Saturday, December 29, 2007

Day Eight and Nine - Headed Home

We got up the morning of our last day to begs from Kelsey to take her back to the beach so she could jump the rock again - and this time bring the camera! Our flights didn't leave until evening, so we decided to grant her her wish! We packed everything up, checked out of the hotel, and then desended upon Gigi and Papa's condo where we would squat until it was time to leave for the airport. Chris took the girls to the beach to go jump off the cliff, and I took Kaden to the pool. Here's the proof that both Kelsey and Kaitlyn jumped!

Here's Kelsey jumping first, then Kaitlyn:

Then it was off to the airport. Chris and Julia's flight was at 6pm, ours was at 8:30pm. We had to fly to Kona, then to Seattle, then to Minneapolis. The section from Maui to Kona (on the Big Island) was a nightmare. Kaden did not want to be back on the plane and he screamed for the entire 45 minute flight! Then we sat inthe plane for an hour until we finally departed to Seattle. Kaden finally fell asleep and the rest of the journey was tolerable. We arrived in Seattle at 6am (Seattle time) and departed for MSP at 7am, although the flight was a little late in taking off. It was also late in landing - they had us in a holding pattern over MSP for nearly an hour. We finally landed - and this is Kaden's favorite part! He sat on my lap and squealed "Weeeeee Weeeeee" over and over as we descended.

Once on the ground, we connected with Chris who had just landed as well. His flight was supposed to get in at 9am, and he was supposed to have the car ready and warm for us :) Well, his flight to MSP was canceled, so he fortunately got on the next one out from Dallas.

The last bit of drama was that Kaitlyn discovered she had left her cell phone (or as she calls it, her tumor) on the plane. This was, of course, AFTER we'd left the secured area and were in baggage claim. So, she had to go through security again and run back to the gate, where they mercifully had her phone. All was right in her world finally. We all finally got home about 4pm, exhausted, but happy for the chance to do this trip and spend this special time with my parents.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Day Seven - To Hana or not to Hana...that is the question

Day Seven - we decided to venture on the road to Hana, a journey for only the brave and stong stomached! You see - the trek is not about Hana, it's about the getting there. It's a winding switchback road, often just one lane wide, but it is a beautiful drive full of waterfalls and other surprises.

We got up very early because we had to be out of our condo on this day so we drove to Kihei where we would spend our last night in a hotel. We were able to get one of our two rooms and thus unload our luggage there. Then it was off to Hana.

The roads are treacherous in some areas - especially on this day due to rain and cloudy conditions:

We stopped along the way to sample the ponds and waterfalls of this beautiful area:

We finally made it to Wainapapa Beach - which is the main black sand beach on Maui. It's an impressive site. The waves were strong and towering. The water was impossibly blue, even without the sun shining! The black sand was coarse and gritty - felt like walking on sand paper. But it was beautiful:

Until we saw that there was Man-of-War on the beach. I wanted to leave then, but the girls wanted to stay and risk it. Fortunately they didn't get stung, but as we were showering a teenage girl came up from the beach sobbing from the horrible pain of a sting. Then everyone realized how lucky we got! Here's a picture of the Man-of-War!

To answer the question about to go to Hana or not. We chose not. The journey is really about getting there, and I've been to Hana and there's really nothing to do there. So, once done at the beach, we turned around and got to the hotel about 5pm and crashed, we were all exhausted!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Day Six - Kelsey's Big Christmas Adventure

So, what does one do on Christmas Day in Maui? Well, if your name is Kelsey, you go jump off a cliff!

It doesn't feel much like Christmas Day today - I've tried to listen to the Nine Lessons and Carols, and other Christmas goodies, but to no avail. I just can't get the feel of Christmas without snow. It's much too tropical here to feel like Christmas.

So, this morning we decided to go to the beach again. Beautiful Ka'anipali Beach. There is a huge protrusion of Lava rock at the north end of this beach, and there were people climbing it and jumping. It's about a 30 foot jump. Kelsey and I decided to swim down there and watch people jump. Here's a picture from afar of the rock formation, and a little more upclose one with people jumping:

Once we got down there, Kelsey decided she had to do it. Much to my dismay, I didn't have my camera with me, but I am her witness that she indeed did do it! I had horrible images of her falling to her death as she climbed, but she eventually made it up there and took the leap. She said it was one of the best things she's done. She wanted to go again, but we needed to get back and get Kaden home for a nap! And I had a Christmas Dinner of standing rib roast, yorkshire pudding, twice baked potatoes, and flan to make for dinner with my parents! Here's some picture of that fun.

