RIP Vanilla Reload

Well the day has come.

A day that must come to all good things. The end.  The end of Vanilla Reloads being sold with credit card at CVS!!   RIP!!! What am I going to do without you!? Starting March 31st 2014 it is no longer possible to buy Vanilla Reloads at CVS (with credit card).

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Vanilla Reloads were “my precious”

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Trip Report: Kauai 2012 (part 11) Food and Drink of Kauai

 

Intro & United economy plus Chicago to Lihue
Sheraton Kauai resort and spa
Waimea Canyon
St. Regis Princeville
Kayaking to Secret Falls
Queensbath and Hideaway Beach
Hiking Kalalau Trail
Napali coast boat ride
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Westin Princeville
Food and Drink of Kauai
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FLASHBACK TRIP REPORT!

Food and Drink of Kauai

Bubba’s

Bubba’s was our first stop off the plane for a bite to eat!  I had this written down with a few other places that I wanted to try so if we happen to be by it why not stop in?!  Really good burgers, onion rings and shakes!!  We were hungry so our meals didn’t last long.  It was a good treat after spending 10 hours + traveling to get to Kauai.  We ran into Bubba’s on the way to the Sheraton in Poipu. We ended up eating at Bubba’s twice!

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Bubba’s

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Good burgers

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Trip Report: Kauai 2012 (part 10) Westin Princeville

 

Intro & United economy plus Chicago to Lihue
Sheraton Kauai resort and spa
Waimea Canyon
St. Regis Princeville
Kayaking to Secret Falls
Queensbath and Hideaway Beach
Hiking Kalalau Trail
Napali coast boat ride
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Westin Princeville
Food and Drink of Kauai
______________________________________________________________________

FLASHBACK TRIP REPORT!

Westin Princeville

There was a large conference taking over the Grand Hyatt thus I could not get a room there for our last night in Kauai.  That means we had to drive back up to the north side of the Island again very close to the St. Regis Princeville where we stayed just a few days prior.  On arrival there were a few parking spots left (free parking when we were there).  We checked in and the front desk agent wished me a happy birthday.  Since this trip was around my birthday and I noted that on the reservation they updated us to a full sized condo unit versus the studio we booked with points.  Our room was quite large and had a lot of amenities!! My wife approved of this room as this was the best Westin we have been too. They also placed a nice happy birthday card for me in the kitchen counter, which was a nice touch.

Our room had a washer and dryer unit, Jacuzzi tub and separate shower, fridge, microwave and pretty much everything that you find in a full kitchen.  The room also had Westin’s trademark heavenly bed and shower.  It also featured separate living a sleeping area separated by a wall.  The room is much like a residential condo unit or a suite in many hotels.

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Kitchen

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Living and dining area

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Trip Report: Kauai 2012 (part 9) Grand Hyatt Kauai

 

Intro & United economy plus Chicago to Lihue
Sheraton Kauai resort and spa
Waimea Canyon
St. Regis Princeville
Kayaking to Secret Falls
Queensbath and Hideaway Beach
Hiking Kalalau Trail
Napali coast boat ride
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Westin Princeville
Food and Drink of Kauai
______________________________________________________________________

FLASHBACK TRIP REPORT!

Grand Hyatt Kauai

After several days on the north side of Kauai we went back to the south side to stay two nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai in Poipo.  Unfortunately we both got food poisoning the day we arrived at the property-bad!!   Just about our entire two days here were spent in the bed or in the bathroom! When we arrived we did get to enjoy the property for a few hours. We went to the beach for a while and grabbed some lunch.  We also scheduled and paid for a Luau at the property (which was refunded since we got sick when it started).

We did walk the entire grounds of the property and got to see the amazing landscaping.  They do a great job with the pools and the greenery. The pools are huge and there are several of them which intertwine through a big portion of the property.

Our room was a pool view room and was nice.  The room was somewhat basic and the bathroom seemed slightly refreshed which was nice. There was also a lanai/patio which was nice however slightly small.

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View from our room

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The patio/lanai

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The room-got to catch the end of the Packer game
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Recent points Earning and Burning!!!!

 

As I mentioned earlier I applied for the Citi Executive club card late January/early Feb.  Since then I have had:

  • my spouse apply and get approved for the same offer.
  • received my 110,000 American Airlines miles
  • promptly booked a Cathay Pacific first class award for next year for me and the wife
  • placed a business class award on hold with Qantas for early next year for me and the wife
  • my spouse apply and get approved for the Citi Reserve card

My wife’s 110,000 American Airlines miles should post today or tomorrow and the tickets I have on hold will be ticketed. I did have to buy 4,000 miles (which cost $80) as we were short that amount for the award.

