Monday, March 28, 2016

Maui Trip, Epilogue

For Day 1, click here.
For Day 2, click here.
For Day 3, click here.
For Day 4, click here
For Day 5, click here
For Day 6, click here.
For Day 7, click here.
For Day 8, click here.
For Day 9, click here.
For Day 10, click here


First of all, we would like to say a huge "THANK YOU!" to all those who made this trip possible by giving to the 10-year anniversary fund set up and promoted by one of our church members. The trip was perfect in every way imaginable! It was such a wonderful surprise, and we made countless memories for years to come. 

We were given a list of everyone's mailing address who had donated $20 or more to the fund, so we could send them each a personal note of thanks. We sent out almost 100 postcards to them from Maui, but there is a chance that some of the addresses were incorrect, incomplete, or outdated. If you were one of the people who donated, but you did not receive a postcard, please leave your email address and mailing address in a comment below, which will not be published, and we will get a card out to you. 



 
After we returned from our trip, my husband painted one wall in his office with an outline of Maui, complete with the major towns and roads. Then he hung over 90 photos from our trip at their respective locations. I thought this was a very sweet surprise when he first showed it to me. Of course, it makes me miss the trip every time I go into this office! :)
 

 

Speaking of painting rooms, my mother-in-law not only took great care of the kids while we were gone, she also painted and remodeled my bedroom during that time! Late last year, I had majorly overhauled the boys' and girls' bedrooms, and moved myself into the smallest of the bedrooms in our house. She figured that even though I put so much work into the kids' rooms, I was unlikely to take the time to do the same for mine, and she was right. So, before she even came out, she planned to work on that as a surprise while we were gone. She got busy on it the day we left, so any fumes from the paint would be gone by the time we returned. She even printed, framed, and hung photos of her baby my husband and I! I really enjoy my room so much more now, and am very thankful for her thoughtfulness and all the work and money she put into this project. I really did luck out majorly in the mother-in-law department!!!

She hadn't even been gone a day yet when the kids started saying that they were missing grandma. Hopefully, she should be back for the birth of the next baby, which will make 21 grandkids for her. She is one awesome and busy grandma! I literally never one time worried about the kids while we were gone, because I knew if anyone besides myself could handle them, it would be her. THAT makes a big difference!

The adjustment back to reality after the trip was not nearly as rough as I had anticipated. There were still enough frozen meals left over to last for the first week, and since I got every possible project off my to-do list before leaving, it really was a pretty relaxed re-entry into my large family reality. 

Right before this Maui trip, all 10 of us also took a 1-week family vacation over New Year to a cabin in the woods outside Prescott. It, too, was made possible by the anniversary fund. I will blog about that trip in a separate post.

We currently have 8 weeks of school work left for the year, and I am due in less than 9, so there will be no more breaks before baby comes, but the pace at the end of the school year tends to slow down as kids finish some of their subjects sooner than others. Most projects and obligations will be finished by late April, giving us some extra free time to enjoy those three weeks at the beginning of May before baby is due to arrive. I am always pretty well on target with my due dates, and hope this time will be no different.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Maui Trip, Day 10 (Saturday, January 16)

For Day 1, click here.
For Day 2, click here.
For Day 3, click here.
For Day 4, click here
For Day 5, click here
For Day 6, click here.
For Day 7, click here.
For Day 8, click here.
For Day 9, click here.

Saturday was our 10th and final day on Maui. After making breakfast at the guest house, we spent the morning packing up, and cleaning the areas of the house we had used (our bedroom and bathroom, and the kitchen). In between waiting for the last loads of laundry to finish, we relaxed some more on the balcony.

Around 11 a.m., we left for good and set out to explore the closer parts of the Road to Hana. We had intentionally skipped over these on our first drive to Hana, knowing that we could come back to these later on if we had time.




First, we stopped in Paia (at the beginning of the Road to Hana) for lunch at the Paia Fish Market. My husband had the fish and chips, while I ordered the sauteed mahi - oh, it was so good!

