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, 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.