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The Maui Journal

After years of being armchair travelers it was time to really go


somewhere. But where? I’d always imagined going to the Caribbean,
Mexico or Central America. So much to choose from. Everything from dry
and arid uplands to sandy beaches to lush rainforests. Colonial influences
that include Dutch, French, English, Spanish and of course American. Thanks
to the internet, travel guides and opinions are easy to some by. Many
evenings were spent trying to decide which Caribbean island to try. St.
Lucia? Martinique? St. Thomas, USVI? One thing soon became apparent.
Air travel could mean an overnight flight and there could be several hours of
time change to adjust to. A layover in Atlanta, Miami, or Houston to try and
avoid an early trip burnout would add an additional day. But then the
unexpected happened. Traveler #2 put her foot down and said there’d be
no vacation unless it was on a cruise ship. Heavily influenced by friends and
sister, and with concerns about health issues, it seemed final and
disappointing. This disagreement had been going on for years. Do you
spend most of your time on a giant floating resort only visiting the
‘destination’ for short tourist outings? Or do you choose to experience the
culture and environment in a more intimate way. No question where I stand
on that. So do I dig my heels in go somewhere without her?
I didn’t have a strong desire to go to Hawaii. Too expensive, too
commercial, too pedestrian it wasn’t high on my list of places to see. But
with the impasse over the form of travel I knew one thing: a trip to the
Islands would not be refused. Jenny had always wanted to go there. So after
a half-hearted attempt to make our trip a cruise that visited all the islands, it
was agreed. We started in early January looking at Kauai. Airfares,
packages, resorts, cottages, b&bs, travel books. It spread to Maui. Maps,
activities, restaurants, rental cars. Late in January with airfares for the
shoulder season in April appearing to rise, we booked flights on United to
Maui. That same weekend reservations were made at the Outrigger Aina
Nalu in Lahaina. The dates were chosen not only for the lowest airfares but
also to coincide with a concert by the band Hapa.
Two and a half months is a long time to wait. It led to obsessive over
planning. Google street view walks around the area near our hotel led to
reviews of restaurants and shops. Reading about snorkeling led to
purchasing water shoes and a waterproof wallet. I knew where to rent beach
chairs, where to buy groceries, where to find a bank machine. New
beachwear was bought along with a suitcase, mini tripod, and netbook
computer for email and Facebook posts. Tanning sessions were paid for so
we had pre-tans for sun protection. Finally, on April 14th we were ready to
go.
John picked us up at 8 AM and dropped us at the airport. It was a clear
day on the West Coast with no worries about flight delays due to bad
weather. I felt strangely calm sitting in the airport in Eugene, Oregon.
Nothing left to do but enjoy this journey. Don’t lose your boarding pass and
everything will be fine. Then we were on our way. It’s always interesting
flying in and out of SF. Picking out the familiar landmarks, getting closer and
closer to the water and then suddenly touching down. We had lunch during
our 1:20 minute layover and then boarded for Maui. By booking early I’d
reserved seats behind the bulkhead one row back from the emergency exits.
These proved to be comfortable with extra legroom but with no place to
stash a carry on under a seat in front. Our flight attendant observed that he
always loves the flight over because everyone is happy and in high spirits.
Two different wedding parties were onboard. We encountered increasing
turbulence as we neared the airport in Kahului, and arrived to cloudy and
windy weather.
I had worried about this part. We’d rented a car from Aloha Rent a Car
and had a tight connection. I called them from a pay phone at 4:40 and they
closed at 5:00. Jenny had to collect our checked bags while I waited for the
white PT Cruiser. I was picked up and sped back to the rental lot to do the
paperwork, then had to find my way a couple of miles back to the airport.
High excitement now. Jenny was waiting with the bags and we took off after
a scolding for double parking in the bus lane. Hadn’t gone a mile before Jen
helped me make a wrong turn and we were lost in heavy traffic. I recognized
an industrial dust collector near the car lot and then were back on track. It
was a foreign and awesome new landscape. The verdant old volcano Pu’u
Kukui, with deep rifts cut into its slopes filled the background. As we drove,
sugar cane fields gave way to the rubble of old lava flows where cactus
grows. I had absolutely no bearings while heading across the isthmus and
was at the tunnel east of Olowalu before I any sense of where we were.
We found our hotel easily enough. The weather was warm and humid
although overcast and windy. We checked into a nice room with a view of
the West Maui Mountains. It was quiet and on the second floor just as I had
hoped. It had slate floors in the kitchen and bath, new cabinets with granite
countertops and vaulted ceilings. We were so excited. I took our first picture
and we started unpacking. Later we walked across the street and around the
corner to Penne Pasta for a light dinner. Our pizza was a flatbread crust
covered with sauce and melted cheese and topped with ceasar salad
garnished with proscuitto. It was delicious and only $10. We each enjoyed a
big glass of Zinfindel and observed the mix of locals and tourists. We walked
down the street after eating and I immediately got ‘gift shopped’! We hadn’t
been here more than an hour and I was being dragged into a boutique
gallery. Took a deep breath and admired some nice handicrafts and
children’s clothing but had some apprehension about how many more times
I’d be doing this. Walked on looking for a place to buy some milk, wine and
snacks and found an ABC store right away. Tried to find a different way back
to the hotel and got lost. Settled in and went to bed late.
Thursday, April 15th