We stopped at several of the popular waterfalls along the way. There was virtually no traffic on the road that late in the day, which made for a nicer drive than the first time around. I took my much needed daily afternoon nap at a rest area, before we turned around at mile 17.

These leaves were massive!


The rain water from higher up in the mountains was running down here.

 This cow was walking by the side of the road.


On the way back, we stopped at Kaenae Point, which is a beautiful bay with lush rainforest vegetation. When I first pulled off the road there onto the little trail winding down to the water, a young guy by the side of the road waved me down and offered me some marijuana. This was a first for me, as I had never been offered drugs before in my entire life! He apologized profusely when I politely declined. My husband was cracking up about me asking him if pot was legal on the island, like I was some school marm (I really was just being curious.) The guy also told us that "everyone needs to smoke pot, except people who are already stupid, they don't need it any more." Oh-kay! :)

There was a big party going on down by the bay, with lots of local young people. No wonder that by pulling over here, we were assumed to be there to party! It was a little awkward with everyone looking at us like "What are these tourists doing down here on a Saturday night?" There was one spot in the bay that I found particularly fascinating, where a freshwater stream running off the mountains flowed into the ocean. However, the direction of the flow of water kept reversing every minute or so, as tides built up more and more water in the pool at the bottom, eventually forcing water to flow inland, rather than out to the ocean. The water in the pool was salty, but not nearly as salty as the ocean. It was fascinating to watch the cycle of water going inland for a while, and then out to sea again. 

The sun was going down by the time we were back near mile marker 2, where the famous Twin Falls are. We spend close to an hour exploring this private property (they allow public access) with its beautiful waterfalls and plant life.

I loved seeing all the banana palms up close

 Can you spot him all the way out on that limb?


 Look, it's Jack from "Lost" (We've never seen the show, it's just a comment he often gets.)


Once it was dark, we headed back into Paia for dinner at the Flatbread Company, which was basically the best pizza I have ever had. They also had fresh lemonade and ginger ale, which my husband really liked.

 


From there, we headed for the airport. It took a while to return the car, take a shuttle to the terminal, and then there was a long line to check the luggage. As we stood there waiting, I was starting to doze off standing up, wondering why the gentleman in the party right behind us in line looked so familiar. Suddenly, I "woke up" with a start when I realized this was the man who had given me money a couple of days earlier to buy a cinnamon roll when I didn't have cash on me. I said "Are you the one who..." and he laughed and said "Yes!" So that was a pretty funny coincidence! I guess when you're on an island, you are bound to run into the same people. 

Our flight left just before midnight. With losing 3 hours on the way home, we arrived in Phoenix around 7 a.m. on Sunday. My mother in law picked us up with the younger kids, and it was great to see them! Boaz just kept looking at me, smiling, but suspicious, like I may or may not be real. Once we got home, he didn't want me to set him down again. We had just enough time to give the kids the souvenirs we had brought back for them, before it was time to get ready and go to church. Naturally, we all took a long nap that afternoon! My mother-in-law, who is a retired flight attendant and flies stand-by, had to head out that day in order to make it onto a flight to meet her daughter, who was moving across the country and needing help just as she was done helping us. With almost 21 grandkids, she is one busy grandma!!!

Check back soon for just one more installment in this series - the epilogue.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Maui Trip, Day 9 (Friday, January 15)

For Day 1, click here.
For Day 2, click here.
For Day 3, click here.
For Day 4, click here
For Day 5, click here
For Day 6, click here.
For Day 7, click here.
For Day 8, click here.


Friday was our last full vacation day on Maui. Having experienced all the major highlights we had planned for the trip, we were on a more leisurely pace by this point - the way vacations are meant to be. :)

For breakfast, we went to a local crepe place called "Belle Surf Cafe." Again, Google Maps with the fantastic reviews led us here, and we were not disappointed. My husband had the "California Crepe," while I opted for an "American Bagel," plus we got a large hot chocolate and a dessert crepe to share.




