Well, all good things usually come to an end at some point. Today was our last full day in Maui and we lived it up at the resort swimming in the pool for the first time all week. Madeline was overjoyed with her flamingo floatie and had a blast in the lazy river. Since we had a red-eye flight back to Colorado we took advantage of all that we could at the resort and spent the entire day playing in the pool, eating at Duke's for dinner, and walking along the boardwalk one last time. On our drive to the airport, we even stopped along the way to enjoy our last sunset. Our week in Maui couldn't have been more perfect. I hope it's not too long before we return to this island for some more fun in the sun!
We got up and did another beautiful run along the boardwalk and back along the beach before heading out for the day with the kids. After driving and hiking the day prior we needed a day to just chill at the beach. We decided to head back to Oneloa Bay Beach and were happy to see it wasn't crowded again. The weather was a bit windy and overcast so there wasn't much boogie boarding since the waves were crazy. We opted for building cool sand structures and animals, turning Madeline into a sand mermaid, walking along the empty beach, wading in the shallow water, and snacking on the last of our treats. It was definitely not as adventurous as the other day at this beach but it was still super chill and fun nonetheless. After getting our fill of sun and sand, we headed back to the resort. Mike and I headed out later in the day and walked along the entire beach front from our resort all the way down to the end and then walked back along the boardwalk. We saw the most beautiful rainbow and then headed back to the kids for a quiet evening with the kids and another fabulous sunset.
Sometimes, there are touristy things on websites or in guidebooks and you wonder if they are really worth it. The road to Hana is one of those things. It's become kind of a destination thing and there are a million possible places to stop along the way, so you really have to figure you out what your priorities are when you make this trek. For me, the priority was not sitting in traffic all day. If I've learned one thing living in Washington D.C. it's that you want to be going against the flow of traffic during your morning commute. The same is true in regards to the Road to Hana.
With that as our guide, we got up early and headed out before the other sleepy heads on Maui were awake and ready to go. By daybreak, we were well on our way to making our first of six hundred and twenty twisty turns on our way to the other side of the island. We didn't stop at the first set of waterfalls, or the second. We made a beeline for the end of the road with the idea of hitting things on the way back. It was definitely the way to go.
One stop we did make on the way was at the Hana Farms store. The banana bread there was legendary and with good reason, it was delicious and clearly made with bananas that had been crossed with cocaine. I could have eaten five loaves myself. It was so good. They also had cookies that were bigger than Madeline's head. In fact, a lot of things on this trip were bigger than Madeline's head....cookies, flowers, whales.
After filling ourselves with banana bread, we continued our twisty journey. We did have to stop by one of the dozens of roadside waterfalls because everyone got a little car sick, but we didn't stop for long! The drive itself was ridiculously beautiful with glimpses of the ocean, waterfalls, tropical forests and stunning vistas. Even if you are stuck in traffic, it's probably amazing. It's also very narrow in places which ads to the time it takes to make it all the way to the National Park.
When we arrived, it was raining gently, which is ok on a hike in Maui because its 80 degrees outside. The Pipiwai trail is well worth the drive. It's an easy trail and it is stunning. The giant banyan tree is incredible, but we really enjoyed the walk on the boardwalk through the bamboo forest. The bamboo would knock together in the wind and it sounded so cool. On the way to the main waterfall, there was another amazing waterfall. Truthfully, the whole hike was fabulous and we barely noticed the 1.8 miles to Waimoku falls. Once done with the hike, we hiked down along the seven sacred pools and had lunch by the ocean. That was just as stunning as the hike in many ways. As we sat by the ocean, the sheer power of the waves against the lava rocks was fabulous. The vistas were stunning and the wind refreshing.
After lunch, we began our journey back to the other end of the island. As we made our way back up the road, it was clear to see that we had made the right decision. There was a line of cars trying to get to the National Park. As we cruised back through the six hundred and twenty curves, we made a few stops. The first was for some coconut ice cream that was supposed to be super amazing. It was not. It was the most overrated ice cream I have ever had. Not worth the stop. The second was to see the wonky bark on some of the Eucalyptus trees. They were cool. The final was at a garden aptly named the Garden of Eden. A little pricey, but certainly worth the stop. The views were amazing, and all the flowers and trees were beautiful. It was a nice place to stretch the legs after being in the car for so long on the way back. After that, we headed back to the resort. We laughed at all the signs that had been changed to be somewhat inappropriate and marveled at all the broken-down cars. In fact, I thought it would be clever to just make those junked out cars mile markers, there were plenty of them to see.
