In-flight ramblings on the way back from Maui

Here we are on our flight back from Maui. These last nine days have really flown by. I can’t believe we’re already on our way home. I spent the last half hour trying to compile a list of the things we did on the second half of our trip (to complete the one I posted about the first half of our trip last Monday), but was I wasn’t very successful. For example, we saw so many different sights on the Road to Hana that I can’t remember half of them. I vividly recall the hikes where we ended up covered in mud to see some gorgeous waterfall, but there were plenty of other places that didn’t provide much lasting memories. Dan is asleep right now or we’d probably be poring over the tour books trying to make the list more detailed. I’m in a similar situation with the second half of the list of the delicious food I ate on Maui. I’m going to need to look at some of the online menus for the restaurants we visited to recall exactly what I ordered. And there were way too many items on the buffet at the Old Lahaina Luau for me to remember everything, even after looking at the picture I took of my dinner plate! On the flip side, with the exception of today Dan and I either hiked, swam, snorkeled, or some combination of those activities every day of this trip. We never spend much time sitting around on our trips, which is probably why I always lose weight on vacation. No matter how much we eat, we get plenty of exercise to balance it out. In the past nine days I’ve more time in a bathing suit, covered in sunscreen (and sometimes bug spray too) than I have since my summer camp days. It’s been great! (And speaking of bug spray, I tried just about everything to keep from getting bitten, but I still got a bunch of nasty bites all over my legs in Hana. I used spray, dryer sheets in my pockets (recommended by a local in Hilo last year), and one of those clip on devices. Nothing really worked.) Who cares if I didn’t look as good in my bikini as I did a year ago? Let’s just hope I don’t start crying when I see the pictures. The snorkeling we did this year was so much better than last year. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have a mask that doesn’t leak! And not being seasick really improved the experience too. It’s impossible to have fun when you’re vomiting off the side of a boat. Trust me, I know. I don’t think I have the energy to write about our entire trip (even though I have a five-hour flight to kill), but Dan and I really had a great trip. The day we flex home from the Big Island last year I was so ready to get home because I was tired of being hot (most of our hotels didn’t have AC), eaten by mosquitoes (Hilo was awful), and covered with sunscreen. My skin was dry, but never quite clean. Getting on that air conditioned plane to go back to Los Angeles was wonderful – especially since the entire Kona airport is outside with no place to escape the heat. Yuck. This year things are very different. When our plane took off from Kahului I wasn’t ready to go home! Luckily there are only three workdays this week before Thanksgiving, but I know they’ll be busy. Well, here’s to getting back to our normal lives. Aloha!

