Friday, July 26, 2013

Hawaii with a Toddler - The Gear

"The Gear"


Anyone who has traveled, or even lived, with a toddler knows that it requires a lot of STUFF.  Every outing requires things like diapers, bags, wipes snacks, strollers, carriers, pack and plays, etc, etc, etc.  So, I thought it would be worthwhile to spend a post just on the various gear we brought with us to make this trip smooth and wonderful.


Becco Butterfly II

I think I would have to say that this item would rate #1 on the best items we have used traveling, and FOR SURE in Hawaii.  Plus, don't I look handsome using it?  (note, picture is not really me, haha).  
Without getting into the ins-and-outs of Baby Wearing, this really is a great carrier, both for comfort, and for the health/safety of the baby.  Its supports baby's legs so they are not being dangled by their crotch.  
The primary feature that drew us to this particular carrier was that you can strap your baby in to the carrier while its off your body.  There is actually a swatch of fabric between you and baby, and this means you can get your toddler settled, THEN lift them onto your back or front and buckle in.
This carrier is EXTREMELY adjustable.  Its capable of front or back carry, and comes in a lot of fun patterns.  
Note: The Butterfly 2 has been discontinued, though at the time of this post,  you could still find it online.  Becco does have other carriers with the same feature set!
Amazon Link: Becco Butterfly 2
Finally, here is a pic of B enjoying a ride in the Becco

Britax Car Seat Travel Cart

Coming in at #2 on our favorite gear for traveling with our toddler is the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart.
Simply, this cart converts your LATCH equipped car seat into a stroller.  We use a Britax Marathon seat, and it fit PERFECTLY on this cart.

This cart folds down for easy storage and fit easily into the overhead bins on the airplanes we were on, and once unfolded, the seat goes on in a matter of seconds.  Just set the seat on it, click latch to the loops on each side and snug them up.  SIMPLE!!
Taking the seat off was even easier, just hit the latch buttons and your done!

The cart is light yet sturdy, and the roller-blade style wheels were smooth and wonderful on carpet or tile in the airports.  B loved riding in it, and we were able to push or pull him depending on the situation with ease!

Britax Marathon Car Seat

Logically, the next thing to think about is the car seat we put ON the cart.  This is not only the seat we traveled with, but its also our daily driver seat, and it normally calls our Honda Odyssey home. 
B is comfortable in this seat, and with the addition of the frame, it was a pleasure to use.  We purchased seats for B on the flights to and from Hawaii, so we brought this seat with us.  It is Air Travel Rated, though don't assume all seats are.  
None of the planes had LATCH (I don't think any do), so we did have to use the belt.  I'd recommend getting a belt extender and to practice ahead of time.
Once installed in the plane, B was comfortable, VERY secure and quite content.
If you want more information on flying with this seat, see Flying with a Toddler Part 2 .  
Amazon Link: Britax Marathon
And, here is a quick pic of B, being silly in the seat that's ON the cart!

JL Childress Airline Carseat Bag

The final piece of the Car Seat puzzle is this Carseat Bag.  Its an extremely simple, and inexpensive bit of protection for your seat if you need to check it.  
This bag folds into an attached pouch and packs away easily.  Its BRIGHT RED, and easily spotted as you come off the plane and you've gate checked it.
It also stood up to the abuse that baggage handlers tend to give to luggage quite well.
Also note, this item WILL fit over the seat while its attached to the cart.  This worked quite well.
We attached our gate check tags to the handle and it was easy to carry down the gangplank.  We used this on the island hoppers between islands.  Its not super heavy-duty, but for the price, it can't be beat!

