aloha, part 2!

I want to preface this post by saying that it feels weird to blog about general things in my life without at least acknowledging the bonkers political climate in the world right now. Walking the line between professional reporter and personal blog is a bit of a struggle, but I honestly don't think I have anything to add on the subject that hasn't been reported or said better. But I don't want my posts to seem tone-deaf, like I'm prattling on about my awesome trip to Hawaii with no acknowledgement of what's happening in the world. I'm paying attention! I promise! I just don't have anything productive to add to the discourse at this point. It doesn't mean it's not on my mind.

"Aloha" is an uncreative title for a Hawaii blog, but breaking it up into two parts is very revolutionary because it means both hello and goodbye. So consider part 1 our landing, and part 2 our time there and also our departure. See? REVOLUTIONARY!

It also means this post is long (it's so long) and fulllll of photos. Which is not an apology - because Hawaii is ridiculously beautiful so hopefully looking at the photos is enjoyable! - but just a warning so you know what you're getting yourself into. (A blog post. Is what you're getting yourself into. Welcome!)

Anyway. To recap part 1: we escaped the snow and got to Hawaii. Thus, part 2 begins this way: WE WERE IN HAWAII.

We spent the first day at the pool, but Brandon and I ventured to the beach in the afternoon so I could test a rumor. Humpback whales spend their winters in the Pacific waters off Hawaii to give birth, and a woman at the resort's spa told me they were so plentiful that it was possible to hear them singing just by wading into the ocean and putting your ears underwater. Whales are pretty much the coolest, and I wanted to know if it was true. So out we went.

And you could hear them. They were singing, constantly. It was faint, and if I hadn't been told to listen for it I would have missed it, but when I put my head in the water, there it was: whales, just offshore, singing to each other. It was magical.

That night, we ate dinner outside by the beach.

I tried to get everyone to play games after dinner - I always have at least one deck of cards in my purse - but my brother-in-law and his girlfriend were disappointingly meh about it so it didn't go very well until they went to bed. At which point I convinced my in-laws to play euchre with us! I can't remember who won (open bar = endless champagne), but we can just assume that it was me and my mother-in-law. #TeamDalene

The next day, Brandon and I rented a car and drove up into the mountains of Maui. We did this because when we landed at the airport we saw an ad for a vodka distillery and thought it might be a fun thing to check out (I like vodka). To be perfectly honest neither of us were expecting anything that exciting - it was literally just a thing to do - but it ended up being amazing.

The company, Ocean Vodka, was founded and is run by a family that's been on Maui for three generations. They operate on an old cattle farm, which they painstakingly rehabbed to allow for sugarcane farming. Sugarcane is what they use for their spirits, but they also grow dozens of native varieties of the plant in an educational partnership with the University of Hawaii.

Each variety has a slightly different flavor, according to our tour guide (the awesome Earl) - some taste like the sugary milk left in the bottom of a cereal bowl, others are fruity, tart, and extra sweet. 

The distillery is almost totally self-sustaining, thanks mostly to solar power. They farm everything organically, simply because it's better for the land. Their processes are smart and environmentally friendly, and do not pass any additional cost to the consumer. We purchased a bottle of rum for around $22, which is not any more than you'd pay for a quality spirit in a liquor store. (Ocean Vodka is available pretty widely in the continental U.S. - you can see if it's near you on their website.)

The tour included a tasting of both vodka and rum. I would like to be a person who drinks vodka on the rocks easily, without grimacing, from a heavy cut-crystal glass - this just seems like a sophisticated and adult thing to do - but sadly, I am not that person. During the tasting we were encouraged to drink the liquor slowly, letting it "wash over" our tongues, and it did not go particularly smoothly for me. I remain undignified. 

We wandered around the property for awhile after the tasting. Because:

After, we went to a goat dairy farm and then to a winery, where we tried pineapple wine. I'm not a fan of sweet wines so I was skeptical about this, but it was pretty delicious.

Our entire drive was probably 35 miles round-trip, but the roads were windy and steep, so our outing took all day. Brandon stopped the car whenever I wanted to hop out and take photos...which was pretty often.

We stumbled upon a little Chinese park

It was one of the best days of my whole life and one of my favorite things we've ever done together. I haven't really done it justice here (one of the drawbacks of blogging about things days/weeks after the fact, I think), but adventuring and exploring with Brandon is one of my very favorite things to do, and having a whole day to wander around and discover nooks and crannies in paradise was just wonderful.

he had a good time too. promise.

he had a good time too. promise.

The next day, we went whale-watching. Rum punch included.

Some of the people on the boat were kind of upset because we did not see whales all up in our faces and we didn't see a ton of them, but I had a hard time being disgruntled because a) we were on a boat in Hawaii, b) there was rum punch, and c) THERE WERE WHALES! I was just happy to be out there among them, really.

On our last night we ate outside by the water again, this time at a luau. The luau was...long, and there was a prolonged skit that involved hula dancing, and I don't know. The scene was OK, though, I guess.

On our last morning we got up at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m., hopped in a rented van, and drove to the summit of Haleakala to watch the sunrise. It did not disappoint.

On the way back to the car, facing the other side of the mountain, we caught the moon setting.

It was a nice way to end our time in Hawaii, though I guess a better way would have been to send for the pets and set up camp there permanently. Also, it feels like this all happened years ago. 2017 is really progressing in dog years thus far.

On that note, thanks for reading my much-belated vacation post. I plan to come back and gaze at these photos whenever I feel like I need a vacation. I hope you do too.