Tag: hike

Hosmer’s Grove Walk

If you’ve driven up Haleakala, you may have come across a sign for Hosmer’s Grove. The turnoff is almost immediately once you drive through the national park gate, to your left. You can camp here, though I’ve heard it can be pretty cold especially if it rains. You are after all at 7000 ft elevation. Next to the campground is a short half mile loop trail.

In the 1800s explorers decimated Hawaii’s native sandalwood forests, logging and shipping them off as exotic woods. In some cases, such as Kaho’olawe, cutting down the forests dramatically changed the weather patterns. Early 1920 a guy named Hosmer planted an experimental forest, introducing 86 types of non-native trees. Today 20 species still grow in Hosmer’s Grove, ironically within the national park. Not all of the shrubs are non-native. There is a section with native-to-Hawaii shrubs, including a blooming green sword, which has some similarities to the silver swords you find at Haleakala crater.

How to get there

It’s a 38 mile drive from Kihei, and should take just over an hour and a national park entry fee to get to Hosmer’s Grove. Last year I purchased an annual park pass for my Haleakala sunrise expedition. We’ve used it three times this year, but somehow didn’t make it to Hosmer’s Grove. When I suggested going on a family hike yesterday, Sig was game. I even told him it was just inside the national park. However it’s been a long time since he’s been to the park ~ probably since 2012 when we drove to Haleakala summit to see Venus cross in front of the sun (an amazing experience). He hates windy roads. To be fair, it takes about an hour to get to the Waihou Spring loop trail (also a contender for yesterday’s hike), so this wasn’t that much further, and not much less windy.

Yes, it’s kinda silly to drive an hour to go for a 1/2 mile walk. It would have made more sense to combine the walk with sunrise or sunset or just driving up to the crater. But like I said, my park pass was about to expire, and I’m in no rush to buy another $55/annual pass just to go on a 1/2 mile walk.

Haleakala National Park

Yes, we have a national park here on Maui. The park gates sit at 7000 foot elevation. From the park gates it takes about half hour to reach the summit area and the viewing platform for crater valley. Haleakala is a dormant volcano, but technically the crater is a valley with many smaller cinder cones in it. It is a beautiful, out of this world experience. Keep in mind, once you leave Kula and before you get to the park gates is ranch land and you will encounter cows – possibly on the side of the road, but sometimes also on the road (the asphalt heats up nicely during the day and cows like to warm up on it in the evening).

The entrance fee is $30/private vehicle with admission valid for 3 days (there are some park areas accessible along the Road to Hana, so you may want to plan accordingly). Should you be visiting Big Island during your Hawaii trip, you may want to consider the Hawaii Tri-Park annual pass for $55. This pass gives you admission to all three Hawaii national parks (two on Big Island, one on Maui).

Hike Maui

Last year our family embarked on a number of new to us hikes around the island. We enjoyed exploring our island, especially without tourists around. I can imagine some of these hikes are significantly busier these days. There are a number of excursions you can book. Acquaintances own Hike Maui which picks you up from your condo/resort and takes you on guided hikes. Check them out!

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Cara’s favorite Maui to-dos

What are some of your favorite Maui to-dos? For many it’s finding the perfect beach and spending the day. Others plan action-packed days, filled with adventure and excursions. For others it’s all about the food – finding the best island treats and meals. I recently wrote a list of my favorite restaurants. Here is a list of to-dos. This list is meant as a starting point. It by no means includes all the best things to do. We live and work here. We don’t do the tourist thing as much as we should.

favorite Maui to-dos
Sunset from Haleakala summit

Haleakala

This past year we’ve driven up 10,023 ft resident volcano Haleakala both for sunrise and sunset. Both were spectacular. This is my very favorite Maui to-dos. You do need reservations for sunrise (which keeps the numbers in check). Sunset has gotten quite busy as a result, so make sure you get there with plenty of time to get a parking spot. But really, going up during the day is fantastic also. There is a crater webcam and you can see what the weather is like as you are driving and change plans if things seem socked in. Gazing into the crater valley is amazing. And yes, there are many hikes. Something I (and many other locals) do not recommend, is the ‘ride down the volcano’ style bike tours. You are mainly on roads without shoulders and really have to watch out for traffic. In my opinion there are better ways to enjoy the volcano.