Up at 6:30 local time after much tossing and turning. Our condo was
near the highway and every morning the trucks and commuters sounded my
wake up call. It looked stormy and I felt some dismay until I went outside. It
was warm, breezy dynamic weather. Damp clouds over the mountain broke
up as they passed over us revealing blue, blue skies. Elated to be here I
grabbed a camera and went out for pictures followed by a swim in the small
pool. The grounds of the hotel are beautifully landscaped and the ginger,
hibiscus and plumeria were all in bloom. Did I mention the obsessive
planning? I’d packed granola, instant oatmeal, instant Starbucks coffee, Cliff
bars, even sugar packets in preparation for that first breakfast. After eating
we walked down to the harbor noting the historical sites that surround the
hotel. We checked out the ocean excursions and watched some surfing. We
waded across a broken coral shore to a sandy beach where an outrigger
canoe is displayed. Jenny talked with a woman from the canoe club and
woodshop while I picked the sharp coral from my sandals. On the way back
to our rooms we took what would become our standard shortcut through the
Wharf Cinema Center stopping to admire some bowls turned from Koa and
Norfolk Island Pine.
Time to get some provisions so we went out in search of Safeway. Got
lost, but did stumble onto the Maui Brewing Company in a ramshackle
building behind one of the shopping malls. A chalkboard read: Happy Hour,
4 to 6. We made a note of that. Continuing on we found Lahaina Farms, a
grocery much like our own Market of Choice in Eugene. Everyone was
helpful as we stocked up on Island produce. Maui bananas, pineapple,
papaya, oranges and onion, summer squash from Haiku, cherry tomatoes
from the Big Island. I bought a small container of Ahi Poke. Spicy raw Ahi
blended with lime juice and avocado. Then it was back to Aina Nalu for
lunch.
Still getting set up we then went to West Maui Sports & Fishing
Supply to rent beach chairs
and got lost again. They recommended we check out Baby Beach nearby as
a beginning snorkel spot. Got lost and never did find it until our final day.
We drove up the highway in search of beach access passing one high rise
resort after another. We found Kahekili State Park named after Maui’s last
great king and locally known as Airport Beach sandwiched between the
Westin and Maui Kaanapali Resort Villas. Sat for awhile enjoying the scene
but the breeze was a bit chilly and there was a rowdy group of young people
there, so we walked instead. It’s a long, curving and beautiful beach and as
we walked we noticed whales spouting and surfacing quite a distance off
shore. To the south we saw the promontory of Black Rock, a place holy to the
original Hawaiians. Kahekili often showed his courage here, by diving off the
cliff into the sea. Now the Maui Sheraton stands there conspicuously.
Eventually we returned to our chairs and watched the whales.
We got lost trying to get back to Maui Brewing Co. We did eventually
find it and went into their seedy tasting room. It had 4 or 5 stools, a couple
of tables and looked out on a cyclone fenced parking lot decorated with
pallets and overgrown weeds. We ordered a couple of pints from the rough
looking bartender and just kicked back. Before long one of the brewery
workers came in and engaged with us. He found out where we were from
and told us Scott, the brewmaster, was also from Eugene and had worked at
the Wild Duck Brewery. A young couple from Portland who knew everyone
came in followed by the brewer himself and now it was a party. Tried a pint
of the delicious Coconut Porter and enjoyed some lively conversation.
Leaving the tasting room well toasted we turned to each other and agreed
that had really been fun.
Back to our condo to relax and make a tofu, veggie and noodle stir fry.
Later, went out to take some pictures of the Maria Lanakila steeple at sunset.
Across the street from the Aina Nalu it’s the site of the first Roman Catholic
Mass in Lahaina in 1841. It’s a historic site with an active congregation.
There was an event there almost every day. While we were out we met two
couples from Canada who invited us to watch Survivor with them at the hotel
cabana. Over the next few days we talked with them often. Finished up the
day soaking in the hot tub and swimming in the salt water pool. A mother
and daughter from Japan, two women from Spokane and two more
Canadians joined us. A nice day sharing a common humanity with travelers
and locals alike.

