Updated: Nov 11
The day started early. Our ride picked us up at 4am and delivered us safely to the NW Arkansas airport for what was destined to become a long day (thanks George). Wheels up at 6:25am and the intent was to sleep thru the first leg of our trip which was to land in San Francisco in a mere 4 hours and 8 minutes. Instead, we watched movies, compliments of United Airlines. The flight was good with friendly and accommodating flight attendants. We had a little turbulence across Oklahoma due to thunderstorms, but otherwise good. As we approached San Francisco and started seeing and smelling the smoke from the wildfires. We felt for the residents that were being evacuated or otherwise without power.
We knew connecting to the next flight was going to be tight but we landed about 30 minutes early, only to sit on the tarmac waiting for our gate to be freed of the previous plane. One of the flight attendants we befriended made an announcement as we approached the gate, ‘welcome to San Francisco, we expect that several of you may be connecting to other destinations and we have two ladies in the back of the plane that were trying to catch a fast approaching departure so if you are not in the same situation, please allow them to pass to the exit.’ If it wasn’t for his announcement we probably wouldn’t have made our connection. Though it was only 5 minutes from the arriving gate they were calling our names as we rounded the corner in the concourse.
We were swept onboard our final destination flight to Kahului as they closed the doors behind us! I caught a couple of cat naps and a couple of extra ‘first class’ goodies from the attendant Mom befriended with small talk about how much she loved his glasses. He even let her try them on.
Finally, we heard the announcement of our approach to Maui! Mom grabbed her phone and started taking pictures. I, in turn, took a few showing her excitement.
First impressions weren’t as expected. Though we were surprised that our bags did make the quick connection, there was no presentation of a lei or aloha like you see in the movies or on TV, but we were there, we made it to Hawaii. One bucket list goal achieved!
Before our bags started appearing around the baggage carousel, we picked up what would become entirely too many ‘things to do’ brochures and magazines from the complimentary kiosks and eventually stuffed them in a suitcase before heading to the tram that would take us to the car rental location.
“The doors will close in 10 seconds” was the announcement from the attendant outside the tram. They did just that, before opening again to another group of travelers, then another, then another with the doors reopening each time until the last man pulling his suitcase along got it stuck in the door. “There’s always one troublemaker” I said as he wiggled it loose causing an announcement from a forceful mail voice saying “DO NOT FORCE THE DOORS OPEN”! Everyone in the now cramped compartment laughed as the tram finally started moving along the rails.
Picking up the rental car has become a frequent necessity for me in recent months, with the many road trips I’ve made to and from Dallas for work. This time it was with a smile as the young man at the desk greeted me with a happy “Aloha”. Aloha”, I said while handing him my driver’s license and credit card. He checked me in and pointed me toward a nearby elevator that would take us to the car rental garage. A couple of weeks earlier I had seen the ‘special of the day’ on the website proclaiming that a convertible was more affordable than the compact option. I’m cheap when it comes to paying for my own travel so I scooped up that deal. Today, upon our arrival to the garage, we ended up with a brand new, white, convertible Camaro! Oh to be young again. And after cramming 2 large suitcases, a couple of backpacks, hoodies and neck pillows into the tight back seat, We were off to explore Maui!
But first, Walmart, as if I couldn’t see another one (it’s in my line of work), residing in Northwest Arkansas and working for a company that works closely with them. That Walmart was not unlike all the others in that it provides reasonably priced goods that I otherwise would have paid almost double for on the west side of the island. It was a good choice to stop there on the way to our Airbnb condo. Some 140 dollars later, we walked away with souvenirs and necessities for our stay.
We forgot the mustard! While unpacking our bags and our Walmart finds, including provisions to make sandwiches, hot dogs and some snacks we quickly realized we’d have dry meals without some condiments. I’m relieved that was our only miss for the day!
We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the lanai watching paddle board surfers play in the waves while enjoying our view of the Pacific that we’d have for the coming week.
