Labor Day was a memory of sunshine, campfire smoke, tons of laughs and lots of swimming. Like the last two summers, my mom planned a camping trip to Flaming Gorge. The kids anticipate this trip so much and talk about it for months afterward.
Uncle Chandler brought his Nintendo and the kids were glued to his side the entire weekend.
Among the best part of the entire weekend was the river trip down the Green River that Brandon guided.
The water is cold and crystal clear and the canyon we float down if deep and stunning.
The small rapids make it easily one of the best days of the kids' year.
Everyone jumps in, the water is COLD because it comes from the bottom of Flaming Gorge Dam.
Some of us didn't submerge. ;)
An entire day spent with this crazy bunch and we have SO MUCH FUN.
Sunsets from the campground are beyond epic, and we try to catch them every night.
Two days after returning for Maui James started second grade! He was a bit nervous, a bit excited and quite a bit sad to have summer winding down. He ended up having a fabulous day and loving his teacher. James eats hot lunch every day and plays with his friend Ian most days at recess.
This bunny didn't start for another week and was SO nervous and anxious on her first day. Yes, this is a smiling photo but there were lots of tears and anxiety even when she had to say goodbye to me.
James was trying to help, make her feel better. Sweetest big brother.
E wanted to see Juliet after her first day of school and she came out of the class with a huge smile, saying it was "a great day." We've had some anxiety each morning before drop off, but overall the transition has gone smoothly and has been easier than it was with James.
After we hugged and kissed Daddy I asked her what she'd like to do. She chose Wendy's and a visit to the park.
And while my kids are at school I love to spend my time hiking. I'm not able to go daily (things like grocery shopping, laundry and responsibilities keep me out of the mountains) but I try to make it up there weekly. When this view is thirty mins from my house the tired legs and burning lungs are worth it.
You've been warned. How many photos of someone else's vacation can you really enjoy, we will soon find out! The correct answer is this is way too many.
My personal favorite day on Maui is the day we drive the Road to Hana. The windy road full of hairpin turns is so stunningly beautiful I am in a constant state of awe. We haven't ever driven the full drive, instead preferring to take our time, stop every few miles, swim, jump off waterfalls and explore.
This, by far, was my favorite memory from the entire trip. The waterfall was hidden behind rainforest and river (and a lower more popular falls). We were the only ones there for some time, and I felt so damn thankful I can experience things like this in my lifetime.
E lost his wedding ring at this fall (we think) and it was SO worth it. The water is deep and the pool is huge and you're nestled in this little pocket of paradise right in the middle of the Hawaiian tropics.
The bamboo forest was also magic. I need a new word. But honestly SO amazing.
She's grown up a bit since last time.
We all got matching Hawaiian shaved ice shirts because we're just that cool.
Everyone wore swimsuits because every stop included a waterfall swim.
There aren't many beach stops on the Road to Hana, Honomanu Bay is one of the few, but the black sand beaches and the fact that we had it to ourselves made it worth the stop for sure.
Eucalyptus trees have smooth and almost rainbow painted bark.
So many waterfalls, so many sticks to collect. (Do you see the bigger waterfall beyond?)
Ioa State Park is also a must visit. For some reason we didn't bring swimsuits (??!!) so undies had to do.
But before we stripped down to undies, Juliet explored the rainforest in a rainbow dress. These leaves? Couldn't get over them. I swear I could live in Maui and never tire of it. I'd hike for days and soak in the smell of guavas and flowers.
E loved the fact that we rented a Jeep, and wanted some photos with a nice backdrop. Ioa State Park was the perfect backdrop. Holy crap it's unreal even when you're standing there.
I really wanted to swim in this river, and am not opposed to an underwear dip myself, but decided to pass because there were two other men hanging around. Such a shame. LOL
Our big splurge of the trip had to be sailing on a catamaran out to Molokini Crater to snorkel. While both the kids gave it a go, neither we quite old enough to want to spend much time in the water. That was fine though, they were happy on the boat with endless supplies of soda while E and I snorkeled!
Molokini was incredible, the water clearer than I've ever seen it and absolutely teaming with fish.
We sailed on this type of boat and everyone loved it. The trip included breakfast and lunch, plus two adult drinks per adult. After Molokini, we stopped at "Turtle Town" to snorkel there, and both E and I saw huge sea turtles.
I relaxed right below the sails on the upper deck and enjoyed this view as we sailed the Hawaiian waters.
These two thought the entire trip was so fun.
And what's a vacation post without some photos of vacation food?
Or dinner views?
Or overpriced Hawaiin drinks in novelty glasses and paper umbrellas?
Eating at a restaurant that overlooked the ocean, there aren't many things better.
Then we'd walk about old Lahaina and finish out the night with shaved ice. Almond, mango, coconut, there isn't a wrong choice on flavors.
One more playing in the waves picture, if you've made it this far, you deserve a medal.
Watching the crabs and the sunset on the last night before we headed home.
James was my buddy on our flight home, and I asked him for a frown because we were leaving. Apparently looking at your crazy mother frown makes James smile. Good to know for the future.
Honestly, if you read all of this, you're a superstar. Maui, we love you, see you in a couple of years!