Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Day 13: Aloha

"Aloha" means hello in Hawaiian but it also means goodbye. The word has many meanings and uses which is kinda funny to me. One important meaning is love and it is hard to not feel love when you come to Hawaii. We love the beautiful landscape, we love the sunsets, we love the foods, and most importantly we love our family that is here. We had one last day on Oahu with those people we love so much. We spent the day at Kakela Beach just a few miles from Po Po and Goong Goong's house in Hauula, and I think I have found another favorite beach on the North Shore.

We stopped here the first day we were in town and got a few amazing pictures. We decided to come back with Aunty Erin and Po Po and Goong Goong to spend the day because the surf is calm and there is plenty of shade for the kids. The sand is also white and the water is an amazing blue green color.

In the afternoon we met up with Aunty Mercy and Uncle Nick to make the trip to the airport for our 9 pm flight out of Honolulu. We made a few important stops on our way like Longs Drug Store for bags of coffee and other necessary food items we can't find at home. The kids stopped off with their Aunties and Uncle at the mall to play and wear them out for our long trip home. Our last stop was at Scott's house to pick up a cooler of dry ice and pork Lau Lau's that Scott so graciously made for us to take home.

My parents were waiting for us at Honolulu airport for our long
journey home to Maryland. And when I say long, I mean 17 hours through what was our night (Hawaii time) and 3 cities before we reached Baltimore. The kids did an excellent job with the traveling and we tried to keep in good spirits despite feeling sad that our vacation was ending. As I mentioned we had to stop 3 times on the way home. The last stop was at JFK in New York and it was a rather long layover.  We finally boarded a small airplane for our short flight to BWI at 6:35 pm. Just as we start to make our descent for landing we looked out the window to the right to see a beautiful sunset. It wasn't quite a Maui sunset but it was affirmation.  The beauty is all around me. It is definitely over in Hawaii and not hard to see it, but it is also right here at home in the day to day. I just need to make sure that I keep expecting to see it.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Day 12: Keikis

There are many tears being shed today. For the kids, it is mostly because they are overtired. For me, it is because I am overwhelmed. This vacation was definitely a rainbow for me. Maui is quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been. And I got to share this time here with the most beautiful people in my life. As the airplane took off, I looked at the incredible landscape of Maui wondering if this highlight in my life would have meant as much had I not just traveled my cancer journey. Sometimes we don't really know the height until we experience the depths.

We went for one last run around Kaanapali, we ate our breakfast on the lanai, and played by the pool. 
{Blake is looking out at the island of Molokai. I was wondering if he wasn't contemplating why he ever left Hawaii.}

Then we sadly packed up to leave our beautiful condo to head to the airport. We took a few last pictures outside of our condo.

On our way, we took a drive toward the Southern shore of Maui to Kihei and Wailea. Blake spent many fun vacations at the Grand Wailea with his friend, Scott so it was great to be able to get over to see it even if it was just from the car.

My parents got to stay one more night on Maui so hopefully they are enjoying some quiet now. Po Po and Goong Goong traveled back to Oahu with us and we met up with Aunty Erin, Aunty Mercy and Uncle Nick for a delicious Chinese dinner at Kin Wah in Kaneohe. 

Keikis is the Hawaiian word for kids.  A huge part of the joy of this trip was to see the kids having experiences that they haven't had and being with family with whom they have not yet been able to spend time. They could have cared less about the food that we gorged ourselves on, they took little notice of the beautiful landscape but they absolutely loved being with their grandparents, aunties and uncles. 

It is times like this with Blake's family that we wish were not so few and far between.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Day 11: Haleakala

Catching the sunrise at the beach with a few of my best friends has become one of my favorite past times. I have heard that there is nothing like a sunrise at Haleakala so I was determined to see it for myself. It is a big commitment to trek up Hakeakala before the sun comes up because it means waking up at 3 am. He was not thrilled but I convinced Blake to do it with me. And my parents have seen the sunrise at Haleakala so there wasn't much convincing needed. 

At the top of Haleakala at 6 am it was 39 degrees with crazy winds and too many clouds to actually get a full glimpse of the sun. All factors considered I would not have missed the experience for anything. It was an unforgettable sight at the summit of the volcano surrounded by fluffy clouds looking down into the crater.

The other amazing thing about making the journey is that you have to travel up a winding road in the pitch black. There are tour buses that would gladly have taken us up (some even provide bikes for you to ride back down), but my dad was the driver this time. After the sun is up, the ride back down is full of breathtaking views. It was so worth the 3 am wake up for me! For Blake, I am not so sure. He claims to be more of a sunset kinda guy.
{View of Maalaea Harbor and the west part of Maui from Haleakala}

Since Haleakala is an early morning adventure, we had plenty of day yet to fill back where it was warm.  We went for a Champagne Sunday Brunch at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel next door. The music and hula dancing were really exciting for Kalea while Koa really enjoyed the coconut checker board and the tikis. The food was exciting for all of us!

Since it was our last full day on Maui we tried our best to savor every moment and get as many pictures as possible.
{Our pool at The Whaler}

{One of my new favorite pictures}

We took in one last spectacular sunset, after seeing it rise as well.

{The sun going down and after it had gone down looking out to the island of Lanai}

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day 10: Spam Musubi

Today was pretty low key if that is even possible here since a simple glance around gets me so excited. We hung out at the beach and pool, swam and snorkeled close by at an area known as Black Rock, and ate Fried Rice and Spam Musubis for dinner at the condo. 

