Thursday, September 5, 2013

Haleakala - Up the Crater We Go!

August 30, 2013
Haleakala National Park, East Maui

While planning our Hawaiian getaway, we decided that we wanted to witness the sunrise from the top of Maui's volcanic crater, Haleakala.  A co-worker of Scott's recommended that we partake of this particular adventure early on in our trip while our bodies were still on California time, making it a little easier to get up and venture out in the middle of the night.  So on our first full day on Maui, we set off  from our hotel at 3:45 am in order to make the hour-and-a-half drive up the crater in time to enjoy the pre-dawn show at the top, beginning at about 5 am, an hour before sunrise.  We packed up all the winter gear we could manage, since we knew it would be cold at the top, and headed off into the dark.

After the long walk just to get to the hotel parking garage and a stop for muffins at the 24-hour Foodland, we didn't quite make it up the windy roads and to the jam-packed parking lots as early as we'd hoped, but seeing the sunrise at 10,000 feet from amongst the clouds was quite a spectacle.

Sunrise over Haleakala
Although prepared for winter conditions of a sort, we were not prepared for the whipping winds that accompanied the chilly temps.  If nothing more, do yourself a favor and bring a serious winter hat, should you ever find yourself on this pre-dawn excursion.  

Braving the cold and whipping winds at Haleakala Summit
 Most of the blanket-, towel- and hotel robe-clad tourists (some even in shorts and sandals) who had joined us at the crater top made a mass exodus immediately following the main event, but, being somewhat appropriately dressed, we stuck around and hiked a short way down the main trail into the crater.  The morning light and shadows at that elevation were in some ways as spectacular as the sunrise itself and the air warmed quickly as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Hiking into the crater in the early morning light

And as an added bonus, we were back at the resort by 9:30, in time to get good chairs at the pool.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Anniversary To Us - Let's Go To Maui!

August 29, 2013
Wailea, Maui, Hawaii

Ka'anapali Beach
Beautiful scenery, warm weather, tropical drinks, copious amounts of slow cooked pork products...  Is there a more romantic destination than Hawaii?  Just under five hours by nonstop flight from the Bay Area, Hawaii is an extremely popular destination for Californians, and one that we had never visited in our 15 years as Western Americans. It almost seemed too close, too easy, and therefore easy to put off for "some other time".  But close and easy being prerequisites for our 15th anniversary celebration, we decided it was finally time.

As a bonus, it allowed Caroline to check off one of the few remaining American states she'd not yet visited. Scott went to Maui with his friend John's family close to 30 years ago, at which time he thought to himself, "why would someone live in Michigan when it's possible to live here?". Even then, he knew he wasn't going to last in the Midwest much longer. 

So, it was time to decide on island. A bit of research and many conversations with friends and family later, we narrowed it down to Maui and Kauai - Kauai for the dramatic scenery and outdoor activity possibilities, and Maui for the laid back Hawaiian vibe, and a few days of relaxed island living. This being our 15th anniversary, we went for laid back and promised ourselves we'd come back to Kauai with backpacks and hiking shoes for a completely different style of travel.

Island settled, tickets booked, time to go! Hawaiian Airlines did their best job to really make being in Hawaii seem extra fantastic by making their flight as uncomfortable as possible; the highlight being the complimentary mai tai before landing at 10:30 in the morning. Just an hour after we'd landed, we 'already' had our bags and were ready to go pick up our rental convertible for our stay.

First stop? Food truck plate lunch!

Waiting for our plate lunches of coconut shrimp and chicken katsu
Lunch was at a very locals-like food truck gathering for some coconut shrimp and chicken katsu, finding an ocean-front palm tree trunk to sit on in the balmy sea air. This Maui destination is looking pretty good so far.

Caroline prefers her coconut shrimp with a view, hold the potato salad
After lunch and a quick stroll on north Ka'anapali Beach (wow!), it was time to head to our accommodations for the next five nights, the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa (wow!), which we chose for its more modern style and intimate feel (oh, and the amazing infinity pool). The rest of day one was made up of beautiful scenery, warm weather, tropical drinks, and slow cooked pork products... Feeling very successful so far. Ahh, to be middle aged and in love!

Scott surprised Caroline at the rental car office with a convertible!
Scott agrees, this is better than the Chevy Spark that Caroline joked about wanting to rent
Mmmm, creamy, coconut-y cocktails at the Marriott