What follows here are just my thoughts and words. No fact checking, no spell checking, no promises of great insight or good grammar. Just me dumping the words in my head to words on the screen. Bear with me... sometimes it's a bumpy ride.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

And a Holy Cow atop our Tree...

Can't you just hear the Charley Brown Christmas music playing in the background?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas....

And in Baltimore @ Alicia's.... 

Even in Brooklyn @ Tim's
Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hana Ho!

Another long weekend afforded us the opportunity to continue our long-planned exploration of the island ( and still left us 2 solid beach days!).  This time, we drove around the East Side of the island - out to Hana and then all the way around the back side (as it's commonly called).

About 150 miles, 8 hours, 97 waterfalls, 600 curvy curves and 200 other cars doing 60% of the same trip as us, a little rain with a lot of road washouts ... we did it!

No details on this one... just some highlights.

First.. the waterfalls.  Yes, many are spectacular, some just trickles.  Pools and rushing water tumbling over boulders green with moss & fern.  2 foot falls and 200 foot falls.  And so damn many falls.  After the first - oh, I don't know, 15 - we became jaded and lazy.  Come around a corner, eh, look, more falls.  (Go ahead, call me Ronald Reagan... but you do get a bit of waterfall fatigue... seen one fall, seen 'em all.)
You thought I was kidding about the 200' fall,
didn't you
So beautiful.

(Yawn) Lovely.

And a bird's eye view.
And the green, lush trees and bushes.  Thickets of tangle trees, kudzu vines hanging down, giant elephant ears wrapped around tree trunks and telephone lines.  Every corner you came around (and there are PLENTY) there would be a new commune of some genus of trees, standing at attention, guarding the road.  Manzanitas (with its amazing, smooth multi-colored bark), eucalyptus, bamboo and zillions more that I have no idea what they are.  And flowers... orchids - wild orchids - everywhere along the road, bright colored hibiscus, ginger, birds of paradise, lipstick red heleconia.  And this lovely, orange flower that was everywhere - even scattered along the road like wind blown raindrops.  They were so abundant all long the road that I never got around to taking a picture, until it was too late.  And now I can't figure out what it is.
Our girls in a cave of tangle trees.
You know how the Eskimos have 100 different words for snow?  I believe the Hawaiians must have at least 100 different words for green.  Maybe 1,000.

We made stops in lovely little towns, visited ancient Hawaiian churches each with it's own cemetery of wind and weather-aged, moss-covered headstones. On the back side (past Hana) in the town of Kipahulu is one such graveyard, where lies Charles Lindbergh.  It is peaceful, quiet sanctuary on a bluff overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean.
I read that he died of cancer in 1974 (having already lived for some 6 years in East Maui).  When it had reached the advanced stage and he was told he had a very short time left, he said, "I would rather spend two days alive on Maui, than two months alive in New York."

There are several black sand beaches on this side, and a red sand beach.  I'm jaded - I still prefer the more mundane, white sandy beaches on our side of the island.  Of course at each of our stops, we had to let the girls out for a run, a pee, a drink of water.

Finally, we slowly come out of the tropical lushness and into the more stark, moonscape of Kaupo and the wilds of the east side of the island.  No more trees to speak of.  We would have had spectacular views of the mountain to our right, if not for the crown of clouds clinging to the barren slope.  And then the rain started.

What do you suppose happens to a slope of land covered in red dirt, rocks and vast lava fields with little vegetation to anchor it?  Running water, and lots of it.  And quickly gathering loose dirt (now mud) along it's path washing across the ribbon of road in first trickles, and then gushes.  And there's us in our little Scion, the bottom of the car being about 3" off the road.  Huh.  Interesting.

But, needless to say, we made it.  Touch a go for a couple of miles, but we forged the gathering washouts, white knuckling across the un-guardrailed road, and made it.

Finally got back down to Kihei around 5:30 pm... just in time for one happy hour cocktail at the Tiki Lounge.

Life is good.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Which of These Pictures Did I Take?

You know how we joke around about living in Maui is sometimes like living in a third world country?

And you know how we've all seen those photos of surprisingly overloaded scooters and cars, usually taken from somewhere in Asia or India or Africa?

Well,  three of the below pictures were pirated right off the internet.  But one is from our camera, taken one day coming home from The Big City.  Honest.

Things that make you go, hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where'd the Road Go?

