Saturday, September 22, 2012

Honourable Mentions - Lets Spend some $$ Edition

Since a few people have been asking for specifics on our trip to Maui, I thought I would post a couple of our favourite things and places in Maui... This first installment shall be deemed the "Things that cost Money" section. Also, things that make my beautiful family smile section... 

First off, I might as well mention our condo itself. It really was perfectly delightful. It was a loft style condo with 2 bathrooms that easily could have fit 6 people. I think it could be doable with 2 friendly couples even. It was more that enough room for the 4 of us. The owners were really nice and the agency in charge was also generally quite helpful. While technically it does have an ocean view, it is not that "romantic" view of the ocean... but we can see it. We are also West facing, so we do catch the sunset. It is also a 4 minute walk to a nice beach for gorgeous views and even swimming (although we only swam there once. It is in the heart of Kihei, very safe area... both locals and tourists in the building... it really was a great place. Here is one link to the condo, the photos do it justice!
My in-laws also stayed in a condo in the same building... smaller place, but also very nice.

Alright, maintaining the theme of what you spend money on... allow me to quickly address some restaurants. First off, we used both the Maui Revealed book
But, we also stumbled across the following food blog , and actually picked up a copy of their 2012 Maui Restaurant Review
Both have been very handy. Some of our favourite restaurants have been as follows (and in no order):

Threes in Kihei - yummy and just enough ambient noise to make it good for little kids. 
Star Noodle in Lahaina - AWESOME... totally loved it as a foodie and a parent. Off the beaten track in Lahaina but totally worth it. Really not to be missed in my opion
Coconuts in Kihei - really tasty and quick food. GREAT fish burgers and fish tacos!! 
Flatbread Company in Paia - quite possibly the yummiest pizza on earth. Completely loved this place!!
Aina Gourmet Market - really great service the first time through, not as good the second time, but it still has some interesting foodie items to bring home on the plane, and sells some fabulous baked goods. I absolutely adored the French Toast here... but not the way you are all picturing French Toast... There was also a lovely Koi pond the girls really liked, and the resort itself is worth a look. Gorgeous and PRICEY!
Two great sandwich places 808 Deli in Kihei and No Ka Oi Deli in Lahaina. Pretty comparable, more inexpensive sandwich places and great to take out and bring to the beach. Nowhere to sit in either places... but great food and quick service.

The Old Lahaina Luau was really a special experience too. From what I have heard, it is one of the more expensive ones on the island, but it is all inclusive of alcohol and buffet. The only cash we left behind was for our server, Jerry, who was engaging and helpful with a table full of picky kids. The Luau is operated by the same company as the next door restaurant called the Aloha Mixed Plate. We ate at the mixed grill the same day we purchased the tickets for the Luau. It is very reasonably priced and has a gorgeous view of the ocean. Lots of traditional fare and quick service. Not the best food I have ever had, but not terrible either. 

Ok, this is getting to be a lengthy post, but on to the next part... when Jason's family came, we did have family portraits done. The photographer, Kyndra Chronister, was very affordable and very nice. We found out about her when her husband approached us on the beach to sell her services. On an island full of things to spend money on, Jason and I can appreciate the efforts they went to in order to garner our business. We also checked in with several other more established photographers who were quite literally charging double or triple the cost of her services! The photos were lovely, even when she was tasked with herding cats... Calla was completely averse to smiling on this day, and our nephew also felt disinclined to even look at the camera! Nevertheless, she got a few winning shots and we all had a nice time with her. Although she does not have a website, here is a link to her Flickr page and email is

Ok, getting to the end of spending all your money?? Jason and I did also manage to take a snorkeling cruise to the Molokini Crater. With Grammy and Grampy in town, we were able to take a trip without the kids. We went out of our way to book the shortest trip we could, even though there were more exciting trips - since we did not want to overdo our free babysitting. Well, due to low booking, we were automatically upgraded to the two stops + breakfast and barbecue for lunch + $1 Mai Tais. Jason unfortunately did not benefit from any of the food or drink offerings due to motion sickness, but I thought it was all very nice. We booked through Boss Frogs which was fine. The best part was that we paid HALF of what everyone else paid for the same thing. Also, for the ladies (and my male friends who also appreciate another fine looking man)... the crew on the Quicksilver were absolutely delightful (both in personality, and in well, in a shirtless capacity).

