Kauai 18 Years Later

Max had a conference in Kauai this summer.  This is a big year for us as we celebrated 18 years of marriage and 25 years of being a couple.  To celebrate I got to tag along!  Lucky for us Nana and Pops were happy to keep the kids at the Villa for us while we got away for a few days.
I can never get enough beach time!  While he worked I played.
The day we arrived was National Pina Colada Day!  We couldn't think of a more perfect drink to celebrate being in Hawaii and 18 years of loving each other.
We went to Kauai for our honeymoon.  We ended up staying just down the street from the condo we stayed in as newlyweds.
It might be even more lovely than I had remembered.
We had fun relaxing in the hammock each day.  Kauai is a quiet island.  When we went for our honeymoon they called it the lovers island.  I think now it is the young family island.  The resort was full of young families that all were tucked into bed by 8pm.  We would walk on the beach at night and have it all to ourselves.  There were only 3 hammocks on the property and we could always find an open one because the grounds started to clear out by 6:30.
One morning we took a run along the coast to a secluded beach.  The views were breath taking.  It might be one of the only times I can say I enjoyed running! :)
Our big splurge was to take an adventure tour of the Na Pali Coast and snorkel.  We rode along the coast that is only accessible by boat, helicopter, or on a treacherous 11 mile hike along the cliff.  I will take the boat any day!  The views were stunning and the ride was thrilling. 

 Our Captain and his assistant looked like they could have been Hailey's age.  They were at time goofy boys, which at times made me very nervous.  But they proved to be very knowledgeable and skilled after our first sea cave tour.
The pictures don't do it justice.  We went in several caves and each time my heart would beat wildly as I prayed the boy Captain knew what he was doing and we wouldn't get trapped or slammed into the cave.  In this cave a fresh waterfall poured into the cave.
In this cave someone got married on the rock in the center.  The Captain loved saying, "I guess that marriage started off on the rocks!"
The highlight of the adventure tour was snorkeling!
We got to swim with crush dude!  I love snorkeling.  Being apart of a world so quiet and different than ours with the beautiful and bright fish swimming gracefully all around is wonderful.  We had a fabulous day seeing the West side of the island.
One afternoon we solved all the world's problems on a wooden swing.  We sat for hours listening to music and the soft crashing of the waves just swinging back and forth.  Paradise.
We had heard how special and delicious the shave ice is in Kauai from my sister Chrysti and Scott.  One afternoon we jogged down to the Shave Ice shop to give it a try.  I will say it is way better than any shave ice I have had on the mainland.  They put the most creamy and delicious ice cream under the flavored shave ice.  I will definitely be eating that the next time I visit!  A true island delight.
We enjoyed this exquisite view while we dined each evening.  We considered doing a fancy dinner for our anniversary but when the rubber met the road we just have more fun doing our own thing and not spending a fortune.
But Max always finds a way to taste the beer of any place we visit. :)
On our final day we drove up the Waimea Canyon.  It is often called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  It was gorgeous.  Similar to the Grand Canyon in that it is so vast and so beautiful it is hard to take it all in.  More beautiful with the brilliant green contrasting against the red rock and the numerous waterfalls cascading down it.
We drove to the very top where you are suppose to be rewarded with a view all the way to the ocean. However, it is the wettest place on earth and it happened to be raining with a giant cloud socking in all views.  Who would have guessed!? We were lucky to get these views along the way up.  We were a bit disappointed that we didn't get to see the view of all views.  But I guess that means we will just have to go back and try again.  
We drove down the canyon to the most western beach we could reach from the southern point of the island.  I was disappointed the sun did not set into the water at our end of the island.  As a California girl, you come to expect a glorious sunset with the sun sinking into the water.
Max tried to get as West as possible.  Instead of doing the fancy $500 dinner on the beach offered by the hotel, we found a taco truck and took a 6 pack of Corona and our burritos to the beach.  Since Kauai is such a quiet island by 5 everyone cleared off the beach.  
For about an hour we had the beach for as far as we could see to ourselves.  It might have been our best anniversary dinner ever!  We listened to our songs and watched the sun set almost in the water. :)
It was great to see and visit places we had on our honeymoon.  Time changes the way you see things and as I have grown older, I feel like I am able to see more beauty in the life around me.  Maybe because you realize how fragile and precious those moments and days are.  Just like I found Kauai more beautiful this time, I can say I love Max more this time too.  We have had 18 years of sharing beautiful moments.  He has given me four children that are the lights of my life.  We have traveled over much of America and some of Europe allowing us to have experienced many beautiful times since our last visit to Kauai.  But rather than dampen its beauty by comparison, it has opened our eyes to beauty we could not appreciate our first time.  In the same vein our marriage has grown more beautiful for all it has experienced and time has opened our eyes to how lucky we are to have each other.  I hope it won't be 18 years again until next time Kauai.