So we're continuing on our circumnavigation of the west side of this rock we call home.  And things have taken a decidedly interesting turn.  The road - still well paved, no worries there - becomes a very narrow single track road, hugging the steep hillsides as it winds in and out of the several valleys along this rugged coast.  Think more goat trail than vehicular ribbon of macadam.

On more than one occasion we are forced to back up (or down, depending) the road to find a space wide enough for two cars to pass.  There is some rule about the uphill car is supposed to give way... yeah, right.  Whatever that means.  Honestly, it's whoever makes the first move in a specific direction, the other car just follows.

We had one "turnout" (ha!) that was really just a place where a hundred cars before us had sideways scaled the mountain wall on the passenger side and created a bald spot to pull up on, and sit, tilted at a 35 degree angle while the oncoming car squeeks past on the downhill side.  We saw the passenger in the oncoming car - she was a somewhat green, very unhappy looking woman.

There was blind curve after blind curve.  No mirrors -well, okay, that does seem a bit of a luxury.  No guardrails - well, of course not.  There's not an inch of room to spare!!

At one point, Michael found a narrow spot to pull over on the driver's side, to let the approaching vehicle pass on the right.  As he pulled away, he simply said "I'm glad you weren't on this side to see where we just were"  and I think I saw a bead of sweat drop off his brow.

Admittedly, there we several luxuriously large pull outs where we could stop and let cars pass, and Michael could rest his grip on the wheel.  And actually take a  picture.
The remote valleys back here are lush and lovely.  And populated!  Good heavens, you gotta really wanna live there to make this road your commute!

Stopped at a roadside stand with self-proclaimed (and vouched for in The Book) "best banana bread on the planet".  Luckily, the proprietress was just walking up the hill with her bag of fresh out of the oven bread when we got there.  She gives free samples.  It IS delicious.  (worth the drive?... er, uh... no.)

Eventually the road seems to widen enough to start breathing normally again.  But just when you think you're done, you round this ridiculous switchback hairpin turn only to find your back on skinny street still.  But not for long.

Soon enough we're in heavenly double wide road and then all of a sudden, civilization and a double yellow line!  We've made it.  Whew!

Looking back we think it's something like 6 miles of single track, over 1/2 of which are the super narrow white knuckle ride, and the rest reasonable but still you gotta really pay attention.

I've decided that everyone should do this drive at least once.  It's worth it.

We've done it now.  We're good.

Nancy & Michael's Day of Fun....

For eleven month's now, we've been talking about doing something besides going to the beach in our free time.  A three day weekend (and the end of painting) gave us the opportunity and we had no more excuses.  Time to hit the road.

We had always wanted to drive around the WEST side of the island.  No, this is not Hana side (that is East).  This is the other way.

We set out at 9:30 AM with dogs, water, camera, The Book*, a full tank of gas, the beautiful sunny day and our island stretched out before us like a red carpet.

(*The Book is the best guidebook ever:  Maui Revealed by Wizard Press.  Altho halfway through our travels we realized we needn't pay such close attention to whatever directions The Book gave to some exotic, must see, secret place.  We just had to stop wherever there were 20 other cars stopped & hike in, up, around to see what all the fuss was about.  I guess The Book has outed all of Maui's secrets....)

We cruised through Lahaina, Kaanapali & Napili with no stops.  We go there at times enough to make that no adventure.  Our goal was to see what we hadn't seen before and go where we hadn't yet explored.

First stop was up in Kapalua to see the Dragon's Teeth.  This lava rock formation (resulting from combination of wind & sea) is an easy saunter across the ??th hole of the Kapalua Golf Course, just below the very fancy Ritz Carlton (the golfers must hate this hole).

Lovely views of both Molokai across the channel, and the high rent, well manicured Ritz and oceanfront condo's behind us.  I'd give it a 4 on the Ono Scale.  Easy to get to, cool but not spectacular.

Next stop, the famous (?) Honolua Bay.  Known for it's outstanding snorkeling.  Well, holy cow, you can sure see why!
And I will say, even with all the cars we saw at 3 or 4 different parking/access areas, plus 2 snorkel excursion boats, it was not crowded.  It's so big and amazing.  Although we did have friends who made the long trip here all the way from Pukalani (upcountry) one morning... and they said the water was surprisingly cold.  Well, it is winter here after all.  Some summer day we will return with snorkel gear (and no dogs) and have a gander.

