Sunday, June 25, 2017

Last day in Hawaii

 Our last day in Hawaii was a Sunday, and we had to be out of our condo pretty early, so we packed up and headed to a park we found called Kepaniwai Park to kill some time before 1:00 church in Wailuku.  This park turned out to be a very good find.  
 Sections of the park were dedicated to people of different nationalities who settled in Maui, or had a big influence on Maui's history.  These included a Portuguese garden, Chinese, Philippine, North American (New England), and native Hawaiian areas.  Sorry about my face in this picture.  I took too many selfies, which caused me to temporarily forget how to smile naturally.
 Most of the people in the park appeared to be local residents there for picnics.  Vegetation covered peaks surrounded the narrow valley, and it was all very picturesque.
 We probably went to church smelling like charcoal from all of the barbecues we passed, but it was a nice place to spend a morning.
 Since it was our last day on Maui, we had to capture some of the ubiquitous features of the island: wild chickens everywhere,
 and stray cats in the most unlikely places.
 We may never have been anywhere so green and lush and tropical.
 We found a quiet place for some scripture study and journaling before church.  Then we had a picnic lunch before getting thoroughly lost on our way to church.  By some miracle we managed to find the church just in time for the first meeting.  It was a really great day for church.
 After church, we had three hours left before we needed to be at the airport for my flight (Annette and Colette didn't leave until 10 p.m.).  We went to Baldwin Beach Park in Paia, just a few minutes from the airport to change our clothes and enjoy our last bit of time relaxing on the beach in Maui.
 The fact that this is apparently the center of the homeless population of Maui, and that one beach away turned out to be a de facto nude beach, did very little to detract from the splendor of this gorgeous spot.
This was the best birthday/ mothers day gift I have ever had.  Even though flying overnight left me as a zombie for my entire first day back in Seattle, I was really refreshed and renewed by a few days in paradise.

More Maui adventures

Our second morning in Maui we got up a little bit later and went to La Parouse Bay, which our kayak tour guide said was a hangout for dolphins in the mornings.  It is also the site of Maui's most recent volcanic eruption, which may have concluded as little as 200 years ago.  What looks like a recently turned over field behind me is actually a vast lava field.  
 We didn't see any dolphins, and the rocks + surf made for inhospitable swimming conditions, so we went back up the road to a sandy beach at Makena Beach State Park.
 We found some boogie boards in our condo, so we decided to try them out.  Right after we got there, a lifeguard went up and down the beach posting signs that said "dangerous shore break."  We ignored the signs, since there were a lot of people in the water.  After we got tumbled by a few waves, we got out of the water.  As we came up the beach, we could hear an announcement being repeated from the lifeguard station. "Stay out of the water, especially if you are beginners.  Common injuries in dangerous shore break include broken arms, broken necks. . . "  Oops.  For some reason the announcement, which had been repeating, stopped as soon as we were a safe distance from the water.  We must have looked pretty terrible.
 After lunch we went ziplining at the Maui Plantation.  Believe it or not, this was Annette's idea.  The island adventure bug really bit her.  When I asked if she was sure she really wanted to go ziplining, she accused me of being unadventurous.
 Of course our legs started to feel weaker and weaker as we climbed up and up and up the first tower.  We all had second thoughts about plummeting along a skinny cable, including the other members of our ziplining group, Gloria, and her father, Shin, from California.
 We did five lines over the plantation, learning about some of Hawaii's plants and exports in the process.  By the end we didn't have any fear about leaving the platform.
 To celebrate our survival of the zipline, Colette took a nap.  She was battling a cold for the whole trip.  Annette and I walked a short distance down the beach to Kihei proper to get some shave ice.
 That evening we drove half an hour to Lahaina for the Old Lahaina Luau.  Before dinner we walked around to see demonstrations of native Hawaiian arts.
 Colette and I learned a hula.
When we sat down at our table for dinner, we found that we were seated at the same table as Gloria and Shin, our friends from ziplining!  Maui is a small island, but not that small.  It was quite a coincidence.  Being seated with them, and another fun couple from Alabama, made our dinner experience much better.  We got to try lots of island foods, and then we enjoyed a performance that told some of the history and mythology of the islands through dance.  
On the way out, Colette found a new boyfriend.  Sorry, Jacob.  Who could resist this guy, though?
 The next morning I was up bright and early again.  I think the trip was too short for me to really adjust to the time difference.  I did wake up later than I had on the previous days.  As a consequence, I had to do part of my morning run in the sun.  Ugh.
I think finding this black sea star on the beach was my consolation for doing my longest run of the trip in daylight.  I think living in Seattle has turned me into part vampire.  
 Based on the recommendation of the other folks at our luau table, we decided to spend most of Saturday driving the famous road to Hana.  The Hana highway has 620 hairpin turns and 59 one lane bridges over 50 miles of road.  After a morning stop in Kahului at the Saturday morning swap meet/souvenir fair/sauna, we hit the road.  After driving the road from the Nakalele blowhole to Kahului, I was pleasantly surprised that the Hana highway seems to have been designed with actual cars in mind.  It was a bit nerve wracking to drive, especially on the way home when the sun was at the worst angle, and I was frequently blinded as we rounded curves, but we made it.  The drive is through rain forest all of the way, and almost all of the bridges we crossed were accompanied by a view of a waterfall.
 We went on a short hike through rain forest before lunch.
 There were lots of places to stop and admire waterfalls.  We made a short side trip into Keanae where Colette found a leaf as big as her whole body.
 The shoreline was made of lava rocks.  The contrasts between the micro-climate zones on Maui are striking.  A very short distance from these rocky beaches are soft, sandy beaches.  A relatively short drive from the rainforest is a dry plain.  Haleakala volcano towers 10,000 feet above sea level on this island that is only 48 miles long and 26 miles wide.
 Keanae is the site of a stone church that was built in 1860.  When the rest of the town was wiped out by a Tsunami, this church remained standing.
 It had a very interesting derelict graveyard.  I thought of Cheyenne and her love for interesting cemeteries when I saw this.
 Here are some of the beautiful Hana Highway waterfalls that we saw.

