Saturday, January 23, 2016

Maui - The short and sweet of it

How awesome that this is my 300th post on this blog... it showcases one of my all-time favourite holidays ever.

Maui was incredible. It was so lush and tropical. Words can not describe its beauty, the people, the scenery, the food. All of it was incredible and being able to share this adventure with Justin makes it even better. He is by far the best travel partner I have travelled with. I loved looking over to see his face when I saw something incredible because he showed such awe and it was always exactly how I felt too! It was simply awesome!

I always do a 10 things about a place - so, here is my 10 things about Maui.

1. It is illegal to camp on the side of the road, but that doesn't stop anyone.
2. The best and most refreshing drinks are at Hana farms, the hibiscus drink was incredible!
3. The biggest wave ever paddled into is 54 feet and was by Paia. We didn't see it tho.
4. One side of the island gets so much rain they get flash floods but the other side only gets 11 inches. It is such a diverse landscape!
5. The road to Hana is a bit sketchy, but if you REALLY  want a challenge, keep going past Hana to the sacred pools, that is the sketchiest road I've ever been on.
6. Property on Maui is about the same as property in central BC. Moving there has crossed my mind.
7. Everyone gets up pretty early, we were up around 6:30am everyday... But everyone tucks in pretty early too. Most nights we settled in by 9:30pm. This is very common.
8. The only way you know about the roosters is if you camp or are local. There are no roosters on the resorts. :)
9. The fruit on the side of the road is worth the stop every. Single. Time!
10. The mixture of sunshine and local fruits and veggies makes your skin glow and smell like a tropical breeze. It was my favourite thing about Maui.

As I have said before, Maui is magical and I know we will go back one day... Maybe when our dollar is better!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Maui - Final day

We woke with the roosters in Olawalu and took our sweet time parking and eating breakfast. We took one last walk around this campground we've gotten to know well. We stayed long enough to require lunch too and tried to eat all the remaining food we had.

We decided to go to the West coast to find some snorkelling but weather was moving in and the waves were too big so, we went boogie boarding instead! It was so much fun and we both got pummelled by the waves. The sea water was burning my eyes so bad but I kept jumping back in! After about an hour, we figured we took enough damage and packed it in.

We found our way back to Lahaina for some Hawaiian shaved ice and one last tour of the town, it really is delightful! We should t have stopped tho, the battery on the van was getting pretty drained and we couldn't leave it longer than 2 minutes before we had to bump start it again. We had to fill it with gas tho! So, with J at the helm and me pushing, we pushed it out of the gas station and onto the street barely starting it, but starting it just the same! We were off once again!

We drove to Kehei and returned our gear - best $25 spent!!! :) We then hit the local pool for some refreshing showers and changed into some clean clothes. It was nearing supper so we headed to Paia and had an incredible meal at this Vegan place - Nacho Mamas - we had tried to go to the other night but it was closed due to a special event.

We went to the Paia food market and ran into Eric and Sarah there! In the time since I had met him and the 2nd Time we saw him I realized why his story seemed familiar...  My friend Larissa brought me back a book from when she went to Maui the year before. The book was HIS book... He wrote it! So I had to tell him this story - we laughed about it and we parted saying we will meet again. I am sure we will! We got some souvenirs for ourself - mostly amazing Maui coffee and headed off to drop off the van. I can't believe this adventure is over!

We found the lot where we needed to drop the beast off and we stashed the keys as per directions. We the. Walked down the street to find a taxi. This was harder to find than we though but after a 30 minute wait, we got in our cab and chatted with the driver about our amazing journey and how quiet Maui is at night.

Back at the airport, we checked in, changed into our jeans and sweaters and reality sunk in. We were going to be back in Canada tomorrow morning! We said our goodbyes to this magical tropical paradise and promised ourselves that we would return. Not that we left anything undone, we really did almost everything, but because Maui really is very very magical.

Tired, happy and filled with amazing memories, this holiday will be one to remember forever and one to beat. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Maui - Day 7

We woke early at the Sun Yen Su park overlooking an amazing vista of the valley. We started up, having to bump start the Beast... This thing is a true warrior. We were off to find an amazing place to watch the island wake up.

