Fri Sep 5
Today we drove in to Lahaina and then to Kahului to get souvenirs for some friends and family. Once we got our shopping completed, we had a fantastic lunch at Da Kitchen in Kahului (Thanks for the recommendation, Julia!). Bill had a Hawaiian mixed plate with La Lau, Kalua pork, chicken long rice, lomi lomi salmon and the standard two scoops of rice and one scoop of mac salad. I had the same meal minus the Kalua pork. We both washed down our lunch with tall glasses of POG. This is the main restaurant for the small place where we had lunch earlier in the week. I actually liked the food better here as it’s definitely a locals place, but a little bit nicer. I even got myself a t-shirt.
After lunch we drove south to spend the rest of the afternoon back at Pu’u Ola’i beach. Having been there earlier in the week, we just really liked this beach. It’s small and enclosed with lava rocks on both sides, so most of the trade winds are blocked. It offers a pretty view of neighboring islands Kaho’olawe and Lana’i, and a clear view of the Molokini.
We stayed all afternoon and swam getting bounced around by the oncoming tide. I never realized how much fun it is swimming in the ocean when the water isn’t frigid and you’re not getting hit with seaweed. We snacked on Maui onion flavored potato chips and POG and watched some surfers and boogie boarders.
At one point some rather ominous looking clouds began rolling in. They looked like thunderclouds to me. But we never felt any rain.
We stayed for an absolutely amazing sunset.
It was one of those sunsets that made you want to applaud when the sun finally disappeared behind the horizon.
Not bad for our last night in Maui.
We drove back to Lahaina for dinner and ate at the Lahaina Store Grill & Oyster Bar on their rooftop dining room. We had a nice view of the moon rising and enjoyed our last dinner on Maui. For an appetizer we shared an Ahi Poke salad that was quite tasty. It was a layered dish with a bottom layer of shredded cabbage, a second layer of seaweed salad and then on top diced ahi tuna that was tossed with green onions and a light oil. It was refreshing and delicious. For entrees, Bill had an oyster po boy sandwich and I had a pan seared fillet of Walu (a butter fish) and a couple of seared, bacon-wrapped scallops. It was very tasty and the fish was perfectly cooked. The scallops… well, you really can’t go wrong with wrapping anything in bacon.
Sat Sep 6
We took our time getting up this morning… the realization that the trip was coming to an end was depressing and I kept thinking of ways we could stay… I’m still thinking about that. I had even forgotten than it was my birthday. We got our bags packed and a couple of boxes packed with our souvenirs.
Before checking out of the hotel, we snapped a couple of photos of the food that sustained us all week in between meals:
POG and Maui onion flavored potato chips.
Mmmmmm. We toasted the last of our POG with the champagne flutes the hotel provided and savored a few more moments on our balcony before checkout. We never drank the complimentary champagne they gave us, it’s currently sitting in our refrigerator.
Before we headed to the airport we took a stroll through downtown Lahaina. In the mid 1800s, Lahaina was the Royal Capitol of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Lahaina was also center to the global whaling industry. I wanted to see Banyan Tree Park in the day time before we headed for the mainland. This single banyan tree was planted in 1873 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the arrival of the missionaries. It’s the largest banyan tree in North America and has grown to shade about 2/3 of an acre of land.
There happened to be a craft fair going on when we arrived. Here you can see a neat panoramic of the park. I guess banyan trees (actually a variety of fig tree) grow outwards instead of straight up. The roots dangle from the branches in search for soil. When they reach the ground they become another trunk supporting the heavy branches.
It was another beautiful day.
We stopped by a food court in Kahului and picked up a couple of Vietnamese pork sandwiches for our flight back to Seattle. Bill had reached out to his IT counterpart at Hawaiian Airlines for assistance in getting seated in the window/aisle on the flight back. We arrived at the airport and were met at the ticket counter by the Station Manager; kind of a friend of a friend thing. He helped us through the lines and made sure our checked boxes made it on to the flight. He was awesome and assigned us to exit row seats and we were looking forward to the legroom on our five hour flight. When we got to the gate, we waited around to see if the he would be around as we wanted to thank him personally. He showed up as the last few passengers were boarding and asked for our boarding passes. He proceeded over to a computer and a minute later handed us new boarding passes for first class. He wanted to make leaving paradise just a tad easier on us. So, Bill and I enjoyed our return flight from the comforts of first class. It was a first for both of us for a flight longer than an hour. (We flew first class once from SFO to LAS years ago on National Airlines, thanks to a $25 upgrade special.) But this was different and quite nice.
