Thoughts on Hawaii

I may be the only tourist who ever went to Hawaii and was not head over heels in love with it. It was fun and I enjoyed it, but it is outrageously expensive. We never ate a lunch that was less than $50. I spoke with a woman one day and she said she and her husband went out to lunch: two cocktails, two appetizers and they split an entrée = $160 without tip. Even food in the grocery store was expensive as was gas at $4.53 a gallon.

  • One of the best things was the koi on both resorts. If you look at my artwork, http://SusanLStewartArt.com, you will find many koi paintings. I can’t wait to get home and back to the studio!
  • The people are extraordinarily friendly, even ones outside of the resort.
  • The Hawaiian language is impossible to read or speak. Normally when I blog, I like to include a pronunciation guide when I use foreign words but I just couldn’t get a handle on Hawaiian.
  • Pot is called Pakalolo or “crazy cigarette.”
  • There are no swear words in the Hawaiian language.
  • All of the pineapple and sugarcane is gone from Kauai. Our guide said it was cheaper to import it from other countries. At one time, the C&H Sugar Company farmed sugarcane on Kauai and shipped the product to California for processing. C&H stands for California and Hawaii.
  • We saw thousands of acres of sugarcane on Maui and along the roadside on our tour of the Hana coast; we saw a few very small pineapple trees. The pineapples are a pinkish red when they’re very young.

Overall, we had a great time. We enjoyed the activities and tours we did and the warm weather. Denver had a big snowstorm while we were lying around the pool or the beach. You can’t get better than that!

I’ll write the next time we travel. Until then, Aloha!

Susan L Stewart

The Hana Coast Tour is Exceptional

If you’re visiting Maui, I highly recommend taking the Hana Coast tour.

We had a great experience with Mahalo Tours and their Mercedes Benz vans seating a maximum of eight. Even though the tour was 11-1/2 hours long, our tour guide,

Rainbow Painted Eucalyptus

Rainbow Painted Eucalyptus

Cody, was knowledgeable and entertaining. By the time we got back, though, I was completely drained. I spent the next day resting.

Rainbow Painted Eucalyptus

Rainbow Painted Eucalyptus

We sat on the left side of the van – I looked at the map beforehand and figured out that that side of the van would be on the coast. I took over 300 photos. Beautiful coastlines.

The tour took us through 617 turns and 54 single lane roads. I lost track of the number of times we stopped. They involved climbing in and out of the van with a small, two-step, plastic stool. I’ve been having trouble with back pain that started before we left for Hawaii and I felt every turn, every bump, in the road.

Rainbow below us

Rainbow below us

Our first stop was Hookipa were I started the photo frenzy. Most of our stops were like that, an opportunity to take photos. Toward the end of the day, we encountered a little rain and there it was, a rainbow positioned below us. Most rainbows are so high in the sky and far away, that it’s impossible to see all seven of the colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These are the same colors and order that you see on a color wheel. This one was so close that I could see all of them.

Black Sand beach

Black Sand beach

We stopped at one of Hawaii’s black sand beaches. The beach is surrounded by black lava rock that, over centuries, has been eroded away by the waves to make fine black sand. Tom climbed down to the beach. He said the sand started out with fairly large pebbles away from the waves, and got smaller and finer as he walked to the water.

One of our first stops was in an area with giant Rainbow Painted Eucalyptus. I’ve never seen such an amazing tree! One of them must have been 10 feet in diameter.

One more beautiful waterfall

One more beautiful waterfall

 

We saw cascading waterfalls Hawaii is so known for, and pools at the foot of the falls that were just begging us to jump in. One of them had a cave in the pool for more adventurous people. I took more incredible photos but we only had ten minutes and then it was back

Waterfall pool with cave

Waterfall pool with cave

in the van. We did have a stop where we could have gotten into the water but the waves were too menacing and the water was cold.

Everything is so lush and so different from Denver. Most people don’t know that Denver is a semi-arid state so growing tropical plants of any kind is impossible. One of the more popular houseplants is the philodendron. Here, they grow wild in the forest and climb up the trunks of trees.

Lunch was included in the tour. At one of our stops, Cody took down everyone’s order and then called them in

Beautiful Hana coast

Beautiful Hana coast

to the restaurant. The selection was much more than burgers and fries. I ordered the fish tacos. After a few more stops, Cody pulled off the road into a large space of dirt and parked the van next to our  restaurant: a food truck!

Philodendron climbing a tree

Philodendron climbing a tree

There were old long wooden tables and chairs. The table felt grimy with old food and dirt so I took the roll of paper towels sitting on it and made myself a placemat. It wasn’t long before everyone else on the tour was doing the same thing.

