Monday, February 22, 2010


Well, we didn't want you all to think that we only go outside when it is 80 degrees and sunny, so we thought we would share some pictures from our recent snowshoeing trip.  We decided Friday night that the snow would be really good for some snowshoeing.  So, after watching The Empire Strikes Back taking our time getting ready Saturday morning, we decide we would head up to Mueller State Park.  It is about an hour drive from our house and they had reported 6 inches of fresh snow from Thursday night.  The drive up was not the best, it was really foggy and we couldn't see to far in front of us, but as soon as we got past Woodland Park, the sun was bright and shining!  Once we got to the trail head, we bundled up with all the cold weather gear we could find and strapped on our snowshoes for our first trip of the season!  After about a quarter mile we realized Julie we left the trail map in the car, but fortunately we were not the only ones out there and we just followed the tracks that others had left. We wandered around for about three hours, including snack and photo breaks, and decided we were ready to head back to the jeep and head home.  Here are a few pictures from our day, enjoy!

Mikey snowshoeing in Mueller

Mikey ready to run from a fake cougar

Julie making her own trails

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hawaii, Part 2

Julie wanted me to take over writing part 2 of the blog, so here we go!!! (And to save us from having part 3, this is a long one!)

After our dinner trip to Lahania we went home and slept, we had a big day ahead of us.  We set an alarm, got up before the sun (or so) and headed down to the Makena Beach and Golf Resort for our Run for the Whales 5k!!!  Julie's parent's dropped us off at the hotel and we went to register.  Unfortunately the races aren't as organized as they are here in Colorado, so we had to wait for the 1/2 marathon to start, about 45 minutes, so it didn't help too much to get there early.   Either way, we were ready to run at sea level and right next to the ocean.  Bill and Debbie found us before the start, and took a pretty neat picture of us:

Us and the Ocean!

We both did really well, I set a PR with a time of 26:05, and Julie rocked it with a great race of her own!!  Sea level is fantastic!!  Fortunately it was a fabulous day, and the least windy day of our trip so far, which could only mean one thing, it was time to go snorkeling!  Bill had scoped out a snorkeling outfit from a harbor not too far away which took us down to Molokini, one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in the world!   The small island is a horseshoe shape which protects it from the surf, and keeps the water incredibly calm and clear.  It was about an hour journey out from the harbor to the island, which meant along the way we had some incredible chances to whale watch.  Upon arrival, Debbie and I opted to take a short snorkeling class since we had very little experience in the sport, however Julie and Bill were literally the first two in the water.  Good job by them.   In the interest of camera protection we didn't get many shots of the fish or the snorkeling, fortunately Debbie was able to shoot one of Bill and Julie in the water:

Bill and Julie in the water

We had about an hour of snorkeling fun, where we got to see a great number of fish, coral, and even a small shark.  Julie's favorites were the ones that looked like an angel fish, and the puffer fish, and I liked the huge schools of fish that rode in and out of the coral with the tides!  Excellent.  While we were a little sad to leave Molokini, the ride home was probably just as cool.  Our captain was able to find a good number of whales, and even had to cut the engines a few times because they got so close to us!  We saw some jump just in front of us, and few slap the water, which apparently means something cool, it was really fun to watch.  The boat ride also gave us free access to beer and wine, and some chips which Debbie was able to collect for us.

Whale tail

Us on the boat

We wandered the dock for a few minutes while Bill checked out a trimaran, then we went back for another amazing sunset on the beach, and some food.  Since we had done so much, the next day we decided to take it easy, and relax a bit while on vacation!  We took a trip down to Charlie Young beach for a few hours.  This was Super Bowl Sunday, so I had a natural instinct to find a TV and watch the game, so back to the condo we went.  It being Hawaii, it was only about 1 in the afternoon, so we had some lunch and settled in.  I think the game put everyone else into a trance, because at halftime they ask me "Do you want to hike on some lava for 5 miles instead of sitting here and watching this?", to which I said, "Of course I do!!!".

Bill had heard of a hiking trail south of Makena (site of our epic 5k) which was the location of a lava flow from 1790, the last time this island was active.  Along the flow there was a feature called the King's Highway, which brought people and goods up and down the island during the royal years, and connected several beaches together.  Julie and I decided to go all the way to see what we could find, while Bill and Debbie were content to sit on a closer beach and check out some tidal pools.  Our hike down was a bit difficult, as it consisted of a straight road on medium sized lava rock, which started to hurt our feet after a bit. After a few miles Julie found a turn off, and it was the highlight of the hike, a small and lovely secluded beach.  And Julie found a big piece of coral that she was really excited about, but I wouldn't let her bring it home!

Me on the trail

The small beach

Julie and her coral

It was late in the day, but we were able to catch the sunset on the beach near the car on our way back.  The streak continues!