Next stop:  the Nakalele Blowhole.  You may recall this geologic phenomenon made the news about a year ago when a tourist got too close, was knocked into the hole, sucked into the ocean and, if I recall, they never did find his body.  Sad and frightening... but so avoidable.  This excursion turned out to be a lot of fun.  Great (kinda long) hike in.  (Altho next time, we will bring tennies or better sandals, not just flippies (or slippahs, as we call them here.)  Rugged lava landscape that's been etched by eons of wind, surf and salt spray.  Incredible views up and down the coastline.  Crashing waves, a lava tube.  Lots of places to explore at every turn.  This one gets like an 8 or 9 on the Ono Scale.  Oh, and that's just the getting there & back.  The blowhole itself is pretty flippin' cool, too!

Interesting rock "sculptures". 
Kahakuloa Head (that's the northern slope of
 Haleakala rising in the distance)
See Kahakuloa in the distance - the 636' high "rock". 

One of the smaller "blows" we saw... and were sprayed by.

Our 2012 Christmas Card?
Further along the road (which, by the way is no longer County maintained road, a little less smooth, but still passable and nothing noteworthy - yet), The Book describes a series of Olivine Pools on lava shelves that you can swim in.  It's a bit of hike down, better without dogs (and with better shoes).  So we are saving that particular excursion for when we have adventuresome friends with whom to do it.  But we think it will look a lot like this... that we happened to see on our way back from the blowhole:

Back in the car and... what's this?  The winding cliffside road is suddenly getting quite a bit narrower.....

Stay tuned for The Rest of the Story!

Ding Dong The Painting's Done...

... all the walls,
    .... the trim and all,

Ding Dong, the painting's finally dooooone!!

Old color                                New color
Before (well, kinda during actually)
So happy to have this DONE!

Oh... and see the window to the right above, mostly hidden by banana trees?
This is their favorite guard post.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Much Ado about.... Not Much Ado

There we were, having a nice relaxing dinner at a friends house.  Dessert anyone?  Then all of a sudden, the emergency sirens go off.  And not just for a second or two... I think they blasted for a full minute or more.  We all looked at each other, a little frozen for a moment.  What the hell?

We are used to hearing the sirens at 11:45 am on the first weekday of each month when they do the test run of the system.  It's kind of reassuring then - in the bright light of day when you know its just for practice.

But to hear them at night, in the dark (it was about 8 PM or so).  It took a few seconds to register, but then someone (I think it was me) said:  Tsunami?

We turn on the news and learn of the 7.7 earthquake 15 miles down just off the Canadian coast near British Columbia.  They are not sure what to expect.  There are a bunch of buoys between here & Japan, because that's the direction from which we usually have tsunami activity.  But only  one or two buoys to our north and east.  They can't as accurately predict timing, speed, surge, height etc.  But we learn it's not likely to "hit" until 10 PM, and the main risk is to North shores, not so much the Southern coastline (which is where we live).

So we decide - ah, we're fine.  Let's have a little ice cream, then Michael & I will go home to our dogs.

Minutes later, the police come - door to door in this neighborhood, which is just under a mile from the beach, and up hill, and an elevated 2 story house.  (Joking around just minutes before, we say that if a tsunami were to reach their house, it would be armageddon.)   We are told of the imminent danger, being advised to get to higher ground.  We ask the officer specifically about where our house is (something like 200 yards from the beach).  Go get your dogs & get out, he says.  And soon, he says, roads are already clogging up.

I no longer want ice cream.  I want to get our dogs & get up to our friend's house, which is maybe just over a mile from the beach but up up up hill.

We thank our hosts and apologize for our "dine & dash".  We go home, pack up a few irreplaceable things, close all the windows & blinds & lock up the house.  Then into some surprising traffic to head up to safe ground.  We see cars parked along the higher roads, people standing around, a few tents set up in grassy areas.  We understand from local radio that there are lines at gas stations, runs at stores on water, batteries, toilet paper.  We see a school that's clearly been opened as a safe place and cars are lining up to park.  Stuff we are all used to hearing on the news in some Mississippi town when a disaster is imminent. Well guess what?  It really is what people do!

We get to our own personal red cross evacuation center - where there is scotch and a comfortable couch.  We watch the news with our friend, and wait.