Friday, April 16th

A good night’s sleep and a relaxed morning. Edited photos, got on the
wireless network, sent email and posted to Facebook. Hung around the pool
and chatted with the new friends from Edmonton. Eventually packed up
some fruit and Cliff bars and headed north to find D.T. Flemming State
Beach. Written up in all the guidebooks as one of Hawaii’s best beaches it
had been on my itinerary since the start of planning. We drove north past
Kahana, Napili and Kapalua expecting to see a sign on the highway. Kept
driving, eventually admitting we were lost again. Stopped at the Ohai
trailhead, hiked and took some pictures of the rugged scenery. Checking my
map for the first time I could see that milepost 40, where we were, was way
past the intended beach. We turned around but stopped soon at a deserted
looking fruit stand advertising pineapple and coconut. Jenny wanted to
sample some coconut juice and the Hawaiian woman working there punched
a hole in one and gave it to her with a straw. She then broke it up and cut
out the meat like an expert. She was very nice and we talked for a bit and
bargained for some trinkets and then moved on. We stopped again after
about a mile at a makeshift shack selling new jewelry made from old and
assorted junk. Jenny bought some treasure there. Hung out for quite a while
talking with the artist Mel, a big, gregarious, toothless black man originally
from Texas. Mel said he’d been partying non stop since the 6o’s and he
looked like it.
The next stop was an unmarked trail and parking area we’d seen on
the way up. It looked like a hike into a rain forest. This turned out to be the
way into Honolua Bay, a famous surfing and snorkeling spot. There were a
number of people on the trail coming and going. The scenery was fantastic.
Lush vines climbed up enormous trees, some with aerial roots hanging like
curtains. I thought I heard Neytiri’s cry as roosters ran amok in the dense
understory. Eventually, as we came near the shore there was a travel trailer
and some plastic tarp awnings set up near a collection box. Also displayed
was a newspaper article. It seems that a native Hawaiian man had made an
ancestral claim to the property leading into the bay. The courts had upheld
his claim. Permission to pass through that land was being allowed by him but
donations were expected. He had a nice garden growing there and
considered himself to be the protector and caretaker. He was a big and
formidable looking guy. Some people turned around before they had to walk
by his camp. We went through and had our lunch on the rocks by the waters
edge, and of course left a donation. We shared our meal with one fearless
rooster.
The northern end of the island is mostly uninhabited. Just below
Honoloa Bay the developments start again and there, coming from this
direction I saw the sign to D. T. Flemming State Beach. The wind had picked
up now and must have been 40 miles an hour. The lifeguards had posted
high surf and no swimming signs. We took a quick look and got back in the
car. Stopped at Safeway in Lahaina for more supplies and then back to our
refuge. Jenny cooked a delicious risotto dinner.
Friday nights in Lahaina are all about Artwalk. The shops and galleries
are open until 10 PM with some serving wine and finger foods. From tourist
T-shirts to high end artwork, it’s all for sale. We started at The Lahaina
Gallery with reasonably priced work, and purchased a boxwood netsuke
depicting a mermaid sleeping in a clamshell for our daughter. Next we
visited two different photography exhibits by artists with galleries in London,
NYC, Tokyo and Dubai. Incredible and expensive work. The Wyland Gallery
caught our eye. Known for his paintings of whales and underwater sea life,
Wyland also represents several other artists. I showed some interest in an
oil on gold leaf painting of hummingbirds by the artist Gabriel, which led to it
being displayed under various lighting in a viewing room with a glass of wine.
Curious, I asked how much this piece was selling for. $3500.00 I was told by
the attractive and charming young saleslady. After more conversation she
came close, fixed her bright blue eyes on mine and said,” I know you want it,
you should buy it”. It was time to head for the exit! I should know better
than to flirt with artwork I know I can’t have.
After a visit to a jeweler specializing in black coral and a shop selling
scrimshaw and ivory netsuke, we found the Lassen Gallery. Large, roomy
and busy, it looked safe to enter. Before long we found ourselves in a
discussion with the owner and his featured artist, Roy Gonzales Tabora. Born
on Guam, with an art degree from the U of Hawaii, Roy does beautiful
seascape paintings with a translucent, ethereal quality. Opening a fine
bottle of $5.00 Korbel Champagne and pouring us each a glass, the owner
took Jenny on a tour. As I talked with the affable artist I happened to notice
the piece we were standing in front of had a $75,000 price tag! Jenny soon
came back enraptured with one of Roy’s paintings and there we were again
sitting in a viewing room admiring the art under varied lighting. A limited
edition giclee on canvas it was selling for $1200.00. Again, we excused
ourselves saying we hadn’t decided what to bring home with us just yet.
Went in a couple more galleries being careful avoid any salespeople
then it was closing time. Walked back towards our hotel and stopped at
Lahaina Coolers for a nightcap. The place was jumping with locals and
shopkeepers winding down after Artwalk. Jenny ordered a Mai Tai and I had
a Lava Flow, a sort of alcoholic coconut pineapple slurpee. We later found
out that rents for Front Street galleries can run $20,000+ a month. No
wonder they were working so hard to make a sale. After a big day we retired
to our rooms at The Aina Nalu.

