Haleakalā National Park | 53/59

The first leg of our island adventures!  We were so excited to get to Maui.  Here we are all packed up! We got everything to fit in our backpack carryons – be proud of us.

So while you look at this photo let me tell you a story:

It is almost 1 am in California. We are hours away from leaving to Hawaii. Everything here looks calm and prepared, right? What you can’t see in the photo is the stressful mini drama we have been living the last two days!

You see, Mr. Adventure Kitty must have overheard our conversation about leaving him behind because of strict Hawaii pet quarantines and decided to make a break for it! Since we have been at my mom’s place, we have kept him inside most of the time. But he escapèd two nights ago and didn’t come back!

We were SO SCARED he was gone for good! We hung “lost cat” signs, we posted to the community website, and just prayed the little dude would come back before we left to the islands.

He eventually rolls in with about 4 hours to spare. He was pretty beat up too – he’s limping, has a gash on his head, his eye is swollen, and he has all kinds of fleas! It looks like Vladimir was fighting for his life out there! We are sad he is hurting, but feel super blessed that he made it home, and that he will be safe with our family members while we are gone.

I don’t know if it is some sort of new, crazy, parent-status hormonal thing that is brewing inside of us or what, but we were REALLY upset when he didn’t come back earlier today. It’s crazy how much these little fur balls become a part of your life! We are so grateful that he made it home so we can rest easy while we’re gone.

First stop – Maui!

This is the only photo I have of Cees awake on the plane, because he was passed out within minutes, while Theo and I hung out the whole time.

Landed! I wore sweats on the plane because it’s always freezing, but then instantly regretted everything once that thick, sweet Hawaiian air hit me.

The mini van crew – consisting of my mom, brother and one of my sisters came to pick us up from the airport in Maui since they flew in the night before. Originally we were going to hit the island by ourselves, then we convinced my mom to come with us to help with Theo (like that was a hard sell). Then everyone else in the fam was jealous and wanted to come, so we ended up with the whole crazy crew!

This precious island baby got a flower for being the best little traveler. He didn’t make a PEEP the whole time on the plane. He did amazing!

A lot of people were skeptical when we told them we would be traveling with Theo at 6 weeks old, but honestly, I think it’s a great time to do it. It was so easy! People try to give you all kinds of advice or shame you when you don’t do things their way. The truth is for almost every piece of advice about parenting there is advice encouraging exactly the opposite it seems. So I say, go with your gut and do whatever works best for you and your baby!

By the way – this post is going to be about all of our adventures and stops in Maui, not just the National Park, because we did a lot of fun things and we want to share them with you all!

I’m not going to go overboard with food pics from our trip, but I will when it’s REALLY good and when there are cinnamon rolls involved. As soon as we landed we wasted no time (our family is all about the tasty treats and local grinds when it comes to traveling). We headed straight for Kihei Caffe, a recommendation from a family friend. It was the BEST breakfast ever! We ended up coming back a couple of times because everything was so good!

To the beach! Everyone knows that cinnamon rolls the size of your face followed by a beach day is a good idea.

My siblings are adorable, aren’t they?

People were legitimately jealous of Cees’ rainbow hat and gave him a few offers to buy it on the spot haha. It’s a conversation starter that’s for sure!

A tutorial from Cees: How to be an adventure dad

  1. Flaunt your farmer’s tan
  2. Wear an umbrella on your head
  3. Let the chest hair flow

All my dreams of having a beach baby came true and I couldn’t be happier!

We stayed at an airbnb in Wailea so we just walked across the street to this beach near the Marriot.

Grandma Sandy (Sandma) is a babe!

I forgot how pretty sunrises are in Hawaii. I went to school on the North Shore of Oahu for a few years and I miss the island life so much!

My Brother Blake bonded with Theo a lot on this trip. They like their morning snuggles.

At Makena beach the next day Theo got soooo sandy somehow and was not happy about it haha.

Makena Beach was amazing! The water was so warm, clean and blue!

A shave ice a day keeps the worries away!

We went to Da Kitchen for dinner and it was da bomb. We had such yummy loco moco and plate lunches! We had to tank up for our 2 am wake up call for Haleakala summit sunrise in the National Park!

I like being cold 0%. Who knew you had to pack your parka for Maui?! Actually I KNEW THAT, I have done the Haleakala sunrise before and it was freezing. But, we didn’t have enough room in our carryons for such things as parkas and wool socks.

When you forget your snowsuit for freezing temps in Hawaii, a hotel blanket and towel will do. Cees is even wearing Theo’s burp cloth on his head because… desperate times.

The drive to the summit is pretty long, you should leave plenty of time to get there. It’s better to get there early and wait in the warm car than to get there too late and make the effort just to miss the action!

*Also note you need a PERMIT to drive to the top for sunrise between 3-7am, so make SURE you get one before you attempt this adventure. You can get one at the visitor’s center or online. The cost is $1.50 and it’s so worth it!

I am smiling through the pain. Seriously, it was SO COLD and extremely windy. I can’t emphasize this enough haha. Dress WARMLY.

As the sun made it’s way above the horizon, the light kept changing slowly like a lava lamp through the clouds.

No photo does this sight justice. Also my hands were too cold to try to take a decent picture. But, please believe me, it was one of the most gorgeous things I have EVER seen.

I would have felt like I was in heaven had it been about 75 degrees instead of 35. But I still wanted to be an angel. It turned out to be pretty sketchy because the wind whipped my blanket around so hard it almost blew me off the volcano haha!