Unpacked and ready to explore. We found some lunch at Maui Brewing Company, just around the corner from the condo. The Maui onion dip with freshly made chips, carrots and celery and a burger and fries with a Da HI Life lager weren’t bad. Mom had a french dip with fries and a pineapple iced tea.
After lunch, we ended up at Ross in search of something Hawaiian; nope, nothing. This Ross is not unlike any other in the states. However, knowing the bathing suit I had packed was likely a little small, I opted for a new one at normal state side prices, why not? Safeway was across the street so we picked up some mustard, salt and a pineapple, you know, because we were in Hawaii after all.
We headed to Front Street to explore all the smaller shops and find some more souvenirs. We stumbled upon the Lahaina Ice Cream Parlor for a Dole Whip! That took me back to past visits to Disneyland with the first bite; ahh, refreshing. And it was Mom’s first one, but surly not her last now that she experienced what the hype was all about.
We roamed back up the coast looking for beach to explore and stumbled upon D.T. Fleming Beach Park. Surprisingly we found a parking spot upon entry to the little park as the previous day there was a big race (XTERRA Kapalua) which had slowed us down a bit on our drive in, though at the time we didn’t know that was not the normal traffic flow until a we stumbled upon a news story Saturday night while looking for things to do in the area. I fully expected those in town for the race would have come back to this humble little park and beach area for some relaxing sunbathing or snorkeling. Lucky for us, that was not the case.
We’ve been getting to sleep early this trip, but in turn, we’ve been rising early every day. I blamed it on the time change and long flight over the Pacific but I think it’s directly related to wanting to get up early and watch the morning sun bring the ocean to life. No, it’s been alive all night, every night. So much so that I may just need to download an app in order to get that ocean sound to put me to sleep going forward as I’ve slept very well this trip.
Today, was Parasailing day! Out of bed, coffee and lanai sitting first, then swim suit ready! We headed for Whalers village, a mall on the beach, in the ritzy hotel area (Westin Maui Resort, The Aston at the Whaler, Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club, etc.). We found a spot in the parking garage and roamed through the mall after asking for some directions to the UFO Parasailing umbrella on Ka’anapali Beach. Along the way, we passed a large Christmas tree with surf boards as ornaments.
Finally, it was my turn to get out to the boat. My ride to the boat was on a launch boat (inflatable pontoon). Once on the ski boat, the group I was with was greeted by Sam and Mikey. They played it by the book making it all about safety first! Tour boat totaled 10 adventurers. A couple in their 50’s on the trip for their first anniversary, a couple in their 20’s on their honey moon, a group of 5 (sailing triple & double) and myself. I was the 3rd sail of our group. My turn; smooth sailing and a quick dunk by Mikey was refreshing and oh so salty tasting! He is good driving the boat and they both seem to have fun while hard at work. Parasailing, check.
We were off to find a beach to play in and maybe spot some turtles. A little research proves to be prosperous with free parking and a nice long beach at Ho’okipa Beach Park! We played in the water for a couple of hours and watched the sun set before heading back to the condo for some more lanai sitting, hot dog eating, wine and beer drinking relaxation. Another fine day on Maui.
This day will prove to be a busy one! We started the day early and headed to the other side of the island for the 9:30 Maui Gold Pineapple Tour. We went back and forth while trying to determine if we would go for just the tour, or add the lunch and distillery tour to the package. Opting for only the pineapple tour proved to be the right idea. Terri was our guide who provided improv comedy after our collective group of 25 boarded the van. Again, there was a young, newlywed couple in their 20’s and an older, anniversary couple in their 60’s aboard along with a variety of others. Terri continued to amuse us while filling us with a whole lot of what seemed to be endless fresh pineapple, along with her knowledge and history of the groves, the original family and the current workers along with the processes that bring us Maui Gold Pineapples. Our tour finished 2 hours later and we were off to find some lunch.
