Jan 31, 2012


Two years ago we were in San Diego and got a call from my Mom about water coming in through the ceiling and walls of our kitchen. Two.years.ago. The kitchen today looks vastly different than it did then...a LOT has happened in two years!

Thankfully, no bad news came on our trip this year and we were able to enjoy a week in Hawaii without thinking about the damage to our house. It was seriously the first time where we went almost an entire week without even talking about the house. Ahhhhh!

I had an educational conference to attend in Hawaii (rough place for that, I know) so Michael tagged along and got to go sight-seeing while I worked. The only full day I had free was the first day we were on the island. We had a quick 2 hour night's sleep nap after getting off the plane and arriving at our hotel before we had to be up and on our way across Maui for a fun tour.

A friend who has been to Maui several times mentioned that she watched the sunrise from the top of the volcano on the island and then biked down it. We checked into it and found several places that have either guided or self-directed tours to do it. SO fun!

Here's the sunrise at the top of Haleakala volcano (at about 10,000 feet). This first picture was taken before the sun had peeked through the clouds. It was actually quite dark and freeeeeeeeezing cold! We arrived at the top of the volcano around 5:30 (after meeting our group at 3:30am and taking the slow drive to the top). It was about 40 degrees...but with wind chill (it was incredibly windy) it felt around 20! Brrrrr!
 As the sunrise approached we started seeing more and more clouds rush in.
This is a view of the lookout area of the park. (at the top of the volcano is a National Park) People waited inside or in their cars until the last possible moment to stay out of the cold. If you look closely in this picture you'll see people wrapped in towels and even their hotel comforters to keep warm!
 Here comes the sun!
Basically as soon as we saw the sun we were headed back to the van to be transported down to the 6,500 foot level where we could get on our bikes. The volcano was really beautiful and you could see a couple of the other Hawaiian islands along the way down.
On our bikes!
I admit I was a bit scared on certain parts of the road. You have to ride in some tough places where there isn't any kind of a shoulder and the cars don't like to give you much space. Thankfully, we chose to be on a self-guided tour down the volcano so we could go at our own pace. Some people biked down as quickly as they could...but we went pretty slowly and stopped quite a few times to take in the amazing views!
Once we were back to sea level we dropped off our bikes and it was only 11:30am. We were tired but had a whole day still ahead of us. Since it was my only day without meetings...we decided to pack in some other adventures. First up...driving around part of the island. We didn't realize how much of an adventure this would turn out to be...
We left the volcano and wanted to drive around the NW side of the island. We had no idea what a crazy road snakes its way around the hills of Northern Maui! It was the scariest ride I've ever had and I was SO glad Michael was driving instead of me!
Everything was fine until we got to the part of the drive that is circled in the map below. It became a one-lane road carved out of the mountain but traffic still tried to go two-ways so you had to find some places for people to pass...and sometimes there were jams where you had to back up.
There were no guardrails and the drop offs from the road were crazy. Eeeeek. I'm feeling nervous again just thinking about it!
But the views were amazing. (I only took this one shot because I think my hands were shaking too badly to want to get the camera out before this!)
Later when we got to our hotel and looked at a map of the island we learned that driving on that crazy road voids your rental car agreement and is never recommended for tourists! There is another road that people say is crazy to drive (called the Road to Hana) but Michael drove that later in the week and said it was no big deal compared to the one on the North side. Lesson learned.

When we finally reached regular roads again and got back to the beachy areas, we decided a whale watch would be fun. This is a fantastic time of year to see whales that flock to Maui from Alaska in winter. We wish were on the boat you see below. Our boat didn't get this close to any whales - but it was still amazing to see them all over!
After seeing the whales we had a great dinner and that was pretty much the end of our first day. While I was in meetings the rest of the week, Michael explored the entire island. There is a lot of variation of terrain on Maui. Black lava rock. Thick Bamboo forests. Waterfalls.
We didn't spend any time laying around on the beaches...neither of us find that very fun. We did go swimming in the ocean one day, though. It was amazing! We always laugh at marketing images of beaches where they are almost empty. Our experiences at various beaches are that they are typically very crowded. This was NOT the case at the Big Beach on Maui. It is a humongous beach...and there were maybe 10-15 people on it! Amazing!
Here is Michael in the ocean. You can see Molikini in the background on the right. Gorgeous!
We stayed near Wailea on the SW side of Maui. (you can see it in the map above) It was our favorite area from what we saw on the island. The view below was the sunset directly in front of our hotel. You could see the whales from anywhere on the ocean side of the hotel and there were great walking trails leading down the coast.
On our last night in Maui we went to a luau. It was so fun and the food was great. We were having fun watching the hula and fire dancers...until...I got called up to dance on stage! A colleague had volunteered me as part of the entertainment. Ha! There I am up on stage...
We were sad to see our trip end...and it actually didn't! From Maui we had a flight to Honolulu where we got bumped for a day and got to enjoy an unexpected mini-vacation there. I'll post more about that tomorrow.



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