{maui} day 9

It was our last day in Maui and we were determined to make it a great one.  We got up at the crack of dawn and made our way down to Makena Landing in South Maui for a sea kayaking/snorkeling trip with Maui Kayaks.  Jared and I shared a tandem kayak and were 2 of only 7 people in our group.  Our guide, Griff, was super nice and extremely knowledgeable.  His passion for the island and respect for the marine life were contagious.  We went to three different snorkeling sites and saw huge sea turtles at each site.  (We saw lots of fish, too, but the turtles really stole the show.)

(btw, all of these photos were taken with a Fujifilm Quick Snap waterproof disposable camera... we were pretty impressed with the quality compared to other underwater disposables we've tried)

If you're ever in Maui and want to take a snorkeling trip, I highly highly recommend Maui Kayaks.  When we went to Australia for our honeymoon we took two different charters out to the Great Barrier Reef, and while the charter boats are less work, kayaking gives you access to sites the big boats can't get to, and going out in such a small group made the experience even better.

After our snorkeling trip, we headed back to the hotel, took a nap, and went down to the pool for our last afternoon of sun, sand, and swimming.  I'm not going to lie, it was really really really hard to leave that pool.  Those last moments of warm sun were so bittersweet.  Oh, who am I kidding - they were just bitter.  We live in Portland.  The sun won't shine like that until next July.  That's TEN MONTHS AWAY!  What?  No, I'm not crying.  Must be - uh - sand in my eye.  Or something.

Anyway, we got all gussied up and set up out on the lenai to watch the luau until it was time to leave for dinner.  The hotel doesn't usually have luaus on Saturday nights, but we got lucky - a cruise ship had pulled in that day and booked a private luau.  Did I mention that the cruisers were nearly all retirees?  Have you ever seen retirees try to hula?  Well take my word for it - it was fantastic.  Truly truly fantastic.  The actual dancers were pretty great, too... particularly when they busted out the torches.  I don't know how they don't burn themselves to a crisp, but I guess that's why they're the pros and I'm the girl watching from her lenai 5 floors up.

The luau ended at 8, just in time for us to make it to Lahaina for dinner.  We decided to have a belated anniversary dinner on our last night in Maui (the chili dogs were great, but not exactly the romantic celebratory dinner we're accustomed to) and everyone said Lahaina Grill was the place to go for such a dinner.  Those people were not wrong.

Our dinner was aaaaaamazing... easily one of the best dinners we'd had in a long time.  We were the old farts of our section (everyone else was on their honeymoon) but the hostess took pity on us and gave us a card signed by the entire staff, and took a customary couples picture of us...

Here's what we had:

  • Bufala Salad (olawalu tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, truffle oil, aged balsamic vinaigrette, alziari extra virgin olive oil, and black kilauea sea salt)
  • Sauteed line caught local mahi-mahi (kula spinach, herbed mashed potatoes, gorgonzola pancetta bits, and chardonnay beurre blanc) -> this was the best mahi mahi we'd ever had and we d-e-v-o-u-r-e-d it.
  • Kurombuta Pork Shank (pork shank with black currant demi-glace, pearl onions, asparagus, creamed spinach mixed in with mashed potatoes)
  • Triple Berry Pie (raspberries, blueberries, and black currants with whipped cream and strawberry sauce) -> this pie was insane!  Absolute pie perfection.

We rolled ourselves back to the car after dinner and took a quick stroll on the beach at the hotel before spending the rest of the night out on the lenai, playing cards and getting tipsy.  Despite a relatively early flight the next day, we didn't go to bed until 2am or so to try to delay the inevitability of going home just a little longer.

And with that, our amazing vacation and this series of posts have come to an end... thanks for reliving the adventure with me!  :-)

{maui} day 8

We slept in the morning of Day 8, had a late breakfast, and trekked out to Black Rock for more snorkeling.  The fish were abundant and similar to what we'd seen the day before at Honolua Bay.  We'd been snorkeling for nearly an hour when we had our second sea turtle sighting.  They're so much bigger than everything else in the water that it's always such a surprise when come out of nowhere and are suddenly mere feet away.  We saw another turtle after that, and then a HUGE ray!  Turns out it was a spotted eagle ray, like this:

It set my nerves off a bit (I'll admit, I had brief flashes of getting Steve Irwined), but it was so beautiful and graceful I couldn't help wanting it to swim back toward us so we could get another look.

