Maui Trip, Oct 16 - 30
Donna and I made a point of visiting our timeshare on Maui every year in October. It was a welcome break from the school year. But it had been three years, so I was really looking forward to a two-week visit. I invited Merlene, a long time friend of Donna's. Merlene lost her husband a few months after Donna passed, and we have helped each other through the recovery process. Merlene had never been to Hawaii, so she was thrilled for the chance to go.
I spent quite a bit of time planning the daily activities, or at least the options. It turned out to be time well spent because we were able to follow the plan for the most part, then adjust as needed. I made reservations in advance for restaurants, the luau, and live theater.
The other key thing to plan was the food. I made a tentative menu for the first week, and generated a shopping list. It took about 3 days to purchase everything on the list, and after that, just had to pick up a few items here and there. The big surprise for me was the food prices. Before covid, food prices were modestly more than the mainland. After covid, the prices were through the roof. I had to pick and choose very carefully. Luckily, we were able to manage the food and use almost all of it by the end of the trip. And we ate like kings and queens. Took most meals on our balcony, or as a picnic for our travels. When it was too windy on the balcony we ate indoors and enjoyed movies courtesy of my Roku box.
Saturday October 16, 2021
Boarding the aircraft was quite a process. We whipped right through the security check with our TSA passes, but there was a long line for a covid check just to get on the plane. We had logged into the Hawaii.gov site and printed our QR codes, but they wouldn't accept the printouts. We had to log in right in front of them, and Merlene didn't have a cel phone. Needless to say, it took a while to get through that process. The flight was close to 6 hours. We got up and did some stretching periodically, which helped. After picking up our rental car we went to Maui Coffee roasters and had drinks and a muffin. Sitting outside in that warm Maui wind was very rejuvenating. After that, we shopped and shopped until we could check in to our unit at the Schooner.
The Maui Schooner is a 5 start resort. It's not fancy, but it has it where it counts. It's located in Kihei, generally the sunniest part of the island. Our unit overlooks a spacious lawn, tennis courts, the ocean, trees, and the mountains. And we had a corner unit on the top floor with a view of the ocean to the west, and up the coast.
Sunday October 17, 2021
Sunday was a day to recover from the flight and eat. We enjoyed meals on the balcony, then ventured out for a drive in the afternoon. The Maui Tropical Plantation was closed, but we found the Kealia Pond with a nice long boardwalk.
Monday October 18, 2021
We started the day with a nice walk along the beach In front of our timeshare. Fun to get our feet wet and check out all the coral on the beach. We headed South to Wailea to the swanky resort hotels for lunch at Ferraro's in the Four Seasons. Mindy and David had discovered a vegan pizza on the menu. We had to try it, and it was fabulous. And the view looking down on the water reminded me of similar views from restaurants in Cinque Terre in Italy. In the afternoon, we ventured to the Iao Valley area. First stop, Kepaniwai Park, which has sections representing many of the cultures that were drawn to the islands - Chinese, Japanese, Portugese, Korean, etc. Then, on to the Iao needle and garden. We hiked up to the viewing area for the Iao needle where one of the decisive battles took place in the unification of the islands by King Kamehmeha.
Tuesday October 19, 2021
Tuesday was our first visit to the Kula area. We had lunch on the veranda at the Kula Botanical Gardens. It's a favorite of mine, but gardens seem to be run down a bit since my last visit 3 years ago. The view into the valley was breathtaking. Then on to the Maui Tropical Plantation. Lots of things to do there - a tram tour, zip lining, a nice restaurant, a farmer's market and gift shop, and a lake. We poked around and enjoyed the zip liners whizzing overhead.
Wednesday October 20, 2021
We rented snorkel equipment from Auntie Snorkel just down the road in Kihei. There was a really great snorkeling spot right across the street. Merlene had never snorkeled, but she was a trooper. At first we didn't see many fish, but then saw more as we got out over the coral. And we spotted two turtles! They were nosing around the bottom near the base of the coral. Very nice. Then in the afternoon, we made our first visit to Lahaina. We headed to the massive banyan tree - super impressive. Then walked up and down the main drag poking our heads into shops and art galleries, and sampling the local gelato (lots of vegan options!) On the way to dinner at Kobe's there is this nice little gift shop with the best prices on tee shirts by far. Less selection this year, but that didn't stop us from stocking up. And dinner at Kobe was a treat. You get the entertainment (see the flaming onion volcano) and really tasty veggie food. They managed the seating to maintain social distancing and keep everyone safe. It was great! Two thumbs up.