Pea Pod Travel Bed

This one may be a bit controversial.  Yes yes, I know there was a recall,on this product, but the reality is the recall was from NOT PROPERLY USING IT... not a flaw in the item.  That's all I'll say about that.
We have used this item a TON of times since B was born.  Basically, its a small tent with an air mattress that goes in a pocket under the tent.
It folds up easily, and springs open quickly when needed.  
It comes with its own carrying bag, and the air mattress is self-inflating.
The Pea Pod helps to contain your little one in a safe manner while they sleep, or  you sleep, yet lets air in, lets them see you, and protects them from bugs.
All around its a big WIN!  These had become a bit hard to find after the recall, but as of now, there are multiple spots online!!
Amazon Link: PeaPod

thirty-One Cindy Tote

This was part of our diaper bag solution when traveling in Hawaii.  Basically, this bag from thirty-One was our diaper bag on the plane, holding all the assorted stuff we needed for B.  Once we got to our location, we used it for other things, as we had packed a small (2-3 diaper size) bag in the suitcase to use on the islands.
There is not much to say about this bag other than, It works GREAT!.  Its quite large, the outside pockets are great for holding a sippy cup or bottle, and the zippered top keeps everything contained.
I was amazed at how much stuff we could get into this bag!
And, for the guys, there are actually prints I am not embarrassed to be around... REALLY!
thirty-One's Site: Cindy Tote

Revo Hardside Luggage

Unfortunately, this luggage is on closeout as of when I'm writing this... but we LOVE IT!
We decided on hard sided luggage, as we had had too many soft bag get destroyed during air travel.
These bags feature 4 swivel wheels, and each wheel was a double.  They rolled easily either when using the handle, or straight upright.
The color also stuck out among the rest of the luggage on the plane.  
Also included are TSA locks built in to the case.  These were great and very easy to use!
Our bags look almost as good today as they did before we traveled, and THAT we appreciate!





Elmo "Pak Pak"

 I have no idea where we got this backpack, I believe it was a gift from someone.  But B loves it.  I specifically mention it as "Gear" because I think its a good thing to give your toddler something to carry.  We didn't put much in there except a toy or two, a small book, and his lovie.  Any time we were walking at the airport, he wanted his Elmo Pak Pak!  And, if you get your little one a seat, he gets the same baggage allowance as you!






Amazon Link: Elmo Backpack

iPad / Touchpad

Even if you are against "Screen Time" for your little one, I recommend some kind of tablet to bring with you.  We had 2 with us, our Ipad and our Android Tablet.  Not only did these provide entertainment to B, but we used them to manage the THOUSANDS of pictures we took.
A few things to note:
If you don't have wifi or 3g where you are with your tablet, you will not be able to stream Netflix (duh), but it can also cause Google Play Video's to be slow to open.  We put Sesame Street and Finding Nemo on the devices for B to watch on the plane.  He didn't even care about sound.
But the other big use we had for our tablets was photo management.
We had our big DSLR with us, and kept filling the card. 
So, we used our NEXT piece of gear to help with this.

Ipad Camera Connection Kit

These 2 adapters allow you to either connect your camera via USB to your ipad, or read an SD card on your Ipad.
We used this in connection with our Dropbox account to empty the memory cards, and when we had WIFI, to save them to dropbox.
The neat thing about this was, by the time we got home, all our photos had synced to the computer, and we could view them there, or on one of our smart TVs
There are options for Android Tablets as well, including some with SD card slots on them, or adapter cables that allow you to connect USB.  These are not as a standard for Android hardware, so do a little research!
As well, Apple changed the connector for the latest gen Ipads, so these connecters pictured above will be slightly different.  


Floaty Swimsuit

IMPORTANT NOT:  These are not personal flotation devices, and are not meant to save a life.
We had one of these for B.  Its basically a swimsuit with flotation foam front and back.  We brought one of these, as well as an infant PFD with us. 
We discovered that when wearing this one, B was more comfortable in the water and really started to enjoy being in it.
Recently, at home, we have been using this to help him learn to swim and learn to be comfortable and capable in the pool!
NEVER EVER EVER leave your child alone in the pool assuming this will save their life!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hawaii with a Toddler, Part 6 - The End

Up Early

It was time to head tword home, and it was going to be a LONG day of travel.  And it started EARLY!  Our flight was at 8:15ish am, and wanting to get there early, our day started PRE dawn.  We loaded the car, loaded the sleepy B, and headed tword the Airport.

