Waikiki beach from our hotel room in the early morning.

After a long busy summer for both of us, this trip was just what the doctor had ordered. When October arrives, we know that the long crazy days that summer brings, are finally over for both of us, and we can get a chance to spend a few days together. That is what this trip was for us. And, there are not many places you can go that are better at helping you decompress than the islands of Hawaii. We were using some buddy passes from friends who work for Alaska Airlines to get there and back, so the getting there was part of the adventure. The plan was we would fly to Honolulu and spend a few days there shopping and kicking around Waikiki. Then we were going to take the Super Ferry to Maui, spend a week there, and fly home. That was the plan!

The short version is that the plan kind of worked. Flying on a buddy pass gives you a priority status just below the bugs on the windscreen. We know this, and factor it into our "plans" when flying on buddy passes. So we ended up flying to Kauai and catching a commuter flight into Honolulu. Ahhh, success! We enjoyed poking around the International Market and walking around looking at the sights. It was nice just to be together, wandering around with no plan for this part of the trip. We just did whatever struck us at the moment. But, a couple of days was enough for us and so we were happy to board the M/V Alakai and head for Maui.

A beach on Maui.
A beach on Maui's northwestern shore.

We arrived in Kahului, picked up our rental car, and headed off to find our condo which was between Kaapapali and Kahana. It is a ways around the island to where we were staying, but, we were on island time so that was ok.

We booked a tour on a small bus to go down the road to Hana. The tour takes the road that follows the shoreline, and goes around the base of Haleakala. That was a smart move on Janetís part. The road is a difficult drive, and had I driven, I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the views as you must watch where you are going all the time. There are so many stretches of single lane on it that it really pays to know the road. The sights were spectacular. The northeastern side of the island is the wet side and very lush. It was the first time I've been in a jungle like environment. It is very beautiful, and the rugged beaches along this coast made for spectacular scenes. After we passed Hana, we stopped at the little church where Charles Lindbergh is buried, which is a very beautiful and peaceful place.

At this point we lucked out. The road had been closed past the church for a few years because a slide had taken out a section of the road. A couple of days before we went, the state had completed enough repairs that we were able to continue on around the south side and on back to Kahului. Things started to dry out after the church and by the time we were down on the Southside of the island, it was quite dry. The south side is mainly dry, open slopes down low, going to forests up the mountain. There was very little there but the ranches and views that reached to the horizons. The last stop on the tour was at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store for some souvenirs and visit the winery next door. It was a nice way to see that part of the island, but is a full day, and it was good to get back to the condo and relax.

Janet hamming it up at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store.
Janet hamming it up at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store.

Our next big adventure was with the Whale Foundation at Maalaea, out to Molokini for some snorkeling. Wow! Molokini is the top of an old volcano that is missing half of the rim on its crater. It sticks up about 170 ft above the water and is open to the north, which protects the open caldera, and makes for some great snorkeling. After our morning swim, we had lunch on the boat and they moved to over to a spot along the beach by Wailea, where we went snorkeling again. The bottom was of a different type of rock and we saw some new species of fish here, and some sea turtles. On the way back to Maalaea, we stopped to watch more sea turtles swimming and feeding. It was an awesome day so far, and to finish it off right, we went up to Kahana to the Pineapple Grill for dinner. The LPGA was playing a tournament there and it was fun watching the last of the LPGA players finishing up their rounds, while having a drink out on the deck, waiting for our table. It was a great dinner with excellent food, in a great setting, to finish off a great day.

Sunrise from the summit of Haleakala.
Sunrise from the summit of Haleakala at 10,023 feet ASL. That is Mona Kea and Mona Loa on the big island of Hawaii in the background.

One of the things on our agenda was to drive up to the top of Haleakala for sunrise. We were told that from where we were staying to allow two hours to get up to the summit. With sunrise a little after 6 AM, we needed to leave by 4 AM. Oh that was early! My lovely copilot was good enough to stay awake most of the way there and help me figure which roads to take. We got up there at 6 AM, and there were already a fair number of people waiting for the sunrise. At 10,000 feet it was pretty cold outside until the sun came up and started warming things up. It was a good, although not spectacular sunrise; but were glad that we made the drive. We stayed around for a while after it was light, to see the mountain and caldera. After we had seen what we wanted, we headed back down. By the time we were down into the ranch areas, the sun was warm and felt soooo good, I got the drowsies. So we pulled off the road and took a little nap in the sun and quiet of the mountain. Oh that felt good. when we woke, we continued on down and stopped for lunch at a place along the road.

Back in Kahului, we drove around to see the town and do some shopping. Then we took the road north out of town and drove back to the condo around the northwest end of the island. The road was about the same as the road to Hana and kept me on my toes. The views were breath taking. I really enjoyed the drive, but I think Janet would have preferred if we had taken the main road across the island instead. I think if you go to Maui, you should go around both the north and south ends of the island and go up to Haleakala. We went on some other tours and visited some other sights, but we will leave that for another time.

The sunset from our deck our last night in Maui .
The sunset from our deck on our last night in Maui.

When it came time to go, there wasn't room for us on the flights out of Maui to Seattle. So we jumped on the Super Ferry and went back to Honolulu and got a flight from there. It was a good break from the daily grind, and chance for us to catch up after summer. We had a nice vacation.