Sunday, February 14, 2010
We went to an extremely packed church in Lahaina for sacrament meeting. We then came back to Mahina Surf, packed a lunch and began our trek on the road to Hana. It was quite the drive, with jungle thicker than what we had seen on our hike in Oahu. The road was extremely curvy and was narrow enough for one car in some locations. It was beautiful though. We stopped off on three different occasions. The first was to take a small walk through jungle to a beautiful secluded waterfall and pool of water. The second was for lunch at this little park that had roosters, hens, and CATS just hanging out. It was so odd to see them there, like someone had dropped some off and they had kittens and began living in the jungle. At one point a rooster came gliding down out an extremely tall tree. So weird! The third and final stop was in a little community on the rocky violent shores. We had fun watching the waves crash into the lava rock. I found a rock that was close to the action, yet just out of reach of getting wet. It was fun to have the waves crash right before me, like I was directing the waves like a maestro. We then turned around and drove back to Mahina Surf. Mama wasn’t feeling so well and got motion sickness on the return trip. Thankfully after a short time in the restroom, she was back to her perky self. Dad and I used the barbecues down by the pool to cook sirloin steak a grilled vegetables. It was very fun to grill in that environment. We prepared a feast of sirloin steak, grilled vegetables, salad, and garlic bread and ate out on our lanai. It’s been a wonderful trip to Hawaii and one that we will remember forever!
Saturday, February 13, 2010
We had ourselves an early morning snorkeling adventure at Ahihi Kinau reserve in South Maui. It had the best conditions of any of the snorkeling spots in Maui. Even with the winter silt coming from the southern oceans, the shape of the bay limited its impact on visibility, so Dad and I were able to spend a good amount of time snorkeling among the beautiful reefs. Had the sun come out, we would have had perfect snorkel conditions. Even with the cloud cover, we found some excellent locations and saw some amazing stuff! I even got the courage up to do some diving. On one dive, I was trying to get a closer look at an unusual fish, and I surprised an octopus and it came out of hiding. It was a great snorkeling site and one that we definitely need to check out the next time we come back. Summer is the best time, but if we ever go back during winter, Ahihi is the place to go. Dad wanted to explore some more of the area in the car so we took a drive into a very cool area further southeast of Makena and Ahihi reserve to La Perouse Bay. To get there, we had to cross a field of volcanic rock that had erupted from a cinder cone just visible up the hill. I felt like we were driving on the surface of the moon. We came back to Mahina Surf and relaxed for a while in preparation for the Luau at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The Luau was very cool. The food was excellent and we had access to an open bar (non-alcoholic options of course, the fruit punch was killer!). The entertainment was also very good, though about one half of the dances were Tahitian which means it was a bit scandalous when compared to the Polynesian Cultural Center dancing. We ended up sitting next to some very friendly people. One of the couples was visiting from Southern California and the wife guessed correctly that we were LDS. Funny how you can just pick them out sometimes. The same thing happened to Chelsea and I at Pearl Harbor. During the film, we sat behind a family that had “the look”. After chatting with the grandma on the ferry at the close of the tour, she asked if we were LDS because I mentioned Chelsea having participated in a Luau during college. Small Mormon world. Now back to the Hyatt Regency luau, another couple was a newly married couple from South Dakota: Elias and Mara. He is a pulmonary doctor and she has a bachelor’s in English. Both are Middle Eastern, he from Syria and she from Saudi Arabia. They were extremely friendly and funny. After it was over, Elias wanted to take some pictures for us and asked if we would take some for them too. Funny how you can connect with perfect strangers sometimes. He said he will e-mail me the pictures he took; nice guy.