Thursday October 21, 2021
When I mentioned the Maui Ocean Center, Merlene was all in. I'm so glad, because it was really fun with beautiful views of the fish and coral. The wind came up in the afternoons, and the Kite boarders were out in force. We had a front row seat from our balcony. In the second photo, you can see the rider in the air out of the water. We finished off the night with a yummy home made pizza. If you get the impression that the trip is centered around food, you wouldn't be far off the mark. :)
Friday October 22, 2021
Friday was reserved for the famous Road to Hana, with 617 turn and 59 bridges, most of which are 1 lane. Getting to Hana is not the goal. It's all about the sights along the way. We got a nice early start, so the traffic was minimal. We had the benefit of an audio tour recommended by Mindy and David. It's actually pretty brilliant. You download the tour to your phone, and even though there is no Cellular reception along the drive, the GPS navigations knows where you are, and triggers the audio segments. The additional information added a richness to the experience. Our first stop was the Waikamoi Nature Trail for a brief hike. Just enough to get in amongst the trees. Then on to Garden of Eden. This is a drive-through garden. We drove up to the overlook and saw the famous rock shown in the opening scene of Jurassic park, and a waterfall, and lots of trees. Then had our picnic lunch in a shaded pavilion. Merlene had taken some nausea medicine recommended to her, but the drive was getting to her. We decided to go for one more stop, Ke'Anae Point. Merlene rested while I ventured out on the lava rocks that were being pounded be the ocean waves. It's exhilarating to be so close to the forces of nature. On of my favorite spots on the island. Merlene took something stronger for the return drive, and we went home slowly. We avoided windy roads for the rest of the trip. Another nice sunset from the balcony closed out the day.
Saturday October 23, 2021
Saturday marked halfway through the trip. In all my previous visits, this meant packing up the food and all our possessions, and transferring to another timeshare. But this year was different. For the first time, I had a full two weeks in the same timeshare unit. So, not packing and moving!
Merlene wasn't feeling too snappy after the Hana drive, so I ventured out on my own. Shopped a bit in Kahului (the big city), filled up the gas tank at Costco, and visited the Maui Tropical Plantation. I placed some of Donna's ashes per her request by the Gazebo, near Momma June's ashes. Then had lunch by the lake and read a book. Also caught a movie at the Kihei theater.
Sunday October 24, 2021
Back to Kula. The Lavender Farms were closed when we came by a few days ago, so we returned. It's a lovely sprawling farm with lots of lavender above the gift shop, and other plants and trees below. There is a marvelous view, so we got some lavender tea, a scone, and enjoyed our lunch overlooking the valley.
Monday October 25, 2021
The schedule said another trip to Hana, but we had other ideas. We walked, swam, played shuffleboard, and saw the latest James Bond movie. By the way, we started eating our dinners indoors when it was too windy on the balcony. We were able to watch a variety of movies during dinner since I brought my Roku box. We had wifi access to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and even the Qi Gong channel, which I used every morning prior to my Gilad Bodies in Motion exercise.
Before Covid, there used to be a live theater show in Lahaina called Ulalena. It portrayed the Hawaiian legends of how the islands were formed by the gods. A little bit like the Lion King with a Hawaiian theme. Donna and I loved that show and went every year before they closed down. This trip crystalized for me the importance of Ulalena. Ulalena is the unique Maui wind and rain. It is this warm tropical wind that both nurtures and energizes you. It's one of the things that makes a trip to Maui so unique.
Tuesday October 26, 2021
This was Luau day - the Feast at Lele. We took it easy in the morning, then headed back to Lahaina. It's such a quaint town with lots of action. We looked through the shops then headed to the Luau. Merlene had never been to a Hawaiian luau, and it was a highlight of the trip for both of us. The seating was socially distanced, and in a beautiful location by the water. They had a complete vegan menu, and it was delicious, not to mention all the Pina Colada's we could handle. Great entertainment, of course. The fire twirler at the end was the best I've seen.
Wednesday October 27, 2021
I headed out on my own for a hike in a tree reserve called Waihou Spring. It was energizing to hike in such a thick and peaceful forest. Donna and I both loved trees, so it was a nostalgic experience for me.
Thursday October 28, 2021
We decided to try out the Kihei thrift stores. There were three of them. The first had the best prices, and I found some clothes and some neat books for my granddaughters. It was at a church, and we spent some time exploring the grounds. At the other shops, I found more books, and some unique fabrics that the girls could use to make doll clothes. They have so much fun making doll clothes, I wonder if they will be come clothes designers. Isabella says no, but they definitely have the talent. Another nice sunset.
Friday October 29, 2021
Friday was packing day. Our flight out was Saturday morning, but we had tickets to opening night at the Iao Theater Friday night. So, we wanted to be fully packed before heading out to the theater. This was the first live theater on Maui since covid, so the staff and performers were very excited. And they managed the social distancing extremely well, even ushering us out of the theater in small groups at the end of the show.
The play was wonderful. Hilarious with lots of twists and turns.
Saturday October 30, 2021
Everything went fine Saturday. Easy check out, easy car rental return, and no issues getting on the plane. And the flight back seemed amazingly short. Well, it is literally about 50 minutes less because of the prevailing winds, but more than that, Merlene treated us to premium class seats. Don't think I've ever flown first class before. There was more leg room, and the time passed quickly because we watched two movies. I connected my ipad to the Alaska Air wifi, and we share a set of earbuds. It was great. Then the Supershuttle guy was nice enough to drop Merlene off, so she didn't have to take a taxi.
Even though Maui was great, It's always nice to return to San Diego.