Monday, March 18, 2019

Maui, Day Six: Black Rocks and Banana Bread

If you read yesterday's post, then I know you are just dying to know how the banana bread taste testing turned out; I mean, you are, right?

Well, allow me to put you out of your misery; it was all pretty damn tasty!

However, after a blind taste-testing of each numbered loaf...

Please ignore the random JC Penney credit card in the photo above; the Cub rescued it from the bottom of the ocean while snorkeling and we were debating the merits of disposing of it properly vs. making a shit-ton of fraudulent charges to vex one Ms. Patricia Price. Plastic has no place in the ocean, Ms. Price! (Don't worry, we disposed of it; felons, we are not)

 Twin Falls, aka: the first loaf

 The loaf from Ke'anae

 Halfway to Hana loaf

 The "original" loaf, from Hana

The blind sampling

... and, following exhaustive discussion on the various merits of each sample (moistness, banana flavor, texture); we arrived at a clear consensus: the winner is....the loaf we picked up halfway to Hana!

We all agreed that the bread had the best flavor, none of the aftertaste of shortening (an issue we found with the loaf from Ke'anae), the perfect level of moisture (the loaf from Twin Falls was a bit damp), and the best texture (the loaf from Hana, advertised as the "original" Road to Hana banana bread, was a crumbly mess).

So, now you know! Although, I highly recommend that you conduct your own taste testing; you know, for the sake of comparative data. Also, if you do, make sure you cleanse your palate between bites of bread. We used mimosas; also highly recommended.

After our tasting, and, a breakfast of bagels, eggs, and fresh fruit, (man cannot live on bread, alone), we loaded up the beach chairs and headed for the north end of Ka'anapali Beach to snorkel and to watch the kids jump from the heights of the legendary Black Rock.

Parking for that part of the beach is best accessed through one of the Ka'anapali beach resorts (resorts on the beaches in Maui are required to provide a certain number of free parking spaces for the general public as well as to provide clearly marked beach access points), or, if the general parking spaces are filled; through Whaler's Village (parking validation for up to two hours, with purchase). We ended up parking at Whaler's Village, but, made a purchase, so the first two hours of our parking were free (more about that purchase later!).

The beach near Black Rock was busier than any beach that we had been to while in Maui, and even then, it was far less crowded than the beaches on Oahu, so, no complaints. We were still easily able to find a nice spot on the sand (under a tree, even!), and, while Hugh donned snorkel gear and waded out into the water, I shot some pictures of the girls climbing the rock (the Cub swam out and accessed the rock outside of my viewpoint)...

...some shots of the kids contemplating their jumps...

...and, some shots of them actually making the leap.

Hugh couldn't be left out of the fun, so, naturally, he eventually joined in...

...after which, he cajoled me into joining him in the water while the kids took over the beach chairs, while enjoying some adult beverages from the resort bar which was just steps away.

We snorkeled for quite a while, and, saw a plethora of colorful fish. Unfortunately, no sea turtles that day, but, it was fun, nonetheless; totally worth the dent that my mask left in my forehead for the next several hours.

Once we were snorkeled, jumped, and sunned out, we wandered back through Whalers Village, window shopping as we went, until, we turned a corner, and, I swear to God, it was like the freaking Mothership had landed:


What the what!?!

Obviously, this is where we made our parking validation-worthy purchase, I mean; was there ever any doubt? Of course not.

What may come as a surprise is the fact that I did not get another set of bangles.

Really?! Yes, really.

Instead, I got these two gorgeous necklaces, which, layer together, beautifully and are a great reminder of our trip.

(Katie did get a bracelet, and, Queen B got a ring, so, I would say that our jewelry bases were completely covered.)

By this point, Hugh was more than ready to get out of Whalers Village; bless his heart (and, his wallet), so; we went back to the condo to shower and make ourselves presentable for our last dinner in Lahaina, and, for the family photo session that I insisted we have prior to leaving the island :)

Once I was satisfied that we had at least one frame-worthy photo (Maui Bucket List item, believe it or not), we drove to the food truck park (there was a vote, and, the food trucks won), where I again had the drunken noodles with chicken, from the Thai truck (it was seriously good enough to eat twice).

Then, we returned to the condo to start packing for our departure the following day. Well, that was the intention, anyway; in reality, we drank the last of the wine and beer and watched more episodes of Santa Clarita Diet (you've heard about the road to Hell, right? Yep, paved with good intentions. It should be noted that we did not, in fact, wind up in Hell, so, go, us?).

Then, we went to bed with full bellies and a slight buzz, because vacation.

Tomorrow: Paia and the airport

Almost done, folks! Thanks for hanging in!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Maui, Day Five: The Road to Hana

When I started researching our trip to Maui, one thing was recommended over and over again: driving the road to Hana. Every guide book, website, Pinterest pin, blog post, and comment I saw extolled the virtues of the three-hour trip; skipping it practically amounted to sacrilege.

I had my doubts, however. Mainly, I was concerned that the kids wouldn't want to take an entire day of their vacation sitting in a car, looking at pretty scenery. I was also concerned that Queen B would veto the trip, based on the numerous warnings about car sickness, caused by the curvy nature of the road.

