Maui – Our last day

Picture of flowers
Flowers
Picture of Ashlee At The Mauian Hotel
Ashlee At The Mauian Hotel

Today was our last day in Maui before heading to the Big Island, so we decided to see a few places we hadn’t been before heading to the airport. We took our time packing our bags and eating the awesome breakfast at the Mauian Hotel before checking out. We had not yet been to Kihei, so we headed that way. There was a nice little market where we did some shopping, then we had a great lunch over at the Dog & Duck Pub.

Big Beach was our next stop on the way to the airport. The sand on the beach was   fluffy white and the water was bright blue. While photographing, we ran into Twilight who had we had met the day before at Baby Beach. He suggested we check out Little Beach just a short hike away. Upon arrival, we found many people working on full body tans, as this is Maui’s most famous nude beach. We chose not to participate in this nakedness and needed to catch our plane, so we headed out.

Picture of Big Beach, Maui
Big Beach, Maui
Picture of Our awesome pilot Rick!
Our awesome pilot Rick!

After returning our rental car to Bio Beetle ECO Rental Cars and getting through security, we sat at our terminal and worked on writing this blog. After a few minutes a pilot approached us and asked about what we were working on. We told him that we had recently started blogging about our adventures – he thought it was a great idea. We got so involved in conversation that we didn’t realize everyone but us was boarding the plane.  After a bit, a flight attendant came out and notified the pilot that he was needed. He asked us if we were on his flight Kona, at which point we scrambled to get on the flight. Turns our there there were only 17 passengers, so our flight attendants allowed us to sit in whatever seats were available. We were really enjoying the gorgeous views of the sunset and Mauna Kea as we descended toward the island. After we landed in Kona we had a chance to chat with our pilot Rick a bit more. We took a quick picture with him and he insisted he take our picture in front of the plane with the flight attended waving in the background. That was the best flight we have ever experienced.

Picture of us with the plane
What a great flight!

Once we retrieved our luggage, we heading to pick up our rental car. The guy at the counter was extremely nice and helpful, he showed us all the cars he had in the lot because business is slow in September. We decided to pay a little extra and upgrade to a 4 wheel drive Jeep Wrangler. He was nice enough to look up the available discounts for AAA and Costco and help us get the upgrade for a great price. It was getting late, so we decided to head directly to our hotel. We arrived at the King Kamehameha Marriott and had another amazing customer service experience. When we asked what kind of view we were getting from our room, the front desk staff debated back and forth of several minutes and finally decided on the nicest room they could put us in for the rate we were paying. They were able to give us a mountain view room that was beautiful. In addition they gave us a large box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts to enjoy. We ended the night by enjoying some fish tacos by the pool side before heading to bed.

Maui – The Seven Sacred Pools

Picture of Ashlee under the big beautiful tree
Ashlee under the big beautiful tree

Sunday was an exciting morning for us as we were heading out on a hike we had heard much about. Our destination was ‘O’he’o Gulch, home of the Seven Sacred Pools. We didn’t waste much time with our microwave breakfast and we had the car loaded fairly quickly so we could check out and hit the road. We didn’t arrive as early as we had hoped though as someone had wrecked their car along the road and the police had it closed off so the tow truck could remove the vehicle. This was just another reminder that the road past Hana is very narrow and has many blind corners, so it is important to be very cautious here. Luckily, nobody was hurt and the accident only closed the road for about an hour so we still arrived at the park at a reasonable time.

Picture of the Seven sacred Pools
Seven sacred Pools

The woman at the entrance to Haleakalā National Park was very friendly and cautioned us about the dangerously high flow at the pools. We decided to hike down and see them even though the current was too strong to allow for swimming, and we are glad we did. The pools were incredible! Heavy rains occasionally cause the river to flow this violently and can occur quickly, so the park asked that nobody get any closer than this. People have died here in the past, so it is important to take their instructions seriously and never approach the fast moving water in one of these flash flood areas.

 

Picture of a cool lizard
Cool lizard
Picture of the Hawaiian green spider (Argiope appensa)
Argiope appensa

As we continued our hike up the mountain toward the waterfalls we spotted a pretty cool looking spider which turned out to be a Hawaiian Garden Spider (Argiope Appensa). We also saw several of these cool looking lizards hanging out on the rocks along the trail.

