Saturday Snapshot: Say hello to my little friend

You never know the friends you will make while traveling the world and I sure wasn’t looking for one on the pebbled beach along Kauai, Hawaii’s coastline.

I was sitting under a beautiful tree with a gorgeous view of the vast Pacific Ocean when I notice movement near my foot, startled at first I realized it was just a well camouflaged friend coming to enjoy Hawaii’s breathtaking view.

Have you made an unusual (animal) friend while traveling too?

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Cemetery with the Best View: Kauai, Hawaii

Is it morbid to visit graveyards while traveling?

 

It wasn’t until my trip to Kauai, Hawaiithat I realized how much I enjoy visiting cemeteries when I travel. Each has a different atmosphere and elements that make it special. I visited PereLachaiseParisCemetery where Jim Morrison is buried and it was a beautiful and picturesque scene, the cool autumn breeze with bright orange leaves all around my feet. I recently read an article from Chicky Bus about photographing in cemeteries and when it might not be appropriate to snap a few shots.

I began to wonder if I had ever crossed that line while photographing in such sacred and significant spaces. After some discussion on her article it seemed most everyone agreed it depends on the purpose of taking the photo and what the cultural beliefs are.

This specific cemetery has my absolute favorite view, I couldn’t help but pull over and take advantage of what little sunlight was left.

Personally I don’t fear death; I can attribute my healthy approach on such a controversial and personal topic to a college course I took on death and dying. I view these gravesites and burials as a way to share their story and another way to observe someone’s culture.

During a bike ride along Kauai’s coastline I found a few spots with memorials for people who I can only imagine were taken by the sea. As I stopped to view the beautiful remnants I could only wonder what had happened to these people and how magical a place to be remembered.

What are your feelings on photographing gravesites or cemeteries?

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Nani Moon Mead: Hawaii’s Local and Independent Winery

I’ve raved about the quality of Kauai, Hawaii as a whole; it’s one of my very favorite places on earth. Kauai is a haven for advocates of local and independent products, brimming with individuals making their dreams come true in the form of delicious ice cream, unique restaurants, adventurous tour companies and even mead.

Nani Moon Mead to be exact. While researching Kauai and scoping out what I wanted to see and do, I stumbled upon the story of a woman named Stephanie who developed her own wine label with the vision of preserving Kauai’s natural ecosystems and local produce.

Mead, honey wine, is considered to be the oldest alcoholic beverage in recorded history, with origins in European, African, and Asian societies dating back 6,000 years.

As the winery doors open my nostrils immediately fill with exotic scents of the island. One large room is divided in half by large glass sliding doors leaving the wining process in full view where we see Stephanie working away. She informs us that she is in the middle of a very time sensitive step in the process and she will be with us shortly, I proceed to pick her brain about her life, the winery and what it was like to see her dreams coming to fruition. It’s inspiring and I am impressed, passion is contagious; it doesn’t matter if you are passionate about socks, vacuuming or GI Joes it still puts a smile on my face to see someone pursuing what they are passionate about!

Once she was finished we were given details about flavors, ingredients and processes about each label and given samples of each. We walked out with our arms full and the perfect souvenir to bring back to our friends & family, locally made and independently sold, just the way I like it! You can see two bottles on display before I sold in my condo to become a permanent traveler that is!

If you ever find yourself on the beautiful island of Kauai and would like to make a stop, you can find more information on the Nani Moon Mead website, Twitter and facebook. (Photos from Nani Moon Mead website)

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Bucket List: Zip Lining in Kauai, Hawaii

There are always new opportunities when you travel, hundreds of ‘firsts’ waiting for you to experience them. When I was looking into what Kauai had to offer there was so much I wanted to sign up for and had to keep reminding myself that I have my whole life to travel and to be selective about what I do and know that I can try other new things in other new places.

I’d never been zip lining before and thought the over grown, jungle-like island was just the place to try it out. There are several companies with zip lines throughout the lush greens but once I found Princeville Ranch Adventures I knew I’d found the company for me.

Their Zip N’ Dip tour gains access to the most zips on the island including the largest (at the time) line called “King Kong.”

A combination of 9 exciting zip lines, a suspension bridge and an hour at a deep hidden swimming hole, where you’ll enjoy a picnic, swimming, jumping and floating on inner tubes. It’s the experience of a lifetime!

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Getting ready to load up & head to the zip lines.

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Our group was led by two of Princevilles finest & to be perfectly honest, they were almost as great as the adventure itself! Most often the tour guides make all the difference when it comes down to it!

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There is some walking, but with these views how could you complain? I was their in Septemeber and there was a nice breeze and a few clouds for shade, even still I would recommend wearing light clothing.

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One guide leads the group and rides first to help each member of the group when they arrive at the landing while the other guide rides the line last to help everyone get strapped in right and on to the landing safely. Here I am getting set up to take of on my first zip line.

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B-E-A-U-tiful! It’s breath taking and magical. We spent 4 hours surrounded by this gorgeous scenery!

You know what the advantage to multiple ziplines?

Princeville starts at the smallest line and ends with the largest so you have plenty of time to be scared, peaceful, adventuous and of course to screeeaaammmm!

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I wanted a photo of me riding the line without being too focused on the camera, its not going to make it into Cosmo any time soon but it only takes one look and I can almost feel the wind rushing past me and the thrill of flying through the trees.

I also loved zip lining, especially with Princeville, because they encourage you to bring your cameras & camcorders. Just make sure you’ve got an okay grip and have a wrist wrap & you’ll be sure to get tons of great shots!

Did you know?

The most dangerous insect/amphibians/reptile on the island of Kauai is a bee. That’s right, a bee. (One of the many reasons Kauai is on my top 5 favorite places in the world!) So for the real thrill seekers I would also recommend Princeville’s zip lines because as you can see in the video below, you zip right past a big nest! I wouldn’t have ever known if our guides hadn’t previously informed us and instructed us on how to turn around so we can see it.

You’ll recognize the nest because it’s the only big patch of dirt other than the lush green trees.

After we had a few zip lines under belts, our group headed to a large suspension bridge. Doesn’t sound completely boring but I can’t say it was on my list of must-have adventures… until I saw our guide run across it. Literally, run straight across it in a matter of seconds. He made it look as if any of us could do it, sure we each attempted the bridge telling ourselves we were going to own it & manage to run the entire way! None of us made it close to half way without having to stop completely, gather out balance again and then take each wobbly step until we reached the other side. We all gave our guides mad props for their straight skills!

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The view below, it gets your heart pumping especially when you can’t see the bottom as the jungle turns to darkness. Don’t be worried though, no one has ever fallen and you are strapped from your waist to each side of the bridge. Pretty sick right!?!

Note my Keen shoes? I completely love them, I bought them just for this trip knowing that I would be spending a lot of time in & out of water.

Personally I don’t think I could have picked anything better. There are mixed reviews, they aren’t the cheapest (~$35-100) and some people feel they aren’t worth it. Here is what I know, I found the pair I wanted, waited until I found them on sale and spent every day in water & land; Hiking, swimming, kayaking, zip-lining, playing in the ocean, walking around town and everything in between. I never got a blister, my feet weren’t all soggy and sloshing around inside & the shoes dried very quickly. I also intend on bringing them with me when I travel a lot, I think I will get enough valuable use out of them to get my moneys worth.

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So we zipped and now it was time to dip!

The guides led us to a sweet little watering hole where we could relax, swim and jump into the watering hole along with the option of inner tubes. I think I turned into a fish the minute I touched the water cause I spent almost all our time in the water & I couldn’t have been happier! All the while our guides were fixing lunch that we all helped carry up in the company’s backpacks.

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After swimming, jumping & lunch it was time to conquer “King Kong” Princeville’s pride & joy. It was the longest & tallest zip line while we were there although another company was building a new line meant to surpass “King Kong.” It turns out the adventure tourist industry in Kauai is extremely competitive, however with Princeville’s line you also get to ride tandem!  That’s a nice touch!

 

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 Don’t let our holding hands fool you, we’re just friends but we didn’t want to miss out on the photo op. Tip: The two girls behind us hooked together with their feet, we were super jealous so if you ever do something like this without a significant other, their are alternatives!

 

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Have you ever been zip lining? If so where?

My Absolute Favorite Restaurant in Kauai, Hawaii

One of my very favorite things about traveling is making it the most unique/genuine experience it can be.     

 

What does that mean?

 

- Local shops with local products, independent companies that aren’t watered down with convention & mass consumer appeal.

- Local restaurants that utilize what their community offers before opting to use imported ingredients that dilute the local flavor & economy.

- Local companies that encourage preservation of their environment & maintain their landmarks.

- Local people, who are passionate about where they live & strive to bring out the best in themselves & their community. Many companies are run by family & close friends and they treat you like you are too!

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These qualities are abundant in Kauai, Hawaii and helped to further instill the importance of local & indie support in myself. Lappert's Hawaii is an ice cream & coffee shop that has an inspiring story of how one couple made their dreams of relocating to the island come true. Another company I just couldn’t resist to visit is the restaurant 22 North located on Kilohana Plantation which also provides some shopping, luaus & train ride tours.

Our two-acre farm produces the vast majority of our fruits, vegetables and herbs, while also taking advantage of all that Kilohana Plantation offers, such as fresh lychee, papaya, and apple bananas. Our chef takes stock of the daily farm pickings and pairs them with locally grown meats and island fresh fish dishing up interesting flavors that will make your taste buds dance with delight. Come and enjoy our farm fresh eclectic cuisine early in your stay on Kauai so that you’ll have time to come back for a second visit. You won’t be disappointed.

We visited the plantatioin around lunch time just before they were closing before preparing for dinner so I would recommend paying attention to your time of arrival so you don't miss a meal! It was so difficult to choose what I wanted because it was all so unique and each had a twist that isn’t available anywhere else. I finally decided to try their fried green tomatoes, I’ve never had them before and the description read,

local green tomatoes, cornmeal crust, romaine, amber jewel tomatoes, red onion, buttermilk-chive dressing

How could I go wrong?

I'll tell you how, by not making sure I made it for their sunday brunch, if you're heading to Kauai soon (Amanda, thats directed at you:) make sure you plan sunday brunch at 22 north!

That’s right – loose-fitting clothes. Between the Pancake Station, and the farm fresh eggs and breads used to make the variety of Eggs Benedict offerings, you’re simply gonna need a little wiggle room. And that’s before you’re even able to waddle over to the Parfait Station, or sample some of Chef’s famous Homemade Sausage. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about the loose fitting clothes.

When I return to Kauai, you can be sure to see me first in line on Sunday morning! Just know that 22 north is not a secret and it gets busy, make sure to reserve a table, which can also be done online!

What about dessert?

Because their menu is made from the products available mostly on the plantation and are dependent on the season their menu changes often. They also make their desserts the same way so you never know what delicious treat they could have but you can always be sure they’ll have a bag of doughnuts ready for you! Yep, that’s right! One of their specialties is a bag of homemade doughnut holes, hot & ready for your taste buds to devour!

 Editors Note: I apologize for not having any photos in this post, it seems cruel in a way. Add it to the list of lessons since committing to travel blogging, but be assured when I return to Kauai I will be returning to 22 North and will be sure to take photos of all the food I can get my hands on!