Archive for the 'vacation' Category

mamas fish house, hiking and swimming (hawaii, day 8 – 1/22)

twin falls

We’re nearing the end of our trip. Really, we have a full two days left, but it feels like we must return to civilization and cold weather far too quickly.

Easy morning today. C was exceptionally tired this morning (read: fussy and whiney), so we put her down early for a nap and brought the monitor outside to lounge. Ahhh, warm, sunny weather and the beach steps away. Incredible.

We had lunch reservations at Mama’s Fish House this afternoon, so we piled in the car and made our way over to the other side of the island. The food was delicious. Probably the best meal we’ve had on the island so far.

We started the meal with an ahi tuna appetizer. This was the brightest red tuna I’ve ever seen. It tasted as good as it looked. I love this photo of C excitedly pointing at the plate, asking to try some (yes, she’s a sushi kid).

c's finger points excitedly

... then enjoys some tuna

Lunch continued with french onion soup, followed by our entrees – a fish curry for Ben and stuffed mahi mahi for me. Did I mention my dish was stuffed with lobster, crab and Maui onion? Then baked in a macadamia nut crust? Yum.

french onion soup

ahi, ono and mahi mahi curry

mama's stuffed mahi mahi

After lunch, we went for a hike to see “Twin Falls“. It’s privately owned land, but the owners maintain a farm stand at the entrance, and you can show your mahalo by making a purchase on the way in or out. We got a coconut to drink, then started our walk. It was a bit late in the afternoon, and the mosquitoes were starting to gather, but it was worth it. The falls were beautiful. C and I dipped our toes in and played in the water for a bit. It was cold water – the kiddo didn’t seem bothered, but my feet were frozen within a few minutes, so we made it a short adventure.

ben & c walk to twin falls

c & suzy at the falls

Dinner at the condo tonight, early bed time for C. Fun day, all in all.

Click the photo below to see the whole gallery from Day 8:

Maui, Day 8 – 1.22.12
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massages and sushi (hawaii, day 7 – 1/21)

Saturday already? We got up and headed down the beach, intent on visiting the farmers market and picking up some lemons and another coconut. We were disappointed to remember, upon arrival, that the market is closed on weekends. Instead, we went next door to the tourist trap, “ABC Stores”. We’d managed to avoid such places this far, and with good cause. Those kinds of stores suck me in with their novel, cheaply made products, and I find it impossible to escape without making at least one purchase. This trip was no exception.

Ben and I scheduled a beachside couples massage this morning through Maui Massage, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. The tables were not exactly beachside, they found a tropical shady area just off the beach that was sheltered from wind and sun. Despite the noisy gardeners mowing and weed whacking, Ben and I found ourselves melting at the hands of our skilled massage therapists. The gardeners took an early lunch (presumably because our therapist asked them to move elsewhere), so we had a solid hour to enjoy the uninterrupted sound of the waves during our 90 minute massages.

tropical massages

After the massages, we still had an hour of babysitting scheduled, so Ben and I sat out on the lawn for a bit. Ben even tried his hand at boogie boarding. It was a nice, relaxing morning… with cocktails. Did I mention the cocktails?

As dinner time approached, we made our way out to south Kihei to check out a local sushi restaurant, Sensei. Again, did not disappoint. Fresh fish, delicious sushi, creative rolls. Portion sizes could have been larger, given the prices, but I guess that’s Hawaii for you. We were excited to learn that they offered 25% of all food items on the menu prior to 6 p.m., and we took full advantage of it. C even got in on the sushi action! Her favorites were the seared tuna and edamame.

c drums while waiting for her dinner

eating sushi...

Early evening for us. C went to bed right away when we got home, and we followed shortly after. It was a long day, and sleep has been scarce since we arrived, so we were in need of some extra zzz’s. Unfortunately my headaches have started to resurface again. Nothing really seems to help, so I’m at a loss of what to do. Maybe extra sleep will help.

Click below to link to our Day 7 photo gallery…

Maui, Day 7 – 1.21.12

an unplanned day (hawaii, day 6 – 1/20)

No agenda today. Technically, that’s not entirely true, as our plan for the day was to have an unplanned day, but you know what I mean. Wake up and see where the day takes us.

So how did it go? Much like everything else on this trip so far, very well. Well, with the exception of me not sleeping. Insomnia struck last night. Such a bummer on vacation, but the blow is softened slightly knowing that Ben is around to help with C, so I can take a nap if needed. I woke up around 3 a.m., wasted some time in the living room watching shows on Hulu and exercising a bit. Then I made my way out to the lanai at 6 a.m., had some tea and listened to the waves. All in all, not a terrible way to spend a morning.

