Natalia turned 30 this year so we decided to celebrate with a trip to Kauai. Here are some photos
and video from our trip.


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We arrived into LIH (Lihue) via LAX on United since I got a much better priced flight than what Westjet was trying
to sell us. This is the view from our Starwood Preferred room (room 1412) in the Ocean Wing at the Sheraton Kauai
in Poipu, Kauai.


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This is looking immediately out from our balcony. Not too bad at all. Since Kauai has a building height restriction,
we were actually on the top floor.


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Of course, one of Natalia's first stops was to scope out the local ice cream flavours. Lappert is well-known on the
island for being a great ice cream place and we weren't disappointed. They also had decent coffee.

Waimea and Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Parks


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On our friend Mel's recommendation, we decided to have lunch at the Shrimp Station in Waimea. The weather wasn't terrific
(lots of big waves), so we decided to take a driving day and head up to Waimea Canyon. Shrimp Station was on the way.
Natalia really liked the way they decorated for Christmas with the tin foil shrimp pulling a sleigh. Natalia had coconut shrimp
and I had the shrimp tacos. Yum!


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We got to the first Waimea Canyon lookout and headed out for a look. The first thing I saw was this local guy (or
tourist trap) doing some type of ceremony out on the cliff-side. If his head were painted green, you'd think he was a
Roughrider fan!


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A nice photo of Natalia with the Waimea Canyon, or the Grand Canyon of Hawaii below her. It goes down about 3000 feet
in the highest spots.


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Natalia and I at the Waimea Canyon, Kauai, HI on 29 Dec 2011.


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I took a few shots since the light was really nice. I like Nati's hair in this one.


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This one too.


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This is a nice photo too.


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Natalia always get nervous when I'm close to a cliff so I naturally had to pose big.


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This is a neat one too.


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I'll wind up telling a few stories about the roosters in Kauai. Apparently, the Polynesians brought moa
(red junglefowl) and the Westerners brought chickens. But, they went out of control once the sugar indusry
died down. As part of harvest, there were regular field fires that kept the chicken populations in check.
With sugar moved off Kauai, these chickens were free to reproduce. Also, after two major hurricanes ('Iwa and 'Iniki
in 1982 and 1992), Kauai's fighting cocks had their cages destroyed so they are now rampant too. They're called
Kauai's 'broken alarm clocks'. Here is one of those cocks hanging out at a fruit stand.


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Natalia at the top of the Kalalau Valley - Wai'ale'ale.


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Looking down from the top of Kalalau Valley.

Video of Kalalau Valley from the top



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View of Natalia and I at the top of the Kalalau Valley.


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The beach at the bottom of the valley is the prize for an 11 mile steep, slick hike. Some of the fitter hikers make
the beach from Ke'e Beach in about 7 hours. Most don't though. I give the view the Paul Perrault stamp of approval.


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Natalia from a nice view point.


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Some of the short 2 mile trail we took to Pihea Viewpoint.


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I just couldn't get enough of this view.


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With the amount of overgrowth, there wasn't really a view at all from the top of Pihea Lookout. But, we were
still pretty happy to have hiked to 'something'.


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Natalia looking down to Kalalau Beach.


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Even though it was only 1.0 miles on the trail map, I think it was 4 miles return from the viewpoint we hiked to.


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A better view of the Koke'e, Waimea, and Na Pali state parks.


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A neat sign from one of the last lookouts on our Waimea Canyon tour.


Day 2 - A beach day


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Our hotel (the Sheraton Kauai) has a great pool alongside Poipu Beach. We elected to spend the day chilling
out by the pool and the ocean. Randall joined in the sun worship and reading as well.


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Here is Natalia with the pool and the Pacific Ocean behind her.


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This is the view showing more of the pool and the poolside bar.


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Natalia and I enjoying the pool, ornamented with our kokui nut leis that we made with help from Sunny the florist.
The hotel charges an exorbitant 'resort fee' and so they have to try to justify it with activities like lei-making.


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I took my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 camera for a snorkel to see how it works. Here is a small yellow
millet seed butterfly (and yes, I had to look that up!).


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I think this is some type of a wrasse.


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Natalia gets nervous when she can't see me when I'm snorkeling so she came over to float around while I snorkeled.


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These are either needlefish or trumpetfish.


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This is a moorish idol.


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Natalia and I had our 'free drinks' that came with my Starwood Preferred status. She had a pina colada (with toasted
coconut on top) and I had a coconut mojito. She wound up preferring mine.


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That night, we went back to the same place we had found the night before - Josselin's Tapas. Natalia REALLY
liked their seared tombo salad, which consisted of tombo (another name for albacore tuna), a red tomato, and goat cheese.
This is Natalia at the end of her tombo salad and loving life.


Day 3 - I'm on a BOAT!


