By Diane Haynes Woodburn
How do islanders make a quick escape? We puddle jump. My husband, Jamie, surprised me recently with a long Kaua‘i weekend to visit our friend Matt, and get some needed rest.
Matt? Rest? Hah!
A true “descendant,” Matt grew up on the Garden Isle; his family roots date back to missionary days. He’s proud of Kaua‘i, and was determined that we’d see it all. Not quite as determined, Jamie and I were napping on the porch of our quaint plantation cottage in sleepy Waimea when we heard Matt’s truck roll up.
“Get in,” he ordered. We did. Pedal to rusted metal, away we drove — past the Menehune Ditch, and into the lush valley of Waimea Canyon — for a horseback ride.
The ancient truck rumbled over rocks, mud, and streams, finally delivering us to a small horse ranch. “Let’s put you on Ginger,” Jimmy, the proprietor, offered. “She once belonged to Christie Brinkley.” Really? Swept up in the fantasy of a tall, blonde, athletic model, I hoisted myself onto the saddle — only to find my feet dangling about six inches above the stirrups.
“Hmmmm. Wait here,” I was told.
Jimmy disappeared into the tack room, and returned with a child-sized pair of stirrups attached to a long leather strap. He flung it over my saddle, fitting the pommel through an opening in the strap. Satisfied that my feet could reach, he nodded approval.
“We go!” I heard Matt yell, and Ginger obliged with enthusiasm. The adrenalin rush was delicious. I felt Christi-esque — lithe and fit, silken hair blowing in the wind — until (reality) Ginger and I careened around a curve and my kiddie stirrups began sliding back and forth over the pommel, taking me to one side or the other with them. With a death grip on the horn, my pride in my throat, and my rump — well, everywhere but in the saddle, I held on for dear life.
“Whoah-h-h-h!” I pleaded. Thrump, thrumpp therrumpph! My backside jolted up and down until, mercifully, we stopped. “Ohhh!” I checked to make sure all body parts remained in their previously assigned places. Matt and Jamie shook with laughter, nearly falling off their own horses.
A quick inventory established that only my dignity had been compromised. We rode on at a more cautious pace up the rocky ridge. At the lookout, we stopped, in awe of the silent, sun-drenched beauty of Waimea Canyon.
It never fails to amaze me how much these Islands have to offer, even for those of us who have lived here a lifetime. Imagine, I thought, what it must be like to have only a week or two to visit, and to try to do it all.
If that is your predicament, our editors have your back. In this issue, we give you the insiders’ track on some of our favorite activities, based on the kind of traveler you are. Do you live for food? Love sports and adventure? Crave local history, culture and arts? Or do you just want to check in at a pampering spa and relax?
Ahh, relax. Safely back on our porch, a bottle of wine, a good laugh, and the luxury of sharing this time and place with each other proved a happy antidote for sore bones and body parts. Clearly, Jamie and Matt will have fun retelling this story for a long time.
Wherever we go, no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen one another, it’s the stories of our lives that knit families and friends together. And there are no better stories than tales of travel. I hope you find inspiration in this, our annual Travel Issue, to plan your own puddle jump — and return home with stories to share for a lifetime.
But if you decide on a horseback ride, ask for the big-girl stirrups.