Today, we checked out at a local breakfast favorite, the Kihei Caffe, and gave ourselves a morning off from cooking. Breakfast fully met our expectations. Seating is outside, and all the ordering is done inside at the counter. After standing in line for about ten minutes, we found ourselves at the front, chatting it up with a friendly cashier. To start, we ordered a few coffees and a massively gooey cinnamon roll to share. These were ready immediately for us to carry out with us. For breakfast, we ordered C a whale pancake, Ben had a meat lovers omelet, and I balanced things out with the veggie scramble. We carried our coffee and cinnamon roll outside to find a table and wait for the rest of our meal to arrive. C had no problem diving in to the cinnamon roll, and probably would have made that her entire breakfast, had they not been speedy with the rest of our order. Everything was delicious.

our deliciously gooey cinnamon roll... half eaten (we couldn't wait)

C enjoys some cinnamon roll (btw, the red blotch on her arm is a little mermaid temporary tatoo)

C loved the whale pancake, but was most excited about the butter, powdered sugar and chocolate chips... I'm not even sure this counted as breakfast. :)

veggie scramble, cooked to perfection. yummy!

ben poses with his meat omelet

After breakfast, we walked across the street to the park to play for a bit. C loved swinging and running around in the play structure. We loved the view! The ocean was the backdrop to the park, just a few hundred yards away from where we stood. It was a fantastic park. Even better? They had a dinosaur tic-tac-toe and the ASL alphabet up on their play structure! How cool is that? If the ocean wasn’t enough to sell me, those pushed me over the edge.

C loves swinging!

dinosaur tic-tac-toe!

ben and C check out the asl alphabet

We had a nice dinner out tonight at Sarento’s. Our nanny* came back to watch C and we set out with hopes of actually seeing our first real Maui sunset. We arrived during happy hour, so we got some wine for half price, then took it to our table to catch an amazing sunset. The best thing about this place (besides the amazing food)? The view. Below is a photo I took while sitting at our table. We got a fantastic table, right next to the beach, but they all looked pretty great. They even had an in house photographer to capture a photo of us as the sun was setting, so, again, we paid the outrageous tourist price for a single print. Considering it turned out great, it was well worth it (to be posted – I haven’t scanned that one in yet).

the sunset view from our table... perfection

ben looks over the menu at sarento's

so many good dinner options to accompany my half price glass of wine :)

It was a beautiful day, sunny weather, not too windy and oh so warm. Perfect temperature, really. I think we’ve acclimated to the humidity, as it doesn’t feel as sticky as it did when we first arrived. Such a fantastic trip.

Link to Maui, Day 6 photo gallery –

Maui, Day 6 – 1.20.12

*At some point, I promised to post about this, so here’s more info about our nanny. We used The Nanny Connection, an island wide service available on Maui. They come to your condo/hotel/wherever to watch your kid(s). They bring their bag of toys and keep them fully entertained. In addition, all the nannies are CPR certified and background screened. Our nanny, Andrea, did a fantastic job with C. We never had issues with separation anxiety – C was very happy to run off and play, leaving us behind! If you’re visiting and need this service, please request her!

shave ice, sunset cruise and whale watching (hawaii, day 5 – 1/19)

We had a leisurely morning. C slept in until 7:15 – it felt amazing to get an extra couple hours of sleep. She seems to be adjusting to the time zone here (yay!!).

We spent our morning walking down the beach, headed to the local farmers market. Cloth bags and list in hand, the waves lapped our feet as we walked. C had fun splashing about. It only took ten minutes to get there, and we took in the beautiful array of fresh fruits and vegetables. Picked up a few pineapples, lemons, grapefruit, starfruit and corn. We sampled the chips and dips. They were all delicious, but we settled on getting the guacamole and bean dip. The best part of the trip was yet to come, though. We got a fresh coconut. They cut the top open with a machete for us so we could drink the water inside. Then, using the machete again, chopped it in half to expose the delicious, fresh coconut meat. Using a spoon, we scooped our the insides and slurped them down. It was like nothing I’d imagined. Very yummy.

Click for video of the coconut getting machete’d!

