Thursday, January 17, 2008

Maui Part Four

Tuesday was our last morning at the Kaanapali Beach Club. We took a walk along the beach and took our pictures underneath the waterfall, then packed our stuff up. We needed somewhere to stay for one more night. We had tried to find somewhere to stay that was cheap but nice and definitely on the beach. There was a house on craigslist that advertised "$99 rooms" at an oceanfront estate. Sometimes families rent out rooms in wings off their homes. The guests have access to the grounds, but not the rest of the house, so we figured that's probably what it was. But we also noticed they had a hot tub, so we were sold. When we emailed the first day, the manager said she had one more room and that we could have it. She told me to call herlater, so I tried, but our phone kept hanging up on it's own.(We had to get a new cell phone when we got home.) I finally got ahold of her that night and she sounded a little concerned because she said, "I just rented that room to a regular guest of ours at one of the other properties. But, I guess you could have a room in the house." I didn't really care where the room was, just as long as we had one, so I agreed and gave her our credit card number.

When we showed up at the house and she took us in, I almost gasped out loud. It was called Maikai Hale through Lahaina Oceanfront Estates.
It didn't look that impressive from the outside, but the inside was fabulous.
Stained glass in the front door. Chandelier above the curved staircase. Antiques everywhere. Hardwood floors. A covered porch out of the kitchen. A breakfast nook with a bay window overlooking the ocean. Huge kitchen. Built in china closet with leaded glass. A big veranda on the second floor overlooking the ocean. Wow!
Our room was adequate, but since we had the run of the rest of the house (no one else was staying there), it was amazing! Especially for $99!!!!!!! When the manager took us upstairs to our room, she said, "Oh, there isn't a refrigerator in the rooms inside the house, so I guess you can use the one down in the kitchen." I asked if we could use the microwave and she said, "Yes. That would be OK. Oh, I guess you can use the kitchen, just clean up after yourselves so I don't have to pay the maid to come clean it." Wow!

We noticed that a couple of the other rooms in the wings were locked, but one was open, with the key in the door. We assumed that would have been our room, had it not been for the "regular guest". We checked it out and found it to be nice, but small, with a small refrigerator, bathroom and door to the outside hot tub and pool.

We unpacked our things, then had a nice stop in the hot tub. We picked dinner up at Thai Chef then took it home to eat on the back porch. We poured our milk in goblets and served our meal on china with real silver. It was delicious! We had Pad Thai and Peanut Curry. They were out of Mango with Sticky Rice, much to our dismay. Mangos are out of season right now. Too bad. But the rest was SO good! And great ambience.

We watched the news and the weather for awhile, then went upstairs and watched the moon come up over Lahaina Bay.
Sigh. Our last day. We ate breakfast Multi Grain Cheerios in the breakfast nook overlooking the bay, then stopped by Maui Dive Shop to pick up snorkel gear. Then we were off to Black Rock on Kaanapali Beach. Lovely beach. Best snorkeling of the trip. It really does look like this! Tons of fish, lots of different colors, and TWO turtles. When the first one swam beneath us, I almost died. It was HUGE! Wow! Then I accidentally "fed the fish". Oops. I felt like I needed to burp, but other stuff came up. Multi Grain Cheerios. After the third or fourth eruption, I looked down and saw a whole bunch of fish right near me!!!! Feeding frenzy!!!!!!! After floating on my back for awhile, I felt better and we snorkeled back to shore. It was still worth it.

Then we returned to the estate to pack for the trip home. I laid down on the veranda and watched the waves for a few minutes til I felt better. Then we packed up and took a shower (with an ocean view) and took one last longing look around the house. Sigh. Amazing. We drove away sadly.

Stopped in Old Lahaina Town. We really like that place. I don't think we would have even visited there, but ended up really feeling something there. Also saw a lovely church that was called "Hale Aloha", or "House of Love". The Hawaiians built it to thank God when their island was spared from the great smallpox epidemic that killed 5,000 to 6,000 people on the island of Oahu.

