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1/22/20201 The whales of Maui

While I'm still in Hawaii, Connie, Zack, and I have relocated to Honolulu for the rest of our vacation. But, for now I've got more Maui stuff to write about.

January 17th - 19th (Sunday - Tuesday): Rainy Weather
So far, we'd had pretty good weather on this trip. Way better than our previous visits to Maui. Unfortunately, that couldn't last forever and the forecast was showing some pretty heavy rain during the first half of the week, which really messed up our plans. In the end, we were able to reschedule the things we were going to do on Sunday and Monday for later in the week. However, we did end up canceling a planned overnight trip to Hana (a very scenic but remote town that I've yet to visit). Maybe next time... It's good we did cancel though, since the rain was pretty bad, especially on Monday, leading to minor flooding on many parts of the island.
So what did we do? We hung out, watched the movies, and went back to the trampoline park so the kids could burn off some energy. On Tuesday evening, after the rain had passed, we ended up Keaka Beach for a little while before dinner. Can you find the crab in this picture? It's not covered with sand, its shell just has a really impressive camouflage pattern. Crab aside, we also saw a really nice sunset. All together, it was a pleasant enough time, despite the messed up plans.

January 21st (Wednesday): Whale Watching
We had originally planned a whole family outing on a whale watching boat for Monday but it was canceled due to the weather. Fortunately, we managed to shift it to Wednesday morning, by which time the weather was back to its usual sunny self. Due to COVID, everyone had assigned seating which you weren't really supposed to leave (not terrible, but it made it a little hard to see the whales at times) and you had to wear masks even when on the boat (annoying). That aside, it ended up being one of the best whale watching trips I've done. In case you didn't know, the waters around Maui are the world's most popular breeding and birthing grounds for humpback whales (though you can see some around the other islands as well). Of course, going out on a boat offers some good views of the island itself. And we also saw lots of whale blows (water spouts), backs, and tails. But all that is pretty normal for whale watching. This time, however, the whales were especially active. We saw a number of breaches (where the whale jumps up out of the water) and I even managed to get a picture of one. For the record, photographing whales is pretty tough. In addition to the fact that you're on a swaying boat, by the time you notice one, move your camera to the right spot, and zoom in (most of the whales aren't especially close to the boat), it's probably gone underwater already. So there's a decent bit of luck involved. But I was able to capture that breach (if not quite as zoomed in as I would have liked) and I also got some shots of a whale calf sticking its head out of the water. For a bit of trivia, although the calves nurse, the adult whales don't actually eat anything when they're down in Hawaii. Instead, they eat as much as they can during the summer when they're up north (near Alaska and such) and use that to carry them over when they spend the winter in the south.
Anyway, COVID restrictions aside, we had a great tour (we went with the Pacific Whale Foundation, if you're planning your own trip), saw a ton of whales (adults and calves), and got to witness a lot of really cool behaviors that I've seen little if any of on my previous whale watches. And we wrapped up the day with a family Chinese dinner (cooked by me, with some help from Connie), so fun all around.

That's a good place to stop for now. I should have a pretty special entry ready for Monday so look forward to it!


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1/18/2021 More Maui

As a note, there might not be an update on Wednesday (not 100% sure yet). If it does get skipped, updates will resume on Friday.

January 13th (Wednesday): Lahaina
Wednesday morning, we work up to rain. Fortunately, we had already planned to visit Lahaina for the day, and the weather over there was fine. We started off at the beach. Like on our previous trips, the Whaler's Village mall makes a great (though not free) place to park for one of my favorite Maui beaches. Good sand, just enough surf, scenic, and even decent snorkeling if you go up to the far end near the rocks.
After a while on the beach, we headed into Lahaina itself and stopped for lunch at Fu Lin, possibly the only nice (not fast-food) Chinese restaurant on the island. While it wasn't on the level of some of the Chinese places on Oahu, it was still good. Afterwards, we spent a while walking through the town. Lahaina itself is as scenic as ever, and still fun to stroll though, though there were notably fewer people on the streets than during my previous visits and some of the shops and restaurants had permanently shut down. It was a nice day, but hopefully things will be more lively next time.