From Maui, Day 5 – 1.19.12

Click for video of C drinking coconut water…

From Maui, Day 5 – 1.19.12

Nap time came early today. C was asking for it on our walk home from the market, so we put get straight to bed when we got back. And then, it was time for us adults to relax. Guacamole, chips, drink and book in hand, I found my way out to the lanai for some sunbathing. I’ve been reading “Hunger Games”, a book on loan from a friend, and am completely sucked in. I can’t get enough. I only wish I had more time and energy to spend reading. I’m nearly through with book one, though, and I only brought this and the second with me, so it’s probably not a bad thing that I’m forced to pace myself.

Nap time done, we drove up to Lahaina. The plan was to walk around, get some coffee and check out the town. We spent some time in the local park, checking out an awesome banyan tree. It looked like twelve individual trees, but upon closer investigation, we discovered that the branches intertwined with one another, and the roots were all connected as well (this part we couldn’t see, but surmised). Roots shot out, sprouted as new trees, and then the branches above connect. It was crazy! C played around the trees for a bit, having fun running in the gravel and getting some energy out.

Click for video of C running around the Banyan Tree…

From Maui, Day 5 – 1.19.12

After seeing numerous signs for Hawaiian “shave ice” during our trip, we were intrigued. We stopped at a local place and tried it out. We opted for the “lava flow”. Peña colada and strawberry shave ice over ice cream, topped with cream. DE-licious.

We enjoyed our shave ice, then made our way to the docks, walking along the pier and out a rocky moor to the ocean. We say and watched the surfers and boats glide effortlessly through the water. It made me want to be more adventurous in the ocean. Watching ten year old kids manage the crashing waves without fear made me feel guilty for not trying it myself. We have yet to venture much more than waist deep in the water on this trip. I’d say I have a healthy fear of the ocean. I’ve never considered myself a strong summer, but I make due. I’ve braved the ocean waves off the coast of California, never really enjoying it. The cold, the crashing, the getting my hair wet… yeah, not for me. The only time I’ve really enjoyed it? Florida. Yup, those beaches were AMAZING. Give me those calm waves, bath water temperatures and I’m happy. Too bad the sharks love those conditions, too. Just can’t win, can I? I guess I’m more of a lounging on the beach girl.

In the evening, we had a sunset dinner cruise booked, hoping to see some whales while dining on the ocean. We had yet to see a sunset on Maui – timing seemed to be off or we were distracted and missed it. We attempted to watch it last night, rushing to the lanai minutes before it set, only to find it shrouded by clouds. So, with whale watching and seeing a sunset both on our Maui bucket list, we booked a dinner cruise from Lahaina.

The cruise departed late about twenty minutes late, which was disappointing because we lost precious whale watching daylight. It was equally disappointing that, once again, clouds rolled in over the ocean, blocking our view of what I’m sure was a spectacular sunset. Even seeing the edges of it behind the clouds was amazing. The sky painted with beautiful shades of pink and orange. Making up for the disappointments were the whale sightings. Amazing. A mother and calf swam closer and closer to the boat, breaching and spouting as they approached. C was incredibly excited to see them, too, and kept calling them “baby beluga” (a Raffi song about a little white whale).

Click for video of a mother and baby whale
From Maui, Day 5 – 1.19.12

Another great day in Maui. Can’t believe this trip is halfway over already.

More pictures from Day 5 (click to see the full album):

Maui, Day 5 – 1.19.12

the road to hana (hawaii, day 4 – 1/18)

 

We made a game time decision to drive the road to Hana today. C hasn’t been sleeping as much as usual, and it’s starting to show in her temperament. Really, the same could be said for Ben and me, too, but we have coffee to get us through the day. So, we gambled that a nice drive might give her the time she needs to get a decent nap in. We figured she’d sleep in the drive in, we could bookmark the places that interested us, then stop at them on the way back.

Speaking of bookmarking, we used a GPS audio tour called “Maui Free” for our journey on the road to hana. As we approached various gps coordinates on our drive, the app recognized them and gave us a narrative on the nearby attractions. The attraction points were mapped by GPS coordinates, so even though you couldn’t see the map due to data loss, the application still recognized when you got to various locations. We could add “pins” to the locations of interest, so they were easy to come back to. Pretty nifty.

The drive was beautiful. And it was ideal to get an idea of what there was to see before committing to stopping. Knowing that we had to turn around and come back the same way was comforting in a way. It gave us a chance to take it all in.

image We dove right in to the excitement from the beginning of the trip, with an attraction not on the map. We spotted the bright, colorful birds from the car, drove past, then turned around to go back and check things out. A man from some sort of “conservation” group was posing these birds for photo ops. As we approached, the guy told us it was $20 to take pictures, but that he was a photographer, would pose the birds for us and snap the pictures. Sure, why not, we figured. So, here are a few of the shots we got. The photos turned out great. I’m skeptical that he was really a part of any not for profit group, but that really wasn’t the point of it for us.