We watch film of other islands, of traffic cams re-oriented to show shorelines and watch the surf calmly roll in and out, of traffic and evacuations - cars carrying families to safety, and boats leaving marina's, heading out to sea where they are much safer.  We see the experts show a theoretical graphic of the energy of the tsunami, the brunt of which is headed primarily to Maui (Kahului Harbor) and the big island (Hilo side).  They talk about the wrap-around effect, where the surging waters encircle the island, and they show projected "inundation areas".   We learn the difference between a surfing wave (like a 2 minute duration) and a tsunami wave (20 minute duration).  The velocity - 500 miles per hour.   The anticipated surge - 5-6 feet in our harbor.  We are minutes away from landfall.

Then.... well.... nothing.  You know the news, they try to make something out of nothing.  But, there was nothing really to report.  We did hear accounts from Hilo that the water receded so that boats were simply sitting on the sandy bottom of the shallow harbor.  But apparently the "re-fill" was not dangerous or remarkable, as we heard nothing further.  Finally, about an hour after the first wave "hit" (snuck in might be a more apt description), we learned that Kahului saw a 1.5' surge.  Far short of the projected, havoc-wreaking waves.

Relieved, and tired (it's now nearly midnight) we decide to head home.  They've not announced the all-clear, but we feel sure the danger has been avoided.  And I really want to be in my own bed.

But noooooo.  The evacuation area (which is where we happen to live) is still sealed off by police.  We try a couple of different routes, but it becomes clear to us that we cannot get down to our house.  The news continues to report wave heights (more like wave lows) and the islands are still under a Tsunami Warning (the highest alert level).  Until the powers that be call an "all clear," we will not be going home.  We pull into a church parking lot, leave the radio on and doze in and out.  Only slightly more comfortable than trying to sleep on a plane.

An hour of this is all Michael can stand.  He pulls out, determined to find a route down, around, through.... but alas, we are law abiding and therefore thwarted in our efforts.  After 20 minutes of fruitless driving around, we realize the Governor (on the radio) is saying thank you to all the emergency preparedness folks and talking about going home himself.  We turn a corner and - are those angels singing? - lo and behold the police lights go off, the car has pulled out of the road and is leaving.  We can go home!!!  It's 1:30 in the morning.

Perhaps needless to say, this was big, big BIG news here.  We heard it made CNN.  We wanted to be sure that friends and family on the mainland wouldn't wake up to the news and worry, so we sent out a couple of reassuring emails.  Turns out... no one bloody knew there was any danger here to be averted!  Oh well.

Now we're waiting to see what Hurricane Sandy will bring to our kids... Tim in New York and Alicia in Baltimore.  Hope they too will find it was much ado about nothing.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Come Up With Your Own 1,000 Words....

I've got nothing to add.... except maybe - just to clarify - those are OUR pillows on OUR bed.....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Orchid Schmorchid.....

I dragged Michael fairly kicking and screaming to the far end of the auditorium where the orchids were on display at the fair.  "I don't really get orchids" he said.  "They just don't do anything for me."  I sort of agreed, but hey, we were in the hall, let's mosey on down and take a gander just the same.

Then we rounded a corner and came upon these...

They're called Vandas.

We were smitten at first sight.  (Well, sure, who doesn't love a prize winning, spectacularly beautious, stunning orchid?)

And we thought "Ho!  We should grow some of these!"

Then we found out that they take upwards of 20-30 years to look like this.

Ha!  I can barely stand to wait for the coffee maker to finish brewing coffee in the morning.  

Clearly, Vandas will not be featured on our lana'i anytime soon.  Nor 20 years down the line.

Is It a Bird? Is it a Dog?

Hold on to your eggs, Petaluma.  This is a 100% certified, bonafide, spectacular and - need I even say it - uproariously hysterical - FANCY CHICKEN from the Maui County Fair.  That's his technical name, seriously.  I would have expected something more regal and erudite... like Afghanus Cluckus, or Aussieodipus Poultraneous.   Or at least a nickname, like Rod Stewster.

Being from Petaluma, I naturally thought I knew from chickens.  But noooooo!  You have not really seen a chicken until you've seen this preening, self-fluffing little beauty  Oh yes, he does his own coiffure.  Believe it or not, there was not a hairdryer in sight.  And I watched him shiver and flap and run his beak hither and yon  until he was, well,...  presentable just so.

This and a little food coloring, and I think I now know where Peeps come from.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rain! Glorious Rain!

Real puddle-making rain.

An actual downpour, right here in Kihei!
I haven't seen rain like this since January!  And this is the most Michael's ever seen it rain (he was gone in January & missed that storm).

Stuff actually got really wet!