Airport

IF you want details about flying with a toddler, check out the posts about that here:
Flying with a Toddler
Without those details, the Airport was boring, we had a little breakfast and watched the sun rise and then flew back to Honolulu.  We had all day in Honolulu to relax as our flight to Chicago was not until the evening.  I will note here, Hawaiian Airlines was a great way to fly.  Every steward or stewardess we had were polite, friendly, and helpful!  Not to mention that the fruit juice they had out was enjoyed by B!



Honolulu Children's Discovery Center

Our first stop back in Hawaii was the Children's Discovery Center.  This was a fun place with B sized things to do!  This gave B a chance to run around and do whatever he wanted.

In my opinion, it was a little expensive, but I think worth the price for the little guy to get some time for him to just have fun.  There were lots of exhibits including things to climb/play on.. a train table, a huge bubble machine, lots of gears and buttons, and doors, and things to move and push.  He had a great time!
After this was a quick stop to get lunch
(I had loco moco for the last time :( ) and to call my Mom and Dad to ask some direction for our next adventure...

Finding the old house

Both of my parents were in the Air Force when my sister and I were born.  In fact, my sister was born IN Hawaii when my parents were stationed at Hickam AFB.  So, we decided to see if we could find the old house we lived in.  Both Mom and Dad were able to remember what street it was, but neither could remember a house number.  Well, with help of descriptions of the house, and the road around it, we FOUND the house.  It took texting pictures, but we found it!

It was really neat to connect with a part of my life SOOO Long ago.

Senic Drive

After seeing the house, we took our rental and pointed it tword the coast.  We traveled west out of Honolulu and drove along the coast... this was an AMAZING drive! (our route)




We ended our drive back at the International Market in Waikiki to do some last-minute shopping.  N found her pendant, we got T-Shirts for a few people, and a snack for all of us.  Then headed to the Airport

Flight Home

This was the only time we felt rushed at an airport the entire trip.... we made it to the gate JUST as they were loading the plane.  This was a direct, overnight flight back to Chicago.  It was a HUGE plane (777).  We settled in and started our trip away from the Islands.

Bracing for Cold in Chicago

When we left Honolulu, it had been in the low 80s, and high 70s after dark just before we left.  When we landed in Chicago, it was -5 degrees.... BELOW ZERO!!! BRRRRRRRR  I was so not prepared for that difference, and even the Van didn't want to start after sitting for 11 days.  It was good to be done traveling but I wanted to go back!!

The End

That's the end of our Adventure traveling to Hawaii with a Toddler.  As I'm writing this, its the middle of July, life is the same-old-day-to-day, and I TREASURE the memories we created in Hawaii.   I would not hesitate for a second to do it again, or to recommend a trip just like this to anyone!
Since Hawaii, we did make a trip to Norfolk, VA, and we do still have the Cruise in September, so you can look forward to tips and blog posts about those adventures.

There will be more blog posts, but they will be for specific things.  For example, I'm planning a Review of the Ritz in more detail, a "Tips for Toddlers in Hawaii" post, a BEST OF Pictures post, and a Toddler Gear post.

In terms of our Traveled Toddler in Hawaii, this is the end!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hawaii with a Toddler Part 5

Moving day!

Unfortunately, our time at the Ritz Carlton had come to an end.  There was a writers conference of some kind starting, and we were not able to keep our room any longer.  This was also the time when the family was going to split up for its own adventures.  So, B, N, and I packed up, chatted with the Valet's one more time, and drove away, but more detail on that later, first, we have to eat!

Breakfast at the Honoloa Store

As had become a good tradition, breakfast was the Honoloa store again.  I deviated from Loco Moco to try another locally popular item... SPAM.  I remember now why I haven't eaten it in years...

Checkout from Hotel

As I described above, we now had to checkout of the Ritz Carlton.  I fully intend to go back someday!  But, we had a completely different adventure ahead.  Knowing that we needed another place to stay, and wanting to see / experience a different part of the island, we booked a Condo in Kehi.  So, we drove down tword Kehi and gathered our keys, lock box code, and such for the Condo.  Kehi is a much different place than Lahaina or Kapalua or Kaanapalli where we had been.  Much more local, much less touristy, and much less fancy!  It is, however, FILLED with condos to rent.