Friday, February 12, 2010
We had a nice breakfast out on our porch (lanai, as they are called here). We then walked to a Farmer’s Market about a mile from the condo and got some fresh fruits, vegetables, pineapple salsa, and a coconut (for Chelsea, she loves them). We then went to Maalaea Bay and spent a good portion of the day on a whale watching boat. Mom and dad had taken some Dramamine to lessen the chance of getting sea sick and it made them very lethargic. Mom slept most of the way home and was not herself for a full 30 hours (the box said the effects lasted 24 hours.). We all had a great time on the whale watching boat and saw lots of whale activity. The highlight was when a mother and calf came directly toward our boat and passed almost right under it. In those circumstances, boats must turn off their propellers and wait until the whales have moved on to a greater distance. When we returned to the condo, Chelsea and I cooked our tomato squash pasta dish using the vegetables from the farmer’s market. We then played couples Canasta. I think we should probably get rid of Canasta, I really don’t think it’s a good game for anyone’s marriage.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
We took a nice long walk along the highway with my parents the next morning and admired the houses, landscaping, cobwebs, and spiders. The weather was just perfect, not too hot, not too cool, and the humidity was just right. We spent a good portion of the day at Kaanapali beach, or better known as Black Rock. It was a blast! I slipped into my wet suit and spent many hours body surfing, body boarding, and snorkeling. At one point during the day, Chelsea, Dad, and I were about to enter the water near black rock to snorkel and we saw people pointing and motioning and talking about seeing a turtle in the water. We rushed to put on our equipment and got into the water as soon as possible, but the water was so cloudy that the turtle slipped away. Later on in the day while I was body surfing, some more people began pointing excitedly at the water not too far off, so I ran up, got my snorkel equipment on, and booked it for the ocean. After a few minutes of searching, I saw it! I swam with that giant sea turtle for a good five minutes. When I felt too many people were crowding it, I did some more snorkeling near black rock and saw a lot of very cool fish. The snorkeling conditions were actually not that great, but seeing the sea turtle made it all worth it. The surf was definitely up and the waves had some serious power. I had fun trying to mimic a couple locals who crashed into incoming waves with their body boards and would complete full flips from the force of the impact. My collisions lacked some of the finesse that they had mastered. Dad, Chelsea, and I did a fair amount of snorkeling around black rock and I was proud of how long Chelsea snorkeled with us (she is not a fan of being in deeper ocean water). Because of the winter currents from the South, the water was quite cloudy and lacked the clarity and colors that mom and dad had experienced during past visits. The odd thing about the weather that day was that the rain would come and go throughout the day, but the sun always seemed to come back out. Fun Maui weather! We went back to the condo, showered, and went to a great local place for dinner, Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina. We sat outside on the patio and ate traditional Hawaiian local food: poi, shrimp, mahi mahi, Kalua Pork, and other good stuff. It was a great time chatting and enjoying the food, tiki torches, and scenery. We walked through Lahaina and did some window shopping, enjoyed some yummy ice cream (vanilla with coconut, macadamia nut, and caramel swirl) and saw the largest Banyan tree in the world. The banyan tree has roots that grow from the limbs downward. We saw many of them during our Florida trip last year, but this giant Banyan tree had been planted and modified by the locals over more than a hundred years to what it is today. Earlier on in the day, we had talked about playing games after going back to the condo. My dad was doing something on the computer and assumed that we would tell him when the game was ready, but when he turned around to check, we were all sound asleep!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
We got a late start on our planned snorkeling trip back to Hanauma Bay due to the hotel experience of the previous night. The jellyfish had moved on from the bay and we had our first shot at snorkeling in Hawaii. We saw such a variety of fish in the short time we were in the water. The coolest was the giant school of trumpet fish (narrow and long, eel-like fish) and the giant parrot fish. I wanted to stay longer, but we had to get back to the crappy hotel to shower and check out before noon. We did so and left the hotel, very glad to be out of there and on the road again. We once again met up with the Beckham’s and caravanned to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We met Natalie Horrocks at the Dole plantation and Chelsea had a fun time catching up with her friend. We enjoyed some amazing pineapple ice cream and then boarded the Pineapple Express, a train which took us around some of the pineapple fields. We walked around the grounds and bought a pineapple, said goodbye to Natalie, and then headed up to a surfer town just up the road on Natalie’s recommendation for some good “shave ice” (not “shaved ice”, as one might think). Cameron and I walked in and out of no less than seven surf shops while the girls chatted at the shave ice shop. We then said goodbye to the Beckham’s and continued our journey north to check out the 20 foot waves that had been predicted for this day on the north shore. We were not disappointed. We sat on the beach as the lifeguards warned all swimmers not to enter the water beyond the knee as the waves were a 9 out of 10 on the wave scale. Our time on Oahu was coming to a close, so we drove to the Honolulu airport, dropped off our rental car, and shuttled over to our terminal for our inter-island flight to Maui. My parents picked us up, gave us a sea shell lei greeting, and drove us to Mahina Surf, a set of beach condos that my family has been staying at for years. We drove into Mahina Surf and mom and dad took us down to the rocky shore to spot a few sea turtles that they had discovered the day before.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
We caravanned with the Beckham’s to the North Shore to visit the Laie temple and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We walked the grounds, snapped some photos, and watched a video in the visitor’s center about the history of the church in the Laie area. Then we walked the grounds of BYU Hawaii and got some Kalua pork and macaroni salad at a L&L Hawaiian barbecue. We continued on to the Polynesian Cultural Center and had a wonderful time visiting the “islands” of Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Hawaii, Tonga, and Tahiti. We played with poi balls, got Maori “tattoos”, and Chelsea played a stick tossing game in New Zealand. We had a fun time in Samoa as we watched them climb a palm tree, make coconut milk, and eventually made fire after several failed attempts. We listened to the ukulele, a nose flute, drums, and guitars in Hawaii as a very talented musician played while a hula dance was performed. After that, all of us had a quick hula lesson out under a large tree and we took a ukulele lesson from some LDS volunteers. Then it was over to Tonga for the most hilarious show of the day when a white guy from Idaho, a black guy from Dalla,s and a chinese man attempted to play their drums and yell out Tongan war cries. After Tonga, we went to Tahiti for some hip swaying and knee popping action. Their dancing is NOT like the other island dancing, that’s for sure. We had a nice buffet dinner while the Beckham’s went to a luau. Then we enjoyed the most wonderful Polynesian cultural show I have ever seen, “Ha: Breath of Life”. It was incredible. We had excellent seats in the open air theater. The sound, lighting, energy, music, dancing (also fire dancing!), were top notch and I doubt I’ll see anything quite like it again. We drove back into Honolulu, and through a series of events ended up staying the night in a different hotel from the previous two nights. We had planned on camping (sleeping in our car) at a state camping site on the north shore, but this did not work out as planned (much to the joy of my parents) so we got another “3 star” hotel for the night, which turned out to be an awful experience. You can't always trust the rating system on deal websites. The day was wonderful, but the hotel was a nightmare.