All in all, the road to Hana was an amazing and fun filled day. It was well worth the drive and the one thousand and forty turns.
Sometimes you wake up and you hope that it will be a great day. Sometimes you have a great day and sometimes you get handed a ball of garbage. Today was filled with hope for a great day, and that hope was realized with a perfect day on the beach. It started out with a beautiful run along the Kapalua coastal trail. The run was part boardwalk, part lava rock, and amazing views. The weather was perfect and the scenery divine. It's hard to believe that places like this exist.
After running and making breakfast, we headed up to Oneloa Bay Beach. Whereas Kapalua beach is known for its snorkeling, Oneloa is known for a great place to boogie board. It lived up to its claim. The beach itself was fantastic and there were very few people there. In fact, for much of the day, we had most of the beach to ourselves. The sand was wonderful, and we made various sculptures throughout the day and castles that went from our beach chairs all the way down to the crashing waves. Speaking of crashing waves, at first, the girls were pretty wary of trying to ride them. Some of them were pretty big, and the ocean loomed large behind it. There was an amazing sand bar about 100 yards out where the waves crashed perfectly. Mike gleefully spent most of the morning riding waves and then got the girls to go out with him. Soon, they were catching waves and riding them all the way back up onto shore. Even Madeline ventured out on a board with her dad holding her tight. It was all smiles as everyone got in on the action. It was a phenomenal day. The highlight was one wave that Sara, Emma, and Mike went to catch. It was quite tall. As it began to crest, a giant sea turtle popped its head out of the top of the wave, its mouth open as if it were gawking at this group of humans who grabbed the wave with it. It was a moment that will never be forgotten!
After an amazing day at the beach, it was back to the hotel for dinner and the sunset. It couldn't have been a more perfect day in paradise.
While the beach in Maui is amazing, our skin tone dictates that if we spend three straight days on the beach, we will spend the rest of the vacation applying Aloe and feeling miserable. So, we decided to spend today enjoying one of the other amazing aspects of Hawaii: hiking. The first place we headed to was the Waihee ridge trail. We brought our hiking poles and sturdy shoes with us on this trip for this very trail. It's steep and muddy. The views are amazing and the forest divine, but it's a solid climb. At least it's at sea level! The climb starts out in a really cool forest and quickly gains the ridge line where you can look out over the lush, green valley. It really is an amazing hike with gorgeous views. If you want to know more about it, check out Mike's website: whatmikeyliked for a more detailed description of the hike itself.
On the day we went, the clouds blessed us with some solid rain, making the trail more muddy but keeping us cool. We saw lots of people sliding down the steep trail and creating lasting stains on their clothes. We were grateful to have proper hiking gear. Teva's are a great sandal to bring to Maui as most of the hikes are doable with Teva's except for maybe the trails around the summit of the volcano. At the top of the trail, there is a little viewing platform where you can sit, have a snack or lunch, before you head back down. All in all, it was a great little hike that got us off our butts and onto the trail.
On our way back into town, we stopped and got ice cream cones and then headed to Iao Valley State Park. There is a little fee to pay to access this area. The hike to the cool views is super short and on a paved trail. It's a pretty cool little vista, but the real gem here is the creek that flows out of the park. There is a dirt trail that parallels the creek and there are endless little pools that you can sit in, jump in, and play in. We spent the rest of the afternoon here in the shade of the trees rejoicing in the cool waters. It was an unexpected find and it is very accessible.
After we had played in the river, we headed back to our condo for dinner, sunset, and a walk along the ocean. Maui couldn't be any more paradisiacal.
