we intended, in a different way.  Wailua Kayak Adventures is a friendly, family-run company that has been offering river kayak tours for 20-something years, and at a very reasonable price (a guided tour with them was not much more than the cost of renting a two-person kayak).  Our tour group of seven people assembled at the office to sign waiver forms at 6:45am, and then by 7:20am we were getting into our kayaks at the marina.  Our guide was Judah, a remarkably low-key man who moved from the Los Angeles area to Kauai in 1992, and has since then worked as a kayak guide (both river and sea), a radio announcer, and a wedding officiant.

One of the little tributaries off the main river.
We kayaked up the river for about 40 minutes, which provided a very adequate upper-body workout.  As we were the first group on the river that morning, it felt quite serene and even meditative as we paddled past the tree-blanketed banks and the nearby hills.  We then went on a muddy but easy one-mile loop through the jungle; having our water shoes - purchased inexpensively on Amazon - was very helpful here.

Fern towers
Judah pointed out pig holes (Kauai's wild pig population is three times the size of the human population), a variety of tropical plants (including Awapuhi ginger and firecracker ferns), and also showed us the "green room," which is a mystical-looking clearing with a colonnade of fern towers that once apparently grew together into a huge fern wall, but have been reduced to columns by wind storms.  Then, we kayaked to a swimming hole with a cliff jump, which I didn't try but enjoyed watching:

Not us.

Finally, we kayaked back to the marina, this time against the wind, and really did a number on our arms and shoulders.  My paddling technique probably worsened the more tired I became.  Andrew and I were glad, many times over, that we had chosen a boat tour of the Na Pali coast instead of the 17-mile sea kayak tour, which we had originally considered in a fit of presumption and was the inspiration for "Operation Kauai Thunder."  (Several days of recovery later, Andrew mused that "we could have done it," but I attributed this to retrospective delusion/confidence.  Regardless, go team!  This blog post brought to you by Advil.)

We were back at the marina by 11:00 am and headed home to clean up, followed by lunch at Pono Market and another Hee Fat shave ice.

Then we drove south to Kilohana, a former plantation that is now a historical site / tourist trap / fancy restaurant and also home to the Koloa Rum Company and its free tastings.  I was feeling sub-par because of a combination of Benadryl (to counteract the mosquito welts gained the previous day) and massive lactic acid release from my forearms, though I hadn't yet realized the latter's severity at the time of rum tasting.  The rums were certainly good, though, especially the coconut rum, and it was fun to learn about the differences in color and production.

Because the answer to feeling over-adventured is obviously to eat even more dessert, we went to The Right Slice pie shop in Lihue and got two slices of pie (tangelo and lilikoi cheesecake), which we ate at home before taking long naps.

Dinner was also prepared and eaten at home, followed by back-to-back Netflix viewings of two documentaries about climbing expeditions on K2.  Vivid and somber films about dangerous mountain climbing are a shared interest in our household (we recommend "K2: Siren of the Himalayas" and "Touching The Void," among others).  They certainly put our Kauai day trips into perspective.