Another interesting spot, the Pioneer Inn, (where we could have gotten a room for $120) was fascinating. It had big whale teeth inside, old ship's wheels, etc. Supposed to be really old and antique.

Next stop: Big Beach at the south end of South Maui. Huge beach 100 feet wide and long. Beautiful! But not good boogie boarding. Or snorkeling. So went to Makena Beach in front of the Maui Prince. Bingo. Found some great snorkeling–a huge school of big fish. Also the best boogie boarding of the trip.

I had to drag David out at 6:30 because it was getting dark.

Had to return our snorkel gear to Maui Dive Shop, then went to Jawz Tacos for Mahi mahi Tacos. Not too filling. Tasty, though. Headed up to Costco to return our unused boogie boards and snorkel gear. (Thought we'd be using them more than two or three days. Renting snorkel gear at Maui Dive Shop and buying boogie boards at Salvation Army was cheaper.) We also bought pineapples and chocolate macadamia nuts to take home. Yum.

Then had pizza and a berry sundae at Costco. (Much more filling than the tacos.) A trip to Kmart for souvenirs, then off to check in and return the car, repack the bags, and go through "agricultural inspection". We checked our "new to us" boogie boards and umbrella and sadly bid the island of Maui good-bye. Then it was home. We were greeted by 18 degree weather and snow. Brrr......

I told my husband it was the best vacation of my whole entire life. We hope to return someday!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Maui Part Three

So I just realized that you actually read this blog backwards chronologically if you want it to make any sense. That's right, read "Post Maui Vacation" Depression first, then Part Two, then Part Three.

OK, so where were we??? We just finished our first visit to Old Lahaina. Except I forgot one part. It's where we visit the Salvation Army store to see if we can pick up cheap boogie boards and snorkel gear (since we will only be able to use them for 3 days now). Luckily, we found 2 fairly new boogie boards--the same kind that Costco sells for $10 each. No snorkel gear, but we did find a nifty beach umbrella (Costco kind again) for $3. As we were checking out, a man behind us said, "So, will I see you in church tomorrow?" It was another Mormon who noticed Dave's BYU-Hawaii t-shirt. (Can you see it in the picture???) Funny thing was we were buying all the stuff he had just donated. He and his family had returned to Maui to clean out their condo, which they had just sold. They donated a bunch of stuff to the Salvation Army and he was waiting to get a donation receipt. Small world!!! Nice guy.

So, the next day was Sunday and we went to church. We loved the ward. Wonderful spirit and wonderful people. The teachers were all well prepared and they were excellent teachers. We met a lot of interesting, warm, friendly people. Wonder if they need any CES guys over here???

Maui does that to you. It's rather intoxicating--the weather, the scenery, the people, the beach, the ocean, did I mention the beach? Lovely. What is it about Sunday afternoons that makes you want to take a nap?

For dinner we made Maui Chicken, which was our Maui version of Malibu Chicken. We took Costco rotisserie chicken and topped it with Costco ham and swiss cheese and microwaved it until the cheese melted. We used Thousand Island dressing as a dipping sauce. Divine!!! Then there was fresh Maui Gold pineapple for dessert.

We decided to drive down the coast to Kihei, which is where we had originally planned on staying. The scenery on the drive down was amazing. Gorgeous blue water, rocky outcroppings, deep blue sky. After visiting Kihei we were so glad we hadn't stayed there. They had just finished 48 hours without power, which meant the stores and restaurants didn't have power either. The three Kamaole beaches were closed and the main road was washed out.Many of the parking lots we saw were full of mud. We saw a couple of cars stuck in a gully of mud. It was a mess. Plus, we wouldn't have been "oceanfront". Now that we've stayed on the beach, I don't think there's any way we'd want to stay anywhere else. Even if the beach itself isn't that great, there is just something about seeing and hearing the waves crash that is magical! We drove back to our room even more thankful for it.

Got back in time to watch the sunset from the balcony. Some of the best advice we received before we left was, "Stop and watch the sunset wherever you are." Amen.

