Saturday, October 24, 2009

Maui Ocean Center

After spending Tuesday at Wailea Beach we were ready (or I was anyway) for a day out of the sun.  Wailea Beach was beautiful and we were able to swim out (with our boogie boards) to a good scubing diving area.  We snorkeled there and saw fish, coral and Jan even saw a moray!  In order for Blaise to have a cool baby snorkeling experience we packed up and headed to the Maui Ocean Center.  It was pretty expensive at $26/pp, but it was really awesome and Blaise LOVED it!

He just couldn't believe his good fortune, everywhere he looked there were fish swimming by.  :)  He squealed and pointed and squealed and pointed.  It was awesome - he had a great time and I think we had an even better time watching him!

Flirty Blaise

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ten on Tuesday - US Adventure Tour 2009, Maui Edition

1.  We got to Maui on Sunday and are staying in a condo at Maui Kamaole in southwest Maui.  It is really beautiful!

2.  We are now enjoying more relaxing weather since the tradewinds have apparently returned.  (thankfully!!)

3.  We checked out the area yesterday and had a nice mexican lunch while Blaise napped.  The sun (I think) gave me a pretty bad headache in the afternoon, so I slept and rested and had a lowkey evening.

4.  Today we spent the morning at the pool and Blaise enjoyed swimming.  Then we checked out a shopping area close by in Wailea.

5.  I am pretty tired and haven't gotten around to downloading pictures off the camera...I guess you've noticed...

6.  MichelleK arrives on Thursday to spend a week with us!  We are looking forward to her arrival and showing off Blaise (one of my favorite pastimes :) ).

7.  We stopped at Costco to stock up on supplies when we arrived on Sunday and I have never seen a store so packed!  This place seriously needed traffic lights!  I guess when the island is so expensive, everyone heads to Costco.

8.  We'll have been in the US three weeks on Thursday and I'm pretty sure Blaise has gained 2-3 pounds since we got here.  He looks like he's doubled in least his cheeks look that way.

9.  This morning while Blaise was sleeping, Jan and I watched about 20 minutes of 90210.  I can't believe that show was the coolest show back in the early 90's.  (It was the first season though, it did get better and I'd watch it if I had it on DVD :) ).  What was up with their hair?

10.  We have been going to bed at around 9pm (at the latest!), does that make us old?

Highlights of Kauai

Dad and Jan took a helicopter tour with Jack Harter Helicopters - they came back raving about it!  They bravely opted for the no-door helicopter so that they could see more.

We took Blaise back to Lydgate Beach Park where there were so many fish in the water.  We were prepared with fish food and they swarmed around us jumping for food.  Blaise laughed at the silly fish, though he quickly turned away when the started splashing!

We did some more boogie boarding in Hanalei Bay, which was beautiful!  It was an amazing backdrop with gorgeous mountains.  We went back a second day and the waves were even rougher but our day got cut short by rain.

We drove to the end of the road to Ke'e Beach hoping to find Monk Seals and Turtles.  Unfortunately we didn't find either, but it was an amazing drive down there, the most beautiful we saw on the island.  The waves were fierce and swimming was prohibited.  I think winter starts here in October, meaning that the current picks up and you really have to be careful especially on the north shore.  Kauai is the northernmost isle so there isn't anything out there breaking down the incoming waves.

On our way back from Ke'e Beach we stopped at Dry Cave and across the street there were the coolest waves we've seen yet and there were some impressive surfers out there.

We ate Huli Huli BBQ Chicken from the side of the road - it was great!

We got a great deal on ahi tuna from fishermen on the side of the road.  We got 3.5lbs for $15!  That made two meals for the four of us!

My mom and dad kept talking about macadamia cream pie and after searching high and low my dad found one at the local grocery store - it was fantabulous!

In the evenings we sat outside on our lanai and had dinner and drank our goodies from Napa.

Another note about Pam and Bud's Gently Used Cars.  The first car we had was older and gently used, but in the interest of transparency the second vehicle we had was a van and it was more than just gently used.  They were really great, accomodating and we got a really great deal, but I would need a different post to list everything we found wrong with the van.

All in all we enjoyed Kauai, but one week was enough to tour around the island.  The culinary experiences there were less than exciting, although we did find one mean Macadamia Nut Cream Pie at Safeway!

More from coming from Maui...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ten on Tuesday - US Adventure 2009 Kauai Edition

1.  We arrived in Kauai on Sunday morning around noon.  The flight from Oahu was quite literally up and then down again.  We sat on the runway longer than we were in the air.  It was a beautiful view coming in.