About 15 mins down the road we stumble upon the Bee Sanctuary and a bit of a pit stop where they had loos and a deck to watch the coast. We settled in and started to make breakfast when we were passed by a couple young farmer dudes heading to the deck for the view. We had a great cup of coffee and oatmeal as we watched the coast, hardly taking our eyes off the view. We sat on the stoop (as I like to call the ledge where the sliding door opens) and gawked at the incredible view for about a half hour. One of the farmer dudes stopped and chatted with us and we shared bits about our hopes for the future and our farm...its seeing places like this that make me want our farm and life we've planned so much more. I feel so at peace with myself here and it is so wonderful! 

After a quick chat with one of the pwners, we were off for our first adventure of the day... Maui Wine! We tried wine that was made from 100%pine apple, yum, and their signature red
(Syrah grapes from 2 vineyards, 1/2 from this vineyard) - very nice! We purchased two bottles and some cigars made locally and we jetted across the street to a BBQ cookhouse. I had the beef brisket which was from the farm down the street and J had this great pork from a different farm, both were great but mine was better! :) Delish!  

Surfing Goat Farm was our next destination and we got there 15 mins before the next tour... So we signed up and were quickly on our tour where we got to pet and feed the goats and learned all about their humane and organic farm.
They are about 95% solar panel supported and it was good to see how a couple planned this farm from Germany and made it grow to a very viable business. Their cheese was great and we got a bit for a snack later - mmm. 

We hopped back into the westie and we hit the road to Makena - we had heard  the beaches were good and we wanted to get some snorkel gear and boogie boards for the next couple of days. We drove out to Makenna and didn't find these great beaches so we went back to Kehei and got our supplies for the next couple of days. Groceries, boogie boards, fuses for the Beast so the battery doesn't drain and snorkel gear - the adventure continues. :)

We couldn't resist trying out the boogie boards so we quickly found a beach and were in the water. About an hour later  we decided the waves were lame and hit the road to Lahina where we decided to stop and charge our phones, laptop, and camera batteries - and to check in with the world. On the drive, however, we had to stop on the side of the road and watch the sun set. It was a perfect bright orange sunned sunset that Hawaii is known for. Just another thing about this island I will miss. 

I feel at peace here, relaxed beyond measure and I vow, in every moment that  I would bring this feeling home with me and apply it there - I can only try, right? 

That's day 6 folks, it's been a really wonderful day. What will tomorrow bring? 

Aloha - Heatherand Justin :) 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Maui - Day 5

We woke up with the sun and had a quick snack and headed out to find a swimming location recommended by Eric and Sarah. We found this little alcove that we had to climb down to. It had a rock wall that waves crashed over and left a pool of salty warm water that was super safe to swim in. We hopped in and were joined shortly by a naked German couple who were having their morning swim. We must have stayed swimming and soaking  in the sun for a good 1.5 hours. We finally decided that we needed food so we got out and journey back to our camper. Oatmeal and fresh fruit with coffee was perfect after a refreshing morning swim!

Once we cleaned up from breakfast we headed back to the sacred pools as we saw a trailhead for a hike the night before. We found it again and before long we were in the middle of a beautiful tropical forest with the biggest trees I have ever seen! I climbed on one for awhile and we continued on our journey. As we turned a corner, we discovered that we were in a bamboo forest! It was spectacular and we took every detour and side path we could find. We could hear the tops of the bamboo clunking against eachother and the greens were indescribable. A completely different green than Irelend totally! We tried to ignore the grumpy, sweaty, complaining tourists who weren't prepared for a 6km hike... They really were a buzz kill but we tried to laugh it off! Once out of the bamboo forest we found ourselves at the entry of a magnificent waterfall. We hiked up to as close as we could and if we stood and looked up as high as we could we could barely see the top if we stood close to the bottom. It was the tallest waterfall I have ever seen and it was incredible!