Brick Oven Pizza!


Once we secured all our stuff and details for the condo, we headed to find lunch.  We asked B what he wanted, and his normal answer appeared... "PIZZA!" So off to yelp to find pizza.  N located an itallian restraunt that got good reviews, so we drove there, only to find out they were CLOSED for lunch.  But not to be outdone, behind us, in the same shopping center was Maui Brick Oven!  WE FOUND PIZZA!  Now, I will say we were a little skeptical at first because plastered on the door was "100% Gluten Free".  But, yelp said to give it a go, and the smells were good, and B was HUNGRY (so was I), so in we went.
We were welcomed by the owner and his wife, some of the most FRIENDLY people we met on the island.  We were seated just across from where the ower was making the pizzas fresh.  He chatted with us while we waited for our pizza.  The crust was made from a very loose dough with no wheat flour in it.  We ordered a "Polynesian Passion" pizza and a small pineapple pizza for B.  THIS PIZZA WAS DELICIOUS!!! WOW WOW WOW.  What an amazing product they are putting out!  This was also a regularly priced place, not the high priced stuff you hear about being normal in Hawaii!  If your ever in Kehi, stop by!

Maui Ocean Center


After eating, it was time to head to the Maui Ocean Center.  This is a large aquarium right off the ocean just outside of Kehi.  The owers of Maui Brick Oven confirmed our suspicion that it was a neat place.  B is obsessed with "Fishies" and LOVED running between tanks and looking at the fish, turtles, sharks, and all that they had to do.  We toured the whole place, including a plexiglass tunnel under the huge shark tank.
It was awesome to be surrounded by these amazing fish.  They even send divers in to do a "show" for the kids.  Though, B was getting tired and was uninterested.

Check in at Condo

A short drive from the Aquarium, we finally headed to our Condo.  We used Vacation Rentals By Owner to find our Condo, and it was a great service.  Condo's are an attractive option for a number of reasons.  They offer kitchens, and seperate bedrooms (or even multiple bedrooms) and are often MUCH cheaper than a hotel.  Many have great amenities such as pools or fitness centers.  Our condo was at the Kauhale Makai complex.  We had assigned parking and the process to get checked in was quick and simple.
Our Condo had 1 bedroom, a full kitchen and a living room/dining room.  It also had a balcony that looked out over the beach and ocean.  It was a quaint little place, clean and well appointed.  I will say that it was not the most comfortable of beds, and the complex is a little dated, but again, it was clean, and it was a nice place to stay!

Beach Time (bad beach)

The condo had some basic beach toys, and B wanted to play, so we headed down to the beach.  I will say that the beach in this part of Kehi was less than desirable.  It was rocky, the bottom under the water was actually muddy, and it was generally not a nice place to spend the day beaching.  But we did play for a little while and then walked back to our room to change for dinner.  I've heard there are better beaches in Kehi, but be aware, not all beach front in Hawaii is good.

Monsoon Indian

Anyone who knows me well, knows I LOVE indian food, and so does N.  In planning our trip, we decied we couldn't pass up Monsoon India in Kehi.  This indian restraunt sits right on the ocean, and they open up the huge doors to let the cool breeze in.  They had a buffet the evening we went, and we really enjoyed ourselfs.  They also did not charge for little B, and he enjoyed himself.
The only negative about this place (and it wasn't OUR problem) was another couple that was seated just before us... we sat down with our toddler, and they were AGHAST that they would have to sit near a child.  They actually demanded to be moved so they could enjoy their meal.  Little did they know that B is a polite, mostly quiet, and very well behaved child.. MOST OF the time.  We rarely run across people like this, but it always strikes me as odd that people would be supprised or upset that someone would DARE bring their child to a restraunt.. haha

