The last time we went to Maui, our children were much younger which made car trips unpleasant, our hotel room got messed up so we had to switch rooms twice, the kids got crazy sick, and I injured my knee so badly that I needed surgery when we got home.
Me, rocking a hospital gown on what was supposed to be our "date night."
None of these things are Maui's fault, yet neither my husband nor myself could really shake the dread before this trip. I'm happy to say that this vacation was much, much better!! Nobody needed surgery and we got to see much more of the island. We honestly didn't understand why people liked the island before having mostly seen miles and miles of sugarcane fields and a couple of towns. This time we saw the historic towns of Lahaina and Wailuku as well as some of the interior and even the crater of one of the volcanoes that formed Maui.
View from the top at Haleakalā National Park.
While we were driving to the top, the clouds followed us and settled about half way up the mountain. It was like being at the edge of the world. On the way back down, surrounded by fog, I finally saw my first Nene (the state bird). You never saw somebody so excited to see a goose.
I had embarked on our trip imagining we'd spend our time hopping from one trendy restaurant to the next, but my husband wasn't keen on that idea. "I want to eat like Hawaiians eat," he said.
Our meal at Kō was very good...
but Cuatro was better. The best meal I had all week.
The rest of the trip, we focused on down-home Hawaiian comfort food. On a night out, we found Mama's Ribs and Rotisserie near Napili. Can't beat it for meat and macaroni salad, and the vegetarian lasagna was pretty good, too.
We found fresh and fabulous Malasadas at Napoleon's bakery in Kahului.
The one shining beacon from our last visit was the Olowalu General Store. Brandon found his precious manapua and this is the hallowed spot where the boys tried their first shave ice. To commemorate, we stopped and had, you guessed it...
and shave ice! Done right, with vanilla ice cream on the bottom and generously dusted on top with li hing mui powder. And doused in lots and lots of high fructose corn syrup/artificial flavorings/artificial colorants. Like God intended.
And speaking of sugar coated awesomeness, just in case you need a reminder that sugar is a processed food, this is a sugar mill. It's surrounded by fields of sugar cane in all directions, not terribly attractive and it's got at least two smoke stacks that periodically spew stuff into the air. It ain't your grandma's molasses boil, folks.
Between the sugar cane fields and the volcano, is a small goat farm which produces some of the best cheese I ever ate. Surfing Goat Dairy is a must visit if you are ever in Maui.
These are some of the babies who had just been weaned.
They sell rams as pets here. If I'd been able to fit one into my carry on, we'd have been goat owners today.
There was a short tour, which I missed unfortunately, since both boys needed potty breaks. But I assume it went something like this: These are the older goats, they're awesome. This is where we milk the goats, it's awesome. This is where we process the cheese, we're awesome.
Do you know what they make with the lovely milk?
Chèvre of many flavors, and aged cheeses including feta and cheese balls.
Mozzarella, perfect for a caprese salad.
The smoothest, fluffiest, cheesecakes I've ever had. It's was like eating whipped cream.
And chocolates. Terrific, imaginative chocolates. We had an apple curry, a mint, a couple of different kinds of lime as well as a few others. I was not sad.
We all loved every bite. I am supremely sad we don't live on Maui now.
This naughty little guy is one of the farm cats who popped by for a visit and a morsel. Unfortunately for him, we are immune to feline pleas for people food as we've got a similar four legged stomach at home. He is pretty though, isn't he? Silly boy.
We proceeded from the farm to our volcano excursion, and as we were on our way down, our eldest made it known in no uncertain terms that food needed to be forthcoming in the very near future. We stopped at a small convenience store and my husband came out with all sorts of good stuff. Most of the gas stations we went in on Maui are nothing like gas stations on the mainland where you might find a few bagged salty things and a bland egg salad sandwich. On Maui, bento boxes, and plate lunch items, hot food, cold pasta salads, comfort food at its finest all laid out before you in your local Shell.
We took our feast to a quiet beach and played in the tide pools until the sun went down.
I think my husband may have been on to something after all...