Whale watching (in season)

Every year humpback whales journey to Maui to both calve and mate. The journey from Alaska takes them about 6 weeks, during which time they do not eat. They spend roughly 5-6 weeks in Hawaiian waters, mainly in the shallower waters between Maui, Kahoolawe and Lanai, where they mate and calve, and then journey back to Alaska. During this whole time they are on an extreme diet of no eating (we don’t have krill). Can you imagine? Whale season runs mid-November through mid-April, though the best whale watching is January-March.

Whale watch cruises are definitely worth the money. You can also learn much more about whales at the Maui Ocean Center and the Whale Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center (currently closed due to Covid). Once you know what to look for, you can often see whales from the beach. I wrote this blog entry a number of years ago on how to spot Humpback Whales. Watching for humpbacks definitely comes second of my favorite Maui to-dos.

favorite Maui to-dos
a turtle at the Maui Ocean Center

Snorkeling and/or the Maui Ocean Center

Snorkeling is not my area of expertise. So I will leave that for others to discuss, such as Boss Frog’s Maui snorkel blog (this is one of the snorkel gear rental companies). However, there is plenty of snorkeling to do both just from the beach and also through excursions. If you aren’t a strong swimmer or comfortable with snorkeling, you can still see all the local sea life! Go check out the Maui Ocean Center, our local aquarium. It is truly fantastic. At this time (Covid) you will need to make reservations. And as someone who sees many of the news announcements – if you are not a strong swimmer, please do not snorkel. And please, never snorkel alone. Always have a buddy.

Hiking

There are many hikes here on Maui. Some of my favorites are the Waiehe, Kapalua Coastal Trail, Iao Valley, Sliding Sands, Poli Poli, Makawao Forest, Olinda, Pali Trail, Windmills etc. We enjoyed a number of them last year during the Covid shut-down.

Waihee Ridge Trail
view into a West Maui Mountain valley from the Waihee Coastal Trail

Favorite beaches

My personal favorite beaches are Keawakapu beach and its neighbor Ulua beach. I also really enjoy Sugar Beach – it is a 5 mile stretch of sand, great for walking. Having said that, I typically go to the beach for an hour, splash in the water, sit in the sand a little and then head home. Others will pack up and spend the day. I would say when considering which beach to go to, you may want to consider the following

morning
early morning beach walk at Kamaole 1 beach
  • facilities (bathrooms/showers). When we first moved here, we went to Big Beach, not realizing there were no showers. Sig’s brand new truck was initiated with five bodies covered in sand. Ouch.
  • are you coming to surf, boogie board, swim, snorkel, walk or suntan) – conditions will vary depending on time of day, time of year, weather, surf conditions etc. Do some research.
  • location – do you want to walk to the beach, or are you driving to one further away
  • wind – the wind tends to pick up mid to late morning and then can settle down mid afternoon or so. Ulua beach seems to be more protected from the wind, so this can be a good afternoon option

A few words about the Road to Hana

This is a hugely popular all-day drive with multiple pull-outs along the way. However, it is actually the road which leads to Hana where people live and work. It is not designed as a tourist attraction. Since tourism’s rebound this spring things have gotten particularly crazy along this road, with visitors parking willy-nilly because of lack of parking. County workers have placed no-parking signs and Maui Police are now enforcing with tickets. Should you decide to drive the Road to Hana, please be mindful of parking rules and locals trying to get to and from work, grocery shopping, doctors appointments etc. Also note that some of the places mentioned in guide books or online actually involve trespassing – please DO NOT TRESPASS. While I personally have never driven the Road to Hana (I get really car sick), my son says his favorite is the Garden of Eden. And Twin Falls (which is currently struggling with parking issues). You may enjoy the Road to Hana Gypsy app which tells you more about the area and points out sites of interest along the way. I’m told it’s great (we got it when we went to Oahu a few years ago)

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Maui strawberries and lilikoi tarts

Maui has been warming up. This is of course hardly a surprise, it is officially summer. My problem is, I just don’t like the heat (I know, I live in the wrong part of the world). So last week I drove upcountry for a cool-er walk, some strawberries and lilikoi tarts.