In search of Coffee and stuff

On our way back, we hit a local supermarket in search of a few things.  Specifically we were looking for Kona coffee, macadamia nuts, and other things to send back home.  We found coffee on sale, and a great price for the nuts.  We also secured some bananas and breakfasty foods for B for the morning.  Again, all cheaply.. you really can eat for a reasonable cost in Hawaii!
This is probably the right time to point out our mistake.  On the same shelf as the Kona coffe, and also on sale was a Maui blend coffee.... both made by the Maui Coffee Company.  One is 100% Kona beans, one is 100% Maui grown beans.... we intended to buy the Kona, we made it home with 4 bags of the Maui...... OOPS!!!  Another excuse to go back?  And note, the Maui blend is DELICIOUS!

Art / Craft fair in Kehi

This was our last Day in Maui, and it was totally our to do what we wanted with.  We headed to the post office to mail back the coffee and other stuff so we didn't have to pack it.  We noticed there was a Craft Fair/Swap Meet right there in Kehi.  We stoped in there to see what was avaliable.  Lots of local crafts, jewlery, touristy stuff, and clothes.  As well as fresh local fruits of all kinds.  And free to get in!

Maui Swap Meet

We then headed across the island back to Kahalui to find the Maui Swap Meet... an little bigger event than what we just left.  This place was quite large, and in a beautiful location!


We were in search of a pendant for N, a snack, and whatever else caught our eye.  There was clothing, collectables, jewlery, food, almost anything you could think of there to buy or shop for.  We found a booth selling locally made breads and deserts and had some amazing fudge and pineapple bread.  N found the pendant she wanted, but by the time we looked at the rest of the event for a better price, the booth had shut down and gone home :(.  I did spot a Korean Taco Truck at one point and hurried over to get a snack.. but they were out of ALL Their taco meats.  The guy did recomend the Kimshee Frys, and I was not dissapointed... YUMMY!

Johnny B's for lunch

Our eventual goal was to head to the beach, but it was lunch time, and we were hungry... so we headed to Paia to see what we could find.  We ended up at Johnny B's

I had fish tacos that were yummy, B got a grilled cheese (one of his favs) and N enjoyed her lunch as well.  Its a small place with all open outside seating... but it is quite near......

Baby Beach


This was our other real goal for the day... Baby Beach!  This is not really listed on any maps, but we had heard about it when researching the islands.  This is an ideal place for kids... there is a LONG rock barrier between the sea and the beach giving a very protected bit of water about 20-30 ft wide.  All the surf is cut down by the barrier and the water is calm... though it does move a little.  B loved it and we played around for a while.  I eventually wound my way further up the beach to the unprotected portion and played in the surf.  We even had a fun time playing in the sand and building sand mounds just to knock them over!

Pukilani Suparette

It was starting to get late, and the sun was going down by the time we left the beach, so we needed to find dinner.  Having a full kitchen at the Condo, we decided to visit Pukilani Suparette to do some shopping.  You will hear adds for "Your easy does it place" on the radio, and its for this place. Its a small supermarket, but they have LOADS of prepared foods and deals.  We ended up with some local butternut squash ravioli, some pre-marinated terryaki beef and assorted vegetables.  We took this back to the condo and cooked dinner.

We ended our day on the couch relaxing watching a little TV, and letting B catch up on the Sesame Street world as we relaxed.  Then off to bed for our last night in Maui



Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hawaii with a Toddler Part 4

Haleakala

So, this part of my review gets down to the purpose of the visit to Hawaii.  Without going into too much detail....  N's Dad passed away on fathers day 2012.  One of his wishes was to have his ashes spread at the top of Mt Haleakala.  N says it was a place that he loved after a visit with a family when N and her sister were young.  Needless to say, it was an emotional experience, but one that I am glad I got to be a part of.
N's dad was a great man, and I'm glad to have called him a friend.  He was a great Dad, an AMAZING Grandfather to B, and a very very generous man.  He provided for his family to make this trip, and it was an amazing legacy for him to leave.

