Yesterday we got up at our now customary 6am and had breakfast on the lanai with the birds (a clarification – the birds are all around singing and squawking, but don’t actually come over and bother us while we’re eating. Though they do sometimes come over and inspect the area for crumbs once we’ve gone back inside). Then it was time to get ready for our UpCountry adventure.

We had planned to hike the Sliding Sands trail at least a little bit, though we weren’t sure how far because we were feeling a little tired from our early rising (though really it’s like getting up at 9am in Portland) and snorkel exertions. We had brought along camelback water bags in case we did any hiking or biking, so we got those out and filled them with water. There is a little cooler here in the condo (the condo is well stocked with activity paraphernalia – I’m hoping to get Lis to write a post about the condo here soon) which we filled with ice, and we put some snacks in our new Snorkel Bob’s Save the Yellow Tang tote bag, along with sunscreen and hats and jackets.

Then we went to the 808 Deli to get some sandwiches. We had read some reviews on Yelp’s iPhone app, and most said that this was a really good sandwich shop, but we found it just OK. I had the Chicken Pesto Panini, but to-go and as a wrap (normally it is a hot grilled sandwich), and it was better than our Big Town Hero offerings but not a lot. Lis had a Build Your Own on a hoagie, and it was basically about the same as her Big Town Hero mostly-bread-and-air sandwich. What did live up to the reviews was the Potato Mac salad – this is a regular potato salad with macaroni mixed in, and it is super good – I really enjoyed it. Lis: sounded totally disgusting to me. I did not try it.

The young man making our sandwiches asked where we were going. When we told him, he became fairly animated – “Oh, I hope you’ve got coats. It’s really cold up there. You’re really going to need to bundle up.” We asked how cold. “Like, 60 degrees!” He said this with the air of someone saying something shocking. We told him we were from Portland, Oregon and used to cooler temperatures. Lis said, “Can we wear shorts?” He said, “Well, if you’re used to cooler temperatures you’ll probably be fine. I go up there and I FREEZE!”

We put our sandwiches in the cooler and headed out. It was a beautiful, cloudless morning, and so the drive up was very pretty. I had read that there were usually clouds at the 5000 foot mark (the summit is at 10,000 feet), but today there were no clouds and we were able to stop at observation points and take photos of grand sweeping views. The road is switchback-y but in good shape and not too scary – we were able to make good time and soon enough were at the summit (about a 2 hour drive all told from our condo in Kihei to the crater).

It was definitely much cooler here (felt fabulous to me – I don’t do heat and humidity very well and had been looking forward to cooler air) and there was lots of wind. We put on our jackets and hats and camelback water things and binoculars (I was already wearing the camera bag, which was doubling as my purse), and got our sandwiches out. The plan was to hike along the trail for awhile and then have our lunch somewhere in the crater. Then we started walking around. The views were spectacular, but we couldn’t find the trailhead.

We went in to the visitor center (dodging other tourists – there was a Carnival ship in port, and we had already been overrun by a couple tour buses at an earlier lookout point) and asked the ranger where to find the Sliding Sands trailhead. He cheerfully informed us that we were in the wrong place, and pointed to the lookout just below with all the buses. “It’s down there – didn’t you see it when you stopped?” He expressed disbelief when we told them we hadn’t stopped there, but seemed to understand when we explained we were avoiding tour buses.

Then he asked “Where are you headed?” We looked confused and said “The Sliding Sands trail.” He said he meant what point along the trail. We said we had no real ambitions – just wanted to go a little ways in to the crater. He laughed and said “Oh, you look like you’re ready for a trek.” Well, I guess we were a touch over-provisioned for a stroll…

He gave us some good advice about the hike, reminding us that we were at high altitude (which we knew but hadn’t really been thinking about), and that it would feel real easy going down and so to time ourselves – “for every ten minutes down, it will take twenty to come back.” This turned out to be excellent advice. We went a little ways along the trail but not far – just far enough to find a nice place to sit and eat and take pictures. Even with this short distance, it was surprisingly hard to drag ourselves back out (and it had been easy going in). While we were sitting we saw several hikers coming back and they all looked pretty gassed – we figured they hadn’t had the benefit of our sage ranger’s counsel. Note from Lis: One thing I really enjoyed in our less-than-ten-minute “hike” was this odd combination of cold wind and hot sun. It was almost like some strange spa treatment. One minute there would be a rush of cold air, the next a rush of hot, then the cold again. I really loved it.

We sat in the crater, and felt simultaneously cool and warm. Neither of us needed to bundle up – Lis was in shorts and a t-shirt, and I just wore a long sleeved denim shirt over my t-shirt. What I do wish I’d had, and will definitely bring next time, is ear covering of some kind, as the wind is pretty strong, and strong cool wind hurts my ears. Otherwise we were perfectly fine. Note from Lis: I was well-bundled up in my Barbados hat that Mary bought for herself on our last cruise and then generously donated to me. I LOVE that hat. I wear it for sun-protection, but it was amazingly warm in the wind. So sweet of Mary to give it to me and then suffer the cold wind. Note from Mary: It’s less sweet when you know that the hat doesn’t really fit me, and I did have a straw hat from the condo – but I’ll accept the credit all the same.

