Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An Island Debrief

From my front door in Colorado Springs, travel 3,281 miles SouthWest and you'll land on Maui, a strange and wonderful land of tropical birds, fish, and all things green. Last Christmas my parents announced that this year's Christmas gift was a family trip to Maui, so I packed my little duffel bag and climbed aboard the tiny regional jet for the first leg to Los Angeles International Airport. I've never seen people so happy to be on a crowded jumbo jet as they boarded our full flight from L.A. to Kahului. I'd like to thank Zac Efron for our mid-flight entertainment. And the friendly travelers who gave a loud cheer when we hit the runway.

The moment you step off the plane, you can feel the balmy air and see your hair start to curl. Instead of walking, people meander (including the locals). We drove half an hour to our hotel and hit the beach. This is my third trip to Maui, and the clear, warm water astounds me every time. It is, in a word, perfect.

Remember those goals I mentioned? I did my best to meet them all, except the Hawaiian history part. Once I got there, I lost all motivation and instead found myself studying present-day Hawaii via people-watching.

My older brother, Matthew, is a snorkeling fiend and because he was so enthralled I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Last time I snorkeled, I freaked. All I could focus on was breathing through my mouth. I generally prefer my nose. And then there are fish -- schools of them -- that could attack at any moment. This time, I pushed through the awkwardness and now I could do the mouth breathe in my sleep...and I probably do. And as for the fish, they're rather friendly. One little striped guy followed me around like he was my tour guide and I saw creatures that looked more like baseball bats than animals. The reef was lime green, soft pink, and all sorts of shades in between, and the light reflecting through the water fancies everything up. With all the colors, creatures, shapes and light, it feels other-worldly and for a brief moment I lived in it.

Hawaiian food is fresh and tasty. Banana-Mac Nut French Toast, Macadamia-Encrusted Mahi Mahi, and Fish Tacos were some favorites. The food situation is as you would imagine, relaxed. Servers are in no hurry to get you out. On the contrary, many became friends. At the Kihei Caffe, owner Bunny Allison sat down at the patio tables with some of her guests and visited with us for most of our meal. She told us a couple jokes, about some miracles in her family, how she loves this cafe, and prayed for my brother and sister-in-law's new marriage. Braddah Hutts is on the other side of the island in Hana, and it's planted in the owner's front yard under a white tent. Three long folding tables, a few coolers, a grill and a homemade sign put them in business. And they're hoppin'.

The Road to Hana in an electric blue Mustang convertible was perhaps the most memorable of all. Hairpin turns, waterfalls, tunnels of trees, and cliffs plunging into the sea were all part of the 48 mile drive. We stopped often because you can hardly help yourself. It's so beautiful. Don't tell anyone that I told you, but when you go, look for Nahiku Road. It's a small, secret turn off that will take you down to the ocean, right to the place where the waters crash together from all directions. Black lava rock shoots out of the crystal, foaming water, in just the right place so the waves hit the rock and spray high in the air. That was the only place I really never wanted to leave.

It was all so wonderfully relaxing, and now it's time to come back and join everyday life again. Hello, mountains.
A joyful reunion {one of those "in the moment" photos I was hoping for}

Kihei Caffe

Bunny Allison, owner of Kihei Caffe

Makena Bay
View from the front door of our room
View from the balcony of our room

beach time

Scrumptious Banana-Macadamia nut French Toast

Pure beauty

Braddah Hutts menu: whiteboard and paper plates

Tunnel of trees

Clear water

Beach hats.

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