Dive & Thai

Today started out with rain.  The dive shop called yesterday afternoon to let us know that rain was on the way and if there was no visibility underwater they might need to cancel. Luckily, they didn’t and at 11am they picked us up.  By noon we were on the water with Reef Pirates Jake, Lauren, Captain Dan and two other divers, Farouk & Hakan.  The rain had cleared up, but it was still overcast.  Jake would be teaching Sue and Hakan, while Lauren was Farouk and my dive master.   A quick ride to the first dive spot and we were ready.  Jake walked Sue through the ABC’s of diving while I hit the water.   It was an amazing dive.  Beautiful coral, fabulous fish and more sea turtles than a terrapin soup recipe.   The GoPro behaved perfectly and videos will be up soon.   Sue did her first dive, hanging out at about 30 feet.  It was a little scary at first, plus I get seasick and very easily cold, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. I am game to try anything once, so there I went. I didn’t make the second dive—the cold got to me even though I am sure it wasn’t cold for most people—but I did enjoy it and might even try again. Steven really likes it, so chances are good. I will keep the scopolamine patch manufacturers in business.

We got back to the hotel around 4pm, sat for about 15 minutes then headed out to Waikiki beach.  We walked about a mile and a half to the Maui Brewing Company and grabbed a pre-dinner beer.  For dinner, Sue found a place called Opal Thai, where the chef asks you about your likes and dislikes then prepares your dinner. I asked him why he has menus and he said, “I don’t know.”  It was great.  We have no idea what we the food we were served was called, but was delicious.  We started with a rice dish—can’t really do justice to describe it, but it was yummy.  Then we had a tofu lettuce wrap and I had chicken wings in a honey garlic sauce.  For our main courses, I had a savory duck with chilis while Sue had vegetables with noodles.  We talked a bit with our table neighbors—Dominic & Moe—who work down the street at place called Moku, where we are going tomorrow.  They are some of my closest friends now as they shared their tequila with us; it is a byob restaurant.   We ate every morsel and I don’t think I ever had such wonderful Thai food.

A quick Lyft back to the hotel and somewhat surprisingly, when we got back to the hotel at 8:30, we were both ready to call it a night.

Sorry—no photos or videos tonight—I will post them as soon as I can.

Today we are going to sit by the pool

At least we were going to sit by the pool right after I had a surfing lesson.  I signed up for a 10am lesson through Surf & Yoga in Kihei…about 10 mins away…2 hour lesson, then right to the pool.  The lesson was great!  Eddie, my instructor, had me up after only about 10 minutes and then I rode 15-20 foot…ok, only 3-5 foot…but 15-20 sounds much better..waves for then next 110 minutes.  I videoed a bunch and Eddie videoed me a few times, some or all will be posted soon. Ms. seasick over here did not surf, but I did walk along the beach and marvel at the ocean. Aaaaaaaah.

View from the Maui Brewing Company

I was really hungry after two hours in the water so we decided to stop on the way back to the hotel at the Maui Brewing Company, which wasn’t far from where I had my surfing lesson..and after all we were hungry and right afterwards, we would go to the pool.  We had a couple of beers and fabulous food (I had chicken wings followed by a burger with mushrooms and smoked gouda.  Sue had avacado toast and really interesting veggie burger. It had macadamia nuts. Yum.) I felt that I should double down on the meat as I think my belly is still recovering from the fake chicken from a few days ago.

Once we finished lunch, we were about to head to the pool, when I mentioned that Eddie (remember Eddie, he was my surfing instructor) had told me about a really nice little hike about 10 minutes away from the hotel.  (More like 10 miles on another not-quite-two-lane road.) It 20180430_145545was called the Hoapili Trail and is through lava fields.  What a great walk.  It isn’t very long (which none of the hikes on Maui are) but it was incredible. Rust red to pitch black rocks roll right into the ocean, which then carves blow holes and rock ridges.  I have a bunch of videos, which are just amazing.

20180430_184448After we finished that hike, we returned to the hotel and it was too late for pool-sitting, so we had a drink on our balcony.  Today was our first sunny day, so we scrambled down to the western edge of the hotel property and snagged a nice spot to watch a spectacular sunset.

Following the sunset we went to get 20180430_195133dinner nearby and unanimously voted on ice cream (read: sorbet for Sue) for dinner. Yum!  We took our after dinner ramble up a little street that leads away from the hotel that we called the enchanted forest (and Google calls unnamed road).