Monday, February 8, 2010
This was a day that I want to hit the rewind button and play over and over again. Chelsea and I awoke at 5:00 a.m. bright eyed and bushy tailed to begin our Oahu vacation. We decided to get an early start and do some snorkeling in a popular nature reserve known as Hanauma Bay. As we drove into the reserve, we saw several signs that read “Bay Closed due to Jellyfish”. We took advantage of the early hour to enjoy a sunrise at a lookout point not far from the parking lot. My friend, Cameron Beckham was also in Oahu with his mom, Vicki, and his 7 month pregnant wife, Stephanie. We met them on Waikiki beach. I had been planning on surfing along with Cameron and Vicki and as we spoke with the rental hut, Vicki urged Chelsea to also consider taking a surf lesson and she agreed! Some of the other surf bum instructors commented on my full bodied wet suit and said that I must have been a boy scout (“be prepared”). I admitted to being a boy scout, and was grateful for it so that I wouldn’t get a sunburn or board rash on the first full day of vacation. It was a surreal experience surfing on Waikiki. One of those, “I can’t believe I’m here doing this!” moments. Chelsea had an awesome time and was all smiles. We all had a lot of success in getting up and enjoying the ride. I even caught a couple waves myself. After our surf lesson, Chelsea and I took to the trail (on a recommendation from Natalie Horrocks) to hike to a waterfall in the middle of a jungle. We got lost on the drive to the trailhead and ended up at the entrance of a fancy country club and saw a wild pig walking around. We eventually found the trailhead and found ourselves in the middle of a dense jungle. The hike took us across a stream about 4-6 times and through muddy, clayey soil. Many times, the trail wasn’t clearly marked and we had to do some backtracking to get back on the trail. After one hour of strenuous hiking we arrived at our destination, a secret waterfall and pool of water. We made our way out of the jungle just before dark. We ate dinner at a great place called the Hula Grill, located in the Royal Hawaiian shopping center. We sat in the family friendly bar area and had a wonderful meal of coconut shrimp and fish and chips while being serenaded by an extremely talented young Hawaiian man with his guitar and voice. It was a magical moment sitting there enjoying a great meal in a wonderful environment and listening to him sing “Somewhere over the rainbow / What a Wonderful World”. Chelsea and I walked back to our hotel just floating thinking about the wonderful day we had.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
When we arrived in Honolulu, I instantly felt the relaxed, laid back atmosphere wash over me. Our first destination was Pearl Harbor. We got our free tickets to the Arizona memorial and played around with the vintage periscopes and anti-air weapons. We learned about what happened prior to, and during the attack. After the film, we exited the theater and boarded a large ferry which took us to the memorial which was built right over the wreckage of the Arizona. Large drops of oil could be seen rising to the surface of the water. Volunteers handed out flowers to drop in the water. The names of all the men who died were engraved onto a stone wall on one end of the building. I was caught off guard by strong emotions of sadness, gratitude, and patriotism. It was a sobering experience that all Americans should experience. After Pearl Harbor, Chelsea and I had an adventure finding the right place to eat. We ended up eating at a Japanese tepanyaki style restaurant that was an absolute blast. Chelsea had never experienced the in-your-face cooking of tepanyaki and had a great time watching our chef slice and dice our shrimp, create a volcano by igniting oil in a stacked onion, and cooking up our fresh vegetables, steak, and fish. We got settled in at the Aqua Waikiki Wave and took a short walk to the beach and back to complete a very full day.