We really need the two Hilton nights for an upcoming trip later this year thus the reason for applying for that card now instead of another 100,000 American miles for the wife. I guess if the offer is around after March we can try for her 2nd card. I guess 300,000 AA miles is enough for now 🙂  I am sure that before this year is over American Airlines is going to devalue the award chart and it just makes sense to get some things on the books now in case that happens.

On the horizon my wife will reapply for the Amex SPG card as she cancelled her last one Feb 2013 and with rumors of Amex changing the rules of being able to get the same bonus twice its best to apply before May 1st it appears!! We may perhaps get a few more Hilton points for our big trip later this year so we may do another card along with the SPG application. The Citi 100k offer is eating up much of my spend and thus my SPG account is the lowest its been in a long time especially after our trip to Mexico and our week at the St. Regis Punta Mita.  So another goal will be beefing our Starwood points over the summer.  I was also hoping the Barclays Lufthansa 50,000 mile offer would pop back up but it has yet to show its face instead offering the inferior 20,000 mile offer. In finishing I look forward to receiving my 2nd 100,000 American Airlines miles in mid April and having that in the bag for some other flights!!

Did any of you jump on the 100,000 American Airline miles offer like we did?!?!! It is a great offer and deal so Im glad we got to take advantage of it!!

-pointspinnacle


 

Trip Report: Kauai 2012 (part 8) Napali Coast Boat Ride

 

Intro & United economy plus Chicago to Lihue
Sheraton Kauai resort and spa
Waimea Canyon
St. Regis Princeville
Kayaking to Secret Falls
Queensbath and Hideaway Beach
Hiking Kalalau Trail
Napali coast boat ride
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Westin Princeville
Food and Drink of Kauai
______________________________________________________________________

FLASHBACK TRIP REPORT!

Napali coast boat ride

We booked a Napali coast boat tour through the St. Regis Princeville concierge. There are several options of tour operators and a variety of boats and each offers something different. We decided to go with holoholo as it offers a small raft type boat that can get close to the shore and is more maneuverable than some other vessels. It can also go into some of the caves if the surf isn’t to rocky. If my memory is correct this cost about $120 per person for this 3+ hour trip.

We of course woke up early to meet at gathering point which was in Hanalei. There was a total of about 10 people joining us on this trip. The raft can hold around 20-24 from memory. We were taken 4 at a time on a smaller boat out to the main raft.  We chose the seat in the very front of the boat which was not the best idea but turned out ok.  If you have back problems or don’t like the wind hitting you, don’t take the front seat. When you hit the waives at high speed the raft becomes sort of an amusement ride.

They provide lunch for the passengers.  Mainly deli sandwiches with chips, fruit and beverages.  However it is highly possible the food we ate (which was catered from a local restaurant) got us sick.  The water was somewhat murky so most of the passengers didn’t go into the water. We did have a laugh when even the captain said “I wouldn’t go in that water, its too murky and you don’t know whats swimming around you.”  Two guys jumped in for a quick swim but the wife and I just enjoyed hanging out on the boat talking to the other passengers.

DSC00659  Heading out towards our raft

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Pack of dolphins right next to us
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Feeling like doing a giveaway…Two United lounge passes!

 

Hi everyone!

I have a set of United Lounge passes that don’t expire until June 30 2015 and I am going to give them away to a lucky winner!

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To win:

Thats it!! Follow me and retweet my tweet!  I will choose one person at random for both the United lounge passes! Contest ends at midnight tomorrow (Monday 17th) so you have to follow and retweet by then to qualify!

Good luck

-pointspinnacle

Trip Report: Kauai 2012 (part 7) Hiking Kalalau Trail

 

Intro & United economy plus Chicago to Lihue
Sheraton Kauai resort and spa
Waimea Canyon
St. Regis Princeville
Kayaking to Secret Falls
Queensbath and Hideaway Beach
Hiking Kalalau Trail
Napali coast boat ride
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Westin Princeville
Food and Drink of Kauai
______________________________________________________________________

FLASHBACK TRIP REPORT!

 Hiking Kalalau Trial

One of our favorite days in Kauai was hiking the Kalalau trail!  This is a good excursion that takes up several hours of your day and is completely free!  It was good exercise combined with the amazing beauty and scenery of Kauai.  Hiking the trail was fun, and tough at the same time!  It was very rewarding to make it through but there are some strenuous parts and by the end we were pretty tired.

There are a few ways to take this trail.  The serious hikers can take it the entire way which I believe is 11 miles in and 11 miles back out!!! There are also some extremely narrow parts of the trail past 4 miles that if you fall you could actually be seriously hurt or die. Im talking like two feet wide on the edge of a cliff-no thanks!  We chose to hike to Hanakapai Falls which would be an eight mile roundtrip journey!

