Friday, March 28, 2008

No Ka Oi

This post is a little daunting as I sit down to write it, so I will attempt to keep it brief since I recognize that not everybody wants to know every little detail about our week-long trip...

Day 1 - We arrived in Kahului, Maui on Sunday evening after a long day of traveling. Everything went smoothly until it came to finding our hotel in Kihei. I had "MapQuest-ed" some directions before we left and they were completely wrong! Thankfully one of our maps was able to get us to our final destination :) Our hotel grounds were beautiful, complete with dozens of coconut palms and a Maui-shaped pool - not to mention being right across the street from the ocean where we saw many a Maui sunset. The hotel itself was pretty old and dated, but we were happy with it and would definitely go back. The town of Kihei felt perfect - laid back with a good mix of locals and tourists. We were close to a lot of great beaches and we also felt pretty centrally located on the island.

The view from our hotel room lanai (patio):

Day 2 - Our first full day we found our way to Big Beach. It's a really long stretch of beach that is totally undeveloped.

Erik quickly realized that he only had to go out a few metres in the water before he found coral and tons of tropical fish. So, out came the snorkelling gear. My first experience of snorkelling was actually quite humorous. First lesson learned - don't put on the flippers until you're IN the water! Do you know how hard it is to walk on sand with those things - and then get past the breaking waves... ? We must've looked so funny. In fact, I know we did because when we saw other tourists do the same thing later on in the week, it looked hilarious. Once we finally managed to get in the water, it was time to put on the snorkelling mask. I had a really tough time with this. I'm a nose-breather and so the mask felt suffocating since I had to rely on my mouth breathing through a tube. I felt like I was hyper-ventilating! So there we were in water too deep for me to reach and I'm literally panicking, but laughing hysterically at the same time. The combination of having to keep myself afloat and breathe through that suffocating tube proved to be too stressful for me, so Erik got the boogie board for me to float on. That helped me relax and breathe a bit more normally. Once I actually got out there and saw the amazing fish I was glad I had perservered!

I borrowed this picture from the internet since snorkelling was the one thing we couldn't get pictures of (we did end up buying an underwater camera later in our trip but the pictures didn't do it justice!). This gives you an idea of what we spent a lot of our time doing (and seeing):

Day 3 - We went exploring across to West Maui where it is much more resort-ish. We tried to find Kapalua Bay and didn't have luck that day, but we ended up on another beach in Ka'anapali which was so fun. More snorkelling was had there which was cool until we saw a really disgusting snake-like thing on the ocean floor. It kind of freaked me out so I went back to the beach for awhile :)

We drove back and stopped at a little beach just south of Lahaina where Erik boogie boarded for a little while. I sat on the beach watching the surfers and some humpback whales in the distance.

Day 4 - We chose this day to take the drive down the Hana Highway which is a full-day's trip on a windy road that takes you to the town of Hana and then on to Halakeala National Park. The distance itself is only about 50 miles, but the road is slow going and there are lots of stops to make on the way - watching surfers, checking out waterfalls, hiking down to a black sand beach, etc...

Ho'okipa Beach:

Many beautiful views from East Maui:

The scene at Wainapanapa State Park:

The day started out great, but ended off bad. You have to drive back the same way you came, so driving on the way home starts to feel a little old. You've already seen everything and you're just ready to be done! Erik was even feeling car-sick from all the twists and turns on the highway. So, we decided to stop and stretch for a few minutes and that's when the worst happened. I climbed back into the car and pulled my door shut, when - crunch! I looked down and realized that the camera had slipped out of it's unzipped case around my shoulder and ended up between the car door and the car. The display screen was totally wrecked and wouldn't display any images except a big black streak. I felt terrible and Erik was trying really hard not to be upset at me, but we drove the next half hour in silence. It was awful. In the end we decided to stop at Costco and buy ourselves a cheap digital - we just needed a way of taking pictures for the rest of the trip. After it was purchased we made the collective decision to put it behind us and not let it ruin our week. And by the evening we were feeling much better about the whole thing.

Day 5 - This was the best day by far - we both agree. Earlier in the week we had made the decision to book ourselves for a 6-hour snorkelling trip. There was a bit of trepidation on both of our parts - Erik doesn't really do boats, and I was a little worried about the whole snorkelling part after my first experience. But, boy were we ever glad we went through with it!

We boarded the boat at 6:30 am with about 60 other people. We ate breakfast in the harbour while the sun was rising and everyone was boarding.

Then we took an hour-long ride to get to our first snorkelling destination. We were barely out of the harbour when we saw our first pod of humpback whales. They were swimming so fast - our guide said there were probably several males chasing a female.

