As a note, there might not be an update on Wednesday (not 100% sure yet). If it does get skipped, updates will resume on Friday.
January 13th (Wednesday): Lahaina
Wednesday morning, we work up to rain. Fortunately, we had already planned to visit Lahaina for the day, and the weather over there was fine. We started off at the beach. Like on our previous trips, the Whaler's Village mall makes a great (though not free) place to park for one of my favorite Maui beaches. Good sand, just enough surf, scenic, and even decent snorkeling if you go up to the far end near the rocks.
After a while on the beach, we headed into Lahaina itself and stopped for lunch at Fu Lin, possibly the only nice (not fast-food) Chinese restaurant on the island. While it wasn't on the level of some of the Chinese places on Oahu, it was still good. Afterwards, we spent a while walking through the town. Lahaina itself is as scenic as ever, and still fun to stroll though, though there were notably fewer people on the streets than during my previous visits and some of the shops and restaurants had permanently shut down. It was a nice day, but hopefully things will be more lively next time.
January 16th (Saturday): Hiking Upper Waiohuli Trail
Thursday and Friday consisted of hanging out with family and another visit to the trampoline park, but on Saturday we decided to go on a hike. Getting to the trail required a slow drive up a mountain with a long series of switchbacks. Nice views though. There are a number of trails up there, but the one we went to required going past the end of the pavement and over a chunk of dirt road that's limited to four-wheel drive vehicles. Though, if the weather is ok, the road condition doesn't really require that.
The trail itself started out in a forest. To be honest, while they're pretty, I'm starting to feel like all these Hawaiian mountain forests look pretty much the same. Especially when the trees block out the view. Fortunately, going a bit up or down in elevation changes things and makes for some more interesting terrain. Our original plan was to check out a lava tube partway up the trail. Unfortunately, you couldn't actually go very far inside the tube before it became blocked and there was a big wasp nest or something nearby so we ended up just taking a quick look and then continuing on the trail. Eventually, we got high enough to make it out of the forest and into a more desert-like climate. From the top, we could see Haleakala in one direction and the peaks of the Big Island in the other. Instead of returning along the trail, we followed a dirt road down instead (yeah, you can drive all the way up if you have a good enough car). It ended up being longer, but a bit easier, and offered some good views of the coast. It was a pleasant hike, if a bit longer than we'd originally planned. And the views were good, at least once you got out of the forest. Length aside, it wasn't especially strenuous either, even on the ascent, but Zack really impressed me. He's never really done a proper hike before (well, not on foot anyway) but he managed to walk 99% of the way up and about 50% of the way down.
After we got back down, we stopped for a bit for a very late lunch at a picnic table on the side of the mountain before making the slow drive back down. Over all, Upper Waiohuli is not going on my list of favorite Hawaii hikes, but I still enjoyed it.
On to the travelogue.
January 11th (Monday): Trampoline Time
When traveling with a young child, you generally need to devote a large portion of your itinerary to things that he or she will enjoy. So, Monday morning we joined my sister-in-law and nephew and took Zack to Ultimate Air Maui, a trampoline park. Despite the COVID restrictions, it's open and operating pretty normally (thankfully, masks are not required when jumping). Plus, they've got some blocks of time set aside during the week specifically for toddlers and pre-school age kids (and their parents).
Growing up, we had a trampoline for much of my childhood and I've got a lot of fond memories of jumping and playing around on it both on my own and with others. That said, I'd never been to an actual trampoline park before. Ultimate Air has a wide variety of trampolines in various shapes and sizes spread across the floor and even the walls and I spent quite a while running and jumping around with Zack and Isaac (my nephew). I also got to mess around a bit with wall running, bouncing up onto high ledges, and using some special extra high bounce trampolines, which was a lot of fun. They also had some basketball hoops, a slack line, and a giant pit full of foam blocks to play around with, among other things. As a side note, that pit is a lot deeper than it looks in the picture (probably 6 - 10 feet) and I actually had trouble getting out of it sometimes. Anyway, we spent a fun, if rather exhausting, couple of hours there. It's certainly great for kids and I'm sure plenty of adults would have a blast as well. I'd go back again even without Zack.
