honeymoon part 2: upcountry maui part 2

My last post left off with us about to leave Oheo Gulch. Now there were exactly two ways to go once we left…back the way we had come, or we could continue around the southern part of the island. The place that we wanted to go for dinner* was toward the southern end, so we headed that way. About 15 minutes in to our drive Keith said something about “Don’t you need 4 wheel drive to go on this road?” And I said, “Of course not!” And then we drove a little further. And the road turned to dirt.

And then we spent the next 2 hours twisting and turning along cliffs.

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The road appeared to be about 1.5 car widths. And some portions had vertical cliffs on either side. Once or twice a gigantic truck/tour bus came at us from the other side and we had to inch closer and closer to the wall in order for them to be able to pass. Luckily we were inching to the right, not the left.

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These pictures don’t do justice to the grade of the road. It seriously felt like we were on a roller coaster. You’d come to the top of a hill and just be looking straight down. I have re-occuring nightmares about out of control vehicles and this road was pretty much those nightmares come to life. IMG_0985

Keith was a little bit unhappy with me. I never thought I had to research the ROAD we were taking, but apparently I should have. Along with the chance of plunging to your death…we had zero cellphone service. A few cars passed us…but if anything had happened, we would have been waiting quite a while for help. But man…it sure was beautiful.

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I desperately wanted to take my real camera out, and desperately wanted to ask him to stop, but I knew the first would annoy him and the second was definitely not going to happen, so I just kept snapping away on the iPhone telling him, “Maybe you’ll want to look at these later?”

Finally, we hit paved road and after another ~45 minutes of that we hit civilization. We had some great pizza at Serpico’s and then went back to the house and crashed.

Oh, I forgot! On Friday, between the beach and the basketball game we went to Ocean Vodka. We had a few brewery/winery tours planned so we threw in this distillery tour. I think it was $5 per person and we had the entire tour to ourselves. We got there a little early, so we walked around a bit, enjoying the grounds and the wildlife.

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Ocean vodka is 100% organic. So instead of using pesticides on their sugar cane…they use chickens! We had a very nice ~30 minute tour and got to see the sugar cane, see all kinds of machines, see the bottling process. It was really interesting and informative and at the end, we got to taste some vodka! Hooray! One of the coolest things was they have a “martini garden” that has all sorts of different herbs that you are welcome to cut and take home to mix with your vodka. Such a great idea!

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And then we come to Sunday. Time to leave upcountry Maui. But one more stop!

Well, two more. First, one of the coolest things, all over the island, people have fruit stands at the end of their driveways. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of one, but they range from simple to elaborate. And they are all unmanned. They just have a little bucket for you to put your money in. The house next to the one we were staying in had such a stand and we spent $5 (because I had no change) and loaded up on fruit. Starfruit for 25 cents! Passionfruit for 50 cents! Breadfruit for $1.00! (I thought breadfruit was something completely different. Apparently the way to eat it is to cook it. We tried to eat it raw. It was like a sticky potato.)

 

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So, all loaded up with fruit, we headed to Maui’s Winery at Ulupalakua Ranch. We had actually passed it on our way back from the Road From Hana the previous day, but it was late and they only do tours at 10:30 and 1:30 so we traveled back.

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The tour and tasting were completely free and there were probably 20 people taking the tour. It was very neat hearing all about the ranch and how they starting making wine. Apparently they had some trouble with grapes at first so they started making pineapple wine just for something to do and now it makes up 80% of their production. And it was delicious! I’ve never been on a winery tour and it was really interesting, though we didn’t actually see any grapes. Or pineapple. I especially liked how the explanation of how they bottle the sparkling wine and there was even a neat demonstration.

 

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The grounds were beautiful and they had all these enormous and crazy trees. One of the first owners of the ranch had collected trees from all over the world.

 

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This was my favorite. It looked like something from Dr. Suess.

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A camphor tree.

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I can’t remember the name of that one, but it was from New Zealand.

Then we left and were off to Kaanapali Beach.

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That little squiggle should be on Hawaii’s state flag. They are everywhere.

 

*HAH, except the road it was on and the road we were on never connected so we never got to go because it would have been another 2 hours of driving to get there. Ugggghhh.

 

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honeymoon part 1: upcountry maui

Keith and I were engaged for almost 3 years before we got married. We had tossed out some honeymoon ideas early on (I was pulling for Greece), but then kind of forgot about it. Until it was announced that the Pitt basketball team would be taking part in the Maui Invitational.

Keith has always wanted to go to Hawaii. I would never turn down a trip, but it wasn’t really on the top of my list…but when this happened, it was settled. It might be Keith’s only chance to see Pitt play in Hawaii. (I actually did complain for a little bit at first until Keith said, “You do realize you are complaining about a trip to Hawaii?” Whoops. #firstworldproblems).