The Gasoline Lemonade Acid War Zone Trail

My apologies to Tom Wolfe, but I couldn’t resist (if you don’t get the joke, google Tom Wolfe, find the book and read it).

Today started with my company meeting.  Everyone was forced to make important decisions at 9:00 — I went for the Bloody Mary, not the Mimosa — it was a brutal meeting ;).   The bigwigs – at least two of whom looked like they didn’t make it bed last night – presented the state of the company, we all did our rah rahs and were out by 10:30.  I snagged a couple of extra BM’s and met Sue back in the room.  She did an early morning yoga class which finished at the same time. (Yoga by the ocean is great even on a cloudy day.)

We decided to get a picnic lunch and hike the Acid War Zone Trail.  It is on the north side of the island and so we drove via Lahaina and stopped a Farmer’s Market for lunch fixin’s….Sue picked our stopping point and it turns out that it was an organic, vegetarian, Birenstock, crunchy granola sort of place. (I loved it. Many things for me to eat.) We both got a fake chicken with sesame dressing wrap and I got some lemonade.  At this point, some 6 hours later, I have not had a significant allergic reaction to non-meat chicken so I optimistic that I will ok….but just to make sure, I am going to have a large slab of meat for dinner…hopefully it will counteract any lingering issues that may be caused by contaminating my body with fake meat. (Ask Steven how happy he was that I am a vegetarian when we had to leave his company party early because many people think veggies eat fish.)

After we ate, we hiked down the Acid War Zone Trail…and trail needs quotes.  It was fabulously scenic and is called the acid war zone because of the stark hardscrabble landscape.  It runs along the occean and the sea-water erosion of the volcanic rocks is amazing.   The trail ends at the Nakalene blowhole which erupts every 15-20 seconds.  The photos and video say more than I could ever describe. (Having a few technical issues so it might take a little while to get some of the photos up -but here is the video.)


Once back in the car, we continued the loop around the north side of the island….when the sign said narrow winding road we chuckled…when it said 15 mph speed limit we giggled, when it said one lane – we rolled our eyes….8 miles, 3 near accidents and way too many hairpin turns with straight drops later…we smiled again and said….that was so cool!  It reminded us of a much longer and much greener Dades road in Morocco…it also wound around the hills rather climbing up one gorge.

By the time we returned to the hotel it was 5pm – cocktail hour.  I made a couple of our newly invented drinks..gin, ginger beer and pineapple juice… and we relaxed.


The Sun Did Come Up…

After getting up at 1:30 (ok, 1:40 after hitting snooze), we took a sunrise tour up Haleakala to see the sunrise. Unfortunately, nature wasn’t on our side. We glimpsed beautiful streaks of pink between the clouds, and then it was light. I was freezing the whole time, but despite all that, it was worth it. Our tour guide from Haleakela Bike Company,  Derek, was entertaining and helpful and our driver, Keith, made the trip seem like a breeze even when the road wound round and round as we climbed. I have a couple of suggestions: Bring snacks, because you won’t have a chance to eat for many hours and if you are like me, your stomach wakes up hours after you get out of bed. Also, warm clothes are essential! Brrrrrrrr.

20180427_073051Even if the sunrise had been perfect, I think the best part would have been the bike ride down. I was still bundled up in two fleeces and Under Armour winter pants, but cruising down a volcano on a mountain bike is FUN. You can see for yourself on the video. We did the whole 22.5 miles by 9:30 am just because going fast feels great. Then, we went to Colleen’s, a breakfast spot in the same strip mall as the tour company. If you love coffee, check it out. The Maui Roasting Company does a special blend for the restaurant and it was delicious. The food was good too.

6016728A-5C4A-47DB-8499-BD15E6EB8C2ASteven’s lunatic thought of the day:  Maui is at 20.7984° N latitude. The diameter of the earth at that point is 7,923.054 miles (Google it!), which means that the circumference is about 24,891.01 miles (using excel which does π to 15 decimal places).  Last year we saw the sunrise over the Sahara, just outside Merzouga Morocco (31.0802° N latitude). The distance between the two is 8,400 miles and 12 time zones. Maybe for our next trip we will try and figure out what is equidistant of the remaining 16,000 miles and watch the sun rise there…. I think it’s the middle of the ocean …so maybe we will bobbing on the water somewhere.

