Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Six and a half quick facts about hiking the Lahaina Pali trail

Last weekend some friends and I hiked the Lahaina Pali trail here in Maui.   If you've seen the big wind turbines on the west side of Maui when you're driving to Lahaina from Kahului or Kihei, you've seen the trail.....from a far distance.     Want to get a leg workout while getting up close and personal with some big ass windmills?   This hike is for you.   

Six and a Half Quick Facts About Hiking the Lahaina Pali Trail

1.  There are two trail heads.  You  can do this as a shuttle hike, by parking a car in each lot, or you can carpool and just go up and back from one of them.   We parked at the lot on the Lahaina side before the tunnel and hiked up to the top (sign post 10) and then back down.   

2.    It's all uphill.    Seriously.   Even going down feels like going up (aka work) since you still have to pay attention to where you're going so that you don't slip and fall.   Elevation gain is 1600 feet.

3.   Bring lots of water.   However much you think you should bring, bring more.  

4.  Start early.   I like to sleep.   I really do.   But starting at 7am versus 9am equals two more hours in cooler temperatures.   

5.  You'll see shade where there isn't.  Much.    That scraggly tree with a few leaves?  Suddenly it's your best friend.   Bring your sunscreen and wear your hat.   

Finally at the top!

6.  The windmills are HUGE.   The view of Maui and the ocean is beautiful from  the top.

6.5.  You'll justify the lunch you have a Leoda's pie shop afterwards.   No guilt.   Not one crumb.

Ready to hike?   The Lahaina Pali Trail is part of the Na Ala Hele trail system.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Maui Adventures: The Really Long Haleakala Hike

I moved to Maui in November of 2013.   I'm on a mission to explore my new home!
Here's one of my Maui Adventures:

Prior to moving to Maui, I had been to the island of Maui exactly once.   And I'm pretty sure that we tried to put as much activity into three days as we could.   Luau?  Check.   Whale watching?  Of course.   Getting up in the middle of the night to ride bikes down Haleakala after sunrise?  Who wouldn't?   Snorkeling? Bring it on.

Halekala is not feature that you can ignore on Maui.   It is the prominent feature on the other side of the island.    All those upcountry adventures that I've gone on?  (this one, that one, and the one involving goats).   How do you think upcountry gets its  name?   It's on the side of the volcano.

And the volcano is the reason this piece of paradise exists in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

One of my friends here loves to hike.   In fact, she just came into my office this week, asked if I wanted to go hiking and then said "how's your upper body strength?"  Um.

Not sure if I'm ready for a hike that has that as a prerequisite, although it's probably awesome.

The hike we took at Haleakala National Park is a combination of different trails that becomes a 11.5 mile hike down, through, and up out of the crater.     This handy map was something I only looked at after we were done.  It was probably better that way.

We parked one car at the Halemau'u (Park Rd) trail head, and then drove up to the summit and parked the other car and embarked on our journey on the Sliding Sands Trail.

You start the hike by descending into the crater.    The 'ahinahina, the Halekakala silversword, is a unique and endangered plant to the park that can live for up to 90 years, but only blooms once.   We were fortunate to see many of the silverswords in bloom.          

The landscape during the first part of the hike could be something like hiking on the moon.   
It looks so different than anywhere else.  Amazing.

After hiking 3.9 miles into the crater you turn left.    Seriously.  
See that cone in the picture above?    You'll be a lot closer to it.

The hike continues through the red sand for another few miles.    Then the geography starts to change as you hike towards Holua cabin.

No longer looking like the moon...

At the cabin, you are about 2/3 of the way through the hike.   Of course, the remainder of the trail goes up. Switchbacks, naturally.    From the cabin back to the second car, it's about 1000 feet of elevation gain. It was a little rainy and misty by the time we were making our ascent.    

Climbing, climbing, climbing the switchbacks

But I did find out where, exactly, the red fern grows.  

It was a fantastic hike, and I would do it again.