Saturday, April 17th

Up early again, but moving slowly from all the fun and fruit of the day
before, I walked down to the docks to find out about sailing this morning.
The America II is a former World’s Cup racing sloop retrofitted for
passengers. No diesel catamaran ride for me. I’ve been hoping for this
exciting ride for months. The only time they’re going out today is in the
afternoon and that won’t work. Low tide stranded the boat in the channel
the day before with 19 passengers and they aren’t taking any chances today.
Feeling a bit let down I went back to the Aina Nalu and hung around the pool.
Our Canadian friends were preparing to leave and we found out that they
had lost their 17 year old son a few months ago after a long battle with
leukemia. This was a vacation they had hoped to take with him. It was a
tearful goodbye.
Later in the morning we strolled down to the Banyan Tree. A famous
landmark, this huge tree shades almost an acre in the heart of Lahaina’s
historic district. On the weekends artists and craftspeople set up their wares
like Saturday Market in Eugene. We bought some more gifts for the family
and took photos from inside the old courthouse and museum. Then went
back to the hotel for lunch and rested up for the Hapa concert.
We started for the other side of Maui at about 2:30 taking Highway 30
into Wailuku. Drove around the downtown area which looked old and
downtrodden, then climbing higher on the hill through a middle class
residential neighborhood we came onto the road to ‘Iao Needle. A sacred
place for the original Hawaiians, the name means ‘Supreme Light’. A famous
battle was fought here in 1790 when Maui’s King Kehikili was defeated by
King Kamehameha. We circled the packed parking lot until a space opened
up and then walked the trails above and below. The sun intermittently broke
through the threatening clouds while we took lots of photographs. The steep
uphill walk to the picture postcard view felt good. Then we drove back down
and found the Maui Arts & Cultural Center so we would know the way later.
Now we drove out Hana Highway in busy traffic to the town of Pa’ia.
This is windsurfing country here and the mix of boarders and old hippies on
the streets was interesting. This side of the island has a much different feel
compared to Lahaina. We walked around town and then decided to have
dinner at Café des Amis which serves French and Indian cuisine. We ate
outside in a funky, breezy courtyard. Jenny had a ham and cheese crepe and
I had a shrimp curry and coconut rice rollup. We chased down our under $10
entrees with bottles of Aloha Beer from Honolulu. After this delicious light
meal we walked up Baldwin Avenue to a Tibetan Buddhist retreat. It was
open to the public and featured a large, walking prayer wheel inside a lovely
temple. The inner walls were adorned with paintings of The Buddha and I
walked several revolutions improvising a simple prayer for inner peace. The
influence of Eastern cultures is seen all over the Island, and being able to
experience some of that was profound during our stay.
Walking back downhill we bought pastries for the morning at a bakery
and coffeehouse and then decided to check out Mana Foods. Looking quite
run down on the outside with no windows and an old wooden door we were
amazed when we entered. It was the biggest natural foods store I’ve ever
been in, and crowded with people. We made a beeline for the produce isle
and were amazed at the selection of local fruits and vegetables. Bought
some Kula strawberries and dark chocolate after checking out the huge
selection of goods. This must be the place to shop if you live Upcountry. Full
of anticipation, we now headed back to Kahului for the Hapa concert.
We arrived 45 minutes early and got one of the last spots in the
parking lot. In the car we furtively changed into our nicer clothes, then
picked up our tickets at the box-office and entered to find a stage set up
outside. Had we known, we could have had dinner here. We bought glasses
of wine and sat watching a wonderful hula performance. Hawaiian musicians
and a warm breeze accompanied a very accomplished hula teacher and her
beautiful students. And the magic was just beginning. We found our sixth
row seats in the spacious auditorium and soon the show began. Hapa was
wrapping up a 30+ city tour with this homecoming concert. It felt like they
were playing for friends and family as the 3 ½ hour show progressed.
Bonnie Raitt’s base player of many years, Hutch Hutcherson, joined the
band. Jeff Peterson, a brilliant slack key guitar player did some solo work as
well as collaborating. As always, Melia Peterson danced many graceful
hulas. Local legend Gail Swanson joined in playing flute, and the woman we
had seen dancing with her pupils also performed. With traditional Hawaiian
chants and folksongs to jazz and rock and roll, there was something for
everyone. Jenny loves Hapa, and these tickets were especially for her. I
hadn’t become a big fan after seeing them at The Shedd but this time was
different. It was inspiring, personal and like I said, magical. We had
purchased a new cd on the way in and could have stayed for autographs
when it was over but we were tired and had a long drive ahead of us.
Exhausted, but in high spirits, we called it a day.