2.  We rented a car from Pam and Bud at Gently Used Island Cars.  I spent a lot of time on the computer plugging in United Mileage Plus discount codes trying to find the best deal.  I finally got what I considered to be the cheapest possible rate for 8 days at $436, for an intermediate SUV at Budget, which we surely would have upgraded, to make it about $600.  Our total with Pam and Bud: $189!  Their rate is $30/day no matter which vehicle you rent and we ended up getting a 10% discount because the van we booked isn't available until Thursday.  In the mean time, a large car is doing the trick and they drove us to our condo with all our luggage.  If you are ever on Kauai, I highly recommend their company, not only is it a great deal, you are giving you business to locals and they are incredibly accomodating!

3.  We are staying at the Garden Island Condo in Kauai and it is very quiet and relaxing. 

4.  After arriving and allowing Blaise to take an afternoon nap we headed out to the Coconut Festival!  It was unfortunately closing down when we got there, but it was nice to walk around a local festival.  Jan got a coconut iced coffee :)

5.  There are chickens all over the island!  And I mean ev-ery-where!  The roosters are a mean wake-up call in the morning, although Blaise is pretty equal competitor.  Apparently after the hurricane in 1992 chickens got out and they were never able to herd them up again. 

6.  Monday we went and picked up fish for lunch and headed down to Lydgate Beach Park.  After lunch everyone hit the water and Blaise took a nap - he's getting good at sleeping at the beach!  The crew saw some great fish in the water, we're going to have to go back with Blaise before the week is over for him to see the fish.

7.  We did dinner at Scotty's which has a great tiered seating system so that all the tables have a stunning ocean view.  The bbq was pretty good, too.

8.  Tuesday morning we relaxed in the morning at home, which gave Blaise a chance for a good 2 hour nap.  Then we headed into Kapa'a for lunch with Carrie and Ian.  Today was their last day of their honeymoon before heading back late this evening.  It was great seeing them in Hawaii (even if we did crash their honeymoon!)

9.  After lunch we headed south to Poipu Beach, where we were able to get Blaise in the water.  He's been a little leary of the ocean, but he finally warmed up after awhile.  The ocean floor was pretty rocky, but we did see 2 large sea turtles!!

10.  Come back later for pictures, I gotta go to bed.  Make sure you saw all the pictures from my last post, too, I added some later.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blaise Meets Pacific Ocean - Hawaii Leg 1: O'ahu

Blaise has seen both oceans bordering the US...okay on the east coast it was "only" the Chesapeake Bay, but that is part of the Atlantic, so we're counting it! :)

We arrived in Honolulu Thursday evening after another long (5 hour) flight.  Blaise did great once again, but this was the first time that we didn't have an extra seat for him, because the plane was packed!  We got him to take a nap on the plane which is always a trick, even under normal circumstances!  He is proving to be a great lil' traveler, though - not that we expected anything less! :) 

Once we got in, we put Blaise to bed and my Dad and Jan went out for drinks and dinner and brought us food back.  I was so tried, I think I fell asleep on the couch at like 8pm! (which was 11pm in California, so go easy on me). 

Friday morning after Blaise's morning nap we headed to the beach.  We met up with my parents and Jan went out to try his hand at boogie boarding while the rest of us had drinks at the Royal Hawaiian beach bar.  It was beautiful with a view of the water and surfer-watching.  Later we tried to get Blaise to sleep in his buggy, but that was proving impossible, so we started heading back to the condo, only to realize we'd given my Dad the keys!  But, we were finally able to get him to sleep in a park under a Banyan tree.  We headed back to town for dinner with my parents at the Moana Surfrider Beach Bar - the Mahi Mahi fish and chips were super yummy!  I don't think I would have ventured into the hotels as much on my own, but I like the fact that although they are luxurious they are still open to the public.  Of course, why turn down your business, right? 

View from our condo

Blaise and Grandpa at the Royal Hawaiian Beach Bar

Jan is out there somewhere - notice the surfers lined up in the back waiting for a wave!

Waikiki Beach

The beautiful Moana Surfrider Hotel

Saturday morning we decided to go for breakfast before Blaise's morning nap, so we headed downtown to the Shore Bird at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach for their oceanside buffet.  The food was good, the view was amazing.

Shore Bird Breakfast

After breakfast the plan was to head back for Blaise's nap, so Jan and I stopped at Starbuck's on the way.  We were all caught up in our conversation while walking and sipping coffee that we missed the first signs of Blaise's nonmobile feet.  He had fallen asleep in the buggy!!!  We headed back into town and met up with my parents for a little shopping.  Blaise woke up and made friends with the saleslady - he makes friends wherever he goes!

Blaise making friends

Then we hit Waikiki Beach.  We took Blaise in the water this time and although he really likes swimming, I think the vastness of the water along with the waves was too much for him.  We got his feet wet, but that was about all is was willing to do.  Jan swam a bit and Blaise played in the sand - something he very much likes doing.