Cheesn’ it up for first class.
Haleakala was shrouded in clouds the entire week. I read that it can get pretty chilly up there. I wanted to take the drive, but we would have needed to dedicate an entire day to it. There’s a winery up there, a lavender farm and a goat cheese dairy; all places I wanted to visit. My guide book described the crater itself as the closest thing to walking on the moon you can get without leaving Earth.
Back to the flight… Even though we were on an older aircraft, we had a wonderful flight attendant and got to choose from a tasting menu which three items we wanted for our lunch.
We each received a personal media player and noise-cancelling headphones. The media player was loaded with a dozen movies, a few TV shows and music. I watched the films Nim’s Island and Be Kind Rewind. Both were good in different ways. Be Kind Rewind was much funnier than I expected. Bill also watched the film Jumper, which he thought was pretty lame. The movies made the flight feel much shorter and we arrived on time in Seattle around 11pm.
Kato… I mean Eugene, graciously picked us up at the airport and dropped us off at our hotel.
Bill had called ahead to let the hotel know we would be checking-in close to midnight. When we arrived the front desk agent apologized and said that right after she hung up the phone after talking to Bill, she realized that the hotel was fully booked for the night. So instead of leaving us without a place to sleep, she made a reservation with the hotel next door (another Marriott hotel) and the room was comped. That was nice of them.
Sun Sep 7
This morning we were up for the 8am shuttle to Sea-Tac Airport to board our jetBlue Airways flight to Long Beach. We and chatted with a couple of the SEA crewmembers as the aircraft hadn’t arrived yet.
A Virgin American place decked out in HBO’s Entourage. I guess that’s not a bad way for the airline to make money. Especially if this aircraft flies to and from Las Vegas.
Our boxes waiting patiently to be loaded once the plane arrived.
Our aircraft finally arrived and we expected to begin the boarding process. Instead, we had a maintenance delay. After an hour or so, the pilot came on the PA and apologized for the delay and informed us that they needed to fly a replacement part up from OAK and that while they were at it, they’d bring up the spare aircraft and get everyone home on it. At that point, we called Eugene and went out to lunch, since our 10:20am departure was now going to be 5:55pm. We enjoyed a tasty lunch at a trendy restaurant called Joey’s somewhat near the airport. Eugene had an Ahi tuna club sandwich with that looked really good. Bill had blackened, spiced Basa that was topped with a tomato and pickled ginger salsa and served with cumin scented rice. I had Ahi tuna mini tacos that were quite tasty. Also inside the tacos was a sesame and ginger coleslaw and a wasabe aioli. For a much trendier restaurant than we typically frequent, everything was quite good. Eugene dropped us back at the airport and we bid him farewell, again. Our replacement aircraft arrived and we got home safe and sound… albeit a few hours later than expected.
We were both pretty quiet when we got home. The realization that we were back to our normal lives was hanging heavy in the air. I’ve been on some amazing trips before, but this is the first time I was truly sad to be home. We had a wonderful time in Maui and we really could have stayed another week as there is so much to see. Even though it’s been well over a week since we got home, I’m not quite back to normal. The second night we got home we went out to dinner with Louie and Nicole to a restaurant that Nicole requested. It’s called The Loft Hawaiian Restaurant. Nicole had forgotten that we were just there. Needless to say, we were more than happy to eat there and enjoyed a couple of BBQ mixed plates and we introduced Nicole to POG. Yum! One of the radio stations I listen to was broadcasting from Maui all week. That kind of ticked me off. The Maui Pineapple Festival was this past weekend and we were both bummed to miss it. None of our local grocery stores are carrying Maui Gold pineapples… just sad looking pineapples from Costa Rica or the Philipines. And the last of our hand-picked pineapple is gone. None of our grocery stores seem to carry POG. Although we did find a frozen concentrate Guava Passion Orange drink that is mighty close to POG. Maybe I’ll order a Maui Gold pineapple for our anniversary in a few weeks so I can feel better…. is $31 too much to spend on one pineapple?