2017-11-07 The Best and Worst of Maui

OK, folks, it’s the moment you have all been waiting for. All the best and all the worst of our little Maui adventure. (and yes, despite 8 days of awesomeness, there were definitely some “worst” moments). Eight days is a long time to try and remember everything. I’ve covered the highlight of each day, but I have not gone into a ton of detail about most of it and I definitely have not mentioned a few of the more “trying” moments…

Best Place that we stayed… This was a toss up. Ken’s place Kihei wins out over the Hana AirBnb for proximity to the Kam III beach which we went to several times. It was also nice that Kihei was walkable and had easy access to groceries, food options, and sort of “central” for driving to all the different parts of the island. The Kihei house was $100 a night and the Hana Home was about $300. However, Ken also let me have unlimited use of his “beach car”, which was a huuuuge bonus!

Worst place was the first AirBnb in Kihei. The roosters at 2AM made trying to sleep unbearable and though our “host” was very knowledgeable about the area and things to do, I found it a tad annoying he was there and seemed to want to chat when we crossed paths (since he lives at the house, it was quite often). That place was also about $100 a night.

Best and Worst Food/Meal.. Also a tough call. We had Stewz Maui Burger the first day we were there and it was awesome. I ordered the Kihei which was topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, 2 fried onion rings and bbq sauce on a sweet Hawaiian sweet roll. All of that was just under $10, not including fries. That entire meal cost about 30 with the kids’ food included. We actually thought it was so nice, we tried it twice. The second time was well below average (and we ordered practically the exact same food). This is the reason I’m going to give the “Worst” in the food category to Stewz and the “Best” to Coconuts Fish Cafe.

Yes, my kids don’t eat fish, so when we went to Coconuts it was mac and cheese and french fries for them. Actually, I’ve discovered that Z can live on french fries alone and C can do the same with mac and cheese. These were things they ordered at just about every restaurant. Coconuts was also so nice that we tried it twice. They are famous for their fish tacos and also reportedly had superb fish and chips. So I had to try both and both lived up to their reputation. I would highly recommend. A meal for the three of us was about $30 as well.

The runner up in the category for “Best”, would be “Three’s Bar and Grill” in Kihei. I had sushi and an appetizer of fried brussels sprouts. I also tried both the kid’s food (yes french fries, chicken fingers, and mac and cheese) and they were delicious as well. Three’s was also the most expensive dinner at. about $75, but we were all super hungry that day and totally ordered more than we could consume. I made the kids eat leftovers just like at home. I also ordered a drink and that was part of the $75.

The cheapest meal, not counting leftovers or groceries for breakfast and lunch, was probably the Sunset dinner on the grass with a $14 medium pepperoni pizza and a bottle of water. We did spend $20 on ice-cream after that, but when one scoop costs $5 without a cone or toppings, it adds up fast.

Best decisions.. Renting the Mustang ($200) and Helicipter ride ($600) were both totally worth it! The car I would do again. The helicopter was a little to $$$ to do again.

Worst decision.. Going off path on our Haleakala day to try and get to PoliPoli state park (we drove 1.5 hours out of our way and never actually made it). Runner up on this one was the yoga class I attended at 7AM, oceanside, one morning. I was attacked by bugs the entire time and I didn’t like the instructor or the way she conducted the class.

Biggest eeeek moment.. Walking into my bedroom in Hana and finding the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the “wild” on the ceiling. I definitely slept with one eye open (ok.. I may not have slept at all).

Best view.. Tough to pic the top one so I’ve picked three. In no particular order… 1.) The view from the Leleiwi Overlook on the way to the Summit of Haleakala. 2.) The view of the cliffs on the north coast of Moloka’i. 3.) Views from our drive up the east coast of West Maui (no single place on the map that I could pinpoint, but some of those were incredible).

Worst view.. The jet engine out my window on the plane from
MSP to Omaha.

Best day.. Really tough to pick. Probably the day we drove to Hana. Great car, everyone in a good mood, beautiful scenery, and a really fun drive.

Worst day.. Ironically, the day we drove back from Hana when it rained all day and we just wanted to get home, eat, and relax.

