(For wallpaper sizing, click "view full size" on the Webshots page for each photo.)
Sep. 10 - Welcome to Maui! ("Aloha" if you want to be pretentious.) Here with sand on my bare feet, and the A/C pouring air down upon me, I report to you:
Left Seattle while it was raining, cool, and dark gray. I like it that way, of course, but made the contrast better. Calmed my usual flying nerves with jokes and deep breathing and naps. One such joke: Hawaiian Airlines definitely wins today's Purple Award. Everything was purple - the seats, the tail of the plane, the baggage carts, the plastic forks. Pretty great, really. [They also indoctrinate you in the use of not only "aloha" but "mahalo," which is "thank you." "Please return your seats to their upright position; mahalo."] Not much to see on the flight (blue Pacific, white clouds) until Honolulu. Really blue Pacific, in lots of shades! Red dirt, as advertised. Skyscrapers right on the beach. And, once inside, a rather '70s brown airport, where we took a shuttle bus to our Maui connection terminal. Stepping out into the warm, heavy, tropical air - with a breeze to ease it - felt like entering the tropical animal compound at the zoo, only it smelled a lot better.
Flew to Maui in no time flat and got more of the heat and sun as we retrieved our rental car (SUV, actually). I admit, I was concerned at the heat. It seemed like the Sacramento Valley all over again. I thought I'd need to pull off some pretty good acting to convince people I was enjoying this.
Then I got diverted by the novelty of driving past fields of sugar cane on the way to Kihei, and by the lovely flowering shrubs here and there. And when we checked in at WorldMark - same time as Mom and Dad - and changed into swimsuits and hopped into the pool, all seemed pretty decent. It's one of those spiffy resort pools with rocks and a waterfall and tiki torches; and when I was in the wind in a wet swimsuit I actually shivered a bit. We walked down to the beach then with Mom and Dad, and ahh...this is why people come to Maui. Warm ocean - a new thing for me! Clean, smooth sand. Gentle surf. Sweet breeze.
Back at room, had a late dinner with K8 & Greg and parents, then Steve and I went out with K8 & Greg [kenshi] after dark to play on the beach by moonlight. And that was pretty much paradise. Even with the tiny gecko that hopped onto Steve's ankle. (Many geckos here. Very cute.) There's a resort just down the beach with a grassy area under palm trees, facing the ocean, and we sat there for a while admiring the moon on the water, and the stars.
So, heck yes, so far I can recommend Maui, and I see why people fall in love with Hawai'i.
It's really late going by Seattle time, though, so goodnight!
Photo: Sunset from room's balcony, Kihei
Sep. 11 - On this date 5 years ago I was also on vacation with Steve, kind of; if you count field work in Tahoe as vacation. Luckily nothing so sobering as terrorism befell the world today, so my mind was much easier than on that occasion.
We slept late, under a swirling ceiling fan, and awoke to the sun filtering through bamboo-style blinds. Ah, breakfast-time in the tropics. After sitting and chatting with Mom and Dad a while, Steve and I decided to tackle the drive around West Maui. Very dry in the first part, the southern and western stretch. In fact, with the lava rocks and stubby brown grass and hills, it looked a lot like Eastern Oregon - except for the sapphire-blue ocean to your left. As former Anthro majors, had to stop for the petroglyphs near Olowalu - very cool, and again very like the mainland Western states, except for a slight Polynesian flavor to the artwork.
Steve and Molly in front of petroglyphs, photo taken by the one other couple out there.
Very hot in the sun. Kept driving, with A/C on, up the western coast, past expensive resorts and water crashing on black cliffs. Stopped at Makulua-puna Point to see the "Dragon's Teeth," some unusual vertical scoop-like rocks formed by wind erosion. Which, let me tell you, is quite believable. That was some strong knock-you-back-50-feet-onto-the-manicure
Photos: Steve by the Dragon's Teeth
Danger. Steep cliff. (Edge of golf course, and sea beyond, near Dragon's Teeth.)
The highway was getting less and less maintained and more deserted as we kept going clockwise, but through our Maui Revealed guidebook we picked our way down to a beach we basically had to ourselves for lunch. Not great for swimming - tough surf - but good enough to sit at the edge of the sand and let waves wash around you and hit your ankles with rocks. (Punalau Beach, by the way, if we read the directions correctly.) Being in a wet swimsuit helps greatly in beating the heat, and that's what we continued to wear.