The first stop was Molokini crater. It's best seen from an aerial view, so I snatched this picture from the internet to show you.

The water there was crystal clear and it made for amazing snorkelling. I was pleased to learn that the boat cruise provided floatation devices to wear for swimming and it made for a stress-free experience for me :) It was absolutely beautiful - so many different fish and coral.

After about an hour we headed to our next stop dubbed "Turtle Town" for its high population of sea turtles. On our way there we were joined by a pod of spinner dolphins. It was amazing! They kept their distance at first, but then suddenly they were surrounding the boat, jumping and diving all over the place!

"Turtle Town" lived up to it's name and we saw a couple of massive turtles. They are really huge and a little freaky to see for the first time, but it was beautiful and totally worth it. After we finished there we started back to the harbour, eating a BBQ lunch on the way and chatting with the other passengers.

That evening we headed up to Lahaina to check out the cool shops and have supper. We ended up eating at "Bubba Gump's":

Day 6 - After consulting our Lonely Planet Maui guide (which was super-helpful) we found out how to get down to the beach we had been trying to find earlier in the week (Kapalua Bay). It was definitely a nice little spot.

It was a bit more of a crowded beach and there were lots of young families there as the water was shallow and sandy and the waves were small. Watching the little kids made us think of how much fun our own kids would have there - but when we saw how busy some of those parents were, we felt so blessed to be able to enjoy it without the added stress. We did find ourselves talking about the "next time" we come to Maui, and "when we bring the kids" :) I hope there will be a next time!

We drove up the west coast a little bit further that afternoon and stopped at DT Fleming Beach. The waves there were a little bit more intense and after watching the boogie boarders for about 15 minutes, Erik decided he had to go in! I had fun watching the action from the beach and managed to get a video of him catching one of the waves.

Day 7 - Our last full day! Oh so sad :( We went back to Big Beach that morning.

That afternoon we headed to the market to pick up the last of the souveniers that we wanted. We enjoyed a yummy & cheap supper at Maui Tacos and then watched our last Maui sunset at the beach across from our hotel.

Day 8 - Our plane didn't leave until the late afternoon, so we got up early to enjoy our last chance to be at the beach. We tried a new beach called Polo beach which was pretty close-by and I think it might've actually been my favourite. Some beaches were better for snorkelling but not so great for swimming while others had more intense waves for surfing or boogie-boarding. But this beach seemed to be good all-around. I was sad we had only found it on our last day! We tried to soak in the last bit of sun on our barely-tanned bodies and then it was time to go pack up.

Our flights home went as scheduled, but flying through the night was not something I wish to do again! I have become a nervous flyer and there was quite a bit of turbulence on that flight. Plus, we happened to be seated right beside the bathrooms. So, if I did manage to relax enough to fall asleep I was woken up every few minutes by the thunderous flushing of an airplane toilet. When we finally got to Seattle I felt sick with exhaustion and we still had one more flight to go. After a little catnap on the last flight and a cup of Timmy's in Aldergrove I was feeling a bit more like myself.

OK, this has not been as "brief" as I had planned, so I'll try to wrap it up: Overall, Maui was the perfect vacation destination. The title of this post is Maui's slogan which means "the best" and, even though we don't really have much to compare it to, we would whole-heartedly agree! I loved having so many different beaches to explore and so many different kinds of landscapes to see on such a small island. There were lots of cool shops and restaurants. And there was so much more there that we didn't even get a chance to see. I think what I loved the most about not having the kids was the fact that I didn't need to wear a watch. It never mattered what time it was. We could stay at a beach until WE were tired of it. Erik and I aren't super spontaneous, but it was nice to decide on a whim that we wanted to take an evening stroll on the beach, or head out for ice cream. And when we went out shopping I didn't even need to carry a purse :) I have never been away from either of my kids longer than a short night so this was pretty significant for me. And even though I thought of the kids often, I didn't really feel home-sick for them. I just embraced the freedom!

We were both antsy to see Micah & Keziah by the time we were heading home though and I was very curious as to how they would respond to us when we returned. Micah acted a bit silly when he saw us (which I totally expected), but he warmed up to us quickly and chattered about his week with Grandma. Keziah acted as though we had never even left - which was kind of nice because I worried that she might forget me :) This last week has been exhausting as we recover from our jet lag and short night on the plane, but the kids have actually been so good. We are so thankful to Grandma Toews who spent some LONG days (and long nights!) with the kids - and also to Grandpa and Auntie Rosanna for their help. We felt so blessed to have this opportunity, though we are starting to think that it might become addicting... :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Maui Teaser

So many pictures to post, so little time. We had an amazing vacation in Maui! It was good to come home though and see the kids again. Some of Micah's words to me today: "I love that you & Daddy are home from Hawaii!" and "You're my best friend!"
So worth it :)

(Update: I just uploaded a bunch of pictures to facebook, so get on over there and take a look!)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

All my bags are packed...