 When we needed a longer break from the road, we stopped at a wayside park to take a dip.  This water comes down from the mountains, and is much colder than the tropical ocean water on Maui's beaches.  It doesn't have anything on the shocking cold of our Cascade Mountains snow melt streams, but it was hard to get into at first.  Colette and I walked out the waterfall over the slippery rocks, but we decided it would be easier to swim back.
 We ended our drive at Waianapanapa State Park, famed for its black sand beaches.
 We climbed through a lava tube where the ground was made of uniform black stones, rolled smooth by the surf.  At the water's edge the stones had turned to a coarse sand, and, as we went up the beach, the sand turned to pebbles, and then loose rocks.
 Colette and I used our new boogie boarding skills to body surf on the black sand beach for a little while before heading back around the island the way we had come.
This was a fun adventure that I am happy to have done without kids along.  The rental car we had on the island was nothing very impressive, but it definitely got good gas mileage.  We got back to Kihei worn out from a long, interesting day.  We picked up a pizza, watched a movie (thank you previous condo renters, for staying signed in to Netflix on the condo TV), and went to bed.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A very Maui birthday

My flight got to Kahului just over an hour before Annette and Colette arrived on May 17, so I picked up our rental car and went to the cellphone lot to wait for them.  I sat there for about thirty seconds before I realized that I couldn't be more than three blocks from a beach, so I got to be the first one with my toes in the sand.  
After a long day flying, everyone was happy to stop on the beach before driving across the island to our condo in Kihei.  

 It was so sunny, warm, and beautiful, and our condo was just a few steps away from a long, quiet beach.
The next morning (my 30th birthday) we all woke up very early, which gave me and Annette time to go for a run on the beach before going kayaking.
 Annette and Colette shared a kayak, leaving me all alone to do twice the amount of work, or half the amount of work, depending on who you are sharing your kayak with.  
 It was a gorgeous morning, the ocean was calm, and there were turtles to be seen everywhere.  Our guide found a spot where there is usually a lot of wildlife, and we stopped to snorkel.  Snorkeling was so cool!  There were so many turtles that we had to work to stay out of their way.  Apparently it is against the law to touch a sea turtle in Hawaii.
 We look so cool.  This was awesome.  It was exactly what I wanted to do for my birthday.
 Jet lag struck after kayaking, so we went back to our condo to nap.  For some reason, the Hawaii humidity was killing the Arizonans and making them feel extra hot, so we went in search of some shave ice in Lahaina on our way around the island to search for the Nakalele blow hole.  Here we are enjoying our shave ice, a Hawaiian miracle.  I, personally, was just enjoying a chance to thaw out after the long, long winter in Seattle, but apparently it was too hot for some people.
 This was our view while we ate our shave ice.
 We found the blow hole, which is a lava tube that gets filled up with water by the pounding surf, and frequently explodes like a geyser when the pressure has built up.  It was pretty cool.  You can see it down in the bottom right of this picture.  We had to scramble over a lot of rocks to get a good view.
 We decided to continue around the end of the island to Kahului for dinner, instead of turning around and going back to Lahaina.  This was our introduction to island roads.  All of the way from the Nakalele blow hole to Kahului was a one lane road along cliffsides.  It was quite the nerve wracking experience driving it.  The views were spectacular, when I got the occasional chance to take my eyes off of the road for a split second.  
We had island fare for dinner at Da Kitchen in Kahului.  Apparently they are famous for their creative offerings.  Potato and macaroni salad was offered with everything.  It was interesting.  All in all it was a very satisfying birthday.

