Every adventure should start at Kauai Coffee.
They could charge entry fees. Buses and rental cars would still arrive in droves filling up that massive gravel parking lot. Tourists emerging with open wallets pulling out cards and money for a chance to see the largest coffee grower in the US, where over 4 million coffee trees bloom. Passing under trees with names written on every leaf from countries the world over, greeted by a scarecrow as they head up the porch into the gift shop. A shop packed ceiling to floor with reasonably priced touristy things.
With the kids I avoid it, but occasionally when we are there with other folks Gids wrangles someone to take him inside and walks out with a smile and merchandise tucked under his arm in a brown paper bag. Last time it was a paint set they had at the register. For five bucks you get a paintbrush, full set of watercolors, and a Hono (turtle) outlined canvas waiting for your kid’s brush of genius.
Coffee tasting. Free coffee tasting. It’s fantastic. Tables upon tables of coffee carafes, paper cups waiting to be filled with varying shades of mouthwatering liquid. Adventuring with kids requires coffee. They are very cunning. You need your wits about you. Every last bit of your consciousness must be brutally awoken to have clever answers for all those whys, and physically your reflexes need to be on point.
Some folks taste wine and start exhibiting synethesia. Sipping, swirling, spitting, and pausing. Then launching into statements like “Robust candied autumn leaves falling out of a cigar box.” Sip swirl spit, “Harmonious notes of smoked hibiscus and mahogany soaked in nutmeg.” Sip swirl spit, “Bacon wrapped around cheesecake!”. (Sorry for the grossly unimaginative caricature, all I know about wine is I drink it with my aunts, and that it’s grape juice left out to go bad.)
Well coffee is a bit like that for me. Only it’s not flavor, it’s personality. A transformation to feel as someone else might. Koloa Estate Dark Roast. A warlord! Roaring, “Charge!!!” through red painted lips, Berserker horde millions strong raging past me unleashing their blood-lust on the land. Dark roast aftertaste brings on a shudder of revulsion and I’m pulled away, back to the coffee sample table. Toasty Banana Nut Crème. A schoolteacher, angelic Shirley temple curls, glasses sliding off nose,handbag full of sun and cloud stickers purchased for a kindergarten class to put on a learn your weather calendar. Remember I can barely handle two kids, quickly move onto the next sample. Peaberry that nice smooth, single bean creation is a detective. A debonair sleuth I haven’t quite got a grasp of yet, some combination of Miss Marple, Sherlock, and a 1920s private eye, duster jacket flaring dramatically as he rushes off to solve mysteries, evenings spent in places where folks smoke cigars, and talk in whispers over shot glasses filled with Russian vodka.
Samples take time to cool. Gids’ ability to behave civilized isn’t always compatible with that amount of time. (Yes even with that “kids only” table filled with coloring supplies.) Fearing we will be asked to leave by the friendliest employees on the island, I usually skip the samples and go straight to the Cafe. Around a buck fifty will get you a sixteen ounce cup to fill with anything you want from the sample table! Absolute best deal on the island for a cup of coffee. I fill it with a bit of everything, except decaf. Gids gets decaf, then pours little sugar packs in it before we head out on the walking tour.
The tour is a smooth sidewalk with steaming coffee cups stamped on it. It winds around industrial creations with explanations on the whys and hows of what they do. Photo setups galore are all over the place, and not just on the walking tour. My favorite is a giant coffee cup by the parking lot. The funniest or creepiest is a scarecrow named Aunty Rayleen whom Gids refuses to sit next to, she lounges in a plastic lawn chair right before the plant nursery where coffee and pine trees are growing. The kids have the most fun with the one by the entrance where you poke your head through a cutout becoming the Kauai Coffee logo lady, a Hawaiianish steam mermaid creature escaping a cup of Joe. Throughout it all we pass signs saying how far we are from various other places on earth reminding me we really are in the middle of nowhere.
By this time, my coffee is finished and I’m not a warlord, kindergarten teacher, or detective. I’m me. Teeth chattering ready to rip my skeleton out of my body and take it dancing away, laughing in caffeinated glee. Feel quite proud when I manage to calmly walk to the car. Buckle the two little bodies in and slide behind the steering wheel. Where to next?
If you’re wanting to stay close, I recommend heading toward Glass beach, glancing out your window as you pass it by heading up the hill to the Japanese graveyard, parking your car along the sea cliff.
There’s a few pathways down. They’re precarious things, you might find yourself getting smeared in red dirt as you slide down instead of walking. Glass and Metal layers erode out of the hillside, trickle down into the ocean and get swept around the corner to Glass Beach. The Glass and Aluminium do at least, The metal car remains usually hang out melting into the rocks, forming spectacular rusty sculptures. Walking the coast itself you practically trip over sea caves, blowholes, and ledges. If you keep trekking you’ll come across a white sand beach.
Wahiawa, (Disclaimer: There may be need for a punctuation mark here, I haven’t found evidence of one online, but my sister…er editor is sure there must be one. If you are aware of the proper name/punctuation mark, please let me know I will edit it in.) a beach Kauai Coffee blocked road access to. I know I know, they leave the gate open sometimes, I wonder what would happen if I drove down? What terrible thing would really happen, a worker would wave me away? I could pretend (in my rusted out mud encrusted Rav) to be a lost illiterate tourist. Sigh, once I jumped fences but now I pause. I imagine that call from jail where I let the kids’ dad know I was arrested for trespassing and would he please come get the children, or perhaps he would be at work, and I could ring my mother in law. Let her know all those suspicions she harbored before I married her son were well founded. So instead we adventure our way over sea cliffs and hop over lava boulders at low tide. Can’t beat the experience shoreline access rights bring you.
Thank you so very much for taking time out of your day to read this, I hope you are having a good one, and that I may look forward to writing for you again!
Sincerely, The Chauffeur