Aloha

Our Hawaiian adventure was moving quickly and we were having more and more fun each day. At times, it was hard to grasp that it was real. We were in a beautiful place, surrounded by nature, getting to snorkel almost every day and exploring a gorgeous island, all in the company of some of our favorite people? How was this real?

Sometimes it didn’t feel real, especially after only a few hours of sleep.

After our 13 hour day, exploring the Road to Hana, we planned a volcanic adventure. On May 12, after a mere 3 hours of sleep, we woke up at 1 a.m. to make the trek to the other side of the island. We had booked a volcano sunrise bike tour.

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After stumbling through the process of getting gear at the rental shop, we were loaded up into a van that brought us to the top of Haleakalā, a dormant shield volcano. The volcano is 10,023 feet at the summit and we were just below that near the visitor center.

It was cold at the top and I was glad that I had remembered, in my sleepy daze, to put on long underwear. We anxiously waited for the sun to rise.

The view was stunning. Breathtaking.

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For native Hawaiians, the summit of Haleakalā is considered a sacred place, and it certainly felt that way as we watched the sun rise over the clouds. They held a sort of ceremony as the sun peaked over the clouds.

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After the sun rose, we could see a better view of just how impressive the volcano was.

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After taking in the sights of the volcano, our bus took us down to 7,500 feet where we got onto our bikes to start the 23-mile bike ride back to the shop.

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It took me a little while to get used to the new bike, to feel steady enough on it. I stayed toward the back of the group until I felt comfortable enough to go at a faster speed. We flew down the mountain and it was thrilling at such a speed. The scenery was amazing (though I did not stop much to take photos).

After our adventure, we went back to our condo to sleep for a little while. Andy and I had decided to separate from the group for the evening, to explore on our own for a bit. The rest went to experience a luau and learn more about the culture of native Hawaii.

Andy and I (surprise, surprise) went snorkeling.

We tried a new beach, Kapalua Bay. This time, we were able to find a parking spot.

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I made the terrible mistake of going snorkeling without my underwater camera. A mistake that I definitely regret. Not only was the beach amazingly beautiful, but the water was clear and the snorkeling outstanding. We saw a lot of different types of fish and several turtles. It was nice to snorkel unencumbered by the camera but as soon as I saw the cuttlefish, I knew I had made a mistake.

I thrashed around underwater, trying to get Andy’s attention. Finally, he saw it, too. And it was super cool! Wish I had a photo but I hope to at least keep it in my memory.

Afterwards, we went out for dinner and went down to watch the sea turtles off the shore of our condo.

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Turtle feeding on the rocks near shore.
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I loved all the rainbows there.

May 13th – Andy’s birthday.

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View from bed.

The morning started off with a rainbow greeting and breakfast in the condo.

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We had fun plans for the afternoon but we wanted to make sure to have fun in the morning, too. We decided to take another group snorkeling trip. The first beach we stopped at had pretty terrible visibility for snorkeling so we packed up and headed back to Kapalua Bay.

Since Andy and I had been so impressed with it the night before, we wanted to share it with the others.

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This time, I remembered my camera.

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I was really impressed with the coral structures here. No cuttlefish this time but we did see some other neat things.

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Really beautiful corals.

We saw a huge pufferfish; it was more than a foot long.

And a very grumpy eel.

As was fitting for Andy, we decided to celebrate his birthday by going to a brewer’s festival in the afternoon. Our tickets included food from 26 different places, as well as two beer tasters (more for only $3 each).

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We certainly did not plan the event well and our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We filled up quickly so we sat on the lawn and enjoyed the bands as we tried to digest some of the deliciousness and plan out where we wanted to eat and drink from.

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It was a fun day filled with music, food and beer.

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We ended the night at Ali and Jared’s condo where we had fun playing card games and just hanging out.

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It was nice to have a night in. It was also the night we had to say goodbye to Ali and Jared (they were flying out in the morning and we wouldn’t see them again). It was hard to say goodbye, not knowing when we would see them next. I tried, and failed, not to cry.

The next day, our last day, we decided to spend on the beach.

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We took Anita and Robbie to Black Rock beach, where we hoped to get up close with some more sea turtles (up to this point, they hadn’t seen them much at all).

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Definitely worth it.

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Yellow Tang, aka “Bubbles” from Finding Nemo.

We had more great fish and turtle sightings. And they finally got to get up close with some turtles!

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Green sea turtle fun facts:

*They can weigh up to 700 pounds and grow up to 5 feet

*Adult sea turtles are herbivores; they feed on grasses and algae.

*They can hold their breath for hours at a time.

Not so fun fact, they are endangered.

We enjoyed some piña coladas on the beach.

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That night, we wanted one more dip in the water in front of our condo – to say goodbye to the turtles who come to feed there in the evening.

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Stairway into the water.

The water was beautiful. The sea turtles were beautiful. Everything was beautiful.

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Last sunset.

It was a little rough getting out of the water once the waves started to get bigger but it was worth the scraped knees.

We ordered pizza for dinner and watched a movie with Anita and Robbie. It was nice to relax and just hang out.

The next morning, Andy and I had coffee and breakfast down by the water.

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It was hard to say goodbye to such a place but we were both excited to go home.

Anita and Robbie drove us to the airport where we had to say our final goodbyes. I hate goodbyes.

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Maui was amazing – the entire trip and the island itself. Many times, when we go somewhere on vacation, we try to do everything we possibly can with the thought that we may never get to come back. I hope we get to go back to Maui someday. I understand why people love it there – there is so much to do. We were lucky by not going in peak season. The water was perfect but it wasn’t too crowded (though I would love to go there for whale season next time). There will hopefully be a next time because I am not done with that island.

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Our grand adventure is all about finding out where we want to land and build our life, and how we want that life to look. Though Maui was a wonderful place, we decided that life on an island was probably not for us. Food and supplies are extremely expensive, the result of having to ship almost everything in. The cost of living is high. And even though I would love to go swimming there every single day, it is still a bit too humid for my taste and I feel that we would get a little claustrophobic. It would certainly be short-lived if we decided to move to an island. Andy and I like to wander too much and we need space to do that.

The waves, water and turtles will always be in my heart and I hope to return someday.

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As I learned on the island, the literal meaning of aloha is “the presence of breath” or “the breath of life.”

Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. The deeper meaning teaches us to love our own beings first and then to spread the love to others.

Aloha is sending and receiving positive energy.

Aloha is living in harmony

That is how we are trying to live, and each part of our adventure guides us on our path towards this.

With that in mind, aloha.

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Lots of snuggles when we got home.

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