Via La Villa

After Anna's house we continued on down to Pops and Nana's house.  The Villa is full of fun things to do and beautiful things to see.
 We went bowling.  Boy were we bad!  But it is always fun to make a fool of yourself trying. :)
 Everyone got out for a paddle or two.  The weather was perfect.
When Hailey was Hank's age we would tie her boat to one of the adults because we were worried about her flipping or drifting away.  We just let Hank go for it.  Moments like this let you get a snap shot into the evolution of parenting.  Your not so worried and uptight by the fourth because three rounds have already proved they can do it.
We had fun playing at the park down the street.
It is such a treat for us to be outside in the summer.
 Right off the side of the house a dove had made her nest.  She was so tame you could stand right next to her.  She had three little babies.
 Of course there was feasting!
The kids set up a hex bug race one day and had us all wager a bet like horse racing.  It was cute and fun how excited everyone got.
After a few days of playing Max and I had our sights set on Island Time.

Chico

We continued on down south to Chico where Max's sister Anna lives.  It is funny our sisters ended up only an hour away from each other.
It was really nice to see Anna and play around Chico.  I remember driving to see her for the first time when I was pregnant with Hank and being so car sick.  This was a far better drive!
 We visited Birdwell Park, which has to be one of the coolest parks we have ever visited.  They had a fantastic playground but the lay out of the park was what made it special.
 Huge trees towered above giving us shade.  With a slight breeze it was delightful sitting and watching the kids burn off some energy.  The park has a concrete pool with the Big Chico Creek flowing through it.  It was like a creek pool but with life guards and sides to sit on.  Really neat!
We swung by Sierra Nevada Brewery on our way back to Anna's.  It would be fun to do the tour without the kids one day. :)  Sierra Nevada is one of Max's favorite beers.

Anna's friend Clinton came over to help prepare a feast fit for royalty.  
 We had a delicious dinner and blue Rice Crispy treats!
Clinton provided our first snake holding for most of the family.  While Max had a snake growing up, the rest of us had never held one.  The kids were all excited to hold the albino corn snake.  
I however was not excited at all.  Snakes freak me out.  I am always telling the kids to face their fears and give something a try if the opportunity presents itself.  So there I was stuck with my own words.
 The kids and Max had him slither all over their bodies and loved his soft scales.  I held him for the least amount of time possible and gently handed him off.  Held a snake and still don't like them.  Of course the kids all started saying they wanted a pet snake!  Eek!
 The next day we were off to Pops and Nana's house.  But first we had to try Dutch Bros.  We were suppose to try it in Oregon but never found one.  Kaitlin and Hank decided to stick with Starbucks Fraps for their road trip treat.
We had a great time visiting Aunt Anna and hanging out in Chico.

Redding

Now with the kids back in school I am finding some time to catch up on our summer.  We continued down from Oregon into California.  My oldest sister and her family live in Redding.  We went from one of the nicest hotels we have stayed in Newport, Oregon to likely the worst hotel in Yreka.  It had no elevator but was a 3 story hotel.  We had lots of fun lugging our suitcases that were packed for 2 weeks of travel up the stairs.  The rooms were gross.  We just prayed we didn't get bed bugs and got out of there as fast as possible the next morning.
We planned on meeting my sister at Burney Falls to do a little hike and see the beautiful waterfall.  Since we were so eager to get out of dodge, we endded up arriving a while before them.  So we goofed around and got in trouble by the park ranger for allowing our kids to walk on the street.  Max always take correction from governmental agents so well.  One of these days he is going to get us all in jail!
After my sister Chrysti, Scott, Max, and Titus arrived we took off for the short hike down to the falls.
 So great to see everyone!!
 The falls were gorgeous.  We loved being able to be outside in the summer!  Things a desert rat misses for sure are the sounds of running water and being able to enjoy being outside in the summer months.
 The kids wanted to make their way down the slippery rocks near the falls.  The cool water spray was enough to make us chilled on a 100 degree day.
After the falls we headed to Redding to celebrate the 4th of July!  We had so much fun making merry I forgot to take pictures.  Truly a sign of a good time!
 The next day we spent playing in Whiskey Town Lake.  The kids kayaked and paddle boarded all over the lake.  It is just gorgeous and only 20 minutes from Redding.  It was so fun to relax and watch the cousins play in a picturesque place.
  An ice cream treat was in order after a hot day on the lake.  I have to give a shout out to Coldstone.  They went out of their way to make sure Hank could enjoy an ice cream treat.  They even opened a fresh KitKat so he could have a topping, something he never gets for fear of peanut contamination.  He was so happy, which made me even happier.
It was wonderful to see my sister and her family thriving.  I hate that we are all scattered across the west but it was awesome to see them thriving in their new home.  We can't wait until we see them again.