And, of course, when it rains in Maui, there's the inevitable rainbow.

Lest I mislead you, this was in no way, shape, or meteorological form a storm.  It was an all too brief squall.  But it was good and wet while it lasted.

I miss rain. 

Who Is That Masked Man?

No, Halloween has not come early to Sleepy Hollow.  No, he's not the latest recruit to the Cryps (I think they wear blue, right?)  And no, he's not considering a career change to old-timey bank robber.

This is Michael upon his return from the dermatology clinic on Tuesday, where he underwent a "PDT" session.  Essentially, under controlled circumstances, they gave him a 6000th degree sunburn all over his face.  He is now under strict instructions to stay inside and out of the sun for 2 days (and had to Burka-fy upon departure from the clinic).  Over the next week, his face will systematically, mottle, blister, scab, then peel off, all to reveal brand new, healthier (pre-cancerous free) skin.

24 hours after the treatment (which he said hurt like hell for the first 8 of the 20 minute session, after sitting for 3 hours with pre-treatment goop on his face), here's how he's looking:
He's all shiney from frequent applications of refrigerated Aloe gel (double extra cooling).

And no, this isn't a result of living in Maui and suddenly having sun damage to his skin.  This situation is the result of scads of years worth of unprotected face-in-the-sun coming home to roost.  Moral of the story:  Sunscreen Sunscreen Sunscreen!

Will share additional pics of the molting process as it progresses.  I'm thinking, based on how he looks in person, the nose & cheeks will be the first to go.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Zippity Do D'AUGHHHHH.....

You want me to ascend 30 feet into a tree and then jump off a platform dangling by a wire?  WHAT?  But wait, there's more.  I then have to fly through the treetops on this paperclip & ribbon I'm rigged to, hurtling  along the dental floss that is attached to a far away tree, with a postage stamp sized platform and get my feet there before I wrap myself around the tree George of the Jungle style, taking out the hapless zip guide in the process.  All the while looking oh so stylish in my red hard hat, and laced into my hard-core bustier of black loops and straps and silver buckles.  A pair of thigh high black boots and a studded collar, and I'm ready for a Village People video shoot.  And for this I paid money?

Pre-terror gear up.

This was our 9-line course - depicted in non-terrifying 2-D.  Nothing like the real thing.  I call that false advertising.

So they give you the crash course... oh wait, no.  Of course they don't call it that.  They give you a run down of what to expect, what to do, what not to do. "Land on your feet, not on your face" - yeah, funny.
Then you climb a few seemingly innocuous stairs, they hook your bobby pin onto the first piece of twine,  you walk across a only mildly terrifying bouncy suspension bridge, dragging your now-connected (and always through the rest of the course until your feet are back on terra firma) tether with you, and you gather tree hugger style around your first tree.

Then a typical Maui breeze blows through.... and the whole friggin' tree sways, with all of us whiplashing around like rag dolls.  Oh, all right, I might be exaggerating a smidge.  But the tree does sway & you feel the movement (on your now somewhat rubbery legs).

Then - one-by-one- they say "Zip on!".  You've all seen the pictures of skyjumpers getting pushed out of an airplane?  It's just like that, only without the parachute.
You can barely see the clothesline above Michael's hand that disappears into the  forest void  miles beyond.
And we repeat this process 9 times!  Some lines are just long enough that you can actually see the next tree with its miniscule landing platform.  Some are so long, you don't see it when you launch (talk about a leap of faith!), but it comes into view quickly enough.  A couple of lines are short but decidedly steep.  You come face to face (9 times) with the age old dilemma - a short, quick death, or a long slow tortuous one?
That spec in the middle, with the red hat is Michael.  His life is flashing before my eyes.

What's this?  He liked it?  No, no.  He LOVED it!!
The guides stationed at each platform were all young, barely out of diapers, kids.  Catching our flailing, hurtling bodies on one side and then flinging us back out to certain death on the other.  [Okay, moment of truth - every last one of them was wonderful.  Great sense of humor, always carefully checking gear, letting us (well, me) take the time we needed to step off into space, skillfully assisting with the not-always-so-smooth landings.  Even the poor guy who had to deal with me coming in full speed, backwards, screaming like a banshee.  Oops.]

There are several different zipline companies in various locales offering different & unique experiences  here on Maui.  This canopy tour was but one.  Can't wait till we do our next one!  Woooo Hoooo!!

Our flight crew, who happen to also be paddling buddies.