Anyway, down to the specifics of traveling to this place.  The "typical" time to visit Haleakala is at sunrise.  This does, however, present some challenges.  We were staying on the other side of the island, so we were looking at a 3 hour drive to get there (I think it ended up being a shorter trip, but still, a long one).  The other HUGE challenge is clothing.  The morning we were at the top of Haleakala, it was 30 degrees..... yes I said 30 degrees.   Who packs for FREEZING weather in Hawaii?  Well, if you want to do this (and I recommend it), PLEASE DO!  We brought clothes for this, and also were given blankets by a very kind Concierge and we were still COLD COLD COLD!

Our adventure began at 3am.  We all got out of bed and headed down to valet.  They were nice enough to have scheduled the night before to have our cars waiting for us.  We piled in and started the drive.  Luckily, B just went back to sleep for this drive.
As you get closer to the road up the mountain, you start to realize that the only people on the road, are going the same place as you are!  Its also a good idea to note that the last chunk of this drive is NOT easy.  The road curves and turns back on itself OVER AND OVER AND OVER, and does so in the DARK.  It was a bit of a harrowing drive, so make sure your awake.

Morning Pit Stop

About half way (ish) up the mountain we were all feeling hungry, and sleepy and needed a pit stop.  We discovered an enterprising young man sets up a coffee truck along the side of the road.  A quick stop afforded us a bathroom, a cop of good coffee, and a muffin or doughnut.  This man was also HILARIOUS.  He indicated that we were closer than we thought, that we had plenty of time, and that there had been people for at least an hour before us RUSHING, afraid they were going to miss sunrise.

On Top of Old Smokey (it is a volcano you know)

Once you pass into the state park, its good to note that there is a fee to get in.  Our lead driver payed for us all, but I believe it was $5 for a car, and that was good for 2 days.  After that, its only a 10 minute or so drive to the top of the mountain.  There are actually 2 spots at the top.  One is the first parking lot, and is where we ended up, but there is a viewing station a few hundred feet higher and a short drive away.  It does have a covered viewing area, and its even windier up there.  It was deemed to be full and the road closed by the time we got there.

At this point we all hit the bathroom again, and waited in the heat of our vehicles for about 20 minutes or so.  It was COLD COLD COLD outside.  As we approached sunrise, we headed to the edge of the crater with our blankets and cameras.

I have to apologize a bit here, the only pictures I got were from my cameraphone.... our good DSLR was 3 hours away in our hotel room... DOH!



The sunrise was BREATHTAKING, and really was an experience I will never forget.  There is a Hawaiian legend associated with it, but I will not go into that.... other than to say as part of the legend, a chant is performed at sunrise, and a native park ranger performed this... it was amazing and quite reverent as the crowd was quiet and just took in the amazement before us.  


Once the sun had risen, the ranger also pointed out something pretty amazing... This was one of the only places on the earth where you could see the shadow of the mountain you were on clearly behind you, NEAT!

And then it was time

We waited for the crowd to clear out and warmed up in the car, and then headed the final few hundred feet up to the top viewing station.  At this point the family said goodbye to N's Dad.  This was extremely emotional, and a very profound experience.  He picked an amazing place to rest for eternity!
B and I hung back at one point to give N, her sister, and her Uncle some private time.

After paying our respects and grieving, we headed back down the mountain.

Restaurant on the way down

The trip down the mountain revealed much of what the dark concealed on the drive up... sheer drop-offs, and a WINDING road, but it was beautiful!  AT the same place where the Coffee Cart was earlier, we stopped and met the rest of the family for breakfast.  There is an amazing restaurant here. The Kula Lodge this place had good food, and again, I had LOCO MOCO!!


The view from the restaurant was stunning.  It looked over the side of the mountain down onto the valley and the rest of the Island of Maui.. AMAZING place.

We were tired!

We made our way back to the hotel, and were exhausted.  It was getting close to lunch time, so we got into our swimwear and headed down to the pool to play a bit and cool off (its warm at sea level) before we ate.  B wasn't to keen on the pool, but he did splash in the kiddy splash pool a bit.  We then ate at the pool.  I had some AMAZING fish tacos.
After this, the rest of the family headed of for a submarine tour, but since B was too young, we opted for a nap, and THAT was a good idea!

