Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bird's Eye View [Wednesday, February 2, 2011]

Or, this seemed like a good idea from the terrestrial confines of my computer.

Our first day in Kauai, we took a helicopter tour of the island.  After much research and many Trip Advisor reviews, I booked an "Extreme Island" tour with Mauna Loa helicopters (http://www.maunaloahelicoptertours.com/) which means that we both got a window seat and the doors were off the helicopter.
What was I thinking????  First of all, I have to give mad props to the folks at Mauna Loa Helicopters; they were awesome and it was worth every penny.  Highly, highly recommended.

Now, I'm not afraid of heights, but I'm not exactly super comfortable with them either.  So, as I was sitting in the helicopter and I look to my right and see... no door, just the skid of the chopper, my stomach starts to simultaneously sink and do somersaults all at the same time.

Then we lifted off.

Now, I know, logically, that I was pretty safe.  I was strapped in with a heavy duty seat belt, but that didn't really make it feel any better... 
Still freaking out...

For the first 20 minutes or so, I was terrified.  I would look out the non-existent window, and feel like I was about to hyperventilate.  I took lots of pictures, mostly by just holding the camera perpendicular to my head and hitting the button, not really framing or aiming the shot.  One hand was tightly holding onto my camera, the other hand had a death-grip on the handle right behind the pilots head.  They played music (hawaiian, of course) in between narration of the sights we were seeing and so I tried to focus on the music.
one of those pictures I took without looking...

After about 20 to 25 minutes, I calmed down a bit and was able to start to enjoy the ride.  My husband was looking at me wondering why I was freaking out (and I honestly didn't want to miss this opportunity) so I forced myself to focus on the music, breathing deeply, and enjoying the beautiful scenery below me.  (waaaay below me.)

Kauai Waterfalls

Waimea Canyon

Once we came up over the Na Pali coastline, most of the nerves had dissapated.  The Na Pali (which translates into "the cliffs") coast of Kauai is so stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful.  And, while we were flying over the water, we saw several whales.  Added bouns.

Na Pali Coast

It was really windy (an observation you can put in the 'obvious' column) and, stupidly, I was freaking out about my pony tail coming undone.  (no, i don't know what is wrong with me...)

By the end of the tour, I had calmed down and was able to actually look at what I was taking picures of.  Although, I was still a little relieved when the skids finally set down on the tarmac.

Back on solid ground

The one hour tour took us over the main town of Lihue, Poi'pu and the Spouting Horn, Waimaea Canyon, Port Allen and Hanapepe, the Na Pali coast, and the north shore of Kauai.  We also got to fly into a lot of the valleys along the Na Pali coast and into the "heart of the island", which was the center of a volcano that collaped in on itself.  Very cool and very beautiful.

Here are some more random pictures from the helicopter ride.  I'll try to pare it down, but there are lots of cool shots that I can share:
Even when I look at this picture, it still makes my stomach lurch a little

Na Pali Coast

Na Pali Coast

Na Pali Coast

The heart of the island

Waimea Canyon

Na Pali

Flying over Kauai

Over Kauai

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