This day was the hottest day we had experienced so we tried to stay out of the sun as much as we could. We hiked all the way back and decided to go for a refreshing swim in the top pool of the sacred pools again. Before we knew it we were splashing around in the cool water - it was so refreshing!

We got back to the campground and figured it was time to journey back to at least Paia - so we grabbed a snack and headed off. The road from the 7 sacred pools was just as incredible (and sketchy) as it was the day before and I'm not sure what direction had the best views!

We stopped to pick up a hitchhiker about 10km from Hana and he told us he was a WOOFer which is an organization that places volunteer farm workers on Organic farms across the world. He was working at Hana Farms and we told him the macadamia nut toffee was incredible!  We dropped him off and hoped that the farm would still be open so we could get some of that amazing hibiscus drink, but it closed at 5 - as did everything in Hana. It was 5:30and we figured that we should get back to Paia before night so we kept trucking. The sun slowly set and before long we were praying around each corner as the lights on the westie are crappy and it was dark. 20km in the dark around switchbacks was enough to fry anyone's nerves, but J laughed it off and I tried in vain to take pictures. All part of the adventure!

We finally got to Paia and stopped for some food. We ate at a local, organic restaurant that had these awesome thin slices crispy potatoes! We then planned our next day and found a place to sleep. The road to Haleakela was off limits, do we went just before that road and kept going south. We needed up in a tiny town that we didn't know the name of and found a parking lot. We set up the bed and didn't bother popping the top. It had been a long active day and we fell into an easy ( but cold) sleep. Another incredible, unbelievable day in Magical Maui!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Maui - Day 4

We woke before the roosters - 3:30am is too  for them! We jumped out of the westie, ready for the day and met our fellow your takers. Today we were going up the volcano Haleakala and then biking down.

Shortly after we stirred we were off on our adventure with 6 other tourers. The drive up was an hour and a half on switchbacks, but we couldn't see anything due to the darkness. We chatted with this lovely couple from New York and they were so typically New York it was sweet. We got to the top of the mountain and the tour company handed out jackets and pants. I was so glad because my jeans and small jacket weren't enough to keep me warm. It was freezing!

We hung around enjoying a small hike and waiting for the sunrise. Once the sun started coming up we were stunned with its beauty. The colours were incredible, but also the only thing we could see was a layer of clouds - it felt like we were on top of the world! We huddled for warmth as we oohed and awed at the beauty.

Once we had our full, we found the rest of our tour and hopped back into the van. We drive down a bit - about 8kms and the. We all got out and were given our bikes and helmets. We got a brief tutorial and were told not to pass anyone - we had to stay in the order we were put in. We made our way down the volcano being told about the flora and fauna, some of the history and general stories of adventure when we would stop by our guide, Will. He was a burly Samoan looking dude whose smile was a mile wide, even with his missing teeth! He was very knowledgable and was able to answer any question I threw at him.

Halfway down the mountain, we stopped at a "cowboy" type town that was known for their donuts. We stopped in to a local diner and had breakie - and great coffee... We were starving! We the. Wandered a bit and of course stopped in for a delish donut - we had earned it!! The late afternoon heat had us shedding our outer layers and we were off to finish the bike tour. It had taken us about 4 hours to bike down the volcano going around 25mph at our top speed. It wasn't very strenuous and I wished we could have gone faster! J and I were joking that we could have made it down in 2 hours, I am pretty sure we could have! There WAS something about taking our time and enjoy our time. It was an awesome morning!!! It seems like each morning was getting better and better - how would we beat this morning? :)

We ended up in Paia and since we had already loaded up with supplies, we hopped into the van and set off down the Hana highway!

This road was incredible and was probably one of the most scenic drives I've ever been on! It was switchbacks the whole way with mind boggling cliffs, waterfalls, lush tropical scenery and one-car bridges. It was incredible and Justin was a champ navigating those tight turns in an 88 westie with a wonky transmission and tiny tires. We managed, somehow and stopped occasionally to enjoy the view and snap some photos. We got to Hana and found a roadside stop off. We grabbed some fresh banana bread, some mandarins and a fresh tropical drink. Justin got an amazing hibiscus drink that I wish I had gotten. The place we stopped was Hana farms and it was a local, organic farm that produced a small amount of products that were sent throughout the island. I love that everything is local. We also got this amazing candied macadamia nut toffee. We both could have eaten the whole thing in minutes and gone back for more.

