I snagged an Amtrak ticket for cheap from New York to Boston and decided to sneak away from our week-long trip to the City and spend 48 hours in New England. I love the train because it avoids the traffic and the hassle of the bus in favor of quiet, Wifi, and coastal views from the train.
I’ve only gone back to Boston once since we moved last September. If you remember, we left Boston on the last day of September 2013 and woke up in San Francisco on October 1, which is Anish’s birthday and was a new day, new month, new life in a new city. No small thing.
It’s been wonderful and wow, we’ve seen so much since moving to the West Coast, but I’ve had many heavy moments where I questioned our decision. Where I kicked myself for not moving to New York instead, or just plain cried because I missed Boston. Eventually [thankfully] those feelings always fade. The nostalgia tucks itself back in my heart, and I look out from our Russian Hill neighborhood at the Bay and Alcatraz and Mount Tam in the distance, and I can smile again. It is really something, that city. There’s no place like it. I’m grateful to be there and for all the opportunities it has afforded us. And yet… and yet, I still miss the East Coast.
One of the many wonderful things that Anish does as a partner is remind me that nothing in our life is set in stone. He always says to me, when I’m having a moment, “Taylor, if we need to move back, we will. If you want to go home to Boston, we can. If you want to move to New York, let’s do it. If we think we should go to London for a year, why not? We can do what we need to do to be happy.”
It’s not as if we’ll up and move tomorrow after one emotional moment, but his reassurance that the option exists is enough. Isn’t that true? If you feel trapped, things always feel worse. Even if San Francisco is our forever, just knowing that no one and nothing is making me stay is enough.
For now, we’re Californians. We might not be forever, but where we are is good. And when I’m missing it, when I need that New England feeling and hugs from some of my closest friends, I’ll take a trip.
And tonight, I think I’ll go to Boston.
I’ll be back to Hawaii posts soon. I have many more stories to tell, including the “special” one, and lucky for all of us, we just got our photos back! Stay tuned. For now, I’m going to soak up the rest of this week with my best guy, best friends, and favorite cities. xoxo – Taylor
Life is a journey, not a destination. Ah, those words. Quoted over and over. I’ve always nodded at them, thinking, “Of course. Yes.” And yet, when applying it, I’m not the best… as evidenced by the first hours in our journey to Hana.
The Road to Hana on Maui is a famous 64-mile coastal road stretching from the city of Kahului to the town of Hana. It’s a popular destination for tourists to drive the stretch to Hana and back over the day, stopping at all the waterfalls and epic views along the way. Make no mistake though, although it’s popular, it’s still a remote tropical paradise and the road less traveled. There are very few people staying in that area or even living there. It’s very much wild Hawaii and absolutely breathtaking! There are over 600 curves and 50 bridges along the narrow road, so it’s quite a trip!
It was our plan for Monday, our first full day in Maui. We’d drive the Road to Hana, stop at whatever sights we wanted, and then maybe go see Haleakala (the volcano) afterwards. Piece of cake! Would take 5 hours at most. Yeah… my naivety is astounding sometimes.
We left at 8:30am and argued for the first two hours. It was lovely [insert sarcastic voice here]. But really, in an effort to be frank, we were a bit snippy with each other because the road was two-lane and very narrow, we’d left later than we wanted, and we started the beginning of the road alongside half of the tourists on the island (or so it felt).
For those first couple hours, it felt like we’d driven forever and seen nothing. I kept expecting the “wow” feeling and wasn’t getting it. Our guidebook was helpful, but nothing was standing out to me as a “must stop” place. I started counting down the mile markers till Hana… waiting for the destination.
Things weren’t boding well for an enjoyable day until we FINALLY came upon our first waterfall. That’s when the smiles slowly started, and the bickering faded. The top of the car was down, the sun was beating down on us, and we were finally noticing, “oh hey, I guess this whole place is kinda pretty.”
We started stopping more often and not worrying about how long it would take to get there or back, and more importantly, not worrying about the goober drivers around us who didn’t know how to safely drive on narrow roads. We saw waterfall after waterfall. Took a detour for banana bread and lava rocks along the coast. Explored a state park with a cave you could swim in, a black sand beach, and lava tubes.
Each segment of our drive helped loosen our uptight attitudes and nerves. By the time we rolled into Hana, 8 HOURS LATER, we were happy as clams. Sunset was coming, but we didn’t care. Unlike the majority of tourists who turn around in Hana and head back, we kept going onto a road “not recommended for rental cars.” Adventure was waiting!