Our Haleakala Hiking Crew

Things to know:

  • Roads in Maui are windy with low speed limits - it will always take you longer to get where you're going if you're comparing it driving on the interstate back home
  • It's $10 per car and your entry is good for 3 days
  • The summit is 10,000 feet.   It will be cool at night and in the morning.  You're also closer to the sun, so you need to slather on that sunscreen.
  • Bring layers of clothes, you will want to start this hike early before it gets too hot.   You'll want hiking boots or tennis shoes for the hike, and a pair of slippers (flip flops) to slide your tired feet in after your hike is over.
  • Pack it in and pack it out - there are no trash cans on the hike
  • Bring plenty of water - when you realize you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated
  • For more information about Haleakala National Park, click here
  • For a trail map, click here

Have you hiked Haleakala?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Answering the question "Are you happy that you moved to Hawaii?"

On a fairly regular basis, friends, colleagues and sometimes complete strangers ask me the question:
"Are you happy that you moved to Hawaii?"   

9 months ago today I got on a plane in Denver to move to Maui.   
And 9 months ago tomorrow, due to airplane delays, I arrived and started this adventure.

Sunset from Canoe Beach

My answer?  Yes.   I am happy that I moved to Hawaii.   

Each time you move it is stressful.  Even if you are just moving houses/apartments in the same town.   The farther away you move, the more things stress you out.   Moving to Hawaii has some of the challenges and logistics that I imagine come into play when you move to another country.    

Everyone who moves here will have a different story.   This is my story as well as some of the questions that friends, family members, and colleagues ask.   

Why did I choose to move to Hawaii?
I had an opportunity to apply for a promotion with my company to transfer properties from Denver to Maui. Not going to lie - a job transfer is pretty sweet.   I didn't lose any of my benefits.   I am continuing to move up in my field.   A relocation company handled the shipment of my car and packing up my stuff.   I had a place to stay while I was looking for a place to live and waiting for my furniture to arrive.   

Why Hawaii instead of somewhere else?
I spent the past 8 year in Denver.    I love Colorado.   There are a lot of  places that have no appeal to me, personally, when it comes to relocation/transfer.    Hawaii, and Maui in particular, fell into the "once in a lifetime" category.   A chance to live where most people only come on vacation.    The farthest point from everywhere in the world (really).  A chance to see if island life in paradise  is all that it's cracked up to be. An entirely different climate, pace and style of life than I was used to.

Vibrant Culture
What do you love about  living in Hawaii?
I love living by the water.   I've never lived on a coast or an island, so seeing the ocean every day, even from my kitchen window, is a real treat.   I love all the outdoor activities and exploring a new place.   I love the people that I work with.   They made me so welcome and helped me jump into living the Maui life.  I love the cultural activities that are related to Hawaiian and Asian culture, such as the King K Day parade, Chinese New Year celebrations, and the Obon festival. I love trying new foods.    I love that being barefoot is the most common state.  I love sushi and poke.  

All. The. Sushi.
Do they pay you a lot more in Hawaii due to the cost of living?
No.    I think this is something that probably catches people off guard.   The cost of living in Hawaii is higher than many places on the mainland, but the odds of getting a big fat cost of living increase or geographic differential are pretty slim.   I meet a lot of people who work multiple jobs in order to pay the bills.  

Is everything really expensive?
Not everything, but many things may be more expensive than what you're used to...depending on where in the world you live.   Living on an island, almost everything needs to be imported.    And since we are living in the middle of the ocean, everything has to travel farther and arrive via container ship or air freight.     When you shop online,  some companies will ship free to Hawaii.  But others?   Expect to get that bonus Hawaii/Alaska surcharge.   

When it comes to groceries, it's the dairy, frozen foods, and packaged foods that carry a higher price tag.   Just like anywhere else, if you shop the sales, you'll do ok.    The cost of milk is often what shocks people.   I paid over $4 today for a half gallon.    Clothes are a similar price as the mainland, though Maui has a limited selection of stores to choose from.  