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Our third day on the island, we decided to take a snorkeling tour. I had always wanted to see the Na Pali coast and we
both enjoy snorkeling, so a catamaran tour that took in both of these things seemed like a winner. As an extra, we also
got to visit the 'Forbidden' Island of Niihau to boot! Here is Natalia on the front of the catamaran watching the waves.


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This was a very early morning for us as we were up and out of our room by 5:30AM. The upside to being up early is that we
got to watch a sunrise from our boat. I like the way the sun lit up the clouds.


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Natalia and the sunrise.

Video of spinner dolphins following our catamaran



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After watching humpback whales breach, and also being tailed by spinner dolphins, we made our way towards the Na Pali Coast,
which means 'The Cliffs'. Here is our first view of the Na Pali Coast, from the water.


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The Na Pali coast gets the Paul Perrault stamp of approval for being awesome.


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The fluted cliffs are what continue to catch my eye. They are carved from water coming down the cliffs and eroding
the softer rock on top of the volcanic rock.

Video of Kalalau Valley



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Here's a tent at the end of the Kalalau trail. The campers were just getting the breakfast fires started when we rolled up.


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A whited-out shot of me at the base of the Kalalau valley.


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I shouldn't be that surprised as this is what happens when I pass my camera to the deck-hand. I'm still stoked to
have a photo of me and the Na Pali Coast.


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Natalia and the fluted cliffs.


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We shot a cute couples photo of both of us at the point where the boat turned around.


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I like the light off Natalia's face and off the water. Shortly after this point, we saw a number of
sea turtles.


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Natalia thinks caves are fun and full of trolls and other mythical things. For this reason, she gets excited
when we go into a cave.

Video of our boat in a sea cave



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Natalia and I inside the sea cave.


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Natalia inside the cave. The captain actually did a tremendous job not getting the boat totally destroyed by the rocks
here as there was a strong current, solid waves, and a good wind.

Video of Natalia in a sea cave



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Natalia liked this rock arch as we boated by.


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This gives an idea of the steepness and inhospitable nature of some of these valleys. We saw goats up on these cliff walls
and the kicker is that 200 years ago, there were native Hawaiians living in the steep valleys.


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The catamaran toured to the 'Forbidden' Island of Niihau and Lehua Island. This is Lehua Island, a rock chunk in the ocean
that we moored next to in order to enjoy some sweet snorkeling in clear water.


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This point drops about 200 feet down into the ocean, making it ideal for snorkeling and scuba. It's called Vertical Awareness .


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As we were getting our gear ready to snorkel, we looked over the side of the boat and saw a Hawaiian monk seal. This is the only
native mammal to Hawaii, other than a species of rat.


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After some proper fear-mongering, the boat operators let us hop in the water and snorkel around for about an hour.
This was the first snorkeling Natalia had done that wasn't off a beach, and it was my deepest for sure.


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Natalia, underwater with a few convict tang, or surgeonfish, the most common fish we saw.


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Here is Natalia giving the thumbs up to snorkeling. She was a little scared initially (due to all of the
shark-talk), but wound up really enjoying the snorkeling outing.


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A whole mess of convict tangs alongside the wall dive.


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More convict tangs and other fish, right near the surface of the water.


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Here I am with some fish behind me.


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We were just absolutely surrounded by fish. It was pretty neat for sure.


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Here you see a little bit better surface of the coral that has grown along this rock wall.


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Here is another moorish idol, right along the dive wall.


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Randall came along with us for the tour. Here he is with Lehua Island.


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I wanted to get a shot with Randall and the 'Forbidden Island' of Ni'ihau. It's actually a completely
private island, but still part of the state of Hawai'i. It may be the largest private island but it's hard
to say if it is the most expensive as it hasn't been sold in 150 years (then for $10,000 in gold).

Here is an excellent summary of the story of Ni'ihau, courtesy of the Lonely Planet HERE

Video of the bumpy ride back from Niihau



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I took this for my friend Tim Day.


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We took a stop at the Kauai Coffee Factory after our boat tour. It seems that the island of Kauai decided that they
couldn't make money growing sugar cane, so some of that land is now growing higher end coffee beans. Here is Natalia
on the walking tour through the coffee plantation.


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Here are some coffee beans/berries along with Natalia.


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Natalia decided that a good souvenir from Kauai would be a ukelele (pronounced 'oo-ke-lay-lee' to the Hawaiians).
This is the sales woman at Scotty's Music on the south side of the island.


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We stopped at a knick-knack shop and I thought this wave was screaming to be ridden.


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A great rooster mosaic that I didn't buy for Paul and Allison.


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Our last stop before going for our New Year's dinner at Merriman's (pretty good prix fixe, but not
really worth the price), was to hit up some shave ice for Nati. She asked for a rainbow shave ice,
which has 3 flavours but makes 5 colours.


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Natalia thought it would be a good unit on colours for her school kids.

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