Ok... I have spent enough money now... so my next installment shall be much shorter and include our favourite beaches and places. They probably still cost money, but what else do we do on vacation? 

The cost of a family photographer in Maui... $300-1200... the cost of catching Cecilia first steps on a beautiful beach in Maui... Priceless!!

Stay Tuned!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ready to Come Home Yet?

Hells No.

A quick question Jason posed over the dishes this afternoon, and I gotta be honest, I am not ready to come home. I know there are vacations that you feel ready to come home from, but as of today, this is not a feeling I have. Aside from missing the pooch, I am happy to keep hanging out here in Maui indefinitely. I apologize to friends and family, not trying to be offensive, just saying that this place is really and truly wonderful.

Well, with the in-laws in town, we have gone out to repeat a few adventures. We actually got up at 3:30 in the morning AGAIN, and climbed about 10000 feet AGAIN, and went to the somewhat unlucky Haleakala Summit to watch the sunrise (need I remind my readers of the lost car key fiasco from a couple weeks ago). Well, it was beautiful... AGAIN... and I admit I have more happy memories of the place now too.

We also decided to do the Road to Hana again, but this time we rented a Jeep Soft Top and drove the entire route with the roof down. We fondly named our Jeep "Black Stallion" and actually took the dicey section of highway by the south end of the island. It really was a single lane in both directions with NO barrier to the giant cliffs over the side to the ocean. It was spectacular. We also skipped Hana - since the journey is the road, not the destination in this case.

We have been to Lahaina several times, and on our last drive through, we stumbled upon the Maui Jim corporate headquarters. I have been raving about how awesome my turtle spotting sunglasses are, so we popped our heads in the building to chat with the lady. She turned out to be the cleaning lady, but was friends with the owner and assured us she would pass on the praise to the owner at church on Sunday. Well, wouldn't you know, the NEXT DAY, I was wiping off my lenses and the sunglasses actually snapped in HALF!! So disappointing. Anyway, we are planning a trip to the HQ again in the next couple days since they apparently do repairs. :)

Last, but not least, Jason and I were afforded the opportunity to go on a boat trip to the Molokini Crater... a renowned location for snorkeling. Grammy and Grampy and Auntie Kristine took the girls so we could have a little adventure. Well, we paid for the quick 2 hour trip and got the 5 hour tour instead, including a stop in Turtle Town, plus the crater, a tour around the southern tip of the island complete with Star Spotting (ie. the homes of David Bowie, Tiger Woods, Clint Eastwood and Michael Jordan among others). We did not actually see any of these people, but it was cool to know where they spend their free time! Oh, and the absolute icing on the cake... DOLPHINS!! I can't explain how magical those little cuties are. We even saw a baby dolphin... absolutely darling.  This excursion will be one we talk about forever.

Well, that sums up the last few days... we did come to the realization that we are a mere 11 days away from leaving Maui, but we will be moving to a new location in Kauai to complete the trip. I am sure it will offer new adventures and beauty in the very near future.

Cheers All!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Snorkeling, Sand and Sunsets

So, we have now been in Maui for 3 weeks. It is obscene really... but we are still having an amazing time. We really do spend almost every day at the beach... but needless to say today involved a couple of firsts at the beach today!

