Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Hawaii!

Not pictured in this photo, panic exclamations of "Ouch! I think an ember went down my shirt. There's a spark on my foot!" Remember to stage your picturesque, Pinterest-ready New Year's photo standing upwind from the sparklers.

2013 was full of a lot of travel: Whistler, London & Edinburgh, Tahoe, Hetch Hetchy, Lassen, Stinson Beach and Nice. Plus, a lot of work, a lot of baby showers and some big life challenges. I'm excited to usher in a fresh year with 2014!

Hawaii: Sea House Restaurant in Napili

Isn't it nice to find a hidden gem? We stumbled across the Sea House Restaurant on the beach in Napili on Maui and were impressed.  We were seated right away at a table overlooking the beach. Our nice waitress has worked at the restaurant for 30 years.
With the elegant dining room, it looked like this was going to be a splurge. Pleasantly surprised to find the prices to be reasonable. $10 for a cobb salad with grilled shrimp and $8 for a fancy cocktail? I've paid more than that for the same in San Francisco and it's a steal for Hawaii. Jean had fish and chips and mom had fish tacos. Nothing too gourmet, but solid all around.

Happy Hour from 2-5 seems to be the main draw.  Plus, if you like anything you eat - they offer the recipes online for most everything.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Hawaii: Exploring the North Shore of Maui

Rob and Trent left for their bike adventure early this morning. The rest of us had a lazy morning at home before taking the car out to explore the north shore of Maui.  First stop, Ka'anapali Alii beach. We saw a Red-Crested Cardinal hopping along the sand:
This spot on the island was originally an airport, but closed down because high winds made the landings "exciting" according to a historical marker. The wind continues today and this was one of the choppier beaches we've visited. The steep grade of the sea floor makes it an easy spot to launch into a quick snorkel - Jean and Mom saw a lot of fish.  We packed up after an hour and drove further north to Napali for lunch.  We hiked from the parking lot along the rocky shore to the Napili Kai Resort.
Great leisurely lunch at an open-air restaurant overlooking the bay.
Time for another swim after eating. This may be my favorite beach on Maui so far!  The water was calm - perfect for baby Everett - but deep and clear. The sandy beach had plenty of shade.
On our way out we spotted a sign with weather reports from back home. A high of 61 degrees may seem warm for those of you in the snow, but that is plenty cold for San Francisco.  I do miss the city, even if not the weather.
I really liked the Napili Kai Resort. It has obviously been recently remodeled, but still has some funky 1960's style to remind me of the beach hotel we used to stay at in Montecito. Perfect lawns, swimming pools, tennis courts, shuffleboard and a great beach. If we didn't have "Hotel Haley" I would love to stay at Napili Kai.
We stopped for ice cream on the way back to Kihei.  The local Roselani Tropics Ice Cream they make and sell on Maui is very tasty (Ev likes it too!).
Rob and Trent returned from their successful biking adventure shortly after we got home. Amazing that they did 10,000+ feet of climbing to the top of Haleakala in a single day! Pizza from a nearby shop for dinner.

Tomorrow is my family's last day in Hawaii. Rob and I are here for another nine days. Suggestions on what to see and do in Maui are welcome!

Hawaii: Beach Sign

I love the patina and mixed message on this sign from the beach in Kihei:

Hawaii: Sandwiches at 808 Deli

No matter where we travel, I'm always on the hunt for the perfect sandwich. I'm known to route flights through Las Vegas just for a stop at the Port of Subs in the terminal. So, yesterday we set out to taste the top-rated sandwiches on Maui at 808 Deli.
The menu features classic combinations, along with local favorite ingredients like kalua pork and kimchee. Trent got a version of a BBQ pulled pork sandwich made with kalua pork and sweet teriyaki sauce. Rob got a version with pineapple and a sweet chili sauce.
I ordered a hoagie with turkey, pepperoni, cheese, avocado, bacon crumbles and a spicy sauce made with what tasted like dill and sriracha. Yum!
Jean had a version of mine with chicken on sourdough.
To finish it off, we ordered a dish of homemade butterscotch pudding over toffee macadamia nut cookies. Not only delicious, the deli donates 100% of pudding sales to a different local charity each month.
Overall: great sandwiches, fast service and affordable prices. I'll definitely be coming back to 808 Deli!

Do you have a favorite place to eat in Maui that we should try? Leave your recommendations in the comments.

Hawaii: Avoiding the Urchins

Rob and Trent woke up early for their bike ride - but only to find it pouring rain and decided to push back their adventure for a day. A lazy morning instead, watching a lot of Discovery Channel shows set in Alaska. All that "surviving" amped them up to tackle the young coconuts left in the front yard from Haley's tree trimmers.
The fresh coconut water will come in handy to hydrate when they ride tomorrow morning. They had a great time smashing the drained coconuts open to reach the meat.
Once the rain lightened up, we walked down to grab sandwiches for lunch in Kihei.
Delish! On our way back, we stopped at "Kam 1" for a quick dip. It was fun to take my new fringe bikini out for a test run. I picked up two new suits for a crazy bargain at Ross yesterday.
The beach was busy and the weather was calm. Perfect for swimming...right?
Nope! We quickly discovered that the ocean floor here was teeming with spiny sea urchins. With each wave, you could feel them brush past your feet like tiny tumbleweeds. Yikes! You certainly wouldn't want to step on one.
After drying off, we walked back home at stopped for shaved ice near the house. Appropriately festive holiday colors!
Made guava margaritas at home in the afternoon and did a big clean-up of Haley's house. We are a messy bunch! Rob and I walked down along the coast to catch the sunset in the evening.
We saw people practicing a hula dance and blowing conch shells on the beach - and not in a touristy way. These seemed to be actual locals. So pretty.
After sunset, Rob and I walked to the market for dinner supplies. Jean and Trent went out for a fancy dinner at the Fairmont Hotel while we watched the baby. I cooked up pan-grilled Walu with brown rice and a salad of cucumbers and asian pears.

