Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

To everyone out there... I hope that today your lives are filled with happiness, laughter, love, and what this day is all about- Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Maui Day 5- Road to hana

On the 5th day, Tim and I got up rather early to do the road to Hana. For those of you that have never been to Maui, the road to Hana is basically a day trip that takes you along a very curvy, narrow, scenic road on the north shore (the lush shore) of Maui to the town of Hana. The town of Hana is really nothing special, it's more about the drive TO Hana.

We started off around 8am with the top down. Lucky for us, we had just missed the rain. It is evident that there is a lot of rain up there since it is ridiculously green and lush... probably how you would imagine a tropical place to be.

Beautiful tropical greenery.
One of our first stops was a botanical garden off of the main road. The rock at the very bottom of this picture is where the opening scene for Jurassic Park was filmed. We only know that because we were told that about twenty. times. Apparently it is this parks' big selling point... Even though you can get no closer to this rock than we were taking this picture.

At the garden again. Tim and his asian statue. As far as I know, there is nothing significant about this statue other than a funny photo.

Beautiful tropical forest and flowers at the gardens. It was at these gardens that our Sebring decided to break. What? A Sebring that breaks? NO! It couldn't be. I was not exaggerating when I thought the first day we got the car that it was a POS and not just because I don't like them in the first place. So we get out at the garden and get out our Nikon out of the trunk. It is a big camera, not the small little pocket digital cameras (and it is also the reason the above pictures look so awesome). Next thing we know, we can't SHUT the trunk. What. in. the. hell. We spent literally a half an hour trying to figure out the stupid thing. It won't shut and because the trunk won't shut we also can't put the top up. Because we can't shut the trunk or put the top up this means several things: 1) The car is a piece of shit (already noted) 2) We cannot get out and hike along the road to Hana like we had planned because we can't secure our camera, my purse or anything else we might not want to be stolen because the top is wide open and the trunk is wide open 3) Along the road to Hana we get yelled at multiple times, "Hey did you know your trunk is open... YEP. NOTED. 4) Later in the day when it starts to rain and gets colder as we are coming around the backside of the road to Hana, we are not having a fun experience. It was COLD. And wet. So my theory of why Sebrings are POS' was fully supported on that day.

One of the million waterfalls we saw along the way.

Look- another waterfall!

Probably the prettiest scenery we saw that day... Nihau road leading down to the coast. The road is a little residential road that is about 2 miles long but it is SO worth it. This was just breathtaking.

The northern Maui coast from the end of Nihau road.

Beautiful ocean water.

Waves! We couldn't get in the water but it was so pretty to watch.

More of the Maui coast... we took a lot of pictures here.

Me! With an unbelievable background behind me.

After the Nihau road drive, we stopped at a roadside stand for the BEST brownies (like quadruple chocolate), banana bread, carrot bread (did not know that THIS fantastic creation existed...), and banana chocolate bread. Ummm, aside from the obvious YUMMM, carb overload much? After our little snack, we made it to the lava tubes... It was some sort of a state park but we just explored the lava tubes. The main reason for this was that at the end of our short little lava tube hike, I, in my infinite grace decided to trip on a rock and sprain my ankle. This was not fun. Why, you ask? BECAUSE THE NEXT DAY WAS OUR WEDDING. So my ankle proceeds to swell up to unimaginable proportions and I continue to not be able to walk... and I'm thinking, tomorrow in a wedding dress on the beach is going to be fun. You may remember me mentioning climbing on lava rocks in my wedding dress. Well, I think that the hot lava rock massage I had the morning of the wedding helped my ankle tremendously. Or maybe I was just too happy to notice it. Either way, the day was not ruined but our little hikes at this state park were cut short (by my ankle and the damn sebring). We did get to watch a few locals jump into the stagnant water in these tubes, however. It was quite amusing.

Beautiful greenery. Let's count how many times I say the world beautiful in these Hawaii recap posts...

Calvin?? Is that you Calvin?! Nope, our cat Calvin was safe at home back in Washington but I swear this little guy looked exactly like Calvin (except that Calvin has many more threads of white hairs that we like to pick off of him. He does not like this, for the record). This kitten was just hanging out in the parking lot and was so cute and friendly. Too bad one of my ankles is hidden... you could see the comparison of swollen vs. not.

Gorgeous road we drove down to get to yet another beach on our journey.

The beach. Just past the town of Hana. Notice how there are no pictures of the town of Hana? It really isn't that remarkable. But this beach, on the other hand, was.

Going into the water. It was so warm and the waves were perfect. If only I had thought about the fact that we still couldn't put the convertible top up, it was later in the day and we still had a long drive home, I might have reconsidered going into the water. It was worth it then... not so much when I was freezing an hour later!

Looking out at the crazy sea formation rock (behind me).

Trying to dry off some although by the time I got out the sun was MIA.

Playing on a cool looking tree before we continued on our journey around the backside of Haleakala (the big volcano that is in the middle of the north and south side of Maui... the road to Hana is on the north of this- the lush side, the road back is on the south side- the dry side).

Another shot of the outstanding Maui coastline.

The Maui coast is amazing but check out the road we were on! Pretty much one lane and not paved. Now imagine it in a POS sebring with a trunk that keeps popping up and down... fun times!

Yep, the back half of Maui is MUCH dryer. It's kinda like Seattle vs Phoenix. Both very beautiful in their own respects.

And as we got closer to our home base, the road got smoother and it got greener. It also started to pour. NO fun with the convertible top that won't shut. Soon after this we arrived back at the airport to trade cars. We got a white one the second time around. Funny, they didn't even question us. They must have to swap those cars a lot. Big surprise, I know.

After we traded cars, we revisited the black sand beach that is down by our hotel to watch the sunset. It was so nice just to sit out there, essentially on our own private little beach.

Well, maybe not so private. We had a run in with this little guy who was trying to make his home for the night. We watched him dig the hole and shovel out sand. It was pretty neat. I was a little grossed out at first by these crabs but eventually I came around and was ok sharing the sand with him.

Sitting on the sand enjoying the sunset. And yes, that is a fleece I am wearing. In Hawaii. What can I say? I was FREEZING. After the sunset, we headed back to the hotel for drinks and dinner. Where? At Ko again. Remember I mentioned we went there twice? Well this night was round two. Partly because I wasn't really walking that great, partly because it was close and partly because it was so awesome the first day. It was amazing again and the perfect way to wrap up a day full of adventures.

Maui Day 4- October 18, 2008. Snorkel and The. Best.Luau. Ever.

The fourth day started at about 5am. You may think this seems cruel to get up this early on vacation but it wasn't that bad because 1) We went to bed early around 10pm since Tim wasn't feeling well and 2) We had snorkel boating reservations!

I am not sure exactly why the snorkel companies make you arrive that early. I think that the ocean is generally calmer in the morning so they like to get out to sea to avoid any seasickness. After a 40 minute drive to central Maui, we hopped on the boat at 7am. The trip started out was a bit windy but we were inside chomping on bagels so we didn't really care. It took about 35-45 minutes to get out to Molikini crater, a popular snorkeling spot just off the coast of Maui.

Just before reaching our destination, we notice clouds starting to move in and the captain comes onto the speaker and tells us that many boats are not staying out at the crater that morning and instead going to another snorkel spot because it is so windy and not ideal snorkeling conditions...Read: incredibly bumpy water. And wait, isn't this why we got up early? To AVOID this??

But we hear him talking to another boat and he says, "Ah, screw it, we're here, we'll just stay," even though the other boat captain told him how nice and calm and clear the other spot was that morning. Tim and I looked at each other and just groaned. There were already people who were starting to look slightly green. It was not a good indication of what the next 4 hours would hold.

If anyone knows me and my issues/phobias/whatever you want to call it with puke, you would be saying a big "UH OH" in your head about right now.