Tomorrow's adventure? The Road to Hana (with a toddler!). We must be crazy, but we'll find a way to make it fun as we always do. It's our last full day here tomorrow - then it's off to home!

Day Five - Thar She Blows

Day five was a mixed bag. We spent the morning swimming in Gigi and Papa's pool - what fun that was. It rained on us while we were in the pool, all the while the sun was shining. Weird weather here!

Later that afternoon, however, was the big event for the day - we went on a whale watching trip. What an adventure that was. We all boarded the large catamaran and headed towards the island of Lani'i - about 5 miles off of Maui. I have a tendancy to get sea sick, so I had the forethought to take some dramamine, and Kelsey took some too. All I can say is THANK GOD that we did! The waters were so choppy and rocky that even with the dramamine, Kelsey and I still got nauseated. Kaden was a trooper, although the beauty of the place escaped him!

Poor Kaitlyn and Julia - I guess I should have given them some dramamine, but they both said they never get motion sick and wouldn't need it. They were wrong. Dead wrong. Kaitlyn, however, went to the restroom and vomited and felt much better.

We did, however, have a fantastic amount of whales to view. It was like "whale soup" one person said! The guides kept gushing about how amazing this trip was. It was the best all year. We saw behaviour that you rarely see, etc, etc. I was so busy focusing on the shoreline to keep my stomach from turning inside out that I am afraid I missed much of it. But, we did see A LOT of whales. It really was amazing, I just wish I had a seaman's stomach! Here's a coulple of the better pictures we got.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Day Four - Boogers and Sand...

Boogers make an excellent media for holding the sand against your face, at least that's what we discovered with Kaden at the beach today. We went to Ka'anipali Beach today, arguably one of the most famous and beautiful beaches in the world. We had a fantastic time. Here's some pictures of that adventure:

Once finished - we came home and crashed in front of the tv to watch the Vikings get slaughtered by the Redskins. In fact, it was so painful we left early to go to a movie - leaving Kelsey and Kaden behind.

I only had general directions to the theatre in Kahalui - about 45 minute drive from where we are, but to our girls, Kaitlyn and Julia, a small price to pay to see Johnny Depp in anything! Yes, we were headed to see the new Sweeney Todd movie. However, once we got to the theartre we discovered it wasn't playing there. No. Not there. Maybe at the theatre down the road, she said, at Maui Mall. What the heck?!!! So, with 10 minutes to showtime we decided instead to see National Treasure 2. It was ok. But - we wanted to see Johnny! So - we opted for a double feature! Yes, I'm 44 and CRAZY like a teenager! But you know what? It was worth it. Kelsey and I saw Sweeney Todd on Broadway 2 years ago - and I can't believe I'm going to say this, but the movie was better! We got back here at 1am and crashed. In that respect - I'm not so much like a teenager. I NEED my 8 hours of sleep, everyday! Tomorrow is going to be impossible!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Day Three-Rainbows and Hula Girls

Day three in paradise brought more interesting adventures. First thing when we awoke was this beautiful rainbow right off our lanai. Although this picture doesn't show it, you could see both ends of the rainbow from our lanai.

We went to Gigi and Papa's condo in the morning to swim in their gargantuan heated swimming pool. We have a pool here at our condo, but it's not heated and we have found its just too cold unless it's in the middle of the afternoon heat. Grandpa Chris taught Kaden how to hold his breath and go under water. Mama freaked out. But she eventually thought it was a pretty cool thing!

We spent most of the day after that shopping in Lahaina. The girls got henna tatoo's:

and I purchased my parent's anniversary gift in a gallery in Lahaina. It's a glass sculpture made by an up and coming artist from the Big Island. I thought it would be a nice remembrabce of their month here in Maui.

Finally, we went to a real Lu'au in celebration of their anniversary.

First, we walked around the Lu'au grounds, but if you're a teenager of course you go nowhere without your cell phones! God forbid you should miss a text message or something!!!

Then, while it was still light, we had mom and dad open their anniversary gift. I think they liked it....

And then it happened! I caught one of those rare moments on film! Yes, that's right girls, the fire can still burn at 70+! Both of my girls shrieked in horror saying they had never seen grandma and grandpa kiss before. Well, maybe it happens once every 50 years!

And then - they pulled the pig out of the ground where it had been cooking all day. The girls went to snap this picture, and they all came back nauseated!

I was a little nervous about Kaden

but he proved to be just like all the rest of the male population when skinny, barely clad women come out and start shaking their hips - mesmerized.

