A perfect wedding in paradise

Posted: Friday, March 28, 2008

On our fourth day in Kauai, Hawaii, my sister-in-law, Patty, and her fiancé, Mike, had their wedding meeting with Aunty Ipo. My husband, Don, and I drove the short distance to Lihue and spent three hours in the Kauai Museum.

Courtesy Of Don Harris
Courtesy Of Don Harris

We joined a guided tour. The museum's guide was a retired social studies teacher and he knew the history of the Hawaiian Islands from millions of years ago to Captain Cook's history in Hawaii. The temporary exhibit was "Dark Clouds Over Paradise: The Hawaii Internees Story." During WWII, most of the Japanese in Hawaii were not placed in detention camps.

We spent the rest of the afternoon watching Carlos Boozer and the Utah Jazz lose to San Antonio by 8 points.

The next morning Patty, Mike, Don and I headed north to the end of the road at Kee Beach. The drive along the coast of North Kauai is beautiful with lush greenery, bays, reef pools, white sandy beaches, rolling waves and the blue Pacific Ocean.

Our first stop was the Kilauea Light Station. The "four ton Fresnel lens is the largest clamshell (or bivalve) lens in the world." Unfortunately, the Fresnel was retired in 1976 and an automated light is now used. Many different species of birds nest on the cliffs and on the island just off from light station. Humpback whales winter in this area and they return to Alaska in the spring.

We had lunch in Hanalei at the Polynesia. The gourmet food was served on paper plates because the café can't obtain a permit for an automatic dishwasher. A very skinny cat politely waited for me to drop chicken pieces from my fajita.

We continued along the coast. The mountains are rugged, rocky and covered with trees, flowering scrubs and plants. We drove over one-lane bridges and through a stream. Houses along the road are often on stilts. Unfortunately, McMansions are being built in this rural area. However, Kauai is still mostly rural and most of the residents seem to live a simple lifestyle.

At the end of the road, we parked and walked the path to beautiful Kee Beach. Swimmers, snorkelers, and waders enjoyed the reef pool. Folks lay on the beach and turned brown or red. Chickens enjoyed pecking under the shade of the trees.

Across from the beach's parking lot is Maniniholo, a dry cave that was carved by the Pacific Ocean eons ago. Patty told us that the previous year she took pictures inside the cave. When she had her photos printed, one of her cave prints had three images of herself. When I looked through my viewfinder to take a photo of Don in the cave, I was surprised that I could see him so clearly in semi-darkness. The pictures I took in the cave turned out quite clear. Something strange goes on in Maniniholo Cave.

Thursday, May 24 was Patty's and Mike's wedding day. After breakfast, the four of us drove to Lydgate Park to snorkel. Mike, Patty and Don had a wonderful time snorkeling but snorkeling freaked me out. I sat on the beach and watched all the brave folks and children snorkeling.

After lunch Patty and Mike had errands to do for their 5 p.m. wedding. Don and I found the Gaylord and Ethel Wilcox's Grove Farm that is now a museum. We did not have reservations to visit the farm. Although we could not tour the Grove Farm, we were able to visit Kilohana, Gaylord Parke Wilcox's dream house. Kilohana is a plantation estate, now the home of Gaylord's Restaurant, shops, galleries, and horse and carriage rides.

We returned to the Mokihana and dressed for the wedding on the beach. The seven of us and Aunty Ipo and her husband made up the wedding party. Aunty Ipo is a tall, statuesque, Native Hawaiian minister. The ceremony on the beach began with Aunty singing and playing her ukulele.

Janet was Patty's matron of honor. Don stood up for Mike. Aunty Ipo talked quite seriously about marriage and how to treat and respect each other. She talked about the wonders of God found in the beauty of nature and the miracle of love. After Patty and Mike exchanged vows, Aunty had them walk down the beach to have a few minutes alone.

When Patty and Mike returned, they had to complete the paper work. The wedding party took many photos. We learned that Aunty and her husband had been married just three years. We all kissed the bride and groom and Aunty. The ceremony was beautiful and perfect. The wedding was the best that I have attended.

When the wedding party returned to the time-share, Patty and Mike received applause and congratulations from all the folks who were outside. Three couples told the wedding party that they had married in Kauai as well.

The wedding dinner was held at the Kapaa Polynesia Café. We were seated in a separate dining room from the rest of the café. Our waitress smiled continuously and was excited about the wedding party celebrating at the Polynesia Café. We were treated quite well. We ordered drinks and appetizers. We toasted the bride and groom. Our meals were delicious. The owner sent us a bottle of champagne. We ordered dessert. We spent about three hours at the restaurant sipping, eating, laughing and talking.

Mike and Patty celebrated a perfect wedding in paradise.

• Alma Harris is a retired Juneau-Douglas High School English teacher who loves to travel and write.

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