Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Aloha Maui!

I have a problem.

I am a travel addict.

I try to control it. Buuttttt.....

Okay, so it's not THAT bad. I don't spend all our money on travel. But I would if Justin were okay with it.
During Cyber Monday I noticed that Alaska Air was having sales on their airfare. I saw round trip tickets to Maui for $350. I debated with myself for a good two days about whether I should jump on it and surprise Justin. So I did!

So March 3-11 we were in beautiful Maui. I had tried to figure out ways to keep it affordable and laid back at the same time. I kept looking at hotels but all the cheap ones were in bad locations or they were just really crappy. So I decided to take a leap and just plan on camping!

We packed up our gear, threw it into giant duffles, got a few backpacks together for the plane ride, plus Richie's backpack and rented a car over there.

The plane ride went great. Only one major meltdown. We had a quick layover in Sacramento and went straight to Maui. Richie even took two decent naps.

Also a little of this going on... I'm sure it drove the stewards crazy.

We got to Maui and set up camp. We drove south of Lahaina to a little private camp ground set down off of the road called Camp Olowalu. It was a little crowded, but was clean, managed well, had port a potties, outdoor showers, a washer/dryer, and a private little beach. It was perfect for us. We headed into town and got food, groceries, and walked around Lahaina. We decided it was exactly like the pacific version of Jackson Hole. Touristy, lots of shops, a "Life is Good" store obviously, expensive restaurants, and even a town square with giant trees and an iconic sculpture.
Here's what our camp site looked like.
After a short night of no sleep with Richie waking up at 5 am, we decided since it was 100% chance of rain all day we would drive to upcountry Maui and see the volcano, Haleakala at 10,000 ft. Here's the beautiful view at the top:
Haha. With all the rain you couldn't see anything. And it was 35 degrees. So we left quickly. Poor Richie was squirming from his ears trying to adjust from the 10,000 foot climb but eventually passed out.
So we got some lunch in Kahului and headed back to our little campsite. When we got there we had some shave ice from across the street and went on some walks. Not too eventful for our first day, but we managed to survive the rain and still have a good time.

The next day it was better weather so we headed north to Ka'anapali to go to the famous beaches. I wasn't impressed. The huge touristy hotels towered over us and the beaches were crowded with lots of people.
We set up our beach tent (looking completely out of place) to protect us from any rain or wind and got Richie busy with his sand toys. He had a great time until the rain and wind would blow in. But 1/2 an hour later it would blow out. We managed to get him down for a decent nap, but that day was not the best day to do a beach day.

The view at night was gorgeous. We definitely don't have night skies like this in SLC with all the light pollution. Orion's belt was totally visible. It was really amazing to take a freezing cold shower outside with the stars above. It made me feel very free.

The next day we hung out closer to our camp site in the morning/afternoon. We actually had a pretty awesome beach right next to our camp ground. I wish we would have spent more time there. Richie loved it better than any beach we had been to.

In the evening we went down to Wailea to a little beach called Po'olenalena. Although it was overcast and a little cold, we had a great time digging in the sand. We also got to see Humpback whales splash around on the horizon all afternoon. They were spectacular to watch!
The next day we got breakfast in town, packed up, got some more groceries, and headed out on the famous Road to Hana. As you can see, Richie was pretty exhausted from all the beaching and camping, so he spent a good portion of our morning/afternoon sleeping.

The Road to Hana on Sunday morning was not busy at all. It only took as 1 1/2 hours to get there because it was too rainy to stop at the myriad of places and all the road stands were closed. But we got some amazing views of the jungle, the cliffs, and the sea.... and a giant spider.

Finally we drove past Hana to Kipahulu campground. It was free but only had toilets available. There was no running water. However, the most amazing bamboo forest hike with fresh water pools and waterfall was just across the way. So we set up camp in a gorgeous campground...

And went for a hike.

When we got back to the campground we made dinner and got the most spectacular sunset show I think I've ever seen.
The next morning we went to the beach. There's really only like 3 beaches in Hana. And the one that I kept reading about was Hamoa Bay. It really was beautiful. Because it was cloudy and sprinkling a little bit we had the whole place to ourselves except for a little stray dog I spent a while petting. Richie and Justin went to work digging a giant hole.

But unfortunately the hole did not last...

Afterwards we grabbed lunch at some a food truck and got dessert at Coconut Glen's coconut ice cream shack (so good!)