On the road again, and C dozed off as we took in the sites. Unfortunately, she didn’t nap as long as we’d hoped. When we made a detour at a local fruit stand for bananas and a thai tea, she woke up. A mere 45 minute nap. Not nearly long enough. The stop was worth it, though. We met an energetic imagelady at the stand, who was enamored with C, snapped pictures of all of us to put on her wall, and told us stories about her son, the lead guitarist for weird Al. We got a refreshing thai ice tea, some coconut candy and mini bananas. Man, I love those mini bananas. Not only does C look adorable eating them, but they are delicious!

We stopped for lunch at a black sand beach just outside Hana. It was a great break. We’d enjoyed our packed lunch, swam a bit and soaked in the sun.

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C was getting tired by the end of lunch, so we put her back in the car and drive on, hoping she’d take another nap. We drove on, taking in most of the sights from the car, bookmarking as we went. The plan was still to hit most on the way back. Sleep didn’t come, though.

We’d traveled nearly to the end of the line, the road was narrowing and would turn to dirt shortly, and we decided we were ready to make the trip back. We were just about to turn around when good fortune smiled upon us and I spotted what looked like a whale. We pulled over at the nearest spot, got out and rushed down to the beach. Within minutes, we saw it again, a fin, a head, a flipper, spouting. Then, full breaching. Incredible. Whales are such majestic creatures. It humbles me to see them in the wild.

Whale breaching

Saying "hello"!

Mid air! Wow!!

A new-found excitement about the drive filled us. The whale sighting alone was enough to make the long drive worth it. On the way back, we stopped at a waterfall to hike out and take pictures. It was one of the easiest hikes along the road to Hana, but it was breathtaking all the same. C wanted, so badly, to swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall. We, however, weren’t ready to get wet again, or manage the slippery rocks with a tired two year old, so we stayed safely aloft for our photo ops.

C finally fell back to sleep just as we were nearing Twin Falls, a spot we really wanted to check out. Still, even awake she was in no mood to explore, so we let her sleep and made a plan to come back. Luckily, the falls are at the beginning of the drive, and we had lunch reservations scheduled nearby for Sunday already.

A side note – the mosquitoes here love me. And, brilliantly, despite the fact that I packed bug spray for the road to Hana yesterday, I failed to use it. I didn’t notice any mosquitoes while we were out, but they must have been there – I have the bites to prove it. And, yet, C and Ben came out unscathed. I’ve found eight bites so far. Eight. And mosquito bites are not kind to me. They itch like crazy and swell up to quarter size, minimum. You know the toothpaste trick? The one where you coat blemishes with toothpaste for a cheap for acne treatment? The itching was bad enough tonight that I tested it out on my bites. If it works on zits, maybe it will dry out these bites as well. The verdict? Helps quell the itching, didn’t do a darn thing for the bite. Oh well, worth a shot. (A few days later, Ben told me that’s actually a sanctioned mosquito bite remedy. Guess I wasn’t the first to think of it!)

The verdict? Road to Hana – totally awesome. Mosquito bites – not so much. Take your bug spray with you… and use it.

(As a side note, I tried to get this post up last night, but ran in to infuriating technical difficulties – namely, error messages from wordpress servers. So, these hawaii posts are going up slower than anticipated, but I hope you’re all enjoying them despite the delay!)

Click the photo below to see all of our pics from day 4!

Maui, Day 4 – 1.18.12

iao needle, adult time and a luau (hawaii, day 3 – 1/17)

We woke up early to C poking at us to wake up. Since it’s so warm here, she’s been sleeping with her tent unzipped, avoiding the warming greenhouse effect she normally gets inside. While it’s cozy at home in 50 degree weather, it’s not ideal for humid, 80 degree weather. The few nights we zipped it closed (her preferred and requested sleeping arrangement), and she woke up distressed and sweaty several times throughout the night. Last night was the first night we left it open, and she did well staying asleep. Until about 5:30 a.m., that is.

So, an early morning wake up call prompted us to roll out of bed and get the day moving. We’d talked last night about visiting the Iao Needle this morning. Time seemed to be on our side, as we were up early enough to head out there. After breakfast at the condo, we piled in to the jeep and got on the road aground 7:30 a.m. The morning haze was hanging on, obscuring the tops of mountains and blunting the suns bright rays. They would break through soon enough, but for now, we were enjoining the cool, damp air of the morning.

