Tuesday: Road to Hana Driving Tour

On Tuesday, with the Madza Miata in the repair shop, we headed out to the Road to Hana in Mark’s red pickup truck. It was a good thing we had the pickup and not the Miata since the second half of the highway is unpaved and full of potholes that made for a very bumpy ride!

The Hana Highway is a 64.4-mile-long stretch which connects Kahului to the town of Hana in east Maui. To the east of Kalepa Bridge, the highway continues to Kipahulu. Although Hana is only about 52 miles from Kahului, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive even when no stops are made since the highway is very winding and narrow and passes over 59 bridges, of which 46 are only one lane wide. There are approximately 620 curves from just east of Kahului to Hana, almost all of it through lush, tropical rainforest. Many of the concrete and steel bridges date back to 1910.


The Road to Hana can also be called the Waterfall Tour because you can stop and see a LOT of them along the way!

We also took a very muddy hike through a bamboo forest…

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…a place where Carl fell in the river and pooped his pants.

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Okay, not really but it looked that way. Luckily he had his bathing suit in the truck so he was able to change his pants.

We saw more scenic overlooks.

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We explored a lava tube cave.

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We saw the black sand beach.

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We saw the red sand beach.

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We drove around the backside of Haleakala, which is a barren, desert, lava field, as opposed to the lush, tropical landscape on the other side.

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We saw a rainbow on the ocean.

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And we finally emerged on the other side, back into civilization, just in time to see the sunset from the side of the mountain.

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We look exhausted because we were! Having just driven 10-hours around the mountain, around some crazy, narrow, bumpy roads, we were beat.

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But it was a great day together exploring the beauty of God’s creation.

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Monday: West Maui Driving Tour

On Monday, again gifted with the use of the Mazda Miata (this time with the top down), Carl and I set out with the Shaka Guide West Maui Driving Tour (the same app that Jim and Linda showed us in Oahu). This 8-hour tour took us along the northwestern coast of Maui, a spot that is usually prime for seeing whales breaching. Sadly, we did not the whole day.

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Our first stop on the tour was to see some ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs, or stone images, carved into the volcanic boulders.

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Other highlights included the Dragon’s Teeth, formed by the waves pushing the hot lava into pointy shapes along the coast….

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…many scenic overlooks…

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….a heart-shaped hole in the volcanic rock…

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…a dangerous blowhole…

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…and the even more dangerous Olivine pools.

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These are so dangerous because they are harmless looking shallow pools carved into the rocks near the ocean’s edge. But what happens is large, crashing waves come barreling over the rocks and the retreating waves pull the unsuspecting wader back into the ocean never to be seen again.

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Yeah, we stayed out of the pools.

Shortly after passing the Olivine pools, when we were about two-thirds of the way around the tour, we encountered a road closed sign.

“Road Closed!? But we must finish our tour! We want to drive all the way around! Hey, it’s still early. Let’s go all the way around the other direction until we get the the closed portion and finish the tour that way.” So yeah, we drove around that portion of the island TWICE (once in each direction). And the funny/aggravating part is that by the time we got back to the road closed…it was open. It was obviously just a temporary thing.

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Turns out the road after the pools is narrow, winding, treacherous mountain roads that often go down to one lane and have dangerous blind curves. There is little to no cell phone reception and residents are few and far between (and definitely no gas stations). So awesome, we got to do it twice! Yippee!

And towards the end of that journey through the mountain, Carl was starting to have trouble shifting into gear in the little green Miata. When we finally got to the bottom of the mountain and back into civilization, he couldn’t shift into first gear. And then he couldn’t shift into second gear. And then he couldn’t shift at all.

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AAA and our friend, Debye to the rescue! We later found out it was a leaking slave cylinder. We felt horrible for breaking the Miata. But the owner felt more horrible for us having it breakdown on us (although she admitted she was glad it was us and not her…ha!).

After getting back to Debye’s and getting freshened up, we took Debye and her boyfriend, Mark, out for dinner to thank them for their hospitality.