After snorkeling we set up by the pool for a few hours of sunbathing and swimming - a combination that never seems to get old.  Another late afternoon nap, followed by the sunset cliff dive on Black Rock, and we headed out to Lahaina to do a bit of shopping and to get some dinner.

We grabbed some beers and burgers at Cool Cats (voted the "best" burgers in Maui.)  The service was a tad slow, but nothing like what people griped about on Yelp.  The burgers were delish, as were the fries and onion rings.  They had a guy playing classic rock tunes, who was a delightful change of pace from the island music we'd been hearing for the past week.  He played The Weight for us, which was excellent.

After dinner we stopped for our 3rd and final shave ice of the trip.  This one was BY FAR the best.  The girls at Ululani's were chatty, but it didn't detract from their ability to make some damn good shave ice.  First they shave the block of ice like snow then they pack it down and aerate it with a straw before pouring on the syrup.  We got 1/2 pineapple 1/2 strawberry (hey, we know what we like when it comes to sweet treats and we stick to it) and the taste and texture were far superior to any of the other shave ices we'd had so far... each spoonful melted instantly in our mouths.  Mmmmm, it was so good.

Next up for Day 9... our last day in Maui.  :-(

{maui} day 7

After a luxurious night's sleep in our king size bed, we grabbed a bit of breakfast at the hotel buffet, and drove up to Honolua Bay for some snorkeling.  The coral was sparse at first, but once we found the reef a bit further out we quickly discovered why this was considered such a great snorkeling spot.  There were a ton of very colorful fish, some bigger than we saw in the Great Barrier Reef.  Then - out of nowhere - a sea turtle was swimming right in front of us!  Sea turtles are my 3rd favorite animal on the planet (behind sea otters and orangutans), so I may have freaked out a bit.  We followed it for a while until it disappeared into the deep.  Those few minutes were easily the highlight of the whole day. We spent the afternoon by the pool, cooling off with fruity drinks and dips in the pool.  When we'd had enough sun, we went back up to the room for what was supposed to be a short nap, but I guess we were liking that bed a bit too much because we slept right through the alarm.  What was supposed to be a 7pm dinner turned into 8:30pm.  Oh well.  Totally worth it.

We had dinner on the beach front patio at the Hula Grill (also in Whaler's Village.)  The food wasn't anything special, sort of bar food with a tropical twist, but it really hit the spot.  The live music was surprisingly good, and our fellow tourists were unsurprisingly annoying.  (Apparently the patio at the Hula Grill is a hot spot for frat-type vacationers.)

After dinner we went back to the room for a lazy movie night.  We watched Cyrus, which was pretty funny.  John C Reilly can do no wrong and Marisa Tomei was great as the quirky oddball mom.   But even days later I found I couldn't get the shots of Jonah Hill's creepy staring out of my head.

See?  Creepy.

Day 8... even more snorkeling, sea turtles, and sun.

{maui} day 6

After a lazy morning at the Sugar Inn, we packed up Betty White for the last time.  Saying goodbye was bittersweet - she was our home for 5 days and enabled us to do so many amazing things we just wouldn't have been able to do in a rental car... but we were ready for some good old fashioned resort time.  Dreams of fruity drinks poolside, an air conditioned room, a bed, fresh towels, and sleeping in carried us all the way to Ka'anapali. We were a bit early for check-in so we drove in Lahaina for lunch at Aloha Mixed Plate.  The service was a bit slow, but the food was delicious.  Back at the hotel, not only was our room ready - but they'd upgraded us to a Deluxe Ocean Front Suite!  Thanks Starwood!  We knew from the website that this was one of the nicest rooms at the whole resort, but imagine our excitement when we discovered that it was pretty much the polar opposite of Betty White.  (No offense, B-dubs.)  The shower alone was bigger than the Westie.  Here's a little 3 minute tour of our room, in case you're interested:

After unpacking, we went for a quick dip in the ocean, had some girly drinks at the Cliff Dive bar, and headed back to our room to watch the sunset cliff diving ceremony at Black Rock from our lenai.  The twice weekly luau was taking place on the lawn below our room so we got to take in some traditional Hawaiian dancing before leaving for dinner in Whalers Village.  We ate at Cane & Taro, which was pretty good but still not the mind-blowing island seafood experience we'd been hoping to find in West Maui.

On our way back to the hotel, we noticed that the full moon had a multi-colored halo around it, but sadly didn't have our camera with us to document the strange sight.  It turns out it was a lunar corona, and looked very similar to this (but ours was more colorful):

We ended the night with some wine, beer, cards and tunes out on the lenai.  I know what you're thinking... how did they endure such hardship, such stress?  Well it wasn't easy, but we managed.  ;)

Up next for Day 7... snorkeling, sea turtles, and sun.