First off... I FINALLY got to swim with a sea turtle. I mean, I can spot a sea turtle from a nautical mile, but it turns out every time I try to get in and be in the water when one has been spotted, I am perpetually 5 minutes and 50 meters too late. I was starting to take turtle shyness personally. In fact, even today, we arrived at the beach and I plunged into the water and headed straight for the open ocean where I spotted a cluster of snorkelers, only to be vastly disappointed by a mere rainbow of beautiful fishes (tongue in cheek of course)... but I have SEEN the fishes (heck, we actually went to the Aquarium the other day)!! Needless to say, I come sloshing in from my adventure to see Jason and Calla pelting down the beach to where 2 turtles have been hanging out. I am left holding the bag (quite literally, the bag with our money and camera and keys) and the baby, while Calla and Jason plunge in with the turtles. Happily, they return a few minute later and Calla and I were able to go see the turtles AND I was even able to swim with them.

Now, on that note, Calla was wearing her lifejacket during this fiasco... and I did have on the snorkel and mask... so when the turtle started swimming, I literally grabbed Calla by the handle and started swimming after him. Out. Into the sea. Deep.

Now I am a pretty good swimmer... but in my turtle chasing frenzy, I failed to notice just how far I dragged us out. Well, Calla is a brave kid... and happily swam through the chop with me while I pursued the turtle. It was awesome. My kid is awesome. I am happy.

The funny thing is... we actually came close to a boat. Calla immediately became disinterested in the turtle and started asking about the boat.

"Why is that boat there?"
"What is that boat doing?"
"Does that boat have a kitchen?" - to this I say "HUH?" I don't even think Calla has ever been on a boat... what makes her think there is a kitchen.

Anyway, the second first of the day was that we actually went to watch the sunset. Now that we are parents... we are generally quite dull... we get home every night close to suppertime and have been extremely consistent about having the kids upstairs and in bed by 7pm. Since sunset is at 6:33, we have generally just been catching it out the window of our lanai (aka balcony for those who don't speak Hawaiin). Either way, we had early dinner and slipped out across the street to the beach to watch the sunset. As with so many things in Hawaii, it was amazing. Really... wow.

I would like to say it was serene and tranquil scene of us being in the moment... but, Calla was trying to get us to build sandcastles, and Cecilia was tapped in to her inner baby turtle and was perpetually crawling at top speed to the waters edge, ready to launch herself into the sea. Either way, it was beautiful and I could not have been watching it with three more special people.

One last note on sand. After a full day on the beach, I would just like to state that everyone in the house has sand on every inch of their person. I mean, even after all my years of working as a lifeguard in the City of Dartmouth... I never remember being this sandy. Ever. In my toes, my ears, my nostrils. It is completely inappropriate. And for the record, there is no such thing as rinsing of sand in the ocean... I think it actually causes the sand grains to multiply. Sand. Everywhere you don't want it to be!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Beach - A Mom's Eye View

We have been spending a lot of time on the beach, and it is giving me a new perspective on the whole concept of why the sandy beach is such an amazing place.

First of all, if you are at the beach, there is a good chance that it is hot out. Now, I understand there is a portion of the population who does not actually enjoy the heat... but I am not one of those people. With a poorly functioning thyroid... and the fact that I live in one of the coldest places on earth, I appreciate every drop of sweat that pours from my brow on a hot day. And the best thing about heat on the beach is the cool, delightful water. Jump right in, leap a couple waves and your sweaty discomfort is all but gone.

Additionally, I now go to the beach with pretty much the two cutest kids on earth. That is completely an unbiased opinion of course... These two kids love the beach. They love playing on the sand, running on the sand, digging in the sand, rolling in the sand, being buried in sand... one even likes eating the sand (but we are hoping that might stop).

All that happiness, and they have not even slipped a toe into the water yet.

It is this pure and unadulterated joy that reminds me just how fabulous the beach really is, because it really grounds a parent in the present. You can't help but allow yourself to get caught up in that moment with your kids... and you feel the fiery hot sand on your palms until you dig down to that next level where it is just cool and moist. You start packing and digging and sifting it in your hands... and you watch the grains slip through your fingers and it truly feels amazing.

