Kauai is gorgeous. Breathtaking. And we always enjoy it. How can you NOT enjoy being in Hawaii? But you reach a point where you feel like there is simply nothing left to discover. And you're right. At least nothing left to discover that is superficial, easy, and can be enjoyed in an afternoon with relatively little effort - which is what I'm looking for on vacation. I am not looking to establish life long relationships with people I happen across, nor am I looking to hike 14 hours to places where, once you're there, you are as isolated as if you were on the moon. No, thank you. Vacation, for me, is hiking, swimming, boogie boarding, sailing, and snorkeling, but all within easy access of Mai Tai's, grilled mahi mahi, and soft beds.
Which brings me to my annual complaint about Mai Tai's and Hawaii. My only explanation for the complete corruption of a VERY sophisticated cocktail is that Hawaii is all about tourists who expect fruit in every fucking thing they eat or drink, while the Mai Tai is an extremely complex drink invented in San Francisco by Victor J. Bergeron at his restaurant, Trader Vic's. Mai Tai's do. not. have. any. fruit. in. them. Let me repeat that. Mai Tai's do not have any fruit in them. No fruit. No fruit juice. Nothing! Not guava. Not pineapple. Nada! Zero! Zilch.
The perfect Mai Tai has rum, more rum, topped off with a little rum, some orgeat syrup, Cointreau, and a tablespoon of lime juice (okay! technically fruit juice, but it's tart, citrusy and not sweet at all, so work with me on this...)
If you want it sweeter, you can add rock candy syrup, but why ruin a great drink?? It should be shaken and served in a martini glass, with the last rum (dark!) floated over the top. It is the quintessential cocktail, combining all the elements of an elegant drink - it looks beautiful, it tastes divine and it is served in the most elegant glass of them all. What you get in Hawaii has umbrellas, fruit, hurricane glasses and just UGH!!! It's not that the rum drinks served aren't tasty. It's that they are childish and remind me of the shit we drank in college that had to be sickeningly sweet for us young'uns to get down. I always find it amusing that the entire time I am in Hawaii, where Mai Tai's are on every menu, I am wistfully thinking of when I get home and get make an ACTUAL Mai Tai.
But Kauai is the Hawaiian experience. For anyone who has never visited Hawaii and just has pictures in their minds, Kauai is what you are picturing, other than Waikiki. Kauai is the island that is lush and floral and riotously verdant, waterfalls screaming to the valley floors, and cliffs impassable and ancient. But, more than that, Kauai is the island of chickens, churches, and shave ice.
Everywhere you go on the island, there are wild chickens. Parks. Roadsides. Restaurants. Beaches. There are chicken everywhere. There are also roadside barbeque pits serving huli huli chicken, so I'm guessing their food costs are kinda low. And it's delicious!
After chickens, the most plentiful thing on Kauai are churches. Lots and lots of churches. One can accuse me of cynicism, but I'm guessing that every church pastor EVER lobbied to open a church in the outpost of Hawaii. You don't see the same number of churches on tropical islands where it is customary to eat foreigners. Nope. You see churches on every single block of Kauai. Saving souls. One paradise at a time. And lest you think I am exaggerating, there are 127 churches on Kauai. One hundred and twenty-seven on an island that is 552 square miles. And most of those are uninhabitable. Or undeveloped.
And then there is shave ice, which I am not even going to get into because it is a fucking snow cone - no matter what you call it. And I don't care HOW you try to romanticize it because you are hot and it feels good to suck on ice -- you are still sucking on ice. For my money, ice cream is always the best choice. And Lappert's has amazing, incredible, phenomenal ice cream. Ice cream that makes you sit down. Ice cream that stops conversation. Luscious luscious ice cream.
But any Hawaiian island, provided you're on the west side, has the most amazing sunsets. They're so good you wait all day for them.
|The view from our hotel room.|
For loyal readers who suffered through my post on United Airlines and its crappy first class service, Hawaiian Airlines is incredible compared to United. Actually, there is no comparison. If you are going to Hawaii, fly Hawaiian. That is all I have to say about that.