Gas has been about $4.30-4.50 in the time that I've lived here.    I drive significantly less than I did in Colorado.   My commute to work is about 6 miles each way and if I want to stop at the grocery store, drug store or go out to eat, most places I go fall in that same 6 mile stretch.   

You  don't need nearly as many clothes and we really only have one season.    There are lots of shops that cater to dressing island style, and there is a mall in Kahului that has a Sears and a Macy's for your department store needs.  There aren't many occasions that call for formal clothes.   The big news?  A Target is under construction and will open in 2015!    

I live on the west side of Maui and the rental market can be very challenging depending on when you arrive.   Studios and one-bedrooms are more common.   Friends who are looking for family housing have said that it is difficult.   Kihei, Wailuku or Kahului seem to have more options and be a little less expensive.   Furniture is also expensive (again the whole freight thing) - you can find used furniture shops or go to garage sales.   

When you  live someplace that has a high population of tourists on vacation, restaurants tend to be more expensive.    The key here is happy hour and kama'aina.    Lots of restaurants have great happy hour specials, often from 2-5, including drinks and pupus (appetizers).    Some restaurants also offer kama'aina discounts for Hawaii residents, which is often a percentage off of your bill.   

The majority of activities here on Maui are outdoors and free.  So much revolves around the water.   All beach access in Hawaii is public, so you just need to walk or drive to the beach.  Buy or borrow the equipment you need (snorkel set, paddle board, boogie board, beach chair) and you're set.   There are also lot of options for hiking all over the place.  If you want to do any the sails, snorkel trips, shows, etc, most companies will offer kama'aina discounts.

Free turtle watching at the beach

What do you miss?
When I'm asked this question, my answer is people.   I've been back to the mainland once since I moved last fall (and I'm going again at the end of this month).   I miss seeing my family and my friends on a regular and sometimes daily basis. I miss the community I had at my church.   The good news is that friends and family want to come visit - but it's not as easy or as affordable as taking a drive or hopping on Southwest.  When it comes to friends and community, I have to remember that I built that over the course of years - friendships take time.  I'm not much of a shopper / nightlife person, so I don't miss that aspect of life in the city, although there are times that I wish that Trader Joe's and New York and Co, were on island.   I also miss major concerts and theater productions.

I miss having brunch with my sister

Was it hard to move alone?
When you move with your family/significant other, you have instant companions to try a new restaurant, go hiking, or go to the beach with.   When you move alone, you have to put yourself out there - accept invitations to go/do, or extend the invitation yourself.   I've always been one who will go it alone rather than not go at all, but that's not for everyone.    Where I work, people move from the mainland on a fairly regular basis, and we welcome people by offering to pick them up at the airport, take them out and go explore the island.    At the beginning of the year, my co-workers asked what I was going to do on Saturday, and I said that I wanted to visit Surfing Goat Dairy.   They said, "We've never been, can we go with you and make a day of it upcountry?"   It was so much fun, but it never would have happened if they had not asked.  And then I paid it forward later this spring by taking someone else new on a similar trip.   

How long will you stay?
This is completely up to me.   I'm not here on a contract, it's a permanent move/transfer.   It sometimes feels weird to say "I live in Hawaii."   But there it is.   I live in Hawaii.   And I'm happy about it.  

Aloha!  I'm Jenni and I live in Hawaii

Want to see more pictures of life in Hawaii?  
Or check out travelerforgood on Instagram.  


Sunday, July 20, 2014

What's up on top of Waipoli Road?

Last weekend, I took myself on a little solo road trip to the other side.   Yes, all the way to the other side of Maui.    I stopped in Paia to browse the shops and then in Makawao for a stick donut at Komoda Store.   And then it was time to see what was at the top of Waipoli road.  

What's at the bottom of Waipoli Road?   The beautiful Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm.  

