Here Today, Gone to Maui

Hawai’i is a unique state. Not only in personality, but also in geography. Being an island archipelago, Hawai’i offers up seven islands which are inhabited year-round; four of which are often considered main tourist destinations: O’ahu, Hawai’i (aka the Big Island), Kauai and Maui. Molokai and Lanai are also tourist destinations, but as they are smaller in size, they are not often as overrun or specifically targeted by visitors. Kaho’olawe is not currently inhabited full-time (at least not to my knowledge, so take that with a grain of salt).

Our family island-hopped over to Maui several weeks ago. It had been years since Panda and I had been last on Maui and we had never been together and it was Shortstack’s first visit. We took advantage of a 3-day weekend, mileage and decent hotel room rates to enjoy a mini-break from daily life. {Sidenote: I am a firm believer that one (of the many) keys to a successful marriage and family life is being able to travel well together. And, thankfully, the three of us fall into an easy and relaxed traveling rhythm.} One of the most enjoyable lessons that Panda has taught is how to enjoy a vacation. I was the crazy type who used to plan every waking minute of vacation time; the sites to be seen, the places to eat, the adventures to be had. And, usually, by the end of the vacation, I needed a vacation from vacationing. Panda has helped me change that approach a bit … we had one activity planned: going whale watching. Other than that, we were going to play it by ear with the goal of just enjoying some family time, having a few adventures, getting some relaxation in, having a few drinks and soaking in the differences between islands. I am happy to report that the trip was successful on all counts! And, yes, relaxation was achieved … drink in hand, falling asleep under a coconut tree while Shortstack made friends and swam rampant in the hotel pool while whales played their games off in the distance.

Warning: an overwhelming number of pictures below.

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{comfy travel clothes, plane entertainment and the DS which isn’t often allowed by the mamas makes for one happy little traveler. all the while, Mama Panda trying her hand at sudoku puzzles while this mama looks on thinking that is far too much mental energy expended during vacation}

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{quick trip up the lower slopes of Haleakala to Makawao for some – obviously healthy – baked goods at Komoda bakery. seriously – donut on a stick! there’s no way that you won’t have a smile on your face!}

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{another short jaunt up the Haleakala slopes and you end up at the Tedeschi Vineyard in Ulupalakua. one of the few local wineries in the state, their Ulupalakua Red and the Maui Splash remain a couple of my personal favorites. the winery is small – okay, super tiny! – but the aunties who welcome you are knowledgable, fun and full of aloha. the grounds are beautiful and the panoramic views will allow you to get a better lay-of-the-land. warning though – the road is windy, so if you or yours suffers from motion sickness, beware!}

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{yes, being married to my beautiful wife has also taught me haw to enjoy downtime on vacation. this was post-nap, pre-cocktail. my wife may have been on her third cocktail – but, who’s counting?!?}

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{there’s whales in them-thar waters! do i sound like i pirate? i really want to!}

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{i think it’s fair to say that relaxation time is now my favorite time of all!}

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{my loves. being that we wanted to drive as little as possible and one of the wonderful benefits of staying in a resort area is that eateries were within walking distance.}

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{these two are always in each others’ pockets. that’s just the way they like it. in the foreground is that blasted kendama. which, one of these days, i WILL master! until then … don’t stand within a 3-foot radius of me while i’m practicing.}

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{maui sunrises and sunsets never fail to steal my breath. i swear, you will only find these sky colors on this island!}

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{whale watching should be on EVERYONE’S bucket list. yes, EVERYONE! you need a reminder of how little us human beings are? go watch whales. you will be awed. and humbled. and inspired. and, if you’re wise, you’ll shut up long enough to recognize that natural connection and communion between us and the natural world that cannot be explained or easily understood. seriously. do it if you ever get the chance!}

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{i spy. my heartbeats.}

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{keeping an eye out … or a few.}

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{THAR SHE BLOWS! well, actually, we think they were all he’s instead of she’s … as they were likely a bunch of boys trying to impress the girl … who was swimming away and probably not even noticing their antics. another life  lesson for the Shortstack  is in there somewhere, i’m thinking.}

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{fluke down}

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{young scientists and naturalists in the making? hopefully experiences like this will help them understand the importance of being guardians and advocates for our incomparably beautiful natural world.}

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{post-whalewatching, we decided to enjoy a leisurely lunch and stroll through Lahaina before heading back for more do-nothing-but-relax-and-vacation time at the hotel. Lahaina is a tourist hub on Maui; this quaint, little town can seem overwhelmingly commercial, but if you take the time, you can find a lot of history and legacy of Hawaiian culture.}

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{we spent our last morning at the Maui Ocean Center. this facility inspires me to be an marine biologist when i grow up.}

P1010611{sigh. vacations never last as long as we wish they would. do they?}

A few notes that I would add: if you or yours is susceptible to motion sickness, plan on sea sickness being a side-effect of whale watching. We didn’t foresee that with Shortstack and so his experience was bittersweet. Now we know and will appropriately plan for future marine excursions. We didn’t do the “Road to Hana” or Haleakala (again, motion sickness playing a big part in those decisions) during this trip, but past experiences with both allows me to encourage you to take the time and make the effort if you can. The “Road to Hana” really is an all-day excursion and Haleakala puts her most magnificent foot forward during the sunrise, so a 3 AM wake-up and getting-going isn’t unusual. We took a short drive to up to the I’ao Valley park, but didn’t make the hike (please read: “stroll”); but if you have the time and inclination, please make the effort. It’s the vision of Hawaiian tropical rain forests and majestic mountain cliffs. If you want to explore another big-personality town, Pa’ia is the place to be. It’s small and tourist-friendly and definitely a main-destination for our little family  during our next Maui-bound visit.

We really didn’t do all that much during this vacation. We had a few adventures and took i a few sights but, mostly, we enjoyed our downtime, soaked in the views that are so different from our home island and marveled over the whales that we saw EVERYWHERE! We totally get it when people say, “Maui no ka oi!”

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