Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bubba Gump

Ben had to watch the movie "Forrest Gump" this year as part of his 20th Century History program. While we were in Maui, we spotted a "Bubba Gump Shrimp Co." restaurant and decided to try it out.

The food was good, not fabulous. The sunset was phenomenal. The gift shop was hilarious.

We asked for a dairy free menu for Emily before we were seated. They only had two dairy free items and then after we were seated we found out that they no longer made one of the two items and Emily hated the other dish and wouldn't order it.

We let the kids each pick a souvenir while we were on Maui and Ben picked the red tee-shirt with famous sayings from the movie.

Silly me, I thought he'd pick something that would remind him of the sharks or the whales or the scuba diving or the boat ride. Instead he's got a shirt that says "Stupid is as stupid does".

Ah well, he's happy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Swimming With Sharks!

One of the coolest things we were able to do on Maui took place at the Maui Ocean Center. It's a very neat aquarium with lots of fish and displays (and a REALLY great gift shop).

But the best thing about it was...........

Kerry and Ben got to scuba dive in the shark tank.


Here's Kerry right next to a sting ray.

Look at all the white tip sharks! Kerry and Ben got to swim into a little cave farther back in the tank. There were some sharks who stay in there and swim through the scuba diver's bubbles as they go up. It makes the sharks "drunk" and they tip over and fall to the bottom. One landed on Ben's head!

Ben with his brethren, the hammerheads.

Kerry with a giant puffer fish. They took raw squid in with them to feed to the fish. The puffer is well aware that all scuba divers come with snacks and she is greedy! They had been warned ahead of time that she would nibble at their fingers trying to get food. Ben got so aggravated with her, he would put his hand on her head and gently push her backwards, trying to make her leave him alone.

The girls and I were able to stand at the viewing windows and watch. You have to be scuba certified in order to go in the tank, and Katie was absolutely beside herself that she couldn't go in there as well.

This was easily some of the best money we spent while on vacation. It's pricey but well worth it. When scuba diving in the ocean, it's often murky and difficult to see well. You also never know if you're going to see any cool sea critters or not. In the aquarium, you are guaranteed to see sharks, rays, and a huge variety of fish. Makes me wish I could have gone in too!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Baldwin Home Museum

The Baldwin Home Museum is a restored missionary house in Lahaina. It was built in 1835 for the missionaries but became primarily the residence of Reverand Dwight Baldwin and his wife Charlotte (and their seven children). Reverand Baldwin was a missionary but also had studied medicine at Harvard. His training medical training helped enormously in the islands as the natives had no natural immunity to the illnesses Westerners brought along with them.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Haleakala

We were told that we had to drive up Haleakala Highway and watch the sunrise from the top of the mountain. It's apparently a spectacular view. But it took an hour just to drive to the base of the mountain, and an hour or so to drive up the mountain. Getting everyone up and dressed at 4:00 in the morning to drive up a dangerous, winding road up the side of a mountain is not my idea of vacation.

I guess what I'm saying is.......we didn't go see the sunrise.

We did go in the middle of the afternoon.

And frankly, it was terrifying.


This is a relief map which shows the Haleakala Highway as a little white line climbing up the mountain. It doesn't look so bad. Five little sharp turns and you're there! Right?

Wrong.

The road is a two-lane highway (very well maintained - there are no potholes or cracks in the road). But there is no guard rail and no curb. And about two feet past the edge of the road, it just drops off.

Just. Drops. Off.

Add to this, a driver who wants to look at the view as much as he wants to look at the road, and bicyclists hurtling down the road (because it's fun apparently) as well as tour buses coming around the curves at you (which makes the driver swerve slightly toward the edge to avoid the bus, which makes the wife scream bloody murder) all adds up to quite a scary drive.

Well, scary for me. The kids had a blast. I thought they'd be bored just driving up a mountain for a couple of hours but apparently I'm hilarious when I'm terrified and if you ask them, they will tell you the drive up Haleakala was one of their favorite parts of the trip.

Of course, they assume everything will be fine, and Kerry knows what he's doing and no one coming down that mountain could possibly cause us to drive off a cliff. They are immortal you know.

But even Kerry kept flexing his hands every so often because he had a death grip on the steering wheel and it was causing his hands to cramp up.

We stopped at Leleiwi Lookout on the way up. The elevation is about 8,800 feet here. We followed this rocky path for about five minutes to reach a point where we could look out over the crater.

On a clear day you would see this.

We saw this.

Actually, the clouds swirled around so much, we did get glimpses of pretty much everything, just not all at once. It was a pretty spectacular view. And cold. We all wound up putting on sweatshirts and jackets. Except for Ben who would rather die than admit he's cold. We actually counted about a dozen snowflakes falling around us.

