Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maui Day 2 -- Rafting/Snorkel Trip

We scheduled yet another early-morning activity for today.  Having previously done a snorkeling trip here (with disastrous, motion-sickness results), I was not overly thrilled about doing another snorkeling trip.  However, we found a completely different kind of activity that combines snorkeling at multiple sites with a high-speed rafting adventure.  So I put on a motion-sickness patch and decided to give it a try.

We arrived at Kihei boat ramp at 6:30 this morning (which meant another early 5:00 a.m. wake-up-call) to meet our group, Blue Water Rafting.  We loaded about 20 people onto a high-speed inflatable raft and headed out of the harbor.  Captain Brad and Kapelli told us that weather wasn't being very cooperative and that we were going to be fighting a big south swell, which may ruin our visibility or decrease the sites we can visit.  Right outside of the harbor, we encountered a few green sea turtles, right next to the boat.  Five minutes on this tour, and we were already spotting wildlife!!  We then embarked on the craziest wild boat ride I have ever been on.  Captain Brad cranked up some rock music and drove us straight into 15-30 foot waves!  Our boat was flew up and down like a Disney roller coaster and the waves would crash over the sides soaking everyone in the back.  (Thank the Lord for motion-sickness patches, or this could have been miserable)  Everyone had a death grip on the ropes in the boat to keep us onboard.  We were headed to the far south end of the island where we are supposed to tour the lava caves hidden in one of the 600-year-old lava flow formations.  Halfway to the lava caves, we spotted a huge pod of spinner dolphins.  The captain estimated that there were probably 100-150 dolphins in the pod.  They played in the waves and our bow and came RIGHT up to the boat.  It was incredible!!!  We stayed with the pod for about 10 minutes.  Then we saw a small group (4-6) of bottle-nosed dolphins, which jumped right off of our bow!  The staff was really excited because it is rare to find bottle-nosed dolphins in these waters, especially so near a pod of spinner dolphins!  All-in-all, we spent about 20 minutes with the dolphins.  It was so cool.  I tried to take pictures, but all we had was a waterproof disposable camera, so we'll have to wait until the film is developed before we find out if we got any good photos.  We continued our crazy ride to the lava caves where Captain Brad actually maneuvered our boat INTO a cave.  The lava formations were crazy and beautiful.

After another crazy boat ride, we stopped at our first snorkel site in La Perouse Bay.  They considered it a "warm up" dive.  I had forgotten how awesome the coral, fish, and sea urchins are.  Our next snorkel spot was on the backside of the Molokini crater.  This was a crazy snorkel site because the crater just drops straight down into the sea -- apparently a very popular scuba wall dive.  There were huge fish all over the place and some super colorful angelfish.  Then we went to the inside of the Molokini crater to do a drift snorkel.  The coral was awesome and one of our party even saw an octopus!  Unfortunately, the big waves were too much for me.  I started to head back to the boat and finally threw up.  Oh well, it could have been worse!  Our final snorkel site was at "Turtle Bay".  I felt too sick to get into the water, which was a real disappointment.  Emily and Josh dove right in though and snorkeled WITH wild green sea turtles.  So cool.  The rest of us watched from the boat.  On the way back into the boat ramp, we stopped to watch two spotted Eagle Rays that were mating near the surface.  It was super cool that we managed to see them at all!

Overall, we all got more sunburned than intended and we are all going to have semi-sore backs from the crazy jarring ride.  Dad was being the tough guy by riding in the front of the boat and his knuckles are scraped bare from rubbing them on the canvas pontoons.  I'm not a huge fan of snorkeling, and would have been happy with this trip just doing the wild ride and seeing all of the amazing sea-life.  The dolphins were, by far, the highlight of the trip.  I would definitely do this adventure again, as long as my motion-sickness patch was in place!! :)

Emily and Josh snorkeled with sea turtles.  Here is the awesome video footage she took.  You have to look closely because visibility wasn't great... but the sea turtle is pretty clear.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Maui Day 1 - Haleakala Sunrise, Pai'a Town, and Lahaina

When Chris and I visited Maui in 2007, the one activity that we had planned on doing, but didn't, was to drive to the top of Mt. Haleakala to watch the sunrise.  Haleakala is the largest volcano on Maui and the summit is at about 10,000 ft above sea level.  Watching the sunrise over the clouds is said to be a life-altering experience.

This time around, I insisted that we see the sunrise.  All 6 of us woke up at 2 a.m. to drive out of here at 2:30 a.m.  (Good thing we went to sleep early the night before!).  It took 2 full hours to get to the top of Haleakala, where it was dark, cold, and very windy.  I was freezing despite my jeans and hoodie.  My stubborn husband refused to pack jeans, so he froze his legs of in shorts!  The man sitting next to us had on an honest-to-God mink coat!  We had to wait for more than an hour for the sun to actually rise, but we had the BEST seats in the house for an incredibly cool sunrise over the layers of clouds floating below.  Yes, the sunrise was awesome and I'm very glad that we saw it this time around.  But getting up so early on our first day of vacation was... rough.

Before the sunrise...