Blaise ready for the surf


Surfboard parking lot

After cleaning up we were headed back for Blaise's afternoon nap, when he fell asleep in the buggy AGAIN!  We couldn't even believe our luck!  So, we window shopped along Kalakaua Ave, ya know, old favorites like Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany's.  :)  Once he woke up we headed to Duke's Barefoot Bar for dinner.  The food was superb and the view still amazing.  Blaise was checking out the pretty waitress - he certainly seems to have a preference for the cute ones.  After dinner they had live entertainment so we stuck around for awhile before heading back for bed.

Pushing around a sleeping baby

Sleeping baby has awoken


Entertainment with Diamond Head in the background

We ran into these guys at the Royal Hawaiian on our walk home

In the evening we packed ourselves up for our morning flight to Kauai, we'll be on Kauai for a week of relaxing and lushness.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Goodbye Napa!

Wednesday was our last full day in Napa.  We got up and headed for Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and took their tour and tasted their Estate wines.  They are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and it was clear as to why.  The compensated us for the mix-up the day before by letting us taste a few wines before the tour - better than nothing I guess. 

Private tasting with a view - this is on our list for next time!

From there we went to Rubicon Estate which is owned by Francis Ford Coppola, (after stopping at La Luna again for lunch - no mexican coke).  :)  I remember when we had their wine for the first time, it was a few years ago in Denver when we were out to dinner with Michelle K and my parents.  We had the Cabernet Sauvignon and either the Syrah or the Merlot, I can't remember, but either way, I was really impressed.  The winery is the most beautiful one we visited and of the ones we saw, I would recommend this as the number one place to go back to.  We opted out of the tour because we were hoping to get home for Blaise to sleep in the late afternoon, so Jan ordered some wine by the glass and we sat outside and did our own tasting.  In the meantime, my Mom took Blaise for a walk and got him to sleep!  This was monumental and meant we had time to try a couple more wines.  I have always turned my nose up to the Zinfandel, but I really enjoyed theirs and even the Syrah which I am usually disappointed in compared to the Australian Shiraz was quite yummy.  I think the highlight of the day was trying the Rubicon Estate for $30 - a GLASS!

Lunch at La Luna

Rubicon Estate

We are sitting in the distance

Blaise after he rejoined us after his nap

Since Blaise had taken a little nap that meant we were free to explore a little more in the afternoon.  We decided to try and find Orin Swift's tasting room in St. Helena.  We drove up to St. Helena and it was a gorgeous little town, MUCH nicer than the town of Napa, though I think Napa has more tasting rooms.  Napa had so many empty shops it really looked like it had been hit hard by the economic turndown.  St. Helena on the other hand was booming.  Unforunately the Orin Swift tasting room was closed for the day and as it turned out they only did tastings by appointment only anyway, but we were really glad we made it up there since the downtown was so lively.  We bought some wine and a shipping box so that we could check it on our way to Hawaii.  We only brought 4 wines with us, but since things are so expensive in Hawaii and we weren't sure what kind of selection we would find it was better than nothing.  Jan got the Chardonnay which won the 1976 Paris Tasting from Chateau Montelena which we are looking forward to trying - of course it is a different vintage.  We also bought some homemade chocolate from Woodhouse Chocolates, we got the Helenas which were very yummy and were something new for use since they had salt on top!  The salt really contrasted nicely with the chocolate though.

Downtown St. Helena

We headed home and Jan through some brats on the grill and we finished an open bottle of wine while my Dad drank a beer - I think he was getting a little wined-out, although he seemed to really enjoy the tastings and is partial to the Cabernet Sauvignons  that we tried.  Since it had been cool the night before the owner of the house where we were staying dropped off some coffee logs for the fireplace.  The coffee logs are made of recycled coffee grounds so they are better for the environment.  We were hoping they'd smell like coffee too, but unforunately not.  They did make nice cracking noises, but you miss out on the wood smell too.  It was refreshing change after being at the B&B in Maryalnd that the house in Napa was so environmentally friendly - the garden was organic and you could tell that the owners did their best to not harm the environment.

Grill Chef

Dinner outside

We got up early on Thursday morning, packed up, waited for Blaise to wake up from his morning nap and headed south back to San Francisco.  On the way back we took an alternate route through Sonoma and it was beautiful scenery!!  This way we were also able to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge which was pretty impressive.

All in all we had a great time in Napa Valley and although it was a short trip, it was a great teaser and I'm pretty sure we'll be back :)

Blaise is awake from his nap right now, so we're going to hit Waikiki, look for pictures added to this post later today or tomorrow.