Then we drove the rest of the way to the summit..........

.........where we spotted a true tourist.

It's cool to be standing on a mountain looking down on the clouds!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hale Pa'ahao

Near Banyan Tree Park is the old prison known as Hale Pa'ahao which means "stuck-in-irons house" in Hawaiian.

Hale Pa'ahao was built in 1852 and was used mainly to lock up rowdy sailors.


There's an old Ford out front that my father-in-law could have up and running in a jiffy.


The walls surrounding the prison grounds are coral and were built from pieces of an old fort which had been demolished nearby.


The cells were small and completely unfurnished. Four people would be confined to each cell. They could bring their own furnishings if they wanted. There was a framed letter from a sailor on one wall which described his stay in the prison. He actually thought it was quite nice. He had a place to sleep, three meals a day, and could lay around in the yard playing cards all day.



The prison rules were fairly strict. I like #7: Every noise of whatever kind or nature, whether it be talking, laughing, singing, whistling, or otherwise, is strictly prohibited.

I'm going to implement that rule in the car.


The report to the legistature for 1862-1863 lists such offenses as "felonious branding", "furious riding" and "seduction". A report for 1855-1857 also lists "giving birth to illegitimate children". "lewd conversation", and "neglect of parents to send children to school".

My how times have changed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Banyan Tree Park

Another great (and free - which is one reason why it's great) place to visit on Maui is Banyan Tree Park in Lahaina, home of the largest Banyan tree in the world.

Although it looks like a park with a number of trees providing shade, this is actually all just one tree.


Banyan trees send out their long branches horizontally.......

.....and then send roots down from the branches to form new trunks.


This banyan tree was planted by William Owen Smith on April 24, 1873 on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the first Protestant mission in Lahaina. Only eight feet tall at the time it was planted, the banyan now reaches a height of sixty feet, has twelve separate trunks, and covers almost two-thirds of an acre.

This is a very nice shady park with benches where you can sit and enjoy the (rather expensive) ice cream you can buy in a nearby shop.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dragon's Teeth

One of the really cool things we saw on Maui was an area known as the "Dragon's Teeth" on the North West side of the island.

Now, it is not a difficult area to find. Our guidebook told us exactly how to find the parking area and to "walk toward the shoreline along the golf course next to the short hedge to a long point of lava that separates two large beaches".

From the parking lot, we could see the golf course on one side and a long, low hedge running along next to a sidewalk. I had thought this might be something of a hike and was surprised to see that we would be walking on a sidewalk through the manicured grounds of the nearby hotel.

Let me tell you now: if you are walking down the sidewalk, you are going the wrong way.

When you wander down the sidewalk you will eventually come to a very pretty beach.....

.....with a great view of a rocky area jutting out into the water.

I stopped a lady who was walking by and asked her how to get to the Dragon's Teeth. She told me I was on the wrong side of the island, and that the Dragon's Teeth were way, far away from there.

I figured she was wrong because the guide book had given us perfect directions to the parking spot. Plus, we had followed that short hedge and spotted the golf course. We couldn't be that far off.

We decided we must need to walk down the beach and clamber over the rocks up to it. Only after we had climbed over a good chunk of rock did we realize we couldn't possibly scale our way up to the top. We could see people walking around up there, so we knew there had to be a way.

Finally through lots of backtracking, and trying to cut through the woods (which turned out to be impossible), we managed to stumble out onto a big green field and wind our way back to the van.

Then we re-checked the guidebook and realized it must mean we should actually walk across the golf course. And we also realized the grassy field we had walked along the edge of was an ancient Hawaiian burial ground which was forbidden to the public. Yeek.

Once we got our directions straight, we came to the Dragon's Teeth, so named because of the way the lava juts straight up like teeth. When the volcano was active and the lava was busily flowing down to the ocean, the wind and waves knocked it backwards and as it cooled it formed these "teeth".


Very cool. And free.

And that lady was wrong about it being way far away.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

'Iao Needle

Because we'd been rained out on our first attempt at the 'Iao Needle, we decided to try it again the next day. 'Iao Valley is a beautiful area of dense rainforest as well as a botanical garden where you can wander around and enjoy nature.

"Commonly called 'Iao Needle, the traditional Hawaiian name for this 2,250 foot high peak is Kuka'omoku. This peak is known as the phallic stone of Kanaloa, Hawaiian god of the ocean."

I swear that's what the sign said. I'm not making that up.

Maui warriors would climb to the top of the needle as lookouts during war time. 'Iao Valley was the site of the Battle of Kepaniwai in 1790, which was a horrifically bloody battle, even by the standards of the time.