Off to the zip lines! Northshore Ziplines proved to be a great choice. The guides were great and offered both humor and safety! I’m not big on heights but love roller coasters so this should be ok, I told myself. But, I was glad to know that there was an escape clause if I didn’t like the first 2 zips. I didn’t look back. It was a great time and I’d do it again if given the chance!
One of the advantages on going with Northshore is advice from the guides on places to go and things to do on the island; Ululani’s Shaved Ice was one of their suggestions. While Ululani’s was in the opposite direction, it sounded like the thing to do. Paia, here we come!
We rolled into the small town of Paia and into a parallel parking spot in direct view of Ululani’s. A quick walk about a block up the street and we were there. One piña colada and one Hawaiian rainbow later and we were refreshed!
We still hadn’t seen any real surfing so we headed just a little way up the road to Hana to Ho’okipa Beach Park. We slid into a parking spot and watched the surfers and huge waves crash into the black rocks while the sun set. We must have stayed mesmerized with this view for two hours at least before heading back toward the other side of the island to our home away from home.
As every day past, I awoke to the sound of waves crashing imto the sea wall just outside the condo. After a quick cup of coffee and some donuts out on the lanai, we started rearranging our suitcases in preparation for checking out of our condo tomorrow morning. It’s a real challenge to keep your bags under 50 pounds after getting souvenirs for those family members left at home. A couple of attempts and we should be good to go! First attempt was a bust, but the 2nd attempt got the ’no more unpacking’ suitcase down to 49 pounds.
Let’s go check out Front street again. Where was that one store? Found it, but they didn’t have what we were looking for. We wandered down to the Banyan tree, the old courthouse, lighthouse and had lunch at the Cool Cat Cafe. The history lessons and food were both good. And, we had what turned out to be our last Dole Whip for desert! In hind sight, we should have ate lunch earlier as today was Luau day.
5:15 came quick and though we weren’t hungry, we were going to get our money’s worth come he’ll or high water! After checking in to the Old Lahaina Luau we were greeted with a a mai tai and presented with a lei then escorted to our table while we heard, and sang along with, Somewhere, Over the Rainbow being played live. After being seated, we met 6 others; a couple of young pairs of newlyweds and a couple from LA and San Diego (Steve and Denise, respectively), who appeared to be on their first or second date. Our waiter, Nick, informed what would occur the remainder of the evening, where the facilities were located and where the bar and buffet could be found. There were plenty of interactive learning experiences and Hawaiian music. We watched as one man showed us how to shell and halve a coconut and proceeded to shred it while offering samples. Another was taking pictures (for a fee), while others taught the game of ʻulu maika' and and one shared purple sweet potato samples. Did I mention it was an open bar? The Lava flow was good, and according to Mom, so was the Piña colada.
Time to eat! Just after announcing the unearthing of the pig, Nick showed up at the table with root veggie chips and dip and banana bread. Before you knew it it was time to eat. The buffet was laid out well and done in an orderly fashion and there were many choices of meats, veggies, salads and more! As we completed our meal and the plates were removed, more food came. It was time for desert! Taro sweet potato brownies, lemon tarts and other options. STOP EATING ALREADY! Moo!
Suddenly, the drumming started (that was Nick too) and the show began. The history of the Polynesian culture was told. It was an interesting journey. Overall, the luau was a great experience and a fine ending to our planned activities while on the island. Back to the Condo for one last night. After some more lanai sitting and ocean listening, it was early to bed.
Checkout time is 11 and we woke up ready to head toward home. But first, breakfast! We took the road less traveled away from the condo aiming roughly in the direction of the airport that is on the other side of the island. We weren’t a couple of miles down the road and were passing a little strip mall that had a couple of restaurants. We turned into the second entrance and once again utilized yelp. Soup Nutz Java Jazz looked a little scary but the reviews were better than good. We were welcomed and after a quick search of the menu opted for some omelets. Mom, a Spanish and I opted for the Hawaiian (because when in Hawaii…), coffee was good and the Omelettes were better!