Cecilia likes to crawl along the beach to that place where the waves just end... she looks at us with a mischevious grin and just takes off at top crawling speed. She knows we are in hot pursuit, but that when she gets to her destination, we will sit and play in the super soaked sand and wait for the waves to roll on shore and pull the sand back to the sea. She will sit in this spot for an hour... and just enjoy the water lapping around her legs and low back. She lets the wet sand pour through her fingers... and just relishes the coolness of the water and the closeness of her family.

Calla adores running in and jumping waves and splashing around. She knows that if she waits long enough and we have sufficiently baked our skin on the shore, we head to the coolness of the water... and she is totally freaking out because we are FINALLY going to do something fun with her . This is pretty much the best part of her day in Hawaii, and in truth, it is often the best part of my day.

It has called to mind all the times that I used to go swimming back in Nova Scotia with my Mum, my Aunt and my Grandmother (all the matriarchs who have since left me to learn to "Mother" on my own). I absolutely adored those days... Mum and Dodo would hold my hands and lift me over the briny waves... and my aunt would float like a buoy over the waves and we would laugh and have an amazing time... even though the water was frigid. Those were amazing memories and I am blessed to have them.

I hope that Calla (and Cecilia) will have these memories too (with significantly warmer water).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pina Coladas and the Long and Winding Road...

Of course, the two items in the title are completely unaffiliated... I just wanted to point out to all of you before you start reading, that I am drinking a Pina Colada and typing at the same time!

Fresh Pineapple
Coconut Cream
Bacardi Light Rum
Pineapple Juice
Lots of Ice


One Straw
Big Glass...

Off and running. 

Anyway, onto the more important part of the blog... sharing our adventure driving the Road to Hana. All I can say is WOW. It truly is beautiful, and Oh So NARROW! 

Red Sand Beach in Hana
Beautiful Backdrop

 In all honesty, there is no way to truly describe the experience and have anyone understand just how lush and beautiful it is. There are painted trees, and hanging vines, and blooming flowers, and crashing ocean, and gorgeous vistas, and hidden waterfalls, and jagged lava rock, and a black sand beach, and a red sand beach, and winding, twisting single lane highway. Really amazing.

Having the windows open and tasting the salt in the air, and feeling the coolness of the rainforest air, it was absolutely stunning.

Oh, there was also a place we stopped for banana bread... really, they said it was the best banana bread on the island, and they were not lying. Yum. Aunty Sandy's. Yum. Might have been the best banana bread ever.

Julie and the trusty steed
Well, other than posting some photos, this is an anticlimactic blog in my perspective. If you don't like driving, or narrow roads... this is not the route for you. If you have a whiny 3,4,5,6 year old... find something to either knock them out, or entertain them. This was an exercise in patience for Jason and Calla and I... there was significant whining almost within the first 20 minutes of the drive. It kept going for nearly 5 hours. Yikes.

The Backdrop to the Boob Shot
Besides the beauty, the trip was mostly uneventful  (like no lost keys or anything). We used the Maui Revealed book to decide where and when to stop... it did not steer us wrong. One short climb that I did alone revealed a girl having her photos taken nude from atop a metal fence overlooking a beautiful town (note photo Left). I guess I surprised them a little... I tried to not notice and simultaneously tell them not to stop on my behalf... but I guess she wasn't an exhibitionist. Jason was a little bummed he was not the first one up the trail on that route.
Eden Anyone?

There was also the black sand beach and lava tube where I kept seeing Sea Turtles all over the place.... and NO ONE else was seeing them. Jason was convincing complete strangers I was hallucinating turtles,  but FINALLY on one the bluffs with several other people listening to my rantings... "LOOK, WHERE THE FOAM IS... UNDER WATER... NEAR THE ROCKS... HE IS ABOUT TO COME UP... OH MY GOD... RIGHT THERE" well, finally, my hallucinations were corroborated and I got to walk away the victor of our marital spat. Yeah, that is about the extent of our marital spats at this point of the vacation!!

Well, that is all for now, hope you are having as much fun as I am!! 
Calla taking the path less taken
Jason and Cecilia having a break in the shade