Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Road "from" Hanna.


Everyone always calls it the road to Hana, but if you are already in Hana that seems like the wrong name. Doesn't it?
This morning Kathy woke up early with something resembling food poisoning. We are not sure what she has, since we both ate the same meals yesterday. The bummer is that we had to check out of our hotel by 11 am and she could barely move. I tried to see if we could stay an extra day, but they were booked solid. Our initial plan was to get up early and see the sites along the drive. This plan was not working out since Kathy was in pretty bad shape. The road from Hanna is not the best highway to travel on if your stomach is queasy. I had a plan though. It involved stopping often so that we could see some sites and Kathy could get a break from the twisty road. The first stop was Waianapanapa State Park. It has some really nice hikes to several natural arches and blow holes. One of the hikes takes you to these lava caves with crystal clear pools that you can go for a swim if you like. I met an old local dude there that was playing his flute in the cave. There are definitely some characters on this island.

From 2009_02_20 - Maui

Lava Tube Springs

From 2009_02_20 - Maui

Natural Arch

The next several stops along the twisty road involved stunning views of the ocean and one spectacular waterfall after another. Now this road is famous for being all twisty and bendy, but after our trip out on the "original" road to Hanna, this one seemed a bit tame.

From 2009_02_20 - Maui

For our last two nights I scored a smoking deal at the Marriott. I didn't take any photos, but you can see what it looks like here. Kathy wanted some pool time; however, I'm not sure that is going to work out for her. We did get her checked in and tucked into bed. Hopefully, she will be able to lay by the pool tomorrow. I think that would beat the crap out of the hotel room. Most days that we have been here, laying out in the hotel would have been a pretty good gig since we have had nice ocean view rooms. It figures that the day we need to hunker down, the room is not ideal. As for me, I'm sitting outside watching the moon drinking a Hoegarden - on tap, non the less. Dave, you would be proud.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Trying to eat with chop sticks and a hosed up finger ... Sucks.

Kathy Pace Brown

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top of the World

Look ma, we are on a volcano.

Kathy Pace Brown

The Long and Winding Road

Hmm, it really is Thursday as I write this. I've almost caught up. Usually I have been doing this a day or two later whenever I get time. When we were in Eastern Europe last fall, I was actually able to write while we were on the train. Now, there really isn't a train and I notice that I just don't seem to have as much time. Tonight is different as you will soon see.
We stayed at the Paia Inn for two whole nights, so you can imagine that it was time to get the heck out of dodge and check out some place new. First stop is the top of Maui, to the top of Haleakala, whether it is erupting or not. I have to say, it is impressive up there and quite chilly compared to the beaches below. What can I say about it? It is tall. It has old lava flows. It has a bunch of white telescopes on the summit. Why are they white? Do they really get that hot up there? I think a nice beige might be nicer. My recommendations. Get a cabin up there and stay over night. You and 12 of your friends can stay in the cabin for $75. The cabins have heat, pots, pans, & a roof. What else do you need? Or if you don't want to stay overnight, hike from the top of the crater to the lower looks out. It is about a 12 mile hike. Very cool.

The drive has several million switchbacks, and because I really like switch backs, we picked today to drive to Hana - on the east side of Maui. And because we are extra crazy, we decided to take the small beater road on the south side - the Pi'ilani highway. It is more like goat track than a highway.

The Good Section of the Pi'liani Highway

Looks Like Wyoming - Except for the Ocean Part

It takes a good two hours to drive to Hana along this road. It is slow going with many one lane bridges and narrow ledges. Parts of the road are so close to the water, you get spray from the waves.

Hana is a sleepy little town on the east side of Maui. It makes a nice contrast to all of the mega resorts on the rest of the island. We ended up picking up a one bedroom condo for two nights. We picked up another place on the water with an ocean view. It is really nice to be able to listen to the ocean roaring all night.

There are not many places to eat (or buy food, or do anything for that manner) in Hana. One of the few things to do is visit the Hotel Hana. They usually have some locals playing at the bar. often you can see the locals come out for Hula. Okay, we didn't get to see any locals dancing, bit we heard some good music.

Note - I really didn't come close to finish this post on Thursday. I finally got it done on Sunday, for reason's that will become clear.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Slackness Prevails


Okay, I admit it, I am getting slacker with these updates. But I have good reasons. First, I can't type worth a crap since I busted my finger surfing those knarly rips on the north shore :-) Second, I've just been too busy & third, it may have something to do with all of the Mai Tais I've been sampling.
Hmm, where to start. After my personal pity party about my finger (you have know idea how many times I just retyped this last sentence ... stupid finger), we checked out of our hotel and headed up to Paia. Paia is a funky hippy surfing town on the north shore. It is home to a mixture of counter culture drop outs and Gen X (or maybe Y or Z) hard core surfers and windsurfers. The weather is not as mellow as southern Maui, but that is the way they like it. We stayed at a funky little place called the Paia Inn, which came complete with a Granite counter kitchen and a iPod clock radio. The owner is an interior designer and everything was well thought out, including the private path to the beach adorned with your very own tiki palls. But we didn't stay there long and head out to the wind surfer beach to watch some of these guys practice. It was blowing 20+ knots and these guys were doing their stuff. We got to see a couple of flips and other crazy things.