Bargain bin bathing suits

Last year when October rolled around I realized that I had missed the optimal time to buy bathing suits for our first trip to Hawaii. I only had two old bikinis from Target tucked away in my dresser and the elastic in one of them had died since I’d last worn it. That left me with exactly one wearable bathing suit which wasn’t enough. My weight was so variable in 2010 that I probably wanted to lose a few more pounds before I went shopping, but that didn’t happen during the summer months. So when I was finally prepared to try on bikinis without crying it was way too late in the year for me to have a lot of options. But any suits that were left in the store should be like 50% off, right? My first stop was a store at South Coast Plaza called Everything But Water which I discovered sold their bathing suits at the same inflated prices all year ‘round. It was ridiculous, but I was desperate so I tried on anything that I didn’t hate. I ended up buying two tops (one black and the other black and white) and two bottoms (both black), even though only one of each really fit correctly, and the cost was astronomical. I really needed them for our trip, though, so I handed the unhelpful sales girl my credit card. I was feeling very unsatisfied as I drove home from the mall which led to a last minute decision to go to a little clothing shop on Main Street in Seal Beach called Endless Summer where I used to shop when I was an intern. I knew they had a wall full of suits every summer so I was hoping they’d still have a decent selection in October. I was in luck! While their stock was definitely depleted that late in the year I was able to get tops and bottoms for $15 apiece. That was music to my ears. I must have tried on a bikinis – everything in my size that I thought was even a remote possibility (no string tops, thank you very much). While nothing was perfect I ended up buying two matching sets and one extra bottom that I could wear with the black top from Everything But Water. So I took four bikinis with me to Hawaii last year, but I only ended up wearing two of them because the Big Island doesn’t have that many beaches. Oh well. When we got home I stuffed them into a drawer and pretty much forgot about them. Fast forward to summer 2011. Another trip to Hawaii was quickly approaching and once again I was trying to lose a few pounds before going bathing suit shopping. Ladies, this is never a good idea. From my personal experience, no matter how you think you look there are going to be women on the beach who look better than you and a whole lot more that look worse than you. So suck it up (and suck it in) and go buy those bikinis when the stores are practically bursting with them! But anyway, I never was brave enough to go on that shopping trip this year so when it came time to pack my suitcase for Maui I was just hoping that the elastic hadn’t died in any of last year’s purchases. Luckily it hadn’t so I threw the three bikinis I liked the most (and took the ones I hated to Goodwill) and headed to Hawaii. Turns out those bargain bin bathing suits worked great! I wore my old Target bikini on our first snorkeling trip last Saturday, but I realized how out of date it was when I saw what the other women were wearing. Side ties on the bikini bottom used to be popular, but now they are so 2007! One of my other bikinis was the black top from Everything But Water and a cheap black and white polka dot string bottom from Endless Summer which turned out to be a really good combination. As much as I’d like to cover up my less than stellar physique when I’m on the beach, I’ve discovered that smaller bikini bottoms look best on my body type. The polka dotted bottom is very small, but actually more flattering that something like boy shorts. So don’t be afraid to show a little extra skin, ladies! Sometimes it just looks better. My last bikini was a matching Billabong set from Endless Summer. The top and bottom of the suit are the same size, but my body’s top and bottom are not – only the bikini bottom really fits and the top is too small. It’s not vulgar or anything so I still wear it, but I would have liked to find the matching top in a larger size. And this would have been possible if I’d shopped for bathing suits in the summer, but I have to live with the results of my procrastination. (On a side note, isn’t it great how they sell bikini tops and bottoms separately these days? I think it’s of the best innovations in retail. I can’t be the only person who needs a larger top and a smaller bottom.) Overall I’m very happy with the results of my bargain bin bathing suits. They did the job and didn’t break the bank, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone else waiting until the last minute like I did! I vowed to Dan that I was going to shop for new bikinis (ones that fit properly) during the appropriate season in 2012. Not that we have any more tropical vacations planned, but it can’t hurt to be prepared. We’ll see if I can keep my promise.

P.S. I just realized that I already told half of this story in a post on 10/27/10. Oh well!

Goodnight from Lahaina

We don’t have WiFi in our hotel in Lahaina, HI so I’m writing this post on my iPhone. Dan and I had a busy day today. We got up really early to go snorkeling at Molokini Crater and tonight we went to the Old Lahaina Luau. Tomorrow is our last full day in Hawaii and then we’ll fly home on Sunday. I don’t have the patience to write much more on my iPhone tonight, but Dan and I have had a great vacation so far. While I always love going home after a long trip, I’m not looking forward to leaving Maui. Aloha until tomorrow!

Eaten so far on Maui

Friday, 11/11/11
Tomato bisque with basil cream at Spago
Pan fried chicken with goat cheese and mushrooms at Spago

Saturday, 11/12/11
BBQ chicken and fixin’s on the Lana’i snorkeling boat
Pumpkin ravioli and garlic fries at Monkeypod Kitchen
Butternut squash pizza at Monkeypod Kitchen
Banana cream pie at Monkeypod Kitchen

Sunday, 11/13/11
Macadamia nut cookies and maui onion chips on the way to Haleakala
Liliko’i colada (non-alcoholic) at Mama’s Fish House
Maui onion soup at Mama’s Fish House
Slow cooked beef rib at Mama’s Fish House
“Polynesian Black Pearl” chocolate and liliko’i dessert at Mama’s Fish House

Monday, 11/14/11
Kahuna hot dog at the Grand Wailea Volcano Bar (poolside)
Coconut smoothie at the Grand Wailea swim-up Grotto Bar
Kula Lau’ai salad at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a
Rack of lamb at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a

Tuesday, 11/15/11
Garlic and onion macadamia nuts
Homemade banana bread from Aunty Sandy’s on the Road to Hana
Kalua pig sandwich at Nahiku Marketplace on the Road to Hana
Tomato soup and saffron risotto at the Travaasa Resort
Christopher Elbow chocolates (finished the box!)

