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Category Archives: travel
I just put up our Hawaiian travel logs, written days afterwards so I’m sure to have left out a lot of things that were exciting and fun.
I really had a blast in Hawaii, despite the aggravation of traveling in a big group were you can’t please everyone. I got to do most of what I wanted to do, and the highlights were definitely the beautiful beaches and the fish right outside our condo. And especially the sea turtles. They were either the green sea turtles or the hawksbill sea turtles. Very cool, as both are on the Endangered/Threatened list in Hawaii.
I still can’t get over how much Maui was “the same” as the mainland. It’s not a different country, and people there want the same things as we do, so I shouldn’t be surprised that there’s the same stuff, and the same kind of pandering to tourists. I was just hoping for something a little more “wild” or exotic. But it was still a wonderful place.
A lot of the plants that were there – the mesquites and ironwoods – are considered pest species because being desert plants they have mechanisms to out-compete native, more gentle and sharing plants.
Phoenix has tropical plants as well – palm trees are definitely not desert plants but if you water them, they’ll do well in Arizona. I couldn’t help being amazed at the SIZE of their tropical plants. We have hibiscus plants, but they are small bushes here, while in Maui they grow wild and huge, stretching up and over the fences with hundreds of flowers compared to four to six at a time on our hibiscus plants. And we have Bird of Paradise bushes too – Maui has Bird of Paradise TREES. It’s pretty cool what rain and humidity can do for a plant.
Our last day on the island.
Our LAST DAY!!!
I dragged Shawn out for some last minute fish-watching, saying goodbye to my island friends. The pictures I got while snorkeling didn’t turn out very well, hopefully the video from the aquarium shows all the different types of fishes.
So we finally get to goto Lahaina, after planning to do it several times earlier in the week. Lahaina, the guidebook said, is THE place to shop in Maui.
The only real difference is that there are a few more upscale shops, but it’s mostly the same touristy places and about a hundred ice cream and shave ice shops. I was really hoping to find some authentic Hawaiian stuff, but a lot of the stuff being sold was either fake, made in the Philippines, or made from coral that may not have been harvested in an eco-friendly manner.
It reminded me of Phoenix again, because we have a lot of “Southwest” shops filled with “authentic” Native American crappolas. I was really hoping for a lot of local flavor, but that tasted too much like a tourist trap. Most of the shop owners were Korean – which was cool because one of our group is Korean and she got a lot of discounts!
We did, however get our flower leis.
There was a tiki carver – if that’s what they’re called. He carved a bunch of different tiki figures and although he didn’t have any small ones, he agreed to make one and have it shipped to us later. Cool! Shawn also got one for his brother because he thought they were neat, too. (Edit: As of May 2011, we still haven’t received. Faith in humanity lowered even further)
Friday. Our last full day. And we slept like there was no tomorrow. Too much fresh air and sunshine for us nocturnal hermits.
I haven’t even read one whole book or played many of the games I brought. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to do that on my own time. Now is the time for swimming and sleeping.
We went to a sea food place with “real” Hawaiian food. I got a salad with tofu and we had to order spaghetti off of the kids’ menu for Shawn. The waiter gave us some grief about it but ended up bringing it out for him. Everyone else ordered pu-pu platters. Pu-pu is a Hawaiian word for finger food or appetizers. The place was, in fact, called Pu-Pu’s. So on this trip, we have eaten at Tu-Tu’s, Lu-Lu’s and Pu-Pu’s.
Later on, Shawn and I went down to a little cafe and ordered two hot chocolates. They were pretty mediocre, if not downright terrible. We really missed QT – the local convenience store that is a magical land of hot chocolate flavors.
We came home and saw some really cool snails. Desert dwellers such as us rarely see snails, so it was pretty neat. Then we spent the rest of the night playing cards with his family and packing up to leave. We needed to check out by noon. Our vacation was nearly over.
Today’s my Mom’s birthday, and I need to get her something nice. I called earlier and she wasn’t home – out shopping.
We went to the Maui Ocean Center, which was right next to the harbor we went to yesterday when we went out snorkeling. Another disadvantage of going in a group – nobody else wants to stay as long as we do (or at least as long as I do) at the oceanarium. We got some good pics and video footage but we were rushed along and I didn’t even get to go into the gift shop. Foom.
There were lots of fishies and a shark tunnel and a Turtle Lagoon and all of the things you expect to see at aquariums. Even some jellies, which I love. The shark exhibit even said which sharks would eat you (the tiger shark only) and that they usually come ashore at dusk, in murky water, where sea turtles feed. Eep. I’m glad I didn’t read that before we went blindly out to find the sea turtles. (We still went out later to look for them).
After that, Shawn’s siblings went and rented vespas – little moped scooter things. I wanted nothing to do with them, and they were going to ride them all the way to Lahaina. So we set out, with some of us in the car and the rest on scooters.