Afterwards, we went to the town of Wailuku (though it's more like the outskirts of the island's main town/city of Kahului). It's a rather weird mix of artsy shops and restaurants and crumbling industrial buildings. Apparently, they're trying to rebuild it into more of a touristy shopping and dining town but are only partially done. Our destination was The Empanada Lady, a nice looking restaurant serving empanadas (duh) and an assortment of island and South American food. The empanadas themselves were pretty good. The rest of the food wasn't bad either, but could have benefitted from a stronger spice mix, or at least a bit more salt. I'd eat there again, but would probably skip a main course in favor of more empanadas.
That's all for today. I actually have one more entry in the works that I wasn't able to get done on time. I really haven't had a lot of time to spend on my computer and a lot of it has been taken up but a couple of work related things that I needed to get done. We've actually got a few fun things planned for the coming week, so expect some interesting entries in the future.
Let's get straight to the travelogue.
January 6th - 10th (Wednesday - Sunday): Hanging Out on Maui
Our first few days on Maui were mostly spent relaxing, doing things with family, and the like. My parents' new house is in a somewhat more central location with great views. It doesn't have the all the fruit trees or chickens that the previous house (now my brother's) does, but it's a nice place and it came with a giant trampoline, which is always cool. Zack spent a lot of time playing (and sometimes fighting) with his cousin. We went to some playgrounds (also with good views), hit up a couple of favorite restaurants (Paia Fish Market and Nuka, if you're curious), and visited two different beaches. Speaking of the beach, this was my first time at Malauaka Beach and it's a nice one. It's actually pretty close to some more popular beaches, but considerably less busy (if a bit smaller). Even better, it's a pretty decent snorkeling spot. Not as amazing as some of the ones I've been to but there aren't many places were you can see so much so close to the shore. And most of the better beach accessible snorkeling spots require some kinda tricky swimming, which Malauaka does not. Honestly, with all the crazy stuff going on these days, it's nice to just enjoy some family time and relax. Kinda like when Connie, Zack, and I went to Ocean City back in the summer. It's just so much more peaceful to focus on the good things in life rather than the bad. As crazy as things have been over the past 11 months or so, it could be a lot worse. It's too bad more people don't realize that.
Random Hawaii Comment: Maui During COVID
For quite a while, Hawaii had one of the strictest COVID lockdowns in the country, despite having one of the smallest (possibly the smallest) number of cases. But they had to relax it a bit eventually and while the rules and restrictions have fluctuated back and forth since then, so far they've resisted going the way of states like New York and California and closing everything down again. When it comes to COVID restrictions in Hawaii though, while there are statewide rules, there are also some separate rules from island to island, which makes things a bit more complicated. Everywhere in Hawaii, you're supposed to wear masks at pretty much all times outdoors, including on the beach. Though, from what I've heard, enforcement is pretty spotty (though not nonexistent, so you do need to be careful). That said, while most of the people I see in towns and shopping areas have masks on, the majority of people I've encountered in parks, on the beach, and walking around in other areas have been maskless. As such, it's rather annoying but tolerable. Restaurants here do allow for indoor dining, but at a measly 30% capacity, which can make it a challenge to get a table at times, even with the reduced number of tourists present. They also limit the number of people per table to six or less, which can be a problem if you want to eat out with friends or family. I mean, I even know some couples who have more than four kids and they would run into real problems trying to eat out around here. At this point, a lot of the stuff on Maui is open and running again, but some notable attractions and other destinations (such as the Aquarium and the Kihei playground where Connie and I took Zack a lot in the past) have remained closed and others have shut down for good. I haven't checked everything, but at least several shops and restaurants I enjoyed on previous visits were killed by the lockdowns, which is sad. So over all, Maui is still a nice place to visit in its current state, but a good bit less convenient and not quite as much fun as it used to be.