Maui Plantation and the ‘Iao Valley

It’s funny on how you can read a guidebook, talk to others and still not really know whether an attraction is going to turn out well. That’s how I felt when we (me, the kids and the Gs) hopped in the car to go to Maui Plantation. I can totally see how it is not for everyone. Our visit was helped along by 2 things: an open air market (flea market) that is on the grounds Sunday and Monday and the fact that we like botanical stuff. Best that Mike didn’t go 🙂

So after breakfast at the Gazebo (this time we got there at 7 a.m. and were in the first seating – out the door by 8 a.m.), we headed off to the other side of the island (toward the airport). The first stop was the Plantation and walking through the flea market. The kids found out their Hawaiian names: Max = Mea Nui (the greatest) and Mara = Hokui Ke Kai (star of the sea) and Max and I got necklaces. We then boarded a tram for a quick ride around the grounds seeing the tree that gives us the flavoring for Juicy fruit gum along the way.

We also saw an outline of the hills we were getting ready to visit. If you look closely, you will see King Kamehameha laying down in his final resting place (start at the left – move to the middle hill which is his forehead down through his chin with the far right hill being his chest and stomach).

After that, we were off to the ‘Iao Valley. It is gorgeous and is definitely be on our list for a longer hike with Mike. It is still amazing to us how much the scenery can change so quickly from looking at the seaside to these lush mountains and streams. You’d think I’d be used to it by now…


Whaler’s Village…and a Sunset

Ahhh…Sunday, June 27th. a drive to the airport. Ok, so that wasn’t the most exciting part of the day. I will say, though, that any drive to the airport (or the other side of the island) that doesn’t involve a wildfire is almost relaxing. Mike is off to Vegas, so Max is outnumber 4:1 in the estrogen department. I think he’s looking forward to even more being spoiled than before!

While I was out cruisin’ the island, the kids and Gs took the Sugarcane Train. No pics and no comments – other than if seniors and kids don’t like it, that’s probably a bad sign for everyone else. Sensing the need for some action – not too much though – we took a 5 minute drive to Whaler’s Village. It’s pretty much an upscale outdoor mall (think Plaza or Town Center for our friends in KC) near the beach between the Westin and Sheraton (coincidence? I think not!). In addition to Coach, Brighton, Tommy Bahama, Louis Vuitton – and our favorite – Red Dirt Shirt Company!, there are a couple of restaurants overlooking the ocean as well as a museum.

First stop is the museum. It’s fairly small – which is really how I prefer my museums – but nicely done. Great history of whaling in general and then also how it relates to Hawaiian history (and Ma’alaea Harbor specifically).

By then we were starving…only to have it be 6 p.m. and facing an hour wait at our first choice. But you know what they say about necessity (and me being hungry!)…as we were leaving, I popped into a newer, very nice restaurant at Whaler’s called Cane & Taro. We got seated immediately…and had an awesome meal. I had my first sushi of the trip (I do NOT count that turntable stuff at Genko Sushi), and it was awesome. Ahi and salmon with avocado…mmmmmm!

The kids then did their turn at the sunset photo op from the beach and got some great pics with the sailboats. Ahhhh….I can feel the evening breeze now. Where’s my mai tai to go along with it?


Atlantis Submarine

After breakfast at the Gazebo, the kids, me and the Gs ventured into downtown Lahaina to board the noon cruise of the Atlantis Submarine. It’s easy to have reservations about this stuff…I mean, it’s tourism at its best. Or at least you hope for the best.

After a couple quick photo ops near the cannon and by a fresh catch from a sport fishing trip that had just docked, we boarded a shuttle boat to take us out to the sub. Our “party of five” status got us on the boat first. It was questionable whether Max’s seat right next to the tour announcer was the best seat in the house or not – he thoroughly enjoyed it and (of course) used it as a chance to ask plenty of questions.

As with most tours like this, the announcer or tour guide or whatever title they use (I think this one was “naturalist” since he was talking all about the sea and sea life) is what can make or break it. This guy was great! Entertaining and knowledgable. Of course, that should be his job but…Plus, he’s from Nebraska. I didn’t ask if he was a Huskers fan…rather not ruin the good impression I had!