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May showers bring?

Our exceptionally rainy year continues.  May came with some teasers for sunny weather. According to Western Washington law, we spent lots of time outside every time the sky cleared.  
 The temperatures reached the mid fifties, so shorts came out of storage.  Jared is trying to convince me that he should start band a year younger than the school district offers it.  After hearing his first few attempts at music, I'm not sure I will ever have the patience to allow him to take band.  My mom is a saint from heaven to let me live after I chose to play French Horn.
 Sammy is quite good at producing sound from my instrument.  I may never get another chance to play it myself, since all of the kids come running and insist on having a turn whenever it comes out.
 Our school curriculum brought us to the Elizabethan era, so we made crowns.  Jared still claims to be opposed to everything that could be called a craft, but he usually participates anyway, and sometimes he even enjoys himself (just don't point out that he is having fun).

 B and Sammy love to put diapers on their heads.  I'm seriously hoping that our diapering days are numbered, even if it means an end to our diaper hat days.
 We were at the park with friends when some thunderheads rolled in.  Accustomed to Seattle dreariness as our kids are, they didn't know what to make of thunderheads.  They were ready to jump on their bikes and rush home when the downpour started, but we waited it out under cover.  They were shocked that I had been right about the storm being short lived.  Yep.  Mom's a genius.
 We hung a hammock/ baby wrap carrier under our craft table.  Sammy is lucky to have so many older siblings who love to help him get into it.
 Sammy taught us a family home evening lesson about our bodies.  I was quizzing him on his body parts before he started, and I asked him what his belly button is.  He looked at it, thought for a second, and said, "Ummmmm. . . my finger fits!"  His vocabulary development has been huge over the past few months.
 We had another family home evening at the park next to Daddy's office.  We can't seem to get dressed properly for the weather.  When we wear shorts, we end up with winter coats over the top of them.
 When we wear fleece lined pants, we sweat all day.  That was Eloise at the Seattle Center on May 9.  We met some friends at the Pacific Science Center so that we could take the older kids to an IMAX movie, and the younger kids to the preschool planetarium show.  The Knight kids had really wanted to play on the Seattle Center playground outside of the Museum of Pop Culture.  B struggled at the playground because his friend James was confident and strong enough to climb to the top of the towering play structure, but B didn't have the skills to reach the top.  After about five tries and some tears, he decided that he would be okay playing with Sammy on the toddler playground.  My attempt to get a group picture on the swing was a bust.  B spent the whole time trying to get Sammy to look, until Sammy got annoyed and bailed out of the swing.
 I don't think these kids have ever been unhappy about being at a playground.
 B weighs 40 lbs. on earth, and 1092 lbs. on the sun.
 As always, Eloise's favorite part of the science center is the tidepools.
 May 10 was sunny, too, so we met the Christensens at Juanita Bay Park to look for turtles.
Things are always fun and exciting with the Christensens.  Sammy discovered the art of mom baiting.  He kept running away to see how far he could get me to chase him.
 When we reached Shakespeare in our history book, I checked out a tall stack of books of Shakespeare stories retold for children.  I settled on "A Midsummer Night's Dream" as the story most likely to hold the attention of my group of kids.  I gave them each an outline of a human form and assigned them a character.
 After I read them a storybook version of the play, they wrote and performed their own version of the final scene with their puppets.  It was chaotic, but they all really enjoyed it.  It was a great way to pass a damp morning.
 For mother's day, Eloise made Grandma Jill a pop-up card.  It had a picture of Eloise and Grandma. In between them was a pile of presents that Eloise would give Grandma if she could.  I think it was just about the cutest thing ever.
My mother's day/birthday gift from my family was a trip to Hawaii with Annette and Colette!  If my birthday has to fall the same week as mother's day, I guess one mega gift is an acceptable alternative to two smaller gifts.  I was surprised and ecstatic to get such an awesome gift, and looking forward to warming up a little under the Hawaiian sun.