Travel day

It has been a very long travel day.  We left our house at 8am CST and arrived in our hotel room at 7pm in the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone.  Adjusting that back to CST, it is midnight.   That is the thing about traveling, flying time was about 10 hours, but the elapsed time was 16 hours.  Lots of it is waiting around, for the flight, the layover, waiting to get off the plane, the rental car shuttle bus and the check in line at the hotel.

All in all, the flights were fine.  They both left and arrived on time; not too much turbulence,  we were seated in the back of both our flights, but such is life in the modern age.  We thought ahead and brought lunch and dinner with us so we weren’t stuck eating the airport or airline food, and also didn’t need to worry if we had time to eat in LA during our layover.  I binge watched Fauda from Netflix, a really good, but really disturbing Israeli show.

Steven us right, the flights were fine, but for some reason I just didn’t want to be on the plane. On the way to LA, I listened to a book, The Changling by Victor LaValle. I always listen at lest 1.4 speed for efficiency. It’s not what I was expecting, but so far, so good. On the way to Maui, I watched The Shape of  Water. I am late to the game on that one, but it was beautifully shot and very sweetly romantic. Next, I went for Phantom Thread. It,s hard to go wrong with Daniel Day Lewis and the clothes were fabulous, but there was no one to root for and the ending was creepy. In the end, I just wanted off the plane as quickly as possible. I might have been a little crabby. 

Off to bed early as we are tired and need to be up at 1:30 for our sunrise on Haleakala excursion.

more tomorrow.


The Booking Elves

Well, the booking elves have been busy (read Sue, as she is our official booker).   (I found this out accidentally, when Steven said, “Did you book that? You’re the booker.”) We broke down the trip by day and then started to work through our list of possible adventures.  Some of them we don’t need to book–hiking, visiting Haiku/Paia, driving the road to Hana, etc., but for others, it was time to pull out the iPad and laptop and start to make reservations.

There are a few things we had to be aware of when we started planning.

  1. We have only 2 full free days on Maui, 2 days we have work events (one dinner & one breakfast).
  2. We can’t go up Haleakala and scuba dive on consecutive days as it isn’t safe.
  3. We can’t fly for 18 hours after a scuba dive.
  4. Most trips on Maui seem to start early (7-7:30 am)–especially the ones on the water. (I don’t like the morning, especially on vacation.)

This is our schedule before we started booking things. (Get used to spreadsheets; Steven LOVES them. This hardly counts.):

1 Arrive on Maui at about 5 pm
2 Work dinner at 7 pm
3 Work meeting (Steven only) 9 am
6 Flight to Oahu 1 pm
9 Flight home 1 pm


Sunrise on Haleakala and then a 23-mile bike ride down the mountain

WOW!  This starts really really really early–can’t they reschedule sunrise for a more reasonable time?  We are on vacation!  We need to be at the departure point at 3:30 am.  UGH!  After a little discussion, we realized that Maui is 5 hours behind our home time zone and figured that if we did this trip the first morning (Day 2), our bodies would think it was 8:30 am.  So we booked it–I will let you know on the day if we are fooling ourselves on this one. (Steven neglects to mention that he then told a friend/work colleague that we would have drinks and dinner with him and his wife after we arrive in Maui. So, late night, early morning given that we won’t get to the hotel until 7ish.)

Kayak to Molokini

I emailed one of the places to understand how hard a 3.5-mile (each way) kayak trip would be.  The reply came back: “It is really good for triathletes.”  I am more of a “try athlete”–you know I try to be an athlete, but not really hard, because then I sweat and might spill my drink.  We pass.

Sunset kayak tour

We could only find one place that did this and not on the days that we were available…strike 2 for kayaking.


After poking around for a while, we found a dive shop on Oahu that looks good.  Only 6 reef piratespeople per dive, two-tank discover diving trip, they have their own boat, and they have lots of good reviews on TripAdvisor.  But more importantly, they have a great name & logo – Reef Pirates – which any real diver will tell you is the right way to pick a dive shop.   We booked this for the afternoon of Day 7.

Kayak trip to Gilligan’s Island

This is a four-hour tour (of course, it would be more apropos if it were a 3-hour tour)…plus travimagesel time to and from the north side of the island.  Officially, it is Coconut Island–but it is where some (all?)(at least the pilot) of Gilligan’s Island was shot.  If you are too young to remember the show….Boy did you miss one of the truly great quality high art television events.  A true tour de force with nuanced and carefully planned plot lines and characters (Ginger or Mary Ann? The Professor or ???)….you absolutely should find some reruns of it.