Once the sun was up, Cees and Blake got to bike down 10,000 feet from the summit of the Volcano where we watched the sunrise! They took a trail that wound all the way down the mountain.  You will have to check out the vlog for some good footage of the ride.

My mom, Paige and I waited in the car for them and took care of Theo.

Photo description — Paige: “Can I borrow your sunglasses?” Me: *hands her Theo’s*

I practiced my handstand above the clouds! I still have a long way to go.

#vanlife literally.

After the boys were done with their ride, we drove back up the mountain a couple miles so we could try it out. It was so fun! The roads were smooth and flowy and completely downhill!

We were starving after the morning’s escapades, so we hit up Grandma’s Coffee House. We sat on the deck and ate delicious muffins, eggs Benedict on cornbread waffles, and fluffy french toast on cinnamon raisin bread. We totally recommend this cute place!

Of course we couldn’t just take a normal sign pic with this crazy crew. It made up for the fact that Vladimir wasn’t with us. There are only a few out of all 59 National Parks that Vlads hasn’t been able to come to.

We watched the surfers at Ho’okipa Beach Park and found tons of Honu (turtles)!

Turtles are so prehistoric looking and so adorable at the same time. Why do they just seem so wise?

Hawaii gives you rainbow presents all the time and I love it so much. It makes the everyday ordinary, magical.

Our next stop was Nakalele Blowhole. The hike down can be a little bit tricky, but if you wear the right shoes (aka not flip flops) you should be fine!

I had to take pictures of everyone summoning the water from the blowhole. It was always so shocking when the water would come blasting out with so much force.

I seriously felt like Mickey in Fantasia when he’s summoning all the elements. (Side note – that movie is terrifying for children, I don’t know why we were allowed to watch it haha)

We had a really long day from waking up at 2am for the sunrise at the top of Haleakala, to biking down 10,000 feet in elevation, to going to the beach, then hiking down to the blowhole. Theo was wiped out and had a hard time towards the end of this marathon day, but he was such a good little buddy and tried his best.

I really love this family of mine. I’m so glad that Theo is the best traveler and he can come on all these wild adventures with us.

Shout out to my mom Sandy for all her help with Theo, it made traveling so much easier and more fun with her!

The next day we had another marathon day doing the road to Hana. There are a lot of guides online that tell you mile by mile everything to see and do and where to stop. I would search Road to Hana guide online and download or print it off since there was not a lot of service, so you can have the play by play on the road.

Basically, this famous road is a 64.4 mile stretch in east Maui that connects Kahului and Hana. Hana is a cool little town, but everyone knows it’s the ROAD to Hana that is the fun part. There are tons of fun stops and beautiful sights along the way including jungles, sea cliffs, waterfalls, and arboretums. It is one of the top 5 prettiest drives of my life. This place is called “The Land that Time Forgot” for a reason. Hawaiians are proud that they fought to protect their culture and this land from overdevelopment.

We didn’t actually go inside this arboretum, but we had to take a picture at the Garden of Eden!

Up next: a little photoshoot of Cees modeling our natural bug spray. It smelled like an orange dreamsicle.

We saw the coolest flowers and trees in the Keanae Arboretum and it was free!

I was amazed by all the different species of plants and tree life!

We had to stop at the official “Halfway to Hana” hut to get banana bread because this place was on our guide. It was really good! But, if I were to do it again, I’d go to a different banana bread stand (there are tons on the road) just to share the love, since everyone probably goes to this one because it’s on so many reviews and guides online. I felt bad not stopping at every little one!

Haha Theo’s head.

Black Sand Beach was another really cool stop despite the amount of tourists. My mom said that it wasn’t nearly as crowded back in the 80’s when she went to school on Oahu and visited. We found our own secluded spot before braving the crowds on the famous Black Sand beach.

Our next stop was 12 miles past Hana in the National Park in the Kipahulu district. We hiked the Pipiwai Trail – 4 miles round trip past an enormous banyan tree, through bamboo forests, across streams, and finally to the foot of 400 ft Waimoku Falls! There is only 600 feet of elevation gain and the trail is extremely well maintained, making it one of the best, most rewarding hikes!

Here is a story about our hike and a little introspection from Cees: “Being a dad has given me so much perspective already (I honestly don’t know if I can keep this pace of learning for Theo’s whole life! Haha).

As we got to the end of our hike, Theo LOST IT. He was totally fine, until he wasn’t. We were deep in the jungle and he was screaming bloody murder. I broke off from our group and tried to calm the baby dude down. He was hot, tired, and his little life was just HARD. I kept reassuring him that he was going to make it out… that he could trust us to help him through the hard time… that he was BRAVE and STRONG. It was obvious to me that everything was going to be fine – but he was having a hard time seeing that.

And then it hit me. How many times have I, in my own sweaty jungle of life, freaked out because things were uncomfortable and confusing? We all have those moments when we feel like we just can’t hack. But you know what, it ALWAYS works out. Sure, maybe things don’t go the exact way we planned, but the end result is always what was meant to be and always what we needed most. So don’t let the struggle hang you up! Enjoy the journey and live it to the fullest!!!

Cees really is an amazing dad and I’m so happy that Theo gets to learn about life with him.

You know how our parents or grandparents always talked about how when they would travel they just stuck the baby in a drawer to sleep? I thought they were joking. Well, we tried it and it totally worked. It’s safe and the perfect size for baby Theo. With a little padding and a blanket, Theo was cozy as could be!

We had about 4 days on Maui and it didn’t seem nearly long enough, but we definitely packed a lot into our time there. It was SO much fun and we lucked out with gorgeous weather and happy times. We can’t wait to come back.

Off to Big Island!

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