Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Isn't Technology Amazing?

Thanks to google maps, here is a satellite photo of where we'll be staying when we arrive on Kauai. The arrow shows the location of the house.

Sunday, December 24, 2006


After a successful month-long effort to find suitable tenants for our townhome, we were finally able to secure our housing plans in Kauai. We started out wanting for not more than a shack with the basic living essentials - a kitchen, a bed, and a place for Conor to work. There were lots of places to choose from, but it's hard to tell exactly what you want from 4900 miles away!

Oddly enough, we began a correspondence with a woman who we originally found on craigslist. She was looking for a caretaker for her property in Kauai, and we emailed her about the position. She was extremely hard to reach, and after weeks of trying Conor was finally able to get her on the phone. At this point, the caretaker position had been filled, but for some reason she seemed intrigued by our plight. Long story short, after many calls back and forth she offered to rent us the main house on her property through March.

The woman and her family split their time between Oregon and Kauai. They'll be away on the mainland until March. Though normally they use the house as a vacation rental while they're away, her and Conor hatched a deal where we'll live there in the house for our first 6 weeks on the island. Normally a house like this would never be in our budget, but after talking with her so many times, she offered us an extremely fair deal. They always say it's who you know, right??

Once we're on the island, it'll be much easier to shop for suitable apartments for the remainder of our stay. But through March, we'll be staying on 5 private acres in Kalihiwai, on the North Shore of Kauai. The house (pictured above) is a 2 bedroom house with a piano, outdoor shower, and hot tub, with partial mountain and ocean views. Two world class beaches are located within minutes walk of the property.

Some view of the inside of the house:

We'll be able to walk to Kalihiwai Bay, pictured below, within minutes:

Travel Plans

Well, we've finally gotten firm travel plans in place. Our itinerary looks like this:

Friday, 1/12/07 - Leave Sterling, Virginia and drive 872 miles to Memphis
Saturday, 1/13/07 - Drive from Memphis to Albuquerque, New Mexico (996 miles)
Sunday, 1/14/07 - Drive from Albuquerque to Los Angeles (809 miles)
Monday, 1/15/07 - Drop off car at the dock in Long Beach; Fly from LAX to Honolulu
Tuesday, 1/16/07 - Fly from Honolulu to Kauai; Arrive in Lihue, Kauai at 7:30 am, Hawaii Time

Total distance - 2675 miles
Total estimated time - 39 hours, 19 minutes
States traveled through - Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Hawaii

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why Kauai??

Kauai is the oldest and northern most island in Hawaii. With an area of 542 square miles, it's 45 square miles smaller than Oahu. Yet it is home to only 58,000 people, compared to Oahu's 900,000! When you contrast that with the Washington Metro area's population of close to 6 million, you understand that life on Kauai will be very different. And not only because of the climate (though that's a huge plus!).

Kauai is nicknamed the 'Garden Isle' because it is the most lush of the Hawaiian islands. Because of the abundance of rain, the island is a spectacular palette of green hues. Kauai's Mount Wai'ale'ale, near the center of the island, is actually the wettest spot on earth - with an average rainfall of 460 inches. One thing that struck us during our visit was how quickly the rain moves in and out of different areas on the island. We'd have showers in the morning for a little while, and then the clouds would prance across the island, revealing blue sunny skies for the rest of the afternoon. Never was this more apparent than during our (terrifying) helicopter ride, when we'd move in and out between sun and rain in a matter of seconds as we darted across the island, 10,000 feet up.

Kauai is definitely unique among the Hawaiian islands, and we fell in love with it. For one, most of the island is inaccessible by car. You can see from the map that there is one main highway that hugs the coast of the island (though it doesn't connect all the way around). The center of island is filled with spectacular peaks and valleys, which are best seen either by foot or by air. This beautiful scenery has been the backdrop for countless Hollywood films, including South Pacific, King Kong, Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young, Six Days Seven Nights, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Thorn Birds, Honeymoon in Vegas, Lord of the Flies, Hook, and many more. Whenever filmmakers need a paradise-like setting, they fly over to Kauai. (Learn more about movies in Kauai here)

So what made us choose Kauai? Well, the obvious answer is the weather. You just can't beat 70-80 degrees and sunny year round. We were also amazed by the stunning beaches and surreal mountain views. We didn't have much time to hike in the 6 days we visited, so we plan to go back and tackle many of Kauai's countless trails. Also, we enjoyed the rural feel of the place. Even though it's a popular vacation destination, it simply isn't as built up or as touristy as some of the other islands. The entire island shuts down around 10pm. So in terms of a change of lifestyle and experiencing something unique, we felt Kauai had the most to offer.

Some other deciding factors:

Hawaii's OTHER Islands

If you're like me, you probably weren't very familiar with Hawaiian geography until you actually decided to vacation there. Since our honeymoon in September was our first trip to the state, I knew little about the distinctions between the islands. We learned a lot from our travel agent and decided to visit two islands, Kauai and Maui.

Oahu is the most popular of the Hawaiian islands, with a population of around 900,000. It is home to the capital city of Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, and Waikiki. We haven't been there yet, but have been told it's very urban - like New York on an island.

The Big Island (also named 'Hawaii') is bigger than all of the other Hawaiian islands combined, although its population is only around 150,000. It boasts a variety of landscapes, including beautiful beaches, mountains, desert, waterfalls, and the only active volcano in Hawaii.

Maui is a popular island to visit, with a population of about 118,000. Its gorgeous landscapes attract tourists to areas like Lahaina, Hana, and Wailea. It also features the world's largest dormant volcanic crater, the 10,023 foot Mount Haleakala.

Molokai is only 250 square miles and has a population of 7,500. It offers agriculture, ranching, tourism, and the world's highest sea cliffs. The island of Lanai is even smaller, at only 140 square miles and a population of 3,200. It used to be known as the 'Pineapple Island' when the entire island consisted of a Dole Pineapple plantation. Currently it is phasing in tourism and is home to two world class resorts.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Dreaming of Kauai.....

It all started in September, while on their honeymoon. As they sat mesmerized by the stunning Pacific views, Conor asserted, "I want to move here for 6 months". Jessica, used to Conor's frequent musings and fully aware of how they were rarely rooted in reality, played her usual role. She ignored him.

It wasn't until the following week, while in Maui, that Jessica came onboard with the plan. She had just learned that the contract she worked on at her current job would be ending at the end of the year. She took it as a good omen. Since it would be a time of transition regardless, what better chance to do something crazy and cross a few life goals off the list?

They began formulating a plan. Conor could keep his job at ESC and work remotely, while Jessica would take a 6 month hiatus from work. They would rent out their townhouse furnished, so most of their large belongings would stay put. The extra income from their tenants would allow them to rent a small apartment on the lush North Shore of Kauai. They'd drive their car across the country to LA, and ship it to the island from there. The wheels were in motion!

As with most major adjustments, working out the details proved to be stressful and exhausting. Conor got the ok from his boss, and dedicated countless hours to networking and securing a contract that he could manage from afar. Jessica poured over the Kauai classifieds and Craigslist daily to find a suitable apartment. Both spent tons of time scouring the townhouse to show it to potential clients. There were many ups and downs, and, shockingly, even a few marital tiffs.

eagerly awaited the moment when they'd have their tenants sign on the dotted line - and therefore could forge ahead with the rest of the (extremely long) to-do list. More importantly, once the lease was signed, they could go public and finally tell friends and family about the plan they'd be hatching for over 3 months.

It went down to the wire.....