Paul and I are always looking for couples to travel with and have never had much luck until my friend Carrie mentioned that she was going to Hawaii with her husband and two boys (back before boy #2 was born). I kinda-sorta invited myself along on their trip (which she was enthusiastic about - phew!) and then set about bullying Paul into a Hawaiian vacation. For our 7th anniversay, just two weeks before Clara was born, Paul gave me a box with two adult size leis and one tiny baby size lei and a card that said that my present this year would be a trip for two and an almost 5 month old baby to the island of Maui. So I spent the summer emailing my friend Carrie back and forth planning out our trip and talking about how excited we were. Carrie's second little boy was born just a couple of weeks after Clara, so we knew the babies would be about the same ages.
Day 1 - Travel, Pools, and Laying Out
Paul, Clara and I flew out of Oakland on Alaska Airlines at 7:15 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2 (so we ended up missing that day of General Conference and I still need to catch up on all the talks!). Clara does great on airplanes and pretty much slept or played the entire time. Even if she had cried, it wouldn't have been a big deal because there were probably 15 babies on the plane in addition to our little sweetie.
We landed around 9:15 a.m. Hawaii time, got our rental car, then headed to Wailea in South Maui for the Fairmont Resort. Paul had found us a killer deal on an amazing resort that was over 1/2 off the rooms because one of the hotel's restaurants was under construction. We never noticed the construction other than having to wait for the elevator every now and then, which got backed up because only one elevator was functioning on each side of the building instead of two.
After being greeted with leis and tropical drinks (have I mentioned that I am obsessed with passionfruit and guava drinks? Normally I am a water person, but I LOVE those fruity tropical concoctions.), we basically dumped all of our luggage in our room (only one checked bag and one carry on duffle bag in addition to the camera, stroller and diaper bag - not bad for traveling with a 4 1/2 month old), threw on swimsuits, and headed to the pools.
Incidentally, I meant to take photos of our suite, but I kept forgetting. But we had two rooms, which was nice because Clara could sleep in a pack-n-play in the living room, and there was a balcony with a table and chairs and bougainvilla, a gorgeous and huge bathroom with a walk-in shower and large tub, a fridge so that we could buy milk and OJ and not have to go out for breakfast every morning, etc.
Clara was adorable in her little swimsuits with ruffles and bows everywhere. We slathered her in SPF 50 every time we were out and kept a hat on her or stuck her in her portable baby beach cabana so that the sun wouldn't get her, but she still came away some some decent tan lines. Unlike her parents who just are still fairly pale thanks to sunscreen except for patches here and there where we missed spots. (Turns out I am terrible at putting sunscreen on Paul's back. It sort of looks like a giraffe pattern of red and white back there, although it has faded now and only itches a little still.)
Paul's parents asked him what his favorite part of the trip was when we got home and he answered: "playing with Clara." These two are best buddies and pals for life. Every morning at 5:30 Clara would start to stir and I would bring her in bed with us so that Paul could cuddle her until it was time for her to really wake up.
Egads her little legs and bum and feet are so tiny and sweet.
Clara had a cold the week before we left for Hawaii, complete with a full-on runny nose, sneezing, and a little cough, so I was worried about how she would do on the trip, but fortunately she recovered the day before we left and she was all smiles and giggles the whole time. She really started talking A LOT on this trip (I think as the result of having Paul around 24/7 - she would rather talk to him than to me and I sometimes wonder if they have their own secret language) and she has even begun pulling herself into crawling position.
Clara has been in the pool a few times before and has always been fine with it, but has never really seemed too excited. Her first day in Maui was no different. By the end of the week though, she was having fun in the water, whether it was the pool or the ocean.
Clara's hair is getting so long and is starting to curl at the ends.
Day 2 - Polo Beach, Nakalele Blowhole, and Na'apili Beach
We started the day out by heading down to Polo Beach, which was the beach in front of the resort. It was a lovely beach with perfectly golden sand, clear water, and nice waves. We took a few photos, but didn't get in the water because we had plans to head out for a drive along the west Maui coast up to a blowhole.