The Gazebo for Breakfast

There are times when guidebooks seem to overstate – and, of course, they are filled with the opinions of the writers’ so sometimes you just gotta wonder. Still…when there are consistent recommendations for food, ya gotta listen – or taste.

That led us to to try breakfast on Saturday at a little place called The Gazebo in Napili Shores. And, I do mean little – 15 tables max. Not sure how many people this equates to since some tables seat 2 and some seat 4 (5 if its kids where you can squeeze 2 on one side). They open at 7:30…and here was the part we were a little skeptical about: the wait. You just line up and stand there (or least someone in the group does). No taking names, no fancy pagers.

What do you get for your time? Well…the first thing you get is an amazing view and all kinds of time to explore the shore line just below the hill that the Gazebo (which really is a big gazebo). It’s a shoreline full of lava rocks and pools that are left by the falling tide. In those pools are loads of sea urchins, small fish, teeny little crabs and a fish that looks like a sand-covered stuffed tube sock.

After that, you can eat (our wait was about an hour – we got there at 8:10). It was great food – amazing pancakes and omelets. And an amazing view – we scored two tables right next to each other and the VIEW (yes, this was the view from our table)! Every breakfast should be like this…


Man o war 1, Max 0 – The trip to ‘poko’ park

It was Friday and the work day started a little before 4A and by 4P it was time to head to the beach at ‘Poko‘ park. Jen’s grandma and great grandma were here so we loaded up the chairs, boogey board, my surf board, made a quick stop by Safeway for some turkey and potato salad and headed to the park just south of Lahaina. I had been there the night before and caught a couple of good waves. When we arrived, the day was perfect. Sun, slight breeze, beautiful. As we headed to the water, a nice lady approached and said the man o’ wars were terrible and all three of her kids had gotten stung. Feeling kind of dumb, I started asking around what man o’ wars were and learned that indeed they were indeed to be respected.

After hanging out for a bit, I said the heck with and that I was going surfing. As I started to paddle out one of the locals I had made friends with told me that there was a 10′ sand shark hanging out about 20 feet past the point and had came up next to him and raised his fin. So… more time to chill. Still a beautiful day and we had good food, beverages, and good family.

Finally I could not wait any longer and decided man o’ war or no man o’ war, shark or no shark, I was going surfing.

I grabbed my board, strapped on and was walking through this little pool area headed out to the deeps when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Should have known… it was Max on his boogie board right behind me. My first thought is ‘what is he doing?’ I am heading out to deep water with big swells. Of course, he has no fear (or sense sometimes). About that time, his eyes get real big and he starts freaking out and sure enough, the tail of a man o’ war (see bottom picture) wraps over his arm and stings him pretty good (see picture # 3). He peels it off and leaves his board with me scrambling up the rock levee.

I grab the boards and head back to shore where I find Max ‘writhing’ in pain. If there is one thing Max knows, it’s drama! I was chuckling a bit when he informed me that it ‘Hurt like hell’ and then realized what he said. Shortly later he was rolling on the ground (see picture 2). Someone walking buy would have thought he had been bitten by the sand shark. He told the G’s that his arm would likely be paralyzed and he would likely not be able to write term papers later in life. I kindly reminded him that he wrote with his left hand still chuckling a bit.

All in all, just another Peek Family Adventure. As you can see from the top picture, an hour later Max was back out on the rock levee and his ‘paralysis’ had subsided and he was back out being Max. I figured three strikes was enough and loaded the board and simply enjoyed hanging out soaking up the sun, surf, and watching others catch a wave. Was bummed not get out for a few runs but in hindsight spending a couple of hours on the beach on a beautiful Friday night with family and cold beverage or two was nothing to complain about.

Quick side note: I did not what a man o’ war was. The picture above is a good one. The ‘tail’ that you see behind is what stings you. The body is about the size of a golf ball but the tails can be 2-4 feet long, If you rub up against any part of those, they will automatically penetrate the skin like a bunch of very small bee stings.