It looked like a hell of a lot of fun.

The main reason to head to Paia is that it was close to the Maui Arts Center. This is where Jimmy Buffet was playing tonight and we were not interested in driving to far. Our friend Teressa drove down from Lahaina to meet us for the concert and after heading to the local Mexican place for an early dinner and some Margaritas (after all it is Jimmy Buffet), we headed to the concert. The weather was threatening to rain on us a bit, but with a couple of offerings to the tiki gods, we were able to abate the rains. Teressa was able to get us seats pretty close to the front.

Thye had a special place set aside where you could get a drink or two, but they kept on running out of Margaritas. The bartender gal said that they didn't expect to sell so many Margs. Hello. Thjis is a Jimmy Buffet concert. Anyway, they ended up running out of mixer, but had plenty of tequila, so they ended up serving tequila a lime. Overall, I think that was probably one of the best concerts I have been too. He ended up playing most of the songs that I like best (except for Jolly Mon) and he definitely wasn't mailing it in.
After the concert was over, Teressa ended up staying at our pad to avoid the drive back to Lahania. The next morning we all slept in and hunkered down a bit to avoid the rain. Ahh, the rain. It does rain here in Hawaii, especially on the North shore, and we ended up getting a pretty good storm with wind gusts up to 45 kts. The windsurfers loved it, and were out in full force. Kathy and I ended up donning our rain gear and went hiking up in the mountains. Reminded me a bit of Bellingham in the summer, except it was a bit warmer. That afternoon, we went down to the kite surfing beach to watch some of the guys (and gals) do trick. I had big plans to take kite surfing lessons, but was thwarted because of my stupid lame-ass finger. These guys are pretty amazing.

That night I followed my brothers suggestion and went to Mama's Fish House for dinner. Way over priced, but worth it. The food, ambiance and location are as good as it gets. Definitely worth a trip if you are in Maui.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Ripping Good Time


This morning we decided to head out for a drive around the western part of Maui. We started with an obligatory snorkel at Kahekili beach. This beach had an almost non-existent surf, so the water was exceptionally clear. No turtles this morning, but I did see more fish than I had at the previous sites. Many of the public beaches have nice outdoor shower facilities so you can rinse off the salt and the sand. At this shower I was rinsing off and removing my reef shoes when I heard this little pop from my right index finger. Strange. When I looked at my finger I noticed that the last digit was a bit droopy. Uh-oh. So we quickly did a bunch of internet research (See, these smart phones are good for something), called my doctor friend and concluded that I had ripped my extensor tendon. Bummer. I wasn't even doing anything cool. The cure is to immobilize the digit for up to six weeks for sever tears, less for mild tears. Tony thinks that I may have a mild case since I don't have any pain. BTW, it is hard to type without the index finger. I almost do better on the Blackberry!
After our impromptu surgery, we headed west around the island to the Honulua store for a little lunch. The store is an old company store from the Hawaiian Pineapple company and is still a meeting place for the local workers at the resort.
The surf was really rocking today, so we decided to stop at a bunch of the surf spots. First, was DT Fleming beach to watch some of the surfers on the "small" waves, and the off to Slaughter house and Honulua bay to watch the surfers hit the larger 10+' waves.

It was pretty impressive to watch. Some of these guys would just get hammered!

Continuing along the road, the road got even more narrow and curvier. Often, we (well Kathy, I wasn't driving because of my finger), would have to back up to the traffic pass. The shoreline just got more and more rugged, with spectacular cliffs and cool blowholes.

That evening we headed over to the Lahania yacht club and visited with some of the locals. The yacht club is probably more of a drinking club than a yachting club since there isn't really any place to keep boats out here. They do host one really big race each year: Victoria to Maui. Sounds like a cool race.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bang, Bang on Your Drum Baby.


The plan was to meet our friend Teresa for an early morning hike around Napoli. Unfortunately, she was feeling a bit under the weather and decided to sleep in a bit. After our new favorite morning ritual of whale watching and tea drinking, we walked down to the main drag of Lahania, past the elementary school and the old banyan tree to the marina. There just are not many harbors in Hawaii and the ones that do exist tend to be man made and small with crumbling facilities. It's too bad, because I think it would be an interesting place to sail. The town of Lahania is interesting for a quick stroll. If you can look past all of the tourist shops you can find some interesting old buildings, churches, and cemeteries scattered about.
After the stroll we picked up Teresa and headed up to Napoli beach. This beach is situated within some low lying hotels, so it is not as hemmed in as some of the beaches with twenty story hotels towering over them. My goal was to check out the snorkeling which I succeeded in. The surf was up on the south side of the beach, so it was a bit cloudy. The coral was pretty dead and was completely encrusted with sea urchins. According to my marine biologist friend who spent quite a bit of time out here, the reefs are in pretty bad shape and are continuing to deteriorate. But they still have a bit of life left in them. We did get see a cool turtle swimming in the breakers.