We kept going down the road as there is a campground in the Haleakala National Park and we wanted to see the 7 sacred pools. The road past Hana gets even sketchier and many places are only enough room for one car... There were plenty of times J and I would look at eachother and say "what the fuck did we just drive through!" - the end result was truly worth it tho. We registered for the campground which was only 13 dollars for 3 days. Had we known how amazing it was, we would have brought more supplies and stayed there the rest of our trip!

We settled in and popped the top under a tree for shade and pulled out the bed and had a nap! It had already been a full day and was hardly 3! We stirred and started to plan our evening when our neighbour came to chat. He was parked next to us in a westie too and he asked when we wanted to race! :) Our neighbour is Eric and his lady friend Sarah. We chatted for quite sometime and he gave us some great local trip tips! He said that we were seeing his island the right wAy and wished more people took the time we did. It was nice to hear that from a local and it reaffirmed for us that this was an incredible way to travel!

We parted ways and Justin and I headed off to see the 7 sacred pools. So, interesting fact, there are not 7 pools, only 4 or 5 depending on the season, and they aren't sacred! It was dubbed that for tourism, but it is totally worth going , despite the tourist! When we got there, it was around4:30 and people had mostly cleared out to head back to Hana. We hiked through tropical bush and were amazed at the view from the cliffs. When we looked inland we saw the pools - a waterfall goes into a pool which has a waterfall at the other end which goes into another  pool - it does this about 4 times and you can climb up to the top pool and go for a dip... So that's what we did. A 45 minute hike got us there and in we went. The water was a little chilly and for me a little freaky. I had to swallow some of my 'open water swimming great' in order to swim to the big waterfall that started the chain reaction. I am so glad I did! We found another couple who were from Calgary and we took pictures under the waterfall for eachother.
Totally worth it! It was magical and beautiful and made me feel like I could accomplish anything!

We returned to our campground and the sun was just about setting so we grabbed a snack and headed out to find a great view. A view we found! We sat and watched as the sun faded over the beautiful ocean cliffs. Once it was dark, we hustled back to our campground and made supper. We ate as we watched the stars and thought of our trip so far, how incredible it has been and how truly fortunate we are. It was such a great day I am not sure how we could beat it!!!

We hit the hay early as we had been up for what seemed like an eternity. What a magnificent day!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Maui - Day 3

The roosters woke us again this morning, but it seems that things get started early on Maui and shut down early too. We took our time enjoying the view and waking up in paradise.

We decided to head to Lahina today for a whale tour, so we hopped into the Westie and we were off. Finding parking in Lahina is horrific, think going to Banff when the Olympics were on and this is what they face everyday. Gross. We found a spot at the corner of a church parking lot under a tree and walked to the Pacific Whale Foundation, where we wanted to catch the tour from.

We arrived 15 mins before the next tour left, so we quickly purchased tickets and ran to the docks just in time to get in line for our boat. Perfect timing. The The Pacific Whale Foundation is a wonderful organization that is not-for-profit and all the funds they receive go back into research and preservation of the ocean. Out of all the places we could go for a tour, I am very glad we made a conscious choice to go with this company.

The tour was incredible and we spent a full 2 hours following pods of 8 - 12 whales as they did their mating dance. We saw fin slaps on the water, tails as the whales dove deep, spouts blowing and even whales fully breaching and males slapping their heads on the water as a sign of mating and dominance. We learned amazing things about whales such as they don't drink anything, they get all their fluid intake from their food and that whales have never been seen mating, ever. It was incredible and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. It was the first time I had seen whales like this and it was the most J had seen at a time.

Once off the boat, and with smiles a mile wide, we stopped for some local, delicious food. I had the fish of the day and Justin had the Ahi Tuna. Our drinks were tropical and boozy and it was a perfect, tropical setting. We are simply in paradise!