Carrie and I had talked about going to Nakalele Blowhole prior to getting to Maui, and then just a few weeks before our vacation Paul and I were watching the news and learned that two men from the Bay Area had been sucked into this exact blowhole and drowned within a week of each other in totally unrelated incidents. That had me a little nervous but I figured if we stayed far enough away from the actual edge of the blowhole, we would be fine. Once we got to it, I realized that these two men who died must have gone right up to the very edge of the hole to peer in, because otherwise I don't see how they would have been sucked in. The warning sign at the top of the trail down the rocky cliffs didn't exactly make me feel better at the start of the hike though. Clarabelle was hungry and not happy about posing for this photo, which is why she has the pacifier in her mouth. She got a bottle immediately after.
Clara is a good little hiker. Our friend Ginny let us borrow her Baby Bjorn, which worked out great for Clara. Our Ergo Baby carrier is better for newborns, I think, and I think it will also be better once Clara is bigger, but at this point it is not very good for Clara because she can't face forward in it. The Baby Bjorn works a lot better for that because the leg holes have a much narrower span for her to straddle. Clarabelle enjoyed kicking her feet in the breeze that whipped this side of the island pretty hard and she also likes to hold onto my hands while we hike.
One thing we really loved about Maui was seeing the lava rock everywhere. The island reminds you over and over or its volcanic nature and past. The landscapes were fascinating and ever-changing, depending on which side of the island we were on, and we have some pretty interesting photos (which will be posted from a later day in the trip) from our drive up Haleakala, the dormant volcano on Maui and the highest point on the island.
I seriously can't get enough of rugged coastlines like this. Beaches are great, but vertical cliffs meeting pounding surf take my breath away every time. The morning was a little overcast and we even got just a few sprinkles, which explains the grey clouds overhead.
Clara is still learning to smile for the camera. Sometimes we get lucky, but other times she just stares at it wondering when mom or dad is going to pop out from behind the black object and shout "peek-a-boo!".
These are our friends, Carrie and Charlie, with their sons Isaac and Luke. Carrie and I grew up together and were even roommates at BYU freshman year. It has been so much fun getting to know her family better.
The Nakalele Blowhole itself was pretty cool. Apparently it changes a lot depending on the surf below: sometimes it it just misting, sometimes it shoots plumes of water high in the air like a geyser. I think that we hit it at kind of a middle point. Even with the smaller amounts of water, it was still incredible to see and hear as the ocean forced itself up through a tiny opening.
After getting sweaty and gross hiking to the blowhole, we felt like it was time to hit the beach. After grabbing some lunch, we went to Na'apili Beach. It is a gorgeous curve of white sand and soft lolling waves. I loved it and I am positive that it is one of the beaches that my family spent time at when I was 7 years old and we took a family trip to the Hawaiian islands.
Clara's favorite part about the beach seems to be standing on the sand right where the water can run up to. I think that she likes feeling the push and pull of the waves going in an out and watching it happen.
She would pick up her little feet and kick at the waves. We had to watch out for rogue waves though because every now and then a little wave would come in with more force than expected and splash her pretty high up. And anytime her little hands would get wet our little Clara-girl would stick her fists in her mouth to suck at the salty water. It was both cute and gross. One time, right after I came out of the ocean after boogie boarding and took Clara from Paul, she pounced on my still-wet shoulder and sucked so hard that she gave me a bright magenta bruise.
Little Luke wasn't as interested in playing in the water as Clara, so he laid on the beach with Carrie most of the time.
When Clara got tired, we laid her in a little pop-up cabana that we brought with us so that she would have a shady spot to nap when we were out and about. She was a little more interested in playing with her daddy's face though.
I had fun tossing her high up into the air and listening to her giggles.
Days 3 & 4 coming soon...