Saturday, December 27, 2014

All The Fun Things You Could Do In Maui (Part 1)

Aloha Friends,

Well, we made it!  2014 is almost in the history books and it is time to embark on the new year.   That means that it's reflection time.   So I made you a list of all kinds of fun things you could do in Maui based on my personal experience over the past year or so.   Some  of them are date specific - if you aren't here the weekend of the Maui Onion Festival, you're going to miss the onion eating contest.   That's just the way it is.   You can get the same feeling at home by trying to eat as many pieces of onion as you can in 60 seconds.

When you come to Hawaii on vacation, you don't have time to do all the things.  You think you do, but it's a lie. Part of the magic of Maui is the ability to unwind, disconnect, and enjoy the beauty wherever you find it:  on the beach, on a canoe, on a catamaran, on top of Haleakala.   There is a saying here on Maui "Slow down, this ain't the mainland."

That means that you can't do everything.   And that's ok.

As you may know, I love food.   All the places you can eat are not on the list.
That's a whole different list.
It really is.  
You can read it here.  

Fun Things (Part 1)

Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm
Upcountry Maui is beautiful.   Visiting the lavender farm can be a part of your upcountry adventure. The grounds and gardens are amazing.   Try a lavender cookie or scone.   If you keep driving up Waipoli road after visiting the farm, you'll run into different trail heads where you can hike through redwood forests.  It's an entirely different side of Maui than the beaches.

Blue 'Aina Reef Cleanup
Help keep our beaches, harbors, and reefs clean while supporting local non-profits and getting out on the water?   It's a win all around.      When I went, we cleaned up around the harbor in Lahaina and then out at Black Rock in Ka'anapali.    For more information on upcoming Blue 'Aina sails, visit the Sail Trilogy Blog.

Chinese New Year Celebration, Lahaina
This starts at the Wo Hing Museum with music, dancers, lanterns and of course, dragons.   Then they go down Front Street and stop at all the shops so that they can "feed" the dragons for good luck.

Coffee Tasting at Maui Grown Coffee
If coffee is your thing, you can support local here and have a tasting of their different coffees.    They also provide maps if you want to drive up to the farm where they grow their beans.   My family has become fans, and I send them coffee when I send my periodic gifts of aloha.

Driving the wild western coast of Maui
When you look at a map of Maui, you might think, "Oh, wouldn't it be so much quicker to get to the airport if I drove around the coast of west Maui from Kapalua to Wailuku?"   The answer, by the way, is no.    Not nearly as famous as the road to Hana, this road is just as windy.  And you can also be rewarded with banana bread and coconut candy, just like on the Hana side.  The highway has narrow one lane stretches.   The kind where we had three cars going uphill and there were three cars going downhill...and we had to ask all the cars going downhill to back up since there was nowhere for us uphill folk to go.    It's a beautiful drive.   Will I do it again?   I don't know.

Empty Bowl Project
Star Noodle held their third annual Empty Bowl Project event in April.    You can buy a handmade ceramic bowl for a donation to the Maui food bank and you also get a coupon for ramen or soba noodles.  

Ferry to Lana'i
Technically a Maui activity, since you have to start here :)
Lana'i used to be the pineapple island and was owned by Dole.   There aren't many places to stay on Lana'i, so many people go on day trips, either by ferry or on a snorkel trip.  It's smaller and less developed than Maui - has an entirely different feel.    From the ferry landing on Lana'i, you can walk to one beach - other than that, you need to have a plan.   I was visiting friends, so we checked out the Four Seasons, went to brunch at Blue Ginger Cafe, and then went four-wheeling down to the beach.

Why hello, Lana'i!

Friday Town Parties
Maui does town parties.    The party rotates from Wailuku to Lahaina to Makawao to Kihei.   The Lahaina parties are on the second Friday of the month.   I've only been to the Lahaina parties, but they all involve entertainment, activities and food stands benefiting local organizations.

Classic Car Night at the Lahaina Town Party

Flight Seeing
If you're island hopping while on Maui, consider taking Mokulele.    Get to your destination while enjoying a whole different view of the islands.    If you're going to Honolulu, fly out of the Kapalua (West Maui) airport and enjoy views like this of Moloka'i from the air.