Vacation Ups and Downs (Not Just Waves)

Ups and downs…yes, those happen even on vacation. Our “down” for the day was that Mara woke up feeling bad and looking bad (it’s up for debate about which one of these was worse – I think she votes for feeling bad). It had all the markings of her trademark illness: strep. So…off we went to Minit Clinic (fabulous service even if they don’t take our insurance – no one on the island does) and Wal-Green’s.

The “ups” were plural – starting with a repeat of being able to get access to a great clinic, doctor and antibiotic to get Mara back on the Hawaii vacation path. Combine that with awesome weather (not even too much wind!), time at the pool and a great family outing by Mike, Max, Grandma JoAnn and Great-Grandma Faith. They went to the beach Mike discovered on his surf outing the other day.

Beach chairs, boogie boarding and watching the fabulous view while eating turkey and potato salad. Of course, there was also the adventure of Max getting stung by a man o’ war (not counted as a down despite the pain because it makes for a great story!) and a 10-foot sandshark off the beach. The “ups” clearly outweighed the “down” – which is, of course, how it should be whether you are in Hawaii or not!

Ridin’ the Waves

A couple of posts ago, Mike mentioned that he was making time to enjoy Hawaii. Along those lines, he got out on the waves yesterday. More importantly, he came back with no injuries! We can’t even say that after every wakeboard outing back at Smithville Lake.

He found a great beach park that has great waves and is largely shielded from the wind. Here in Maui finding a spot with little wind is a true score – especially in the last couple of days where we could look like cartoons walking against a hurricane.

Here’s Mike with our newest family member – the board!

The Gs are here!

And I don’t mean those G-forces you pull flying in a fighter jet…although how cool would that be?!

I mean my mom and Grandma arrived safely this afternoon for a weeklong visit. Mara has nicknamed them “the Gs” because it’s a nice shorter way to say Grandma (my mom and their Grandma) and Grandma (mine – and their great Grandma).

It’s great, regardless, but particularly cool because there are four of us first-born daughters together. It’s also nice because their arrival reminded us all of how awesome it is to be in a paradise. I hate to say that you can get used to driving along the coast and not remember how awesome the ocean is…but sometimes you can.

First real stop was dinner at AMP (of course!) and photo ops by the water…ahhhh…


Random Maui Thoughts from Mike

Jen has been doing an awesome job of updating the blog but I thought I would weigh in with a couple thoughts of my own. Many of you know that Jen and I have a favorite restaurant in Kansas City by the name of El Patron (plug: hands down voted best margaritas in Kansas City and the best mexican food). Our weekly Friday or Saturday night trips there inevitably lead to us driving home singing to our favorite tunes and in general having an awesome time.

We think we may have found our El Patron replacement here in Maui. Jen blogged about it earlier but the name is Aloha Mixed Plate. Great food, great drinks, very reasonably priced and the view… we’ll see the picture of Max standing on the wall between the restaurant and the ocean. Simply amazing.

As kids, we use to take an old surf board we found at the beach in California, line it up at one end of the pool, run as fast as we could, junp on and try and ride the length of the pool. This led to countless hours of fun (not to mention many crash and burns on the concrete). We’ll traditions live on and I started teaching Mara and Max to jump on the wakeskate off the back of the swim platform of our boat when we go to the lake and we have now adapted it to the boogey board across the pool here in Maui. Earlier post had Max going. Below is my attempt.

I tend to drive everywhere in a rush. Even when I am not late. Slow people drive me nuts! The drives in Hawaii remind to slow down and enjoy the ride. It’s only a 2-3 miles to Lahaina (grocery store, Starbucks, etc.) and 26 to the airport but the each time I reminded of simply how beautiful it is here.

Wow. Simply wow.

Closing thought… we have been in Hawaii just short of three weeks. I have been working long days and most weekends. I committed this weekend that during our remaining weeks here I will surf at least twice a week, enjoy the pool and sunshine and a good book at least a small portion of everyday and remind myself daily how lucky I am.

Thanks for letting us share this journey with you. You, our friends and family, are what make our lives full and awesome.