*Be sure to click ALL the links if you want to see the pictures, y’all

My hard-working, ever-awesome husband won a Peak performance award at his work (T-Mobile). Because he worked his arse off and saved the company in a pinch, he won the award and in turn won a trip to.. yeah, you guessed it.. MAUI! We had to attend some work social gatherings (actually quite a few) while we were there, but who can turn down a free trip to Maui? Not I, said the fly!

We spent a good amount of time hob-nobbing with T-Mobile execs, meeting employees from all over the country who won the Peak award and eating free, if slightly gross, hotel food at the social events. We attended a luau, complete with a in-ground-roasted pig, some SEXAY fire dancers and beautiful hula dancers. We even met some friends along the way!

We aren’t resort people, per say.. though this resort was GORGEOUS and right on Ka’anapali Beach at Black Rock, outside of Lahaina. Foreseeing impending boredom sitting by the pool, we rented a car for a couple of days and drove around the island. There was an amazing banyan tree in Lahaina that spanned god-knows-how-big, right near the main strip, a short walk from the waterside. These trees are stunning, growing wonky and umbrella-like.

We drove north, through the upcountry a bit to a smallish town, named Paia, that is popular for it’s famous windsurfing and kite surfing beach, Hookipa, and a laidback, hippy vibe that makes meandering through town a relaxing experience. We strolled through and looked in shops (really your typical slightly touristy small town with a strip), and then ate at Flatbread Pizza Co., per the suggestion of fellow Offbeat maven and superb wedding photographer Megan Finley. Flatbread Pizza Co. was SOOO good. So good, in fact, that my husband almost choked to death when he inhaled some chili flakes into his esophagus. I was teetering on the edge of my seat, about ready to spring into some Heimlech-maneuver action! Luckily, he was just (just?!) hyperventilating and after shedding some tears and gasping for what seemed like forever, he recovered.

Kind of tucked away in the middle of nowhere, up north near Paia, there was this restaurant Brett wanted to try. It called itself a general store, so I didn’t necessarily have high hopes. I expected a greasy joint, but instead it was an airy, calming and slightly upscale restaurant in a plantation style building with AWESOME food. Apparently Bev Gannon, the owner, is a legend ’round her parts. If you go to Maui, go to Hali’imaile General Store and eat. Just to give you a taste… when we were there I had Kalua pork enchilada pie, a mojito to die for, crab pizza and the best pineapple upside-down cake I’ve ever had, topped with supreme vanilla bean ice cream. Salivating yet?

We did some whale-watching and got really close to whales! We also did an ATV adventure trip up and then back down a dusty, red-dirt, muddy mountain. It. was. AWESOME. At the top of the four-wheelin’ trail we met some goats and peacocks, ate slices of fresh pineapple and guava plucked right off the plants and took a sit-down breather before heading down the mountain. Brett and I, being the semi-dare devils that we are, wanted to past all the slowskies but stayed on the trail and followed the rules. We hit every puddle, rut and ran into every passing sugarcane plant (as it whipped me in the face!) we could. It was fun, four-wheelin’ times.

Maui was a lot of fun and much more rustic and undeveloped than I realized. We really enjoyed the rough and tumble deserty parts of the island, and how everyone pulled off the side of the highway to spend the day at the beach. It was just SOO laidback. I can see why people pay the insanely high cost of living to just be there. It’s pretty much paradise on earth.

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