Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Molokini and Aloha

Thursday morning we set out on a boating/snorkeling adventure. Because we had very little planned—just what I had wanted—we had to fit in at least one big outing to keep Joseph happy too :) We arrived at the harbor just before sunrise and set out to Molokini. I felt very proud of myself for finally snorkeling on our trip!
Being January and especially early morning the whales were everywhere. We couldn't drive more than 5 minutes without crossing paths with a big group. The captain promised we'd stop for more whale watching on the way back but we still saw plenty as made our way to the crater.

Neither Joseph nor I had ever been out to Molokini before so it was a fun, new thing to try. The water was so blue and crystal clear, the reef was pretty, and the fish abundant, but, we have been too spoiled in the past (Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island). Molokini, even though it's out in the middle of the ocean, had a lot of other snorkelers there already, wasn't very pretty above water, and the variety of fish was small. Okay, we really are spoiled because it was actually lovely. But I just love it when you can snorkel with hardly a soul in sight—feels so much more serene and Discovery channel"ish."

 view of our boat from the water

view of the water from our boat :)
 Driving away from Molokini

Our next stop was Turtle Town back closer to the island but down near Makena. The hubby and I snorkeled there last time we were in Maui as part of a kayaking tour we did. When we arrived at the site I was still trying to warm up from being in the water and then having the breeze on me as we drove. I sent Joseph in and I basked in the sun for a while before I jumped in too. I never found my hubby but I did see a turtle right away and lots of cool craggy reefs that I swear I remember exploring 6 years ago. Crazy how it looked familiar to me.

Joseph caught some great turtle shots

Back on the boat we headed farther east around the south tip of the island to the newest part of Maui formed about 200 years ago. It was gorgeous and rugged and had some amazingly white, beautiful beaches (Little Beach and Big Beach respectively which we'll have to check out next time—with a sturdy rental car!) 
The bay at Big Beach is a common place for spotting spinner dolphins and we were lucky to encounter some. They are so fast and playful and really just cute. My girls would have died to see some dolphins as they are completely obsessed (they pleaded for stuffed dolphins as their prize from our trip...like we need more stuffed animals around here...but of course we got them some :)

 The newest part of Maui—and the most amazing water. 
Such beautiful shades and so strikingly clear.

We went far enough to see the amazing Big Island looming in the distance before turning around to head back. The captain was sharing all kinds of cool information about Maui and whales and the Hawaiian Islands in general. I love that kind of stuff! For example, a mama whale will feed her baby about 75 gallons of breast milk each day. And her milk is more of a curd-like, block of cheese that she secretes into the water so baby can come up and swallow it—no suckling for the babies. And a baby whale will gain about 100 pounds a day!! All of that is just amazing to me. He also mentioned the newest Hawaiian Island which is now about 3000 miles below the surface of the water. Bentley and I did a little research on it when I got home and found a site where someone was asking scientists when he could expect to vacation on the newest island that forming. The answer: in about 50,000 years :) Hawaii is so brand new in the geological timetable of the world but still ancient in our human terms of time. It's all so incredible.

On our way back to the harbor we saw whales, whales and more whales. We even happened upon this happy, energetic baby breaching over and over again. So cool and quite cute. All 10 tons of him :)

 Thoroughly enjoying the boat ride and the hot Hawaiian sunshine!

On our lazy evening we sat on the beach to watch the traditional Black Rock sunset ritual: a local dressed in traditional garb runs out to the rock to light all the torches on the way out to the point. After he lights the last one he throws his torch and lei into the water and then dives in himself. We had a gorgeous sunset lighting the scene making it all the more perfectly Hawaiian.

Friday, our last day, we just hung out. We didn't even exercise but just spent many hours lounging at the pool. We even played in the pool—well, explored every part of it and it's many sections that day. We had the most perfect weather during our stay and soaked up the sunshine and rich, bright colors of flowers, trees, grass, ocean, sand and sky as much as we could.
 Lounging views. Had to document Mozart playing while I read. My parents trained me well...
 My brave hubby cliff-jumping off of Black Rock

We did venture into Lahaina for lunch at Aloha Mixed Plate and then back for dinner to meet up with our friends the Yeats at Cheeseburgers In Paradise. Ally has served in YW with me for a couple years now and it was too crazy that we both ended up in Maui at the same time (our trip was just ending when hers was just beginning—lucky!)


 Last view of Kaanapali Beach on Friday night.

We flew out early Saturday morning over to Honolulu, and then had a morning flight to LA getting us home right around 7:30 pm Saturday night. I was eager to find a non-red-eye home after knowing we'd have such a luxurious vacation. It was so worth it. We came home feeling very ready to see our kids and unpack and unwind instead of feeling like zombies who just needed sleep.
 an açai bowl by the hot tub (from a day earlier in the week but a cool pic)
Aloha paradise! We love you. Until next time... 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Biking and Dating in Paradise

After some research before heading to Maui, Joseph and I were very excited about our one "real plan" of renting road bikes during our stay. Tuesday morning, we were up way before the bike shop opened, so Joseph went out for his daily snorkel at Black Rock while I hung out on the beach. I am not the world's biggest snorkeling fan, can you tell?
Our hotel room is right behind me in the picture—second from the right on first row of balconies. 
We had such a great view and could walk right to the pool or beach so easily.

