Okay, so I know I'm super duper late on updating this, but life just got really busy the past few weeks. However, I recently quit my job -- eek! yikes! relief! -- so I should have more time on my hands for a little bit and have no excuse not to stay on top of my blog.
So Friday was our last full day in Hawaii. We spent the morning enjoying the beach and trying to cement the feel of Maui in my memory.
I loved the diversity of options Maui offers in regards to how you can enjoy your vacation. Breakfast in a gorgeous resort overlooking the deep, blue ocean tides? Yes please! Don't feel like changing out of your bathing suit or brushing your hair, but you still want a tasty meal? No problem! Swing by any of the yummy food trucks scattered about for a super casual bite to eat! Umm, okay! ☺ So Friday afternoon that's exactly what Miguel and I did. We left the beach and sought out some Costa Rican lunch to bring back for the family.
The Pura Vida food truck was run by a Costa Rican man and his wife. We had to wait for a while for them to prepare all of our food, but it was so worth it! Tasty, tasty food! But I have to say, I have yet to find black beans prepared as well as the way my in-laws make theirs. Just sayin'!
For years my mom has wanted family photos taken on the beach. We decided we had to make that happen while in Maui. Originally, we had wanted a professional photographer to snap the shots, but, in typical Maui fashion, the prices were insane! Fortunately, we have a family full of photographers. Unfortunately, we didn't have a tripod. So for our family shot we had to seek the assistance of a random beach goer. I love the photo of our family! I just wish it was a little more in focus! Also, the view to the right of us was super ideal, but we couldn't shoot there because of a beach side wedding! Loved seeing that!
Of course my favorite photos are all staring Karis! Omg! Is there anything cuter than that huge grinning, girl wearing a smocked dress? Well, I don't think so! And if you disagree then you must just not
be related have a heart!
Miguel had the fun idea of the two of us swinging Karis for some pics. They turned out so cute, that everyone wanted a turn!
Sometimes it's important to remind the family that even though Karis is the favorite (and no one would have it any other way!), she isn't the original baby! That's right. I may have given up the title and position to a worthy little toddler, but I can be just as cute! Right? My swinging picture is just as precious and adorable, no? ;)
After we were done getting our model on at the beach, the boys dropped us ladies off at the Four Seasons for some pre-dinner, sunset cocktails.
I couldn't resist giving striped, blue-face an Eskimo kiss! The Four Seasons is absolutely prestine! Though, it definitely drew a different crowd than it's neighbor resort, The Grand Wailea! Much more uptight. The three 'Leeper' ladies brought some much needed genuine smiles and laughter to the place! We watched the sun go down for the last time on a beautiful, semi-outdoor lounge while listening to live ukulele music. A hula performance and a torch lighting ceremony were also fun touches!
Sipping on cocktails with the women in my life whose company I would prefer over anyone else in the world, on our last night in paradise, was the perfect way to wrap up our trip! Though, I spent most of my time sipping on milk after I accidentally ate a hot pepper out of my drink that I mistook for a baby cucumber! Ha!
After the sun set, the three of us walked around the resort. One day I want to go back to the Four Seasons Maui with Miguel. It's gorgeous! The art alone is enough to enrapture me! The best discovery though? The lounge chairs had Tempur-Pedic cushions! I could have comfortably curled up in one and slept until morning!
Boo! The last day of our vacation. Saturday morning we packed everything up and left Wailea to head towards the airport. Sarah, Jared, and Karis's flight left mid-afternoon. Before we dropped them off we grabbed our last family meal in Hawaii. We ate at the colorful Café Mambo in Paia. Our food was delicious and we were all thoroughly entertained by Karis.
Lolly and Karis have a special connection over dogs. Lolly has taught Karis to make an adorable barking noise anytime Karis sees a dog (or an animal that resembles one in Karis's mind) which has also turned into barking anytime she see's Lolly too. Café Mambo's walls were lined with bright paintings, the majority of which were dogs. So you can imagine how much fun Karis had looking around the restaurant, finding, pointing, and "barking" at all the dogs!
After we dropped the Ray family off at the airport (Mom and I sniffled and attempted to wipe away our tears from saying goodbye), my parents, Miguel and I headed out for one last adventure before our flight at 9 PM that night.
You can't read a travel guide about Maui without finding whole sections dedicated to the Road to Hāna. Driving from Kahului to Hāna takes you over 52 miles of winding, narrow roads, approximately 620 curves, 59 bridges (46 of which are only one lane wide!) through a lush, tropical rainforest! Of course all 6 of us really wanted to take the trip, but it just really wasn't feasible with a baby. I know Sarah and Jared would have loved the Road to Hāna and we really missed them (just another reason to go back!). It's strange going from a party of 7 to a party of 4. It felt incomplete.
