Ben and I have both had this past week off from work (he’s a soon-to-be teacher and my position at the college was furloughed due to state budget cuts), which has given us some much-appreciated time together [have I told you enough about how much I absolutely adore my hubby yet?!].  We’ve spent the days laying on the beach, going for runs, practicing yoga, getting adjusted, watching movies… I even convinced Ben to try his first spinning class at Om Maui (“it felt like a really hot, really sweaty hamster wheel”).

The first few days were accompanied by massive amounts of vog (volcanic fog) and a total lack of trade winds (don’t worry, we still made it to the beach Winking smile), so when we woke up to this yesterday


we were elated!  It was the first clear day in almost two weeks.  So, after a quick two miles of hill work around our house, we headed toward the valley.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

– Albert Einstein

`Iao Valley has special meaning to us as Ben proposed to me at the top of a pu`u hike there a year and a half ago.  We enjoy visiting whenever we can – the water is refreshing and rejuvenating and the mountains are so lush and immense they remind us of Jurassic Park.  To us, `Iao Valley feels like the heart of Maui.

We decided that we wanted to explore unchartered territory, so we set off behind the Hawai`i Nature Center (when I was a kid, we’d come here on field trips, but I’d never followed the trail all the way back).  It was a flat, leisurely hike through kukui nut-covered footpaths that took about half an hour one way.

We started by crossing a bridge over the stream.IMG_4852

The trail is very well cared for, simple to follow, and filled with all sorts of fun things!


Our favorite part of the journey was the lo`i patch. The terraced taro patch is being cared for and sustained as it was found – it’s a true peek into the way kanaka maoli lived before the waters were diverted from the streams.

After passing the lo`i, we followed a tiny path up the side of a cliff to get a great view of `Iao needle.



[We set up the awesome gorilla pod and got silly, just because we could]

then headed back down toward the stream, where we spent the next hour or so talking about this incredible past year and creating intentions for 2011.


We were set on eating at the Nature Center’s Café (one of our favorite cafés on the island!), but they had closed a bit early and were gone by the time we made it back Sad smile.

Instead, we went shopping for our neighbor’s first birthday present (an awesome musical instrument set complete with a tambourine and cymbals!) until our tummies growled for an early dinner.

We decided to check out one of the restaurants we’ve been really excited about but too busy to make it to.  Half an hour later, I dabbed on some lip gloss and swapped my Asics for rubber slippers as Ben pulled into the lot behind Three’s Bar and Grill.

My biggest reason for loving the concept of Three’s is that these guys are local – and their cooking style reflects that. We got there in time for happy hour and ordered an incredible, hearty Mediterranean whole wheat flatbread.  Ben ordered a couple of oysters and slurped them down as I tried not to avert my eyes.  Then we settled on sharing the four-course sunset pre-fixed dinner (for $29!).  It was perfect for the two of us to share.  The highlight of the meal for both of us was something we’d already had before at different events: Three’s signature kalua pork quesadilla with cilantro lime aioli and tropical pico de gallo.

After polishing off the decadent upside-down cake with vanilla ice cream, we contemplated another order of quesadillas but decided to try something new: the BBQ Arugula Flatbread with Coconut Porter BBQ sauce, tropical fruit, smoked chili and cilantro vinaigrette, avocado and goat cheese (sounds amazing, right?).  We were actually a bit disappointed by it and realized that it’s just too much good stuff.  We love everything on that flatbread, but the amount they piled on top was a bit excessive and there were too many flavors trying to get our attention at once.  Next time we’ll stick to the Mediterranean.

We capped off the night with a few drinks, and although I don’t typically drink, I saw something on the menu I just couldn’t pass up.


VINO!  I Red heart rieslings.


But my Momma didn’t raise no fool – I know I’m a lightweight. I stopped when I’d had enough.  Ben laughed at the identical amounts of liquid I’d left in each glass.


After dinner, we walked around Kihei for a bit and then made the drive home Smile.  All in all, one of the best days of my break!

We’re off to wish our favorite Addison a very happy first birthday!

When was the last time you had a no-plan day (or got tipsy off of 9 ounces of wine)?


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