Monday dawned bright and clear. We realized that the sunrises are almost as spectacular as the sunsets from our balcony. We ate breakfast and drove to Coral Gardens, Mile Marker 14 for some snorkeling. It wasn't too bad, especially after we found a sandy path out further so you didn't have to go directly over the coral to get out. Coral scrapes hurt! And they take awhile to heal, we found out. Anyway, we saw lots of cool fish and coral. We did have to take turns, but it was so nice and warm and the cove is protected from the big waves, being onshore wasn't too bad. I went out for about 45 minutes and got motion sick and went back to lie down for awhile on my boogie board.

Then we thought we'd try to find a good boogie boarding spot, so went to Kaanapali Beach. We parked at the south end and walked and walked to find some waves. One thing we noticed was that the water at the south end was brown and gunky, much like the water outside our resort the first day we were there. Yuck. No one was in the water. But when we got to a little point, it changed and there were tons of surfers in the water getting lessons. We went a little north of them and tried boogie boarding, but the waves were not ideal and the bottom was rocky, so we gave up after awhile.

We drove north to see some of the sights there. We went through Kapalua (ritzy), Kahana, up to Honolua Bay (site of the women's surfing championships), and stopped at a roadside fruit stand to buy some papayas. They were out of mangos. Out of season.

We rented the movie "Hairspray" and watched it. It was a lot of fun.

Stay tuned for the last and final installment--Maui Part Four, coming soon!!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Maui Part Two

Our first stop in Lahaina was at Bubba Gump's Shrimp for two orders of "Shrimp Heaven". This dish consists of four different kinds of shrimp with four different sauces--boiled shrimp served cold with cocktail sauce, coconut shrimp served with sweet and sour sauce, fried shrimp served with I can't remember what sauce and tempura shrimp served with teriyaki sauce. Yum!!!

Lahaina was the royal capital of Hawaii when it was a kingdom. So, when missionaries went to the Sandwich Islands, this is where they usually landed. This was interesting to David because he participated in compiling the "Teachings of Lorenzo Snow" and he remembered several stories from President Snow's mission to the Sandwich Islands. One of them involved the harbor at Lahaina, which is where we visited. There is no natural harbor there, so big ships (it was a whaling port) had to anchor offshore, then ferry passengers in smaller rowboats to shore.

When Lorenzo Snow and his companion, Joseph F. Smith arrived along with two other elders, there was a storm, but the passengers attempted to go ashore anyway. Lorenzo Snow and the others got in the smaller boat, but Joseph refused, saying he didn't feel good about it. Lorenzo insisted, but Joseph refused, until finally he told Lorenzo, "I'll only get in the boat if you command me by the power of the priesthood." (Joseph was only 15 years old at the time.) Lorenzo, of course, couldn't do that, so Joseph remained in the larger vessel.

As the rowboat was going ashore, a huge wave swamped it and all aboard were thrown into the sea. No one could find President Snow for awhile, and when they did, he had quit breathing. The missionaries felt impressed to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, a procedure unknown at that time and President Snow was revived.

Lahaina was also the setting for movie, "Hawaii", which starred Julie Andrews. We rented the DVD while we were there and watched it. But we wanted to strangle the main character, a preacher, for being such a jerk. There are a lot of historical sites in Lahaina, many of them related to missionary work there (although none of them Mormon). One of them is a restored mansion for one of the missionaries. One of the guides related to us that the preachers in the movie were patterned after some real people who came as missionaries to the islands. She said that the people loved one of them, because he was a doctor and he helped the people, but hated the other because all he did was condemn what they did and tell them they were going to burn in hell. We thought it was an interesting perspective to have and that the movie would be a good one for missionaries to watch before going out on their missions. (Although the bare-breasted native women in the opening scenes may have to be edited out.)

One of the interesting things we saw right off the shore was a royal birthing chair--it was a rock in the ocean that the queen would be carried down to in order to give birth.

We watched the sunset from the harbor. Beautiful.