More fun to come in future posts.
If Maui is on your bucket list, I hope that 2015 is your year!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Almost Halfway to Hana - The Keanae Peninsula, Maui

Aloha Friends!

I hope you had a fun Thanksgiving with your family and friends.   I'm on week two of my Hawaii staycation.   My mom, aunt and sister all came to escape the cold in Illinois and Colorado.   We spent our time enjoying the island of Maui from one end to the other:  Haleakala, upcountry sights, the road to Hana, whale watching, beach time and all the shave ice we could eat.  

Last Tuesday, more that a  year after moving to Maui, I finally drove the entire road to Hana.   It's considered an iconic drive (I believe my sister found a review that called it the crown jewel of roadtrips....that's pretty high praise) and it was a fun day with my family.     At the end of October, I drove almost halfway to Hana:  to the Keanae Peninsula.    It was a sunny afternoon, and the color of the ocean and the way that the waves crash onto the rocks...well you can see for yourself below.  The natural beauty of Maui never dissapoints.      

And now off to my next adventure, a quick two night trip to Oahu.    Big city, here we come!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

It Feels Like Fall: The Waihou Spring Trail, Maui

Aloha Friends!

Hopefully you had a fun Halloween, with just the amount of shenanigans that you enjoy.    It's been years since I've been able to dress up at work, but since Lahaina takes Halloween very seriously, there was absolutely nothing wrong with us dressing up like scary dolls and asking all our co-workers if they wanted to be our friends....for eternity.   

The trade winds are back, so the heat of August and September has abated a little bit.   When you drive into upcountry Maui, the temperature drops in a most pleasant way.    It was in the low 70's at the trail head, compared to to the low 90s when I left the west side of Maui.     Hiking the Waihou Springs Trail felt like hiking back in Colorado or in Wisconsin - the smell of pine in the air, needles underfoot, and a crisp breeze.    It's the closest we're coming to fall here in Maui, as far as I can tell.  

This hike isn't very long.    You may have to jump across the creek depending on the water flow (or use a downed tree, like I did).    The spring trail switch backs down into the valley and on the way down, you can hear the waterfall and if you turn uphill, you can see it.    I was hoping at the bottom of the spring trail that I would see the full waterfall, but that was not the case.   


How to get to the trail head:   From Makawao, take Olinda Road up to mile marker 11.9 where there is parking and a sign for the Tree Growth Research Area.   You'll walk through the gate and be on the trail.

It's hard to believe the November 3, 2014 is my one year Mauiversary.    The year has gone by so fast!    When I arrived, it was 2am - after 12+ hours of flight delays.     On the drive to the hotel, I knew the ocean was there, but I couldn't see it.

This was one of the first pictures I after arriving here on the Valley Isle.  

Maui No Ka Oi

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Aloha Sunday Update

Happy Aloha Sunday to you!

Fortunately Ana behaved herself and we just had clouds, rain and cooler temperatures.    Great for residents who want a lazy day inside, but not so much for those here on vacation.    There aren't that many indoor activities here.

A little over a week ago I was in Honolulu for a day long conference.   Even though it's another island and requires a flight, many people will just hop a commuter flight for the day and go back the same night.  I spent the night to enjoy the big city experience...and to avoid getting up at the pre-crack of dawn.     Sitting in the cab in traffic on the way to the hotel, I immediately appreciated the lack of congested traffic on Maui.   The best game to play in Waikiki is How many ABC stores can you spot?   A lot.

Honolulu from the air - look at all those buildings!

The pumpkin spice madness continues.  Today my sister posted a picture of a limited edition pack of pumpkin spice gum.   Um.  No.    Looking for more PSL humor?  Check out this clip from Last Week Tonight or this pumpkin spice movie trailer.   Or even better, this buzzfeed post about trying a PSL for the first time. 

