From the moment we landed on Monday, we knew Sunday would be here way too soon. But we had the full day to enjoy, and some friends to see before we left.
The Roughest of Mornings
This was our sixth trip to Maui, which means it was the sixth time we had to wake up on the last day of our trip, take one last look out from the lanai, and finish that last minute packing before checking out. And I can’t honestly say it gets any easier each time we do it.
Now, can we say that the morning we wake up to leave Maui is rougher than the 2:30am wake up call back home on the day we started our trip by being at the airport at 4:30am? That’s a toss up.
Wrapping up the Festival
Sunday morning starts with the final session of the Maui Photo Festival, which is centered around the awards ceremony and closing remarks.
It’s also one last chance to network and swap contact info – or these days, Facebook pages – with the other photographers you’ve been shooting next to and talking with in passing over the last few days. That morning, I had at least two people I had never met or spoken to online come up to me and mention my photography blog and said they’ve been following it for awhile and liked my work. That caught me off guard, and I was very flattered.
As part of the awards ceremony, the crew behind MPF put together this slideshow of the winners. It’s a good sample of the types of photographs everyone was taking over the four days, and if you’re looking for a good, visual recap of the entire event (not just what I attended), it’s a nice start.
And if you end up watching the entire slideshow, you’ll be sure to see this shot in there under the Best Aerial category.
It’s a pretty neat feeling having one of my images honored (again) at an event like this. Not too much you can describe in words, that’s for sure.
Our blog here isn’t the only one that had a photographer at the workshops receive an award this year, either. Andy Beal, the photographer from Go Visit Hawaii, also picked up the Best Hula award for his stunning sunset hula shot as well. In fact, head on over to this post at GVH and you can enter to win a canvas print of his winning photo. Hurry, you only have until Sunday!
Last Stop in Lahaina
With the awards ceremony wrapped up and after officially checking out of our hotel room, we were headed into Lahaina for one last stroll and to grab some lunch.
We walked around a bit, deciding on where we wanted to eat. We noticed that what was once BJ’s Chicago Pizzeria was now changed over to Lahaina Pizza Company, so we gave into our curiosity and made our way upstairs. After all, just because the sign on the door changed, there are still great views like this one.
Plus, I’m Italian, and it’s deep dish, and we’re from Chicago. You do the math.
Maui Tweeps to Go
After lunch and before our drive to the airport, we had carved out some time to meet up with some of our Maui pals on Twitter at Kalama Park in Kihei. Organized by popular Maui blogger and one of Maui earliest Maui tweeps, @AMauiBlog, it was actually the same spot where we first met up back in February ’09. In addition to Liza, we also met up with @raatz (David) – another one of the tweeps from that first meeting – @peterliu47 (Peter) and @roxannedarling (Roxanne). Peter we had met previously and was shooting along with the rest of us at the Maui Photo Festival. Roxanne was a new introduction (IRL, anyway) to us, and it turns out she came over from Oahu only a few months ago.
There were a few others hoping to make it, but schedules didn’t align in time. Next year, we’ll have to plan a few different meetings.
Like Father, Like Son
As we talked story for a bit, our son was getting a little antsy, so I broke out the cell phone at first and gave it to him to play with. Obviously it wasn’t the first time, since you can see below that he’s getting used to holding it the right way now.
Mahalo to Peter for taking these shots, too. They came out pretty neat.
After seeing how much fun he was having posing for Peter, I decided to be brave and take out my camera and let him pose with that, too.
Something tells me Christian and I might be a father-son photography team before he’s out of middle school.
As with the last few trips, it was great to hang out and chat with some of our Maui friends before we head home. As depressing as that last day of a Maui vacation can get sometimes, having a group of friends to help take your mind off it for awhile is priceless.
Aloha on Our Side
After our get together in Kihei, it was time to make our way to the airport and prepare for the late flights home.
We weren’t running late or anything, but the timing was a little close, and you always just want to get through the routine of rental car return, checking bags, and security as quickly as you can. Especially with a nine month old along for the ride.
So as we pulled up to Hertz to drop off the car, little did we know that we were about to fly through that routine faster than ever.
Hertz with a Save
In the opening post of our trip journal, I mentioned that we drove off the car rental lot with a bad taste in our mouths, even though we had been using Hertz on Maui for years. Well, when we pulled up to return the car and were 3rd in line, we were in for a more pleasant surprise. Just as I started to unload the luggage from the minivan and bring it over to the airport shuttle, the nice lady checking our rental signaled for one of the drivers to bring us to the terminal instead of waiting for the shuttle. Not only did that save us at least 10 minutes or so waiting for the shuttle, it also meant I didn’t have to unload the bags from the rental, get them to the shuttle, and then unload them from the shuttle at the terminal. Well done, Hertz. Mahalo!
United Stepping Up?
Living in Chicago and flying out of O’Hare airport, we’re always a little spoiled with their curbside check-in at the terminal. No waiting in lines to check bags, and straight to security.
For those used to flying home from Kahului, you know there is no such luxury. And in the past, we’d end up spending at least 30-45 minutes in line waiting for the United attendants to show up at the counter and start moving the line along. So when we arrived at the terminal, we were prepared for the long line that was already there ahead of us. Sigh.
But this time, something different happened. A few United baggage handlers had carts and were checking baggage for those inline, which meant we didn’t have to endure the line that was in front of us. That was totally unexpected and equally awesome. Another 30 minutes (at least) saved. This was getting good.
Comes in Threes
The last part that finished off the shortest trip through the Kahului airport was the super quick security lines. It was probably fast because of all those passengers still waiting inline at the United counter in the terminal, but still, there had to be only 4-5 people in line ahead of us.
One could really get used to that type of efficiency, mind you.
Now that we were already go to and relaxing at the gate before boarding, it was really setting in that we were about to start our journey home.
Although Christian did fairly well on the flights coming to Maui, we weren’t thinking that the flights home were going to be a slam dunk. Especially since we were flying the red-eye back from Maui to San Francisco, and than continuing to Chicago after a few hours in between. Seeing how the little guy was going to take to his normal full night’s sleep time to being on a plane instead was the big question.
And to our relief, and those in the rows near us on the plane, he pulled it off with only one outburst. Not bad for a nine-month old on a four and a half hour flight in the middle of the night. With the first flight out of the way, we had a few hours for a quick breakfast (after everything opened) in the San Francisco airport before the last leg of our journey. And aside from a late gate change from one concourse to another, boarding and the final flight itself went as well as could be. In fact, during the last hour of our flight to Chicago, there was one child older than our son that was starting to fuss and make more noise that Christian was. Who knew?
Home Once Again
With that, we were back home and ready to sleep in our own bed (and crib). After being used to 2 week vacations to Maui, this second time going for just a single week surely felt less than adequate. But as with all our previous trips, we never wait very long after getting home – or even during the flight home – to start thinking about when our next visit to Maui will be. Even with our son now, that unwritten rule hasn’t changed, and we have a good idea of our Maui plans for the near future and beyond. We’ll be sure to share those here on the blog in the coming weeks and months.
Mahalo Nui Loa
That just about wraps up the trip journal for our ’11 Maui trip, thank you so much for following along with these posts this last week.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our time spent on Maui, and that maybe they’ve sparked ideas for your future trips or even about coming to the island for the very first time. In either case, please feel free to comment or leave any questions that you might have on this or any of our previous trips, and I’d be happy to talk story and share my thoughts the best I can.