We park the boat and get all of our snorkel gear on. It is not a good sign that there are white caps in the water because it is THAT windy and choppy. Tim and I are the first couple of people to jump in. We both have wetsuits on but it is cloudy and windy so it's pretty cold in the water. You can see some fish but not like we were expecting. Most of the time you are just fighting to not get tossed into the rocks of the crater because the waves are that turbulent.

We get out after a while because we are cold. While we are out we notice that 1) They are serving lunch already... IE: burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, etc. Um, it's 9:30am! 2) While we are sitting there, we just happen to look over right as a lady is completely yakking for about 5 minutes straight over the side of the boat. UH OH. And, um, DISGUSTING.

From there, it went downhill. I have never gotten seasick before. Probably something to do with the fact that I don't have much experience being on the ocean or water since I grew up in the dead center of the US, not even remotely CLOSE to water. But I do have a pretty strong stomach (mainly due to my puke issues I guess). I did not get seasick on the snorkel trip. I felt it, for sure, but did not get seasick. Tim on the other hand has before... and definitely did that day. I don't think watching that lady toss her cookies helped much. After that, he started to feel really bad. We got back into the water thinking it might help with the choppiness. Not so much. He almost puked in the water.

We get out and spend the next two hours of our time there huddled together inside the cabin. It was choppy, cloudy and not fun. We were both so ready to get off that damn boat that I seriously considered diving in and swimming back to Maui.

Once we took off, it got much better. Tim started to feel a bit better and on the way back we saw turtles and dolphins. That, by far, was the best part of our whole snorkeling adventure.

On the boat on the way out to the crater. It was sunny then!

Almost at the crater- you can see it behind Tim.

All dressed up and ready to go in my snorkel suit. Why is it so brightly colored you ask? They gave me a kids one! Lame!

A little sea turtle that we saw on the way back from the crater. We didn't get any good pictures of the dolphins.

When we got back to the hotel that afternoon, we ate lunch. We successfully avoided the boat lunch at 9am. It smelled gross and it was 9am for the love of god! We went back to our room and had this HUGE bouquet of flowers in our room from my mom, dad and brother with an awesome card basically telling us congratulations on our wedding. It was so nice. Shortly after that we took off for Lahina on the east side of Maui for the Luau we had scheduled for that night.

Pictures of eastern Maui on the drive over to Lahina. I think Tim was bored riding shot gun. He got a little camera happy on the drive.

Pictures of the beach on the way to Lahina.

Beautiful picture of the sun starting to set.

Just relaxing in the sun and waiting to get into the Luau.

Sitting at the Luau enjoying the sunset after taking pictures and getting "leid"... again! We got so many leis over there. And did I mention that our table at the luau was front and center? It was the best luau ever! [It's the Feast at Lele for anyone who is planning a trip to Maui. Pricey but worth it.]

Our table. Oops we already spilled some salsa that we were eating with our taro chips. Oh, and the drinks are amazing, unlimited, and included in the price! Score!
Waiting for the luau to start.

Still waiting on the luau to start but this is not a self portrait like the one above. A nice guy was nice enough to take our picture (he and his wife sat at the table beside us. They became our new friends from Minnesota!)
Drinking a lava flow... Lava flows were probably Tim's drink of the trip. They were good, but nothing beats the Maui mojito!
Beautiful sunset.

Beautiful hula dancers. This luau, like many others, explores all of the island cultures- Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, and the Samoas. With each course, they bring out food for each of the islands and then the dancers come out with the dances that relate to each island's culture. It's pretty neat. And of course, there is a fire dancer at the end!
We got our own little unique dessert plate. It says congratulations in Hawaiian at the top for our wedding (actually I think they thought they were there on our honeymoon, but whatever! It was still awesome). At that point, though, we were so full from the entire 4 course dinner that we didn't touch a whole lot of dessert... enough to try everything but we certainly didn't eat all of this.
We left the Luau feeling very content and happy. The ending of the day was so much better than the beginning on the snorkel boat. We couldn't have been happier with the luau. We did end up buying ridiculously expensive pictures that they take at the beginning of the luau but oh well, it is all part of the experience, right? We drove back to Wailea at around 10pm, with the top down on the convertible. Ah, seriously gotta love Hawaii...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Maui Day 3...October 18. The day to relax.