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Then they took us to their favorite place for Mai Tais.

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And we got to go in another sweet ride…Debye’s Mustang convertible.

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Side Note: Debye owned the car for many years in a state of disrepair and neglect. A few years ago, while living in Jacksonville, she hired Mark to restore it to it’s original glory. That’s how they met and eventually fell in love. Now they live in Maui together. Sweet!


Sunday: Haleakala National Park

When we were making plans to visit Debye in Maui, I mentioned that we would get a rental car to use during our stay. Debye graciously stated that they had plenty of cars to drive and we were free to use one of theirs. Shortly before we left for Hawaii, Debye contacted me to see how we felt about driving a vintage Madza Miata convertible. Um, okay!

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We had the top down but it was getting chilly as we ascended the mountain so we had to put the top up.

Turns out it belongs to her neighbor’s deceased husband, so the neighbor, who never drives it, and asked Debye and her boyfriend if they could drive it for a few days. [Side note: the car is about 30 years old and has a whopping 9,000 miles on it! Crazy!] So Debye volunteered us to do it for her! The neighbor was absolutely thrilled that we would be taking the car all around the island and giving it some use. It was win-win for all of us.

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So on Sunday, after attending a local church, Carl and I decided to take the Miata up to the top of Haleakala to see the crater. Debye’s boyfriend, Mark, had shown us all kinds of amazing pictures of the crater and we couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves.

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We got to the top and instead of seeing amazing sights like this:

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…we saw a whole bunch of this:

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It was a total white-out on the mountain top as the clouds had rolled it and the temperatures had dropped. Total bummer.

We did see the Hawaiian state bird, the Nene, though.

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So it was totally worth the drive up the mountain! At least we looked cool in the little Miata while doing it.

We consoled ourselves with some fresh Poke and ate it on the beach while watching the sunset.

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So it was a good day.



Saturday: Aloha Oahu!

On Saturday, March 9th, it was time for all the remaining traveling guests to depart from the rental house by 10am. Most headed right for the airport. However, Carl and I didn’t leave for Maui until around 5pm and my aunt Sandy’s flight wasn’t until 9pm that evening. So the three of us decided to use our Go Oahu cards one last time since some of the cards still had one day remaining on them.

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We decided to check out the Honolulu Museum of Art. After spending about an hour looking around, Aunt Sandy treated us to a lovely lunch at the museum.

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It was nice to have some quiet, alone time with my aunt after the week of craziness.

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Then we ended up passing Aunt Sandy off to Anthony and Kameko, who entertained her with a movie and dinner before dropping her off at the airport for her evening flight.

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After a hectic and crazy week, we were finally on our way to Maui, where we were met at the airport by our friend, Debye. Debye used to work with Carl and the Jacksonville Jaguars until she moved to Maui about 1-1/2 years ago. We drove to her area on the west side of the island, just in time for the sunset.

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It was really beautiful and became our nightly ritual in Maui for the next 3 evenings as well.

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We are grateful for Debye’s fabulous hospitality and allowing us to visit her at her beautiful home in Maui.

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Friday: Day with the Newlyweds

On Friday, our last full day in Oahu, Carl, Kelly and I had a day planned with Anthony and Kameko where they wanted to take us to their favorite west-side beaches and hikes after meeting Kameko’s Grandma Jane, who is in rehab after her most recent hospital stay. We were all very sad that Grandma Jane could not make it to the wedding due to her recent hospitalization.

On the way to meet them, we decided to stop at Camp Homelani, the summer camp where Anthony worked for two summers and where he met Kameko.

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We saw the type of cabin that he lived in his first summer when he was a Camp Counselor.

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The counselors stayed in the room with the door on the left and the campers stayed in the main area.

We also saw his cabin the second summer when he was the Surf Lead (head of maintenance crew).

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This was his view right from his cabin porch.

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We can see why he loved working at Camp Homelani!