 

 

Picture of stone stairs
Stone Stairs

The hike to the uppermost waterfall was two miles from the end of the Seven Pools trail and it climbed the mountain with very little leveling out. We were impressed by the beautifully constructed stone stairs that made up much of the trail. We had a few light showers on this portion of the trail, but the temperature remained in the 80’s so the rain felt nice and we were able to enjoy the hike anyway. There were not many people along the trail this early in the day and it was nice to hear nothing but the rain, river, and birds chirping as we climbed the mountain toward the waterfall.

The vegetation changed immediately to bamboo half was up the mountain after crossing a small bridge over the river. We couldn’t believe the incredible sight before us – a dense bamboo forest that stretched up toward the sky and caused immense darkness. The whole hike was worth it for this alone.

We continued to hike through the bamboo forest for at least half a mile before it gave way to other plants and the trail got tougher and crossed several small streams. As the day passed by the rain became heavier, and by the time we headed the falls, we were in a downpour. Here is the last photo we took before packing the cameras back in their nice dry packs:

Photo of Huge Waterfall
Huge Waterfall

The hike back to the car remained wet until about the halfway point, then started to dry out as the clouds gave way to some sun. By the time we reached the car, We had some very nice weather – just in time to see the grave of Charles Lindbergh.

Photo of The grave of Charles Lindbergh
The grave of Charles Lindbergh

We had heard he was buried here in Maui while on our flight in from Oakland, and decided we should stop by and see. We were pleased to wander into a small, peaceful, well kept cemetery behind an old church overlooking the ocean. As we continued down the road, it became narrower and poorly maintained. Shortly after passing Lindbergh’s grave, the road turned to dirt and we were careful to avoid some of the loose rocks with the nice Jetta TDI we rented. If you ever decide to travel this route, I recommend you rent something with more ground clearance, unless of course, you have tons of experience driving really low 2WD cars offroad. 😉

Picture of The road past Hana
The road past Hana

The road continued like this for a few miles before becoming paved again and was a great way to see wide open grassy landscapes overlooking the ocean. The drive back to Lahaina along this route was beautiful and without much traffic.

Upon reaching Lahaina, we stopped at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers for a big burger – it sure was tasty after all that hiking! We hadn’t even finished our burgers when we realized the sun was close to setting so we put our tray back, grabbed our remaining dinner and cruised over to Baby Beach for an epic sunset. We ran into some interesting people there like Twilight, who had quit his job in Arizona a few months back and moved to Maui with no real plan, and Paris who had a very similar story… Hmmmmmmmm… should we even go home? 😉 Don’t worry, We’ll be back home. 😉

Picture of the Sunset over Baby Beach in Maui
Sunset over Baby Beach in Maui

Maui – The Road to Hana

A picture of Ashlee Taking pictures at the Black Sand Beach
Ashlee Taking pictures at the Black Sand Beach

After an incredible stay on the island of Maui, we are sitting in the airport waiting for our flight to Kona on the big island of Hawaii. Since our last update, we have taken the road to Hana, climbed to the falls at O’heo’ Gulch, and Watched a sunset on the beach in Lahaina. It was so incredible I don’t even know how to describe it, so let’s just start at the beginning.

We crawled out of bed before the sun Saturday morning and loaded our stuff back in the car in preparation for our coming adventure before heading to breakfast. The Mauian Hotel serves up an awesome spread of fresh fruit and an addictive Cinnamon french toast.

Photo of our Lanai at the Mauian hotel
Breakfast on our Lanai at the Mauian Hotel

We took some food back to our room and sat on the porch (Lanai) to enjoy our meal and process the last of our pictures from the day before while listening to the sound of the ocean.  After breakfast we headed for the Hana Highway in hopes of finding something beautiful.

Our first stop along the road was the small town of Piea on the west side of the island. In Piea we found many small shops to explore and we enjoyed walking the town with our first shaved ice on the island. One small restaurant, the Piea Fish Market, caught our attention, so we headed in for some lunch. We asked the girl at he counter what was good and ended up ordering things we had not tried before. If you haven’t eaten Opah (Moon fish), I’d recommend you try it if you get the chance – it was delicious, and a great way to fill-up before our hike to the falls.