The beginning of our trip in the morning, as viewed from the GoPro, which was mounted on the top of the car.
Taro fields on the coast.
Waterfall along the road.
Detour to a swimming pool off the road! Feeling a little better at this point…
My guy and our awesome vehicle for the week! Terrible view though. ;)
Aunt Sandy’s banana bread? YES PLEASE. Best banana bread of my life.
Lava rocks and two post banana bread smiles!
The beautiful Wai’anapanapa State Park. We both wished we could’ve had more time here!
Wai’anapanapa’s black sand beach!
Time sure flies when life is happening, eh? Things are a little crazy right now, which means certain things fall by the wayside. Like the blog, for instance. Gotta live life to write about it, right?
Back to Hawaii (and remember, I’m going in chronological order): let’s talk about the hotel. We left the perfect beach at Mama’s Fish House and raced back across the island in our Camaro with the top down (living the fancy life!), inhaling the island air, and excited to see our hotel home for the week — the Hyatt Regency Maui on Ka’anapali Beach.
Anish can sure pick ‘em! What a gorgeous hotel. The Hyatt is one in a line hotels that sit on a three mile stretch known as Ka’anapali Beach, all connected by a stone pathway on the oceanside. From the Hyatt all the way down to Black Rock, you can walk along this beautiful path from hotel to hotel. It was perfect for sunset walks with a clear view of the ocean and the island of Lana’i.
The hotel has five restaurants, a mini mall in the hotel (with a Macy’s and everything), penguins (!!), a spa, and a humongous swimming pool. That was my favorite part — the pool! With two sections separated by a cave and grotto, it was the best place to spend a day. It also helped that servers came around quite often asking if we’d like something. “Pina colada, please! And maybe fried green beans with wasabi mayo too…” Oh yes, I LOVED it.
Our hotel reservation included breakfast every day at Swan Court, which happened to literally be a restaurant on the hotel’s pond where its resident swans live, along with 100+ small birds who would wait like hawks for a diner to abandon their plate and then BAM. Swarm of birds on one unsuspecting plate.
We had a partial ocean view from our room, so we could see both mountain and beach from our lanai (balcony). Our room was massive and gorgeous. We settled right in, threw on our bathing suits, and went out to explore.
Our first afternoon there was spent hanging out by the pool and working on ‘relaxing.’ First thing on the agenda: we deleted all the social media apps from our phones. After posting a “We’re in Hawaii!!!” post, we said goodbye to social media and our constant phone checking (the worst habit), and got ready for a week on Hawaii.
The next day, Monday, was our designated Road to Hana day, and Tuesday was… well, you know.
View from our room!
The atrium in the main building.
The pool! Pretty terrible view, huh? ;)
Pool basketball and a cave to swim in?? Awesome!
Oceanside view from the hotel. Lana’i just across the way.
The flowers were incredible!
Swan Court Restaurant from across the pond.
See the little birds?? Waiting to pounce!
And because there always needs to be a food photo, especially when there’s an all-you-can-eat breakfast every morning.
The most consistent piece of advice we got from everyone before our trip was, “Go to Mama’s Fish House.” We always take restaurant suggestions very seriously, so we kept this item at the top of our list. When we got into the car in Kahului, I immediately turned to Anish and said, “Mama’s for lunch?” We had plenty of time before check-in at the hotel and a fresh seafood lunch sounded ideal. He agreed, so we called ahead to make a last minute reservation for lunch.
Because Anish’s sister Diya is THE BEST, she’d sent us a gift card for our Mama’s meal for my birthday. Thank youuu, Diya! We pulled in to the parking lot at Mama’s, let the valet guy take our car (complimentary!), and walked down the gorgeous path to the Mama’s Fish House cove.
WOW. The location is seriously incredible. It’s a restaurant with its own cove and beach surrounded by palm trees, bathed in sun, and cooled by the sea breeze. We were grinning like fools at this point and staring at each other like, “Can you believe this is real?” 5 hours earlier we were in the overcast Bay Area and now, we were standing barefoot in the warm sand on a private beach in Hawaii. Life is crazy.
We wandered around for a few minutes, taking photos and breathing in the island air, before heading over to the hostess station to tell them we were there. They sat us in a huge booth facing the beach and we immediately ordered tropical beverages. When in Hawaii, right? Another piece of advice we got about Mama’s… “Get the Ho’okipa Sunrise!” It’s a cocktail made with Stoli Citrus Vodka, pineapple, lime and Creme de Banana, i.e. DELICIOUS. I understand why our beloved Minards were raving over it.
