Monday, February 8, 2016

Hawaii in review part 1

Time flies when you aren’t paying attention to time. It’s already February. And it’s already 8 days since I wrote down anything about what we’ve been up to. For being a part of the United states, and therefor covered by my normal cell phone plan, I figured I’d stay more connected this week than on my normal wanders. Funny thing is, wifi is just as hard to come by in the US (arguably even harder) than in the foreign territories I’ve visited. While we were with Rob, staying in Kuleana resorts, we had wifi. But after Rob had to go back home, and we became the full time wanderers that we thought we’d be the whole trip, wifi was a luxury we seldom came across---not an issue to make phone calls, post pics, and make sure everyone at home got sufficiently annoyed with out sunshine photos---but an issue to type and post to the internet on a computer. Aj is a pro of cell-phone note-taking, but I’m not there yet (aka, I will NEVER be patient enough for that). 

So now it’s February 7th, Super Bowl Sunday, and I’m up in the air on Hawaiian airlines to San Diego. Missing the game (commercials), and with no free on board entertainment---vacation recap can begin.

Jan 30th: We went out the night before to a super local bar, Nacho Grandes, and enjoyed our first cervezas of the trip, so it was a slow-er wake up. Sleeping pretty much outside, with only a wall of a sliding glass door between us and the ocean, our mornings start when the sun comes up. Rob has let us take over his living room where the pull out couch is, and we’re more than spoiled waking up to the sunrise, sound of waves, and today…rainbows! 7am patio party each day is the best way to start the day. Sorry in advance for all the future references of how great Rob is, but it’s bound to happen. Because someone who lets you invade their vacation and then serves you the ripest pineapple on HIS condo balcony is saintly and deserves all the thanks. 
We made another trip to the market for coffee and more samples and decided from everyones sluggish states that a beach day and some ocean were necessary. Kuleana resort  is in Lahaina and on Kanapali beach, which is where they host some pretty amazing triathlete level water competitions. We didn’t see any of that going on, but now you know. I’ll also let it be known that the ocean is the number one hangover cure, I witnessed its healing powers. So satisfying to see everyone in our party back to their bubbly selves post dip. With new energy and a little bit of a cloud cover, we moved from the beach and decided to take Lucy (yes, we named our rental car) for a spin. I don’t know that there’s one best thing about Hawaii, or Islands in general, but up there on the best list is the coastal views. There is a road (technically a few) that goes around the perimeter of the Island.** Spoiler Alert**we drove the whole of it by the end of our trip!! The views are amazing and endless. So even with no plan (surprise surprise) of where we were going, we knew we at least had site-seeing wherever we went. We headed south from Lahaina and took in the views before spotting a fruit market on the side of the road. We stopped. The benefit of no plans. Mangos, avocados the size of cantaloupes, coconuts, oranges, papaya, starfruit, a fresh fruit and smoothie truck and MORE free samples. (Since I’m writing this 8 days later, I can tell you free samples is also a “thing” here on Maui. Every stop offers up banana bread (another amazing “thing” of maui), dried or candied coconut, tarro chips, and some kind of fresh fruit). I can also tell you the excitement of free samples never fades...unfortunately neither does willpower or restraint. So, samples aside, the market also had some colorful local characters. From the money man, sitting at his money box grunting orders to anyone close enough by and giving the stink eye to anyone who looked his way to the retired carnival worker who has now been living on the properties campground for 10 years and either already knows everyone that stops by or makes sure he knows you once you stop by to Trinity, the growers daughter who we found out has the same birthday (tomorrow) as Cara! It was a win of a stop, and we probably would have lingered around a bit longer if it weren’t for our noon-time lunch date. It seems that no matter where I go, someone knows someone who lives there. This time, it was my Grandma who gave me the name, number and address of her good friend Connie who she’s visited (and as Connie later informed me, partied with) in Maui on multiple occasions. I had called Connie in the morning to let her know I was on her Island and would love to meet if she had the time, and I hung up 2 minutes later with lunch plans at her and Grams old stopping grounds…a place called Leilanis. Apparently I look the same since I was 7 or 8 and apparently I have the worst memory ever, but Connie was able to spot me walking in (and it’s not like I stuck out…the place w as packed and with mostly tourists, so really I fit right in). We swapped some photos and stories and ate and drank and got some tips from her niece, Lisa, and left with new friends and the comfort of knowing we had another person on the Island looking out for us. The Aloha spirit is a real thing, and the smiles and kindness is beyond refreshing and fulfilling here. We still had the whole afternoon and a Lucy eager to drive, so we left lunch aimed to do some more exploring. Rob’s on a 5 year path to retirement and Hawaii property is part of his plan, so we headed off to the towns of Haiku and Paia to see what the “country” part of Maui was like. It’s beautiful. It’s also crazy how different the scenery can change in a  matter of 30 minutes. We left beach and palms and found jungles and farms and crazy lush green rolling landscapes. The temperature dropped a few degrees, our ears popped a few times, and we found ourselves at the Haiku garden sanctuary. The place is essentially a green house but for the purpose of browsing and mediation and relaxation…not purchase. We got lost in its labyrinths (really, there were labyrinths) and by the time we left it was about dinner time. Back down the mountain and into the town of Paia, we found shops, bars, a local grocer, and a Flatbread Pizza! Way to go Flatbread, your pizza was perfect, and the restaurant vibe was exactly that of the ones at home. Was a little sad Jimmy’s Free Range wasn’t on the menu…but I suppose the whole “using local ingredients”thing is more important and impressive and made for the best Hawaiian pizza. Phew, what a day. My passengers all passed out on me during the adventure back, but there’s not so many views to be had in the dark, so no one missed anything. Last bedtime for Caz as a 25 year old!! Tomorrow, we celebrate the Birthday girl. 