{maui} day 5

After a thankfully dry night's sleep, we headed out from Camp Olowalu to complete our final leg of driving. Later that day we'd be able to say we drove the entire island. Pretty cool. And tiring. Our first stop of the day was Makalua-Puna Point. The lava here was much lighter than we'd seen so far and the waves had eroded it into sharp points in places. The views from here were spectacular.

Next up was the Nakalele Blowhole. This was easily one of the best stops of the whole trip. After a bit of a trek down to the water, we reached the blowhole, found a nearby rock, and sat there mesmerized by what we were seeing. Over time, the ocean undercut the lava shelf that shapes the shoreline and when the waves crash against the shore, the water shoots up through a man-sized hole in the lava.

It's hard to really appreciate the natural wonder of the Nakalele Blowhole without seeing it in person, but here's some video in case a crazy Maui adventure isn't in your future:

We could have stayed at the Blowhole all afternoon, but we had to keep moving. Fortunately, our next stop was also pretty fantastic - the Olivine Pools. The hike down to the pools was a bit of a beast, but totally worth it. The rocks have little bits of olivine encrusted in them, making them glitter in the sun, and the pools were so wonderful to swim in.

After a long dip in the pools, we got back on the road, picked up some more banana bread at Julia's, and purchased a few souvenirs at the wonderful little Kaukini Gallery. Our very last stop before completing our journey around Maui was the Lower Makamaka'ole Falls. Though we couldn't get up close, they were still pretty beautiful from the highway. (The point at which I get sick of seeing waterfalls is the point at which I need to chuck my iPhone out the window and seriously reevaluate my life.)

We felt a huge sense of accomplishment as we drove back into Kahului. It tooks us 5 days and 314 miles to see and do everything we wanted to do during the "adventure" part of our Maui vacation, and in spite of the sunburns and dirty feet, it felt seriously awesome.

We'd already decided that we didn't want to camp another night... as much as we loved Betty White, we were in desperate need of a real bed and a hot shower. So we called Kat at the Sugar Inn in Pa'ia and booked a room. She was so nice and our room was exactly what we needed. We dropped our stuff, had a much needed scrub down in the shower, and hung out on the lenai until dinner.

For dinner that night we went to Milagros in Pa'ia, which was good but not great. Thankfully, the same can't be said for the post-dinner gelato we got at Ono Gelato.

Ono Gelato makes their gelato right there in the store and uses local, organic ingredients. These facts were a nice little bonus, but I don't care what they use as long as they keep making unbelievably delicious gelato. That cup of 1/2 pineapple 1/2 strawberry was as good, if not better, than the gelato I had in Italy. I definitely need to add gelato to my frozen treats repertoire.

After some more hang-time on the lenai, we crashed fairly early. To say we were exhausted would be a HUGE understatement.

Day 6... we bid a fond farewell to Betty and try our best to adjust to the harsh realities of resort-life.

{maui} day 4

The sunrise the morning of Day 4 was so beautiful it nearly made us forget the awful, stormy night we just had.

We even had another rainbow sighting over the Seven Sacred Pools.

Another breakfast of oatmeal and banana bread in our bellies and we headed out to drive the southern coast of Maui and make our way up to Haleakala.  Past Kipahulu, the landscape abruptly went from lush greenery to dry desert (complete with stray cattle and mountain goats), and the road became even windier and narrower than usual.  Several stretches were unpaved, or used to be paved and are now simply a mosaic of pothole patches.

After an hour or so of driving we started making our way up Haleakala.  The road to the summit is essentially 20 miles of switchbacks, climbing up to the visitor center at 7,000 feet, and then higher to the summit at 10,000 feet.  Betty did surprisingly okay and the views made up for the nausea.  (There were points at which we could actually see turbulence in the clouds as we climbed above the cloud line.)

We finally got to the Leleiwi Lookout (around 9,000 feet and a few miles from the summit) and it became very clear why we'd endured all those switchbacks - Haleakala Crater was vast, impressive, and stunning.  The temperature drop was very noticeable at this altitude, so I was even colder than usual.

We made our way up to the summit, which I thought wasn't as impressive as the view from the Lookout.  Don't get me wrong, it was still beautiful, but the view from the Lookout felt more like we were in the crater.  Still, looking out into the crater it was hard to believe that it was all once an active, lava-filled volcano.