When Sarah and I were growing up, one of our very favorite book series to read was The Christy Miller Series. Ignoring the fact that I was "in love" with fictional, dreamy, Todd (who Jared and my Dad like to point out is just "ink on paper!"), these short, Christian, teenage-fiction books really impacted my faith and life during an important time in adolescence. One book in the series, Island Dreamer, finds Christy vacationing with her boyfriend, Todd, and her family in Maui. At one point in the story Todd and Christy spend the day driving the Road to Hāna jumping off cliffs into waterfalls, modeling a Christian courtship, yada yada yada. At the end of their trip Todd bought Christy a T-shirt that said, "I survived the Road to Hana". So, all I knew of the Road to Hāna, prior to this trip, was from this book, and pretty much all that I remembered was the T-shirt Christy got!
Reading about the road and experiencing it are very different! I am not a very adventurous person by nature. I do not like heights. I do not like risks. I don't like remote places where you have no cellphone coverage and it would be very difficult to receive help if you needed it. I am not a fan of curvy, mountain roads where one wrong turn could send you plummeting hundreds of feet to your death. I prefer to see oncoming traffic, rather than crossing my fingers and holding my breath that another car isn't approaching. Hmm. Doesn't sound like the best match for me to drive the Road to Hāna. I'm not going to lie, the first few miles I was a tense, nervous wreck! Thankfully, my dad grew up in the mountains of West Virginia, and felt very comfortable driving the curvy roads and knew to do things like honk the horn while driving around a steep, one lane turn. And truthfully, you can only go so long before the smack-you-in-the-face views demand your full attention and you can't help but forget your worries.
The Road to Hāna is littered with pull offs with trails leading to waterfalls, lagoons, and gorgeous scenery. My goodness. At times it felt so other-worldly. Like I had leapt out of reality and into a fantastical, story book land.
One of the most exciting sights was the Upper Waikani Falls. These three waterfalls cascade into a crystal clear pool surrounded by a rocky, lush cliffs. The waterfalls are commonly referred to as "Three Bears Waterfall" as they decrease in size from large (Papa), medium (Mama), and small (Baby/Goldilocks). The largest of the falls drops off an impressive 1,000 feet!
You can actually take a path down from the road to the base of the falls, so while my parents stayed with the car, Miguel and I went down for a closer look! It was really steep, and quite adventurous for me! I couldn't have done it without Miguel's help probably. The first step at least.
It was pretty tricky getting down near the falls and we had to be quick due to our time constraint, but we really wanted a picture! My dad snapped the picture of us below and it gives some good scale and perspective! Miguel and I are in the red circle!
I took some blurry iPhone shots of my parents watching us from up on the bridge. "Hi Mom & Dad!"
|Climbing back up|
We got our picture in front of the falls! So much fun! (My goodness this is a longgggg blog post! Are you still reading this? Dang! You're a trooper!)
Among some of our other stops along the road was a black beach boasting a lava tube, blow hole and of course pretty views!
|"Do not go beyond this sign"... My daddy: such a rebel! ;)|
The black sand was fascinating to me! The beach was full of small pebbles (thank you Miguel for smuggling one home for me - Dad also packed my lava rocks which I was too nervous to do myself) and only right near the water lived the grainy, black sand. It was so beautiful and soft yet coarse at the same time: such a change from the soft, yellow sand of Wailea! How amazing is it that one small island can hold so many natural treasures all so different from the next?
I most likely studied lava tubes in geology class, but there is nothing like walking through one! Lava tubes are cave-like channels that are formed after lava traveling beneath the surface of another lava flow ceases and the rock cools off. Being inside the lava tube made me feel sorta like I was in the Disney movie, The Rescuers.
|Entrance to the Lava Tube|
|Inside the Lava Tube|
|Photo of my daddy for scale|
|At the end of the Lava Tube|
Maui has yellow sand beaches, black sand beaches, and also red sand beaches! Though we didn't get to visit any red sand beaches I did see some near a parking lot! It was actually really neat because there was a transition of all three in one little stretch!
Well, after a couple of hours of driving and sight seeing, we arrived in Hāna! The town is teeny, tiny and really nothing special, more of just a stopping point of the road.
Though there wasn't much to see in Hāna, we did at least fulfill one of Miguel's goals of eating SPAM (gross!) while in Hawaii. We lamented that Jared wasn't present to enjoy it with him!
While I had absolutely NO desire to eat SPAM (vegetarian or not!) I too ended the day a very happy girl by receiving my very own "I survived the Road to Hāna" T-shirt! Thanks for the special treat and souvenir, Mom! Now I'm just like Christy Miller!!
I still cannot believe I actually got to go on this trip! I've been in mourning ever since I returned from Hawaii and I guess, now that I finally finished blogging about the trip, I need to return to reality. ;) SO much fun and so, so grateful for everything I've been blessed with! Especially grateful for my amazing family! Definitely a trip I will never forget!