Friday, October 31, 2014

Snorkeling Kauai

Probably my favorite thing to do on vacation is snorkel---or is it photography?!  I guess it would have to be underwater photography!  As of 2015, we've made 13 trips to Kauai, all during the winter.  I read a lot of comments saying that snorkeling on Kauai isn't very good.  I'm here to offer a different opinion.  I love snorkeling Kauai----and Maui, and the Big Island, and St. Thomas, Grand Cayman, Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitt's and lots of other places.  But since we always get drawn back to Kauai, I decided to make a blog of our snorkeling on Kauai.  I figure I'll start at the westernmost area we snorkeled: Saltpond;  and travel to the south side: Lawai; Poipu; and Maha'ulepu Beach; then to the East side:  Lydgate and Moloaa; and to the North shore:  Anahola; Anini; Tunnels and Kee.   They each have their own unique character to them.

Saltpond:
 Named for its traditional Hawaiian salt collecting ponds, this beach is protected by an outside reef with potential good winter snorkeling, fishing and swimming (conditions vary). It also has bathrooms and showers.
Looking towards the Saltpond area.  They weren't making salt at this time, the water in the ponds now are from the winter rains.  They need to have long dry periods to make salt.
from the main beach by the paved parking lot and bathrooms.
 following the beach all the way to the left to where we like to snorkel.
 the snorkel area at the far left of the main beach.  Requires driving past the little airport and a short distance over a dirt road to a sand parking lot or swimming over from the beach by the paved parking lot.  A couple times we came out here the dirt road was too bad to drive on. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

2014 Oregon (continuation from Utah), Crater Lake, Clear Lake, waterfalls, Coast

After our busy, but wonderful week in Utah ( http://travelingwithsue.blogspot.com/2014/09/2014-august-southern-utah-vacation.html ), we were off to Oregon for another 2 weeks.  This was a trip to show some friends as much of Oregon as we could in the 10 days they were with us.  Although day 1 for them was a travel day to Las Vegas where they met up with us.  Having lived in Oregon as a kid and vacationed there for over 40 years as an adult, I put together a pretty extensive itinerary for them: Kennedy School Restaurant; Voodoo doughnuts; Columbia River Gorge; Mt. Hood; Cascade Lakes byway; Crater Lake; row boating on Clear Lake; Silver Falls; Oregon Gardens; Frank Loyd Wright's Gordon House; Ugo's in Dallas (my nephews pizza place); 2 days on the coast (lots of whales!); Garibaldi scenic train ride; Tillamook Cheese Factory; Rogue Brewery; Portland Rose Garden; Portland Japanese Garden---then our company went home and we spent 5 more nights on the coast in Lincoln City.

Aug. 30, 2014 --- to Portland:
After spending the night in Vegas with our friends, we all headed off to breakfast (found a Co Co's which we were excited to try since they use to be near our house in St. Louis years ago and we enjoyed them then), then we were off to the car rental facility.  If you've never been to the Vegas car rental facility, it's probably like nothing you've ever seen before!  It's like a mall, complete with escalators to different levels and  a huge garage.  Turn in of the vehicle went pretty well, although the Budget guy didn't seem to like it when we didn't stop way in the back and instead pulled up to make a new line. But we were soon on our way to the shuttle bus (full size buses here) and off to the airport.  We had a 2:55pm flight and made it there in plenty of time.  Our flight on SW to PDX was on time and in about 3 hours we were in Portland.  We sent Ken off to get the car while John, Coni, and I waited for our luggage.  About the time our luggage showed up Ken also showed up at the luggage carrousels with keys to our light green Subaru Forrester mid sized SUV for the next 2 weeks.  I got a particularly excellent deal on that rental!  After checking rentals for months and months, a couple days before our flight the Subaru SUV came available for $90/week base rate through Dollar.  I jumped on it!  Cancelled our full size reservation for a Ford Fusion for $475 for the 2 weeks (a Fusion is now considered a full size car!).  Signed Ken up for Dollar's express rental program.   When he checked in, they told him we had gotten their 10 minute mistake.  I had checked the rate about an hour after I booked it and it was back up to the $750/week rate that it usually was, but they honored the $90 rate.  We were even surprised that it averaged 30 miles per gallon for the whole 2 weeks and we drove it over 2600 miles---up and down lots of mountains, too!
I had gotten most of our accommodation reservations, but there were 2 nights that didn't work into the timeshares we had, so Coni offered to book us hotels for those 2 nights.  They also graciously paid for all the gas for our car the first 9 days.  Since it was almost dark by the time we got there, I figured we'd spend the first night in Portland.  Coni got us a suite at the PDX Embassy so we headed there to check in.
Then we headed out for dinner.  I knew there was a McMenamin's Restaurant nearby--Kennedy School.  The John D. Kennedy Elementary School is a former elementary school that has been converted to a hotel, movie theater and dining establishment
the movie theater
 one of the classroom chalkboards decorated with the movies being shown in it's theater.
 snack bar by the movie theater