Iao Needle was a fantastic area. Just enough of a hike that we all felt satisfied with the $5 parking fee, but not so long that C reached a melting down point. Finding that balance can be tough. She wants, so badly, to do things on her own, but refuses to accept that she might have physical limitations. We brought the ergo along, just in case the hike was too much for her. We were happy that it turned out to be just right. She was getting tired by the time we came down the steps, but was determined to make it on her own.

C & Dad walking up the steps.

Family shot, Iao Needle behind us.

Nap time has been interesting here. C’s internal clock is still set to California time (hence the 5:30 a.m. wake up), so she gets tired early. She was dozing off during the drive home from our hike, which we readily discouraged. We had a nanny scheduled to arrive at 10:30 a.m., and I wanted C to meet her before we took off for the afternoon.

Our adult time away went off without a hitch. We explored the area and checked out a local brewery and coffee shop. C enjoyed her time with the nanny, playing in the and a bit, getting a nap in and reading some books.

Look at those beautiful taps – Maui Brewing Company
Descriptions on the wall
Decisions, decisions…
Milk of Amnesia
Ben approves.
Macadamia Nut Brown for me
YUM.
Coooofffeee…
Cappuccino, yay! (Can you tell I’m tired here?)

After our time away, we reconvened for the afternoon and dinner. We spent our afternoon playing in the sand on the beach. C was obsessed with building a sand bunny, as we’d seen one on the beach the day before (a sand one, not a real one) and she desperately wanted to recreate it. So, we did. Here’s my best attempt…

Sand bunny!
C & Dad playing in the sand.

For dinner, we attended a luau and had such a fanatic night! We opted for a local luau, the Polynesian Village Luau, rather than one of the more commercial dinners. The biggest difference? Lower cost and no free booze. No problem for us – we didn’t really care about spending extra money for three free drinks anyway. We’d much prefer to spend that money elsewhere. They still provide the virgin versions of piña coladas and strawberry daiquiris, so if you’re really hard up, you can bring a flask and mix your own beverage to taste. The other big difference? This was a family affair, and it definitely felt that way. From the time you arrived, you felt warmly welcome and a part of the family. We got to try our hand at making lei’s, dancing, spear throwing and basket weaving. Then, the show began. The host was funny and entertaining. Despite the small audience size, he made jokes, kept us engaged and remained in a great mood. The food presentation was an event by itself, but in addition to that, we were entertained by dance and fire from various polynesian cultures around the world.

Picture of a picture, so it’s a bit fuzzy

Love this expression!
Dinner’s on!

While engaged in the “lei making” activity, we chatted with the girl helping us. She said she was born and raised in Hawaii, and had never really been anywhere else. There was another couple there from Canada, too. They mentioned how snowy it is there right now (negative 40°), and the Hawaiian native said that she’s love to see snow. It’s weird how it all comes down to perspective. The grass is always greener, I guess.

a farmers market and sand in my drink (hawaii, day 2 – 1/16)

Today was incredible. I couldn’t be happier with how this trip is going.

We visited a local farmers market this morning to pick up some more produce and see what they had. It’s near our condo, and the plan was to walk down there, but we had to run some other errands as week and decided to stop by on our way back to the condo vis car instead.

We found ourselves surrounded by beautiful produce. We got pineapple, papayas, corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, cucumber, carrots, guacamole, chips… yeah, we got a little carried away. But it all looked so amazing! How could we resist? Thirty dollars later, we set out for home.

Naptime followed soon after we got home, and I took advantage of the fantastic shared lanai area. A cocktail, great book, fresh green beans and fantastic weather rounded out the afternoon. Ben joined me, monitor in hand, and we sat in the sunshine while C napped.

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After naptime, we spent some time on the beach with C, playing in the waves and building sand castles. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to enjoy the last of my cocktail, I brought it down to the sand with me. The wind was pretty aggressive, and every move seemed to dislodge sand and send it flying. Right into my drink.

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C wasn’t sure about the water at first, but was starting to get more comfortable with it by the end of the day. She’d look at the waves and say, “It’s a little bit scary for her.” It helps that the water wasn’t cold, although I wouldn’t call it tepid by any means. I was expecting Florida water, but instead it feels more like southern California. I guess I’ve been spoiled by Florida beaches.

