Thursday, July 03, 2008


Aloha!

E komo mai (Welcome) to our "blog" of our trip to Hawaii.

Maui - What a fabulous place! Chris & I were privileged to travel there June6-10. His company has a random drawing every few months, and Chris was selected back in April. We had a fantastic trip, packed with as many adventures as we could fit in to 3 1/2 days.

We flew 8+ hours from Atlanta to Honolulu on Friday, June 6th. We stayed in a hotel on Waikiki Beach. However, it was dark when we arrived, and dark when we left, so we didn't get to see much. Basically we were just trying to catch a few winks before our early flight over to Maui. The same taxi driver that drove us from the Honolulu airport to the hotel picked us up in the morning. He was an intriguing character to listen to. On Friday night he said he was from Italy & Saturday morning he claimed to be from Egypt. ?? He made for interesting conversation, that is when we could understand what he was saying.

We flew "Island Air" from Honolulu to Maui. This ride kind of feels like something at the fair. Very small plane, very small airport in Kapalua. We got a laugh out of "Baggage Claim". After picking up our rental car we head for the hotel. We were instructed to be careful not to miss our turn, or we would end up on a restricted road - one in which, if any accident were to occur, would not be covered by the rental car company. Needless to say, we missed the turn. But what followed was one of the highlights of our trip. The scenery on the northeast end of the island is gorgeous (Kahakuloa area). You are driving on steep cliffs just next to the ocean. Unfortunately, after several miles, the road turns in to one lane and goes up an extremely steep cliff. When we realized this, it was almost too late. Luckily, we found a small space to turn around. I think we had to make a SEVEN-point turn to get turned around! On our way back, with the windows down enjoying the cool breeze, we were greeted "island style" by a man on the side of the road. I'll spare details for conversations in person... just ask us about it sometime. We snapped several photos and enjoyed our little detour before finding the entrance to Kapalua.

Upon arriving at The Ritz-Carlton, we were greeted at the entry way by a woman who says, "Hola, Mr. & Mrs. Minton! Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton. Congratulations on winning your trip." ???!!!! How did she know all that? We felt like celebrities. The bellman showed us to our room and I was spellbound by all of it. We take a few moments to rest, then it is off to Surf School.

The Goofy Foot Surf School is located in Lahaina, just a few miles south of Kapalua, where we stayed. Lahaina is a quaint town that we find suits our personality a little better than the Ritz-
Carlton-Kapalua resort folk. Chris has to drag me, practically kicking & screaming to the lesson. I am anxious & fearful & feeling inadequate, but I press on for Chris' sake. After carrying the boards on our heads down to the shore, I hurt my neck. I begin crying & saying I'm not going to do this. Chris is getting a good laugh & can't wait to tell the fam back home, my drama. We paddle out, which takes forever, and I commit to staying where I am & not paddling out to a wave. After all 4 people in the group took a turn, it looks as though I have no choice. The instructor is motioning me out, & all the others are pressing me to go, impatience on their faces. Reluctantly, I paddle out, scared enough to wet my swimsuit. Surprisingly, I get to a standing position & ride a little wave. It was pretty fun. If the wave had been any bigger, it probably would have swallowed me, & I would not have tried it again. Chris, who owns 3 surfboards & has done this many more times than I discovers (after a few wipe-outs) that I might be a better surfer than he. This gloating suits me fine for the day. We were both shown out, however, by two young college girls, a 13 year old from middle America who had never been to the ocean, &... sadly... a dog! Fun experience. If you check out the photos & watch it in fast motion, it kind of looks like a video!

We rested & cleaned up at the hotel, checked out some scenery, & had dinner at Lahaina Coolers serenaded by a live musician. He was pretty good, too! Good food, great weather (everyone leaves their doors wide open around here), & great memories!

We got a long night's rest in our plush Ritz room. We ate breakfast in The Terrace restaurant (lower level Ritz). It was the most luxurious breakfast we had ever had. Thankfully, it was included in our stay, otherwise we would have had a bill of $75! (We can't imagine what a dinner bill would run!!)
After breakfast we explored Fleming Beach then went up to Kapalua adventures to ask about some small hikes. After gathering a lot of useful information & given various hiking options, we simply decided to visit the north end again (towards the restricted road) at Honolua Bay. We went out to get some snorkeling gear, & underwater cameras and set out for the Bay. Again, I was reluctant, & Chris had to coerce me in to doing it. I'm so glad he did! The walk out to the Bay was fascinating enough. It was like walking through a jungle, with all the tall grasses and vines hanging from the Banyan trees. Beautiful! After finaggling the snorkeling gear, I finally caught on, & was awed by everything I could see underwater! The creator is so imaginative. Apparently someone spotted an octopus & motioned us over to catch a glimpse. Chris said he saw it, but I never could. I took a photo where he pointed, & when we developed the film, Chris said he thinks I captured it. Who knows? I labeled a photo in the collection with octopus? Check it out. We were taking shots of every fish we saw. When we got home, Lucas (who had learned the name for the Hawaii state fish in a book we bought him) informed me, while looking at the pics on the pc... "Mama, that's the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a!" ...... exactly my response, stunned & amazed that he had remembered the word we'd taught him AND identified it in a fuzzy photo from a disposable camera! What a kid! The first person who ever taught me that word was Landers Pannell when he was like 5 years old or so. I got to see the fish up close, Landers! Awesome!