We also saw these cool plants called silverswords.  The summit of Haleakala is the only place they exist in the entire world, and - like salmon - they only spawn once in their lifetime before they die.

After a lazy lunch at Hosmer Grove (the campground about halfway up Haleakala), it was time to tackle the switchbacks again.  Going down the mountain was much much worse.  There wasn't a gear low enough that made it possible to not ride Betty's brakes the entire time.  The smell of raw brakes greeted us as we got back to civilization, but the old girl came through for us.

We made our way back to South Maui to tour the beach towns that stretch from Kihei to La Perouse Bay.  There were some very nice houses and hotels, but the towns themselves lacked a lot of the character we saw in Central and East Maui.  The lava fields we saw down at Cape Kina'u were probably the best thing we saw along this stretch.

After that it was more driving - this time back up the coast to Hwy 30 and West Maui.  It was here that we finally got closer to real shave ice at the Olowalu Market.  It was much bigger, the ice was more finely shaven, and the syrup was much more flavorful.  Jared had been driving for 10 hours at this point so he probably would have welcomed anything that was cold and sweet, but it was a nice little bonus for the shave ice to be so good.

We struggled to find a good spot to camp for the night, and after getting stuck in the sand at one beach, and weirded out by the chickens and stray cats at another, we decided it was best to fork over the $20 to park Betty at Camp Olowalu for the night.  I was finally able to get in a short military-style shower, which was cold but extremely enjoyable.  We cooked up another dinner of hot dogs and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese and settled in for the night.

On the menu for Day 5... we finally complete the trek around the entire coast of Maui and visit one of the best sites of the whole trip - the Nakalele Blowhole.

{maui} day 3

Day 3 in Maui was our 1 year anniversary!  We woke up very early to drive to the Venus Pool because the views are supposed to be spectacular at sunrise.  We missed it by about 30 minutes because the drive back there took a bit longer than we anticipated, but it was still beautiful.

We popped a squat on a hill overlooking where the pools met the ocean and had a little breakfast of banana bread.  We had the whole site to ourselves, which is extremely rare for any sightseeing spot along the Hana Highway.  We didn't even mind when a light rain started to fall.  Which led to finding this when we got back to the car...

It was tough to leave this beautiful site, but we were in need of more supplies so we headed back to Hana to stock up.  On our way back to Kipahulu we wound up at Hamoa Beach for an early morning swim and to watch the surfers.  We were there at the perfect time... it was just us, the surfers, and a few locals doing some sort of traditional Hawaiian blessing on the hills above us.  It made for the best beach experience of the trip thus far, despite nearly drowning twice when I got pummeled by huge waves.  Seriously.  Absolutely blasted.  It wasn't pretty.

Back at Kipahulu, we managed to nab our same campsite and fixed up a snack.  The rain had come back a bit, but it had been falling on and off all day so we decided to continue with our plan to hike the Pipiwai Trail.  The first falls along the trail, the Makahiku Falls, sadly weren't falling.  Based on what the book said, we had high hopes for taking a swim in the Infinity Pool but it also wasn't flowing and was covered in mosquitoes.   It still made for some pretty pictures, though...

There were more pretty pools and vegetation along the trail, leading up to an amazing bamboo forest that was like another world.  When the breeze would blow the bamboo would knock against each other like a wind chime.

Now comes the part of this hike that I debated about including in this post... It was around the bamboo forest that we got stuck behind two female hikers.  Two insanely slow, oblivious hikers that walked even slower when they talked to each other about stupid unimportant things like cats and how one of them doesn't like stairs.  I wish I was kidding.  The hike at this point was just a narrow boardwalk, making it impossible to walk around them.  Now, I've been on dozens of hikes in my life and I assumed it was common knowledge that the proper hiking etiquette is to step aside and let faster hikers pass you.  And when I say common knowledge what I really mean is common sense.  I've really never experienced anything quite like it.  Which is why I felt the need to write about it... so that no one I know and love will ever have to experience the misery that was the last mile and a half of that hike.  So here's my little PSA: if you're on a hike and two very nice, non-aggressive people are clearly walking faster than you, please step aside and let them pass.  Sorry to get all preachy.  I'll move on now.  Oh - one more thing!  Feel free to apply this same common sense rule to driving in the left lane.  If you're not actively passing someone, please move over.  No matter how fast you think you're going, there's always someone who wants to go faster.  Thanks.  Okay, now I'm really moving on.

Thankfully the payoff at the end of the hike made that last mile and a half totally worth it - the Waimoku Falls...

