Archive for September, 2009

Up again with the birds – this time Lis is up with me. It’s quite nice, sitting on the lanai in the early morning, listening to all the birds. We’re hoping to keep our early rising ways the whole trip.

Yesterday we went snorkeling at Malu’aka Beach in Wailea. It was super fantastic. The books said to go to the South end of the beach, and that if you swim out toward where the tour boats were anchored you’ll see turtles. A person we passed as we walked toward the beach also told us that the good snorkeling was to the south (or to the left as you face the ocean). So we felt well informed.

The beach was pretty, and not crowded. We put on our sun protection shirts (We are very well covered at the beach. Lis has a swim suit with legs that come down to just above the knee, and I wear my tri pants that do the same, and then we both have long sleeved sun protection shirts, and yesterday Lis bought a sun protection swim cap – we are just this side of the burkini) and snorkel gear and headed in. It didn’t take long to hit lots of coral and lots of fish. It was really great – there were tons of different varieties, large and small, all brightly colored. The coral was very pretty, too. A great site – highly recommend it (one of our guide books said it was their favorite snorkel place).

But no turtles. The guide book said to head in the direction of the tour boats, so we started to, but this took us in to deeper, murkier water with mostly sand bottom (thus no fish). We did this for a while and didn’t see anything, and were thinking about heading back to where we knew there were tons of fish. Then we saw some divers heading back to shore, and asked them if they had seen any turtles. They said “Try over there to your left” and we did and voila – turtles! It was very exciting.

We hung out with them for a while, waiting for them to surface. Then one did, swimming about 5-10 feet from us toward the surface. Just before it surfaced, I did, too, so I was able to see its adorable turtle head break the surface – they are very cute this way, and their colors are deeper seen above water. Later Lis told me that she did the same thing (see how we’re meant for each other).

Meanwhile a tour boat of divers arrived, and some snorkelers, so it started to get somewhat crowded – though it was cool to be at the surface and watch a diver with an underwater video camera swim down and film a turtle. But we decided to head back to the less popular snorkel area where the fish were.

Once there we were swimming around, looking at fish, when I saw a turtle resting on the bottom about 6 feet or so below us, just underneath a huge school of long yellowish fish. The water was pretty clear, because pretty shallow, so we had really good visibility. It was very exciting. We floated above them for a bit, watching, and then we surfaced. I said “Wow, how cool.” Lis said “Yeah!” I said “And all the fish are so awesome, too.” Lis said “What? Aren’t we looking at the fish?” I said “You don’t see that turtle directly below you?” We both put our heads back down and I pointed and I heard her say under water “Wow!!”

We stayed with him (her? Lis just told me that you can tell by the length of their tails – boys = long, girls = short – but I don’t remember now anything about the turtle’s tail) until he surfaced, then watched him from above water like before. This one, though, stayed at the surface and started swimming along, so we swam along about 6 feet behind. He went up for air three more times, then dived back down and settled himself in to the sand. The cool thing about this whole episode (besides the awesomeness of swimming with a sea turtle, of course) is that we had him to ourselves – no other snorkelers or divers noticed him.

We snorkeled for a bit longer and then decided that we were done. On the way back to the car we walked through the grounds of what used to be the Maui Prince hotel, which were very pretty. At one point we were walking under a grove of plumeria trees. At the car rental place, the woman who checked us out was wearing a plumeria flower in her hair, and it was so pretty that I asked her about it. She said that that one was fake, but that she has a tree in her yard and often wears a real one, and that they are very fragrant. I thought to myself then that I wanted to wear a plumeria in my hair at some point this trip. So here we were walking by some plumieras, with tons of fallen flowers on the ground. I picked up one that had just fallen and was in good shape – it smelled divine – and put it over my ear and felt very Hawaiian.

We were now starving, so went to the condo and showered and then went in search of food. The woman at the condo office had given us a list of local restaurants that they recommended – we picked Café O’Lei. It’s in a strip mall among a bunch of other strip malls along the Kihei main drag, and was very good. I had a turkey sandwich and Caesar salad, and Lis had mahi mahi. At a table near us were some girls with big beautiful fruity drinks with pineapple slices and umbrellas. Of course one must have fruity umbrellas drinks in Hawaii – I asked what they were. The waiter said Lava Flows – blended rum, pineapple and coconut layered with strawberry puree – a definite must-have. We decided to wait until dinner, though – any alcohol now and I would settle down for my nap right there at the table.