The next day found us preparing for a long trip in the car, as we set our sights to Hana.  The road to Hana is a very long (about 35 miles), windy and incredibly scenic road which winds along the east side of the island.  The road has 620 and 59 bridges, 46 of which are one lane!  The speed limit on the road is 30, however most of the time you are doing much less than that, as you are avoiding tour buses careening around corners, slower tourists and crazy locals doing 45!  The best part is that at most of the one lane bridges and switchbacks there is either a waterfall or an incredible view of the ocean.

We stopped for lunch at Wai'anapanapa State Park, which features a black sand beach and a few caves carved out from the roaring ocean. Pictures are the best way to show how cool the trip was, so I'll let them take over:

The Hana road from mile 16

Me with the road behind

Three waterfalls

Julie and the black sand beach

The family and the beach

At the end of the road is the Eastern edge of Haleakala National Park (see part 1) which offers some more hiking and typically seven excellent waterfalls.  Unfortunately for us, this is the dry season for Maui, so all but one of the waterfalls was dry, and the other one was but a trickle.  The ranger at the gate was nice enough to tell us about the lack of water before we paid our entrance fee again, so we were able to turn around and find an alternate activity.  We found a lovely beach, and just off the beach is the place where Julie and I are going to build our retirement house, just need a few more volcanoes to go off!

Our future house

Unfortunately our sunset streak ended this night, as we tried to stop for dinner along the way, but were thwarted by a band of hippies who have not showered recently!  The next morning we woke up, ate some breakfast, and headed to the beach for the last time.  We went to the 'Big Beach', which is, big beach.  That night we also missed the sunset at the beach, because we were flying sad!

We had a great time and we can't wait to find our next adventure!  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hawaii, part 1!

We are back home from our trip to Maui, and I figured it was time to post some pictures from our trip...  and I figured I probably won't get everything into one post, so there will probably be a few parts to this story. 

We left for Maui last week in the wee hours of the morning, and we got there without any delays!  When we stepped out of the airport it was a wonderful 82 degrees!  After eating a quick lunch, we were off to the beach!  We went to a beach that is really popular for surfing, north of Paia, where we were hoping to see some surfing action, but there was no one out, except a few turtles. 

Mikey and the Pacific

My parents had rented a condo for a month in the town of Kihei and they let us come sleep on their pull out sofa!   So after settling in we headed to our first sunset on the beach!  It was the first of many sunsets. 

The next day, we talked my dad into driving up the volcano on the island to see the sunrise.  We left at 4:45 in the morning and started the two hour drive to the top of Haleakala!  It had crazy turns, a good bit of exposure to the steep drop offs, and some stunning views of the pre-dawn lights around the island.  We waited for the sunrise while we were above the clouds (about 10,000 feet) for about twenty minutes with the other 150 people who also had made their way up there, and man it was cold! 

The sunrise on Haleakala

After the sunrise we found out there were some trails that we could hike down into the crater, so we did!  It was still pretty cold so we kept on our sweaters, and headed down.  It was about 2 1/2 miles down to one of the small chutes which shot liquid hot magma many centuries ago.  Once we got down to the smaller crater, it finally started to warm up and the views were pretty amazing.  The park says that they have had astronauts train in the volcano because it looks so much like the moon.  It was strangely pretty!

The trail out of the volcano

Mikey and dad in Haleakala

Julie in Haleakala

Unfortunately hiking 2.5 miles downhill means that you have to hike 2.5 miles back up once you are done.  We took our time, but unfortunately our camera ran out of power at the bottom, so there aren't any pictures from that portion of the trip :-(.  We finally returned to the summit and my mom was having a great time listening to Rush (Limbaugh, not the rock band) and trying to stay warm. 

We had just about enough of the cold at that point, so we went back home, took a well deserved nap, and did some shopping for tacky and brightly colored Hawaiian wares.  Then, just to keep mom and dad's streak going, we went to go see another sunset on the beach. 

Since we were in Hawaii, we figured it was about time we spent some quality time on the beach.  We packed up the car with just about everything we could find in the house, and found a nice shady spot to relax in.  After a few hours of hopping waves, building up courage to try the boogie board, and good bit of lounging around, the sun creeped into our spot, and we had to use the umbrella to keep in the shade.  Unfortunately, it is kind of a small umbrella. 

Huddling under the umbrella

For mom's birthday dinner we travelled to Lahania and then to the Whaler's Village to eat at the Hula Grill, which she had picked out for a few days.  The drive up along the bay was scenic, and included a stop at a great whale watching spot, where Mikey was finally able to spot a whale (not just it's splash).  Lahania was a former Royal capital so we walked the streets of the town to check out the sights.  I found a huge banyan tree to hang on!! 

Illegal hanging on trees

Mikey found a good number of signs to read which told about the old Royal stuff and the whaling history of the city.  I got to look at the ocean!  We took a side trip to see the largest Buddha outside of Asia, which um...looked like a large Buddha. 

Mikey and Buddha

We finally made it to dinner, which included sitting on a beach side patio, watching the sunset, our toes were in the sand, and there was Hawaiian type music playing.  Some hula dancers joined in towards the end of the meal, and it was fantastic!!  I think that'll wrap it up for Part I, stay tuned for Part II!