19 January 2016

Koko Crater Arch

This hike has been on my bucket list for a while.  For a lack of any better description -- it's just darn cool!  If you look up #kokocraterarch on Instagram you'll see a bunch of really pretty pictures of the arch; some at sunrise, some with people doing cool stuff in it, and some plain pictures.

We want to go back again for sunrise, but I'm glad we've did it first in the light.  Nic and I went on our own first, and then went with some friends.  We were lucky enough to see whales breaching off shore while we were one our way down -- it was amazing!  The hike is super easy and short which makes it great if you're looking for something quick and fun to do. When you get to the arch I recommend going left.  The ground is pretty crumbly so make sure to take your time.  Also, only go on top if you're comfortable.  There were high gusts of wind the first time we went, so Nic didn't venture up there until we went with friends on a pretty calm day.  Park at the Halona Blowhole parking lot and walk across the street. You have to climb a few rocks and then you'll get up on the trail.  You can see the arch from the street which will direct you on where to go.

12 January 2016


Nic and I were trying to figure out our New Years Resolutions; namely whether we wanted to do a main resolution and work towards that, or pick a word and make resolutions/goals for each month that have us following the word.   In 2014 I participated in a "Directive" where you made monthly resolutions and goals.  I stopped once we moved to Hawaii, but the idea of only having a month to complete something really pushed me.

I've decided to use that directive as a model and pick a word for the year and do monthly goals to try and have me living in better terms of the word.  Picking a word was a bit difficult, but I finally decided upon completion.  There are a few things that I really need to focus upon simply to increase my quality of life.

We've had making a budget on our "to do" list since we got married two and a half years ago.  We have credit cards that we would love to pay off, and also really want to start saving for a more family appropriate car and house when those times come.  After a lot of reading (and genuine positive reactions and recommendations) we've decided to embark on the Dave Ramsey envelope method.  The goal for January is to see how our spending is on a normal month with us both home, and then come up with realistic budget goals and breakdowns.  I'm extremely excited to see where this journey takes us, and how we do with it. If you've done the method and have any tips or recommendations, we'd love to hear them!

05 January 2016

Road to Hana

We were lucky enough to spend a weekend in Maui not to long ago. We made sure we spent our Sunday driving the road to Hana with the roof down and a local am station on the radio.  We were lucky enough to not hit rain and were able to drive the entire time with the wind in our hair.  I had contemplated bringing my favorite hat on the trip but didn't want to carry it -- completely regretted that decision once we rented the convertible!

We made a few stops on the drive. In hindsight I wish I would have researched more into the spots to stop.  That being said, we were able to leave Kehei later than I planned (8:30), stopped everywhere below, and ended up only driving on the road in the dark for 20 minutes.  They recommend you plan your trip to not be on the road in the dark, and I could understand why.  While Nic was perfectly comfortable with the twists and turns they would have been terrifying if I were driving.  We went on a Sunday morning and I was extremely surprised to see so many things were closed! I would understand if we were driving on a weekday, but I would think we were driving it at a particularly busy time.  Alas, it wasn't the end of the world.  We do 100% recommend bringing some snacks and drinks with you.  We filled up our two Hydroflasks and picked up some Li-Hing Gummies and Maui Onion chips.  If we didn't have a big breakfast right before I would have been hungry.  If you happen to get motion sick in any way do grab some Dramamine.  I'm not a fan of windy roads and took half a tablet before we started and half on the way down and they took the edge off.

I apologize for how picture heavy this post will be.  I truly tried to pick our favorites -- there are just quite a few of them!

Here are the places we stopped on our drive up.

Mile Marker 12
Kaumahina State Park is a little stop with a beautiful lookout.  I won't even lie, the most notable part about this is that they have clean restrooms.

Mile Marker 19
Upper Waikani Falls you will know when you come across these falls as people park along the side of the road coming up to it, which makes it hard to see if cars are coming around the bend, and is just a bit of a hazard.  Well. . after three parked cars I would say it's a hazard. When we came up there was a Roberts Hawaii tour van parked there along with two other cars.  Roberts Hawaii vans are huge and I genuinely dislike them. They take their size into consideration when they drive and drive like jerks.  Later in our drive we were stuck behind a guy and almost saw a few accidents solely because of him.

If you drive just a smidge further you will come across a pull out that can accommodate multiple cars, and you just have to walk a few extra steps.  Our recommendation is that when you're facing the bridge from the pull out, you go down and up to the right. It looks a bit more daunting, but in all reality it is much easier.  We went down to the left and up to the right and wish we had gone down the way we went up.  You'll walk under the bridge and find the falls.

Mile Marker 24
Hanawai Falls are right along a bridge. There is a turnout next to a graffiti'd shack and to the right of the bridge is an adorable waterfall with an easy path down to it.  Nic went down and said there was a cave back behind the falls and for some reason I decided not to go down (the keep out sign is what did me in).  It's my one regret from the drive.  We decided to stop again on the way down, but by the time we got there it was already dark.

Mile Marker 27 1/2
Coconut Glen's an amazing ice cream shop on the side of the road.  It's absolutely adorable, and delicious. It is vegan and diary free ice cream made from coconuts! They have different flavors -- Nic had the toasted coconut and I had the lilikoi and they were both delicious.  They also have coconut candy which is essentially toasted coconut bits and I wish we had bought more than one bag. Definitely worth a stop (or two if they're open on the way down).  They only take cash and each item is $6 so make sure to come prepared.

Mile Marker 29
Naihiku Marketplace. .  I was pretty excited about this place. We decided not to grab lunch in Paia town in anticipation of the little stands that we thought would be open on the road but it seemed like everything was closed.  Once we got to the market around 12:00 PM I was pretty hungry, but nothing was open.  The Thai Lady was going to open soon, but there was already a line of people waiting, so we grabbed a little ornament from a cute shop and kept going.

Mile Marker 31
Kahanu Garden was actually a detour off the main road.  You turn left and about a mile down the road you run into the gardens.  You are supposed to be able to see Pi'ilanihale Heiau which is the largest temple in Hawaii, took 100s of years to complete and covers over 3 acres.  Be sure to check the sign when you turn onto the road as it will say if it's open or not.  We didn't take notice and went down the bumpy road to find it closed.

Mile Marker 34
Hana Town is not terribly impressive.  A cute little town, but there wasn't much.  We stopped for lunch at a place on the beach but wished we kept going. Not even a mile down the road from where we stopped was a BBQ stand that smelled like absolute heaven.

Mile Marker 42
Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park was our last stop and so wonderful! Sadly the Seven Sacred Pools were closed, but we did the Pīpīwai Trail.   A blog post about the trail will be up soon.  I do want to point out that if you are military you get a free annual pass to the National Park Service!  Not all parks have this posted and it is such a perk!

Various Mile Markers

Fruit Stands!! There is an abundance of fruit stands set up along the road. Unfortunately we didn't come across one that was manned and open.  After Hana Town and before the National Park we came across a stand that had fruit and worked off of the honor system.  If you go on a day when everything is open you will be able to eat your way up the entire Road to Hana.  Do make sure to have cash on hand!

It is such a beautiful drive to get lost in the day with your love!

03 January 2016

Christmas 2015

When we were dating all I wanted was to wake up on Christmas morning next to Nic.  The last three years have been magical.   We had a small and quiet Christmas at our home this year.  Christmas Eve mass and a wonderful morning.

Can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for us!

Also, make sure to look for our Elf on the Shelf in this photo. I didn't realize he had been moved until I was looking at the picture. Oh Nic.