It was closing in on 80F when I left Kihei around 7:30am and by the time I arrived at my favorite Thompson Road pull-out an hour later, it was a wonderful 68F. I had tried rather unsuccessfully to convince a few friends to go walking, so I was doing this solo. I grabbed my mask (just in case), sunglasses and phone and headed out on my 3 mile (roundtrip) walk. This is a narrow road with bicoastal views, lava rock walls, horses and just beautiful scenery. There isn’t much traffic, but as long as you stay to the side of the road, everyone is friendly and waves.

La Provence

Sig told me to be sure to check out the French bakery while upcountry. One of the tennis moms had been telling him how amazing it was. I have a bit of a reputation for having a sweet tooth, so of course I had to stop. Turns out La Provence was a little more difficult to find than I thought it would be. It’s on a road that runs parallel (just above) Kula Hwy. However, I forgot that that parallel road is not continuous due to all the gorges on Haleakala. On the fourth attempt I got it right. La Provence is a sit-down restaurant (I’ve never done that), but also has a little hole in the wall bakery section. The lilikoi meringue tart and fruit tart were calling my name. Who am I to resist? FYI, they only take cash/checks.

Along the way I saw Kula Country Farms had a BOGO (buy one get one free) on their locally grown strawberries. Lucky me! They actually also have a u-pick, but were watering/fertilizing, so the u-pick was closed. If you are upcountry, do stop at their farm stand. The lady who runs it is the sweetest and they have great produce.

What did I do with my four packs of strawberries? Welll….. I was inspired by La Provence’s fruit tart to make an Austrian Obstboden for Father’s Day. As you may know, I grew up in Austria and have a rather particular taste for dessert. An Obstboden is a fruit flan. However, where I grew up, you didn’t fill it with pudding/custard, but instead a layer of matching fruit jam (as a moisture barrier) and then topped it with a gelatin glaze. Here’s my Father’s day cake. We ate it for breakfast. It’s basically a fruit salad!

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Wailea’s best walk

A number of years ago someone told me to advertise our Palms at Wailea condo‘s proximity to the Wailea Beach Walk. The distance to the beach, you mean? (It’s about a 10 minute walk) No, the Wailea Beach Walk – Wailea’s BEST walk!

On further investigation, I discovered what they meant. In my opinion, this is Wailea’s best walk. Specifically, the Wailea Beach Walk is a paved walking trail that runs from the Andaz resort on Keawakapu Beach all the way to the Fairmont by Polo Beach.

wailea's best walk
the beach walk fronting the Wailea Marriott

The best part about this walk is the amazing ocean view. The worst part….. the crowds. As it runs oceanfront of all the resorts, it is a busy place. Except these days. Did you know it’s been nearly five months since Maui’s tourism shut down thanks to Covid?

Usually we park at the public Polo Beach parking lot just south of the Fairmont Kea Lani and walk north. Yesterday we took advantage of available parking at Ulua Beach (just south of the Andaz) and walked south.

A map of the Wailea Resorts, courtesy of the Wailea Resort Association

We walked past Wailea Elua (condos), the Wailea Marriott Resort (I always see turtles bobbing for sea weed here), the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons. At that point we turned around and walked back to the car. From the Andaz to the Fairmont and back is about a 1 1/2 hour walk, or longer if you stop along the way to enjoy the views.

The Wailea Beach Walk was pretty empty yesterday as there are still virtually no tourists on island. As long as you look out over the beaches and ocean it’s a beautiful place. But I couldn’t help looking at the empty resorts and thinking of all the unemployed people struggling to make ends meet while the world deals with Covid.

When will tourism resume?

That is the million dollar question. Hawaii’s 14 day mandatory quarantine continues for now, severely restricting incoming travel. At this time Hawaii is trying to get its own Covid numbers back under control. There is some talk of bubble tourism which would allow tourists to return to an ‘all inclusive’ style vacation, unable to leave the resort. While this would help the participating big hotels, it would do little to help all the mom and pop tourist shops, restaurants, condo businesses etc.

So we continue to wait and see. It’s been five months without tourism.

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My favorite upcountry walk

My favorite easy upcountry walk is Thompson Road. It’s a picturesque one lane road above Grandma’s coffee house in Kula.