The cafe was located among some other little stores, as well as an open-air fruit market, so after breakfast we stuck around a while, picking out gifts and souvenirs for family and friends, and admiring the local produce, before heading back to the guest house and just relaxing. 

After the fantastic snorkel experience we had had two days earlier on board the Friendly Charters Lani Kai, we had booked an afternoon snorkel with them for that Friday afternoon. Unlike the morning snorkel cruises, the afternoon ones typically go to one of the sites along the shore, due to the afternoon waves being rougher and making trips out to Molokini crater unsafe, not to mention creating poor visibility. 




Imagine how pleasantly we were surprised when we arrived at the boat in the early afternoon, to find out that it was one of only a handful of days each year where the waters were calm enough to allow an afternoon trip to Molokini crater! This really was a wonderful blessing that we had not expected. Again, the crew was exceptionally nice and helpful. Considering that we were only expecting to be taken to one of the nearby snorkel spots along the coast, and yet they still spent the extra time and gas to go all the way out to Molokini because the weather permitted it, we were even more impressed with them. If you are going to Maui and trying to decide which of the dozens of snorkel cruise operators to choose, we highly recommend Friendly Charters. They did not disappoint in any way on either of our two trips with them. 

When we arrived at the crater, we were the only boat there that afternoon, further confirming to us that we really did choose the best cruise operator. The waters were perfect, almost as calm as they had been in the morning a couple of days earlier. Visibility was once again exceptional, and my husband and I spent the next hour snorkeling side-by-side. 

I was famished by the time the boat was ready to head back to shore. After our big breakfast, I had skipped lunch that day, and it was now the middle of the afternoon. We enjoyed some sandwiches on the ride back, as well as the cookies that were offered. We also got to see many more whales, including a group of five males right in front of our boat that were fighting with each other to impress a female. Two of these whales jumped out of the water, and head-butted each other before crashing back into the water, which looked like an underwater bomb had gone off in front of us. Even the captain was impressed, and said that this was a first for him. 

Not my image - I was too busy looking to turn around and grab my camera


Back on shore, we headed to the nearby Wailea Mall to visit a local ukulele store, where my husband wanted to buy Solomon and ukulele music book of Hawaiian tunes as a souvenir. Solomon bought himself a ukulele some time ago and taught himself how to play it, so he was excited to get this gift. We also picked up several unique guitar picks at the store, and chatted with the owner, a German lady. 




Also at the mall, we visited the store of the Honolulu Cookie Company to pick out our final souvenirs. The ladies there were super nice and gave us tons of free cookies, enough to take one home for each of our kids (I did hide them from my husband to make sure they wouldn't fall prey to a late-night snack attack). 

Back at the house, we relaxed a little longer, and then headed out for one final dinner by the beach. We picked up some savory and sweet pies at the Maui Pie Company, as well as some gelato from Ono Gelato next door, all of which we enjoyed while overlooking the ocean at night one last time.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Maui Trip, Day 8 (Thursday, January 14)

For Day 1, click here.
For Day 2, click here.
For Day 3, click here.
For Day 4, click here
For Day 5, click here
For Day 6, click here.
For Day 7, click here

This was the first day on the vacation we truly, legitimately slept in. We must have been tired from snorkeling for hours the previous day, staying out late for church, and then going to dinner after that.

For breakfast, I went by myself to a little place I had noticed while driving through Kihei called the "Cinnamon Roll Place". Like so many other times on this trip, Google reviews proved both invaluable, and accurate in its 4.7 star review. There was a line out the door! As I stood there waiting, I noticed a little sign that said "Cash only," at which point I remembered my husband having used my cash the night before to cover the tip at the restaurant. I checked my wallet to be sure, and indeed, it was empty of all but change. I said "Oh no!" and left the line to go find an ATM. Another customer near the door asked me what the problem was, and I told him nothing, just that I forgot I had no cash on me, and that I needed to get some. He was like, "Here, just take this!" and gave me $5. Wow, how nice was that! I was able to get my roll, with extra frosting and macadamia nuts, without first having to try and find a bank. The roll was so huge, it was plenty ever after my husband and I split it when I got back to the house. 




