It still feels like a dream...
I spent the first week of January visiting Maui!
While I was there, I toured the island, spent time with some amazing friends, did two yoga photo shoots, rented a car for the first time, went for an incredible run near the shoreline, relaxed on the beach, went whale watching, enjoyed shaved ice (!!!), and watched the sun rise and set each day.
My solo adventure to Hawaii was, hands down, one of the coolest trips I've ever taken and I'm so grateful I had the chance to spend a week in paradise. I learned a lot about myself while I was there, and definitely hope to return again someday.
Here are some photos, if you'd like to see...
My travel day on the front end of the trip was somewhat of a nightmare. (I quickly had to put my yogi powers of patience and determination to use!) I got a call on New Year's Eve that my flight had been canceled and I'd have to wait a whole day for the next available connection flight from Arcata to Portland.
Some friends of mine were planning to drive to Medford, Oregon, the next day, so I called the airline asking if we could change the flight itinerary in hopes of still making the connection flight out of Oregon out to Hawaii. One 45-minute phone call later, my ticket had been updated, so we hopped in the van and started the four-hour drive through northern California, up to the Oregon border.
We even had to drive through some snow!
I endured another long wait at the airport ticketing counter, an hour-long delay, and at long last, got on the plane from Medford to Portland.
But, upon landing, I discovered another bummer: I had missed the connecting flight out of Oregon by about 20 minutes... but by that time, I was so exhausted, I didn't mind getting a free meal from the airport and a restful night's sleep in the airport hotel.
The next morning, I even made time for a quick workout on the elliptical, and a little yoga :)
Thankfully, the next morning everything was on time, and I had a great flight chatting with my neighbors, watching a great documentary, and drinking a free Mai Tai before we landed at Kahului Airport in Maui. :)
While I didn't expect my vacation to start with travel delays and frustrations, I was grateful that these unanticipated situations reminded me to count my blessings, to stay present, and to keep breathing. And it did make the arrival in paradise even more memorable...
Everything felt so beautiful and surreal from the moment I stepped off the plane.
The photos don't do justice to how magical the mountains on the island are, always off in the distance. Clear skies, sunny weather... I breathed a sigh of relief.
Got my sweet little rental car, and headed to my friend's home in Kihei!
We walked to the beach and watched the sun set. Amazing.
The next morning I woke up early and made breakfast. The coffee in Hawaii is soooo good! If you've never tried Kona coffee, I highly recommend it :)
I spent the rest of the day at the beach, driving along the northern coastline, and going for a little hike.
The windy roads are so beautiful, surrounded by lush, green vegetation.
At one of my favorite spots, Kanaha Beach Park, I watched kite surfers cruise around. They fly! Sometimes they even catch air and are suspended above the water a foot or two. So cool to watch.
In the evening, I met up with my friend and a bunch of her local friends to go for a whale watching boat tour.
The captain's dog was awesome :)
While I wasn't able to capture any of them on camera, we saw quite a few whales, including a baby whale! My favorite part was hearing the sound of the spray as they would surface for air. They are beautiful creatures.
It was also incredible to see the island at a distance (love those windmills!) and to watch the sun set.
The next day, I went for an early-morning jog near Wailea. I was amazed by how wonderful the air feels on Maui; even though I hadn't run in about a week, my joints and muscles felt warmed up and it felt easy to move and to breathe deeply.
I logged four miles, and treated myself to a Jamba Juice afterward-- oh, how I miss those smoothies! We don't have one up in Humboldt County and it brought back great memories of living in the Sacramento area in summer as soon as I had that green smoothie :) It's funny how little things like that can make a new place feel familiar and feel like home.
I also picked up some local snacks: chocolate covered macadamia nuts and a lilikoi kombucha. Yum!
Later in the day, I drove along the western coast of the island, from Kihei up to Lahaina. It was incredible looking down on Maalaea Bay, the same body of water where I had been whale watching the night before. From the bird's eye view, I saw more whales in the distance.
Around late afternoon, I met up with Stephanie Sheveland (@mauiphotogirl on Instagram), an amazing local portrait photographer, to shoot some yoga pics on the beach. I was blessed by the chance to work with her friend, Cahla, too; she is a yoga teacher and was able to give me some awesome cues to deepen the postures, fine-tune my alignment, and breathe more deeply.
I had an absolute blast being near the water and spending time with two talented, kind, and grounded women who love yoga and photography. Thank you both for being so welcoming and showing me some of Maui's coolest spots!
The shoot was magical and I believe that sunset was one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen. :)
The next morning, I got up before the sun to do a second yoga photography shoot with Chris Archer of ArcherShoots (@archer357 on Instagram).
Chris is insanely talented and has a breathtaking portfolio of images which capture Maui's landscapes, sunrises and sunsets, and night sky. He's also a master of time lapse photography and has an incredible eye for framing and color.
I felt incredibly blessed for the chance to shoot with Chris and to check out the upcountry region of Maui, with its beautiful rolling hills and relaxing vibe.
After the shoot, I ate lunch and checked out some beautiful art at a glass blowing company nearby. Next door was a pineapple factory and a distillery; I didn't do the tours there but definitely hope to come back and check them out next time I'm on Maui!
Next, more driving around and more beach time!
In the afternoon, I tried some Hawaiian shaved ice... amaaaazing! Seriously my favorite thing I ate while I was there. This one was strawberry and mango with toasted coconut on top.
I spent my last night at an airBnb spot with the most incredible view.
I felt more relaxed on that little porch, watching both the sunset and the sunrise, than I have in a long time.
During my morning meditation, I gave thanks for such an amazing trip. This moment of silence, spent in connection with nature and with my Self, was definitely a highlight.
After one more trip to the beach, one last shaved ice, and another incredible sunset, I began my trip home to California.
Thank you, Maui, for being exactly what I needed to start the year feeling grounded and grateful! Namaste.