Ok, well, maybe it was the loud music with all the cool drums! Here's some pictures and a movie of that adventure:

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Day Two - Lesson Learned: ASK FIRST

It's ridiculously expensive here, and I know this! I've traveled here many many times before so of all people, I should know this! Call it a temporary lapse in judgement, or maybe it was just that my brain couldn't function in the heat and humidity. I took Kaitlyn and Julia and Kaden down to the "old town" part of Lahaina. It's one of the trendy touristy places to go. There are several art galleries down there and I wanted to find something special for my parents that would remind them of this trip as an anniversary gift. This is where, for those of you who've been to my house, I purchased my beautiful "cubist face" that hangs over my fireplace. Here's a picture of that.

Anyway - back to the story. We were hot and had been walking up and down the street and saw a small family with these really cool drinks in plastic pineapple shaped cups. We finally found out that they came from the restaurant "Cheeseburger in Paradise" so we hoofed it over there. The gal behind the counter looked like, as my colleague Brad would say, a toad blinking in a hail storm. Lets just say customer service was not her forte. I asked her about the cool cups we'd seen, and she looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. Then I spied one on her counter and pointed to them. I told her we wanted them with some sort of foo-foo drink with pineapple - more blank stares. After trying to explain what a foo-foo drink was, mercilessly the bartender overheard me and told her what to ring up. Finally - our need for tropical drinks would be met!

However, I about had a heart attack when she rang it up! Oh My God! I could feed a dozen people at McDonalds for what I just paid for these three drinks: $37.98! Moral of the story - ASK FIRST, THEN PURCHASE!

The rest of the day was a day of acclimation. We frolicked in the ocean and pool. Chris and Julia and Kelsey went on the sunrise bike tour of Haleakala (Kaitlyn wasn't feeling well so stayed behind with me). They had a wonderful time and said it was worth getting up at 2:30am and being sleep deprived. Basically, they get hauled up to the top of the crater, to 10,000 feet, and watch the sunrise. Then they bike down the mountain. The whole thing takes several hours. They got back here to our condo about noon. Here are some pictures:

As I sit here here typing this, the three girls are all sitting on the couch watching Cars. We all got up about 6am this morning.

And I would be remiss if I didn't share at least one picture of what we see off of our Lanai - I just took this, it's as the sun is rising behind us. I'll post better pictures later with the sun shining :)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kaden's Big Adventure....or....Nonna's Big Nightmare?

Day one of our adventure to Maui
Kaden's first plane ride

For those of you who don't know it, our whole family is spending Christmas in Maui this year for my parent's 50th anniversary. That includes my daughters, Kelsey and Kaitlyn, my step-daughter Julia, and grandson Kaden, (and of course my husband Chris!).
We left snowy Rochester, MN, in the afternoon on 12/19. Chris flew to Dallas to rendezvous with Julia and Kaden, the girls, and I checked into our hotel in MSP, and frolicked in the pool after eating dinner at one of our favorite places in the cities - Cossetta's!

I had a terrible time sleeping - anxiety I guess - so my day started at 4:50am when I decided it was futile to lay there trying to sleep. Once we all got up and packed, Kelsey realized she had forgotten her drivers license! We all had a small panic attack. She didn't know where it was, but it's likely in Rochester still! Plan B was that Kaitlyn and I would fly on with Kaden and she would have to meet up with us the next day. Fortunately, the TSA isn't all that observant and I guess they just assumed all three of them were my kids. They never once asked for ID from Kelsey.

So - onto the plane we went. Kaden slept most of the way on Tanta Nina (that's Kaitlyn). Here's pretty much how it looked from my vantage point in the window seat:

We arrived in Seattle at 11am (pacific time). Our flight was scheduled to leave for Maui at 3pm. We weren't thrilled about a 4 hour layover, but being the troopers that my kids are I knew we'd be ok...that was, of course, until they announced a 2 hour delay. UGH! It was a LOOOOOONG six hours in the airport, and the terminal we were at didn't have much going on!

But - that didn't stop Kaden from making a friend:

We didn't find out his little friends name, but we did find out that although he looked about Kaden's size (we thought maybe he was two), he was actually 3 years old and had only been one pound when he was born. He is Alaskan, was traveling with his mother to St. Louis.

We finally boarded out flight, and took off for Maui. Unfortunately, Kaden had fallen asleep about 1/2 hour before we boarded the flight, so once we got on - he woke up and was not very happy. He tossed around on our laps for about 2 hours. Fortunately, he did finally sleep - and then we did too! What a LONG day and a tiring trip. By the time we finally got to our condo, it was 2am Minnesota time. I don't think I've slept so hard in a very long time...

Come back for my next blog - Chris and the girls got up at 2:30 am to go on a sunrise bike tour down the volcano Haleakala. They have just arrived home and I will post about their experiences and mine today.