January 19, 2016... We packed our bags and got on a short plane ride to Kahului, Maui. At take off... my traveling buddy decides to throw on his 70-200mm and lean over me to shoot out the window. "I should have sat in his seat" is what i was thinking. But at the same time found it quite amusing to see him struggling to shoot over and past me. #photographersarethebesttravelingpartners
We landed... got our bags and picked up our rental car. First stop... Tasaka Guri Guri Shop , duh. Then off to Longs for our necessities.
Hunger hit... and I already knew where I wanted to go for my birthday lunch: South Maui Fish Company in Kihei. Plan to wait a little bit for your food because it's all made to order. I ordered the poke bowl (yeah yeah yeah... I know I can get one of those anywhere on Oahu...but not with the Pineapple Coleslaw). I got the mixed Poke Bowl with Spicy Ahi and Shoyu Ahi which were both great. He got the fish tacos which was packed high with freshly caught fish seasoned and grilled to perfection with a slaw mixed in. And we (well I, since he's allergic to shellfish) was treated to a nice warm cup of their seafood chowder.
Wailea bound to our hotel... to check in and wind down. We walked a gazillion miles to our Ocean Front Room... dropped our bags off and decided to tour the hotel before dinner. Tucked in the corner by the kiddie pool area of the Resort... He spots a Ping Pong Table. Oh... buddy. Challenge ACCEPTED! 4 games later... we were sweaty and tired. I won't say who won 3-1 ... but I will say that I wish we went back to play more.
We had dinner reservations at Migrant located on property of our hotel. The menu there is family style so we ordered the Migrant Oyster Shooters (nice kick with the Fermented Calamansi and the Hawaiian Chili Pepper), the French Onion Mazemen was interesting... good interesting. The homemade Iwamoto Ramen noodles were dense and chewy and the braised short ribs were fork tender. And the last thing ordered was the Ahi Belly.
Day two ... First stop: Coffee. Why is it that all the Starbucks that are attached to hotels run out of everything or don't make certain things. Oh well. Coffee is coffee... kinda. On my way back to wake up the still passed out person.... I got a little distracted. I stood there in awe watching the whales playing for a good 15 minutes. Luckily he takes his coffee iced.... if not he would have gotten a not so hot beverage when I got back to the room.
We decided to hit up the Maui Ocean Center and spent about 2 hours there.
After visiting with the ocean creatures... we went on a hunt for lunch. We ended up at Ma'alaea General Store & Cafe . Again... we were pleasantly surprised. I ordered the Ruben on Marbled Rye Bread and he got the Fish Quesadillas. To wash it down I got the plantation iced tea and he got an acai smoothie. Definitely a must go to if you visit the M.O.C.
Bellies full ... bladders emptied... onward to our next adventure. Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm here we come. As we got closer to the farm... the clouds were super low, the temperature dropped quite a bit... and you could smell the calming scent of the lavender. As we pulled up to the admission booth... they were letting everyone in at no charge this day because of the weather. It was drizzling and quite cold. The main lavender field doesn't bloom until summer so there wasn't much to see. Lots of Proteas and other flowers in the garden area. The view was still pretty amazing.
After drying off and warming up in the car... we headed to our next destination. Haleakala Summit. We were ready (or so we thought) for the cold this time. Last time we were both on Maui... we did Sunrise. This time... Sunset. Our goal was to get up there by 4ish to find a spot and settle in to watch/shoot/admire the sunset. On our way up... Cows. Lots and lots of cows crossing... grazing... staring at us. We pulled over at one of the lookouts on our way up... rushed to get our cameras out... move too slow and you miss your shot. The clouds move fast.
Packed up and heading back up the mountain... we stopped at another lookout point. It was starting to get colder.... but the sun was still shining.
We finally made it to the summit at little after 5pm... definitely very different from sunrise.
We settled in at what we felt would be the best place to view the sunset... extra layers on... blanket wrapped around me... still wasn't quite prepared for how cold it was about to get. Shooting while all extremities going numb is quite difficult. The sunset... was breathtaking. Worth every frozen bone in my body.
Sun was down... are we staying to shoot the stars? Nah... the moon was too bright and we were too cold. Time to search for something warm to eat. Yelp to the rescue. The only Izakaya was one in Kihei, Izakaya Matsu. Good reviews... 4 stars... perfect. This is where we're going. Pulled into the parking lot... hm... it's pretty empty. Walked into the restaurant... hm... empty. This is typically not a good sign. Screw it... we were still cold and hungry. We were greeted by a very sweet waitress. As she sat us, she explained that the sushi chef was out sick so no sushi just hot foods. Hm.... ok. We ordered a bunch of stuff as usual. Everything was fantastic. What stood out the most to us was the Salmon Skin Salad. Oh man.... SO.GOOD! I think we'd fly back to Maui just to go eat here again.
Day Three... we didn't have any concrete plans so we did what any "normal people" do... grabbed our phones and looked up places to go see. Oh, I also texted a friend to ask where we should go since he was born and raised on Maui. With too many options flying our way... we just said f*** it and got in the car and drove with no real definite plans except that we were gonna end up on the Road to Hana. We drove up to Pai'a with the intention to see if we could find Jaws. We were told that the road to get to the surf spot was kinda sketch. But first... lunch. Baked on Maui was where we ended up from searching on Yelp for places to eat. I had the Greek Burger... and he had the .... Hm. I forget. But my burger was delicious. :P After lunch we went on the search for Jaws.... Google Maps took us somewhere else.... then we found the correct road after having to turn around. Going down an unpaved narrow road.... we hit a bend and were both like "hm... this doesn't look safe. maybe we should turn around". No Jaws for us... we decided to head towards Hana Road. So glad I wasn't driving... I'd be having some epic anxiety while making the turns.
We stopped off at Wai'anapanapa State Park for the black sand beach.
Then off to Haleakala National Park to check out the Ohe'o Gulch... which wasn't very impressive at the time we went. No photos were taken here. We decided since we drove all this way to do the Pipiwai Hike again... so we hauled ass up the trail cause we'd be losing light pretty quickly. I am so out of shape... I needed to stop 10... maybe 15 minutes in >.< ...huffing and puffing and sweating. Drank some water and caught my breath then we started heading back up the trail. An older lady and her crew passed us on her way down with a big smile on her face. He said "see... if she can do it... " O_o thanks, dude. We made it to the bamboo part where we wanted to go shoot... completely drenched in sweat. Gross.
The sun was setting as we made our way back down the trail.... we drove on the unpaved Hana Road back to Kihei to have our last dinner on Maui at Izakaya Matsu again. We were not disappointed.
Day 4... time to head home. Checked out and headed to pick up our Krispie Kreme Donuts before dropping off our rental car. We got to the airport with enough time to grab lunch and relax before boarding.
Not a bad way to celebrate my 36th trip around the sun...