Down the road we went. We found our short drive to the other side of the island landing us at Target, then Walmart with time to kill. So, one more stop at a Ululani’s for yet one more shaved ice. This time we went for the piña colada and Hawaiian rainbow yet again, and opted for ice cream underneath. Yum!
We decided since we couldn’t add any more weight to our luggage and our backpacks were full we’d just head for the airport and get through the dreaded TSA line and chill at our gate. It was quite relaxing just watching the planes and people. Finally, we were headed back to the mainland. It was bittersweet. Denver or Bust!
It was a long night and though we hoped to get some sleep, it was hit and miss. The flight change in Denver was pretty much off one and onto the other, Phoenix bound.
Hello Valley of the Sun! We landed about 9 am and picked up our rental, a Nissan Frontier. We went to my sister’s, dumped off our bags for safe keeping and headed to lunch. We arrived at Elmer’s Tacos just as the high school across the street was getting out for lunch. It was chaos in there but we found a table outside in the shade. OMG, my mini bean and cheese and red burritos were heaven to my taste buds and topped off with strips (simply tortilla chips with shredded cheese and that tasty Elmer’s sauce). We relaxed while we ate and watched the kids shovel it in and head back to school then stopped by to see an old co-worker, went to a couple of stores and and back to Brenda’s we went. We picked up our bags and decided we’d head to our hotel for a nap before dinner.
We got checked in, but no naps ensued. The hotel was old but clean but had beds, a bathroom and coffee maker. That’s all we needed! It was also minutes to the airport for our next day’s travels. Time to eat again! Don Jose’ has been a family favorite since the mid 60’s; it has a history. It was open for 40 years until the family that previously owned it closed due to health problems. The current owner remembered eating there as a kid when his family would visit Phoenix from Tucson and decided, with a business parter, to re-open the doors with the blessing of the previous owners. They opened with the same recipes and some of the same staff (cooks, busboy, wait staff etc.). When in Phoenix, eat Mexican food! Matt welcomed us with open arms and sat us at a close table to ‘keep an eye on us’. No doubt, he’d be sitting in the booth with us eventually. Chips & salsa, cheese crisp, enchiladas and tacos, oh my! After a nice chat with Matt, we were off to get Brenda home and some much needed sleep. It was a short visit but worth the stop to see the sister! Here’s to another 40 years Don Jose’!
The second Saturday:
Up and at em! After showers, we were off to Sky Harbor. The freeways were quiet and thankfully, uneventful. Before we knew it we had dropped off the rental car and were in the shuttle to check our bags. 49 pounds and 47 pounds made us proud to have balanced the weights well. Lunch at an airport deli and off to our gate with a couple of hours to spare.
Time to finish this blog! While one lady slept across 3 seats and her husband and son rifled through her purse for cash, another talked about her family in Rock Springs, WY whom she was anxious to see. One more leg of this vacation and we’re home. Just 2 more hours in the air!
We boarded the last flight and were ready to be home. Kay was our flight attendant on the small regional jet. My mom discussed their common name and Kay explained that her father got to name her and gave her the middle name of Geraldine. She went on to say that her father named her after a comedian named Flip Wilson’s alter ego, Geraldine Jones. I could have seen my dad doing this with my name; luckily, Geraldine first appeared in 1969, much later than my birth!
My daughter’s young family was off to Disneyland early this morning and she texted me the picture of the location of her car that she gave us the spare key’s to before we left home a week ago. We’ll take it home, saving someone from picking us up and them a little money for parking. We’ll be home tonight and I’ll have one day to enjoy and recoup before heading back to work.
Home! It’s Saturday night and we are home! I still have a day, just one more day before heading back to the normal routine of work.
Until the next adventure, Mahalo for making it though this blog!