Four Days in Maui
Welp, we went to Maui. Beating the crazy rush of planning Vegas in a week, we planned to go to Maui for 1.5 days before we took off. Insanity and pure excitement were those 36 hours.
Quick backstory at how this even came about:
The VECCS Conference marks the one year anniversary of USDA licensure for the company's newest product, Rattler Antivenin. It's basically a more affordable, and better designed antivenin for pit vipers and is saving thousands of dogs and horses. Last year, Zach traveled to this conference in Cabo, and I was in awe that I was invited to tag along and help out. This year, Mark and Betsy (owners and founders) found out last minute (36 hours) that they wouldn't be able to swing their long trip to Hawaii. We are young and childless and my work was incredible and gave me the okay when they asked if we would like to go in their place.
Away we flew on Wednesday morning. A quick stop and a good snack in Phoenix, and we boarded the 6 hour flight.
It was instantly humid and warm!!!! Everything is open air in Hawaii, which is what I wish my surroundings were everywhere.
We took a long drive through the middle of the island and got the royal history, pointing of fingers, and tips from our cute taxi driver. And then she dropped us at our hotel. AND THIS IS WHAT WE STEPPED OUT INTO.
We tracked down Zach's show stuff and set out to the beach.
I fought jet lag hard on this beautiful beach. It was like midnight at home right here. I was in a weird place. BUT, we did it. We stayed up until a reasonable time to not have to accidentaly shoot out of bed at 3AM.
The next morning, we ate breakfast at perhaps the sweetest breakfast bar I have ever eaten at in a large hotel. This giant door things open up to the SWAN pool. Try enjoying your coffee anywhere else. Nope.
The show was at the Hyatt Regency Maui. The conference center was perfect! Smaller size, but OPEN to the ocean! Most conference centers I go to are in the basement, far away from humidity or sunshine. This was a dream.
Here is the path that you walk down to get to the conference center. Not bad at all....
The hotel has penguins and coy fish in the lobby! And parrots all over. And swans, ducks, flamingos, etc in this little pond/fairytale area.
We talked to SOOO many great people on Thursday. Everyone was pumped to be in Hawaii. They had to sit through classes all day, we got to pop in and out of conference hall and paradise :)
We got fresh leis at the Welcome Dinner. We hung with hilarious friends we made last year from Mexico City :) And new friends! From Sweden, Australia, and...IOWA.
The next afternoon after everyone was dismissed, we walked the beach a mile or so up to the "Black Rock". We were on the north-west side of the island, and as you go more north, the waves get more intense. So the local bros and little vacation kids were on skim boards and it looked awesome.
We played in the ocean and laid out until we fell asleep and it was glorious. I tried the local kombucha! It was okay...I am hoping my home brew is going to be better than it.
One of the hotel's restaurants, Japengo, was just rated Aiopono Restaurant of the Year and it was wonderful.
Warm sake - Miso soup - pork ribs - sashimi - and a couple of the chef's special sushi rolls
I tried that octopus tendon over there...I didn't have the best attitude about it, but I truly didn't like it. It's a texture thing I think. Anyone else?
Sushi, I can get down with.
Side note-Ahi Poke?!! I am the biggest fan of that.
ALRIGHT. This was THE DAY. The day that made me (and us) really love Hawaii.
We decided our one goal was to hike. Something, somewhere on the island. There are a ton of options-Road to Hana, Haleakala volcano, Ioa Valley, etc. I read this Huffington Post article and we decided to look into these hikes. Not wanting to spend 13 hours in the car getting over to the east side of the island and back, the west hikes sounded do-able.
Doing more research on the Waihee Ridge Trail, we saw in the local paper that it might have been currently closed due to construction. SOO we decided we would drive there in the morning. Google maps always take you through the highway that cuts through the middle of the island. We saw that the distance around the north side of the island was far shorter to the Ridge trail head, so we decided to go OFF THE MAPS to get over there. Like, the maps wouldn't give us the option of the north side no matter how hard we tried.
SO, we followed the highway. PUMPED at first. To see things like this...
And go through this.
And all of the twists and turns looked like places I have been. Since there are so many "sides" to the island, some times it would look like Arizona-red rock, desert. Then around the bend it would look like Ireland-lush green, cliffs. Zach took this photo :)
It was beautiful!!
And then these twisty roads started to turn into THESE one lane no guardrail twisty roads.
Zach drove us through Sanoma County through vineyards and twists and turns. However, this got dicey really quickly :)
We would have to stop before each curve (maybe like 200 of those, actually) and honk, and then inch out and see if anyone was coming around. There were MANY old guys in rented mustang convertibles who didn't seem to be hesitant at all. And a few locals. And then sometimes there were multiple cars and it felt like my ride to the Amalfi Coast in Italy all over again....
We lost the coast and were going through JUNGLE. It was wonderful. It is really unchartered as far as toursists go-we were so far away from civilization. We saw a couple of locals working hard out in their yards, a ton of rusted out abandoned cars (and microwaves), town-kids running around selling mango and banana bread. I truly have no idea where these kids go to school.
It was beautiful to see this side of island life. The more that we talked to waitstaff and locals, it sounds like they know someone whose uncle lived out in these parts for a few years. It doesn't seem to be inhabited by the faint of heart.
We saw a true mountain goat on the side of a cliff and a TON of wild chickens in packs running around. I think they live a good life :)
We made it out of the jungle! Zach did an amazing job driving. The trail was open! And we found our way over to Paia to Mama's Fish House and some refreshements :)
This place has been around since 73. Recommended to us by many, I had just read about it in Travel and Leisure. We were pumped to join Mark and Betsy (they ended up making the trip work!) for lunch. It has an incredible setting, a ton of tables, a local surf champ with tattoos all over for our server, and AMAZING FISH.
Yes, it's spendy. But everyone's dishes were totally different flavors and really really good.
I got Mahimahi, Ahi, and Papio in a coconut curry sauce. Incredible flavors.
The building is sweet! A ton of cultural memoriabilia on the walls.
I mean, this beach though?
The meal and the conversation was wonderful. We are both grateful for the noble character that these two lead their company with. They have treated Zach (and I) beyond what we deserve. And they accomplish everything joyfully with a purpose.
They sent us back to the other side of the island for our hike! The Waihee Ridge Trail ascends 1745 ft into THE CLOUDS. Zach and I actually think that we cannot top this hike.
You start in the deep forest. It's about a 2.5 mile hike up-but pretty easy and super well maintained (at least when we were there it was fresh). But once again, every side is a different scene. Theres tall pines and ferns and then tropical trees on the other.
We took our time on the way up-stopping at about every turn to stand in awe and explore and take photos. Zach's are the better looking photos in this bunch :) Check out his feels at HIS website!
And then you POP OUT AT THIS.
And then you continue up into the tropical trees.
And then you're at this clearing, and one way you look- you see the coast and a city.
And then you look the other way, and it looks like Tuscany.
And then we started getting closer to the cloudline.
We actually ran up a few stretches and ran most of it down.
AND THEN WE MADE IT. And the clouds swirled around us. It was so quiet and so calm.
So we descended down. WOW Thank you to the State of Hawaii for making this accessible and kept up and free.
Iowa is beautiful. This was incredible.
And then we drove the long road home! No no, not the long road, but through the middle of the island. Which in itself is so cool! Despite the high traffic.
The next day we wrapped up the show and said by to our new friends-like the end of summer camp.
We laid out all day and killed time in the most amazing place waiting for our redeye.
I say GO TO HAWAII. Maui. I would personally say, if you're into it, stay at an Air BNB and rent bikes and a car and drive to beaches and explore everything. You can resort if you want to, but there's so much to do and see off the resort!
Talk to your waitstaff and service people. We went into Maui with little information. We learned anything we did from our rental car desk lady, our teenage pool servers, and our taxi drivers.
What a gift this trip was. I am grateful for the chance to walk and see more of what the Lord created.
We are back! And it's Easter Sunday already?!