Friday, February 21, 2014

Maui -- This Time With Mom

Sunset from our cool little condo. 
  It wasn't exactly what I'd had in mind.

  What I had in mind was this: take an almost-week-long vacation to Hawaii with my mom, and, enjoy beautifully warm and sunny weather, sit by the pool, play in the ocean, see some whales, get away from rainy Portland, and re-charge the batteries.

  Here's how our six days on Maui played out...

  After nervously checking the weather report for weeks leading up to our trip, my mom and I arrived to a sunny and warm island. I breathed a sigh of relief. By the time we drove the 20-plus miles across Maui to Lahaina (which is known to be dry and protected from very much rain), however, the sun was gone and the rain had started.

  And so began our week-long trip as sun chasers.

  I had never been on a warm-weather winter vacation (winter, of course, always coincides with basketball season -- which has kept me occupied since I was a youngster, until this year), so I was looking forward to a change from the gray and damp winters.

Hanging out at Kaanapali Beach.
Whale Watching
  One of the draws to Maui in the winter months, is that it's the middle of whale season in the warm waters of Hawaii. I had hoped, if we were lucky, that my mom and I would catch a few glimpses of some humpback whales.

  It turns out, that whale watching was something we didn't have to try very hard to do.

  On our first morning, we took a walk/run a couple miles up the coastline to Kaanapali Beach and Black Rock. When the sun unexpectedly made an appearance, my mom and I decided we'd set up camp for a while and take in the sights in front of us. There were lots of snorkelers in the water, and plenty of action along the beach.

  Several minutes passed, and I heard my mom 'wow' in amazement. There was a whale breaching just off the beach, within a couple hundred feet. A crowd quickly gathered, and we all watched this particular whale put on quite a show: slapping its tail, poking its nose out of the water, and breaching a few more times.

  Throughout the rest of our trip, just a glance out into the water was an almost guaranteed whale sighting. And each time was just as cool as the first one.

A sea turtle out for a swim.
  When I think of sea turtles, I initially think of Finding Nemo. Who doesn't? The surfer dude, Crush, is one of the many-memorable characters from the Disney movie.

  On a stormy morning walk on the Kapalua Coastal Trail, my mom and I happened upon one of Crush's long lost relatives. We poked our head over the edge of a cliff, just to check out what was going on in the water below, and there 'he' was.

  It was pretty cool to watch him operate for a while -- swimming around. Just as a big wave approached, he dove deep to avoid being washed into the rocky shore.

  Amazing how nature works.

Out on the water. 
The Perfect Day
   There was one day where it all paid off: our last full day on Maui.

  One thing that both my mom and I really wanted to do on this trip was go snorkeling. Neither of us had been. And here was our opportunity -- to do it together.

  Rainy and stormy weather had cancelled the tours all week. Lucky for us, the day we planned to go, there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

  After reading up on who would offer the best snorkeling tour, we decided on Pacific Whale Foundation.

Almost time to snorkel!
  We boarded the ship at Lahaina Harbor early in the morning, and set out for Lana'i. The trip to Lana'i took about 90 minutes (while the entire tour lasted about five hours). Along the way, there was nothing blue sky and blue water. Absolutely beautiful.

  Humpback whales made frequent appearances off in the distance. Many times in groups of three -- a mother, a calf, and a looming male (more often than not, not the father). Naturalists on board explained what we were seeing and why.

  There was one calf, about the size of a Volkswagen bus (as explained by the naturalists), who was learning how to breach. Clumsily lurching its body out of the water, and falling back in. While the mother, about the size of a school bus, stayed close by.

Humpback whale calf breaching -- amateur cameraman at the helm. 

  Snorkeling wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Essentially, you just had to stick your face in the water, and there it all was. You didn't have to search for fish, reefs, or much of anything. Under the water, it was a whole different world.

  It took a few minutes to get used to breathing with the mask on, but it was a fairly smooth transition.

Time With Mom
  My mom and I have had some memorable adventures together. Whether it's been climbing Mount. St. Helens, trudging through muddy trails on the Oregon Coast's Neahkahnie Mountain Loop, walking on the ice roads in Sweden, exploring the cobblestone streets in Prague, or just having coffee together in Lake Oswego, she's always a special companion to have.

  Vacationing together on Maui was just the same.

  Sure, we would have loved a few more sunny days. But you know what, how can you complain? I was in Hawaii, spending time with my mom. And you can't beat that.

  While we were chasing the sun, maybe we thought that it wasn't what we'd had in mind. But it turned out, that it was still exactly what we were looking for.

  My mom and I were able to enjoy beautifully warm and sunny weather (for a couple days). We sat by the pool (though sometimes through rain-bursts). We got to play in the ocean (a little). We saw our fair share of whales (and a sea turtle!). We recharged the batteries (until we hit the horrendous traffic jam on the way back to the airport). And we got to spend some more memorable time together.

  It doesn't get much better than that.

More sights from our trip...

Watching surfers and whales.
Kapalua Coastal Trail.

Kapalua Coastal Trail.

Morning run into Lahaina.
Looking for the sun down at Big Beach. Molokai in the distance.
Sad faces: rained out again!
Enjoying a beautiful sunset. 
Hanging by the pool, watching the waves. Doesn't get much better!
Sunset time at Kapalua Coastal Trail.

Whale watching in Kaanapali.
Another look from our lanai.
Back on Kapalua Coastal Trail.
Perfect setting. 
Looking for whales off in the distance. 
On board, headed to Lana'i!
Fun day on the boat, headed back to Maui. 
Another gorgeous sunset.


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