Sunday, April 18th

Slept in this morning, and then experienced some frustration trying to


upload images to Facebook. The downside of a new computer I guess. Put it
aside and we walked down to the wharf to try booking the sailboat trip again.
Jenny had been unsure all along about doing this, and I expected to go alone,
but this time she agreed to do it. We walked around a bit and then went
back to The Aina Nalu to have lunch and prepare. I was very excited, looking
forward to an adventure. It was a warm, clear day. We bought a one-time
use waterproof camera and showed up at slip 6 where America II was
moored, dressed for a soaking and slathered with sunscreen. Everyone was
asked to take their shoes off and leave them at the dock. We had our
picture taken and took seats in the stern. Nineteen people were aboard and
two young crewmen. The captain was a well tanned, muscular blond guy
with a well rehearsed routine. He had a clever comeback for any question or
comment. We were told where the lifejackets were stowed and then we
cruised out of the harbor by motor. Once we were out beyond the buoys the
sails were raised and we turned into the wind and took off. All at once the
boat ran fast and at a steep angle. Water sprayed everywhere. Jenny was
frightened at first and moved to the center bench where she held on for dear
life. She was helped by a friendly woman with sailing experience and soon
got past her fear. I sat on the downhill side and was drenched in no time as
we cut through the waves. As we got further out into the channel between
Molokai and Maui the sea became rougher and the boat pitched up and
down. No problem for the confident captain, as he steered casually with his
feet. It was so exhilarating! After about an hour we had to turn around and
head back, it was just a 2 hour excursion. It was calmer sailing back, the
wind pushing us along without the steep angle. We were fortunate to come
close to a mother whale and her calf that rolled and showed her flipper and
dove throwing her tail in the air. I held the camera above my head while
shooting so I wouldn’t miss seeing them. Everyone aboard was quiet with
awe afterwards appreciating the encounter. Mid April is at the end of whale
season in the Islands. By the end of the month most will be gone to their
summer waters off the coast of Alaska. Jenny and I snuggled and had
someone take our picture. I was so glad that she had come along and
shared this adventure. Too soon, we were back in the harbor. I tipped the
crew $20, telling them how much fun it had been. We received the photo
taken when we boarded, and feeling very satisfied, we went to our rooms,
showered and changed.
No driving today, so we walked down Front Street looking for
Foodland. This large grocery store seemed to be a favorite with the locals.
No Haolies but us in here. On the way back we decided to have drinks at The
Mai Tai Lounge. This place was voted Best Mai Tai on Maui and sits right on
the ocean. Our waiter was disappointed that we weren’t having dinner not
noticing the two packs of ramen showing through our Foodland bag. I
ordered a Fog Cutter for $10 and Jen had the specialty and we watched the
boats and the setting sun. We left with barely a buzz from this tourist
favorite and watched the sunset from the street. Had yet another stir fry at
the hotel and then enjoyed the pool and hot tub under a clear and starry sky.
Finished the evening like many others, reviewing and editing photos.