It's hard to get a sense for the scale in this picture, but the falls are 400 feet tall and you can sort of see the size compared to the person in the blue in the bottom right corner.

Jared took a quick dip in the pool under the falls, then we headed back down the trail toward the campsite.  We dropped our stuff and went for a swim at the Seven Sacred Pools.  It was so nice and refreshing and a much needed opportunity to get off the last of the sand from Hamoa.  The sun showers were still falling on and off, so we ended up spending much of the rest of the afternoon stuck inside the camper.  We made a nice lunch and Jared settled in for a nap while I engrossed myself in Little Bee (I highly recommend reading it if you haven't already.)  Not long after after lunch, the biggest, brightest, and most complete rainbow I've ever seen started to appear over the ocean.

It continued to get stronger, and then...

DOUBLE RAINBOW!  OMG!!  :-)  It was very exciting.  We pretty much spent the next 2 hours transfixed by this rainbow.

Here's what happened in between this last photo and the next...

The monsoon finally stopped and the double rainbow reappeared.  By now it had gotten so big I had to walk clear across the campground to be able to fit half of it in the frame.  (That's Betty in the bottom right...)

It was awesome in every sense of the word.  Sadly, more rains arrived (probably still Jared's fault) and didn't seem to be letting up this time.  We made hot dogs and chili for our anniversary dinner, then got boozy and played cards while we waited for the rain to stop.  It didn't.  The rain and wind gusts lasted all night long.  Nothing says Happy Anniversary like having a terrible night's sleep in the top bunk of a VW camper because you left the back open during a rain storm and the regular bed got soaked.  Good times.  :)

Day 4 couldn't come soon enough after such a crappy night... up next - we see more rainbows, summit Haleakala, and head west toward better weather.

{maui} day 2

We woke up early on our second day in Maui to very light rain sprinkles.  Getting rained on in paradise is way better than getting rained on in Portland, so we didn't really sweat it when the rain turned monsoon-like about an hour later.  We broke out the stove and cooked up a small breakfast of oatmeal while we waited out the storm.

After taking our last hot shower for the next 3 days, the rain stopped and we packed up and got back on the Road to Hana.  Our first stop was Aunty Sandy's in Ke'anae.  (I should mention that we were religiously following the advice in Maui Revealed, a must have if you're going to Maui and a total lifesaver for us.  The author is a BIG fan of the banana bread in Maui, and it wasn't hard to see why once we had our first taste of the stuff.)

One of the handful of things my dad is really spectacular at making in the kitchen is banana bread from scratch... I haven't had it in years but I remember it being insanely good.  He said the secret was using overly ripe bananas.  The warm banana bread we got at Aunty Sandy's was even better than my dad's.  Far and away the best banana bread I've ever had.  I really can't put into words how moist and delicious it was.

Aunty Sandy's is located where it is because there also happens to be a great little stretch of coastline there that tourists flock to for photo ops.  It was here that we got our first up-close glimpse of the lava rocks that make up the majority of Maui's beaches.

Back on the Hana Highway we stopped at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gravel lot on the side of the road beneath the Wailua Valley State Wayside.  The steep flight of stairs to the Wayside were definitely worth the climb, as once we got up there we had sweeping views of the Pacific below us, the tiny village of Wailua and several small taro fields.  Behind us was a great view of Haleakala.

The next stop was the Upper Waikani Falls (also called the Three Bears Falls.)  They were pretty, but it was a really busy stop so we didn't stay long.

Pua'a Ka'a State Park a little further down the road was a surprisingly pretty stop and slightly less busy.  It was here that I finally figured out the settings for getting a nice waterfall pic, which got me super excited.

The book makes a big deal about a little community down the road a bit called Nahiku - going so far as to say "As you stand there in your own private paradise, you can't help but wonder if there's a more beautiful place in the world."  Well, Mr. Doughty, you need to book yourself a week at the Thala Beach Lodge in Port Douglas, Australia.  Or stand on the cliffs in Capri, Italy looking out onto the Mediterranean.  Nahiku was pretty, but not nearly as impressive as the book makes it out to be.  For one, the road to the actual beach is closed to non-residents (a result of being mentioned so enthusiastically in the book, no doubt.)  There were plenty of tourists who disregarded the signs, but we parked at the head of the road and walked through the town and down to the beach.  The swimming holes the author highlighted were all dried up, and the beach itself wasn't really anything special compared to elsewhere in Maui.  This was once of the few places where the book led us astray, and if you're taking the Road to Hana, I'd recommend not bothering with this stop.