We picked up some ahi tuna steaks to grill for dinner tonight. We paired them with sweet corn on the cob and a green salad made with fresh veggies from the farmers market. Despite the fact that our grill at home rarely sees fish on the rotation, Ben did a great job. We were aiming for seared, but the unfamiliar grill made it difficult to perfect. It was still a great dinner.

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We’ve been sandwiching activities around nap time, which has worked out well so far. Tomorrow is our first “adult time” away from C. We have a nanny service scheduled so we can get away for a couple hours. It’s mainly during C’s nap time, so she won’t miss out on much, but it will be nice to get out without a toddler in tow.

hawaii – day 1 (aka, the plane ride) – 1/15

Our day started out quite early… A 9am flight from SFO meant we had to leave my parents house at 5am. Like I said, quite early. The day prior was booked solid. Two birthday parties, followed by dinner at my parents house. With no time to spare on Saturday, we packed up most of our stuff Friday night, intending to throw it in the car during nap time Saturday. I’m happy to report that everything went just to plan.

Most of Sunday was spent in a plane. Confined to our seats for much of the flight due to turbulence, we filled our time with snacks, ipod games, stickers, movies, drawing and naps, and more stickers.

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Something about air travel always makes me feel so dirty. I think it’s the recycled air. The longer the flight, the worse I feel. It doesn’t matter if I’ve showered immediately before boarding, I always end up feeling greasy and gross. Add the humid island weather to the equation and I feel disgusting. Showering after a long plane ride is always incredible. Along the same lines as how it feels to shower after spending a few days camping.

That aside, we got off the plane and collected our baggage without incident, then Ben set off to rent our car. Good fortune smiled upon us – they were out of standard cars, and upgraded us to a Jeep for free.

We found our condo quickly, and were not disappointed. The unit was clean, nicely furnished, and just big enough for the three of us to roam comfortably. Even better, the description online did not deceive. We really are 23 steps from the beach. Again, feeling pretty lucky.

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The view from our back sliding door.


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We quickly made ourselves at home. So quickly, in fact, that we didn’t get any “before” pictures to document the awesomeness of this place. Oh well, here are some “after” pics for you.

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And what else did we bring with us? What was critical enough that it found a place in our precious cargo space? Ah, yes, our wireless router… yes, we brought it with us. The high speed connection here was hard wired, which simply wouldn’t do, so we packed our own.

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So here was our big fail for the day… we traveled to Costco to get some groceries for the week, and were overwhelmed by hunger and grumpiness. So, instead of picking up supplies and making dinner at home, or heading out for sushi, which was our alternate plan, we succumbed to the Costco snack bar. We opted for chicken ceasar salads, so it wasn’t an entirely terrible choice, and considering we didn’t have lunch, it hit the spot. It actually tasted pretty amazing. And, more importantly, it revived us and improved our moods considerably. We all made it out of the shopping trip that followed alive. I’m not sure I could have said that if we’d gone without food.

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Groceries out of the way, C exhausted and nearing melt down, we made our way back to our condo to put her to bed. We made some POG (pineapple, orange, guava juice) and rum cocktails and listened to the waves crash on the beach from the comfort of our living room.

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Big plans to walk down the beach to the farmers market tomorrow. Wish us luck!

maui recap

imageIn one word, amazing. Can we come back every year? C had such a great time, and I’m so glad we brought her with us. By the end, she’d just started adjusting to the time zone here, and her temperament was getting better because of it. She does so much better fully rested, much like everyone else, I suppose.

We’re on our drive home as this posts. Just hours away from home and our nice, soft, comfortable bed. In case you were wondering, I’ve been blogging along the way, but wasn’t crazy about posting the fact that our house was open and ripe for the picking to the internet world, so my daily hawaii vacation posts will start going up after our return.

For now, I’ll highlight some of the things we loved about our trip, and some we’d do differently next time. A good summary log and reference points for planning our future trips (which we’re hoping will happen sooner rather than later).

Things that I loved:
– After reading reviews that the water in Kihei wasn’t great, I brought filter bottles and intended to buy bottled water. Then I discovered that our condo had an inline Watts water filter under the sink (the same filter brand we have at home). Not only did the water taste fine, but I felt better about the quality as well.

– Nanny service. Great idea. The nanny services on the island worked out perfectly. C liked our nanny, Andrea, and had fun while we got away for some of our own adventures. Having some brief time to just enjoy, without keeping track of or entertaining a toddler, were fantastic. It was pricey, but worth it.