Monday, April 19th

Rumor was that a cruise ship was anchoring off Lahaina today and
hundreds of tourists would be ferried into town, so we chose this day to
explore Upcountry. I was up early getting organized and solving my image
upload problem. Went to The Bank of Hawaii for some cash and then headed
to the other side of the island. Out past Pa’ia, on the way to Ho’okipa Beach
we passed an island girl pedaling her bike down the highway with her
surfboard strapped on the side. This beach we were both heading for is a
favorite with the windsurfer’s who prefer this side of the island because of
the strong winds. With no condos or resorts it’s a beautiful spot here, with
exposed tide pools this morning. We saw some large shellfish and many
anemones. Only a few boarders were on the water, with others waiting for
the winds to pick up in the afternoon.
We then drove further out Hana Highway headed for Haiku. When we
began planning this trip I spent a lot of time online trying to find a rental on
this part of the island. Here on the lower slopes of Haleakala the rolling hills
are dotted with farms and estates. I kept an eye out for a cottage I’d tried to
book as we drove on into town looking for Kopa Haiku. During Eugene’s
Asian Celebration in February I talked to a man selling high quality soaps,
lotions and fragrances who is from here. His booth had lured me in with the
exotic aromas of the Islands. We had a friendly conversation that day and I
said we’d look him up when we came over. We found his shop in an old
cannery building. Gary Gray is a native Hawaiian and former Oregon State
linebacker who played football under coach Dee Andros in the ‘60s. He
recalled how he had left 80 degrees and rainbows for 40 degrees and
overcast when he came to Eugene. Gary took time out of his busy day to
talk with us while we loaded up on gifts and products for ourselves.
We continued to wander up on winding roads to the town of Makawao.
Famous as a Hawaiian paniolo or cowboy town with an annual rodeo, it’s also
home to yoga studios and hip galleries. Our first stop was a shop selling
clothing and artifacts from India and the Far East. Sitar music played softly
mingling with the sweet smell of incense. One room was devoted to gurus,
saints and teachers from Parmahansa Yogananda to the Dali Lama. Feeling
the vibe here I bought a book of love poems written by a man from Kauai.
Moving on we took a quick look inside an art gallery and then in an adjoining
building I noticed the work of Kristen Bunney. Her whimsical water colors of
island life are just the style I like to collect. We bought an inexpensive,
brightly colored print depicting two tropical fish swimming beneath a
volcano. Perfect.
On down the street is Hot Island Glass. This glass blowing shop is
known all over Maui as the place to buy art glass. No demonstrations today
but a nice sale going on. Prices Upcountry are generally lower than in
Lahaina, and this is where we had planned to buy the souvenir of our
journey. We chose a beautiful vase and had it shipped home. Time for lunch
so we split a chicken salad sandwich at a deli and sushi bar. We then drove
higher up the slopes of Haleakela looking for Kula Botanical Gardens. Sitting
at 3300 feet above the ocean it’s comprised of 6 acres of identified tropical
and semi-tropical plants and trees. It’s a great place to take pictures, with
many flowering plants in April. My favorite shots were looking up towards
the summit of the old volcano with flowering protea in the foreground. After
an hour of strolling and shooting images we descended to The Kula Lodge.
Pictured in every guidebook to Maui, it has an incredible overlook of the
isthmus from its dining room. The isthmus is the land that formed over time
between the two volcanos that built the island. You can see the bay at
Kuhului on the right and the bay at Maalaea on the left. I ordered a Maui
Brewing Co. Coconut Porter and we enjoyed the sunny afternoon view.
Driving back to Lahaina past Olowalu we caught sight of an enormous
cruise ship anchored off shore. We both agreed it spoiled the view. We ate
a snacky dinner and sat back starting to feel tired out from the activities of
the last few days. Later, we walked down to Lappert’s Ice Cream and were
serenaded by a street musician who played for tips. Big River and Don’t
Think Twice were our selections. I couldn’t help noticing how all the tourists
passing by ignored the three of us. Finished off the day with the usual swim