On day three, we wake up and Tim's throat hurts. Damn illness. I guess that fruity drinks and sun didn't make him immune to my stupid cold. Lucky for him, I am a smart thinker and made him pack a box of emergen-c. My cold was too bad to think for a second that he might not get it. Unfortunately, I was right. We were going to spend the day doing the road to Hana trip but changed plans once he woke up with his sore throat/hack/drippy nose/slight fever. Who wants that in Hawaii!?! Yuck. Our first stop: Maui ocean center. We got there right when it opened so we beat all of the little kids that flooded the place as we were leaving. Such pretty fish at this place.

Our little black and red fish. He was cute. Probably because my favorite colors are black and red. Later in our trip, we saw these guys when we were snorkeling!

Tim outside of the Maui ocean center sign. This was somewhere in the middle of the place... right before this we had stopped to go to the bathroom to blow our noses. We were quite the pair that day. No fun.
I don't know what kind of fish these are but they look mean, even though it is a pretty picture. Anyone who knows me knows that I have NEVER liked fish. Surprisingly to anyone who knows me, I actually snorkeled SEVERAL times on this trip. This is HUGE for me. I have a huge aversion to fish, aside from eating them. I have always not liked getting into lakes or too deep into oceans because the thought of one of those slimy guys touching me just creeps the hell out of me. But, for whatever reason, I actually snorkeled... and more than once (more on that in later posts). And even more noteworthy, I actually really liked it! Maybe my fish aversion is gone?

After the Maui ocean center visit, we promptly headed to the pool where we laid there the entire. afternoon. Why not? It's Maui! We were right by the pool bar/restaurant which was even better. We got up a few times to get in the pool, waterslide, etc. It was awesome.

Chillin by the pool... I seriously think this may be my favorite hobby ever. I guess that is not so good considering I now live in Seattle and can only do this for, um, 4 weeks a year!
I don't think I got a very good tan though... it got cloudy later in the afternoon- lame! Actually, though, it's so freaking hot in Hawaii that the cloudiness made it that much nicer. Otherwise we would have been roasting!
That night we walked the path to the shops at Wailea. We decided to check them out to see if there was anything we needed, er, wanted to buy. By the time we got there, my feet hurt so bad that I decided I needed to buy new flip flops. So I did. Tim bought a pair of board shorts. There are surprisingly a lot of shops there... including the high end shops like Tiffany, Gucci, etc. I don't remember that from last time even though I know we went there.

On the path in front of a crazy tree... in the flip flops that killed my feet and are now retired. On the way back from the shops, I was SO glad I bought new flip flops. The path that we walked to the shops isn't lit. I also have a slight aversion to dark places, like really dark places, especially right above the ocean where I could get thrown in and fed to those slimy fish! So, I refused to take this path... as a result we ended up walking about 4 times as far as we would have on the path. Part of this was due to the fact that there is a private community between resorts that you can't walk through. So we got stopped and had to go ALL the way back around from where we came from to get to the main road. It was ridiculous.
We ended up eating at another Fairmont restaurant that night... the Fairmont restaurants were very convenient... not to mention they all have good food and drinks. This night we went to their Asian/Hawaiian fusion restaurant called Ko. It was really awesome. So awesome, in fact, that we went there again later in the week. That night we had Hawaiian style clams, some type of white fish (ono maybe? I don't remember- we ate so much fish over there!), and an Asian fusion chicken salad. There was a little old Hawaiian lady who recommended our whole dinner that night to us. She reminded me of a grandmother type figure. She remembered us all week. Every time we walked by the restaurant she would ask us by our names how we were doing. She might be the sweetest lady I have ever met. And she was totally right on with her recommendations on food!