Photo: Steve finds a hella sweet car near our lunch site
Next impressive geologic feature: the Nakalele Blowhole, where the ocean pounds into a shelf of yet more lava rock, and then shoots up in a geyser from a hole near the edge. No trails or railings at all - you rock-climb down and get as close as you dare. (Well, really only a hike, not a rock climb. And actually the lack of regulation was rather refreshing.)
Photos: Nakalele Blowhole once
Nakalele Blowhole twice
Rocks mysteriously stacked near the blowhole. I think it must be the work of supernatural beings.
Closer to rock-climbing: getting down to the Olivine Pools, some tidepools that are continually refreshed by waves washing over the reef. Had these to ourselves, other than the schools of small, curious fish. Very idyllic. These will do for my royal baths, thank you.
Photos: One area of the Olivine Pools
Another area of the Olivine Pools
The road got narrower and twistier and more ridiculously nerve-wracking as we turned southeast. Bright spot: the village of Kahakuloa, tucked into a lush valley ("ravine," more like) - but we only twisted through and then out the other side. Finally arrived back in Kihei, safe and sound. Do hope to see more of the lush/tropical-rainforest side of things, though. Quite pretty.
Anyhoo, Peg and Justin arrived; we all ate at K8's condo room; then the group (sans Mom and Dad) went down to the beach after dark again, to lounge on the other hotel's deck chairs. A local guy was night-fishing, and had caught a pufferfish, which he threw back into the surf. Not entirely sure why. Illegal to catch? [Or just too poisonous to eat?]
Sep. 12 - 3:30 p.m., so the day is not over, but writing at night was ever so tiring. We're all still on Pacific Standard Time rather than Hawaiian, except that the day does seem to go much more slowly here.
Very very tired upon awakening. All that rock-climbing yesterday apparently got to me. But no one else was highly energetic either, so it was agreed among the siblings that it could be a Day at the Beach. (Mom and Dad, meanwhile, have headed up to 'Iao Valley.) So we met up at Big Beach, south of Wailea. Wailea, full of spendy resorts, looks like Santa Barbara; while Big Beach will likely live in my memory as the place where the Pacific Ocean spin-cycled me. While the others were daring and went out deep with snorkel masks, I bobbed around in the surf, thinking how lovely the clear turquoise water and golden sand were; and how strong the waves were, which was good for those boogie-board surfers there; and how it appeared to be raining up on Haleakala; when BAM! Wave rolls me under, water up nose, heels over head, till I came to a stop sitting in the sand, missing my sunglasses and the scarf that had been holding my hair back. Hm. Nice move. Never turn your back on the ocean, dimwit.
However, I appear to be uninjured; and furthermore, the ocean seemed to repent of its mischief: Peg, out there with her snorkel mask, recovered my sunglasses within minutes, and my scarf (bobby pin still attached) a little while later. Heh! Our snorkelers also reported seeing a T-shirt, a six-pack of beer, and other items under there on the reef, but opted not to go after them.
We returned to the WorldMark a bit later, as the wind was sandblasting us, and I managed to shower off some of the sand. (The rest is a moot point anyway, since I'm sure I'll only encounter more tomorrow.) Sat by the pool and read and dozed a while, and now we're awaiting the return of Mom and Dad, and considering where to go for dinner.
Anyway, "mahalo" to the Pacific for not killing me, and for returning my possessions.
Sep. 12 - 9:50 p.m. - As it turns out, the adventures did continue tonight, though in a much more pleasant way. All went to supper at the Greek Bistro down the road, a gorgeous courtyard with jungle plants and little lights and great food.
Then came "local color" time: a 30-foot sailboat, anchored out in the bay, had broken loose and drifted to shore, where the waves got its keel firmly stuck in the rocks. Every new wave knocked it sideways so you'd think it would capsize, but it always swung upward again. This sight had drawn a crowd and an unsuccessful fire department boat before dinner - Mom and Peg checked it out and reported there were stoned guys watching, and ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut, which was directly across the street. ("See me waving? Yeah, deliver it here.") After dinner, in the moonlight, we walked back along the beach - pausing to sit in the other resort's lawn chairs once more, as per usual - and found the boat still stuck in the rocks, still tilting dramatically with the waves. Two big Hawaiian cops had their truck parked on the lawn, with the headlights illuminating the boat. "Do you guys have to stay here all night?" K8 asked. "Nah, we're just here for the entertainment," they said - in what seemed to be all sincerity.
