Friday, February 20, 2015

Family Trip to Maui - Feb. 19th to Feb. 27th - Part 2 of 2

(from the What - you're still not in the islands? department)

NOTE:  This is part 2 of 2 parts.  The first part is here:  The Ideal Copy: Family Trip to Maui - Feb. 19th to Feb. 27th - Part 1 of 2

Hi everyone,

The day after the trip to Hana, we decided to give my nerves a rest and visit some botanical gardens instead.  We started off by heading to a small town called Makawao, which had a real Hawaiian feel - as opposed to a touristy feel.  Sure - there were shops and galleries, but this was fairly off the beaten path and the crowds were not as large as in Lahaina or Paia.

For instance - chickens were just strolling down the sidewalk.  Here's a chicken walking on the sidewalk next to our car:

(Sorry - you'll have to wait to see my other photos of Makawao - they're on the main camera.  All of these photos - in this post and the previous Maui post - are from my phone's camera.)

Interestingly, Makawao has a large cowboy feel.  Much of the surrounding countryside was ranch land, and there's a very cool museum that details the life of the paniolo - or Hawaiian cowboy.

After grabbing a little lunch, we headed up to Kula and the Kula Botanical Gardens.  Since Kula is on the side of the big Haleakala volcano, it has a great view of Kihei and the beach:

Once inside the gardens, we saw waterfalls, koi ponds, and in a bird sanctuary, two rare Nene birds.  Can you see the Nene in the photo below?

 Relaxing by the waterfall:

Rose feeds the koi:

It turns out the Botanical Garden grows its own coffee.  I bought some (see P.S. below) - but I haven't cracked it open yet.  Should be amazing.

Driving back from the garden, we stopped by an amazing landmark - the Holy Ghost Catholic Church.  The viewpoint was striking:

The interior was equally as impressive:

A historical marker outside:

Finally heading back to Kihei, we finished the night at the Paia Fish Market, which is actually a restaurant.  Based on a recommendation from the staff, I got the Mahi served Cajun style:

That's also a local beer - the Wailua Wheat from the Kona Brewing Co., if my memory serves me correctly.  It definitely was local and it was a passion fruit brew.  Perfect with the fish.

The next to last day we went to the Maui Ocean Center aquarium.  Rose had a playdate with the child of a co-worker of mine from Seattle who had independently planned an almost identical Maui trip.  We found out we were both going just before we left Seattle. I didn't get many pics on my phone's camera - but you can see the sea turtle feeding below:

Based on my co-worker's recommendation, we ended up in Kimo's in Lahaina, where we all got foo-foo beverages.  (And - yes - Rose's is a non-alcoholic strawberry smoothie.)

The view was tremendous.  That's the island of Lanai behind the patio, over the ocean.

 And - what would a trip be without trying the Hula Pie?  Oddly enough - no one but me liked it.  Bummer. (^_-)

Lahaina was sort of touristy.  We saw Mick Fleetwood's restaurant there.  There was a Hard Rock and a Bubba Gump Shrimp as well.  We took a photo on the Forrest Gump bench.  Rose remained unconvinced:

Driving back to Kihei from Lahaina, we found a viewpoint, and took a couple of final photos.  Here we're looking back at Lanai:

And here - we're looking at uninhabited Kahoolawe at the far right, and the small atoll of Molokini in the center.  Kihei is on the coastline to the left:

And that's our trip.  The next morning, we said goodbye to the view from the patio of where we were staying:

and headed back home with 2 pounds of Hawaiian coffee (see P.S. below) and a week's worth of amazing memories.


P.S. About the coffee.  Since the coffee is grown on the islands in volcanic soil, it tends to be low acidity, which gives it a very earthy taste.  I ended up buying four bags.  Since coffee is expensive in the islands, you end up buying half pound bags.  All of them are excellent.  I got:
  • A Kona from Starbucks.  This is unavailable anywhere outside of the islands - you have to buy it there. Quick pic of it - if anyone knows how to find this stateside, let me know:
  • A Maui from Maui Coffee Company. It was the 100% Maui roast.  Interestingly, it comes with a spring-loaded metal clip, instead of the standard fold-tabs you see stateside.
  • A Kauai estate grown from Kauai Coffee.  It was the Koloa Estate.  This was sharper in flavor than any of the others - almost like a Latin American in brightness, as opposed to the earthy tones of the Maui or Kona.   It turns out that our local Safeway sometimes carries this.  I bought a spare bag.  They appear to be identical, except the local Kauai had the spring-loaded clip, and the export had the folding tabs.
  • A Maui from the Kula Botanical Gardens.  This is the Kula 3600 Estate Coffee - I got the light/dark blend.  This is the only one I haven't opened yet - but it should be amazing.  Super small batch. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Family Trip to Maui - Feb. 19th to Feb. 27th - Part 1 of 2

(from the It's much better in the islands department)

Hi everyone,

To celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and our first trip to Hawaii together, Dana and I decided to go back to the islands.  However, rather than go back to Oahu - which I've visited repeatedly - we decided to go to Maui, which I've only been to once, and Dana has never seen at all.

After scrambling for airline tickets, arranging lodging, and frantically e-mailing everyone for advice, we found ourselves waking up early Thursday morning and heading to the airport to start our vacation.

Five or so hours later - we arrived at the Kahului airport:

and picked up our rental car.  Yeah - we rented a red convertible Mustang.  Hey - if you're going to drive around the islands, you might as well do it right:

I took that photo on one of our first long driving excursions - up the 'Iao Valley to the state park.  This is what we saw:

This was quite a contrast to the desert-like conditions we experienced where we were staying in Kihei.  Basically - Maui has a desert side and a rainforest side.  What you're seeing above is the rainforest side.

We did a few more things like visit a swap meet and get shave ice:

attend a Polynesian dance exhibition:

pose dramatically:

and take pictures of working, well-maintained payphones:

Our next big excursion was driving the Hana Highway.  This is not an exercise for the faint of heart.  Although it's only a 52 mile stretch, it takes 2 1/2 hours to drive without stopping - there are 59 bridges, 620 curves and many stretches where the road is only one lane wide.

Still - the scenery was amazing:

Finally - we got to the outskirts of the Hana area, and went to the Wai'anapanapa State Park with their famous black sand beaches:

While we were there - we found a cave lava tube (as Rose corrected me):

Then - back to the beach:

Finally - we reached the Hasegawa General Store in Hana, which is considered a landmark and a sign that you'd "completed" the Hana Highway.  I bought a celebratory t-shirt and mug, and took a couple of pictures:

We'd done it!  We'd made it to Hana!  Unfortunately - the remaining highway doesn't connect around the island.  So, to get back to Kihei, I had to drive the entire Hana Highway again - in the reverse direction.  Oh - and did I mention that the sun had set before we started back?  And - there are no streetlights on the Hana Highway, and it's pitch black?

Yeah - that was kind of nerve racking - 620 hairpin turns and 59 narrow bridges on an occasional single lane road in the darkest dark.

But - we made it with out any damage - except to my nervous system - and we were ready for the next phase of our Maui adventure.

To Be Continued in Part 2! --> The Ideal Copy: Family Trip to Maui - Feb. 19th to Feb. 27th - Part 2 of 2