While you can not climb on the actual needle, you can climb 166 steps up to a lookout point where you can have a much closer view of the needle. The paths are well paved and the steps are easy, but my thighs were screaming the next day.

The botanical garden is small, but very pretty. There are many native plants on display. And someone living in a tent, but I wasn't sure if they were homeless or maybe a researcher of some sort.

The view in this area is stunning. I'm not much of one to wander around and look at leaves, but this truly was a gorgeous area.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tsunami Again

In case you didn't hear:

We were given a tsunami warning again last night. A massive earthquake off the coast of Japan did damage over quite a large scale.

Maui was hit hardest of all the islands, so I'm happy not to be there on vacation now. But one happened here is minor compared to the devastation that hit Japan.

We are all fine, and thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aston Ka'anapali Shores

In Maui, we stayed at the Aston Ka'anapali Shores. It's on the west coast of Maui and was worth every penny. We had a full kitchen, not just a mini-fridge and a microwave, as well as a washer and dryer. We were able to make a number of meals in our room to help save money (did I mention Maui is expensive?) as well as get the laundry done. They had a special which made our 5th night free, and gave us a $100 food and beverage credit to use in the restaurant. Katie could eat free until 4:00 as long as she ordered a kids meal, which she flatly refused to do. I can't blame her. Who wants to watch everyone else eat a gourmet meal while you look at a tiny plate of chicken nuggets? (I don't actually know what their kids meals are like as we did not have one at our table. But everything we ordered was delicious and plentiful!)

Although we had reserved a room with a view of the parking lot (because it's less expensive) they upgraded us upon arrival to an ocean view on the 8th floor.

We watched whales from our balcony every single day.

We had a fabulous view of the pool, jacuzzi, and koi pond.

And we got to watch the sun set from our balcony every single night.

If we ever get back to Maui, I'm staying here again.

Without the kids.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kite Surfing

One of the funny things (to me) about Kerry is that if he really likes something, he always really likes it. He never gets tired of the same thing over and over (which is good news for me - I shouldn't be replaced with a newer model any time soon). The man was thrilled with Velveeta cheese dip the first time he had it around 19 years ago, and to this day when we are planning what to cook for guests who are coming over he will invariably suggest that I make Velveeta cheese dip. He just knows everyone else will be as thrilled as he is over it.

We live on an island with lots of exotic restaurants, most of which serve an amazing variety of seafood served in fabulous ways you can't even imagine until you've tried it.

He was thrilled, thrilled I tell you, to discover there is a Red Lobster in Honolulu.

Really?

We could eat at Red Lobster anywhere in the country (and have, quite frankly) and he still wants to try the one here. I'm all about new experiences and trying things we haven't had before. Kerry is all about comfort food and happy memories.

(To be fair, our first sort-of date was at Red Lobster. Although neither of us knew it was a date at the time, there was no hand-holding, no good night kiss, and no mention of us liking each other, Red Lobster was where I first looked across the table at my good friend Kerry, and thought, "He's cute. Why haven't I noticed that before?" So it holds a special place in his heart, and he likes going there.)

So after we were rained out of our hike, and we still had some time to kill before we could pick up Ben at the airport and head to the hotel, Kerry said, "Let's go to the beach."

Now, we live on a small island. We are never more than 20 minutes from the beach. We have spent tons of time at the beach and frankly, we are beached out. The kids don't really love the beach anymore unless their friends are there for them to interact with.

But, Kerry and I grew up far away from the beach. The beach was something wonderful and any time you had a chance to go it was a fabulous opportunity and you spent as much time on the beach and in the water as you could, because you never knew when you might have another chance.

I'm over it.

Kerry is not.

But.....Kerry doesn't get to go to the beach as often as the kids and I do. The first year we lived here, the kids and I went to the beach all the time; Kerry was in Afghanistan. We can go to the beach during the week if any of our homeschool friends all want to go; Kerry has to work. We go with anyone during the summer while we aren't doing school; Kerry has to work.

So, with that in mind, we agreed to go to the beach and let Kerry soak up all that beachiness that he so loves.

Amazingly, we happened to spot a large group of people kitesurfing.

I haven't seen this very often. I'm not sure I've ever actually seen it up close.

It was entrancing to watch these people speed along the water, leap high into the air, and flip around. I don't know how they kept from being drug out to sea but they all seemed to know what they were doing and managed to make it back to shore.

And Kerry was able to relax and unwind and that's what really counted.

Bistro Casanova

Another great restaurant on Maui is Bistro Casanova. I actually found it on "Trip Advisor" while searching for a different restaurant called Casanova Italian.