This morning, Sara and Mike went for a run down the boardwalk and to the state park. On the way, there was a monk seal sleeping on the beach. We decided to make that Monk seals example our template for the entire trip: sleep, swim, eat, sleep, eat, sleep some more. It worked out well. After breakfast, we packed all our stuff in the car and headed down the road to Kapalua Bay Beach. This bay is a protected little spot just 10 minutes away from our condo and is well known for its smaller waves and clear water and excellent snorkeling. It did not disappoint. We saw oodles of fish, lots of turtles, and built castles and figurines in the sand. It was a great place for Madeline to explore the ocean without getting pummeled by powerful waves. It was also a great place to snorkel because it was quite deep, but the water was very clear, and you felt pretty safe with the reef keeping any bigger sea life away. In the early morning, we saw whales eating just outside the reef. I couldn't believe that we could see the whales so well from the shore. It was a perfectly pleasant day at the beach. Before we all turned too red, we headed back to the condo, ate dinner, and spent the evening strolling down the boardwalk. Then we made like the monk seal and went to sleep.
Excited to be in Maui, Sara got up and went running, followed by going again with Emma. They just like feeling superhuman running at sea level. Meanwhile, Mike went to the store and got the rest of the food we needed for our trip and made breakfast for everyone. We ate breakfast out on the lanai and enjoyed the perfectly pleasant warm air. It was delightful. Following breakfast, we got ready to go to the beach. The condo we stayed in came with beach toys, beach chairs, a beach umbrella, and a cooler. It was perfect for a day at the beach with the kids. We walked down to the beach by our condo, set up shop and spent the day playing in the sand, snorkeling, and watching dolphins and whales play offshore. It was amazing to have all this right by our condo. Watching the kids play was very rewarding because the smiles were genuine and the thrill of the ocean apparent. After a long day in the sun, we headed back to our condo, made dinner, and then went for a walk along the ocean. The sunsets in Hawaii are magical, and this first day was no exception. The only thing missing to make this the perfect day were our boys. Sorry guys, but at least you are having fun in Calculus!
Alright, so Spring Break got off to a little bit of a Colorado start. On Wednesday, we saw that a storm was moving through the Rocky Mountains. A big one. So, we had to act fast. The worry was that we wouldn’t make our flight in the morning to San Francisco or that our flight would be delayed and then we would miss our connecting flight to Maui. So, we got online and booked a hotel by the Denver airport so we wouldn’t have to drive to Denver in the storm. Also, we could leave our car at the hotel and not have to worry about parking, rather, just take the shuttle from the hotel to the airport in the morning. Crisis one averted. Second, we called United and because there was a winter storm warning for the morning flight and there was a likelihood for it being delayed, we got them to change us to a later flight...only this flight was direct from Denver to Maui! What a steal! So, we got booked on the direct flight to Maui for the same price as we paid to fly to San Francisco and then to Maui. Thank you winter storm.
We got the to the airport in ample time with no stress taking the hotel shuttle. Then, we went to the American Express lounge and had breakfast, just chilled out and relaxed. What we didn’t realize, is that we needed to do our COVID forms and get a special bracelet from the United people prior to boarding our flight. So, we leisurely walked to our flight right as they were getting ready to board, and then were told that they didn’t do the bracelets at that gate, only at a gate 1/2 way down the concourse....so we ran! We ran down there, butted in line with our stuff that we had pre-filled out, got our bracelets, and ran back to the flight. It was tight, but we made it just in time to board with our bracelets. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but there were a dozen retired people trying to figure out how to use their phones and do the online forms.... painful.
Once on board, we were only delayed for just a bit. They had to de-ice the wings before we took off. Since we were sitting right next to the wings, we got to watch the entire thing. It was fascinating. The flight itself wasn’t too bad for a long flight, although it was on a rather small plane for such a long flight. As we came close to Maui, we circled around the volcano, and it was amazing to see the lush tropical coastline. Just earlier that day, we were in a blizzard, freezing in Denver. It was refreshing to step off the plane and be bombarded with warm, humid hair. Sara’s hair immediately curled up like a perm, and my skin rehydrated instantly. It felt wonderful.
We grabbed all our bags and then sat in line for our minivan at the least organized car rental place on the earth. It was a disaster. We waited for 45 minutes just to get to the counter even though we had a preferred reservation through Avis. I got there, and then the lady said that they didn’t have the minivan and it would be a two hour wait till it was ready. I told her that we had somewhere to be and had already paid for the car, and the reservation was guaranteed, and I would be fine if they upgraded us at no charge to an SUV. So, they gave us a big ol’ Ford Expedition and we were comfy for the rest of the trip.
We headed from the airport to Costco (as I think everyone does) got our food and meals and towels and snorkel gear for the week, then headed across the island to our condo. It was a really pleasant drive and not stressful like Honolulu can be at times. We got to our awesome little condo at the resort, unpacked, had dinner, and then walked down to the beach for sunset. It was awesome. Maui, I love you!