School is starting again here on Maui (we will see how that goes), so I forced the kids to go on a family walk. Yes, they would have preferred to stay home with on their devices, but such is life. Family is a benevolent dictatorship, not a democracy, or at least that’s what I tell them.

How to get to this upcountry walk

From Kihei, you drive direction Kahului, then turn left on Hansen Road by the old Sugar Cane Factory. I don’t know about you, but I like to look at it while passing by, to see what’s going on. This past year the big pile of coal (for power production) has finally been hauled off. I wonder where it went.

You turn right onto Hana Hwy, then immediately onto Haleakala Hwy. Haleakala Hwy becomes Kula Hwy which you follow ‘forever’. You drive through Kula, past the Waldorf School, the Kula Farms stand – sadly they were closed this Sunday. You continue past the second Haleakala Hwy turnoff, past St John’s Episcopal Church and eventually end up at Grandma’s Coffee House. They were sadly also closed this Sunday.

Just before Grandma’s the road forks off to the left. Turn up there, take your very first right (it’s nearly immediate). This is Thompson Road. There are three pull-outs on the left. Park in one, get out and walk.

upcountry walk
Thompson Road

The upcountry walk

The road itself is patchy asphalt. Our youngest brought his new skateboard along which helped curb the complaining. I love looking at the huge plants, the insanely large bush of bird of paradise (it’s got to be 8 feet tall or more). There are lava rock walls, horse pastures, rolling hills.

Please be respectful of local residents who live here. Residents passing through always smile and wave, so do the same. It took us about an hour to the end and back. Well, that’s not entirely true. Thompson Road curves left and heads up the mountain – we’ve never gone up there.

But the best part about this upcountry walk – it was a full 15 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than in Kihei. Loved that!

upcountry road
This made me laugh. Along the road I found this. A locked gate with a no-trespassing sign and a bottle of hand sanitizer next to it. If you MUST trespass, at least be clean. Sign of our times.

For more of my favorite Maui hikes, click here.

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Kapalua Coastal Trail

Another week, another family hike. This time we drove out to the West side, past Lahaina and Kaanapali to hike the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

We’ve been out there before of course, to hike around Dragon’s Teeth and for the PGA Tournament which always takes place early January. But this was our first time walking the Kapalua Coastal Trail. The trail description marked it as easy, so we didn’t worry too much about our foot wear. Next time, I would at least wear enclosed shoes. No matter.

We parked at the end of Office Road and followed the signs. The section in front of the Ritz was fenced off for security since the hotel is closed. So we headed south instead. It was really a sweet adventure. The sky was overcast and there was a nice breeze coming off the ocean.

It turns out, despite the signs, I managed to take the family off course. Just around the Montage, we veered off the trail and ended up at Akin’s Jumping Rock where there a group of 40+ local kids were having a party and cliff jumping. Oops. That trail appeared to dead-end. At that point we turned around and headed back towards the Ritz and our car. Long story short, we clearly did not do the entire walk. However, the portion we walked was beautiful. I would definitely do this again.

If you’ve walked the Wailea Beach Walk, this path is in parts narrower. I have no idea how busy it is regularly. But now during the Covid-19 shut-down, it was pretty ideal with nearly noone on the trail.

Different lava rock

I love looking at the rock formation. Hopefully someone with more geology background can explain it to me sometime, but some of the lava rock is all bubbly-looking. I presume from the ocean water hitting, or I could be way off base. It is very neat.

hiking
Sig and I at the lava outcropping along the Kapalua Coastal Trail
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Sugar Beach Walk

Have you been on the Sugar Beach walk? Last weekend the pool at our Sugar Beach Resort condo reopened for condo owners and guests. With Covid-19 restrictions in effect, there are very few owners and guests on property. Sig has been doing a lot of work at our condos and wanted to sit in the hot tub, so off to the pool we went.

I felt the need for exercise and went for a Sugar Beach walk prior to joining him in the hot tub. If you have never been, this is a five mile stretch of beach in North Kihei in front of our Sugar Beach condo. It can get pretty windy, so you may want to time your walk to a less windy time of day to avoid the free exfoliating treatment! One of the best things about this walk is, if you get hot, just step into the ocean to cool off!

hiking
Ahhhhh…. the beach

I do enjoy walking the beach. There were a number of people enjoying the sun, playing in the water, bringing in a sail boat and fishing. A few years ago we saw a fisher catch and then of course release a ray at this beach. That’s certainly not something I’ve seen caught before but I suppose it happens.