After lunch we went in search of a grocery store, and found a nice natural foods store in the next mall over – and also Snorkel Bob’s. I had read Snorkel Bob’s tips for saving the reef yesterday, and he seemed pretty hard core environmentally, so I thought that would be the place to get recommendations for Snorkel trips and things that wouldn’t be bad. Also, Lis wanted to get some stuff (such as the aforementioned sun protection swim cap). There was a very cute girl named Katie working there who spent all kinds of time with us, helping us find what we needed and also setting up a Molokini snorkel trip for us and making our Old Lahaina Luau reservations – she was very friendly and helpful, and I was glad that Snorkel Bob’s lived up to my expectations as a neato place.

We came back to the condo and rested for the rest of the afternoon, then set off in search of pupus for dinner. This time we went to Moose McGillicuddy’s, because Lis had read somewhere that it was good. We ordered Lava Flows and tacos off their happy hour menu, and they were good, but the service was slow and the waitress became mildly hostile when she realized that we were cheapskates ordering cheapskate things (I believe that our failure to add avocado to our tacos was the last straw). And it was a little young and loud and party-y. Plus we only got pineapple with our Lava Flows – no umbrellas. We decided we had no desire to come back, and when we got back to the room and consulted our local restaurant list, we saw that Moose McGillicuddy’s was not on it. So now we know – don’t deviate from the list.

Petty Note from Lis: It is very normal for us to go to a restaurant and share a meal or just order appetizers, and when we have not spent a lot of money I tend to tip higher – 25% or more. When we don’t order much and because of that the waitress is a bitch (dirty look after we say no to an offer of guacamole, for example) I believe I should tip lower. I had already decided that this evening’s waitress did not even deserve the normal 20% we tip when we order a full meal. I decided to tip 15%. But there was the Oregonian dilemma. Those of us from Oregon pay no sales tax, so everywhere else I am never sure whether to tip on the tax. I grew up in California and my mother taught me not to tip on the tax, but being the researcher that I am, I have learned that many people DO tip on the tax and that you may be considered a cheapskate if you do not. So now I usually tip on the tax. At Moose McGillicuddy’s, I wanted to tip 15% and NOT on the tax, but Mary said that would be too cheap. So I did what she said. But I immediately regretted it, especially when we left and the hostess said, “Goodbye!” and our waitress standing with her couldn’t even look at us. So …. Watch out, next bitchy waitress we come across. You’re not gettin’ no tip on the tax! Okay, back to Mary.

Back in the room we played Who Wants To Be a Millionaire (boardgame) until about 8pm (Lis won, but I made a run at the end), and then off to bed, where I was out by 9pm. I slept pretty well, but Lis was awakened by loud people from the condo complex across the street (our condo complex is wonderfully quiet, and has some fairly strict no-noise rules, which is partly why we chose it). They have awakened her both nights so far, so she is a little bumming. But otherwise it was a fabulous day.

mauiIt is 6:15am on our first full day in Maui – I tried to convince my body to sleep longer, but it thinks it is 9:15 and wants to get up. So here I am. But it’s very lovely, sitting here listening to the birds, while everyone else is asleep (Lis is still gamely trying to sleep, I hope successfully). There are lots of birds and beautiful tropical flowers on and around the lanai, which is where I’m writing this – a very excellent start to the day.

Yesterday we got up early to get to the airport for our 9:45am flight. We were (uncharacteristically) already almost completely ready to go – just had to shower and change the sheets and kiss the kitties goodbye and we were on our way – ON TIME (or pretty close). Lis had a master plan of food and entertainment for the 5 plus hour flight – she had rented a DigE player from AlaskaAir, and determined where we should get food for the plane (Big Town Hero) – so the flight went quite well (though the huge 8″ sandwiches that we got, which we thought would be enough for a meal and a snack, turned out to be mostly bread, and the bread turned out to be mostly air – so we each ate our entire sandwiches and then had to buy one of the airline’s snack packages. Ah well – best laid plans and all…)

