Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kauai – No Kai Oi

The hubby and I snuck off for a week in Kauai the end of September. It was our first time to the most northern inhabited island in the Hawaiian island chain. Kauai is the oldest of the island, which makes it geographically the most interesting. It most looks like an island in the south Pacific.

We stayed at the Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation in sunny Poipu on the south side of the island. We did a package deal through United Vacations that includes air, car and 7 nights lodging. Normally we find package deals are the best (although the last two times we've gotten gipped on the car – basically you have to turn it in at the same time of day you picked it up or they charge you a “day rate” that is almost as much as what we normally pay for a week!). The Outrigger was nice. However the first "package" room we stayed in was right on the end of the property by a busy road (that also was under construction). So you want to be sure you book a higher level that “Garden View” when you book there. We were able to switch after two nights to a much quieter condo that was away from the road.

The property is all condos – which we love because of the room and the kitchen (not that we always cook but it’s nice to have the space). It has gorgeous gardens including a massive orchid garden. It's also right on the Kiahuna beach. It's a nice swimming beach (most of the time, read more about that below). It's also across the street from several restaurants and shops – including our favorite Hawaiian eatery Roy’s and my favorite jeweler Na Hoku.

One of the first days we jumped into the water off our beach to find a salt water washing machine. The remnants of an Asian typhoon were causing some crazier than normal waves. Luckily around a point there was a protected reef next to the property and with a shaved ice shop near by. Bonus!

The gorgeous landscape of this island makes a helicopter ride mandatory. Helicopters and I don't really jive but an hour ride was doable and misery was overridden by the sights. My photos were odd as I didn't want to move my head to shoot out the side window, so I just shot without looking. We took Air Kauai's tour around the island.

Kauai includes the Waimea Canyon, a multicolored rift on the north west side of the island, the Na Pali cliffs just beyond the canyon, and Mt. Wai’ale’ale, the second wettest place on the Earth. Many movies have been filmed on the island – including Jurassic Park.

Our main goal was rest and relaxation, but we also spent time exploring the island. I love the "revealed" books and hauled around The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed (Ultimate Kauai Guidebook).

Because of that book, we found a lot of spots we wouldn’t have normally found —like the glass beach. It’s a beach in an industrial area in front of a couple of large fuel tanks. It's the site of a former dump. The beach is covered with glass that has been sanded down by the water into multicolored stones. The dump has been slowly reclaimed by the sea and has developed some interesting cliffs —a mixture of lava stone and rusted car parts. Strange how trash can look interesting and how nature can make it better. Just above the beach is a red dirt 60-year-old Chinese cemetery (there’s a weird irony of a cemetery and a dump sharing ground).

There’s also a place nicknamed Kaboom Mountain – due to a military stash of ammo stuffed through out caves in a cliff. You get the picture.

Just recently caught up with an old coworker who was lucky enough to live in Kauai for six months this past year. I think that would be fantastic. One week is just not enough!

Some favorite photos are posted on my Flickr page. My favorite is of Kalalau Valley - the one at the top of this post. The colors are incredible. It was even better beyond the camera.

Now off to dream of the next trip …

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lying was the worse sin

The first commandment should be “think before you act.” It amazes me how many times, a prominent person is caught in something they shouldn’t have been doing. The latest to fall is the Rev. Ted Haggard, who after days of denying the rumors, admitted first he did buy Meth and then that he committed "sexual immorality."

Obviously he should never have considered doing these things in the first place, given the “moral requirements" of his position in the church, and the words he was preaching. But we are all human and we all make mistakes (the drugs and the cheating, not the fact that it was a gay relationship).

The most grievous error was that he denied the charges. He lied. One could argue that he was trying to protect his family or his church congregation. But in the end, he was really only looking out for himself.

My bookclub recently discussed religion and schools. One general consensus was that while it wasn't necessary to push the Christian religion in school (or any one religion), it was important to teach the underlying values and morals. This teaching seems to be missing in everyday life, no matter what you believe.

This further complicates the Haggard case, as he was a high-ranking person in his church. His job is guidance and teaching. He is supposed to be a role model. By lying about what he did, he showed that it is more important to save your own butt, rather than be honest.

I have to question why he was in his church position in the first place. Clearly, Haggard was not living the life he would should. Did he decide to hide his real self merely for power?

It also makes one wonder about these mega churches -- more and more I read about corruption and other very non-Christian activities. It’s all about the power, not the word.

Now we can only hope that this shows people not to lie and cheat. Forgiveness is a big thing. But so is learning from the mistakes of others.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

When honesty is stupid

I've been remodeling around the house, currently focusing on moving my office from a dark, cramped room to a larger, sunnier room. Along the way, I bought a computer cart from Target on sale. A couple of weeks ago, I decided I wouldn't need the cart in the new space. I hunted down the receipt and took it back along with some other items to return.

Ends up the receipt expired about two weeks ago (about the time I decided I didn't need it). The item is still in stock but with an expired receipt, it's the same as no receipt. So the only thing they could do is to let me exchange it for an item the same price or higher. It had to be one item and out of the same department.

So I hunted through domestics to find an item I needed/wanted that was $32 or more. I came upon an entry way shoe bench for $39.99. So here's the stupid part. They considered my exchange "no receipt" but I pointed out that I had purchased the cart on sale for $32. The original price was $39.99. So I paid the difference between the sale price for the cart and the new price for the bench. Had I kept my honest but stupid mouth shut, it would have been a straight across exchange.

Sigh. So for that honesty, Karma, please keep me in mind!!