Restful, lovely, lavender farm

Shiny happy plants

No idea what this is called but isn't it great?

What's up on top of Waipoli Road?

Scenery that the majority of residents and visitors to Maui never see unless you're a hunter or a hiker. 

So please, enjoy...

Lake Tahoe sized pine cones!

Misty cool weather - 66 degrees at the time

Smokey the Bear

Big Trees
Alpine Forest

Have you taken a spontaneous road trip recently?   What did you see?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rollin' with Hairy Coo Tours - Scotland

Oh look, a coo!

What's it like rollin' with Hairy Coo tours in Scotland?

Take a look and see!

But first - know that their Scottish Highlands tour is free.  Yes.   Free.   
As in zero pounds.  
And it's good fun all day long.   

First, a bus of fun.   Complete with your "drover" guide

Wee Hamish - perfect for photo ops at bridges
And mailboxes

A stop at the Wallace Monument where you can climb the hill, climb the tower,
or just get some coffee and a pastry.

And we learned the true story  about who the real
"Brave Heart" of Scotland is!

Hairy Coo Hats! Critical for successful photos.

Learning proper flag protocol - when CAN you fly the
royal flag over your home?

Random owl at our lunch stop in Aberfoyle

Coo feeding!
Precious baby coo
Loch Katrine

Doune Castle - of Monty Python  Fame

A great day all around!     If you're in Edinburgh and have a free day for fun and adventure in the Highlands, this is the way to go.

What's your  favorite thing about Scotland?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lahaina Obon Festival

I've had a lot of wonderful experiences in the eight months that I've lived in Maui.  

The Lahaina Obon Festival, on July 5, 2014, was definitely one of the best of my Maui experiences to date.    The last time I had been to a Buddhist Temple was in Thailand.    I've never seen a floating lantern ceremony (in fact, the animated movie Tangled, might be my only frame of reference, as silly as that sounds).   I've never been to a Bon Dance.   

My manager was the one who said, "Jenni, you've got to go.    And if you go, you have to jump in and dance."    Well....she's been a witness to our spontaneous HR dance parties.   She even supported the purchase of a small disco ball.    So yes, I did jump in and dance.  *and you can too - just follow what everyone else is doing!

What is Obon?
Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors.

What is a Bon Dance?
Technically, it's the dance performed during the season of Obon.    The story goes that a disciple of Buddha was using his powers to look at his mother, who had passed away.   He discovered that she had fallen into the "realm of hungry ghosts" and was suffering.    He went to the Buddha who gave him instruction to give an offering.   As a part of this process, his mother's spirit was released.   He also saw her true nature, giving and selfless.   The disciple, happy because of his mother's release and grateful for what she had done, danced with joy.   

What will you find at a Bon Dance?
I wish I had seen this Bon Dance 101 article before I went.   It shows the different components of the dance.   The centerpiece?  The Yagura - the tower in the center that you dance around.  

What is Toro Nagashi?
This is the floating of lanterns.    The festival this past weekend is the only one on Maui that does this - and it was so peaceful and beautiful.    It's symbolic of the ancestors spirits returning to the world of the dead.   

If you have an opportunity to go to an Obon festival, go.   You'll be glad you did.

Click here for the 2014 Obon Festival schedule for all of the Hawaiian islands. 

4th of July in Lahaina, Maui

Although I was lacking a star-spangled tank top and patriotic head bling (harder to find on an island, I'm telling ya), it was a very festive 4th here in Maui.    The day started with brunch.   A two pitchers of mimosas brunch.     In the afternoon, we headed into Lahaina Town for hula dolls, mai tais, Elvis and fireworks.

Elvis was NOT a part of your 4th?  
I'm sorry to hear that. 

A unique gift for the democrat in your life

Happy hour mai tais 

Of course

(I need to go see Burnin' Love at the Maui Theater!)

Waving flags

Nature puts on a real big sunset show


Whatever you did over the holiday - I hope you had a great time!


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