Ask any of my family members and they would all agree that I’m a picky eater. For example, I won’t eat leftovers that have been in the refrigerator more than 24 hours. All I can think of is bacteria growing in the food. Being picky doesn’t have to be rational; most fears aren’t. In any other circumstances, I would have told my husband to back up and keep going until we found something better. Of course I didn’t know there aren’t any more restaurants on the coast drive.

When someone set the plate of fish tacos in front of me, they looked more than just “edible.” They looked like a feast with lots of fresh slaw. I couldn’t find anything that said “Stop! Poisoning at risk!” so I took a bite. They were the best fish tacos I have ever had – including my own.

Small garden god

Small garden god

The last stop of the day was a winery with some unusual wines, like pineapple and papaya. I don’t drink

Maui sunset

Maui sunset

alcohol so I took a quiet walk by myself around the property. The setting was beautiful, flowers were blooming, and I found a little alter with a small stone god. The whole area brought a wonderful sense of peace to me. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful day.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

Haleakala Crater Spectacular Experience

 

Today we drove to the Haleakala crater. It takes about two hours if you don’t stop, but believe me, you’re going to want to stop a lot. We got lost a couple of times but that just meant we saw some extra things.

The drive up to the crater is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. We started at the base. It looked like just about everything else we’ve seen but that quickly changed. One of the things I have always wanted to try with my art is to paint fog. The thing is, we don’t get fog in the southwest suburb of Denver where we live. All of a sudden, we reached a place on the mountain

A beautiful brick church we saw when we got lost in Wailuku

A beautiful brick church we saw when we got lost in Wailuku

that was covered in beautiful, floating, fog.

We continued up the mountain, from sea level to over 10,000 feet, through switchback after switchback. Each one seemed to reveal something else to behold. I would say to Tom, “Pull over, pull over!!” and then the poor guy would try to find a safe place to pull over so we wouldn’t roll over the cliff.

At one point I looked to the right and realized we were above the clouds. I’ve seen that out of an airplane window but never out of a car window. We couldn’t find a place to pull over when the clouds were at their peak but I took many shortly after. Fluffy white clouds. And then I saw a cloud that looked like a space ship. That beautiful cloud stayed that way for a long time so I think it was created by the trade winds and held there.

Finally we reached the summit. From there we could see the back side of the crater. I didn’t know what to expect and I don’t think I could have guessed what it would look like. Basically, it looks like the craters on the moon to me. The darker blue in the background is not the ocean. We were high enough to see a change in the stratosphere. The little bit of white in the upper right side is a cloud. My camera caught the true color of the dirt. So barren but so beautiful.

It was a great excursion, especially because we could do it ourselves and stop whenever we wanted to. If you’re ever in Maui, I highly recommend it.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

Click on images to enlarge

 

 

Arriving in Maui

Maui Sunset

Maui Sunset

The plane ride to Maui was great. The plane probably held 150 people but it was so quiet. The other remarkable thing for those of us who live at the foot of the Rocky Mountains was the lack of turbulence. Not one bobble.

One of my flower photos

One of my flower photos

I had to laugh inside, though, when the flight attendant walked down the aisle with a Sunkist cardboard box that had been cut down, handing out small juice cups. Someone else poured coffee. It only took 40 minutes to land on Maui.

I sat on a stone bench talking with a lady who was going to the same resort we were. Our husbands were inside the Hertz office trying to rent a car. Since the plane had just landed it was swamped in there. She asked me about my fibromyalgia – she and her husband had gotten the impression that it was a respiratory disease from the commercials. As I began explaining about the pain component, a woman behind me let go of her small  suitcase and the handle ran into my left kidney. The pain was terrible, shooting through my back. The worst thing was that the lady never even said she was sorry. She tried to make it sound like I had done something wrong, like I shouldn’t have been sitting on the bench. She just said, “It was an accident.” and then she said, “the bench took the brunt of it.” I didn’t turn around.

We finally got to the resort- the Marriott Maui Beach Club. The grounds are spectacular! They have an amazing pool that winds through the center of the resort with waterfalls and slides, including one big enough for adults. There are lots of lounge chairs with huge umbrellas.

The beach comes up all the way to the pool area. The odd thing is that we’ve never seen anyone in the water – no swimmers and no surfers. The condo is a dream. One bedroom, two bathrooms, minimal kitchen. It’s beautifully decorated and very comfortable. We got here Sunday afternoon and decided to rest on Monday and just hang out at the resort.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

More flower photos – click to enlarge

Helicopter ride was amazing

 

The helicopter ride was breathtaking. We swooped down through beautiful, lush, green canyons and valleys where they filmed Jurassic Park and Avatar.