and hot tub.

Tuesday, April 13th

If there was one thing that everyone said we had to do in Hawaii it was
snorkel, and today’s our last chance. It was also the last chance to visit the
Lahaina Jodo Mission. Situated in a quiet corner of town, it features the
largest sitting Amita Buddha outside of Asia. The huge bronze sits serenely
looking west toward Japan, and honors the Japanese workers who began
coming here in 1868. I took many images here in the morning and had a
beautiful sky as the backdrop. Pagoda style buildings and a large temple
bell completed the scene. I chased a butterfly all around a bougainvillea
trying to get a photo for Jen, finally succeeding. Just down lane we noticed
beach access. It turned out to be unmarked Baby Beach, the one that we
couldn’t find on another day. Calm and shallow, it’s so named because it’s
safe for little keiki.
Then it was up the street to West Maui Sports & Fishing Supply. This is
a real outdoor outfitter with everything from spear fishing gear to boogie
boards. It reminds me a bit of the old time sporting goods store I worked at
in Burlingame, CA when I was in my early 20’s. Their rental snorkel gear was
clean and well organized, and the owners were very friendly and helpful. We
had decided the day before to go to Milepost 14 south of Olowalu, a shallow
reef with a long sandy beach that’s good for beginners. I knew that having a
beard and moustache was going to be a disadvantage and it was true. I
immediately had a nose full of salt water. It took a little practice to get the
hang of breathing entirely through the tube. Jenny did quite well and never
had a problem with the mask but hated the fins. We were both amazed at
how close to the beach the fish were. They seemed almost oblivious to us as
we swam in shallow channels of the reef. We later identified Tang, Wrasses
and the state fish Humuhumu-nukunuku-a-pua’a. We spent about two hours
here getting the hang of it. It was a blast and now we understand why it’s
such a popular activity. My nose and sinuses have never been as clean as
they were after several sea water douchings.
After lunch we returned our gear and caught the scents of an outdoor
grill. Located across the parking lot is Aloha Mixed Plate. We checked the
menu, discovered it was economical and decided to come back for dinner.
The next stop was Hilo Hatties to complete our gift shopping. This is a
favorite souvenir destination for tourists. Buses stop here, unloading
shoppers off the cruise ships. Big and cheesy, they none the less have a
huge selection of macadamia nut treats, even Spam flavored. They lure
people in with the promise of free necklaces, sarongs and coffee cups. This
was one stop we could have missed. Later, we returned to Aloha Mixed Plate
and found a shaded table with an oceanfront view. We enjoyed some
‘authentic’ Island fare served on paper plates with plastic cutlery. There
were many delicious sounding entrees and we ended up with grilled mahi
mahi, teriyaki beef and chicken. The day after we returned from Maui,
Rachel Ray featured this eatery on her travel show.
After dinner we walked down to Kamehameha Iki Park for our last
sunset. This narrow, little used park sits across the street from what was
once the home of Maui royalty that included a freshwater pond and private
island. None of that remains. What’s there now is a public park with tennis
and basketball courts and a baseball diamond. We sat under kukui nut trees
while young Polynesian dancers performed at the ‘Feast at Lele’ down the
beach and watched the sunset framed by swaying palms. Walking back by a
different street we heard a bell being struck rhythmically. As we approached
I saw one of my most enduring images from our visit. Standing at the top of
a broad stairway was a monk in his saffron and yellow robes striking a call to
prayer in the twilight. Inside I could see an elaborate altar. In this historic
plantation style building is the Hokuji Mission Shingon Buddhist Temple. I did
not use my camera out of respect.
As we neared our hotel we decided to put off our packing for a while
and make one last stop at Lahaina Coolers. We drank Mai Tai’s and Coconut
Porter while the bartender and his buds watched an NBA playoff game. We
were the only other patrons and had a long chat with our server about living
in West Maui. Then, the inevitable had to take place and we went back to
pack.
Wednesday, April 21st