It looks like we're pretty much ready to get on our Hawaiian-bound airplane tomorrow morning. There is plenty of excitement in the air, along with some normal traveling nerves :) If you're thinking of us, we appreciate any prayers for health and safety. And you can also pray for Micah who was kind of feverish today.

I'm off to help Erik finish up a few things before we head to bed. Stay tuned to hear all about our tropical adventure!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Banana Pancakes

I've had that Jack Johnson song in my head all day...

"But baby,
you hardly even notice
when I try to show you this
song, it's meant to keep you
from doin' what you're supposed to
like wakin' up too early
maybe we could sleep in
I'll make you banana pancakes
pretend like it's the weekend now..."

Some girls in our life group were talking about banana pancakes last week so we had to try them for ourselves this morning. They were delicious! I tried making Micah a "Mickey Mouse" pancake but my attempt was a little bit sad...

It even felt like we were "pretending it was the weekend" since Erik has been home the last couple of days. During his Monday night hockey game he got rocked pretty hard by another player and ended up getting totally knocked out. He went to emerg to get himself checked out and found out that he had a concussion. The doctor said he should take it easy for several days. It was kind of scary when he came home that night and told me I needed to wake him up a couple of times through the night to make sure he was OK - doctor's orders. Not surprisingly, our kids did the waking up for us :) Erik's had some bad headaches and some sore muscles but it's been kind of nice having him home.

Keziah being her cute little self:

In other news, I got myself a job! A friend of mine told me about her job several months ago and I thought it sounded like the perfect way for a stay-at-home mom to earn some extra income. After being in contact with the company over the last several months, I was hired on as a transcriptionist. For me, it's a dream job since I love the computer and I love to type. I also love the flexibility of working from home and choosing my own hours. So, I think it's going to work out great.

I got my first assignment this week, and although I'm enjoying it so far, I'm finding it tricky to make the time to work at it. It's been a bit of an "off" week though. Besides trying to get ready for our trip to Maui, I'm finding the days are going by way too fast after the time change. The kids have been going to bed later which leaves less free time in the evenings and their napping schedules are not coinciding well at all these last few days. Hopefully we'll get into a better rythm after our vacation.

Micah is really into eating with his eyes closed these days:

We're leaving on Sunday morning from the Bellingham airport for our trip to Maui and we'll be gone for 7 days. It seems like there is so much to pack into those days! We definitely want a balance of relaxing on the beach and seeing the sights, so hopefully we can do everything that we want to do. We're staying in Kihei at a hotel called the Aston Maui Lu. It's definitely on the budget end of hotels, but my parents stayed there a few years ago and didn't have anything bad to say about it, so we decided to go for it. We've been told that we need to take the drive to Hana and also up to the Haleakala crater. We bought ourselves a Maui book with some Christmas money we had kicking around and we hope to have a rough itinerary mapped out before we get on the island. I've been packing my suitcase this week and love adding all my tank tops and shorts and flip flops!!

Anyway, I shouldn't spend too long blogging as there are plenty of other things I should be doing...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wowie Maui

Well, I have neglected to mention a very exciting and fast-approaching event for Erik & I. One week from today we will be lounging on the beaches of Maui!

I haven't posted about it yet partly because there has been so much other stuff to post about, but also partly because there is some guilt associated with going on a vacation: the cost, the reality of leaving kids behind, the worry that we're being too frivolous... But, it's time to make it known that we are, in fact, going on a vacation! Erik and I have never done anything like this (just the two of us) and this year seemed like the year to do it. The timing works well since our kids are at a good age to leave with Grandma & Grandpa.

I can't even imagine what it's going to be like to be childless for a whole week: to sleep when I want to and throw all schedule out the window! I'm sure I will miss the kids like crazy, but right now I am getting anxious for a break :)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Sister's New Hobby

Erin has taken up photography and I got to benefit from her talents while I was in Winnipeg. My kids weren't exactly willing participants, but we were both surprised at how many good shots she managed to get with a sick and whiny one-year-old and a camera-shy three-year-old. And thanks to the wonders of photoshop, she could eliminate Keziah's ever-running boogers among other things...

There were too many good pictures to choose from when posting this, so if you haven't already, check out the rest in my Facebook photo album.