A few other local guys, night-fishing further along, were watching too, and offered some commentary. "This happens every year," one said. Someone in "the States" (yes, I know Hawai'i is a state, but that's what he said) owns a boat and keeps it tied out here, and hires someone to check on it sometimes, but how often you gonna go out there? Then the wind breaks the line one day, and here we are.
There were guys on the boat by this point, and a couple guys in the water, evidently trying to get an anchor placed or something, but it didn't look like much progress was being made by the time we left.
Update: Dad just returned, and says it is stuck even more deeply, and more tilted to one side. Problem, when they asked the guys getting off the boat, is evidently, "Dave's an idiot. He shouldn't own a car, much less a boat." There you have it.
Sep. 13 - Someday we shall write the ballad of Dave's boat, preferably to the tune of the "Gilligan's Island" theme, but not tonight.
Today was low-key (by our standards, not Hawai'i standards), but resulted in many pretty photos. Steve, Peg, Justin, and I drove up to the 'Iao Valley, which is a very lush valley between steep, nearly vertical mountains, with tropical plants everywhere - guava, banana, taro, kukui nut, bird of paradise, to name just the ones I could identify even tentatively. Looked about like Jurassic Park.
Photos: Bananas growing in the 'Iao Valley
Steve investigates a guava fruit
The 'Iao Needle - a particularly good photo for the desktop
Drove around in neighboring Wailuku - the county seat of Maui, woohoo!...yeah. Then returned to hotel for nap, lunch, dip in pool.
Then it was luau time! Greg had signed the whole group up for a luau at the Maui Prince in swanky Wailea, so we threw on leis and Hawaiian shirts and sarongs, and went over there. Many tables set up on a vast lawn near the sea, with palm trees and tiki torches, pretty much exactly as you'd expect from Hawai'i. Probably a couple hundred guests. Band of a few guys - guitar, drums - and M.C., who guided us through the ceremonies, such as the unearthing of the roasted pig in its earth oven. (After being cooked, it looked like the inside-out pig lizard from Galaxy Quest, but we ate it anyway, because hey, pork is good.) The dancers were pretty amazing. They did an array of moves from all over Polynesia, including N.Z. The fire-stick-twirling man, representing Samoa, was especially good. My Anthro class on Polynesia/Micronesia was never so interesting.
Photos: My sister Kate (K8) gets into the luau spirit
My parents do likewise
We deface our tiki-god centerpiece by giving him fake flowers and a mai-tai
The sunset in Wailea
Some of the audience gets hula lessons, including Greg, Peg (another sister of mine), and Kate - who are respectively the 3 on the left.
Sisters grab the male Polynesian dancers for a photo op. Red-eye flash makes us all look like fiends.
Got done at a reasonable hour, and here we are. Lemondrop is wriggling around, right on schedule (tends to, at bedtime). Anyway, tomorrow we may attempt the road to Hana (and back), so wish us luck. It could not be worse than the West Maui highway on the northeast side.
Quote from Dad: "What's with these girly Hawaiian shirts? They have the buttons on the wrong side." Yes, he's wearing one anyway. He's bought two so far.
Also, plant ID: plumeria. Very fragrant flowering tree. Good for leis, maybe.
Sep. 14 - I survived the Road to Hana! In fact I really liked it, on average. Everyone should do it. Not so hard at all.
Got a good early start - left Kihei at about 7 a.m. (just Steve and me). Got gas in Kahului - gas is expensive here, by the way; nearly $4 a gallon - and headed east. It started raining within a few miles. You know I loved that. Also, it's normal: we were heading into a tropical rainforest, after all. [Science fact of the day: the rainforest in East Maui gets some 150 to 365 inches of rain a year. "Rainy" Seattle, in comparison, gets about 40.] Evidently it was a heavier-than-usual rain overnight, though, for all the streams and waterfalls were gushing and flooding and muddy-colored and somewhat dangerous-looking. Luckily I'm married to a hydrologist, who can diagnose "normal" in a stream versus "flash flood." Road was still fine, and not scary - twisty, but no white knuckles required. And everything was so beautiful! Steep ravines and cliffs carpeted in ferns, bamboo, trees I don't know the names of, vines like Tarzan swung from, guava so plentiful it was rotting on the ground, flowers here and there in numerous colors; not to mention waterfalls around every other bend, grandiose views of the coastline, and the balm-to-my-soul smell of wet forest. We meandered, and stopped to look at a view here and there, and got mildly rained upon. The rain was off and on, with some sun, and the temperature around 70-80 when we were in the forest - warmer than that as the day progressed.