The hubs saw this little guy while he was out

After the beach we geared up (those who ride know there is just so much gear! Gloves, socks, shoes, helmets, Halos, sunglasses, water bottles, energy snacks, watches, phones, HRMs, and Joseph even brought his Garmin to attach to his rental!) and drove to West Maui Cycles in Lahaina. They exclusively rent Specialized Roubaixs for all road cyclists which we were thrilled about. I rode a men's 52—a smaller replica of Chandler's bike and one I was really excited to try.

We left from the bike shop and headed south. The shoulder was surprisingly wide for the two-lane highway and as soon as we were out of the city (just a few miles down the road) the view to our right was beach and ocean the rest of the way. It was so beautiful! I kept smiling so much and knew the drivers coming toward me must think I was such a dork :) I mean I ride around home all the time and think it is really lovely but seeing the beach and islands across the ocean, and hearing the crash of waves while we rode was such a change and just awesome.
The road south out of Lahaina was totally flat right until about 12 miles out when we had to climb a bit to get to the scenic overlook. We stopped for some pics and then turned around to head back. Our bike rentals were good for 24 hours so we grabbed a bike rack and took the bikes back to our hotel so we could fit in an early morning ride the next day too.
Back at our hotel we made our way to the pool for afternoon lounging (kind of a ritual when on vacation—an amazing one :) I read like never before on this trip—so much free time! I finished almost 3 whole books by the time we were home (Bossy Pants, The Fault in Our Stars, and An American Heiress). Loved all 3. Actually, Tina Fey's book was pretty funny sometimes but also kind of random and maybe too disjointed for me (and a bit crass). An American Heiress was the best though. Such a grand indulgence and I was totally loving the intrigue and history. Fun.

Tuesday evening we hit Leilani's to catch "taco Tuesday" and $4 fish tacos. Then we shopped around Whaler's Village again and enjoyed some delicious frozen yogurt before calling it a night.
 Sunset from Leilani's

The next morning we rode again but heading north up along the crazy, rolling coastline. It was spectacular! Much harder riding but so worth the effort. I was loving that we were seeing this part of the island on bikes because it made it so much more rich and fulfilling. I loved cruising down after reaching a crest into the thick, moist, jungle like sections and then riding back out and up to a sheer cliff-side with a view of the ocean for miles and miles. We did hit one hill which I like to call the "hill of death" because I could only ride up half of it before I started falling backwards. Yeah, it was super steep (humbling) and I had to walk up the rest of the way to find my hubby (who sailed up it like a pro!) Now I have to return to Maui someday to ride that blasted hill (aptly called "The Wall" on Strava) so I can conquer it. It's for sure the longest steep stretch I have ever tried to ride but at least that was the only segment that felt really hard. We rode 15 miles before turning around and that horrible hill was actually a little scary to go down—so steep! Crazy. All in all we gained 2500 ft in elevation during our 30 mile ride so that was super cool. I truly enjoyed riding that part of the coast though. The lanes did get very tiny and windy—made me worried about traffic coming close to us, but we were out early before too many cars were even on the road. I made the hubby stop for McDonald's breakfast with me just before we got back to our hotel and it tasted so good. I think McD's needs to be a part of all my long rides :)
 View of the killer hill in the distance. Looks doable from this view but it was tough!
Molokai in the distance. 
I had no idea that island was so big until I saw it stretch forever as we looped around Maui.
Next door to the bike shop was a cool little "health bar" which sold tons of trendy organic grub as well as lots of flavors of açai bowls. One of our friends kept telling us we had to try an açai bowl and of course we obeyed. They were very good. Joseph loved them a little more than I did because the açai has a rather tart flavor while I prefer a creamy flavor to my smoothies, but they were yummy. The açai berry is Brazilian too so he's partial :) There's granola all along the bottom, the açai mixed with lots of different fruits and powders and seeds like flax and cacao, and then more granola, sliced fresh fruit and honey on top. Super tasty and so incredibly healthy! We got these after both bike rides actually. Do they make these here in states anywhere? (we just found out that Blue Lemon makes one—we'll have to try it out and see if it compares)
After a lazy afternoon and poolside lunch, we drove back up to Kapalua for dinner at Sansei. We remembered this spot from our family trip to Maui back in 2008. I had conceded to try sushi in a place where it couldn't be more fresh. And by sushi I meant some kind of raw fish besides shrimp which is the only seafood I already eat. We ordered an ahi tuna roll and I went for it (chopsticks and all!) My conclusion was that it was fine. Not gross, but not really yummy either. I must have to train my palette for it but I was just glad I didn't gag or anything! The evening was so beautiful, again. We were truly trying to savor all our uninterrupted couple time.
I love that everything we did was a date of some sort—just Joseph and me. So much time for real conversations and remembering why we love each other so much (he's funny and darling, super smart and way chill, and he loves to make me happy...dreamy :) And during every meal I thought to myself how lucky I was to get to eat without having to prepare anything for 4 little bodies too, and how peaceful it was to just have my food without needing to help anyone cut up bites or pour a drink or keep kiddos from fighting or spilling or leaning too crazily in their chair :) I so love my job of full-time mom but it is a taxing one. And this break from the every day was heavenly for me. I appreciated the calm and quiet and ease so, so much. Made me very ready to come back to my crazy life and enjoy its pleasures too (snuggles and kisses and songs from Luke, Olivia's scratchy voice and darling dimpled smile, Bentley's silly laugh and great stories, Caroline's happy eyes and sweet hugs...oh, I was missing those so much and eager for my babies every day too!)