We didn't have any set plans for that day, except we knew we wanted to hit up another one of the many great snorkeling spots. Having gone on a guided snorkel the day before, we felt we knew more about what to look for, and where. 

First, though, I wanted to drive to the only Wal-Mart on Maui and pick out a little cross-stitch project to work on in my spare time during the rest of the vacation. That seemed to be the only place on the island that carried any sort of embroidery supplies, I kid you not! I have enjoyed cross-stitching since I was a child, but very rarely have time to indulge in that hobby at this stage of motherhood. We needed to gas up, too, so another trip to Costco in town was in order anyway, and we combined the two. On this vacation, we probably ended up going to Costco on more days than we did not. Not only was their gas about $1.30/gallon less than it was anywhere else on the island, they also had great deals on attractions, food, and local goods. If you have ever wondered why Costco is able to sell stuff so cheaply - did you know that most of their items are not marked up at all, and that the maximum markup for anything they sell is 15%? That means that their earnings come almost entirely from the membership fees. Gas is one of their "loss leaders," meaning they take a loss on it to get you to buy the membership, and then shop there. So yes, Costco in Maui is a must, even though it is the busiest branch I have ever seen. 

At Wal-Mart, my husband was surprised that I was only picking out a small cross-stitch kit that cost less than $5. I tried to tell him it would provide plenty of hours of stitching (in fact, it's still not finished...), but he really wanted me to splurge, so he was suggesting I buy some extra floss in case the kit was missing a color, and saying I should buy a second kit in case the first one had some issue like a broken needle or something. I was looking at him like he had no clue what he was talking about, being a guy that has never stitched anything before, whereas I had been doing this all of my life, and never had any such problem. We checked out with just my one little thing. I opened it in the car to start working on it, and - get this - the needle in it was BENT! And I mean really bent, totally unusable. Talk about poetic justice! My husband was a bit gleeful for having been proven right, and went back in the store to buy a pack of needles. Well, he bought two, just to be safe - and I wasn't going to argue that point again! :)

With all these little errands done, we went to Ulea Beach for some snorkeling. The water was perfect that day, and we had a wonderful time exploring the expansive coral reefs together. Another diver showed us an octopus, which was camouflaged so well it looked like coral. We could only spot it when it was trying to battle this fish that kept swimming close to it. Very fascinating! We were also very fortunate to spot another sea turtle that day. It was smaller than the one we saw the day before, but none of the other divers at the beach had spotted one yet that day, so we pointed it out to them. 

After a couple of hours at the beach, we had lunch at "Maui Fish and Chips", another great place. I had the fried Mahi, my husband had the fried shrimp, and we split an order of onion rings. 



In the afternoon, we took a drive down the only road we had not yet explored on the island, along South Shore until the road ends at the lava fields near La Perouse Bay. It was a unique sight in its own rights, but definitely not a place that was inviting me to go hiking, seeing as I didn't want to break an ankle.




My husband set out on his own to get in some running/walking/hiking, while I stayed in the parking lot and did some cross stitching, and also took a little nap. I guess that spot is a popular area to see dolphins, so there were many people coming and going, but there were no dolphins that day. 




He was gone about 2 hours, during which time he ran into another guy at the far end of the trail who was out hiking with his wife, and had brought snorkeling gear along for both of them, but because the water was very choppy and the lava rocks so jagged, the wife did not want to go snorkeling. The guy didn't think it would be safe to go by himself, so my husband volunteered, and they went snorkeling together. Thankfully, both lived to tell the story! The terrain on the trail was so rough, my husband's special Luna running sandal broke on the way back to the car. 

After he got back to the car, on the way back toward the house, we stopped off at Wailea Beach for another snorkeling session, but the waters were rougher by now, and visibility was poor, so we didn't stay long. Back at the house, I relaxed on the balcony with my cross-stitching, while my husband went on another run. We have very different ideas of fun! 

View of the sunset



For dinner, we ate some leftover pizza at the house, and then went to bed fairly early.