It was at that time that Kelly received a text from the airlines regarding her flight home the next day. It stated that due to the impending snowstorm forecast for Minnesota over the weekend, she may want to consider rescheduling her flight with no change fees. After a call to the airlines, she was rebooked on a direct flight home that evening. After a quick visit with Grandma Jane, we had to return to the house to pack up Kelly’s things and then drop her off at the airport (with more of those hour-long trips to and from the house!) We did meet up with Anthony and Kameko again later but ran out of time to visit their favorite beaches. Instead, they took us on a short jungle hike near their house.

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We were rewarded with a waterfall at the end.

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The kids then took us down to Waikiki at night for their favorite sushi restaurant.

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However, it was closed for renovations so we had to drive into Honolulu to the other location.

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It was a hectic but fun day spent with the Newlyweds. We were so grateful for some time together before leaving the next day. We are going to miss those two so much but look forward to more fun trips to Oahu in the future!



Thursday: Kualoa Ranch and PCC

On Thursday, we finally didn’t have to make the one-hour drive from our rental house into the Honolulu area and back…a drive that Carl and I made more times that you can imagine! We were able to just drive about 15 minutes south to Kualoa Ranch, a 4000 acre property whose “goal is to protect and enhance the natural beauty of these lands while developing sustainable recreational, agricultural and aquacultural enterprises that are compatible with the environment.”

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They offer a number of different tours, provide a venue for weddings and other events and are the location for numerous TV shows and movies, including Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Hawaii Five-O and LOST.

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Our tour, that was part of the Go Oahu card, was the Taste of Kualoa.

Guests will travel on a Trolley Car to explore the tropical fruit and flower gardens of Moli’i along the shores fronting our “Secret Island.” Admire the accomplishments of the early Hawaiians as the rich stories of the voyaging canoe and ancient fishpond unfold.  Taste some of the fruits along the way, depending upon the season.

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Our favorite part was the stop at the Moli’i, with it’s beautiful shores and great photo opportunity.

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After a stop at home for lunch and a change of clothes, we then headed 10 minutes north to the Polynesian Cultural Center.

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This was the only event that all 16 of Anthony’s (remaining) visiting family (since Avram and Zack had already left), along with the newlyweds, attended together, besides the wedding.

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We enjoyed a traditional Hawaiian luau dinner buffet and show.

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Towards the end, Anthony and Kameko were prodded to go up on stage as a group of newlyweds and anniversary couples.

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Then my mom got to go up as someone celebrating a birthday in the month of March.

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After the luau, we had several hours to kill before the evening “Breath of Life” show, which was a very entertaining and impressive show. We walked around the Polynesian villages and watched several demonstrations.

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I also got my first taste of Hawaiian Shave Ice…yum!

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It was a fun evening participating in some traditional Hawaiian activities and experiencing the Hawaiian culture.

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We are glad that the newlyweds were able to join us.

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And we are grateful that all the family decided to come along and spend time together.

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Wednesday: Iolani Palace and Catamaran

On Wednesday, we started the day with a tour of Iolani Palace, the former home of the Kings and Queen of Hawaii and the only Royal Palace on US soil.

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We got to wear some snazzy booties while inside the palace and now my husband wants me to make some for guests to our home.

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It was an interesting look inside a palace and we learned more history on the Hawaiian monarchy.

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Afterwards, we made a quick detour across the street to take a photo by the iconic King Kamehameha statue, as seen during one of our favorite TV shows, Hawaii 5-0.3.6 Palace (11).jpg

Next up was lunch at one of Anthony and Kameko’s recommendations for Hawaiian food, Zippys.

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Then we met up with John, Laurie, Kate and Robert for an afternoon Catamaran sail. The weather alternated between sunny and mild to rainy, windy and chilly.

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Some of the braver people sat outside to enjoy the views of Honolulu.

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The not-so-brave sat inside under the shelter.

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At one point we saw a turtle in the distance.

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“See the turtle??”

But mainly we just saw the views of the skyline with a pretty rainbow.

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Although we did not see any whales or dolphins, it was good to be together for the afternoon. Thanks for joining us Kate and Robert….

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and John and Laurie!

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