For lunch, we shared everything so we could try more things, like a good foodie couple. Here’s what we got:
- Hawaiian Ceviche: Uku (a local fish) with mango, kaffir lime, spicy Maui chili pepper and cilantro with breadfruit & sweet potato chips. — THIS DISH WAS HEAVEN. We were drooling over it and gobbling it up, while saying to each other with stuffed mouths, “Mama’s was worth it JUST FOR THIS.”
- Grilled Maui He’e (octopus) caught by Rogelio Balala diving offshore from Spreckelsville. — Also delicious and super tasty. We loved having the details of who caught the fish and where. Local at its best.
- Ono (another local fish) caught by James DeBussey trolling near Keanae, seared in a Hana ginger-panko crust with Kalua pig fried rice. — Pig fried rice?? Panko crust? Yes, this dish was an easy choice for us. We ordered the fish at the recommended medium-rare cooking, and it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The fresh ginger gave it a great flavor.
By the time we finished all that and I’d had another drink – this time a creamier one, Pina Colada style, but with a cacao liqueur – we were stuffed and couldn’t get dessert. Not a big deal and we were happy with what we’d had, and still craving more of that ceviche.
After eating, we went back out to the beach and put our feet into Hawaii’s Pacific for the first time. Ahh….
Overall, the food was fantastic and worth the hefty island price (pretty much the norm at all the restaurants we went to). If you go to Maui, EAT AT MAMA’S. Get the ceviche and the Ho’okipa Sunrise. You’ll thank me later.
We left Mama’s cove feeling full and happily on vacation. We were ready to zip across the island to the west side to see our gorgeous hotel and the beaches of Ka’anapali for the first time.
I was completely unaware that Anish had a ring hidden in his pocket and special plans for the days ahead…
Just look at this place! Such a lovely, private setting.
10 minutes of sunshine and I’m a happy girl. Add this view? Over the moon…
The gorgeous island decor of the restaurant.
Pleased as punch to be on vacation together.
Thank you Diya for the gift card!
Best ceviche of my life. And those breadfruit chips? Surprisingly fantastic.
The main dish – so good!
Vacation! Makes me smile to think that I had no idea what was coming later that week… :)
Hello Hawaii — now on to the hotel!
Because Anish is the greatest significant other in the [my] world, he surprised me with a trip to Hawaii for my 25th birthday. I honestly still can’t believe it, but it was definitely, wonderfully real, and two weeks ago we took off from the San Jose International Airport on a Hawaiian Airlines flight headed for Maui! Little did I know, the trip was much more than a birthday celebration, but more on that later. (Oh yes, you gotta wait!)
Mini Hawaiian Airlines review:
– Loved: comfortable seats, super sweet staff, meal (!) on the flight, complimentary rum punch before landing in Hawaii, and the general relaxing Hawaiian vibe.
– Not such a fan of: no TVs or entertainment — you have to purchase one of their tablets to use for the duration of the flight ($20); lack of flight options from SFO resulting in our departure from San Jose and return to Oakland.
Overall, great flight experience, and finally after 5 hours crossing the Pacific (blue everywhere - a little nerve-wracking), we drifted down below the clouds and there was Maui. An island in the middle of a never-ending ocean. Lush, green mountains, white sand beaches, rolling blue-green waves. We could see it all as we landed in the valley at Kahului Airport.
After a dicey early morning trip to the airport where nerves were a little high and tempers were a little hot (eh-hem, me), we were finally settling in to vacation mode and plain giddy with excitement by the time we landed.
We sailed off the airplane into the quaint Kahului airport, taking our time (no more city life rushing!), grabbing a coffee, and then stepping out into the warm, salty air of the island. Man, I can’t explain that feeling I always get when I’m on vacation or arriving somewhere I love. It’s a deep breath that goes down in my very soul. An “ahhh” feeling when all my usual tensions start melting away. It took me a few days to settle into vacation mode.
At Hertz, we opted for the rental car upgrade keeping the Road to Hana in mind, and left the airport riding in style with our black convertible Camaro. Ohhh yeahhhh.
First thing on our very-flexible-vacation-to-do-list (I can’t stop making lists, even on vacation): the famous Mama’s Fish House for lunch. That’s when the fun and the food started.
Good morning pretty Hawaiian plane!
You see what I mean??? This is just the view from the airplane. Holy smokes, Maui is gorgeous.
I’m so fancy… and grinning ear-to-ear in the background. Ridin’ in style.
Our first impression of Maui at Mama’s Fish House. HOLY CRAP it’s so beautiful, right?? Still can hardly believe places like this exist.