We watched Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and I LOVED IT!! LOVED IT!! It was such high silliness, from start to finish – and I am a girl who is a sucker for nonsensical silliness. I had read reviews that said it was a so-so movie but you should see it for Amy Adams, who steals the show as Amelia Earhart, and while I loved Amy Adams as I always do (plus she could not have looked any hotter in her little Amelia Earhart outfit), I think it was Hank Azaria as Kahmunrah who really stole the show – he was HI-larious. So I was much pleased. We also watched an episode of CSI:NY, and then Lis watched an episode of Bones while I listened to music and watched (minus audio) the end of My Life in Ruins, the movie that the person in front of me was watching on her DigE player. It looked mindless but mildly entertaining, plus it was shot on location in Greece so it was beautiful – so we might watch that on our DigE player on the return trip.

And then we arrived. We got our baggage, and then Lis went insane at the tourist literature kiosk and we came away with a stack of tourist brochures 2 inches high, which we perused at bedtime (though we’re still not done by any means). And we bought ourselves some flower leis (tuberose and some round purplish flower that reminds me of a clover flower) from a lovely lady selling them in the baggage claim area. Lis was very pleased, as she had done research (she has logged countless hours researching this trip – I have the best travel agent ever!) that said not to pay for the relatively expensive lei greeting, as you could just buy them at the airport – so we paid 10 buck each for our leis, rather than 25-40 bucks each for our lei greetings.

It was pretty hot by the time we got our rental car and got on the road. It was about 2pm, which meant our bodies thought it was 5pm, so they were starting to want some feeding. We came to the condo and checked in (it is gorgeous – more later) and then hit the road in search of food. We had wanted to go to Roy’s – we had eaten lunch at Roy’s in Carmel with Lis’ parents and really liked it – and were saddened to learn that the Roy’s in Kihei is closed. This is still another one on the island, but they only serve dinner. So after some consulting of Lis’ travel notes and our iPhone Urban Spoon app, we decided to go UpCountry to the town of Makawao, to a Mexican Restaurant called Polli’s. Our hosts had said that they really liked this town, and they really liked this restaurant – so off we went.

We were concerned that maybe it would take too long to get there, as for various reasons time had passed and it was nearing 4pm (7pm for our bellies, who are used to being fed around 6) and we were quite hungry. But it was a gorgeous drive through sugar cane fields and tropical flowers, and the town was cool (a little trendy, though – reminded me somewhat of Cannon Beach), and the restaurant was good, and because it was early we were able to order off the happy hour menu – we had two drinks and three pupus, and the whole thing came to 15 bucks. We’re hoping that we can maintain our early dining ways our whole stay, and hit the happy hours and pre-sunset specials for dinner.

After dinner we walked around the main drag a bit, bought some local beer and some sugar free desserts at a People’s Co-op type store we found, and then drove back to Kihei (where the condo is) a different way, through the town of Pa’ia, which is another cool but somewhat trendy little UpCountry town. It appeared to have a lot of neat places to eat and another health food type store, so we will probably be back (my friend Toni says there’s a good restaurant there we should try).

We didn’t get back to the condo in time to watch the sunset from the pool, which I guess is pretty awesome – we did get to see a little of the sunset from the car. Back at the condo, we were fairly wiped out, but also a little hot and sticky from being out in the heat of the day, so we went to the pool for a dip. The upper pool has a little waterfall – it was pretty neat, and we had it to ourselves (it was dark by this time). We didn’t swim long, but it definitely hit the spot – I felt refreshed, and able to unpack a bit before bed.

I loved driving around the UpCountry – the cane fields and flowers are gorgeous, and then once you turn around and start heading back down, you have these sweeping views of the cane fields you’ve just driven through, plus the ocean and/or Haleakala Mountain, and neighboring islands in the distance. It was really spectacular.

There are some other UpCountry places I hope to get to this trip – there is a lavender farm and a goat farm, an orchid nursery and a winery, and a cool sounding hike along the Haleakala crater – I hope we can do at least of few of these things, as they sound fun in themselves, plus I really, really like the UpCountry.

For the morning, though, I want to go snorkel with some turtles – so maybe it’s time to go roust my sweetie and get this show on the roadJ