Best beach.. Ka’anapali, by Black Rock on the Sheraton property was my favorite. This is the beach where we saw the giant sea turtles, just passing through really close to the shore. The beach was free, but it cost $6 an hour to park there. The kids liked Kam III the best.. and it was the one we went to most because it was so close to the house.

Worst beach.. Hana Bay beach was the worst beach we stopped at (and did not swim). The least favorite of all the beaches was the one way down south past the gorgeous Wailea area. I’m actually not sure where we were at, if it was Mckenna beach or big beach or little beach. Several of the beaches in that area go by different names and we basically got to a spot that had parking and walked from there.

Wrong beach.. Napili Bay beach. This is the beach we went to when I wanted to go to Kapalua beach. Kapalua supposedly had great snorkeling. We had all the right gear but only saw sand.

Biggest rip off.. Snorkel Bob’s charging us $10 each for a one day rental of snorkeling gear (fins and masks). When we got back to Kihei that day, they were $1.50 a day at Boss Frog’s. And then free at Ken’s. If we would have known that we would have waited.

Biggest overcoming fear moment.. Me snorkeling. Overcoming my fear of drowning enough to have my head in the water for over a minute. It’s too bad we were at the wrong beach (see my previous comment) though we were in really calm waters and it was good that is where I had my “lesson”. If the water would have been rough, I may never have even tried it.

Biggest disappointment.. The seven sacred pools being closed when we arrived. Plus, we could not even get in the area without paying ANOTHER $25 to enter the national park.

Biggest regret.. I never did get to a black sand beach. There was one on the road to Hana and I should have taken the time and walked to get there and not been in such a hurry to get back on the road. There was also one south of Wailea but we just ran out of time. I also wish we would have packed towels for our Hana trip. We didn’t have enough time in the rental house to use theirs before we had to check out.

Best parenting moment.. Being huddled up in the freezing cold on top the volcanic valley waiting for the sun to set with my arms around my two beautiful children.

Worst parenting moment.. My daughter and I yelling at each other because she would not get off her phone to help me with directions when my phone battery died and it was pitch black on our way back from Haleakala. Somehow it was my fault for not telling her it was more important that she stop what she was doing to help. At the time, I had taken a wrong turn and we were clearly on the wrong road and there wasn’t even enough light for me to see a place to stop the car and figure it out.

Most emotional moments.. 1) Standing at the ocean at the Nakalele blowhole location. 2) Sunset at Haleakala. 3) Coming over the top of Moloka’i in a helicopter.

My don’t sweat the small stuff moment.. Losing my sunglasses on Haleakala.

Yes.. In the grand scheme of things my $8 pair of sunglasses will be easily replaced. As one can guess from following along, this was vacation was not a cheap one to go on. However, it was an amazing trip and the time I was able to spend with my children in one of the most beautiful places was priceless. It’s a moment in time, now in my history book, that will never happen again.

Sure, I may go to Hawaii again, but never with the kids at this age and in this stage of our lives. We are all so very fortunate to have had this experience.

Eia au Mahalo,
~Miss SugarCookie

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2017-11-03 Maui Day 5, The Hana Edition 🚘

Today we had our cake and we ate it too!

I have often said (and as recently as in the last couple of days) that life is about the journey and not necessarily about the destination. However, our day today proves that it can be BOTH.

When we woke up today the plan was to jump in the car and travel the Road to Hana. Similarly to all the other days of this vacation, we woke up when we woke up and spent a slow lazy morning relaxing, having breakfast, and preparing for the day.

Part of my morning routine has been to go through pics of the previous day, do some writing, and text people back home (morning is the best time because of the time difference). Today I actually called Simon and we chatted for a while. When I said I was considering renting a convertible for the drive to Hana today, he said “Go for it!” He also said “You should get a Mustang”.

Until that minute, it was just an idea I was toying with but he was so enthusiastic about it, I decided to search for rentals in Kihei as soon as I was off the phone. I actually found one and it was not nearly as expensive as I anticipated, so I went for it!

We didn’t really get outta town until about 11AM, which is par for this course, but it was not long until we were passing through Paia with the top down and the wind in our hair. Pretty soon, highway 36 became highway 360 and thats when the road gets really interesting and fun. Like the drive yesterday, it didn’t really seem that bad to me because of the conditioning I had going to the Nakalele blowhole. And this time, I was in a car that was built for speed and the curve of the road.

At first, we were trying to follow the guidebook which had suggestions for turnouts and secret places to stop and hike to see waterfalls, but about a quarter of the way, I abandoned that approach because I kept missing the mile markers and clues to stop. I don’t need to see some “secret” hideaway, I’m OK with stopping where everyone stops to see all the awesomeness that is completely obvious. And there was a lot of it.

There were cool things to see every couple of miles and cars stopped at a lot of them. Apparently a car stopped means there might be something worth seeing or doing because at one point, we randomly stopped at a fruit stand that had a vacant couple of spots where nobody was parked and within minutes, there were four cars beside us. Coincidence?! We stopped just to put on sunscreen. Ha!

Since the ocean was on the same side the entire drive, most of the turnouts were on that side and so not convenient for someone traveling east. As such, we didn’t stop at a ton of places and just tried to make a mental note to stop on the way back when the ocean-side turnouts would be easier. Be that as it may, we did still stop about a half a dozen times to see the view and take some snaps. We also stopped at a roadside stand called “Half Way to Hana” where C had his first taste of shave ice.. grape flavor.

After that he was amped on sugar and we were all in good spirits and we turned the tunes up and continued on the road. We arrived in Hana about 3:15PM and had to find a spot with cell service so I could get the instructions for our AirBnb. As such, we drove around the area for a bit and visited Haha Bay Beach and got our bearings for where things were in the town. There is not much to it.

Once we found and were into our Hana Home, the kids quickly took to the ping-pong table on the lanai. I let them play for a little bit before urging that we go grab food while the sun was still up. I brought some groceries, but it was mostly breakfast/lunch/snack type stuff and I felt the need for a well cooked meal. There are very few options in town for sit down restaurants and we opted to try the Hana Ranch Restaurant. It was slightly overpriced, but I paid just about as much as I did for dinner in Kihei last night. It actually would have been a lot cheaper, except C ordered a half rack of ribs (we are on vacation after all).

When dinner was over, we played outside for a bit and then I hit the local “market”. I took a pick of the price of milk. $12.49 for a gallon. Wowza!! I’m glad we didn’t really “need” anything.

Once we were back at “Home”, Z claimed her bed and C and I played a few more games of ping-pong (I won both). Of the dozen or so places we could have stayed, that was the thing that put this place over the top. It’s a longer walk to the beach, but the house and amenities are top notch. Right now, I’m typing from a desk area in the kitchen that overlooks the living area where the kids are also on their electronics. We are all pretty much ready for bed, but it’s only about 8PM.

I might do a little more research on the “Road” tomorrow so we can be prepared for things on the way back (but probably not 😉 ). We basically have all day to meander and play and like the rest of the days on Maui, I want to slow down and savor every moment. This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am treating it as such.

Makemak Wau Keke,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-31 Maui Day 2 🏖️

Our second full day on Maui is coming to a close and though we had very similar activities to yesterday, the day felt very different.

Yesterday we visited two beaches near Kihei. It was very casual and we were just getting acclimated to the ocean waves. Today we travelled north and west and visited two more beaches, but this time, it was more upscale and had a completely different feel.

The first beach was Kaanapali beach which we gained access to through the Sheraton Maui resort. Our AirBnb host, Matthew, was the one who told us that even though the resorts own the property/land they occupy, the beaches can’t be owned by them and are always open for public access. What this means is that you have to walk through the resort to get to the beach. It kind of feels a little like trespassing, and you really have no idea who is a guest of the hotel and who’s just some random schmo walking in off the street.

Of course we did have to figure out where to park and they certainly don’t make that easy (or cheap). It was 2 bucks for every 20 minutes… yowza! I think of all the beaches we had been to thus far, this one was my fav. It would be a close call with Kihei Park III. We spent a couple of hours at this beach and then opted to leave in order to find a different place, where we could do some snorkeling.

We drove further north and I intended to go to Kapalua Beach on Kapalua Bay because it was in the top 5 list for snorkeling on Maui, but because I was trusting in the nav on my phone, I ended up at Napali Bay instead. We rented the snorkel masks and fins and made our way, which was again not an obvious path, to the beach. After much hassle with the eq we were finally in the water and trolling around and looking at a lot of sand. Z concluded that we were supposed to go way out to get to the cool stuff, but neither one of us was willing to do that.

C, who seemed to take most naturally to the snorkel, was happy as a clam (haha) staying right up in the waves crashing on the beach. He had no interest in seeing anything cool and just wanted to continue to feel tossed about on the shore. Unbeknownst to them, the whole snorkel thing was a really big deal for me.

I’ve had two “near death” experiences with drowning. I put that in quotes because I have no idea now near death I was. The first instance I was too young to remember and my dad can only shudder when the story comes up. The second instance was at the National White Water Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was not under long enough to become unconscious, but the entire experience was so traumatic for me, it does not really matter. It left me terrified to have my head under the water and and I have moderate fear when it comes to any water sports where 1)My feet can’t touch the bottom 2)I might not be in complete control of my surroundings. So when it comes to the ocean, you can just say I’m exponentially fearful of things that could happen.

Despite that, though, I was able to don that mask and almost regulate my breathing as I floated on top the water. I had to get over a lot of what felt like hyperventilating at first but I eventually was able to gain some composure and navigate around close to shore. However, as I stated, we were at the wrong beach and there was nothing to look at but sand. After just a little bit, we all got bored of the mask and fins and breathing apparatus and gave it up to just swim.

We swam at that second beach for about an hour and a half I think. I was not paying attention to the time at all today so I really have no idea how long we did each thing or even how long the drive was to get there. We did have to be back to Kihei in time to gather our things from the AirBnb and migrate to Ken’s place. His house will be home base for the rest of the duration of our stay here on Maui.

That’s actually where we are at now. I’m worn out from driving and the sun and the fact that there was not time for a nap today like there was yesterday. That makes a big difference. I would offer up opinions on which beach out of the four we visited was the best from both C and Z but they have both gone to sleep already. I’m sure I’ll be there too, as soon as my head hits the pillow. I need to get a good sleep because tomorrow is hiking on Haleakala seeing the sunset from the summit.

No Laila, Pule Hoola
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-30 Maui Day 1 🏖️

Today was a combo between total beach day, relaxation, and planning ahead.

This morning I made the kids breakfast and after that I spend a good hour or two planning out our week and talking to the homeowner of the AirBnb we are staying at who has lived here for four years and knows everything one should try to do.

After our somewhat lazy morning at the house, we put on our swim suits and headed out to find a beach. We drove down S. Kihei Road and once I was sure we had gone far enough, we turned around and went back north again and landed at Kamaole Beach Park 3.

We parked the car and grabbed our one beach towel each and headed down the ramp to the sand. My kids have been in the Pacific Ocean before, but never warm waters. We picked a spot and dropped our stuff and made a bee-line for the ocean. I’m not going to “sugar” coat this, it was pretty incredible.

We spend more than an hour jumping waves and letting the flow of the water crash onto us and cary us closer to the shore. We would get out a little to far, where the toes just barely touch, and then wait for a wave to ride and cary us in. Most people around us had little float boards they were using, but we didn’t have anything like that.

Most people also had umbrellas to sit under and we didn’t have that either so we had to stop and re-apply the sunscreen a couple of times. There is no way I’m going to risk ruining any time on this vacation with a sunburn or a child in pain because of a sunburn. It’s actually probably good that we quit when we did.

Our next stop was lunch because apparently the ocean makes people feel like they are starving. We elected to go to a burger place the host of the AirBnb told us about, Stewz. The food was good, as advertised, and if I have time for more writing, it really does deserve a post/review all it’s own.

After that it was back to the house for a little after lunch siesta. I was somehow worn out from the small amount of time we spent outside and actually fell asleep. I’m not sure how long I slept. I was woken up by Zoey asking when we were going to leave again. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to beach it up again, considering we had dinner plans with Ken at 6, but that is exactly what we ended up doing.

