So Far on Maui

Once again, I’ve let nearly the whole vacation slip by without keeping up with blogging about it – but this time, it’s now much easier to get photos uploaded to Flickr, which act as an informal timeline of our activities.

Dinner at Five Palms was very, very nice – this time we sat outside. Missed the sunset, but enjoyed the ambiance anyway. Then on Saturday, we went to the Whale Day parade and took some photos, then met up with some Twitter acquaintances (although we got a late start and missed the beginning of the parade). It was pleasant to hang out with friendly folks (both local and vacationing) and trade tips about favorite activities and restaurants. We went through the crafts area without buying anything, then came back to the condo for more relaxing. Boring? No, we’re on vacation, dammit.

We were at Ahihi Bay to snorkel in the middle of the week, a place that we’ve had mixed results with in the past. This time, no problems getting in or out over the old boat ramp, and it was pretty clear if a little bumpy. Plenty to see, and we spent about half an hour in the water or more before deciding we could go back in and find some lunch.

Whalewatch on Sunday was fun, but still kind of frustrating – I had a bad moment at the beginning when I realized I had booked our “free” whalewatch for one, not realizing that I hadn’t made sure to book the second person (which wasn’t free, alas). Fortunately, the lady at Pacific Whale Foundation overbooked us by one so we were both able to go, whew. It was a pretty full boat, naturally, and we did see a lot of whales right out of the harbor, but not much activity.

The One That Got Away

And the one shot I had at an amazing, close-up fluke was ruined by my use of the autofocus feature on my camera; there was much swearing (under my breath, but probably perfectly audible to parents standing next to me). I did get a couple of good shots, but once again it seemed we weren’t in the right spot at the right time for breaches or tail-slapping, just lots of mother-calf pairs sloping around near the surface.

And… a few tail shots, but not the ones I really wanted with the underside of the flukes for ID purposes. Still, they’re very nice.

Maui Whale Tails
Maui Whale Tails
Maui Whale Tails
Maui Whale Tails

After the cruise was over, we went for breakfast to Beach Bums, which had a great location in the Maala’ea Harbor Shops building as we trudged back up from the boat toward the car. Too bad they were so bad at service; we waited a long time for coffee after the waitress dumped a single serving at our table and walked away for more than 15 minutes. They served in Venti-sized cups, either doubled or with a heat liner, but only filled a little past the halfway mark. So for the longest time we looked questioningly at our double-cupped, half-full single portion and wondered if we were expected to share, and tried unsuccessfully to catch the eye of a server or the owner-manager. While waiting, I saw one plate of eggs-and-something sent back, as the eggs were “a little too easy for over easy.” Not a good sign, and then we heard one waitress holler “the kitchen isn’t getting the order tickets.” Another not-good sign, but eventually we got both a second cup of coffee (after finally flagging down our waitress) and our breakfast orders, which were both cooked to the right degree.

After that, we had the snorkel gear in the car, so we went to Olowalu, an unimproved stretch of beach that is still very popular with snorkelers. We’ve been there before where David and Steve didn’t have a good time at all, due to the lack of clearance on some of the shallower reef, and although I like it, David prefers deeper waters. I stuck to the main channel, which is usually marked with a diver flag so you can see where to line up for your return trip, and didn’t bother to put on my wet suit or take my camera. I figured that since David wan’t snorkeling, I wanted a kind of self-limiting factor that kept me from dawdling too long, and it worked out fine. There were plenty of fish to see, although there was a lot of unhealthy looking coral close in. Didn’t see any turtles, octopi, or eels this time (David got a nice shot of a zebra moray when we were at Ahihi Bay). We stopped at the cliff overlook for quite a long time, watching for whales, too.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

After that, I took a few photos of plumeria blooms around the condo – note to Second Life developers, this is what the ubiquitous landscaping plant is suppsed to look like…

Maui 2010

Yesterday, Monday, we loaded the hiking gear up and headed to Pa’ia, Hana, and Kipahulu/Haleakala National Park. Earlier in the trip, we’d driven over to Pa’ia and Ho’okipa for lunch – about the only photo I took then was of surf hitting the lava promontory off the Ho’okipa lookout. Back in Pa’ia on that day it took forever to find a parking spot for our lunch at Milagros (which was delish, as always), but yesterday on the way to Hana, it wasn’t so much of a problem.


We picked up picnic lunches from Anthony’s, a coffee place that seems to have added a lot of attractive merch since our last visit. I thought these Japanese-style dolls were cute, and they’re in the same style as a wooden one that I own. Apparently each one is unique and is supposed to exemplify some trait, like “joy” or “harmony.” Might end up adapting the idea for my Second Life shop.

After that, we enjoyed the drive along the Hana Highway.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

We brake for waterfalls!

We imagined ourselves as competitors in the Olympic 2-person car luge, given the curvy road and numerous one-car bridges and places where cars must Yield to Oncoming Traffic. We wondered if the Hana Highway has the highest average number of warning and informational signs per mile of any in the US – sometimes there’s a Road Narrows, Yield Ahead, and Yield sign in a set within a few short yards.

Also – to the young woman in the white Suzuki who was in such a lather, life is too short to be you, apparently. You’re obviously Not From Around Here if you’re going to holler obscenities on the road to Hana, because everybody knows it’s not a road to be traveled at high speed – even the locals. They might zip around as fast as they can, but they also respect the yield signs and actually wave or honk “thank you” when you pull over to let them pass. Which we did, many times, and we did pull over for Miss Honking, Screaming, Frothing-at-the-Mouth Bitch once we figured out she was yelling at us. I hollered in kind and waved the hand gesture that was not the friendly, hang-loose “shaka” that you see in the islands – it was the “Hawaiian good luck” gesture as demonstrated by those nice Navy men that were captured by the North Koreans all those years ago.