The crater was really, really awesome, in the old “inspiring of awe” sense. Fabulous shapes and colors. The guidebooks describe it as a moonscape, but it seemed more like a sand sculpture to me – all the different colors – black, grey, green, rust, tan – all swirled around in different shapes and patterns. Plus the afternoon clouds were starting to form and slowly seep in to the crater. Really cool. I highly recommend a drive up to the crater on any Maui stay.

Then it was off to the Ali`i Kula Lavender farm. It was a little off the beaten track, and the road to it was very narrow and a bit crumbly, but thankfully far enough down the mountain that there were no scary drop offs – just not much room. We drove up to the farm and got out, and were instantly met by the pervasive scent of lavender. We went to the gift shop and looked around, and then started off to walk amongst the plants in the fields. Lis had picked up a treasure hunt map – if we could find all 8 places, we would win a reward. We found the first one easily, and then started off in search of the next, and quickly realized that we were too tired for such nonsense – it was time to start back. Plus, we still wanted to boogie board – didn’t want to squander our remaining energy.

Lis suggested that we return to the health food store (I keep forgetting to get its name) in Makawao to get some more of the fabulous sugar free cake we had gotten there on Monday, and then stop in Pa’ia at Ono Gelato because they have dairy-free gelato. Well, who am I to turn down dessert? On the way the gathering clouds turned in to a pretty good rainstorm, but it passed quickly.

At Ono Gelato they had two big display cases of gelato, each containing about 9-10 gelatos. The case on the left was all dairy free – my lactose intolerant girl was very happy indeed.J We tried several samples (the girl waiting on us was very patient and sweet), and then made our decisions – I had the peach and strawberry (local strawberries from the Kula region we had just driven through). Lis had the chunky monkey (chocolate, banana, and some Hawaiian fruit whose name I forget) and sea mist (lime, lemongrass, and some other stuff). As we were sitting outside eating our gelato, a woman came by and said “So, which did you choose?” I realized that this was the owner whom I had seen earlier making some gelato in the back. We told her what we got and she chatted with us a while. We will definitely try to go back.

While we were deliberating over the gelatos, a man and woman came in. Very soon the man started staring at Lis. I wondered what there was about her appearance that was causing such an investigation – he was looking her over quite carefully. (Note from Lis: Sadly, I am used to people staring at me. Whenever we go swimming in Portland at Mt. Scott Community Center, the children in the locker room all stare at me. I figure it is my attractive UniSuit. So I vaguely noticed he was staring, but it barely even registered.) Finally he came over and said “Are you from Portland, Oregon? We’re from Eugene.” And I realized he had been studying her Portland Century shirt, probably trying to figure out if it was Oregon or Maine. He was very friendly, and his wife never even looked at us. Go figure.

After gelato we went to the condo and changed and grabbed boogie boards from the condo’s activity closet and headed to the closest beach. Neither of us have boogie boarded before – we just tried to copy what we’d seen other people do. I caught the first wave I tried, and it was an OK one, so I travelled a fair way and it was pretty fun. But all in all I think I prefer snorkeling. Boogie boarding seems to be a pretty sand-intensive experience, and I didn’t enjoy all the de-sanding that was necessary afterwards. Lis: I was not very good at boogie boarding and it hurt my shoulder which is recovering from an injury. I will say that yesterday’s boogie boarding, combined with my experience this morning that Mary will surely write about later, have cured me of my desire to learn to surf during this vacation.

My sweetie had the brilliant idea of getting takeout so that we could head back to the condo and stay there. So we went to Maui Thai and got some salad rolls and curry and pad see ew. The portions were significantly smaller than our Portland neighborhood Thai place, and even with the 15% early bird discount (we are on a good early bird special roll – haven’t missed one yet) it was 10 bucks more than we usually pay – but it was pretty good nonetheless, and we did get next day’s lunch out of it as well.

Lis: How could Mary neglect to mention the fabulous beers we had with dinner? Our first night here we bought a six-pack sampler of Maui Brewing Company (2 each of 3 flavors – okay, I know they’re not called flavors, but the only way I like my beer is fruity and flavored so I like that word.) I actually thought to put glasses in the freezer before we went to the beach, so our beverages were nice and cold. My beer was called CocoNut Porter and it was delicious. Very dark, rich, and creamy. I was told by two people at the store where we bought the beer that that The CocoNut Porter was too sweet and fruity so I knew it was the beer for me. I didn’t think it was sweet, though, and neither did Mary. Mary had Bikini Blonde Lager. That was a very pale beer and also amazingly wonderful. I am not a beer fan so I was very pleasantly surprised by both. Maybe I was just so tired that last night I was a temporary beer fan. Mary again – Lis is right; terrible omission. All the beers are super excellent – the night before I had had the Big Swell IPA, and even though I’m not an IPA fan at all, I really liked this beer as well. Highly recommend all three.

We weren’t able to make it to the Surfing Goat Dairy – Lis is thinking maybe we still will, but I’m thinking that will probably be on the next trip. Lis: L