Up early pacing and packing, feeling utterly exhausted. We scraped


together a little breakfast and Jenny gave the remaining food to a resident of
the hotel. We took one last walk around the grounds and then checked out.
We filled up at a gas station and drove to Kuhului to return the car and got
lost one last time. After we found Aloha Rent a Car their shuttle took us to
the airport. It was an anxious check in and a long walk to our boarding area.
We got snacks at a Starbucks and waited to board the enormous Boeing 777.
We shared the five seats behind the bulkhead with a friendly couple from
Germany who came to Maui to windsurf. They were flying on all the way to
Frankfurt. When we were getting off the plane in San Francisco a young man
sitting behind us mentioned he had been across from us on the flight over. A
carpenter in Makawao, I wish I’d talked with him during the flight. Then it
was on to Eugene, sharing a cab ride home, and being greeted by our cats.

It turns out that we are good travelers. There was never a moment
when we felt uncomfortable or out of place. In fact, from the moment we
arrived we were relaxed and felt at home here. We’re both outgoing and
trusting by nature so we met all types of people. Best of all, we both got
along beautifully. Leaving behind the issues of work, household and family
we were in the moment, enjoying our time together, remembering to be in
love. For me the journey was also a spiritual reawakening. I’ve had mystical
tendencies since I was a child and Maui is a mystical place. I’m not sure
when it kicked in, maybe the day of the Hapa concert, but I got really high. I
cherished the feeling, and have been reminded of the work I have left to do.
Visiting Maui required looking past the commercialization and
exploitation that has taken place there for the last 150+ years. But it is
America after all, and that means capitalism and consumerism. But the
beauty of the land and climate and the people supersedes that. The
language and customs of the original Hawaiians were all but gone a few
decades ago. Now that history is valued and honored as it should be.
Lahaina was a good place to stay for that historical perpective. From
missionaries, whaling and the plantations of the European settlers to the
traces of Hawaiian monarchy to the temples and influence of the Asian
immigrants it’s all here in one place. Maui is also a magnet for creative
people. Artists, musicians, writers all experiencing the muse that is Hawaii.
It was a great vacation. So, where to next???

May 19, 2010

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