It was not pleasant to hear her hollering “I’m not going to sit here and follow you all the way, you prick!” and “Fuck you, get out of the way” so of course we let her past, so she could go bother the guy in front of us, who was ALSO not going too slowly for conditions. It was quite amusing to watch how suddenly she went from screaming and honking to silent and slow as she met an oncoming car at one of those places where both vehicles have to creep past each other with inches to spare. She wouldn’t have had to do that if she’d actually… respected the yield signs, but they don’t apply to loud, rude persons such as herself.

After she sped off in a cloud of exhaust and vitriol, things were much more enjoyable. We got to Kipahulu (the section of Haleakala National Park that extends down to an ancient village site along the course of a stream) and set off on one of our favorite hikes, the one up to Waimoku Falls. My workouts the last five or six months have really paid off – although I do get pretty puffy on steeper uphill sections (especially if it’s warm) I eventually got my “second wind” after the steepest section (the part up until there’s a gated fence). We’ve been on that trail 3 or 4 times now, and every time is a little different.

The lower sections of trail are being worked on, and we passed several husky young men breaking up blue-colored stone to be used as stairsteps on the steeper parts. Otherwise, the lower third of the trail is very “rooty” and eroded (it’s VERY popular). Once past the fence and beyond the one banyan tree whose branch crosses the trail supported by thick aerial roots, you continue upwards until you start to hear water more and more loudly on the right hand. There wasn’t very much water coming down this year, by the way: we’ve been there when there were absolute torrents of the stuff coming down, with warning signs up everywhere. This time, just the normal “DEATH will result” signs on the cliff edges were there, happy happy joy joy.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

Impatiens grows wild in this part of Maui, where there are cool damp hillsides and even cliffs.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

Anyway, we made it to our favorite part, the mysterious deep green bamboo forest.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

I’ve taken this shot before, but it never fails to fascinate, even though I know where it leads:

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

It just looks so mysterious, that stairway.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

And this strange thing – looks like a fig or other fruit tree, being strangled out by the bamboo, but still it has some heart, no?

Once we got to Waimoku, where we’d heard from other hikers that some large rocks had fallen from far above, guess where David needed to go to get his shot?

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

Yes, that’s right. Beyond the DANGER! DANGER! sign.

Maui Flowers and Bamboo

But of course it was worth the effort.

After that, we made it back down, glad we’d worn heavy hiking boots rather than the flip flops and Tevas we saw other hikers wearing… ??? Yeah, it’s a very rooty-tooty rocky-rolly trail, so I don’t know if they all made it beyond, say, the easily negotiated recycled plastic walkways in the bamboo forest. On the way down, however, I was beaten, badly, in the trail luge by a couple of German women in, yes, flip-flops. Oh, the agony of de feet! As by the time I got to the parking lot, mine were in agony. It was kind of hot, I guess, for the socks I’d packed, but I’m still glad I had the extra protection.

We drove back via Makawao – more or less, as we missed some turns and had to use the map feature of my iPhone to get to Casanova’s for a nice Italian dinner. And we went to bed pretty early again, although the aches I felt on awakening this morning pretty much put a stop to our “early morning snorkel” plans. We did snorkel in the late morning, right in front of the condo, before running an errand to Long’s Drug to get smelly stuff for my hair, and then a quick trip to see what the reportedly big surf was doing at Ho’okipa. It was too surgy and choppy by the time we got there, though it was pretty to watch.

And now we’re getting ready to go to the Waterfront for dinner. Tomorrow: more snorkeling in the AM, and we’ve got dinner plans at Fish and Poi in Napili followed by a nice concert with the Slack Key Masters program.

UPDATE: And of course dinner at the Waterfront was wonderful; I spent a lot of time remembering the first time I ate there, on my sister Timmy’s fabulous “Hawaii 5-0” with my mom and “Aunt Veda” and other family members. We’ve lost Mom and Veda since then, but will never forget the notorious plastic ants that my sister Tudy pulled out of her purse to play with on the deck; they’re excellent prank props for frozen Daiquiris, for one thing. Also, I recall an epic game of SPOON. There are pictures somewhere at home, which I need to scan and upload for a planned project anyway.

Nothing like that would ever happen at the Waterfront now, of course, it has a reputation for relaxed elegance to maintain. But back then when it was a brand new place, with only a sandwich board out on Hauoli Road to indicate that a restaurant was tucked around to the makai side of the Milowai condo property. We had a lot of fun on that deck then, but David and I had decorous good fun last night, too.

Today has been overcast so we’ve mostly been indoors, although during a sun break we went out and played in the ocean a little. David got cold and went up to the condo, but I stayed out a little longer bouncing around on the silky sand on my toes in about chest-depth water. The temp was a little cool on entry, but comfortable enough for a while once in… but it felt REALLY good to get in the pool after, which is slightly heated. Got back in the ocean after I sighted a whale breach, so I could say I “swam with the whales” later. Uh huh.

After more R&R we’re now deciding the next big thing: Where To Have Lunch. Later on, we’ll drive up toward Napili for tonight’s Slack Key Masters concert. And we’ve already decided that our next trip to Maui will probably be in a couple of years, and we may go for a stay in the Napili area again.

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