Thursday, October 29, 2009


Last month was my Birthday. I wasn’t really expecting to do much to celebrate. We had already been on two great vacations this summer, so I knew any type of travel was completely out of the question. Dean asked what would I like to do for my Birthday, and jokingly I said “Go back to Haleakala” and we both laughed. “Yeah Right!”

Then, I was visiting my mom and dad one morning, and they happened to mention that Hawaiian Airlines was running a deal for the month of September. $25 airfare to the outer Islands. Wow! That was unreal, an offer too good to pass up! Even though we were completely broke from our last two trips, we found a way to scrounge up enough (where there’s a will, there’s a way!) and I booked us a flight to Maui that very afternoon! I couldn’t BELIEVE we were going back to Haleakala!

Something unusual also happened that week. I actually sold a few of my original paintings! This was more than enough to cover the entire Haleakala cost! I took this as a sign that this trip was “meant to be”.
We have never had to plan or pack for a backpacking trip so quickly before (we only had 2 weeks), but somehow we managed to get everything in order. The fact that we had just done this great adventure last June helped with our planning and knowing what to expect.

My Mom and Dad also thought the airfare deal was too good to pass up. Since my Mom’s Birthday is in September, as well, they decided to celebrate it over on Maui, and booked a flight along with us. They wouldn’t be joining us on the Haleakala backpacking trip, that’s not their thing. But they did enjoy 5 days of lounging on the beach, snorkeling off of Molokini, and being our taxi service up to the “House Of The Sun”. They had never seen Haleakala before, so it was fun to get to show them a place that we find so very special to us. As they looked out over the vast landscape from the visitor center, all they could say was “Amazing…… just Amazing….” My thoughts, exactly.

And so we were off… back to Haleakala! I could not believe it. We ended up doing basically the same route as in June, and even though we knew what it was like, that didn’t take away from the experience. In fact, looking back, I can’t decide which trip was more fun. The weather was perfect, and this time, we were more prepared for the cold nights (we had bought 15 degree rated sleeping bags for the Tetons that we took to Haleakala this trip, and they kept us toasty warm). The nights did get down to the low 30’s (yes, believe it or not, parts of Hawaii CAN get this cold!) and the days were hot. It is amazing, that it can be SO COLD at night, and as soon as that sun pops up over the mountain, you can literally watch the mercury rise (about 2 degrees a minute!) Before you know it, you are ripping off the hats and jackets and heavy layers, wondering how you ever needed them as you start sweating in the morning sun. That is one thing about Haleakala that does take some getting used to. The temperatures are pretty extreme. But if you know and plan for it, it isn’t too much of a concern.

We hiked down to Paliku and spent the night there with the nene keeping us entertained. Although they are adorable and friendly, restrain yourself from feeding them. They are wild and need to stay that way!

Unfortunately, there weren’t as many nene as there were in June, but this trip we were lucky enough to see several Ahinahina in full bloom! What a treat! This one was over six feet tall!!

Dean on a frigid Paliku morning. Hard to believe it can get so cold in Hawaii. Where's the sun??

Our second day, instead of resting at Paliku, as we did last trip (it was way to hot to stay around the tent anyways - yes now it was hot!), we decided to head down the Kaupo Gap trail a ways. You can actually take the Kaupo Trail all the way down to the ocean!
Here are some beautiful views from the Kaupo Trail.

It is a long steep trail that many people lose toenails over, and once you get to Kaupo, you need a ride to pick you up. We only went about 2 miles down, but the ocean views and rain forest scenery made it well worth the trip. We got to an area that had dense tree cover and rested in the shade a bit.

There were tons of little birds all around, and the longer we sat, the more we saw. The highlight of my day was here, where I finally got to see, up close, the adorable little Amakihi birds that I love to paint!! We also saw a few Apapane, which are a brilliant red color. (Of course they flew around so quickly, I was unable to get any decent photos of them.) It was so neat to see these native Hawaiian birds in their own habitat, and I had a huge smile on my face the whole way back to camp.