I've been seeing some good looking soup recipes  recently.   I haven't gotten organized yet to make them, but I have intentions.   Intentions for chipotle potato soup and a chicken, bacon and orzo soup. I did, however, make time to bake these cookies

Love the Huff Post feature:  Funniest Tweets from Women this Week

And the first lady is pretty clever in her Turnip for What vine responding to questions filed under #askthefirstlady.

My friends who were serving in Liberia and have been in limbo for the past few months since coming back to the states have a new call.   They will be serving in Hungary in a few weeks.   It's hard to say when they'll be able to go back to Africa.   There has been a lot of press about the confirmed cases of Ebola in the USA (as this infographic and article point out).  Keep praying for the health and safety of everyone affected, wherever they are.   

My friend Chantal has recently moved back to the states after 8 years of living abroad in Switzerland. If you want to know about Swiss life, or returning to American life, check out her story over on One Big Yodel.

And there you have it!   Have a great week.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ashcroft Ghost Town, Colorado

We were looking at the map in the comfort of our condo and there was an arrow that said to ghost town.  

We no longer wondered what we would be doing prior to the next concert at Jazz Aspen Snowmass.   We were going ghost hunting in the broad daylight.      

The key to successful photos while visiting a ghost town?   Sepia / Vintage filter on your camera.
We definitely got our $3 worth!

You don't want to miss the ghosts!

Think of the ermine

Looking into my past

Reppin' the WW (Wild West)

Ghostly buildings
Andy was in the middle of this photo.  Until the ghosts got him!

And awesome Colorado mountain views

The price of stamps caused a fight to
break out at the post office

Old Tyme Selfie

Ready to plan a visit?   Click here to learn more.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Aloha Sunday Update

Happy Aloha Sunday!

Sunset on Wednesday was awe-inspiring

Today I'm attending TEDxMaui.    I've never been to a TED event before, so I'm pretty stoked to hear all the different presenters.   The theme for this one is A Brilliant Life.   Beginning Monday, I'll be better equipped to drop my brilliance everywhere.    Looking for some TEDx inspiration?  Watch "What is your 'What if?'"

Have you seen this Disney princess rap battle?   Pretty freakin' hilarious.  

And then there is the Budweiser "Friends are Waiting" commercial.    Don't make your friends, four-legged or two-legged (or any other legged) wonder if you're coming home.  As they say in Pitch Perfect "make smart choices."

This article about the fall flavor fallout between pumpkin and apple is great.  It seems like every product has a pumpkin spice option this fall.   Too much.    Just one of the many truth bombs: "Apples have upheld only the highest standards throughout their history, lending themselves to respectable endeavors like the patriotic apple pie or seasonally appropriate apple cider."

My friends, the Stantons, are missionaries in Liberia.   They came back home for the month of July to go to a conference and spend time with their families.    And they haven't been able to go back due to the Ebola outbreak.   Read their journal entries, From the Home Front and My Quarantine, to learn more.

I love all the fun music that Jimmy Fallon has on his "All About That Bass" on classroom instruments.  

And finally, last weekend, I finished my #100happydays challenge.   

Are there are thing fun things I should be reading or watching?   Share in the comments or on Facebook.

Have a great week!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Success: The #100happydays Challenge

Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?

When I read about #100happydays earlier this year, I wasn't sure.   A few years ago, I tried to complete Project 365, taking a photo a day for the whole year.  Honestly, I was exhausted after day 270 and didn't finish.    

Did I have it in me to make a conscious effort every day for 100 days in a row to find something that made me happy?    It turns out, I did.  

Some days are BIG happy:  parties, a visit from my sister, my vacation.   Other days, you find happy in the smaller things, like Nutella or a flower. 

{well...Nutella is pretty amazing....could be a big happy}

My sister Heather, my friend Laurie, and I all decided to celebrate happiness together.  I posted all my  pictures on Instagram and they did theirs on Facebook.   It doesn't matter how  you do it - you can even keep track on your own and just enjoy the accomplishment.  

Friday the 13th seemed like the  perfect day to start a quest for happy.    We started in June and ended in September.   So what did my 100 happy days look like?       Here's a little sample.  

The ladies of 100 Happy Days!

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?


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