The kids, it must be noted, shared none of my concerns. In fact, the second I mentioned black sand beaches and waterfalls, Queen B was all in (and, with a dose of Dramamine and a trusty Sea Band, she ended up doing just fine).

So, Thursday morning, we rose with the sun, threw a picnic cooler in the trunk, donned our swimsuits, and hit the road (fortified with coffee, of course; we were determined, not crazy).

Based on a recommendation from a guide book, I had previously downloaded the Gypsy Guide Tour app to my phone, and, I have to say; it was one of the best things I could have done. The app pointed out numerous places of interest along the route, including many that we would not have known to stop at, had we attempted the drive on our own. Also, it was nice to have the app's advice about which of the scenic overlooks were "must see" and which could be skipped, thus saving us time along the road.

The app starts playing automatically once you make the turn from the airport, toward Paia, and, it keeps real-time, via gps tracking, so, you never have to worry about missing a turn or passing an attraction, accidentally.

We certainly didn't miss anything! In fact, I could break this post into several smaller posts and I still wouldn't be able to convey just how cool the trip was. It's definitely a must-do for a reason, starting with, the first stop in Paia, where we took the opportunity to use the restrooms before embarking on the drive, officially.

Paia is a ridiculously cool little Hawaiian town, and we really wanted to explore her a lot more, but, because we were focused on the endgame (Hana or bust!), we had to agree to do that later in the week.

So, on the road!

First stop: Twin Falls, the first of many waterfalls that we would see as we made our way. It was also the first place that sold banana bread, which is a traditional treat on the road to Hana, so, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy a loaf.

Twin Falls was a great place to stretch our legs, but, as far as the falls themselves went, well...they were a bit of a disappointment, as, I'm sad to say, were several of the other major attractions on the famed drive. See, there had been quite a bit of rain in the days leading up to our visit, which meant that the water was rushing more than usual, so, several of the areas along the road were under flash-flood conditions, which meant no swimming in the pools under the falls, and, in the case of Twin Falls, the water was so copious, two falls merged into one.

It was still pretty cool to see, though.

And, speaking of rain, this is what a large majority of the drive looked like...

and, that's normal. Wet roads are a hallmark of the drive, and, simply add to the charm.

There are lots of opportunities to pull off the road for cool hikes, and to see more of the island, which includes a number of small, practically vacant beaches.

As the road hugs the coastline, the beaches give way to rocky shores, creating an amazing display of sea spray, as water crashes against the rock.

Another stop along the way is the town of Ke'anae, and, interesting fact: the town was almost completely destroyed by a tsunami in 1946; the only thing left standing was this church.

As we left Ke'anae, I purchased my second loaf of banana bread at a small roadside stand. By now, I had decided to purchase banana bread at each place we stopped, with a planned taste-testing the following morning; I wanted to be able to say, with total confidence, where to find the tastiest bread.

I'm odd like that.

Not long after leaving Ke'anae, we arrived at the half-way point in our journey. How did we know we were there?

The signs were pretty clear.

(I bought another loaf of banana bread here, because, of course I did!)

Six miles outside of Hana, it started to rain quite heavily, so we pulled over at a roadside food truck park to wait out the storm and to use the restrooms. We weren't hungry yet, so, despite the amazing smells coming from the food vendors, we moved on down the road, anxious to see Hana and Oheo Gultch (better known as the Seven Sacred Pools).

We finally drove by Hana a little before 2:00. And, I say "drove by" because, in reality, the Road to Hana very rarely ends in Hana. Oh, it's a nice enough town, but, as our guide app was quite clear in pointing out; the road to Hana is about the journey, not the destination. Instead, our next stop was just outside of Hana: Waianapanapa State Park, otherwise known as the home of Maui's black sand beach!

We had arrived and the kids were stoked! And, with good reason; the beach was really cool, as were the nearby caves, from which much of the black sand was carved.

We spent about an hour on the beach before heading up to the picnic area for a quick lunch. We wanted to get back on the road for our last stop at Oheo Gultch, AKA, the Seven Sacred Pools, which was still another 15 miles up the road.

Now, had we known that the pools would be closed to swimmers, we may have opted to turn around and start the long drive back to Lahaina, but, since we did not know, we pressed on, and, at least I can say that we saw some more gorgeous scenery.

Not gonna lie, though; we would have rather been swimming. On the bright side, we could always try again another time (fingers crossed!).

By this point, it was well-past midday, so we started the trip back, only making necessary stops along the way home, and, by necessary, I mean at yet another farm stand selling banana bread. Hey! At this point it was going to be a competition, remember?

May the best banana bread win!

By the time we got back to Lahaina, it was almost 9:00, so we grabbed a quick dinner at Bubba Gumps before heading back to the condo, where, we all fell immediately to sleep. It had, after all, been a very full day.

And, speaking of full, hey: sorry about the photo overload in this post! I guess I really should have broken it up into separate posts. If you made it through, bless your heart, and, I hope to see you back again tomorrow, when I post far fewer pictures and a whole lot less words. I promise.

Except about banana bread; there's going to be a lot of words about banana bread (may the best bread win!).

Tomorrow: Cliff diving at Black Rock Beach (and, the winner of that banana bread contest!)