Afterwards we headed to our new digs at Wainapanapa. It's a state park with cool hikes, lava tubes, a black sand beach, fresh water caves, and some ghetto little cabins. For the last two nights we bunked at one of the cabins. The hot showers were nice, but they weren't any more glamorous than sleeping in our cozy Marmot tent. We pushed two little twin beds together and the three of us slept together with the windows open.

After settling in we went for a little walk through the park to see the cliffs, the cave, the black sand beach, and these two idiots cliff jumping.

The next day was our last full day in Maui. We lucked out with the most gorgeous weather EVER. Justin went on run in the morning and got these views.
Then we met at Hamoa beach where we had been the day before. I packed tons of food, our solar panels and speaker, lots of sunscreen, and the beach tent. We literally spent 7 hours napping, digging in the sand, swimming, snorkeling, and eating way too many mac nuts. It was so beautiful even the fire department and policemen of Hana showed up to catch some sun and swim in the gorgeous turquoise water.


We decided if Hana ever had a flight nurse position Justin would apply for it in a second. Hana is amazing. There's really only like two convenience stores, one gas station, one tiny hotel, the restaurants are actually road stands that close at 4pm. It's just a different pace of life. One that I'm totally not opposed to. With the mountains on one side of you and the ocean on the other,  you really cant lose here. I mean... c'mon. Even the cows in Hana are happy cows.
The next day we said our goodbyes to happy little Hana. It was rainy so we drove all the way around the island to some lava fields.

The midnight flight home was pretty miserable. The 7 hours layover in Portland wasn't so great either (although Richie slept for a good 3 hours of it).

So all in all I'd say our trip was fantastic. A lot of people asked me what the heck I was thinking when we got home. "How'd you pack all your gear over there??" or "Did you REALLY camp in a tent with your baby?"
Here's the thing.
It was intimidating to plan everything. I spent HOURS on TripAdvisor, on The Lonely Planet, on State of Hawaii websites. I researched a ton of stuff before going to figure out where we could camp and the weather conditions, what to bring etc. In the end, it just took a leap of faith.
I realize now a few things about traveling with kids and roughing it.
1. You have to keep a laid back attitude.
2. You have to be flexible with your kid's schedule.
3. You have to plan ahead with snacks, gear, clothes, etc.
4. You have to embrace that you will be sandy, dirty, cold, wet, etc. at times. It's inevitable. It's also not the end of the world. It certainly won't kill you.

But here are the upsides that you won't experience staying at a nice hotel with cozy amenities.

1. You get a real feel for the land. You wake up to the ocean breeze, the birds chirping (or roosters crowing insistently), and get to see the sun rise outside your tent. You fall asleep to ocean waves and stars above your head. It's absolutely revitalizing and rejuvenating.
2. You get to really immerse yourself in your surroundings instead of bringing America with you. I'll never understand why Americans love to travel abroad and bring America with them in nice fancy hotels and western bathrooms and diets. It's so much better to experience where you are from the perspective of the people living there. Otherwise, why leave home?? It also teaches your kids that where they live and what they grow up with is not the center of the universe. Other people have very different experiences and kids understand from an early age cultural differences are a good, natural part of the world.
3. You get going earlier in the day, go to bed earlier, and eat healthier. With Richie up at 5 am, we were on the beach by 7 or 8. When I've stayed in hotels we don't usually get out til 9 or 10. Plus with a TV in your room you watch shows til later in the evening. With just the night sky, we drank some lavender tea under the stars, chatted about life, and went to bed before 10. It was perfect. We also only ate out once a day. Breakfast was oatmeal/bagels/fruit/pancakes and we made either lunch or dinner. Way less calories than eating at nice restaurants every single meal.
4. Your body starts to sync with nature again. I feel like I'm always surrounded with man made structures. The walls of my home and car insulate me from the natural rhythms of the moon, the tides, the change in temperatures, the crickets, etc. There's many studies that show a good cure for sleeping problems is to sleep outside and your circadian rhythm naturally starts to sync up with the sun and moon as your pituitary is stimulated through more natural light exposure.

Anyway. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I love camping close to home and backpacking, but traveling with gear and tents is something I would prefer to do more often. I actually enjoyed it much more than staying at a nice hotel. So, thank you Maui! Thanks for the memories, the sunshine, the rain, the gorgeous jungle and adventures. We love you.