I had my camera set so whenever I pressed the button, it took multiple shots. That way, at least one would be in focus even though we were moving. I took 487 photos. Once I deleted the ones that were blurry or that had a glare from the windshield, I had 183 left and 30 useable ones.

We’ve never been on a helicopter before and I was a little concerned about the movement but the pilot was obviously experienced and the ride was smooth. It held six people. We paid a little extra to be in the front with the pilot and I think it was worth being able to see through the front windshield, too. However, we were so crammed in that Tom fell to one knee when he got out. His right leg was completely numb and he couldn’t put weight on it.

It was incredibly noisy but we wore huge headsets and the pilot gave us a running commentary. All-in-all, though, it was a wonderful experience.

Even though it was incredibly expensive – almost $450 for 2 – it was worth it. For some reason, they gave us a discount because we went on Friday. If you only do one thing on Kauai, make it the helicopter tour.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

 

Click on images to enlarge

Marriott Kauai Beach Club

Beautiful red and green

Beautiful red and green

 

Marriott Kauai Beach Club grounds are beautiful. I wanted to share some of the photos I’ve taken of it. The staff, from bellboys to registration, housekeeping, and restaurants, were helpful and extremely nice. That’s about all of the good things I can say about the resort.

The Wahili tower, where our unit was located, was originally built in 1959. We’re not sure  if it’s ever been renovated since then. On the seventh floor, at least, the paint in the hallways is scratched, service doors are scratched and filthy and the walls next to them gouged by equipment going in and coming out of them. The unit is dark and without proper lighting. The mattress is lumpy … Actually, I can’t think of one good thing to say about it. They have two newer towers but those are run like a traditional hotel and I’m sure they are expensive and beautiful. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this resort.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

Click on images to enlarge them.

Allerton and McBryde Botanical Gardens

Kauai Coast

Kauai Coast

The Allerton and McBryde Botanical Gardens on Kauai are incredibly beautiful. Situated next to each other, we were able to see some of the McBryde Gardens. Parts of Jurassic Park were filmed in McBryde. From looking at the open grassy areas surrounded by exotic plants as we drove by we were certain we knew exactly which scenes were filmed where. 

You need reservations to go to McBryde, and even though we were on a tour, it wasn’t included. It wasn’t the end of the world – like Jurassic Park! – because we went to Allerton instead. It didn’t have a lot of flowers but we walked through this beautiful, vast, green valley. It was so quiet and still that I could imagine what it was like thousands of years ago. It was just what we needed – a break from people and noise. I don’t deal with noise very well. For some reason, it makes me nervous and tires me out. Thus, my objection to attending a football game or even watching it on TV.

We haven’t done a lot while we’ve been on Kauai. Things have been so hectic at home that we’ve needed to just chill out. Tomorrow, though, we’re taking a helicopter ride around the island. I’m so excited! Here are some photos from our visit to the park.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart

Click to enlarge images.

 

 

 

Sunny Hawaii is beautiful and relaxing

Sunny Hawaii was what we were expecting, rain is what we got, at least so far. It’s our second day in Kauai and we finally saw some sun. We still don’t really feel like we’re in Hawaii, necessarily, but we haven’t done any sightseeing yet. We plan to tomorrow.

Until then,

Aloha!

Click on images to enlarge them

 

Blue Hawaii in the rain

Well, our Blue Hawaii vacation (does anyone remember the Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii”?) is not starting out very well. First of all, we had a dreadful time getting here. We flew US Air. Our first plane pulled away from the gate and then stopped. We sat there and sat there. They had some kind of signal light indicator that went off.  We sat there for 30 minutes while they fixed it. Then, when we got on the second US Air plane in Phoenix we waited for quite awhile until they pulled away from the gate. Then we sat on the tarmac for twenty minutes – another indicator light. This time we went back to the gate and we were told we could get off the plane if we wanted to but be back in half an hour. We left and found something to eat. We finally left Phoenix 1-1/2 hour late but we were on our way!

When we finally landed in Hawaii it was grey skies, no sun and a slow drizzle. That’s just part of traveling. You never know what the weather is going to do.

The resort is beautiful and right on the beach. It’s actually on a small bay so the water is very calm. I stuck my toes in the water last night on our way back from dinner and the water is cold. I’ll bet it would feel great if you were hot from laying in the sun.

The resort is huge. We’ve read that it has a huge pool but we have not been able to find it yet. Our section of the resort has a large heated pool.

We slept in this first morning and then went shopping at Wal-Mart and a grocery store. Good times!

Hopefully I’ll have some fun to report tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Until next time,

Susan L Stewart