Hawaii: A Word About the Snails

Everything in Hawaii is lush and majestic...except for the terrifying and enormous snails.
This is one of the smaller specimens we saw, next to a quarter for perspective. We ran across a shell easily twice as large as this behind a bush in the yard.

I tried to research the history of these giants, but only got to "invasive African species" before getting too grossed out by photos.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hawaii: Beach & Badminton

We headed back to the beach this morning. Jean rode over on of the rented bike and the rest of us took the car to Polo Beach in front of the Fairmont Hotel in Wailea. It's nice that there are big public parking lots and clear paths to the beaches in front of Maui's fancier hotels. It was a bit cloudy out, but still great for swimming and reading New Yorkers.
After a few hours at the beach, a big tropical rain storm started up. It was pouring while everyone rushed to pack up their beach supplies. Little Everett was enthralled by the scene.
Since I knew I wouldn't have as many photos to share today with the clouds and the rain, I took some of the textures we saw along the way. This is a group of bright tropical plants in front of the Fairmont:
The mossy trunk of a palm tree.
Hot pink bouganvilla. It also grows in a coral orange and white here along with the typical red and purple.
Flowering red ginger.
Finally, a dark purple hedge that we passed on our way to the beach at sunset.
Earlier in the day, Jean and I picked up a badminton set. We've been playing non-stop ever since. On Hawaii's short lawns, it reminds me so much of the tennis scene at Windy Corner in A Room with a View.
We played until sunset and then returned home for a big spaghetti dinner. Rob and Trent are going to ride bikes up to Haleakala tomorrow morning. According to Strava, its the world's longest paved climb. Good luck to them!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hawaii: Exploring the Maui Upcountry

We took another day off from the beach today and headed to the "upcountry" to explore. Rob and Trent took off in advance on their rented roadbikes and the rest of us left by car after Everett's morning nap. We encountered heavy rains in central Maui that turned into a massive rainbow once we reached Kula at 4,000 feet up.
Our first stop was the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm. This little farm is lovely - super well decorated and well marketed (which I appreciate as a marketer myself) - but so unreasonably pricey. It's $3 a person just to get to the farm, which itself is mostly a gift shop selling $20 lotions. Walking tours are an addition $12 - we passed and instead enjoyed expensive lavender scones, jam, brownies, lemonade and coffee on the patio.  They were good scones:
While waiting for the boys to arrive by bike, we walked the grounds and marveled at proteas the size of dessert plates.
You can see both the east and west shores from the farm.
There are well-tended raised vegetable beds along the way.
And many variations of lavender along the paths. The majority of the farm's lavender plants weren't blooming during our visit.
The proteas were very pretty, like Dr. Seuss style artichokes.
We left the farm after about 30 minutes and drove to Kula Bistro in the small town for lunch.  Our dishes were really good - especially the pizza!
Rob and Trent departed to ride back to Kihei by bike. The rest of us took the long way home, with our first stop at the really darling Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Kula.
The teeny octagonal church was built in 1894 by Portugese immigrants who had come to work on the sugar plantations. Inside, there is a beautiful altar and stations of the cross carved by an Austrian master artist.
It is meticulously maintained by the parish, down the holiday leis decorating the Virgin Mary.
Churches and spam, two dominant features of Hawaiian culture not included in the Beach Boys lyrics!

We wove our way down through Makawao and Pai'a in the drizzling rain, stopping to check out a few more churches along the way.  Lazy afternoon back in Kihei. We worked on the puzzle, I caught up on my journal and we had sweet potato tacos for dinner.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hawaii: Hiking the Waihe'e Ridge Trail in Maui

We took a day off from the beach today and headed up to the hills on the north side of the island for a hike. The Waihe'e Ridge Trail started up in the hills past a few farms, overlooking the ocean.
Jean, Trent, Rob and the little baby came along on the 4.5 mile trail.
The hike up is basically straight up. You pass through a conifer forest, fern valleys, guava trees and lots of mud along the way.
Beautiful purple fiddlehead ferns were growing along the path.
About half way up, you get a view of the center of the island with both the west and east shores.
Pretty soon, you're in the mist and there's a nice cool breeze blowing across the muddy trail. The summit is shrouded in the same thick fog - it felt a lot like being back in San Francisco!
All that mud becomes an even bigger challenge on the way down. Everett slept comfortably while we slid back down the ridgeline.
Jean got in on the hugging tree action.
We wrapped up the hike in about three hours. Sweaty and covered with red Hawaiian mud - we stopped for vietnamese sandwiches in Kihului on the way home.
Lots of hydrating and naps back at home in the afternoon. I was so tired that I fell asleep face down, still covered with mud, on the bed.

In the evening, we all dressed up for a sunset photo session by the ocean. It took some effort to get little Everett to smile for the camera.
Another pretty sunset at the beach: