Chasing the Sun

Continuing  on with the Landscape theme… last night as I was driving my son to his Awana class I took a little detour and drove along the Columbia River to capture some shots as the sun was setting. The weather was amazing, it’s hard to believe it’s January as warm as it felt as I was taking these shots.My dad warns me that a warm winter means a cold summer which really bums me out if that is in fact true. I very much hope he is wrong about this.

I started out near Blue Lake park where it is more inland, then drove west on Marine Drive to capture some photos after the sun had set and the sky was such a gorgeous color. I know the shot of Mt. Hood is pretty lame because all of the interrupting power lines and such but I had to snap it. I have this goal that someday I’ll get an amazing shot of Mt. Hood you know one like photographer Ben Canales has done. If you don’t know who he is check out his website thestartrail.com, it’ll blow your mind. I’m in love with Landscape Photography, so excited to learn more and more about this type of photography, someday hoping to do one of Ben’s workshops. Until then…

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We were in Maui for 9 days and spent most of our time on the South shore. This was our second trip to Maui as I’ve stated previously and our first stay in Wailea. I was a bit nervous about this as we had stayed on the west side in Kaanapalii on our first trip here. We love Kaanapali, the location is awesome as it is near Lahaina which is one of the top places we like to visit when in Maui as well as a long list of some of the best places to eat in Maui. However I have 2 things against the west side of Maui, 1. the very coarse sand beaches and 2. moderate to heavy winds in the evening. For most people these things may not be an issue, but as we have been traveling with children both times, we prefer the soft sands of the South Maui beaches where our son can comfortably sit right in the sand and play to his hearts delight. Also the wind in Wailea is mainly in the mid-afternoon when it is the warmest part of the day and they die down in the evening making it more enjoyable out by the pool.

We established a great routine from day one, getting up pretty early as we were still on main-land time, having a light healthy breakfast and getting ready for the beach with towells, plenty of sunscreen and packed lunches. The first few days it was all about the beach and finding good places to eat dinner. after the first 3 days we put a few different destinations on our schedule.

Spent one afternoon in PaIa a little hippy town in North Maui. This place is tiny but it’s jam packed with -in my opinion- hands down the best restaurants and one of a kind shops in all of Maui. Not much more to do here other than shop and eat. No complaints from me.

Another day when we needed a break from the beach we started our morning with a trip to the Maui Oceanic Center and ended the day in Lahaina. Seth loved all the fishies and maybe when he is older we will do the whole scuba diving in the big tank that houses all the sharks and stingrays and other very large fish.  There were people in there and it was really cool to see that the sharks had no interest in the humans what-so-ever.

Somehow I convinced my hubby that we should do a sunrise trek up to the top of Mt. Haleakala. I reasoned that since i brought my big-daddy-camera we had to do the Haleakala Sunrise trip I mean the sunset we could see from our lanai, so it had to be the sunrise. He caved, I would have gone on my own had he not wanted to. I figured it’s a 2 hour drive I could do it. So glad I didn’t have to though… We got up at 3 am and even got mr. Seth up (who was in a ridiculously great mood for that time of the night) and headed out towards the 10,000 foot mountain. The trip took us about 1.4 hours on a very small winding road in the dark. When we got there the parking lot was almost completely full we got one of the last spots, but we made it with about 10 minuntes to spare.

I had read a bit about photographing sunsets and sunrises before heading out but it’s funny how most of what I had read went out of my head as I was experiencing that very surreal moment of the sun rising over the horizon. It was my very first time witnessing a sunrise and I have to tell you that even though my hands were frozen about my camera I was feeling a rush of emotions. It was a very amazing experience and a religious one if I can put it that way. I found myself shooting away and all the while thanking God for what and who He is and granting me the privileged of witnessing his majesty through that sunrise. I know that most sunrises look a lot like sunsets but there is something so awesome about witnessing the beginning of a day. I want to make an effort to experience more sunrises in my life.

After hanging out there until 8 am, we started heading back down the mountain. The descent was very different than the ascent, for one it was daylight and what was once shrouded in darkness was completely revealed to us. We now saw that for part of the ride we were above the clouds and we could see them to our right and our left it made such beautiful scenery, I got out to photograph the scene before us many times however I feel that there was no way to do justice to the beauty we were beholding. Finally after many stops we made it back to South Maui where we stopped for breakfast (our first one in Maui ever) at a little whole in the wall restaurant the “Kihei Cafe”. In my brothers words  “oh hemm gee” the breakfast at this place is beyond  ahmazing. We first of all were in a line that easy had 30 people in it but went surprisingly quickly, when we got to the window we ordered  a veggie scramble and a plate of French Toast with Macadamia butter drizzle. Not sure what the calorie count was but I can tell you it was worth every single calorie and then some. We will be returning to this little Cafe again.

We made sure that every dinner we had was at a different restaurant every night. We mainly got winners but there were a few that made it on our never again list… Mainly the one place we will not do again is the Cafe O’lai. We had gone there for lunch on our first trip and had a great lunch. However this time around we felt that they don’t deserve the ratings they’ve received and mainly because of the following- we ordered a kids meal for Seth that trully groused me out. We got him chicken fingers if you can even call what they put in front of us chicken and french fries. For the most part we wouldn’t usually order him his own meal since he is small enough that we can just share our meals with him and ordered a side of fries for the table as we know that if he didn’t like any of the other options he would definitely love the fries. Well this night we ordered very fishy fares and thoght he might need to get a bit of other protein in case he didn’t want to have our food. First of all when they placed his plate in front of him it looked like the chicken was so hot that the steam was rising up off of it and at further inspection it looked like the chicken fingers were gray on the inside. What I deduced from what was served was that they breaded the chicken without skinning it and not removing any of the fat then they must have had it frozen for about a decade or so because it was the oldest looking chicken I had ever seen. I honestly would not have had the guts to serve that to a customer. It was disgusting. I have to say that other than the kids meal our dinners were pretty amazing but I was so very upset with that kids meal that I refuse to return to Cafe O’Lei on principal.

Out of all of the places we had tried I usually ordered the fish tacos. I used to think that the Beachside Grill at Whalers Village in Kanapali had great fish tacos but after trying them again this time I felt that they were really lacking in the flavor departemtn as well as I hated the huge flour tortilla they served them on. However my new favorite fish taco place is a little whole in the wall restaurant in Kihei called Coconut Fish Cafe, they have hands down best fish tacos even -in my opinion. The Beachside Grill however, makes a ridiculously delicious pulled pork sandwich, Chris had it and shared half with me while I share one of my not so tasty fish tacos with him. 🙂 New find was also the Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea, this beautiful restaurant  with a massive outdoor terrace facing the ocean, had some great food, we got a great small brick oven chicken olive oil and pesto pizza, calamari & shrimp appetizer, french fries for Seth and we ate family style sharing everything and finishing up with a really amazing dessert, Chris got the banana pie and I got chocolate gelato, in the words of my favorite actor on Friends, Matt LeBlanc –Joey “put your hands together” we combined our plates to make one of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time.

Another trip we made was up to Julia’s Banana Bread Stand. The first time in Maui I didn’t venture out this way as I had been told of the very narrow winding road that you take to make it to Julia’s. Our Maui Revealed book states that Julia’s has the best banana bread on the whole island. So when we headed out toward west Maui this was not our original destination… We had planed on Lahaina being our destination, however, Seth had just fallen asleep right before reaching Lahaina so Chris though we could drive up the coast and see the Nakalele blow hole so we continued on. On our drive I pulled out the Maui revealed book and as I was thumbing through the pages I came across Julia’s banana bread stand. I mentioned it to Chris and as we had yet to buy any banana bread since we had arrived on the island we decided to just go as far as we could and if we felt that it was too scary we would just turn around. Well I’m not sure if they have paved the road recently or if my friend had just talked it up too much but it turned out to be a very reasonably uneventful ride. Julia’s is a little bright green colored stand located in the village of Kahakuloa and they even have a web page http://www.juliasbananabread.com. The village is very small and quaint and the drive is really quite beautiful, some of the mountain ridges and wild flower fields on the way are breathtaking. I remember wishing I could get in a helicopter and have a really huge telescopic lens to photograph some of it. Well I have to say I am so very glad we made the ride there because the bread was piping hot when we got it and it was way worth it. We bough a few loaves and finished them in a couple of days. On our way back we stopped at Nakalele Blow Hole which was also a must do from the Maui Revealed book, it was really cool, all three of us made the hike down to the hole and it was going very strong. I was so wishing I would have had a tripod to set up my camera and capture the water spray the way it should be captured. The hike was made in strappy sandals on my part I had dressed for an afternoon in Lahaina after all, and it was slow going for me, but I’m just glad I didn’t take heels with me and not have been able to take the hike. West Maui is really beautiful and I absolutely enjoyed photographing what I saw.

Ok so this was a long post but that covers our time in Maui and I just have to add that this is our preferred tropical destination and I can’t wait to return, hopefully for 2 weeks next time. 🙂

Maui Trip Day 1

Aloha from Maui,

I am aiming to try to keep a good vacation journal here on my blog, my scope is to capture the day in words and photographs so that someday (years from now) we can look back and really have a good picture of what this trip was like… so with no further ado, I give you – DAY ONE!

We started out early in the morning with an 8:30 direct flight. Due to heavy winds our trip lasted 6 hours rather than the predicted 5.25 hours.  By the time the captain came on the intercom to announce that in 15 minutes we would be landing in Maui the whole plane full of people burst out in cheer. Seth was a real trooper, this was his second time on a plane to Maui, his first flight ever to Maui was when he was 13 months old and due to an emergency on the plane we had to turn back to PDX when we were already halfway to Hawaii. That total flight time ended up being somewhere over 10 hours, I would say 6 hours is definitely more doable.

This time he had one total tantrum/outburst and I count myself absolutely blessed to have not had more. For the most part he spent his time playing on the iPad  and the other time running up and down the isle -got one nasty look from a middle age lady, but it didn’t really get me down -ok only for a second… because as a little old lady sitting across the isle from me said “it’s hard enough for us to sit still for this long let alone a 2 year old.” Those words really were a balm to my frazzled nerves, I get a bit nervous when I know that me or one of mine is disturbing the peace of those around and I try to do whatever possible to bring peace to the situation. 🙂 All in all it was a smooth ride, only thing would have made it better and that is Seth getting a nap, that did not happen.

After arriving we quickly disembarked and made our way to luggage claim and then out to the busses that took us to our car rental. We picked out our small SUV we had rented through Costco car rentals (best deal ever) and made our way to the store to stock up on yogurt, milk, granola, and oh so much fruit. A couple hours later we were arriving at our condo located in the heart of Wailea just up the road from the Shops at Wailea, we found this condo through VRBO. Seth had napped the whole car ride (with stops to the stores) total nap time 1.5 hours, making it perfect for us in that after quickly unpacking we were able to  change and hit the beach with a well rested child.

Our Condo is perfect in every way, it is a two bedroom with 3 balconies and 2 bathrooms, in condo washer and dryer and really beautifully decorated. The view from the main veranda is of the surrounding gardens and the sprawling ocean ahead. We are not located right on the beach and really that is the only draw back in my opinion but not too hard on us since the view allows us to see the ocean as well as the pool just across the driveway.

Ariving at Wailea Beach a public beach with sprawling soft golden sand and sporting showers and bathrooms we were surprised to find it pretty much empty. Although to the left of us it looked like storm clouds were brewing,  above and to the right of us the sky was clear and absolutely stunning with its deep bleu graduating shades. At first touch the ocean seemed slightly chilly but after less than a minute of wading in the shallow surf, I was ready for a full dunk even though I only waded in to my thighs. I had brought my camera along to capture some photos and wasn’t willing to put my camera down, there’s plenty of time for a good swim tomorrow.

For dinner we used our Maui Revealed for suggestions and went to a little diner called Peggy Sue’s. From the front it doesn’t look like much but once you step through the doors you are transported to the late 50’s with it’s color schemes and very classically designed booths. It was perfect along with the large juke box playing Johnny B Good just as were taking our seats. The meals were good, nothing really outstanding as we both chose things that were not their specialty but I have to say that when we decided to share a chocolate milkshake (their top seller), the experience -food wise really turned around for me.

After dinner we drove down the street to a little scenic look out  -I think this spot would make a perfect date night finale stop, if you catch my drift… where we walked on the beach and I was able to take a few shots of the warm glow from the sunset over the water. This day was so perfect in every way that any little snafu from earlier on  just didn’t mater.

Aloha ahiahi from Maui,


Aloha ahiahi – Goodnight