Our next stop was Wai'anapanapa State Park where we had a picnic lunch on the beautiful black sand beach.  There was also a cool little cave / lava tube there that we explored.

After the black sand beach we went to a red sand beach at Ka'uiki Hill, which was also beautiful but we were hot and desperate for a beach where we could do some swimming so we picked up our first Shave Ice and got back on the road.  Not all Shave Ice is created equal, and this first sampling was basically just a slightly tastier snow cone.  Thankfully the cooldown we were looking for was only a few miles away at Koki Beach.  It was one of the prettiest beaches I've ever been to and we got in some much needed bodysurfing in the warm clear water.

Back on the Hana Highway we skipped a few waterfalls and the Venus Pool (we'd get to them the next day) to nab a good campsite at Haleakala National Park in Kipahulu.  The campground was busy since it was a Saturday, but we were right along the coastline and the views were unreal.

About 200 yards from our campground stood one of the best sites of our whole trip: 'Ohe'o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools).  We got there just as the sun was starting to set, which made the water appear several shades of blue.

A dip in the pools would have to wait, since daylight was fading and we were starving.  On the menu for dinner: hot dogs and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese.  Low in nutrition, high in sodium, and completely delicious.

Up next for Day 3... our anniversary, sunrise at the Venus Pool, bodysurfing at Hamoa, 400 ft falls, and a massive double rainbow.  OMG!  :)

{maui} day 1

After a very bumpy flight into Maui, Jared and I stepped out of OGG into exactly the kind of weather we'd been hoping for - hot, tropical, and most importantly SUNNY! A brief cab ride to Kihei and we arrived at our first stop: Aloha Campers. Our friends Erin and John had gone to Maui earlier in the year and rented a VW Westfalia to take camping around the island for the first part of their trip. We loved the idea so much we decided to do the exact same thing! The plan was to camp for 5 days, and stay at a nice resort for the last 4. But we started to question that plan when we pulled up to pick up the Westie. The Aloha Campers sign is basically Sharpie on cardboard and it more closely resembled a junk yard than a car rental place. But this was supposed to be an adventure, right? And Erin and John are good, normal people who would have told us if this was a shady operation, right? Thankfully, the manager arrived shortly after us and put our minds at ease. He showed us around our late 80s/early 90s Westfalia - white, automatic, sink, stove, fold down bed, pop-up roof with a 2nd bed and vented windows. Neither of us had ever been in a Westfalia before, much less driven one, but nervous excitement carried us from Kihei back up to Kahului where we picked up food and supplies for the next 5 days. After that, we hit the Hana Highway!

(Somewhere between Kahului and Pa'ia I decided we should nickname our Westie "Betty White." She was old but still kicking, and had us laughing from the start. This nickname naturally led to many immature jokes throughout the rest of the trip... particularly when periods of rain made it rather hot and muggy inside the van. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.)

Our first stop was Pa'ia, a very cute little beach town that reminded me a bit of my days in Venice Beach. It has a lot of character - probably the most of any town we visited in Maui - and felt less touristy than we expected. We ate lunch at Charley's, which is owned by Willie Nelson and named after his late dog. We both had salads and got our first sampling of local beer from the Maui Brewing Company. I had the Bikini Blonde Lager and Jared had the Big Swell IPA. We both agreed mine was better.

We drove the Hana Highway to Ke'anea and came very close to dying several times. The Hana Highway is no joke - it's narrow, windy, hilly, and pretty much terrifying (especially in a clunky old van that we were still getting used to driving.) Betty White was a champ, though. I think she handled the drive better than we did.

We stopped at the YMCA camp in Ke'anea for the night. It had great views of the ocean, lush greenery, and hot showers. Another Westfalia was already there, so we chatted with them for a bit... Wendy and Joe from San Fran, celebrating their 5 yr anniversary, also rented from Aloha Campers. They were jealous of Betty's condition, as their's was stick-shift, had a bit of rust around the kitchen area, and didn't have the side vents in the pop-up top. When you're stuck in a van together for 5 days these things start to matter.

We had some drinks, played several rounds of Gin Rummy, and called it a night. (If I admitted that Jared whooped me at cards that first night I'd also have to admit that I returned the favor nearly every night from that point on and that would be insensitive, so why bring it up? I'm way more mature than that.) ;)

Stay tuned for Day 2, when we get our first taste of the best banana bread on the planet, go waterfall hunting, and finally get in some beach time...