I told Keith that he had to plan the honeymoon since I planned the wedding but then once the wedding was over, I just took over. About a week before we bought our airline tickets, it was announced that Pitt was going to play the University of Hawaii a few days before the tournament started, so luckily we had time to tack a few extra days on.

We flew into Maui on November 20th. We left Pittsburgh around noon and had two layovers, one in Minneapolis and one in LAX. We landed in Maui at 9:30 p.m. their time…which was ~2:00 a.m. Pittsburgh time. For 14 hours of travel, it really wasn’t bad. We were excited and the two layovers helped. We had time to get some food, go to the bathroom, (I have never used an airplane bathroom – I am afraid) stretch our legs, etc. Once we landed in Maui, we collected our bags and went to pick up our rental car. And I found out Keith had rented us a convertible! Woo!

For the first few days of our trip, we were staying in an AirBnB in Haiku, which is upcountry Maui. It was about ~30 minutes from the airport. As we drove there the first night…my first thoughts were “Wow, it’s dark!” “Wow, it’s flat!” “Look at all those stars!” The stars were incredible. I had fully planned on taking some sort of time-lapse star photo but never got around to it.

Woke up bright and early (I think 6:00 a.m.?) due to a rooster crowing merrily. Decided to get up and not waste the day. Our first stop was breakfast. We headed to Colleen’s  and it was great. Keith ordered a smoothie which was the best smoothie I’ve ever had in my life. He had a breakfast burrito and I had a breakfast scramble and it was all top notch. Super cute place too.

After that, we hit the beach. We had been on the island for almost 12 hours now, it was imperative to get to a beach! It was actually pretty difficult to find beach towels, our host didn’t provide them and I didn’t want to take her bath towels to the beach. We tried 3-4 shops before spending $20 per towel. Yikes. But then…beach!

And were greeted by this sight:

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And then greeted by some rain. It was sprinkling on and off the entire time we were at the beach, but who cares! We were at the beach! In Maui! And I met a dog!

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After a while, we left and headed back to the house to get ready, we had a basketball game to go to!

Keith and I are big fans of Three Sheets and Drinking Made Easy and one of the DME episodes was in Maui. They went a kava bar and so that was at the top of Keith’s list. Luckily, it was right near the basketball game. So we headed to Wow-Wee Maui’s Kava Bar

 

From wikipedia on kava:

The roots of the plant are used to produce a drink with sedative and anesthetic properties. Kava is consumed throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia and some parts of Micronesia. (See canoe plants.) Kava is sedating and is primarily consumed to relax without disrupting mental clarity.

 

From Katrina on kava:

It tastes like dirt. And makes your mouth numb.

 

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Needless to say, I was not a fan. Keith was though, so more for him. Instead, I got excited about trying loco moco. Loco moco is rice topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg and drenched in gravy. It was delicious. Keith was not really a fan. I said I liked it so much I wanted to make it at home. But then I said “I’d probably leave out the egg. I’d probably even leave off the burger.” Keith said, “Then you’d be eating a bowl of rice + gravy.” “Exactly.”

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We left there and headed to the gym for basketball. Pitt lost. It was sad. I had to use a port-o-potty in the dark. That was even more sad.

The next day was a day Keith will never forget….

We traveled the Road to Hana.

I did basically no research on this, I just knew it was a big thing to do. The GPS said it was ~30 miles to Hana and would take 2 hours. Which seems insane until you start the drive. Lets just say you see a lot of these:

We drove all the way to the black sand beach at Waianapanapa State Park. There was supposed to be some kind of lava tube tour but I never found it, so we just checked out the beach for a bit. It was a tiny beach and the waves were super intense so we didn’t go in the water. But it was incredible to see.

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We left there and traveled to what was supposed to be a red sand beach…but it didn’t look red at all. There was some kind of festival going on so there was nowhere to park…so we left and tried to get lunch. Drove up and the place was closed. Decided to keep going and find somewhere else to eat…and never found anywhere. But we did find our next stop….Oheo Gulch. We paid $10 to get into the park and then started our hike to the gulch. Except I just sort of followed people and after ~15 minutes of hiking up a mountain…we realized the pools were probably not up there. So we turned around and went the other way…and found the pools.

 

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It was gorgeous here, and not really crowded at all, but the bottom was all rocks. It really hurt to walk around…Keith got all the way to the bottom waterfall, I only got partway there since I knew as far as I went, I’d have to go back. The water was also pretty shallow in the pool in the foreground so it wasn’t really possible to swim. I would highly recommend going there but I would highly highly highly recommend water shoes. But the rocks were also mossy and slippery so I saw a lot of people fall, regardless. Still gorgeous though. At this point it was late afternoon and we were starving thanks to missing lunch, so we decided to leave.