Anyway, we decided to book this on Day 8, our last full day in Hawaii, so if we are shipwrecked and can’t get off the island for three seasons, we won’t have missed any of our vacation.

paul ryan

(Total aside: I Googled fair use Gilligan’s Island images and this appeared.   No comment.) Perhaps more of a comment on Google’s search process rather than a political comment.



Hawaii, Oh boy :(

A free trip to Hawaii. Wow, right? I don’t know; I just wasn’t feeling it. It’s the middle of the school year. It’s a long flight to just sit on the beach. I don’t need any more skin Image result for indifferent facecancer. It will probably be the first nice weather week in Chicago. I had all kinds of excuses. Some might say I have a little problem with being told what to do (some???? The only way it is some, not all, is if you count the people who don’t know you.), even if it’s something good. I like to be in control of things like when and where I go on vacation. My friends were so excited for me; I really wanted to be excited, too, especially because I knew Steven was and I didn’t want to spoil his mood. It’s an honor; he earned it and it’s a free trip to Hawaii. I felt like a you-know-what.  

But, I have come around now that the trip is approaching andImage result for emojis it’s snowing in April. I have warmed (pun intended?) to the idea of Hawaii. Travel, I love it. Plus, I love to be outdoors, pushing my (35-year-old) aging body to the limits. There won’t be any beach-sitting for us. Maybe a sunset with a nice umbrellaed drink by the ocean, but that’s it for sitting around. Hiking, biking, kayaking, learning about scuba? I’m in! A brewery and some cheap eats? Even better. 


indexWe leave on an April 26 flight to LA and then to Maui; we arrive at 5 pm.  We are staying on Maui until noon on Tuesday, May 1, when we fly to Oahu.  We are in Honolulu until noon on Friday, May 4; then a stop in LA and finally to Chicago at 6 am on Saturday.

Since the airfare and hotel are paid for by my company we have to do a little bit of “work stuff.”  We have a meet & greet dinner on the first night. (I am not looking forward to this. I will have to be on my best behavior. Boo!) and then I have a breakfast meeting the next morning for 90 minutes.  (Read: Sue sleeps late.) Other than that, we are on our own.  I am very excited about this trip–especially since it is snowing this morning (April 9; Cubs home opener postponed).  We have created a short list of potential activities and will need to figure out which ones we have time/energy/inclination to do:

  1. Watch the sun rise on Haleakala and then a 23-mile bike ride down the mountain
  2. Scuba (try dive for Sue)
  3. zip lining–yes, Steven, who is petrified of heights, thinks this would be fun.
  4. Hiking on Haleakala
  5. Hiking on the Acid War Zone Trail
  6. Drive the road to Hana and hike along the way
  7. Visit Haiku and Paia
  8. Kayak to Molokini
  9. Sunset kayak tour
  10. Some other kayak tour
  11. Surfing!
  12. Kayak trip to Gilligan’s Island! – wonder if it will be more than a three hour tour (a three hour tour)
  13. Hiking on Diamondhead
  14. Visiting with Sue’s niece (actually my second cousin’s kid) who lives in Honolulu
  15. Relax? – probably not, but figured I would put it in anyway
  16. Avoid Steven’s colleagues

A couple of interesting points.  Seems like everything starts early in the morning especially the kayaking.  Haleakala is about 11,000 feet high and the sunrise tour starts at 3 am, so it will be cold.  The kayak trip to Molokini is 3.5 miles each way and since neither Sue nor I are real kayakers, we have no idea how hard that would be. (How hard could it be???)  Sue is not interested in surfing (I have trouble balancing on firm ground.), but I don’t think that will stop me.  I am a certified Scuba diver, but Sue has never done it, so maybe we will try and fit that in to see if she likes it.

When we decided to start up this blog, I did the only thing reasonable –I went out and bought a new toy–a GoPro camera.  (I helped the purchase along when he was dithering by suggesting the blog.) Now I am trying learn how to use it and will hopefully master it before we go. (Hmmm, I noticed this is I and not we. Where’s my GoPro?)   I’ll post some videos before we go so you can see the learning curve (which hopefully isn’t too long) on my new favorite toy.