We slept in on our final day in Iceland, slowly packed up our gear, said goodbye to our tranquil cabin, and headed back to Reykjavik. The best way to spend the last day on vacation is by relaxing in soothing waters. We booked a reservation at the Blue Lagoon and enjoyed the tranquility of this unique geothermal seawater. It truly was an otherworldly experience and is one of the 25 wonders of the world. After spending a few hours there soaking our tired bodies, trying on face masks, drinking our free sodas and slushies, we showered and headed for the airport. Thank you, Iceland, for such a magnificent vacation!
Since we had another red eye type of flight Madeline fell asleep for the last half of the flight and was dead asleep when we arrived in Denver. Mike had to carry her all the way through customs. It's a good thing she is a little thing!
Off to get COVID tests! Since America doesn’t believe in science all the time, all travelers (vaccinated or not) have to have a negative COVID test to go back. We had made reservations ahead of time and so we drove back to Reykjavik to get tested. The testing center was very well organized. We got our barcodes scanned and they took out little family into a room and stuffed swabs in our nose. 30 minutes later we got an email with a certificate saying that we were COVID free. How tidy! Fortunately, we were all COVID negative.
Since we were back in the Capital, we headed downtown to do some shopping and eat some fish and chips. Of course, we also had to get cinnamon rolls again from Brod and Company. We shopped a little, then took a bread break, then shopped some more. Madeline found the world’s longest hop-scotch board and a track to race down. After we were done shopping, we went to the fish and chips place we went to last time, but it was out of business, so we headed a little further down the street and got fish and chips. Madeline ate her fish with lemon. Mike got traditional Icelandic fish stew (plokkfiskur) with a piece of Rye bread. It was tasty too.
After lunch, we tried out the museum, but that was a bit of a bust, so we headed over to Fly over Iceland which was a fun little Disney style attraction where you get to fly over the gorgeous vistas of Iceland in a big theater. It was a fun way to end our time in Reykjavik. We headed back to our cabin and got in the hot tub and sat and watched the waves, the birds, and the weather. It was a divine way to end the day.
More hiking! Today, we set-off from our quiet cabin to Skogafoss, which is one of the more impressive waterfalls in Iceland. The cool thing about it, is that the impressiveness of the giant waterfall at the base is just the beginning. After admiring its grandeur, we headed up the steep steps to the top and then off on the trail along the Skogar river. The actual trail goes all the way up to the Fimmvorduhals pass and is about 25 km long. We did about 4 miles up the trail and it blew our minds away. There are 27 major waterfalls along this trail, and they are all unique and breathtaking. Every turn and every time we crested the knoll of a hill, the views were awe inspiring. It’s like Iceland took every cool waterfall and canyon and put them on one trail for our convenience. Madeline crushed the hike. She is such an incredible little four-year-old. She never complains. She is ever so polite. She is creative and finds ways to entertain herself and those around her. It was a hoot hiking with her. We had lunch up on the trail, and then headed back down.
Once back to the car, we decided to head a little further down the road to a famous canyon, Fjaðrárgljúfu. The drive itself was miserably boring as the topography was very bland. Once we got there, it was like a who’s who of lazy, horrible tourists swarming for a photo. It was also 20 degrees warmer here and super sunny. The canyon was very meh in comparison to what we had just done. The problem is that Justin Bieber shot a music video here and people just flocked to it and then destroyed the area, so the government closed it for a while and then created a tourist path that doesn’t really allow you to enjoy the canyon. It would have been better if you could have walked along the canyon floor, but alas, Bieber has ruined yet something else for everyone.
After that, we drove back to Vik and had dinner at a really good burger place called Smidjan Brugghus. The burgers were tasty, and they had Nutella covered French fries with powdered sugar on them. Not sure if that would be good, we can attest to its divinity.
Since Vik sits next to the black beach, we headed down there for a quick visit to the sea. It was windy and foreboding at Reynisfjara Beach, but the basalt cliffs were pretty cool. Iceland is very grandiose when the skies are overcast and the wind blowing. It makes you want to go back to your cabin on the lake, snuggle up with a blanket and watch the wind blow across he lake. So that’s what we did.