And then the real adventure began.

…to be continued.

 

cookies for everyone!

So yea, that NaBloPoMo thing was a spectacular failure, as I expected it to be. I had briefly considered live-blogging part of the honeymoon but ultimately decided not to give myself tendonitis again by typing away on my phone, so I’ll have some honeymoon posts shortly!

In the meantime, I attended a Cookie Swap on Saturday. Organized by my friend Alex and hosted by Elizabeth. When Alex asked a while back if I was interested, I couldn’t respond fast enough. I had never participated in a cookie swap before but I was alllll over it. The most difficult part was deciding what kind of cookies to make! I usually end up making cupcakes for parties because they are adorable and a crowd pleaser but in a battle of cookie vs cake, I’d probably be on the cookie side. One thing though, I am a cookie snob. I am really a baked good snob, if we’re being completely honest here. Some grocery store cookies are passable and grocery store sheet cakes are a necessary evil, but to me there is nothing worse than those hard chocolate chip cookies people try to pass off as dessert at events. I’d rather eat the napkins they are served with.

Whoops, that got a little real. But! Cookie Swap! With people making real cookies! I was so excited! At first I decided to make double chocolate cookies and before I left for Hawaii, I made a test batch and took them to work. They were received well enough…but I could tell they didn’t wow anyone. And that wouldn’t stand with me, so last minute, I decided to just go with the tried and true m&m cookies from The Crepes of Wrath. I am not a huge fan of m&ms…expect the peanut butter ones, but regular m&ms are meh. Something about putting them in a cookie, though. That’s where they really shine. I have made these countless times and they might be my all-time favorite cookie recipe. The resulting cookies are colorful and chewy and the sea salt on the top knocks them out of the park. I highly recommend buying a bar of chocolate and chopping it up so that you get all different chocolate sizes plus the chocolate shavings which just really take them over the top, in my opinion. Also, they use melted butter! No chance to forget to take butter out and let it soften. I actually pulled butter from the freezer for these and it took no more time than usual.

So. Anyways. The Swap was in Mt. Washington…and while I am not as bad as I used to be…driving new places still gives me a little anxiety. I left super early and of course got a little lost on the way. The place where 28S splits to go to 579/279/376 and then again where 279? splits to the Ft. Pitt Bridge is the bane of my existence. I have never gotten it right. And I didn’t this time either. I took a nice little downtown detour on the way there and back. But I arrived, unscathed and had a wonderful time! The only person I had actually met before was Alex, so it was great to meet a bunch of people that I have only interacted with online. It was a diverse group of people with a diverse group of snacks and most importantly, cookies! I had so much fun, I am already eagerly awaiting the next one.

And all of the cookies were sooooo good. We smartly decided to cut the quantities in half, usually you bring 1 dozen cookies for each participant, but with 10 participants, we cut it to 1/2 dozen per person, which was still cookie overload! In the best way! I ate one of each, froze 1-2 of each and sent the rest to work with Keith. I thought I had take a picture of my portion of cookies laid out on a tray, but apparently not, so I only have this picture of the packaged cookies from the party.

 

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In other news, I mentioned over and over again how horrible my Remote Sensing class this semester was. I’m not sure that I publicly announced that I failed my midterm? Yep. A big ol’ F. But then he bumped everyone up 10 points, so I officially got a D. There were 3 assignments, the midterm and the final. I got a B on the 1st assignment, a D on the midterm, then went on my honeymoon so never got back the 2nd and 3rd assignments, came back from the honeymoon and had 3 days to prepare for the final. My hopes were not high. I have never been so completely lost in a class. I went to every lecture (minus one while we were away) and I just couldn’t grasp anything. I felt like the final went better than the midterm, but since I had no idea how I did on the rest of the assignments…my grade was very much up in the air. One of the essay questions on the final said something about “After getting an A in your Remote Sensing class, you were put in charge of a team of paleontologists to survey this land in Africa…blah blah blah.” I was able to answer about 60% of the question, but couldn’t grasp some of the concepts, so I finished my essay with “Based on my remote sensing knowledge, I would likely be demoted to field cook.” Oh, Katrina. Always with the jokes.

So imagine my surprise when I logged in today.

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Ha! I would not have been surprised (though very disappointed) had I gotten a D and here I pulled off a C+! Curious as to how far away from a B I was, but not curious enough to ask. Just glad to be done with that class forever and glad to move on to my final! two! classes! in January. The end is near my friends.