This time, we drove further down south to Makena beach. We did a repeat of the earlier wave jumping/riding right up to the point the sun was starting to set. I preferred this beach over the first one but I am not sure why. We had to leave before sunset to make dinner on time, which is totally against what I am all about, but meeting up with Ken and his family is a rare opportunity.

At about 6:30PM we met them at a restaurant called Coconuts. It’s a casual seafood place with top-notch fish tacos. The kids aren’t much into fish so they were not as excited about it as I was. We ate and chatted for a little bit and then they had to take off to do last minute prep for their own vacation. I could only eat one taco, by the way, because they were so loaded up with pure awesomeness.

Now we are back at the house. Our second and last night at this location. Tomorrow we migrate to Ken’s house. In my planning this morning, I earmarked tomorrow for spending more time down south at the resorts and beaches and potentially doing some snorkelling or kayak. Nothing is set in stone, of course, but based on my research I’m going to need to be extra diligent with time in order to fit seeing everything we can while also eating good food and taking plenty of naps.

Aloha Po,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-30 Waking Up in Maui 🌺

I woke up to the sound of roosters crowing. That was about 2AM. They have been at it off and on since then and it’s almost 6AM now. I think the kids are still sleeping though I can’t see how they could given the now almost constant crowing. We are very much in a local residential area and I knew there would be unfamiliar things, but I never expected that one. Still, I don’t care, because I’m waking up in Hawaii and that is seriously amazing!

We are staying at an AirBnb in Kihei (key-hey) which is on the west coast of the island. It feels warm and tropical and there’s no solid glass on the windows, just strips of glass like a set of blinds you can open and close so there is not a lot of separation from the nature and noise outside. The kids are in one room and I am in another. It’s a five hour time difference between here and home so it may only be 6 here but its 11AM in Nebraska.

When we arrived last night we got our bags and the car we are borrowing and made our way to get groceries, gas, and dinner. By the time we got to the house, it was only 8:30, but we had been up for over 20 hours and really done for. I think we were all asleep by 9. The time difference may affect things a bit, but if anything, we should be up and ready to roll when the sun comes up.

I’m not sure what is on the agenda for today. I intended to let them sleep in as long as they can to recover from the travel day yesterday and then we can look at the map and decide what’s next. We will most assuredly walk to the beach and jump in the ocean. We are also going to meet up with my friend and former co-worker, Ken, and his family for dinner. After these first couple nights at the AirBnb, we will be staying at his place and taking care of his house and cat while they are away on vacation.

He LIVES in Hawaii and is going somewhere else for a vacation. Doesn’t that seem just outrageous! 😃

Now that I am finally here and looking out a bedroom window at lush tropical plants bursting with flowers and feeling the difference in the air, it’s finally real. I made it!

I made it here and now I’m going to make the most of it. The sun is up now and the roosters have been joined by a whole host of other birds welcoming the day. It’s time for me to do the same.

Aloha Kakahiaka, 🌺
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-29 On the Move Again ✈️

We’ve been up since 5. We flew north to Minnesota. We laid over for 2.5 hours. 

And now we are on a 8 hour flight to Honolulu. I think this is the longest flight I’ve ever been on. Perhaps Dublin to Atlanta in 2010 was longer, but if was, it wasn’t by much. After this we have one more quick hop to Maui before being introduced to our new home away from home. 

So far the traveling has not been that bad. We pulled off the early morning and quick departure quite flawlessly and I was able to spend a good portion of our stay at MSP walking the concourse. 

I left Z and C at the gate watching our travel gear and went exploring. This airport has gone through major renovations since the last time I came through. So much space to plug in and sit, tons of shops and restaurants, and everything looks shiny and new.

I’ve amassed 8.4K steps so far today and managed to do 20 push ups (yeah, I’m that person). I also found the Rocket Mountain Chocolate Factory.. Score! I might be on a mission to improve my eating habits and health but I’m on vacation now so all bets are off. Life is all about balance anyway. 