Keawe trees

A portion of the beach is lined with Keawe trees. You will want to be very careful around these trees. They have thorns which are painful to step on especially when barefoot. Incidentally it seems every time my brother-in-law goes on a bike ride when on Maui, he gets a flat tire thanks to Keawe tree thorns.

hiking

A rare direct flight!

In other news, while sitting at the pool after my walk, I saw a plane flying into Maui. These days with Covid-19 that is sooo rare. There are currently three direct flights to Maui from the mainland. They are all Delta Airlines and arrive from LAX. If you are flying anywhere else, you have to first fly to Honolulu (HNL) on Oahu and then off. Life sure has changed.

flight
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Waiakoa Loop Trail

Another day, another hike with the kids, this time the Waiakoa Loop Trail in upcountry Maui.

I’ve been wanting to go explore the hikes at Poli Poli for a while now. Last fall my cross-country running kid had a team practice up there. It turns out, I had a completely mistaken idea of where the hikes were.

The car adventure

Of course, to preface this – you drive all the way from Kihei past the Kula Farm stand along the Kula Hwy, then turn up the mountain and, just next to Kula Botanical Gardens, turn right up Waiopuli Road which takes you what my teenager had told me was Poli Poli. It’s the bottom of a large meadow with signs featuring hang-gliding. That portion alone is about a one hour drive from Kihei.

To get to the hikes, you traverse a large meadow with a newly paved one lane road featuring many hair pin turns, then continue up through forested areas (with more hair pin turns) until you get to the first of a series of trails. The hairpin turns aren’t so bad, and there are occasional pull-outs to allow for oncoming traffic. The sketchy part is – the newly paved road has steep dropoffs on either side of the asphalt (4-8 inches for sure which is great for the car). However, this balances out with the spectacular bicoastal views.

After our car adventure, we chose to go with the first trail we came upon – the Waiakoa Loop Trail.

Waiakoa Loop Trail

The Waiakoa Loop Trail has a very small parking lot (fitting maybe 3-4 cars) next to an ominous-sounding ‘hunter check-in station’. Consider yourself warned. The road continues up the hill promising further adventurous driving, but instead you head down a dirt access road (as of today this road has some deep ruts in it, my van would not have done well on it had it been open for driving – it’s not). The trail starts off with a steep downhill section, followed by a steep uphill section (not quite as bad as the beginning steep uphill section at the Waihee Ridge Trail). After that it levels out with alternating uphill/downhill parts, but not bad at all. This coming from an inexperienced hiker.

Waiakoa Loop Trail

After 0.7 miles you get to the beginning of the loop trail. Close the gate behind you and brush your shoes to prevent carrying non-endemic plant seeds onto the trail. This hike is completely in the forest (no views beside forest). We were partly in the clouds. It was however absolutely beautiful. We heard so many birds (my dad would have had a field day with his bird watching app). We saw absolutely no wildlife on the trail (though we had seen a nene bird near the trail head).

Disclaimer, we did not walk the entire trail. The entire trail is 3.8 miles (from the parking lot). We walked about 0.7 miles past the gate and then turned around, so a respectable 2.8 miles total.

Waiakoa Loop Trail
the hikes in the Kula Forest Reserve. You are here marks where you’ve already walked the access road and gotten to the gate. The orange dot on the yellow road is the hunter check-in station where you park.
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Waihee Ridge Trail

Yesterday we hiked Waihee Ridge Trail. It was absolutely beautiful.

School is basically out for the year. Normally we would be planning a Canada trip to visit grandparents and then some additional travel to teach the kids more about ‘the world’.

However, Covid happened and so we aren’t going anywhere soon. We are faced with another 2 1/2 months of summer (in addition to the 2 months of kids doing ‘at home’ school. So in an attempt to maintain some form of sanity, we’re determined to do some hiking and exploring within the government approved parameters. Check here for some Maui hikes we’ve done in the past few years.