January 31st—BIRTHDAY DAY! HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAZZY!! #26 I’d like to say we had our agendas set for this momentous occasion, but that’s just not our style…even on birthdays. We woke up with the sun (Aj, Rob and I), but let the birthday get her extra sleep on. With intentions of birthday treats from the market…we headed out only to find the market closed. Minor hiccup, only to lead up in the grocery store in the same parking lot that also has all the samples and same famers market finds! Scored our birthday girl a coconut cake and birthday candle and made our way back to Rob’s place. What were our birthday girl’s wishes for the day? 
To the beach we headed!  From the tips and recommendations we’d gathered, Big Beach on the south west side of the Island seemed to be the place to be on a Sunday day…mostly so you were in close proximity to climb the rock wall over to Little Beach for the evening drum circle and sunset party. We stopped at the farmers market from the day before to say Happy Birthday to Trinity, and then stopped again at the grocery store in Kihei to buy some birthday brews for the beach. Again, writing in review, I can tell you that Big Beach is my favorite of the beaches we visited on this trip. They are all beautiful, but this one was massive with expansive views both down the coast and across the water. The waves were calm, so it was perfect swimming and there was a breeze but not the wind we found on most of the other beaches. Where most beaches are prime as surf spots, this beach was top notch for lounging. We lounged like pros. Swam like mermaids. And did headstands like the gymnasts we wish we were. By 4ish we could hear the drums and see the parade of people making their climb over the cliffs to little beach. The experience of Little Beach Sunday Drums is something left to be experienced (or googled if you really want to know), and we stayed taking it all in until sunset and then dark. We walked back over the cliffs with the aid of cell phone lets and head lamps from the hoards of those filing out around us. We met someone from New Hampshire…with mutual friends…and an amazing voice. Cara got a little Birthday serenade on our walk back and we all got encouraged to apply for jobs on Norwegian Cruise lines---can’t say it’s not bookmarked in my phone now. We had separated from Rob for the day so he could explore more of Haiku and Paia but we were antsy to meet back up. We’ve got attachment issues. Still Cara’s bday and also Rob’s last night, so we made our way back to Nacho Grandes for more celebrations, and tacos, and jukebox, and new friends. We even had a magician for a bartender (Mikey) who taught us some  cool bar tricks. By the time we made out way back home, it was almost midnight. Just the perfect amount of time for a nighttime ocean dip. Cara and Rob ran into the water and since I’m a wimp and had a minor panic attack, I looked up to the sky at the perfect second to see shooting stars! Good enough of an excuse for me to avoid the dark water with whales in it somewhere and park it on the sand to gaze up at the star show. Another magical end to another amazing day. Here’s to your 26th year CG <3