I had another wave of happiness wash over me as I was bouncing down concourse C. This time last year I was convinced I would never feel this way again. That’s ridiculous of course, but it really was the way I felt. My logical brain knows emotions are temporary, but it does not minimize the pain as it’s happening. 

Likewise, this happiness, too, is fleeting. I have to soak in all that I can and not take anything for granted. I’m so fortunate to be able to go on this adventure. I’m so lucky to have two beautiful children to share it with. I’ve said before that the road to get here has seemed so long, but I finally feel as though I’m getting back to me. The me I know I am at heart and the me I was meant to be. 

I can’t look at the journal entries from last October 29th because we are cruising at 29,000 feet and there’s no free WiFi. It’s probably for the best. That might just interrupt such a nice flow. 

***

At this point, we’ve had water and snacks and water and lunch and more water. My crystal ball tells me there’s a trip to the bathroom in my near future. That’s always a treat on an airplane. 
After that.. I might try and nap. I’ve never been good at sleeping during flight, but it’s worth another shot.

***

We napped. We ate. We made it through flight 2 of 3. 
Me.. “Aloha everybody!”
C.. “Aloha. What’s the WiFi password in this airport?”
Z.. “Hakuna Matata. That’s Hawaiian right?”

Not Long Now,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-08-12 Looking Forward

It’s good to have a plan. It’s good to have things to look forward to. An event or a meet up or a vacation in the future that you can think about and be excited about. I’m a planner by nature and I love having things to look forward to. That’s probably why I am always planning to meet people for lunches or daydreaming and scheming about my next road trip or vacation. From the moment Hawaii was a done deal, it has been a topic of discussion with people and a wonderful thing to be excited about. That happens in November and I bought those tickets last spring, so I will have enjoyed looking forward to that for like 6 months.

One thing that was great about my job was that it paid enough to support my travel habit. There are so many places I want to see and so many things that I want to do that as soon as I get back from one, I’m almost immediately thinking about what is next. The downside to the job thing is, well, only three weeks of paid vacation a year. Bummer. I’m also a fan of the long weekend, you know take a Friday and maybe even Monday too and take off for a road trip. I think my PTO balance at work was often hovering around zero. Whatever job I elect to have next, I would like more time off. Four weeks is not unheard of but five would be the bomb. That’s probably stretching it some.

I originally planned to take three months off of work. Well, three months where I was just going to get some serious R and R and not think about work at all and then potentially another three months looking for the “right” job. For the most part being off work has been great, but now that I am almost halfway through my first three and about a month past my big Pacific Northwest adventure, I am really starting to want to plan some more things with the time I have left.

I’m supposed to do a quick trip with my friend Denise to Beatrice to witness the Solar Eclipse on the 21st, but that will likely be a one day trip. The one day trip I took to that crappy water park in Grand Island was more of a spur of the moment thing and not super awesome. I need something more substantial. Yesterday I had texts with both my friend Rebecca in Austin and my Mom about potential trips.

It looks like we (my mom, the kids, and I) will be going to visit my brother in Colorado in October over the four day Columbus day weekend. That’s so far away still. I may be going to Austin mid September too. That will probably be decided here in the next couple of days. Rebecca also wants to plan a girls trip sometime in October or November so that will likely be awesome too. Then we are leading right into that first week of November when I will be on the island of Maui. So that’s all very excellent.

I’ve also been thinking I would like to get back to the Badlands this year. I love that place so much. That is one of the benefits of being in a relationship .. you have someone to experience things with. I don’t much mind traveling solo, but when you get to where you are going, eating all your meals and seeing cool things by yourself is just not the same. You see the most amazing sunrise and you look to your left and your right and don’t have anyone to say “wow, how cool is that” to. That’s a bummer. Still, it would be nice to get back there before my time runs out.

For the next few weeks I need to focus on getting the kids back to school and potentially doing a little soul searching about my future. That’s another kind of “looking forward” that I’ve intended for this time in my life. I should capitalize on that opportunity while I’m at home and waking up each and every wonderful day with the luxury of doing whatever it is I feel like.

I guess it’s time to do that now. I wonder what this day will bring.

Always Looking,
~Miss SugarCookie