Macadamic nut cookies for breakfast
Vegeterian quiche from Cafe Romantica (a food truck in Hana)
Vegetable lasagna at Cafe Romantica (good enough to eat there twice)
Fresh pineapple from the Ono Farms roadside stand

Hawaii so far

Friday, 11/11/11
Arrived at the Kahului airport on Maui
Went to Broke Da Mouth Cookies for a snack
Drove to the ‘Iao Valley State Park to see the ‘Iao Needle
Visited the historic Bailey House
Checked in to the Days Inn Maui Oceanfront in Kihei
Ate dinner at Spago in the Four Seasons Resort

Saturday, 11/12/11
Drove to Lahaina at 6:30 AM
Left on a snorkeling cruise to the nearby island of Lana’i
Saw humpback whales and dolphins on the boat to Lana’i
Snorkeled in Sharkfin Cove
Took a bus tour of Lana’i City (the only one on the island)
Took the boat back to Maui
Checked in to the Grand Wailea Resort (and got a room upgrade!)
Ate dinner at Monkeypod Kitchen (one of Peter Merriman’s restaurants) in Wailea

Sunday, 11/13/11
Drove to Haleakala National Park
Ate some Broke Da Mouth cookies and Maui onion potato chips for lunch
Climbed to the summit of Haleakala (just from the parking lot)
Hiked about 5 miles of the Sliding Sands Trail around the Haleakala Crater
Barely made it back to the car (the ascent was brutal!)
Went to Kmart in Kahului
Ate dinner at Mama’s Fish House in Pai’a

Monday, 11/14/11
Stayed at the Grand Wailea Resort all day
Swam in the awesome pools connected by water slides
Rode in the water elevator
Snorkeled off the beach where we saw fish, eels, sea urchins, and crabs
Got a couple of drinks at the swim-up bar (mine was a non-alcoholic coconut smoothie)
Bought a small carved tiki from a local artist
Ate dinner at Humuhumunukunukuapua’a at the Grand Wailea

Hawaiian party

Our Hawaiian-themed party last night was a great success. A good time was had by all. I went to bed at around 2 AM, which was about the time the last few guests left. I got up at 10 AM and started cleaning up the house (not fun). Dan wasn’t feeling too well, but he’s better now after spending most of the day in bed. The only things I accomplished today were ordering a new pair of running shoes (the ones I have irritate my feet) and going to the gym. The party last night was a blast and definitely worth the effort, but I’m glad this week will be a little calmer than week. OK, time for me to go to bed. Good night!

Eighth new recipe

Dan and I ate a lot of delicious food in Hawaii, but one of the best I had was a kalua pork dish at Big Island Grill in Kona. In fact, I figured that it was one of the best things I ate in 2010! So when I saw this extremely simple recipe for kalua pork I just had to try it. The original recipe called for a much larger pork roast, but since there’s only two people in the Feller household I decided to scale back the ingredients (all three of them!) a little. I made the pork on Saturday since I had some free time even though I didn’t have plans to serve it for a couple of days. The house smelled very strongly of bacon during the eight hours that the pork was cooking, and for quite a while after that too. Yum. (I did open some windows on Sunday to dissipate the smell, though, because I couldn’t get away from it!) It tasted pretty good too! Valentine’s Day dinner last night for Dan ane me was kalua pork with pineapple rice (just replace the water you usually cook the rice in with an equal amount of pineapple juice). I thought the sweetness of the rice complimented the saltiness of the kalua pork perfectly, and I know Dan liked it too because he asked for seconds as soon as he was done with his first bowl! Not only is this recipe ridiculously simple to make, but it’s delicious too! I am definitely adding this to my list of favorites.

3-4 lb pork butt roast
1-1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1-1 1/2 Tbsp liquid smoke

Pierce the pork roast all over with the tip of a sharp knife then rub with sea salt. Place the roast in a large slow cooker and drizzle the liquid smoke over the meat. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low heat for about 8 hours (this is about how long mine took), turning the roast over once half-way through the cooking time. When the meat easily shreds with a fork it is ready. Enjoy!

Based on La Fuji Mama’s Slow Cooker Kalua Pig Recipe.