We got to visit Palm Springs California with my family to celebrate and anniversary and meet my niece for the first time. Despite some travel delays getting there we had a great time catching up with my sister and her family who live on the west coast and enjoying all being around a big house with a pool we could hang out in.

Some of us took a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park and did the long drive from one end of the park to the other through the valley and stopping to visit various sights along the way.

Jon & Jess in front of the Joshua Tree National Park sign
Jon & Jess in front of the Joshua Tree National Park sign
Jon, Jess, Stan, Pat at the Cholla Gardens in Joshua Tree National Park.
Jon, Jess, Stan, Pat at the Cholla Gardens in Joshua Tree National Park.

Some of us visited a spa while others checked out the sights in the town.

We had a great weekend catching up and celebrating!

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In September, for our one year anniversary Jess and I took our long awaited ‘big’ honeymoon trip to Maui, Hawaii. We left Richmond on Friday the 10th and thankfully the most trouble we would have on the whole trip would happen in the first hour. After a scheduled Lyft didn’t show and we could get any other ride share at 5 in the morning, we drove ourselves to the airport and entered the self park. We then immediately lost the parking ticket down the dashboard vent and had to get let out of the parking area to be let back in with a new ticket. All of that didn’t leave a lot of time to spare, but we made it in time and would have an otherwise uneventful flight connecting with one stop in Denver where we completed all of the COVID pre-screening necessary to be allowed into Hawaii without quarantine.

The beach walk along Kaanapali Beach
The beach walk along Kaanapali Beach

We arrived in Maui mid-afternoon and picked up a red 2-door Jeep, did some grocery and supply shopping and checked into the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa at Black Rock for 10 nights. After settling in the room we walked along the beach walk to the mall at Whaler’s Village and picked up some tacos to take back to the room and eat as the sun was setting and saw what would end up being the prettiest sunset of the trip.

Sun setting on Black Rock from the Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa.

Saturday and Sunday we mostly stayed around the resort. We hung out at the pool or the beach, checked out some nearby restaurants, did some snorkeling and Jess even did a lei making class. Sunday night we went to a very nice dinner at Merriman’s.

Monday was another day of mostly hanging around the resort, sleeping in and going snorkeling. We saw the sun set on the the beach at a park north of our resort, and picked up food from food trucks to have in our room.

Rainbow over the Sheraton Maui Resort

Tuesday was to be a marathon day of flying to the island of Oahu to see Pearl Harbor and Waikiki. We made the very early drive to the airport in Maui and took a 30 minute flight to the island. We went straight to Pearl Harbor where we had intended to take a boat out to the USS Arizona, but we had found out the week prior that one of the docks was damaged and they were not running tours. We saw what we could and talked to a park ranger about the family member of a family friend who died in the attack on the Arizona and learned some interesting history of his.

View of the the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial from the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
View of the the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona Memorial from the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.

Our next stop was to find some great sushi and even the Uber driver was surprised when we asked to be dropped off in Chinatown where we had to find our way to a poke vendor in the back of a market. It was worth it and was the best poke we had on the trip. Our next stop was the Bishop Museum which was a cultural museum chartered in the 1880s. There were a lot of interesting cultural artifacts there especially since the museum was collecting them well before Hawaii became a territory and later a state. Our final stop on Oahu was Waikiki beach where we walked through one of the old hotels, the Surfrider, and had a drink at their bar on the beach. We also walked along the beach and saw the Duke Kahanamoku statue. We had dinner nearby where we had some of the best Mai Tais of the trip and took the last flight of the night back to Maui followed by the 45 minute drive to the resort and were in bed just before midnight.

Jess and Jon on Waikiki beach

After a busy Tuesday, Wednesday was to be a relaxing day. Jess booked a spa treatment up the road at the Ritz Carlton and after I dropped her off I went exploring and hiking along the north-west coast of Maui. In the evening we went to a nice restaurant in Lahaina.

On Thursday we decided to try snorkeling at a beach in the South Maui resort area. Only by the time we got there the water was stirred up and not very good for snorkeling. We found another good poke place and picked up some Hawaiian spices to take home and spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool at our resort.

Friday was our day to drive the road to Hana. This has been a bucket list item for Jess since long before we met and was one of the highlights of our trip. Coming from Kaanapali we had to get up very early to start the drive in time to take in some of the sights along the way. We ended up driving straight through and arriving at the Kipahulu national park around 9am. We hiked the Pipiwai trail and saw Waimoku Falls -a 400′ tall waterfall at the end of a trail through a bamboo forest among other things.

Jon and Jess at the end of the Pipiwei trail in front of Waimoku Falls
Jon and Jess at the end of the Pipiwei trail in front of Waimoku Falls

After the trail we worked our way in reverse on the Road to Hana making our way back north and east stopping at sights along the way. We were in Hana for lunch at a food truck where Jess had a ‘plate lunch’. Just North of Hana was the Black Sand Beach in Waiʻānapanapa State Park where we had an early afternoon reservation. The volcanic formations around this beach were breathtaking and the dark black rock against the luscious greenery was incredible. The beach was neat despite being very small. The water was a bit rough and not great swimming for those who tried it. After exploring a bit more of the park we made our way back to the car and stopped at a few more stops along the Road to Hana as we made our way back to the more populated part of the island and eventually on to our resort area.

Black Sand Beach in Waiʻānapanapa State Park
Black Sand Beach in Waiʻānapanapa State Park

Saturday was another day of hanging out at the resort. We had dinner at a sushi place in Lahaina and then visited the Lahaina Yacht Club for a drink.

Lahaina Yacht Club

Sunday Jess wanted to see some of the sights I had seen earlier in the week along the north west part of the island. Unfortunately, the ocean waves were a lot rougher making it harder to get close to the blow hole or the pools. On our way back we stopped at the Honolua Bay Marine Reserve and went snorkeling with turtles.

Monday was check out day after a fabulous time in Maui. We made one last stop at the sugar plantation museum on our way back to the Airport. This history and impact on the island on the sugar plantations was fascinating.

The island ended up being exactly what we wanted for this trip – enough of a resort to not to have to leave, but with enough stuff nearby we could explore a variety of places to eat and things to do. Maui had a wide diversity of beaches, shopping, history and hiking and we didn’t even cover everything in 10 days with our relaxed schedule. Our overnight flight landed in Chicago very early in the morning where we waited for our mid-morning flight to Richmond and were home by early afternoon.

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Friday took us to Acadia National Park where we hiked Jordan Pond and Bubbles. We wanted to go up Cadillac but didn’t have a reservation and were tuned away. We stopped by Sand beach and hiked to Thunder Hole and back.

Jordan Pond
Jordan Pond trail
Sand beach
Sitting on the rocky shoreline between Sand Beach and Thunder Hole

For dinner we went into Bar Harbor and had a great meal, some Ice Cream on the waterfront and checked out some of the shops.

Bar Harbor water front
Bar Harbor at sunset

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Sunday following the football game Jess and I filled the day with scenic drives, hiking and a winery. We started at the southern end of Skyline Drive and stopped about 20 miles in to hike Calvary and Chimney Rocks. It reminded me of the hike we did a couple years ago up to Old Rag without the scambling. It featured some wooded trails up and down hills that went by some rocks with lookouts and good views. The trail was 3.2 miles and took about an hour and a half.

We finished the drive to the Swift Run Gap entrance and continued to Barboursville Vineyards where we tasted wines and enjoyed the sunset.

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