After we ate, we made our way to Kehei for supplies, to check out the beaches and to get some souvenirs. We lounged the afternoon away and finally made our way up to Paia. Paia is an interesting town. The traffic always congests just as you are getting to the main road as there is one street light that stops people as they are travelling through - it is the only road that leads to the Northern side of the island. There is no reason for Paia to exist, other than it has killer waves and is THE spot to stay if you want to rip some mad skillz. While we were here, there were some record breaking waves and in fact, the record for the largest wave someone paddled to happened when we were there (not that we saw it) - the wave was 55 feet tall... HOLY CRAP, right?

We got our westie set up in a parking lot... we head out at the gross time of 3:30 am tomorrow for a mountain biking adventure, so we managed to contact the owner of the company to see if we could camp in his parking lot - and that's where we parked. We walked down and toured Paia, not a lot to see. There are many, many shops and restaurants so we grabbed a gelato (delicioso) and headed to the beach. I had changed out of my bathing suit and that is the only reason we didn't get to play in the waves... The waves were amazing. They were rolling the whole night and they were so LOUD. I have never seen waves that incredible and we sat and watched for about 1.5 hours, just enjoying the ocean breeze on our faces and the sound of the rolling waves. We watched as the kids played in the surf and as adults boogie boarded and surfed, it was awesome and I wished we could have swam - fool me once, I will not take my bathing suit off before bed again!

Realizing that we had to get up at 3:30am the next morning, J and I headed back up the mountain to our westie. We stopped at Cafe Mambo on our way home and ate a great meal. I had a duck salad and J had pork. Both were incredible, but I think mine was better!! The duck was crisp and sweet, and you could taste the fattyness that duck is known for, but it wasn't overwhelming. The food here has been so good!!

We settled in for the night, and although it seemed early, our day was so busy it wasn't hard to fall asleep. We could hear the waves crashing on the shore and the sounds of Bob Marley floating from the Yoga Studio that was next door. We slept soundly in anticipation for the adventure we had in store the next day!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Maui - Day 2

We woke early - how could we not with the roosters crowing - and watched the sun rise over the mountains. We started off early and headed to Lahaina. We stopped at a turn out on the side of the road by a beach and found a picnic table. It was already getting hot! We made a delish breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup and coffee. We took our time eating and enjoyed watching locals going through their morning routines, many of them included a swim in the ocean. After we cleaned up we decided to do as the locals and went for a dip at the beach we were on. The water was so warm and yet refreshing. Justin was swimming around and I wasn't really super comfy yet so I was just splashing in the waves - I was hardly up to my thighs when I looked over to my left as I heard something blowing out air. It was a sea turtle!!! He was looking at me and if I had reached out my arm, I would have been able to touch him. Instead I started screaming my head off and ran out of the ocean. Then, having realized what it was, I waded back in up to my ankles and started apologizing to the terrified turtle who had swam off already. I then proceeded to jump up and down excitedly pointing and shouting "it's a turtle! Come back turtle! Holy fuck, did you see that! He was right there!!!!"Justin had swam back to me fearing the worst only to realize I was so wimpy and excited. He then proceeded to laugh at me along with the locals watching me on the beach. It was so amazing!!!

Shortly after this, a local named Jon Jon, came over for a chat. He gave us some great tips and some good insight on where to go for the day. He also told us that the turtles feed on this shoreline and if we wanted to see more of them, we could just walk 100m down the shore and watch them feed on the algae. So, this is what we did and J even go into the water to try get a picture of them. We saw so many, and it was incredible. What a magnificent morning!