Across the bay, you could see an island--Lanai. Lanai is where President Snow and the other elders excommunicated the self-appointed Hawaiian mission president, Walter Murray Gibson, for organizing a new church, selling priesthood offices to men and women, and usurping Church property.
There was a historical walk through the town of Lahaina, which we followed the last day we were on Maui. Very interesting. More about that later.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Post "Vacation to Maui" Depression

We've been back from Hawaii for 4 days now and I'm still having a hard time getting back to "real life". I should be shopping for Christmas presents because as my 4 year old son, Micah, just reminded me, "It's only 8 more days until Christmas, Mom". That should send me into a panic, but instead I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to "blog". And trying to choose a few "favorite pictures" from the 273 we took on our trip. Well, some of them are videos. Sigh. They're all beautiful.

We were a little worried before we left because Maui (along with the rest of the Hawaiian Islands) was experiencing the worst winter storm in 16 years. We heard reports of winds up to 60 miles an hour, road closures, flooding, and power outages and pictured the worst. As it turns out, we ended up staying in West Maui rather than South Maui where all the damage was. There power was out for 2 days, 3 of their beaches were closed for 3 or 4 days. One of their main thoroughfares was closed. Parking lots were mud bowls. It was a mess.

We stayed the first 5 nights at Kaanapali Beach Club, a resort north of Lahaina. Granted, the building was pink, but we had a beachfront corner suite on the third floor. The bedroom was luxurious.
The bathroom had tile and marble with a deep tub.

The beach was right outside our room. After staying right on the beach, I'm afraid we're spoiled and won't be able to stay anywhere else. It was heavenly being able to open the sliding glass door and hear the waves crashing on the shore.

And watching them is hypnotic. Each night, we were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the surf. OK, to be honest, the first night we were awakened about 3:30 AM by the sound of our patio furniture being blown into the metal balcony railing. The winds were heavy and so was the rain. Since that was about the time we'd usually wake up back on the mainland, we had a hard time going back to sleep.

The rain had washed lots of run off into the ocean, so even though we thought it was beautiful at first, looking back we can see how dirty it really was. (See the blue-gray strip of less dirty ocean in the back?) We didn't even go out in it until Monday, 4 days after we arrived. The wind was blowing fiercely, although maybe not as hard as it looks. That palm tree is actually missing all its branches from the left side. We read later that there had been two sewage spills on Maui as well as dirty run off, so we're glad we didn't go in those first few days.
We did, however, take lots of long walks on the beach. The original weather forecasts called for heavy rain on both Friday and Saturday. (We arrived Thursday afternoon.) But, it was just cloudy when we woke up and remained clear while we had breakfast, so we went for a walk. We walked from our resort all the way down the beach to Black Rock, probably about a mile and a half away. Just as we were turning around to go back, it started sprinkling. Within seconds, it was pouring (that heavy rain they were talking about). We found a private cabana in front of the Maui Eldorado resort and sought shelter along with a few other unlucky folks until the rain let up. Then we made a mad dash for home. We found a covered picnic table at a beach park for the next downpour. It was almost like someone was controlling the rain like a faucet--on just a little bit, turn it on harder, turn it down, harder, down, almost off, harder, then off. We started back during an "almost off" rain, and started a slow jog. When it started a "harder" phase, we just walked, as we were already pretty soaked and the rain was so warm. Temperatures that day were around 70, so we weren't shivering at all.

We ended our walk with a dip in the hot tub in the rain. Ahhh........

Since we couldn't surf in the ocean, we decided to do a little surfing on the Internet.
Our resort had free wireless in the lobby, and we found this little cubbyhole on the mezzanine opposite the miniature golf course (closed due to flooding).

We caught up on our mail and the news and then decided to go exploring in Lahaina. Every time Dave went to get the car, he had to take off his shoes and roll up his pants, as there was about 5 inches of water on the second level of the parking garage. They finally got it pumped out and dried out by the 4th day or so. There were sandbags and "wet floor" warning cones everywhere.

Well, that's all for today. Stay tuned for "Part Two".