Ever noticed how much work it takes to plan and prepare for a vacation, so much so that by the time the vacation begins you need it even more than you did before?
Booking hotels (and sometimes flights), washing all the laundry before, packing clothes, packing toys, packing medicine, packing stuff to do in the car (or on the flight), loading the car, washing all the dirty dishes before you leave, arranging for neighbors to take care of the mail, the trash, the pets, the plants … and that’s just the home chores.
At work, you have to let everyone know you’re going to be out and tell them what to do in your absence, and often work ahead so your absence is less of a burden on co-workers. And of course when you get back there’s the backlog of email and all the work you missed. You end up working over time the week after vacation because being out a week has put you behind.
Then of course the vacation itself is “work” too. Sometimes people come back from a trip saying they need a vacation from the vacation. You come back with suitcases full of dirty laundry and an empty refrigerator. And the aforementioned email at work, snail mail at home, etc.
Regardless of all that though, getting away from the daily grind and experiencing something different is uniquely refreshing and therefore worth whatever extra work or planning it takes.
I missed writing a post in time for this month’s Rocket City Bloggers carnival; the theme was vacation. Check out other vacation posts from Huntsville, Ala., bloggers on this month’s host blog, Girl Gad About.
Not wanting to drive too far or spend too much but not wanting to be stuck at home for spring break either, the boys and I spent half of the week just to our south in Birmingham, Alabama. We did just two things — the Vulcan and the Lego store, but the boys didn’t seem to mind a low-key vacation. In fact I think they enjoyed some of the simplest things most — eating at different restaurants, shopping leisurely at the Lego store and taking turns sleeping in the hotel window seat.
Three years ago I flew on an airplane, on an hour and a half flight, all by myself with these two guys pictured above.
John was going to be Orlando for business. We all flew down together a few days before his business trip was to begin, and we took in a few days at Disney.
Then it was time for us to leave and him to stay, and I about had a panic attack. I recall distinctly, just as if it’d happened yesterday, driving the rental car down the long road to the airport, and I was nearly in tears and overwhelmed with all that I had to do. With a then 5-year-old Finn and 3-year-old Caden I was going to have to return the rental car, load us all onto the rental car van to the terminal, check us and our bags at the ticket counter, maneuver us all through security and get us all onto the plane (including Caden’s big 5-point-harness car seat). It’s just too much, I thought. I can’t do it.
I called John asking if it was too late to turn around and just spend the rest of the week there with him. I did not feel capable or equipped to do the task before me. Of course it was too late to change our mind; all I needed was a little encouragement and someone to believe in me.
As best I can recall, all the things I had worried about went smoothly. The biggest dilemma was how to get us all off the plane after Finn and Caden both dozed off into deep sleeps during the flight. But even that proved doable with the help of an extra-wide airport wheelchair and the kindness of airport workers.
This past week, that same woman and those same two kids flew again. We’re all a little older and more confident now, so that helps. But as we’re settling in as a family of three, it’s good to experience things that in the past I’ve been scared to handle. Because of that earlier experience and the maturity that has come since then, I am better able to handle it today.
As Hubby and I were touring our way around Maui we had several “lessons learned” moments that would have been nice to have known ahead of time. Actually, it would have been nice if these things were in the travel book we used to plan our trip. I’m not gonna write a travel book, but if you go, here’s what we learned.
Take cash — and your Visa card. It costs $10 to get in to the state park and go to the crater or the summit, Fearing that a state park might not take a Visa card (and we weren’t going to drive up 10,000 feet and be turned away) we got cash from an ATM before heading up. The park ranger wanted small bills and wouldn’t take our $20. But, he accepted Visa, Mastercard, etc. So be prepared to use exact change at the entrance or have a credit card handy. Small bills will also be needed at the crater gift shop. In fact, the crater gift shop takes cash only (probably no phone lines for a credit card machine at 10,000 feet). The official visitor center at about 7,000 feet takes credit cards, but it’s a smaller shop with not as many options as the shop at the top.
If you go at sunrise, ask your hotel if they offer jackets or blankets because it is cold up there at 5 a.m.! Our hotel offered blankets, I read about another that offered jackets. So just ask.
Any time you go take a snack and something to drink because there’s nothing at the top to eat or drink unless you bring it. However, if you go for sunrise, on your way back down at around 9 or 10 a.m. stop at the Kula Lodge for breakfast. It’s about half way down the mountain with a beautiful view and a good $10 plate of eggs and bacon and toast. Also, if you’re interested in touring the Alii Kula lavender farm or shopping in the lavender farm gift shop, do this after breakfast. The lavender farm is a quick stop (less than an hour) and will save you from having to drive back up the mountain later in your trip. (We didn’t do this but wish now we would’ve.)
The only advice here is take a poncho, umbrella or both because it may rain. It is the rainforest. Also, consider doing this in the morning and then making a short 10 mile (20 minute) drive over to Lahaina for lunch and shopping.
Speaking of Lahaina, this was one of my favorite parts of Maui. If we were going to live in Maui (which we just might someday, I’m thinking retirement), this is the area where I’d want to be. It’s a perfect mix of beach, harbor and shopping but also has a hometown feel. For us southerners it’s like Gatlinburg, Tenn., or for Indiana folks, think Nashville, Ind., but at the beach instead of in the mountains. It’s a mix of locally run mom-and-pop shops with bigger names like Crazy Shirts, Na Huko and Whaler’s too. I made special effort to look for things made in Maui — not just made in Hawaii, because there were several things made in Honolulu — but actually made on that very island. There were great selections of perfumes made in Maui as well as candles in coconut in shells. And the scents of all of these were amazingly Maui.
We actually visited Lahaina twice — one evening for the Old Lahaina Luau and we went back as a daytrip for the shopping. If you’re staying on another part of the island (as we were) you can do both in one day. Go over at lunch time, eat at Cheeseburger in Paradise (the original, not the Jimmy Buffet chain) about mid-way through the strip, and shop for 3-4 hours until time for the luau at 5:45. There’s no reason to show up at the luau early — tickets come with assigned seats and they don’t let you in until 5:45. However, if you’re shopping before the luau, go ahead and check in because when you receive your tickets you receive a coupon book for the Cannery Mall which is across the street from the luau.
The Old Lahaina Luau is hailed as the best luau on the island. It’s the only luau we went to so I don’t have much to compare it to, but it was very nice and had “extra” stuff to do that a lot of other luaus didn’t describe having — extras like hula demonstrations, local crafts people selling homemade jewelry, a photographer to take your picture and the unearthing of the kulua pig from the imu (underground oven). It’s buffet style and you’re sent to the buffet by tables, with the tables closest to the stage going first. Your seat is assigned according to how soon you buy tickets, so buy early if you want to sit closer and eat earlier.