We finally packed up and hit the road, stopping at a local grocer to get supplies and we had local BBQ for lunch which was ok. We headed along the West coast which is less tropical and it is like an old lava flow. We went almost as far as we could and found the blow hole. It was a bit of a hike down but we didn't mind and so we parked the Westie, grabbed some water and away we went. It looked like the setting of the "planet of the apes" when we got near the water. The current under the rock wasn't super strong that day so the "blow hole" wasn't overly large, but we saw a good gust a couple times. I enjoyed watching the crabs scurry too and fro from the water from the blow hole. The views of the coast were incredible and we saw many whales in the distance and even a turtle or two close to the shore. When we saw all we could, we headed back up to the parking lot. There we found some locals selling delightful treats. We got a fresh coconut and the giant local cracked it with a machete so we could drink all the cool fresh water inside. After 2 plus hours in the hot HOT sun, it was the most retesting thing ever. The giant Hawaiian man then proceeded to cut peel the coconut for us and just like that, we had fresh coconut to munch on. There was also a group of local ladies selling baked goods. We purchased some coconut crusted pecans that were SO INCREDIBLE - I am not sure I. An look at pecans the same again.

Feeling totally satisfied by our snacks in tow, we headed back to Lahaina area. It was a lovely 1.5 hour-ish drive and by the time we hit Lahaina town it wa setting duskish. We decided to go to he same campground as the night before and we settled in to make supper.  We felt blissfully happy about our day... How could so many incredible things have happened in one short day? One thing is for sure, Maui is magical.

We ate our beef stir fry and went for a walk on the beach. Just listening to the waves lap on the beach and looking at the stars - how are we so lucky that we get to visit such a remarkable place? We settled into the camper van, snuggled up and slept so soundly and peacefully. We were happy and exhausted but ready for the adventures the next day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Maui - arrival day

Up at 4am to board a flight. My favourite thing to say about a flight - it was in eventful and this one was. :)

Landed in Maui and instantly felt the humidity. It was 2pm when we arrived and we got our luggage and were off to adventure. I changed into my sandals as quickly as I could and stowed my jacket and sweater, I won't need these for awhile!

We hopped into our ride and were greeted by a nice lady (who didn't give us her name) and we were taken to pick up our Westphalia. She took the scenic tour and took us by the beaches of Kehei, they were beautiful and my feet itched to be in the sand. We got to Aloha Campers and were greeted with a hearty Aloha by Brendon, the owner. He gave us the low-down on where we could and couldn't take the Westie and where we could camp. He also provided excursions and we agreed to sign up for a biking adventure on the volcano, Haleakala.

We were off within 30 minutes of arriving at Aloha campers and we jetted off on an adventure. First stop, well, we didn't know... we just drove. We ended up in Paia, a town that exists simply because it does. The waves are epic here and it is a surfing town that has no industry other than people staying here to surf. We found a spot to sit and watch the waves and boy, was it incredible. Neither of us had seen waves this big and this consistent ever. Incredible.

After awhile, the sun was going down so we figured we would find a place to stay. First stop, however was to get some supplies. We stopped at a Target, got some water, breakfast and beach towels and were off again to a camping spot called Olawalu. This camp ground was just off the beach and seemed like it would have all the amenities we would need. We arrived, after a questionable drive in the dark... the Westie doesn't have the best lights. All of the camp spots were taken, but there was room in a giant parking lot so we set up shop and settled in for our first night sleep in paradise. We were nackered from all the travel and sleep came quickly.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Welcome 2016

Now that I have looked back over the past incredible year, it is time to look forward - ahead - at the year to come.

There are many things that I want to accomplish this year, and I like writing them down so I have a record of what I want to accomplish. It really does provide a way to look back and see where I have come from and where I still need to go!

This years resolutions:

1. Be more considerate
2. Volunteer more
3. Go to the mountains 1x per month
4. See Larissa
5. Become a more skilled snowboarder
6. Practice Yoga - complete at least one 30 day challenge
7. Change my eating to include less meat, less dairy, more grains and more veg/fruit
8. Continue learning - wine/viticulture/wine production
9. Practice Italian 3x a week
10. Practice Guitar 1x a week

I know that I can complete all of these resolutions, not only because they are what I want to do, but also because they are in-line with where my life is right now and where it is going. While we won't be travelling as much (that we have planned anyway), we will be working on projects at home. I have many things that I need to work on this year that require me to stay home, save money and study, so that's what I have planned...

Here's hoping 2016 will be one for the books... now we just have to get going! :)

Happy New Year folks, I hope this year is your best year yet!