Picture of Small falls near the road
Small falls near the road

North of Piea, the road becomes scenic, and there are many small waterfalls flowing into the ocean. We noticed several cars stopped on the side of the road and thought we should see what it was all about. It turned out that there was a local farm stand and the man running it told us there were two waterfalls we should hike to. Without second thought we grabbed our camera gear, and up the trail we went. The first waterfall we saw was hiding out in the thick growth just beyond the farm stand. After spending some time taking pictures, we continued our hike to the second falls. At the base of the falls was a rocky stream crossing.

Picture of David in front of the falls
David in front of the falls

It’s good thing David was warming his Merrell trail running water shoes, because they were perfect for the rocky terrain and the deep crossing. I decided to stay on the dry side with the camera bags. It was a great stop along the road to Hana.

 

Picture of some Waterfalls in Maui
Waterfalls in Maui
A picture of the View from the Road to Hana
View from the Road to Hana

The second half of the drive brought us even more amazing views as the road got narrower. After a few stops to view the beautiful Maui coastline we arrived at our destination in Hana. The Hana Kai Maui Hotel is located just above a rocky cove with an incredible view of the ocean.

Picture of our feet on the black sand
It really is black!

When we checked in the lady at the office suggested we explore the Black Sand Beach at Wainapanapa State Park just a few miles North, so we did. If you are ever in Maui, and as far south as Hana (which you should be), this is a must see destination. The tiny beach is as black as can be and there weren’t many people there when we arrived.

Picture of Black Sands Beach
Black Sands Beach

We stayed until the sun went down and then stopped for dinner at a small place in Hana before grabbing a few things at the market and heading back to our room. The rest of the evening was spent sitting on our Lanai eating chocolate gelato and processing pictures from the day. There’s nothing quite like enjoying the warm breeze in Hana after a long day exploring one of Maui’s most scenic drives.

Maui – our first day in Hawaii

Good evening!

Ashlee Taking a picture of the Maui Coastline
Taking pictures of the Maui Coast

Today’s blog is really special because I get to share our first day on Maui with all of you.  David and I have talked about traveling here for years; and we are so excited to spend two weeks in Hawaii.

The flight was great! We got up at 3:30 in order to get on a plane early enough to see some of Maui today. We flew with Hawaiin Airlines and it was a good experience. When we arrived at Oakland Airport, the TSA agents lead everyone at security with a moment of silence in remembrance of all those who perished on September 11th, 2001. It was a somber start to our otherwise cheerful trip. Our plane left on time and the flight crew was very nice. And in an interesting twist – the food actually tasted pretty good. They are one of the few airlines left serving breakfast. We will be flying with them again. 😉

The Needle, Maui
The Needle

After the 5 hours we spent in the plane, Maui was more than a welcome sight! We called the nice people over at Bio Beetle ECO Rental Cars and they picked us up in a nice Biodiesel fueled VW Jetta TDI that we get to explore maui with. Our first stop was ʻĪao Valley State Monument only a few miles from the airport. The hike to to the top was not long, but included many steps. We spent a little time there enjoying the warm, humid air and all the greenery. The view were stunning and I would recommend checking it out if you are in the area an have time.

After our quick hike, we stopped by the Safeway in town for some drinks and snacks before heading to lunch. We headed across the street and down a ways to Giannotto’s Pizza and enjoyed a few slices, then went on to explore Hwy 340 (Kahekili Hwy) just north of Kahului. The road was VERY windy and narrow enough for the tall grasses to touch the car on both sides at the same time in a few places. The road does include some beautiful views and I would recommend it, but only if you are a VERY confident driver and can back a car down a narrow winding road when someone needs to pass the other way. We witnessed a few drivers who were incapable of driving the road properly and it lead to the locals backing out great distances to let the tourist pass. I’m sure this inconvinience is unwelcome and can not stress enough that you should have the courtesy to not drive the road if you don’t feel 100% confident you can get out of the way when another vehicle needs to pass the other direction.

Wrecked vehicles in Maui
Wrecked Vehicles

We saw many abandoned wrecked vehicles along this route – giving you an idea how treacherous the road may be for all but the most seasoned drivers.

