Monday, March 25, 2019

That's What Friends Are For

I spent all day Saturday on the couch, trying desperately to kick this head cold to the curb. I'm now convinced that it has morphed into an infection that is slowly eroding my sinuses and marching toward my brain matter.

I really hope it doesn't kill me.

In cheerier news, last night, we hosted Chris and Jana for an impromptu steak dinner. I wasn't feeling much better, but, they've been out of town so often with their trucking business; I have to grab any opportunity I get to see my friend. So, I threw caution to the wind (along with about fifty soiled tissues), and rolled out the red carpet.

Except, about an hour before they were set to arrive, when I went into a mini panic attack about the state of my house, specifically the horrendous amount of pet hair that has accumulated recently (Rosie is on injured reserve, awaiting a replacement motor box and I am clearly too lazy to pull out the big guns).

I thought about sweeping but then I remembered that this is Jana; if I were to point out the fact that my floors were covered in enough pet hair to form an additional small dog, she'd enthusiastically agree to help with the construction of one and, then, offer to craft it a hair bow from the lint in my dryer.

Jana no currr about the cleanliness of my house; Jana just want to drink wine and laugh until she needs to pee.

I love my Jana.

So, I avoided the vacuum and rested instead, and, we had a lovely dinner, during which Jana totally took my mind off the fact that there are bacterial cannibals preparing to eat my brains.

Now, that's a true friend.




Friday, March 22, 2019

Friday Favorites: Life After Maui Edition

Despite the title of this post, I promise it is not all about Maui. In fact, I'll start off with something that most definitely does not relate to sand, sea, and sunshine...


...nor is it actually a favorite, in fact; it's not a favorite at all. But, it is the reality of springtime in Colorado, so, perhaps you'll forgive me for focusing, at least a little bit, on some awesome things from Hawaii.

I'll start with the jewelry I purchased in Maui, including these necklaces from the Alex & Ani store in Whalers Village...


...and, this inexpensive ankle bracelet that I picked up at one of the ABC Stores.

Pedicure: OPI, Teal the Cows Come Home, another favorite!

The turtles on the bracelet symbolize all of the turtles that we saw on the island, speaking of which; the Man-Cub finally got around to sending me screen shots from his GoPro, featuring the turtles that we saw while snorkeling at Turtle Town.




And, speaking of the Man-Cub, this is one of my favorite pictures of him from Maui, not just because it is a great shot, but, because it captures him doing something that we both love.


And, because I can't feature one kid without giving the other two their due; here are my favorite shots of the girls, taken on Maui...



Now, for things that have nothing to do with Maui.

I found this on my desk when I got back from vacation...


...it's nice to know that my I was missed, and, coworker Erin is always a favorite.

Speaking of my coworkers; our team won the quarterly corporate-wide wellness contest! We got these ridiculous medals, despite having been led to believe that there would be a trophy. I really wanted  trophy, damnit!


Also, while I was gone, my FunFitFab box arrived and my coworkers thought it would be fun to punk me by replacing all the items in the box with random office supplies. It was pretty funny, despite being, you know, a felony.

Once I got my items back, I was intrigued by these serums; one for the lashes and one to reduce under-eye bags.


 I've been using them both regularly and, my bags definitely appear to be diminishing (this, despite a wicked head cold that I picked up on the flight home). I can't vouch for the lash serum yet; it takes several weeks, and, in some cases, up to two months, to see results on that one (according to everything I've read on the interwebs).

Also pictured above: the new Naked Palette by Urban Decay. Love it!

Lastly, this military jacket, layered with a stripey shirt and a tiered necklace; this is a spring look that I can totally get behind.




Thursday, March 21, 2019

Maui vs. Oahu, In My Opinion

I told you this was probably coming; I feel the need to debate the various merits of the two Hawaiian islands that I have had the pleasure of exploring, so, you don’t have to!

Or, you still could; totally not my place to tell you what to do.

Anyhoodle, here are my thoughts regarding the two islands, broken down into Pro/Con lists, starting with Oahu.

Oahu Pros:

-Fantastic weather, possibly a titch warmer than Maui, although that could may have been influenced by the time of year we visited (June and August vs. March)
-Many great dining options, including food trucks
-Ted’s Bakery! Best pies and cakes in Hawaii!
-Lots of attractions
-Lots of outdoor activities
-Seals!
-The drive to the North Shore
-Plenty of shopping options
-Dole Pineapple Plantation
-Pearl Harbor
-Easy to navigate by rental car
-Decent public transportation
-Airport was easy to navigate
-The Man-Cub is there (This clearly is only a factor that applies in my particular situation)

Oahu Cons:

-Crowded beaches, both in the resort areas and outside of the resort areas
-Dirty beaches, especially outside of Waikiki and other resort areas
-Over-commercialized (International “Marketplace”, I’m looking at you)
-Long waits for seating at restaurants
-Lots of poverty evident, homeless camps, etc.
-Heavy traffic
-Parking options are expensive
-Too many tourists
-Expensive

Maui Pros:

-Clean, uncrowded beaches, both in resort areas and outside
-Friendly locals
-Not a lot of traffic
-Easy to navigate by rental car
-Plenty of restaurant options, and, great food truck selection
-Little to no wait for restaurant seating
-Lots of outdoor activities
-Better snorkeling
-Less commercialized
-More laid-back vibe
-The Road to Hana
-Lots of public parking spaces, including at the beaches
-Whales and Sea turtles!
-Airport was super easy to navigate

Maui Cons:

-May be slightly harder to get to
-Weather and water are slightly cooler (again, may have to do with the time of year we visited)
-Seems to be windier (again, time of year?)
-Expensive

Things that Oahu and Maui had in common that we enjoyed:

-Tropical weather
-Sandy beaches
-Cliffs from which the children could jump
-Snorkeling excursions
-Shaved ice
-Fresh seafood (according to Hugh and the children)
-Fresh pineapple
-To die-for sunsets
-ABC Stores (A staple in Hawaii, like a large convenience store, but with liquor and souvenirs)

To sum up our experience, I will say; Oahu felt somewhat less relaxing and more “touristy” while Maui was more laid-back and restful. The experiences shared some similarities, and the majority of the differences we encountered could have had to do with the resort vs. condo situation that we had going on. Plus, there is a big difference between Honolulu and Lahaina.

In the interest of fully researching each location; it appears that we should go the VRBO route the next time we visit Oahu, and, book a resort the next time we travel to Maui.

Now, all we need to do is win the lottery, so, I’m off to purchase Powerball tickets.



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Maui, Day Seven: Packing, Paia, Peckers, and Planes

Saturday morning, we packed up our possessions, cleaned out the fridge, took out the trash, and wished Kulakane a fond farewell. It is my absolute hope that we will return again one day; that condo was seriously perfect for us.

Since we still had a full day to kill before our scheduled departures (6:50 pm for the Man-Cub and 7:20 pm for us), we decided to return to Paia, to see what we had missed in our rush to get on the road to Hana earlier in the week, but, first; we swung by the airport, taking the opportunity to check our luggage so that we wouldn't have to worry about storing it in the rental car while we explored.

When we got to Paia, we separated; the girls to the beach, and Hugh, the Cub, and I to town, to check out the shops, scoping for a lunch spot on our way.

The town, while busy that Saturday, still appeared to be very low-key and laid back, with a surfer-boy-slash-hippie vibe. In fact, there was a surfing competition being held nearby at Ho'okipa, so, we were treated to a lot of surf lingo being thrown around by tanned young men with surfboards strapped to the back of their jeeps; it was bitchin', brah!

The walk down the main street also provided me with lots of opportunities to take pictures.






There are a ton of murals painted on walls and fences in Paia; which I found especially cool.







Apparently, they'll even paint your van in Paia, if it sits around long enough...

The hippie vibe of the town carries over to the beaches, as we learned once we made our way there to meet up with the girls, who, wasted no time in telling us that they had accidentally stumbled onto the clothing optional section of the beach; they were duly scandalized by the sight. They also told us that the prettiest part of the beach, and-the part that was currently providing a resting place for several sea turtles-was on the other side of the nude section.

Dilemma.

So, what did we do? What any reasonable person would do; we walked down the nude beach, so that we could see the damn turtles.

And, not gonna lie; there was a generous amount of male genitalia, flapping in the breeze, and, a quick glimpse of something that has forever ruined my relationship with downward dog, but, it was worth it; that section of the beach was the prettiest section, and, the turtles were awesome.

And, since you couldn't help but see them, I did take a picture of one of the little peckers on the beach...




Wait, what did you think I was talking about?










Anyhoodle, at this point, it was lunchtime, so we walked back through town, to Rock & Brews, a restaurant that the boys and I had seen earlier.

I ordered the chicken tacos and a Pina Colada, which, turned out to be a tasty choice, although, the Pina Colada could have done with an additional splash (or six) of rum; it was pretty weak.



After lunch, we made our way back toward the airport, dropping off the rental car on the way. With some time yet to kill, we grabbed Starbucks, plugged our phones and other devices in to charge for the long flight home, and, browsed the various gift shops in the terminal.

Then, it was suddenly time for the Man-Cub to board his short flight back to Oahu, followed by our flight number being called not long after.

We had lucked out with a direct flight back to Denver, so, although we were still pulling the second all-nighter of the trip, at least we weren't switching planes or dealing with a lay-over. As it was, we arrived in Denver at 7:00 Sunday morning, which gave us plenty of daylight for the long drive home. Through snow. And, the aftermath of avalanches that had plagued the highways since our departure.

Welcome back to spring in Colorado.

Anyway, this wraps up the trip recaps! As always, Aunt Bertha appreciates your kind attention, and, would love to bake you some cookies (She'll also give you a quarter to rub her bunions! A whole quarter!).

Seriously, though, Maui is truly an amazing place to visit; it has taken the top spot on my Favorite Tropical Vacations list, topping Barbados and knocking Ohau down to fourth place (under the Florida Keys). I could write an entire post comparing Maui to Oahu (and, maybe I will), but, for now, I'll just say, again, thanks for hanging in with me!



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:


An ENTIRE STORE OF ALEX & ANI!!!!

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!