Yes, this is actually OUR photo.  Pretty incredible, huh?
So after the sun came up, we were all ready for breakfast.  We drove down the volcano and into Pai'a town on the north shore of Maui.  Pai'a is known for being very "eclectic" and also for it's amazing kite surfing -- best in the world.  Unfortunately, most of the main street shops weren't open yet while we visited, so I'm hoping Chris and I can go back there sometime to shop.  Dad asked a local for a restaurant recommendation and we ended up at Cafe Mambo for breakfast -- a cool little cafe and coffee bar where the surfers come to fill-up.  Breakfast was insanely good and we left Pai'a with full bellies and smiles on our faces.

After a much-needed nap and a dip in our condo pool, we decided to head into Lahaina for dinner.  We ate at a fairly new restaurant called "Mai Tai" and had a table out on an ocean-front deck.  Our day truly came full-circle as we watched the sunset over the ocean in Lahaina.  It was a really wonderful end to the day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Maui Vacation -- Getting here

Two days ago, Chris and I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m. to catch our early morning flight out of Wichita to DFW where we met Dad and Millie and the Perkins' from KC.  Of course, we a had a small amount of airplane drama when the Perkins' plane got stuck on the tarmac without auxillary power before it ever took off from KC.  We weren't sure they were going to make it to DFW in time for our connecting flight to Maui, but they landed about 15 minutes before boarding for our flight.  We all took the same 8 hour flight into Maui and were all seated together.  The flight was uneventful, thank goodness, and we landed at 3:15 p.m. Hawaii time -- gaining 5 hours in the air.

After we arrived, we claimed baggage and waited out front for our car rental company -- a small, local company that beet the national car company prices by a lot.  Of course, sometimes you get what you pay for.  The Mustang convertible that Chris and I were driving wouldn't start for us to leave the parking lot.  They had to put in a whole new battery, which took about 45 minutes.  And just when we thought we were finally going to be able to take off, the "low tire" signal came on in the same car.  LOL.  Don't worry, they filled up our tire and we finally got on the road.

It takes about 45 minutes to get from Kahului, the city with the airport, to Ka'anapali, where we are staying.  The entire drive is along the beautiful coast though, so we were already enjoying the beautiful Maui beaches and watching the surfers as we drove by.  We arrived at our condo to find it FABULOUS.  The photos on the internet booking site really didn't do it justice.  We had a quick dinner and then I was ready for bed.  So, to the dismay of my family, I demanded to go to sleep at 6:30 p.m. Hawaii time.  LOL.  In my defense, that makes it 11 p.m. at home and I had gotten up at 3 a.m. that morning.  Cut me some slack! :)

We were here for about an hour and already saw a beautiful rainbow. I guess Hawaii really lives up to it's name, "The Rainbow State"

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Poker Run!

The Central Kansas Yacht Club hosts a Boat Poker Run every year.  Since Chris and I have been members, we've been helping with it the last couple of years.  Last year, they had a pirate theme so Chris donned his Jack Sparrow costume and handed out free hot dogs.  This year, we were upgraded and allowed to be a boat station on the lake.  So, along with the Perkins', we drove the boat out to our designated cove and anchored.  For the next 3 hours, there was a steady stream of boats coming up to us to get their poker hand cards.  During the entire time, we had about a 10-minute break... so I did take a few pictures and a video of the boys goofing around. :)  Everyone on the boat got completely sunburned, despite having a bimini shade on the boat and Emily constantly reminding everyone to reapply.  None of us had very good poker hands, but we did win two $25 gift cards in the raffle drawing!  Woohoo!
Josh flips off of the wake board tower.

Chris' attempt to jump off the boat was somewhat less successful.  :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Today is Grandpa's birthday.  We went out to dinner and had a great time.  Ledger really loves his Grandpa and we got some good pictures of them together.  One year ago, we took pictures of them together too.  It's a pretty cute comparison! :)




Ledger had his official "real boy" haircut today.  His long baby hair is all gone.  Tracy did a good job of making his hair much less fluffy! :)  Here are the pictures:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Video Blog

This weekend was another fun weekend at the lake.  I didn't take the camera, so you're not getting any fun lake pictures.  Too bad! :)  Instead, you're getting some cute video footage.  I'm trying to insert these from YouTube, so please be patient.  If you like the videos, you should subscribe to our YouTube channel.

This first video is Ledger putting wooden clothespins in an empty cup.  Our "Parents as Teachers" family consultant told us that this would be a good activity to work on to refine his fine motor skills.  This is our first try at this activity -- he figured it out right away.  I guess we'll move on to the 15-month activity. :)

Ledger figured out how to stab a Cheerio with a fork and put it in his mouth.  Yet another major fine motor skill...

Last video: Ledger laughs at EVERYTHING when he's tired.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh Joy, Oh Joy!!!

My laptop is back!  Hip-hip-hooray!!  My new screen was installed today and my laptop was returned to me just in time.  Tonight is our first "trial run" with Ledger spending the night with Oma and Papa in Lindsborg to try to get us all used to the idea of spending the night apart.  Honestly, it's been a little tough on Mommy.  I find myself especially melancholy... but at least I know he's in good hands.  And my laptop is helping keep me occupied too.  I thought I'd share a few recent pictures tonight, since I'm missing my baby...