 

Derrell's Little grass shack
Little Grass Shack

At the North end of the Island (Accessible from the west without taking the narrow winding road) was a place everyone should go visit. At the north end of the island, just past Nakalele Blowhole, right where Hwy 30 crossed Honokohau Stream, you will find a neat slice of paradise hiding out near a heap of rusting cars (odd right?). Here you can access the rocky cove and get fresh cut Pineapple, Star Fruit, Cold drinks, and other goodies from Darrell – one of the most welcoming guys you could meet.

Picture of Driftwood behind the Little Grass Shack
Driftwood behind the Little Grass Shack
The impressive wood carvings Tuli does.
Tuli’s wood carvings

Just across the tiny road you will find a man carving all kinds of incredible wood figures – his name is Tuli, and you will not regret making the drive to meet him and see (maybe even take home) his incredible wood carvings.

 

After our exploration of the northeast side of the island we checked in to the Mauian Hotel and settled in. This place is awesome! With 2 fans in the room and every window opening wide, the lack of air conditioning was not an issue – the weather here is incredible! We walked down the beach to the Sea House Restaurant for dinner. The few of the sunset from the dining patio was awesome, and the food was good. It was a great way to wrap up the day before our last walk along the beach and a nice long shower. It is now time for us to get some sleep after this long fun-filled day!

Aloha!

Picture of David with our new surfboard sign and Tuli
David with our new surfboard sign and Tuli

Monarch Butterflies on the California Coast

My husband and I had heard about the monarch butterflies that migrate to Pismo Beach each year and decided to head down there to see them. We thought cruising down Hwy1 would be far nicer than taking the quick route down 101, so we booked some hotels and hit the road. The hotel prices were really high and most rooms were booked for that weekend but we found a Marriott in  the town of Santa Maria right outside of Pismo Beach for less than half the price. We left late Friday night and stayed outside of San Fransisco so we could photograph the Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise.

A picture of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge taken from the Presidio
San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
With my FRANKENBUILT Beetle viewing the beautiful coast.

After photographing the bridge we went into the city for some breakfast at Ella’s Diner. The food was average, and the prices seemed typical of San Francisco. My husband then drove us down Highway 1 and I was enjoying the view for a while before I fell asleep only to find myself at the Moss Landing Pick-N-Pull yard! He needed some parts for a car he’s building and figured they might be available there. A little wrenching and we headed to Phil’s Fish Market for an amazingly delicious lunch of Fish & Chips. If you have never eaten at Phil’s, you really need to. It is one of those hidden treasures you will always go back to.

Sunday morning we woke up early and headed  to the Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove. It was an incredible place to see! The first few minutes we didn’t see to many butterflies. We than saw a few people standing off in the distance looking up into the top of the Eucaliptus trees. It looked like several bunches of brown leaves. We then noticed that the bundels were butterflies that had gathered together with their wings closed. It turnes out that butterflies close up their wings when they are cold and when the temperature is warm enough they open up their wings and fly away from the bunch. It was estimated that there were as many as 25,000 monarch butterflies in the grove this year. We had never seen anything like it and thought it was one of the most beautiful things we had ever seen.

Picture of Monarch butterflies resting on a eucalyptus tree.
Monarch butterflies resting on a eucalyptus tree.

After our butterfly adventure we decided to drive out onto Pismo Beach. It is the one of only beaches on the west coast that allows motor vehicles. It costs $5 and gives you an all day pass. If you are ever in the area you should check it out.

Picture on an elephant seal
Elephant Seal

We decided to take our time driving home Monday morning so we could make  frequent stops along the coast. During one of our stops, we pulled over into one turn out and noticed that there were Elephant Seals hanging out on the beach. We came across one that was half way up the hill and about three feed away. He was really cute. It was strange though because a couple decided to walk their dog and stop right in front of him. It got us some great pictures but the dog being nearby irritated him. So if you stop and see the seals please don’t bring your dog. We headed further down the beach and came across a large group of males, females, and their pups sun bathing. We were about 6 feet above them, wich is as close as you would want to get, and got several of great pictures of them. Although they smell really bad, they are definantly a must see and if you are around the area in January. The rest of the cruise up Highway 1 was great! We were greeted by countless beautiful views along the way!

Picture of pelicans in flight
Pelicans in flight