Feb 1st: Rob’s last day :( I think us girls slept in late? (as in maybe 7 instead of 6) but I don’t really remember now. I know Rob had already scooted out to go get coffee because he came back as we were all getting ourselves together. Shockingly, we actually had somewhat of a plan for the day. We had been talk to go check out a spot called Nakalele Blowhole where the water has carved out a hole in the cliff rocks that creates a blowhole type spout of water every time a big enough wave crashes into the shore. The lookout is on the North/Northwest coast where we hadn’t traveled yet. From our free gas station map, we gathered the road was another portion of the windy, cliff-hugging, passages we’d be warned about. The map actually said that part of the road was not traversable and not for rental cars…but our lovely local bartenders at Nachos said that was false, and as long as we didn’t mind driving the narrow roads, we’d  be fine. We’d bonded pretty well with Lucy so far and knew she could handle it, and cliff road driving sounded like an adventure to me (really I just want to be more like the  crazy drivers of Peru). The max speed limit on all the outer roads of the Island seem to only go us to 45, so you don’t move to quickly around any corners anyways. We started heading up the coast, this time with the water to my (driver side) left. It was gorgeous. It’s hard not to stop at every pull off (so we pretty much stopped at them all). Quick in and outs of the car to take it all in and get a little closer to each view. You just want to be a part of each scene. It took about an hour to make it to the lookout, which to our not-so-much-surprise, had a stand with some more samples (this time banana bread, a toffee of some sort, coconut chips, and dried mango). The actual blow hole was far down the cliff with a trail that did lead to it, but we could watch it spouting perfectly from our spot up above and stayed put to look down on the water and out at the whales. We continued on our northernly route which gave us the inside lane when the road  had two lanes. It was narrow and and windy and rock wall on one side with cliff drop off on the other. Lucy handles like a champ though and driving it was like being in your own video game. Thank goodness my passengers aren’t the car sickness type, because had I been anywhere besides my seat, I wouldn’t have been enjoying the ride one bit. (I was even getting slightly car sick in the drivers seat…so so windy). Age and Cara hung out the windows with go-pro and cameras and to take it all in. I wouldn’t begin to do this landscape justice in describing, so hopefully those pictures make it somewhere for everyone to see. The road took us up and up into the mountains again, and when we saw signs inviting us to an open art gallery, we stopped again. This private home also serves as a makers space and art gallery for a host of local artists. The studio area was amazing, covered from floor to ceiling with displays. Clay, to wood statues, metal  welded works, oil paintings, jewelry, blown glass, tapestries…it was breathtaking. Art aside, the house was a masterpiece. Craftsman style with wooden shingles and multiple decks wrapping around. It sat up on the front of the property near the gate with the rest of the land slopping down the mountain leading into the most impressive views of the ocean below. There were gardens all down the slope with stone work AND THE BIGGEST GIRAFFE SCULPTURES! The artist who owns the house and studio is a sculptor who’s specialty is constructing massive drift wood and natural wood art pieces…his favorite being giraffes. Heaven. We wandered around for a bit before the first rain of our trip started sprinkling down on us. Time to venture on. The rest of the drive was even dicier as we curved our way down the mountain and started to run into more cars coming the opposite way. Don’t worry, no one was gasping or freaking out, so I think I was doing alright. We all made it safely and no one threw up. We found ourselves back in the center of the island and hungry. Poke, raw tuna, is one of the signature dishes here, and since it was Rob’s last day and he hadn’t tried it yet…it was a must. We made our way to the grocery store to eat Poke like the locals…straight from the deli. SO GOOD. That let you sample (I know, samples everywhere!) all the different seasoned varieties before you choose, so we had a poke appetizer pre poke meal. Our last stop for Robs lat night was Maui Brewing company to take a tour and do some tastings. The brewery, in the town of Kihei, is only a couple years old and about the same size as Redhooks facilities. We learned they distribute  only in cans, feed all the cows with their used grains, and….. (we’re bad tour goers…only in it for the free samples). We stayed to use our free drink chips and lucked out because as we were finishing, live music was starting. So, we decided to stay put and we found ourselves listing to Hawaii’s top performer of the year! Johnny Ringo, the most impressive one man band I’ve ever seen. He was amazing and we were captivated for his full two hour set. Rob didn’t need to be to the airport until 10, so we hung out with Johnny after he wrapped up and chatted and swapped stories and lounged until we had to make our way to the airport. I don’t like saying goodbyes or writing about them. But I’m so happy our paths crossed and we definitely lucked out in meeting such and amazing soul. Now retire already so we can come visit you again in Hawaii :) 

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