And more waterfalls!
Also, some silvery trees in an arboretum.
One especially cool sidetrack: Nahiku. This is a tiny community along one narrow road (off the highway) that winds down and dead-ends at the ocean. It's kind of like Stretch Island [in Puget Sound], only denser and more, well, tropical. Very very green - trees forming tunnels over the road. 5-for-$1 bananas by the side of the road, paid for via honor system. Bought some of those, and a passionfruit too - my first ever. Juicy and seedy and very tasty.
Photo: A warm, rainy day at the coast at Nahiku
Further along the Hana Highway we got banana bread at a roadside stand. Visited the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park, where we also saw mongooses. They were introduced a while back in a failed attempt to control rats (rats are noctural; mongooses are diurnal); so though they have neither rats nor cobras to eat here, they have somehow survived and turned into a sort of park squirrel around the island. They look more like ferrets than squirrels, though.
Photo: Black sand beach. Couldn't get a clear shot of a mongoose; they're fast, wily little critters.
After breezing through Hana we got around to the southern side of Haleakala (i.e., big ol' volcano taking up a lot of space in East Maui). Things were getting drier and the road rougher, but we did find one last waterfall and had it all to ourselves: Alelele Falls. Standing in the spray was ever so refreshing. Not having to worry about piranhas was an additional plus.
Photos: Alelele Falls
Forest near the falls
After that there was a lot of desolate, windswept, sunny terrain, all lava rock and scrubby grass and ocean views, no towns in sight, for several miles. Rainforest to desert in a few hours - what an island. Then the road grades into "upcountry," the gentler terrain (with towns) on the slopes of Haleakala, around 2,000-3,000 feet. Not that it feels that high - except for being cloudier. Few more spatters of rain, and we were back in sunny Kihei, where not a drop had fallen.
Photo: The dry side of Haleakala
Got together with the whole group and ordered Mexican for dinner, and am now contentedly tired and full. So yay! Endurance is within my realm of ability. May this continue to be the case.
Sep. 15 - Just got back from the beach, where we all lazed around in the moonlight after eating some take-out Hawaiian-style food. Today's doings:
A storm somewhere near raised very high sea swells, so many beaches were closed on this coast. Steve and I drove down to Makena and visited beaches we could, to watch the surf. Still quite warm, even in a brief rainshower. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad and Peg and Justin got absolutely poured upon on the road to Hana, but agreed it was beautiful all the same. Upon our return, Steve and I did some playing in the surf with Greg at the nearby beach (Kama'ole I), were the waves were not quite as bad but still too strong for my comfort. I mostly stayed at the edge and got sand washed into my swimsuit. We visited the pool to wash some of that off, then clean-up and dinner, as described.
Update on Dave's boat: it made the front page of today's Maui News. It has now been carved into pieces for removal, and is currently just a sad hull on the rocks. Ah, Dave's boat, we scarcely knew thee.
Sep. 16 - Our last evening in Maui. I do love the nights here, as with California - perfect mid-to-lower-70s temps, palm trees in a mild breeze, the ocean crashing on soft sand (and we didn't have that last part, most of our time in California). Sat in the other resort's lawn chairs one last time, after a dinner at gourmet-but-loud Roy's Kihei.
Aside from that, a pretty chill day. (Not weather-wise, mind; activity-wise.) All went to the beach, where Steve and Greg and Justin got sunburned, and I soon had enough of being hot and covered with sand. I showered off and returned to the room with a book, to read Michener's tales of Hawaii.
I guess we all would prefer to live wherever causes us the least discomfort on average. So for Greg, as he was telling us, this is about perfect because the dry air doesn't activate his allergies like Seattle's does, plus you get an ocean to play in. Whereas for me, being hot makes me miserable, and living in greasy sunblock is irritating, and rain soothes me; so Seattle is pretty good. I'd take the rainforest along the Hana Highway, though.