– Polynesian Village Luau. Such a great experience. It has that certain “charm” you get with family run businesses. The host was funny and entertaining, and you felt like you were a part of their family.

– Ground floor condo. Perfect. Wouldn’t do it any other way. We had direct access to the lawn and beach, and our monitor range just reached far enough for us to lounge while C napped.

– VRBO rental. Having a full kitchen and fridge was wonderful. A Costco and Walmart run had us stocked for most of our trip, then we filled in with local farmers markets for fresh produce during our stay.

– Sarongs. Such a brilliant invention. My sarong served as a swim suit cover up, a skirt, a dress and gave me an incredibly easy, discreet way to slip in and out of my swimsuit (thanks for the great Christmas gift, mom!). I even picked up another one while here to add to my collection.

– Driving the road to Hana. Breathtaking. Seeing a pair of whales frolicking at the end of our journey made it unforgettable.

– Reef Dancer underwater boat. It was a great way to see lots of tropical fish and learn about them without having to get wet. This was especially great for C, since there was no way we were getting her to snorkel.

Things I’d do differently:
– Book accommodations earlier. We confirmed reservations late October and missed out on our first choice because of it. One week, it was available, the next, gone.

– Opt for a two bedroom unit. One bedroom worked ok, but it’s really best when C has her own sleeping area. The fold out couch in the living room just wasn’t comfortable or convenient enough to be a long term option.

– Find a place with a spa! Or, at the very least, a bathtub. Or condo had neither, and there were a few nights that relaxing in warm, bubbly water was all I wanted.

I’ll probably think of more to add later. Links and more details will follow in my upcoming posts. Stay tuned!

Vacation

If you hadn’t guessed it already, we went on a little vacation to Tahoe for a long weekend. We stayed in a condo in the Village at Squaw – it was a nice little adventure! When we planned the trip a month ago, we were hoping to get some time at the lake, a few hikes and some bike rides in during our stay. Mostly, though, we wanted to relax. What we didn’t expect was a late season snow storm for the last half of our stay.

 

Our friends joined us for the weekend and C had a playmate for part of our stay. She had a great time running down the halls with her friend. J is ten months older than C, and C looks up to her. She has fun playing with her and trying to keep up.

 

Friday night, we went to our favorite dinner location in Tahoe – Sunnyside Resort. They have an amazing filet mignon and a great wine list. On Saturday, we visited the Squeeze In for and had a yummy (if a little pricey) breakfast. Service was good, coffee was tasty, the omelets were delicious and the company was great. Saturday afternoon, we took a trip on the cable car to the top of the mountain. It was a great ride up and a fantastic view from the top, although the winds were incredibly harsh and it was COOOLLLD while we were out in the snow. We spent some tromping through the snow outside until we couldn’t handle it anymore. We sought refuge inside with some snacks and warm beverages. Saturday night, we stayed in and utilized the full kitchen gear in our condos – making a stir fry chicken with veggies. It was a relaxed evening, which was nice. Around 11pm, back in our own room, we noticed the first snow flurries begin to fall. Ben and I sat and watched the wind whip the snow around the parking lot below. It was an incredible sight.

 

Sunday morning, with several inches of snow accumulated from the night before, our friends headed out for an early departure, hoping to avoid chain control and make it home within a reasonable amount of time. It ended up taking them approximately six hours. On our own, we made use of some of the groceries we’d purchased and made some eggs in our room. We wanted to make our way out in to the village that morning, but around 11am, it was apparent that C needed a nap, so we opted to stay in and let her get some rest instead.

 

Sunday afternoon, we met for a late lunch with a friend from college. It’s been nearly ten years since we’d seen each other and it was great to catch up. We met at Fireside Pizza (just downstairs from our condo – we saw it from our window!). We managed to keep the meal low carb, although it definitely wasn’t low fat. We started with wings and then we all had various salads. Ben had the California Cobb, I had a Mediterranean (adding chicken). They were fresh and good.

 

After lunch, we braved the snow and ventured out in Squaw’s village. C was getting the hang of walking in the snow. We found a toy shop where she enjoyed playing with the demo toys. There were little animal dolls and dollhouse furniture (chairs, beds, couches) and she kept putting the animals in the various furniture and telling them “nap”. I guess it was time for them to sleep.

 

Sunday night, we made new york steaks, sautéed brussel sprouts and creamed spinach. It was a good dinner and we saved some money by staying in. We splurged on the ingredients calorie wise – the steaks were cooked in butter and the spinach was made with whole milk and butter. It was all rich and delicious and worth the indulgence. After C was in bed, we put on a movie (thanks to Redbox!) and attempted to stay awake for it. A combination of the activity from the day and the altitude made us more tired than usual.