After returning to the hotel I got to soak up a few rays at the pool before prepping for our Luau. We had reservations at The Feast at Lele, again in Lahaina (http://www.feastatlele.com/). While waiting for the restaurant to begin seating, we trekked the boardwalk. Chris met an interesting guy in a shop called Island Spice (http://www.islandspicehawaii.com/). He actually is called "Spice" & had some curious tales.

We were greeted with live Dendrobium orchid leis and mai tais. The food, the service, the scenery, the show was all spectacular. I was so impressed with the skill of the dancers. We had a five course meal, each course from a different Hawaiian heritage (Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti, & Samoa). The highlight was probably the fire knife dance at the end, with the chocolate dessert at a close second. None of this would have been enjoyable, however, if not shared with my handsome escort. I was honored to be at his side, as always.

Monday morning we rose early for our Kayaking/Snorkeling/Waterfall Hike adventure. We found a package deal through Hike Maui where we could pack it all in on our last full day on the island. We drove about 25 miles to Olowalu Bay where we met our kayak guides and 6 other adventure-seekers. Once there we were disappointed to find out that all of the kayaks are tandum! Our last experience kayaking was not so pleasant, & we swore that if we ever did it again, we would each paddle our OWN kayak. Thankfully there is a lot more room in the ocean than a stream, so we had more room for error. We managed okay (Chris might disagree :) .) Once we kayaked out to the reef, we got our snorkeling gear out & jumped ship. WOW! This was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. The sea turtles are spellbinding. I couldn't take my eyes off of them.Our guide had a superb camera, & sent us some photos after our trip. (You can see photos on our website and view more of his photos at: http://www.longshorephotography.com/). After holding a pencil sea urchin and a live shell with a crab in it, we set out for another area of coral where the whitetip reef shark hang out. At this point in our journey, Chris was feeling a little... A LOT... seasick, and I was thawing out from the cold waters, so we skipped out on the shark visit. Thankfully, our guide sent photos to us so that we could feel like we got the whole experience. I wish we had purchased an underwater digital camera like the Fujifilm FinePix Z33WP 10 MP Waterproof Digital Camera
though.

On land, we shed our kayaking gear and boarded the Hike Maui van up to mountain range of Maui. After an hour drive with our informative guide, Helga, we hiked down a revene (in very cool weather, might I add) to a natural pool. I decided to jump off the rock in to the pool. It took me a while to muster the courage, but I was glad I did it, cold as the wathe West Coastter was! We then trekked over to a small waterfall which I walked in to. It was amazing to me how powerful the water was! Our camera died before the next part of our hike, but we came upon a large picturesque Banyan tree. We then climbed downward, holding on to roots of the tree, to discover another waterfall. It was majestic! We learned a lot on our hike about the flora, fauna, climate, & even history of Hawaii. Helga was very educated and just a super-nice guide. (http://www.hikemaui.com/guides.html).

We got some relaxing downtime by the pool & in the whirlpool Monday afternoon. For dinner, we chose "Cheeseburger in Paradise" located right on the shore of Lahaina harbor. We shared a table with two strangers and had good conversation accompanied by live music. (http://www.cheeseburgerland.com/Users/Cheeseburgerland/Locations.html)

Tuesday arrived too soon. Chris & I each took a solo walk to Fleming Beach at sunrise. I met a little crab who was trying to catch some nice waves. Soaked in the scenery and felt the sand beneath my toes. Chris ventured out on Makalua-puna Point (commonly referred to as "Dragon's Teeth"). The point was created from one of the last lava flows on Mauia. It is adjacent to Fleming Beach, just beyond the Honokahua Hawaiian burial preservation. When the burial site was discovered, the Ritz-Carlton had to move their resort further inland.

Before packing up for our flight, we took one last trip to Lahaina for some souvenir shopping. Packed up some pineapples for gifts & tasted fresh coconut through a straw. Not as sweet as we anticipated, and the texture is like some kind of shellfish or something. Fresh coconut was different than what I expected. Chris took a pictures of the banyan tree in banyan tree park (see our photos). It is truly ginormous. New trunks form from the branches of the tree. There are 12 trunks on this tree! Spectacular! (http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2901263-banyan_tree_park_maui-i)

We were not ready to come home. In fact, if not for an airport employee finding the ticket I had dropped, I could have had a chance to get left behind in Honolulu! The 8 hours home seemed longer than the first flight over. Hard to sleep on the airplane sandwiched in the middle of 7 seats, no window, & a stranger on one side of you.

We could have stayed in Hawaii for another week, or longer. However, it was good to get home to our boy, who "missed us so much". We are so hoʻomaikaʻi (grateful) for this opportunity. We hope you all get a chance to travel there someday if you haven't yet. If not, rent some videos or search the internet. It's just too beautiful to pass up. Mahalo for letting us share it with you.

Me ke aloha (with love),
Karen & Chris

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2 Comments:

Blogger Faith said...

Wow, I almost felt like I was there! Thanks for sharing!
-Faith

11:21 PM  
Blogger Priyanka Hankare said...

Cute couple...god bless! :) :) :)

5:04 AM  

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