We made sure to get up very early to beat a lot of the other foot traffic.  I think we arrived ready to hike by 730am.  We brought some rain jackets and two one-gallon bottles of water, some granola bars for fuel and some towels.  We also had a small sandwich with us as well.  The water actually made the backpack slightly heavy in the beginning of the hike which was somewhat uncomfortable.

The trail in many parts is extremely muddy and sloppy due to all the rain the north side of Kauai receives. There are a lot of elevation changes as well.  You will start off the trail pretty much taking steps up for about 10-20 minutes straight. Make sure you are somewhat in shape if your going to do a few miles. We made sure to buy some decent outdoor trail sandal type shoes before we left for the trip.  We saw one or two people with brand new white tennis shoes that were getting killed by the mud!

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This is our plan

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Lots of rules

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Lets get this party started, new rain jacket ready to go!
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Trip Report: Kauai 2012 (part 6) Queensbath and Hideaway Beach

 

Intro & United economy plus Chicago to Lihue
Sheraton Kauai resort and spa
Waimea Canyon
St. Regis Princeville
Kayaking to Secret Falls
Queensbath and Hideaway Beach
Hiking Kalalau Trail
Napali coast boat ride
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Westin Princeville
Food and Drink of Kauai
______________________________________________________________________

FLASHBACK TRIP REPORT!

Queensbath and Hideaway Beach

In researching our Kauai trip before leaving I heard of this Hideaway beach and I thought it would be cool to find it and check it out.  I knew it was right next to the St. Regis so we walked just a bit past the parking lot and just past some tennis courts and there is a small path that leads you to a stairway.  This is not any normal stairway though!! It is the steepest, tightest stairway that simply gives way to a dirt path and a rope!!!  You need to hang on tight (for dear life) with both hands to make it down and up.  I tried to make a video of us going up the stairs while holding my beach bag and the camera however about 1/3 up the path I realized it is impossible and ended up grabbing the rope to help myself up.

It is a nice, small beach with not too many people. There is plenty of clean sand and places to lay out.  Plenty of shade too if you don’t want to get burnt.  The water does have quite a bit of big rock/boulder/coral as you get about 5-10 feet out but plenty of nice blue water to play around in.

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If this lady can make it down so can I!

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Hideaway Beach

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Trip Report: Kauai 2012 (part 5) Kayaking to Secret Falls

 

Intro & United economy plus Chicago to Lihue
Sheraton Kauai resort and spa
Waimea Canyon
St. Regis Princeville
Kayaking to Secret Falls
Queensbath and Hideaway Beach
Hiking Kalalau Trail
Napali coast boat ride
Grand Hyatt Kauai
Westin Princeville
Food and Drink of Kauai
______________________________________________________________________

FLASHBACK TRIP REPORT!

Kayaking to Secret Falls

We decided one day to take a kayak tour to Secret Falls.  The tour was with Ali’i Kayak.  We drove to their facility on the east side of Kauai, paid and signed a waiver.  We then went over all the rules with our group and hopped into a van to go to the load point to get on the water.  We had about 10 people in our group varying from about 7 years old to around 60 years old.  Half the trip was kayaking and the other half was hiking.  It wasn’t very strenuous but there were several tricky parts in which you needed to be sure footed.

Everyone in our group got along great and the trip was very nice and scenic.  They kayaks are two seaters and were fairly comfortable for kayaks.  When we finally got to the “Secret” Falls I was quite disappointed by the large number of people already at the location.  It was INSANE that many large groups can be there at one time.  We originally wore our swimsuits thinking we would go for a swim but with that many people there I really didn’t want to be anywhere near the falls.  We brought some food along for lunch as you stop for about 45 minutes at the falls to swim and eat.  We just brought along some energy bar type snacks to hold us over. After about 30 minutes a large amount of people left the falls and it felt much more manageable and secluded at that point.

I would only recommend doing this excursion if the location was not highly visited however I am not sure that can be figured out in advance as a few other kayak outfits also visit the location. If you enjoy nature and being out on the river and hiking this is still a nice adventure but if your main reason for this trip is seeing and experience the waterfall I think you would be disappointed.

Kayaking to Secret Falls

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First glimpse of secret falls

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Not what I call a secret falls

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Way too big of a group enjoying the falls

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We tried to sneak in front for a quick photo

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Our group hiking back to our kayaks, the old timer in the hat took a spill on the hike

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Small Fry, our guide dog

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Small Fry actually bringing up the rear here

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A tricky spot getting down here

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Heading back

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Loving the vacation apparently 

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A scene from Indiana Jones was shot here

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Our kayaks all stowed away for the next group

Later in our trip we got to see a “real” waterfall that we had all to ourselves for the most part so Secret Falls didn’t disappoint for long. I must admit that our guide was absolutely great and did his job well.  His dog Small Fry was also a hit with our group!

 

-pointspinnacle