Luau


We woke up from our nap in time to head to our Luau.  This was a package deal along with the submarine tour, and that worked out in our favor.  The luau we chose was the Royal Lahaina Luau and it did not disappoint.  The fact that it was a package worked out for us in a neat way.  The rest of the family were taken from the sub, to the hotel where the Luau was, but got there quite early.  They were greeted at the gate with an offer to upgrade to "VIP" tickets for just a few dollars.  They did so, and scored us FRONT ROW seating for the show, as well as they got an extra hour or so of open bar fruity drinks.  They were quite entertaining when we got there!
B enjoyed the fruit drinks (with no alcohol of course) and we all enjoyed our meal.  The had quite the selection of food for the kids, and even the Adults liked the Mac and Cheese and Chicken Nuggets!  And, I Was the only one willing to try the Poi!


The show itself was the highlight of the evening.  B was ENTHRALLED by the colors, music, and dancing.

Before the actual show started, he and N even got to go learn to do the Hula, though he was less than cooperative.

We ended the evening with a photo of our little family, and the day that started out so emotional and sad, ended up very fulfulling and full of family spending time together.  N's Dad had to have been pleased!

Maui Coffee Company

The next morning, we met up with the family at the Honoloa store again for breakfast.  We didn't have group plans until the afternoon, so we all went our separate ways.  N, B, and I went in search of coffee... GOOD coffee.  A little internet research pointed us to the Maui Grown Coffee Store.  They had some amazing coffee, and we sampled quite a bit.  This place is easy to find, as its near the smoke stack in Lahaina.  We headed back to the hotel but took the "scenic" route, ending up by Lahaina High School, which has an amazing view of the town and the harbour.

Relaxing at the hotel

We had a little time to kill, so we relaxed at the hotel at this point.  They have a golf cart that runs as a shuttle from the pool down to the beach (its a bit of a hike) so we wandered down there.  B was not having water this day, so he and N went up to the pool to hang out, and I played in the water for a bit.  This is an AMAZING beach, and like all other beaches on Maui, its public accessible.  Soon it was time for a quick bite to eat, and then off to our next adventure!

Whale Watching Tour

We happened to be in Hawaii smack in the middle of prime Whale watching season.  I have to be honest here and say that I was very.... uninspired by the idea of whale watching.  I figured it would be boring and only slightly interesting. MAN WAS I WRONG!

We ended up going on a tour with the Hawaii Ocean Project and had an AMAZING time.  There were whales constantly almost the entire time.  I took HUNDREDS of pictures.
 We even got to watch a prolonged exchange between 2 males and a female with her little baby.  It was FASCINATING.  I will note, B didn't really care for any of this.  He was uninterested in the whales, and spent most of the trip sitting and playing with Aunt B at a table.  I wouldn't call this a Toddler "unfriendly" tour, but not an exciting activity for a not quite 2 year old.

Sansei Sushi for Dinner

After our whale watching, we headed back to the hotel, and a few of us decided to go to a highly recommended Sushi place just up from the hotel called Sansei,  I would highly recommend this place.  It wasn't badly priced for GOOD sushi, and the non-sushi offerings of local fresh fish, steaks, and more were delicious as well.  We REALLY enjoyed our food, our sake, and our company!
One of my favorite pictures from the trip was from this place... even though its blurry and dark, and not a "good" photo.. I LOVE IT!



Monday, July 15, 2013

Hawaii with a Toddler Part 3

Its Maui Time!

For the 2nd part of our trip, and the majority of our time in Hawaii, we were on the Island of Maui.  We were here specifically to spread the ashes of little B's Grandpa and N's Dad at the summit of of Mt Haleakala.  I'll get to that more later.
We LOVED Maui.  Its an amazing place, and we spent time finding little out-of-the-way places to be. 
On with the details!