It got great reviews and was listed as one of the more reasonably priced restaurants in the area. But the minute we stepped inside, I knew we were going to spend a small fortune. It just had that look of a high priced restaurant: dim lighting, real tablecloths, wine glasses.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the prices were extremely reasonable and the food was excellent. I was so thrilled, I forgot to take pictures. But wow, this was my favorite restaurant on Maui.

While we were sitting there waiting for our food to arrive, I noticed Katie had both hands steepled on her face, mashing her nose around.

I asked her what she was doing.

With amazing honesty she replied, "Well, I want to pick my nose but this is a really nice restaurant and I figure I probably shouldn't do that here so I'm just rubbing my nose, trying to make the boogers move around."

"Wow," said Kerry, "thank God we aren't at McDonalds."

The Flatbread Company in Paia

One of our first stops in Maui was in the town of Paia.

Paia looks remarkably like many small towns on the mainland.

Its just that you know it's Maui, so it feels more fabulous.


Paia is apparently known for its oddball, quirky characters and its cute little local shops. We were on the lookout to see if we could spot any whacky people. We did see a lot of hippie types. They actually have a town bumper sticker which says, "Please do not feed the hippies". The only oddball we saw was a guy in black shorts and a giant black top hat hitchhiking. He had a beard like Santa Clause and I can't imagine anyone picking him up.


We ate at the Flatbread Company which had been recommended to me by a friend. I guess it's also very "hippie" in that it's an organic pizza restaurant.


They even cook the pizzas in a giant adobe-style oven which is fun to watch.


All their meats are nitrate-free and the pizzas were great! We were especially pleased that they had a vegan pizza, because that meant it was dairy-free and Emily could eat it. She usually can't have pizza because of all the cheese on it.

I think we may become hippies ourselves. We'll just hitchhike around Paia with our tophats and eat organic nitrate-free pizza every day!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First Day In Maui

Kerry and the girls and I flew to Maui early in the morning. Ben was running a five-mile race that morning, so he flew over that evening after the race. Our hotel was about an hour from the airport, and we didn't want to drive all the way to it and then back another hour to the airport, and then another hour back to the hotel. We decided to just visit some of the sites in the vicinity of the airport, pick Ben up, then head to the hotel.

After the glorious stop at Krispy Kreme, we decided to go check out the 'Iao Valley State Park and hike around a bit. We found the park with no problem, but it was raining quite heavily when we got there. Not being strangers to Hawaiian rain, we guessed it might clear up shortly so we decided to just wait in the car for a bit to see if it eased up enough for us to hike. We'd been up since 5:00 a.m. and were quite tired, so Kerry, Emily and I kicked back and napped for a while. Katie read a book. It never did quit raining, so we finally gave up on the idea of hiking and headed back in to town.

Next on the agenda was stocking up on some food so we wouldn't have to eat out the whole week (Maui is expensive). We stopped by K-mart to buy a styrofoam cooler and some lunch meat, then ran next door to Costco to get some more food at decent prices. (Later in the week, I paid $6.49 for a half-gallon of milk and it was on sale.)

As we were heading back to the car with our purchases, I groused to Kerry, "I can't believe we came all the way to Maui to nap in the car and shop at K-mart."

"And Costco," Kerry told me brightly. "Don't forget we shopped at Costco!"

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vacation!

Sorry to be so silent, but for those of you who don't know, we were on vacation......

.....in Maui.

Glorious, green, lush, beautiful Maui. Let me tell you, it was the trip of a lifetime.

I know you are thinking, "You live on an island. You vacationed on a neighbor island. Wasn't it practically the same?"

No, it wasn't.

Maui is bigger than Oahu, and lot less populated. There was actually unused land around us over there. The streets did not have houses crammed into every square inch. The houses had yards. You can't imagine how amazing that is to see when you haven't seen it in two years. The houses and building on Maui are actually set back from the road so they aren't hemming you in as you drive along. Kerry and I probably said a dozen times, "Look at all the space! It's so open!"

The mountains are taller, the roads up the mountains are twisty-er (and a thousand times more terrifying), everything is greener and blu-er, and there are maids who come and make your bed and bring you fresh towels every day!

I'm going to tell you all about it, I promise. But right now, I'm exhausted. I had to be at a homeschooling conference less than 24 hours after arriving home and frankly, I'm just barely functioning. So, reports on Maui are coming, but it may take me a little while to get it all up. Don't despair.

So for now, I leave you with the most breathtaking sight on Maui. This was the one view that made the kids scream for us to pull over. We leaped from the car and snapped photos, flung our arms wide and took deep breaths. Then we wiped the tears of joy from our cheeks and went in closer.
This is why Maui is not the same as Oahu.