January 16th (Saturday): Hiking Upper Waiohuli Trail
Thursday and Friday consisted of hanging out with family and another visit to the trampoline park, but on Saturday we decided to go on a hike. Getting to the trail required a slow drive up a mountain with a long series of switchbacks. Nice views though. There are a number of trails up there, but the one we went to required going past the end of the pavement and over a chunk of dirt road that's limited to four-wheel drive vehicles. Though, if the weather is ok, the road condition doesn't really require that.
The trail itself started out in a forest. To be honest, while they're pretty, I'm starting to feel like all these Hawaiian mountain forests look pretty much the same. Especially when the trees block out the view. Fortunately, going a bit up or down in elevation changes things and makes for some more interesting terrain. Our original plan was to check out a lava tube partway up the trail. Unfortunately, you couldn't actually go very far inside the tube before it became blocked and there was a big wasp nest or something nearby so we ended up just taking a quick look and then continuing on the trail. Eventually, we got high enough to make it out of the forest and into a more desert-like climate. From the top, we could see Haleakala in one direction and the peaks of the Big Island in the other. Instead of returning along the trail, we followed a dirt road down instead (yeah, you can drive all the way up if you have a good enough car). It ended up being longer, but a bit easier, and offered some good views of the coast. It was a pleasant hike, if a bit longer than we'd originally planned. And the views were good, at least once you got out of the forest. Length aside, it wasn't especially strenuous either, even on the ascent, but Zack really impressed me. He's never really done a proper hike before (well, not on foot anyway) but he managed to walk 99% of the way up and about 50% of the way down.
After we got back down, we stopped for a bit for a very late lunch at a picnic table on the side of the mountain before making the slow drive back down. Over all, Upper Waiohuli is not going on my list of favorite Hawaii hikes, but I still enjoyed it.



1/15/2021 Jump!

On to the travelogue.

January 11th (Monday): Trampoline Time
When traveling with a young child, you generally need to devote a large portion of your itinerary to things that he or she will enjoy. So, Monday morning we joined my sister-in-law and nephew and took Zack to Ultimate Air Maui, a trampoline park. Despite the COVID restrictions, it's open and operating pretty normally (thankfully, masks are not required when jumping). Plus, they've got some blocks of time set aside during the week specifically for toddlers and pre-school age kids (and their parents).
Growing up, we had a trampoline for much of my childhood and I've got a lot of fond memories of jumping and playing around on it both on my own and with others. That said, I'd never been to an actual trampoline park before. Ultimate Air has a wide variety of trampolines in various shapes and sizes spread across the floor and even the walls and I spent quite a while running and jumping around with Zack and Isaac (my nephew). I also got to mess around a bit with wall running, bouncing up onto high ledges, and using some special extra high bounce trampolines, which was a lot of fun. They also had some basketball hoops, a slack line, and a giant pit full of foam blocks to play around with, among other things. As a side note, that pit is a lot deeper than it looks in the picture (probably 6 - 10 feet) and I actually had trouble getting out of it sometimes. Anyway, we spent a fun, if rather exhausting, couple of hours there. It's certainly great for kids and I'm sure plenty of adults would have a blast as well. I'd go back again even without Zack.
Afterwards, we went to the town of Wailuku (though it's more like the outskirts of the island's main town/city of Kahului). It's a rather weird mix of artsy shops and restaurants and crumbling industrial buildings. Apparently, they're trying to rebuild it into more of a touristy shopping and dining town but are only partially done. Our destination was The Empanada Lady, a nice looking restaurant serving empanadas (duh) and an assortment of island and South American food. The empanadas themselves were pretty good. The rest of the food wasn't bad either, but could have benefitted from a stronger spice mix, or at least a bit more salt. I'd eat there again, but would probably skip a main course in favor of more empanadas.

That's all for today. I actually have one more entry in the works that I wasn't able to get done on time. I really haven't had a lot of time to spend on my computer and a lot of it has been taken up but a couple of work related things that I needed to get done. We've actually got a few fun things planned for the coming week, so expect some interesting entries in the future.



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