Musubi is one of the foods that Blake looks forward to eating when he comes home or his mom comes to Maryland. Most people struggle to get the whole spam thing, but the Hawaiians love their spam. I must say I have developed a taste for it myself and Blake's mom makes great Musubis. A Musubi is some type of meat-spam, chicken, beef, lup cheong (Chinese sausage which looks like a hot dog) with sticky rice, a drizzle of teriyaki or soy sauce then wrapped in seaweed. Having egg in it is another option. They can be found in a glass case to keep them warm at 7-11's and it happens to be one of our most important stops when we get to Hawaii.

Today I also tried some new fruits, Rambutan and Longan (also known as Dragon's eye). My mother-in-law says these fruits come from the Philippines and must be why they are more rare here than Papaya, Pineapple and Mangos. 

Obviously Blake loves all the food options that can only be found here and I have grown to love them as well. However, I always really enjoy the fruits and have eaten fresh Papaya every morning for breakfast. We are introducing the kids to all the foods as well but they have been mostly sticking to what they are used to (other than Aloha juice of course). We hope there will be many more trips to get them excited about all the foods they can have here.

As we set the dinner table out on the lanai, we got to catch yet another beautiful sunset.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Day 9: Hana ho!

Lately I have been trying to live with more of an expectant faith. During my diagnosis and treatment, I felt like I was seeing God answer my prayers and reveal Himself to me on a daily basis. As we have gotten further from those anxious days, I admit I have been less conscious of looking for Him and expecting Him to show off to me.

There were a few things we knew we wanted to do while we were on Maui. One of those was to snorkel along the Molokini crater. So we made a reservation for my parents and Blake and me for a boat tour on the Maui Magic to do whale watching and snorkeling for today. We got an early start and as we drove to the Maalaea Harbor, it looked to be a cloudy day. However, the skies cleared and we had the most amazing boat ride. Even the crew said it was a red letter day for them. As soon as we left the harbor, we were seeing the Humpback Whales breaching out ahead. Hawaii is one of the very few places in the world you can see Humpback Whales, and they are only here in the winter months. We got to see many calves practicing their breaching with their mommas by their sides since this is a learned maneuver for them. We witnessed a white Humpback Whale which according to our boat crew is very rare. One of the crew members told us “Hana ho!” which means “encore or do it again” is what we say to the whales when we want them to breach or show their flukes again.

We snorkeled at two incredible spots and enjoyed seeing the southern shore of Maui from the boat. On the way back to the harbor we all started to spot a calf and mother whale breaching very close to the boat. Suddenly a male “escort” following behind the other two breached right next to the left side of the boat and swam underneath our boat. It was a scary moment not knowing if he might turn the boat over and we might be the next big news story here on Maui. I was able to get some unbelievable video footage as he passed underneath the boat and came up to display his fluke on the right side of our boat. I didn't realize the magnitude of this experience I had heard so much about until I got to have it for myself. They are absolutely huge and amazing creatures.

I don't know why it should surprise me that we got so much more out of today's boat trip than I expected. Of course, it was just God doing His thing! Hana ho!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day 8: Mahalo

"Mahalo" means thank you here in Hawaii. It is the best word for today because it is how I feel, thankful. Blake and I have had the opportunity to spend some time alone together in one of our favorite places on earth. It is hardly believable that we are celebrating 10 years of marriage this May. I can't imagine what kind of person I would be without Blake's influence in my life over the last 12 or so years. Blake lives with realistic expectations of circumstances, of people, of life really. I attribute this to dealing with difficult stuff early in his life. But I have learned that his expectations or lack thereof is what frees him. He is not surprised at all by trial, as I was. His relationships are without conflict because he accepts people for what they are…fallen. And perhaps my absolute favorite thing is that he sees good in it all, and there is simply no room for complaint. In the day to day, he points out the positive, and when overwhelming beauty surrounds us as it does now, he allows and encourages me to pause and take it in.

Our stay at the Hyatt Regency was a redemption stay of sorts. The only other time I came to Maui in January of 2005, we planned to stay 3 nights here at the Hyatt. Shortly after we arrived, I got very sick with Strep. I spent the entire time in a bed while Blake tried to entertain himself during a rare bout of rainy days on Maui. One might be discouraged by such a trip and not think of returning. However, we were determined to come back and redeem the past. I think we were able to do just that.
We swam in the pool and went down the waterslide, then sipped Lava Flows poolside.

We explored the grounds of the Hyatt and visited the penguins, flamingos, swans and other lovely creatures they have living there.
We got to do possibly my favorite thing to do on any island in Hawaii-eat a breakfast buffet with scenery like this.  I was so stuffed until dinner.

It was great to have some time alone but it was also great to get back to our favorite people.  We reunited with everyone in time to have dinner at Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Day 7: Sunsets

It has almost been a week since we left home and the days have been packed full of amazing stuff. However, it is starting to catch up with the kids. We figured today would be a good day to take it easy and stick to the schedule that our kids are more used to. Mimi, Kalea and I played by the pool in the morning while Pop Pop, Blake and Koa took a drive to the airport to pick up Po Po and Goong Goong so they could start vacationing with us on Maui. The kids had lunch at the condo followed by some nap/quiet time as Blake and I made our exit to spend some quality time together at the Hyatt Regency in celebration of our 10 year anniversary.

The title for today's post is Sunset(s), not just sunset. Hawaii has hands down the most amazing sunsets, and each one seems to be more beautiful than the one before. This evening Blake and I got to enjoy another one together. We had so many amazing photos we had difficulty choosing a favorite one. 

After sunset, we ate a late dinner at Japengo, an Asian restaurant at the Hyatt. We ate on the patio overlooking the ocean while listening to live music-not a shabby way to celebrate 10 years!