Arrival


The flight from Honolulu to Maui is only about 45 minutes, and on arrival, we had a silly little boy!  When we left Oahu, it was sunny and gorgeous!  However, by the time we landed in Maui, we could see the skys starting to darken.  By the time we made it to the rental car place, that darkening sky had turned into quite the thunderstorm!

Dinner

By the time we got everything settled and in the car, we realized we were STARVING!  So, in search of food we went.  Now, the main airport on Maui is in Kahului, so we hopped on Yelp to find close places.  We ended up at a place called "Da Kitchen" and I was given my first introduction to what would become an obsession for me.  Loco Moco!
This is a less than traditional example called the Kamakazi Moco.  This example has a bed of Rice, topped with Teryaki Beef (YUM), Katsu Chicken, and Teryaki Chicken, topped with a Fried Egg... YUMMY!!!!
You'll see more traditional Loco Moco's the rest of the trip.  Regardless, this place had AMAZING food!!

Hotel

After dinner, and a quick wal-mart stop for diapers and beer, we headed to the hotel.  We stayed at 2 places on the island, and first was the Ritz Carlton Kapalua.  This was a pretty spectacular hotel!  If you have never stayed at a Ritz, the level of service is amazing!  Never a frown or glum face.  Always a smile and a willingness to chat.  We never felt rushed or like we were a bother!
I wish I had taken better pictures of the hotel, but this is the view from the lobby out over the pools and down to the beach.  I think I'll just have to go back to get those pictures :)  I'll do a full review of the hotel in its own post!

Our first full day on Maui

In my opinion, the ONLY way to start your morning in Maui?

LOCO MOCO!!!  This is the real deal here.  A bed of rice, with a hamburger patty, gravy, and a fried egg on top!  MEGA YUM!  We picked this beauty up at the Honolua Store in Kapalua.  This is about a 3 minute walk from the Ritz Lobby.  Its an ABC store (lots of stuff from snack food to tourist stuff) but also has a carry out restaurant in the back.  They have picnic tables setup outside to eat on as well.  This was a great way to start your morning.  Cool breeze, good food, and NOT expensive!
The rest of the Family joined us this morning for breakfast and we all talked about the plans for the day.  We didn't have any family group plans for today, so everyone was on their own.
As I noted in the travel posts, we had an issue with our rental car, so we spend the rest of the morning returning it, and getting a better ride for the rest of our trip.

Lunch

After getting the rental car all settled, we needed lunch!  Cue The Fish Market in Lahaina.  YUMMY!!!  I had a seered Ahi Tuna sandwich and oyster shooters!!  Amazing fresh fish.  Its a tiny place though!

Lahaina

After lunch, we decided to check out Old Lahaina.  We parked across from Hilo Hatties and hopped in there to take a look
A 200XL shirt... teehee!  After this shop, we walked through the shopping district and headed tword the Banyan tree.  I was in search of a wide brimmed hat to help keep the sun out of my eyes, and we wanted to just see what there was to be seen.  The Banyan tree was AMAZING!  What a HUGE plant!
We then walked back to the car, managed to find a little natural beauty product store that actually sold men's  shave cream and aftershave balm (traditional shaving is another hobby of mine) and that was neat.  It was getting late, so back to the hotel to figure out dinner!

Dinner and Beer in Maui


The entire family decided to join us at the Maui Brewing Company for dinner.  We really enjoyed this.  This is some REALLY fine beer, and their sample "Flight" was very well done.  The food was typical brewpub fare with burgers, salads, sandwiches, and fried foods.  All very well done and delicious!
I wanted to point out 2 specific beers to try if you can.  Specifically the Ba'Actun (sp) and their Scotch Ale (both seasonal).  They were OUTSTANDING beers.  On regular tap is their Coconut Porter.  Don't be scared of the name... this is a FANTASTIC beer, with the coconut adding a nutty flavor that balanced very well.
We tried our hardest to get them to ship some beer home for us, but alas, they would not.  This alone is reason enough to go BACK!

Thats the end of our first day in Maui, and enough for this post.  Stay tuned for the account of the rest of the trip!