Yesterday’s actual plan was to hike at Poli Poli. However as we were headed towards Kahului on the highway we saw it was raining upcountry. Change in plans. I suggested we try the Waihee Ridge Trail. We’ve never done that hike and I’ve heard it’s beautiful. With next to no visitors on island, I figured chances were good the parking lot wouldn’t be full. I was right.

The drive to Waihee Ridge Trail

To get there you drive through Wailuku and Waihee and end up on the road that circles the island counter-clockwise. Not a good idea, by the way, to circle the island from this direction. If you do want to drive around the island, I’m told always to start in Lahaina and then drive clock-wise towards Wailuku from there. This road is very windy and in part one lane only. Always better to be on the inside against the mountain as opposed to on the cliff side. Note, I saw a sign that portions of this road are closed to all but local traffic (similarly to the Road to Hana).

When you get to Mendes Ranch, the road turns left and you immediately turn up the driveway on the left where there is a large parking lot. Do not stop there, continue through the gate and up the mountain to the Waihee Ridge Trail parking lot (end of driveway). There is a private residence and also the boy scouts camp (Camp Maluhia) which you pass enroute.

The trail

The trail itself begins with a steep uphill paved climb. I think it’s to discourage you from trying it. Oh my word. Once you get to the water towers (you can see them from the parking lot), you veer off onto a regular path and it gets significantly easier. You then continue the uphill climb through a forest until you get to the ridge, peering down into Waihee Valley. It is absolutely beautiful. Waihee river looks like a creek from up high, but based on the sound, you know it’s more than that. From there on I’m told we got lucky. This portion of the trail can be very muddy and slippery. We had in fact worn our hiking boots (thankfully) but the trail was dry. It continues uphill.

once we came out the forest we were rewarded with beautiful views of Kahului harbor and Kihei in the far distance
looking down into the Waihee valley

We sent the two older kids ahead with Sig and I and our youngest bringing up the rear. At some point they texted us they had made it to the top and started returning. Honestly, we called it a day at that point as our youngest was having a hard time of it.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. It is a stunning hike with gorgeous views. I loved seeing all the ferns and plants. At the beginning of the trail hike there are boot brushes with instructions to wipe shoes so as to avoid bringing non-endemic plants up the path.

Will we do it again?

Maybe. Probably. But for now we have other hikes to try, such as Poli Poli and the Lahaina Pali Trail. How about you? What is your favorite Maui hike?

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Upcountry Walk

This weekend one of the kids needed to be upcountry for a 7 AM cross country run. To put this in perspective, we needed to leave our home in Kihei at 6:10 AM to meet at Grandma’s Coffee House which was their chosen meeting point. The coach chose one of my favorite upcountry walks for the run, so I made coffee and headed up the mountain with my athlete.

We made fantastic time, getting there early. I left the teens to do their run and started off on a walk, stopping regularly to take pictures of trees, flowers and of course the view. It is just breath-takingly beautiful upcountry. And cool. I am always warm, so I particularly enjoyed cooling down a little from Kihei’s heat.

The narrow, winding and hilly road is lined by traditional lava rock walls and offers gorgeous views.
Look to the left, down the mountain, and see Kihei, the ocean and West Maui Mountains in the distance.
upcountry walk
Look to the right and enjoy the meadows on Haleakala’s volcanic slopes, looking for cows, horses and goats.
upcountry walk
It is the tail end of jacaranda season, but there were still blooms to enjoy.
upcountry walk
I always smile when I see these peeling trees shedding their bark.
upcountry walk
Colorful blooms along the side of the road
upcountry walk
These giant leaves were catching discarded jacaranda blooms.

Grandma’s Coffee House

After my beautiful walk (and the team’s run), we all gathered at Grandma’s Coffee House for some breakfast. This is a small mom and pop shop, one of few restaurants in the area and consequently a bit of a gathering place. The coach struck up a conversation with an older gentleman reading his paper. Turns out he’s Grandma’s son. His own son, Alfred Franco, now runs Grandma’s Coffee House. He talked story with us for a while, telling of the coffee growing/roasting they do.

I had a small black Americano – one of the best coffees I’ve had in a while – and a pineapple coconut muffin. It hit the spot!

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