While it sounds so cliché, time sure does fly when you’re having fun! It’s hard to believe that already one week has passed since we boarded a plane for Maui, Hawaii. Thursday, Feb. 9, was a travel day. Upon arrival in Lahaina, we dipped our toes in the Pacific Ocean and walked along the volcanic sand beach. Then we enjoyed an oceanview dinner while watching whales flip and spout near the shoreline.
The next morning we boarded a charter bus tour for a tour of Monsanto’s production and research facility in Kihei. It was interesting to learn about the key role Hawaii’s seed crops play in the development of new corn hybrids. Because farm fields in Maui can produce up to four crops each calendar year, a new hybrid can be developed in about half the time it would take if a seed company relied solely on growing conditions found on the continental U.S.
Saturday was a “free day,” so many group members enjoyed an all-day trip along the Road to Hana while others chose to go whale watching or snorkeling. Some even rented Harley’s and biked around the island. My family and I chose to board an Atlantis submarine that took us below the ocean to a depth of 127 feet where we viewed white-tipped reef sharks, Hawaiian green sea turtles and hundreds of tropical fish. (NOTE: I really enjoyed this submarine tour. It provided the same views as scuba diving without the pain of not being able to clear my ears.)
Sunday morning we met in the hotel lobby at 2:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m. CST) to take a long, winding, 38-mile bus ride to Haleakala National Park. The road we traveled is one of the world’s steepest, going from near sea level to the 10,023 summit. We finally arrived inside the park where we viewed an amazing sunrise. No wonder Haleakala means “house of the sun” in Hawaiian. It truly looked as though you could step off the crater and onto a cloud.
Forty members of our group enjoyed biking (more like “braking”) down from the base of Haleakala National Park to headquarters of the Haleakalah Bike Company. “The original Freestyle Haleakala Downhill” included a 3,000-foot drop in 10 miles, curving around 29 switch backs. It was after noon when many bikers returned to the hotel, where they enjoyed the afternoon and evening on their own.
Monday was another “free day.” My family chose to snorkel Molokini Crater. It was fab-u-lous! This tour truly lived up to its ad: Snorkel a beautiful reef teeming with colorful marine life and experience one of the best whale watch’s on Maui. Enjoy a freshly prepared BBQ lunch served hot off the grill. After lunch, we cruised to Turtle Town where our son had the experience of a lifetime. He came face-to-face with two Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and snapped, what we hope will be, a blue-ribbon winning photo at this summer’s Franklin County Fair. As we headed toward shore, we saw many Humpback whales and had the pleasure of watching a calf breach.
Monday evening our entire group enjoyed a luau including a Hawaii-style pig roast, where a large pit was dug into the ground and lined with banana leaves. Hot lava rocks were placed into the pit, and then a seasoned pig was placed inside and covered with additional banana leaves. The food was good, but I believe the cultural dances were even better. The fire dancing finale was captivating (and in my humble opinion) any video can’t do it justice.
After spending five nights and six days in a tropical paradise – plus enduring 16 straight hours of travel – yesterday afternoon we returned home. Now it’s back to reality… and back to work! I’m working on a blog for tomorrow that will feature a couple of tasty Hawaiian recipes, including one from Maui Gold Pineapple.