It only took about 20 minutes before those of us in the car realized that they would probably not get to Lahaina before nightfall, going at a top speed of 35 miles on the scooters. So we turned around and tried to catch up with them before they got out on the highway – we weren’t even sure if the vespas were legal to take out onto the highways, were they would either slow everyone else down or have to ride on the narrow shoulder the whole way. Not a good idea, in any case. Lots of big trucks overlapped the shoulder.
I just realized this morning that I’ve been drinking decaff. Apparently that’s what his grandparents drink. The rest of his family (at least his mom & siblings) does not like coffee at all. I guess I will have to suffer through the rest of the trip decaffeinated.
Today is REAL snorkeling – not just turning your head and taking a breath every 30 seconds, but the real deal. Where you put a gross tube in your mouth to breath through, just like thousands of people before you. If you are lucky, you won’t forget you can’t breathe when you go down more than a six inches and end up sucking in salt water. The very same salt water that smells as good as it tastes. Yuck. But I suffered through this germ tube for the sake of science and public interest and pictures.
We paid less money for the afternoon trip on The Four Winds II, because like I said, everything is better in the morning. However, we were lucky enough to still go to Molokini crater. I really wanted to SNUBA – a cross between snorkeling and SCUBA diving, where you had a breathing tube that’s attached to oxygen tanks on a platform and you can dive up to 30 feet. No training necessary. However, it was not to be, as they could only take 12 people down that day. I was bummed.
This morning I grabbed my goggles and went out with Shawn’s brother and sisters and their boyfriends to look for sea turtles. The guys had seen them the first full day at sunset – big, awesome sea turtles, and of course we didn’t believe them. We walked out over the rocky part of the beach (ow ow ow!) and into the water, where we DID see beautiful fish and corals.
I was really amazed by the variety of what we saw – and that we didn’t have to pay for a tour to find the place, it was right there off of “our” beach. Hawaii is truly amazing in that respect, full of natural wonders right off the coast. The water was clear and there were fish everywhere.
I saw so many fish and had no idea what they all were. Others even saw an eel, but being without my glasses made me half blind. I still think I saw some puffers.
We didn’t see any sea turtles.
Back at the condo, we had a nap. I pride myself on being a professional napper, but Shawn doesn’t usually take naps. Even he was tired from all the swimming and splashing. He also had water in his ear since Sunday and couldn’t hear very well, so he just snoozed for a couple hours.
It was his grandparent’s anniversary (53rd? Can’t remember) so we all pitched in to pay for an “authentic” Hawaiian luau over at the Maui Prince hotel. We were promised leis.
When I told co-workers I was going to Maui, I had lots of comments about what to do and what not to do. One of the pieces of advice was to AVOID the famous Road to Hana. It was described as “great for the first two hours”. Armed with this foreknowledge, I knew the Road to Hana was not a day-trip to take lightly. I also read about it in the guidebook, and was looking forward to it.
We loaded up the “caravan” of cars and set off.
The point of the Road to Hana is not, contrary to what everyone else on the trip was thought, to GET to Hana but to enjoy the journey. It was a lovely scenic drive uphill through the rainforest, filled with tropical plants and waterfalls and hiking trails. Instead, it made a lot of the travelers with us carsick, including Shawn. He was still a good sport about it, and like me, wanted to stay longer at some of the stops and to stop more often. But the lead car seemed on a MISSION to get to Hana as quickly as possible. One of the drawbacks about traveling in a large group.
Our first stop was The Garden of Eden, a tropical paradise of plants and for some reason, peacocks. I was afraid the poor birds were going to get run over. Shawn’s brother grabbed a coconut, the first time we had seen them ever growing wild. The more familiar hairy nut grows inside an outer green husk. On a side note, ten times more people die from being hit on the head by falling coconuts than are killed by sharks. Nevertheless, we escaped unscathed.
They have a Costco here. And a Safeway. And, like everywhere else on the continental United States, a Starbucks.
We didn’t get our leis at the airport – we needed to have a package deal, which we didn’t have. We were pretty bummed out at that. Lots of “we wanted to get lei’ed” jokes tossed around. By this time, after a lot of “Go get lei’ed!” jokes at work, I am thoroughly sick of them.
The Kahului airport is open air at certain points, making it very nice to lounge but it fills the rest of the building with humidity – something us Phoenicians are not used to. The nice breezes made the afternoon arrival a great introduction to the week ahead.
Our condos (three of them for the 16 of us) are located in Kihei, about 20 minutes from the airport. Kihei is called “South Maui” although it is really located on the West coast of the island, but because Lahaina is known as West Maui, they call Kihei South Maui, as there is apparently nothing remarkable about the true South coast.
This part of Maui is a lot like Phoenix because it is not the lush tropical wonderland that covers the mountain areas. It gets less rain, and therefore had a dry look to it but as there was abundant humidity and sunshine, there were a lot MORE of the types of plants we see in Arizona. Lots of pods – mesquites and ironwoods and dry grasses, along with HUGE fields of sugarcane, which you don’t see in Phoenix! I read the guidebook to Maui on the plane, so I was full of knowledge about weather patterns and foliage of the island.