 

Monday morning, we travelled to Tahoe City to try out a new breakfast place we found online, the Fire Sign Cafe. Coincidently, it was just across the street from Sunnyside’s restaurant. The reviews online were great, and we were not disappointed! Again, great service, good coffee and delicious food made for a great breakfast experience. This place is definitely on our “visit again” list. I had the greek omelet and Ben had the Ranch scramble (ham, bell peppers, onions). They were both very good, although I’d say Ben’s was better than mine, only due to the method of preparation – his was more moist and fluffy than mine. I’d recommend ordering the greek omelet as a scramble instead of an omelet. We paired both with a side of cottage cheese and generous helpings of coffee. C enjoyed their homemade banana bread and shared some of our other breakfast items.

 

After breakfast, we found a park along the lake where we got out and enjoyed a small window of nice weather. We found a rocky beach area adjacent to the lake. We sat and threw pebbles in to the water. It was cold, but at least it wasn’t snowing. C loved the water. It was great to get some time at the water – especially since that’s what we hoped for when we planned this trip!

 

After a late breakfast and coffee in the afternoon, we managed to skip lunch and found ourselves hungry in the late afternoon. We stopped off at the Resort at Squaw Creek to check out the facilities (we’d admired the hotel from afar) and came across Sandy’s Pub, the on site bar. It was happy hour, so we sat down to enjoy a glass of wine and some hot wings. Later that night, we stayed in again and made a chicken and tomato dish. We were trying to use up as many of our groceries as we could before traveling home the next day. This meant we made a BIG batch of chicken. It was a good dish, but we had more than we could possibly eat.

 

To complicate things, the fridge, which had never really worked all that well, decided to stop working Monday night. We woke up Tuesday morning to a warm fridge and freezer – C’s milk was the consistency of yogurt. In fact, it very well could have been yogurt. So, our unsuccessful attempt to use up our groceries turned in to throwing everything away before leaving Tuesday morning. It was frustrating to throw away full containers of spoiled cottage cheese, yogurt, half gallon of milk, cheese sticks… basically all the dairy we had, along with all of our leftovers (chicken and tomatoes, creamed spinach, brussel sprouts).

 

Tuesday morning, we tried our final breakfast place of the trip – a place we’d spotted while driving around the lake on Monday morning (while letting C nap), the Log Cabin Caffe. I got past the fact that they’d misspelled “Caffe” on their website, as their sign touted “Voted Best Breakfast”. It was a long drive to get out there, and we were sorry to say that the experience ranked last of our breakfasts on this vacation. Ben had the chili rellano benedict and I had the lobster scramble. Both were good, but it wasn’t anything exceptional. The coffee was weak and they provided small tubs of half and half rather than a carafe. They were small differences between the Log Cabin and the other breakfast locations we’d visited, but they were enough to set the others apart. Had this been the only place we’d visited, it would have been perfectly acceptable. Detracting from the experience even further, the table next to us was filled with six older women who’s discussion topics ranged from cholesterol and blood pressure to discussing their cats and cat related issues (hair balls, appropriate brushes, the best foods, etc). Not the most pleasant breakfast conversation.

 

Although I were well intended to stay on course with my diet, vacation meant splurging a bit. I managed to keep up the daily oat bran, but I didn’t alternate the protein / veggie & protein days like I was supposed to. Most days were veggie & protein, plus a few indulgent extra carbs. The Dukan Diet calls for dishes with the lowest fat possible, which is difficult to control when dining out. Saturday, Ben’s cheat day, I managed to cheat a bit, too. Up on the top of the mountain, exhausted and cold, I gave in to half a chocolate chip cookie along with my non fat latte. Later than night, I had a few glasses of wine with dinner and then splurged on a snicker’s ice cream bar for dessert. I suspect that the hot wings on Monday night were battered before being fried, and the batter on the chili rellano benedict we shared this morning definitely had flour in it. I guess we’ll see what the damage is tomorrow. I have a feeling I’ll be going back to the protein only phase for the rest of this week. Not sure what the count is at this point – depending on how bad things look tomorrow morning, I may restart the counter on the Dukan diet and just consider it round 2.



Mom to "C", wife to Ben. I'm a part-time blogger, cook, organizer, seamstress, house cleaner, taxi, nurse (the mom kind), accountant... I could go on, but really... it's all in the blog. Read away!

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