Another chilly evening at Paliku. Down jackets in Hawaii?
Yes, you need them here!!

The next morning, the nene came to bid us farewell.

So long, Paliku. We love this special place!!

On the long hike to Holua, we stopped at about the only shade on the trail for a quick break and one last look at beautiful Paliku in the distance.

Our fourth day was my Birthday, and also our last day of our hike. We woke to a gorgeous (but cold) Haleakala sunrise coming up above the clouds of the Koolau Gap. As I looked around, the whole of Haleakala was glowing in a bright orange morning light. I told Dean “Now this is the best Birthday Card I could ever ask for!” It was amazing!

Once that sun comes up over the mountain, be prepared for instant warmth!!

We hiked up and out of the crater yet again, up the spooky switchback trail, and met up with my parents. We were so happy that our Haleakala Adventure was every bit as soul-satisfying as our first one. And after our disappointing Teton’s trip, we finally felt we had redeemed ourselves!

We drove back down the side of the huge volcano, completely content. On the way down, we stopped at the Kula Lodge for a Birthday Lunch.
We had never been there before, but we were glad we chose it. The place was amazing. The view from the restaurant looks like a postcard! It looks out over all of West Maui.

The food was outstanding too. They have a real Kiawe wood burning brick pizza oven outdoors, and lush tropical gardens.

Beautiful protea flowers grow in abundance along the cool slopes of Kula.
They are spectacular!

It is also the home of the Curtis Wilson Cost Gallery, and we sure enjoyed looking at all his beautiful artwork. This is one of my favorites of his.

Maui has more art galleries than people (well, not really, but almost!), but unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to visit many of them, as our plane was to leave in a few hours, back to Oahu.

Haleakala poking out above the clouds.

There was NO BETTER way to celebrate my Birthday than being back in the Heart Of Haleakala. It is a very special place and I feel it is now a little part of me!

Click Here to see our first Haleakala Camping Adventure!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Friday, October 23, 2009


Well, it's "Aloha Friday" here in Hawaii, and what a great morning it has been. My little yorkie, Brighton, and I went to the beach with my mom and dad very early, just as the sun was coming up. My parents are two of the coolest people I know (although I didn't think that when I was younger), and I always have a great time hanging out with them.

The water was beautiful, the waves were crashing against the dark lava rock shoreline and the sand just glistened. Not many people were around, as it was still early.

My mom loves to hunt for sea glass and anything else unusual that may have washed up on shore during the night. But today, as we were walking down the beach, we saw something rather amazing. At first, we thought they were just two large rocks, until we got a bit closer.... There, we saw a pair of endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals, just lying on the sand, soaking up the morning sun without a care in the world. I have seen a single Monk Seal down at this beach one time before, but never two at once. It was pretty cool!

"Can life get much rougher than this???"

Then, as we continued down the beach, there was a THIRD Hawaiian Monk Seal. I couldn't believe it! We didn't get too close, as they are endangered, you are suppose to keep back and give them their space. But Brighton wanted me to snap his picture with this guy.

After a few minutes, he popped his eyes open and seemed to say "ALOHA". He was adorable.

We continued on down the beach, hunting for sea glass, and enjoying the beautiful scenery all around.

I ended up with a small handful of seaglass,

but a great experience of seeing three beautiful
Hawaiian Monk Seals.

What a GREAT WAY to start the weekend!!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website

Thursday, October 22, 2009



"Auntie Strings Aloha" is one of my latest original oil and watercolor ACEO's.
Auntie loves to make beautiful fragrant smelling Plumeria flower leis for all the people she loves. It is her way of showing Aloha, and everybody loves Auntie! Looks like she’ll be busy all day.

MAHALO for taking the time to view my artwork!


LisaBongZee's Island Dream Life Website