Next it was off to the Hula grill for some lunch. This is a great seaside restaurant with really good food and great people watching. Highly recommended.
Afternoons are meant for lazing about and we had some power lazing to do before we headed south for the evening.
Maui has a ton of beaches and one of the biggest is Makena beach. This beach, also known as big beach, extends in a long swept crescent for who knows how long (well somebody does, but I can't remember). But that wasn't really our destination. We were heading to little beach, the beach for more of the free spirited types on the island. Every sunday, many of the locals gather, bringing drums, torches and not much else and have a downright pagan drum circle. This goes on from about 4 to well after sunset. I mean these guys drum continuously for hours. What a workout. As it gets darker, the fire dancing starts, complete with fiery swirling batons. This beach is the "alternative lifestyle" beach so you get quite the show. You have the buff tanned dude who spends hours running the length of the beach (all 100 yards of it) in his birthday suite while some other less buffed dude feels the need to roll around in the surf for the same amount of time. Reminded me of the courtship rituals of the birds of paradise. The sunset was pretty amazing and the walk out was particularly challenging since we left out flashlights in the hotel.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Turtle time.

Getting ready to swim with the turtles.

Kathy Pace Brown

Turtles, Turtles Everywhere?


Hawaii's time zone is two hours later than Seattle (this week, anyway). This works out pretty well because the days tend to start and end earlier than they would back home (well for us, anyway). This morning we woke with the sun and had a nice leisurely breakfast with a spot of Earl Grey tea. This was accompanied by our personal whale serenade out our window. If you come in February, do get a room with an ocean view, I think it is worth it. And, while I am on the subject, do get a kitchen. It is really nice not to have to eat out for every meal.
After breakfast we quickly packed up our car, including emergency back up food, for our search for the elusive turtle bay. Actually, there is officially no such bay, but we heard that it was kind of at the south end of Makena beach. Now it turns out there are several places to park at Makena, but I thought the one closest to the old church looked best.

Ye Old Church

As we were walking towards the water, a local gave us the 411 and pointed us in the right direction. Quickly I donned my trusty mask, fins and snorkel and headed for the water. Oops, there was quite a big surf, and I had forgotten how to properly get in the water with all of my gear on. After a couple of comical attempts, I managed to plunge myself into the water and right before my eyes was a turtle, swimming for my vouristic pleasure. After snorkeling around for another hour or so, I saw exactly zero more turtles. I did see a lot of cool fish and some other snorkelers, but no turtles.
Okay, it was clearly time to blow this dive and head on down the road or at least to the end of the road which is La Perouse Bay.
La Perouse bay is at the end of the last lava flow that occurred on Maui (around 1790). The bay is a stunning turquoise which is offset by the black lava. A short hike along the beach trail brings you to a couple of pre-lava dwellings. The foundations of these houses are made from the same black lava and are almost indistinguishable from the surrounding lava flow. Farther down the trail is a cool little blow hole that erupts with each wave that rolls into shore.

After tromping around the lava for a bit, we headed back north and stopped by a roadside good stall for some fish tacos covered with a spicy mango sauce. Yummy.

That evening we met Kathy's friend, Teresa, for some sushi in downtown Lahania. The sushi bar was a pretty authentic Japanese and even had a karaoke bar.
And then it was 9 pm, Maui midnight, as Teresa call it, time for a little shut eye, but not before we had a nice view of the Southern Cross and Orion.

Okay, so only one turtle. I should probably re-title this to "Look, A Turtle," but what fun is that?


Friday, February 20, 2009

Bellingham to Maui

This morning the temperature was hovering just below freezing, turning everything the fog touched to a glistening sheen of ice. Time to get the hell out of here. Bags are packed kitties are fed, and the ice is scraped off the windshields. We headed our small craft out our Fairhaven harbor and onto the bustling river that is known as I-5. Even though it was 7 am, the traffic behaved itself and we made it to seatac without any delays. At the gate, I couldn't help notice all of the brave souls in their shorts and island gear. Me? I was a whimp and wore jeans and a pile jacket. Those planes are cold!
Okay, I know that is just way too much detail, but I am sitting on this plane typing on Kathy's blackberry ... Just trying it out (really).

Coming in For A Landing

We arrived in Maui around 2:30 pm. We had heard that rental car lines could be long, so Kathy headed to baggage claim while I headed out to Avis. Unfortunately, Avis was out of the compact car that I had rented. Fortunately, they upgraded me to a Jeep. I suspect the Jeep will be handy when we drive the back road to Hana.
After picking up Kathy, we headed out to our hotel, Lahania Shores. Kathy was able to score ocean view rooms at the last minute. The facility is pretty small. The upside being that the rooms are only about one hundred feet from the water. We have a studio room with a full kitchen. In the morning we are able to make breakfast and watch the whales. Oh, I didn't mention the whales. The bay is just chocked full of them. At anytime, you can look out the window and see several spouts. With binoculars we are able to see flukes, fins, and snouts.
After we checked in and unpacked, I headed out and snorkeled to the little reef right in front of the hotel. Maybe not the best reef, but pretty good for the first day.
After that we headed over to the Aloha Mixed Plate for some traditional Hawaiian grub and finally over to the Grocery store for some provisioning. We had high hopes of doing the Friday art walk in Lahania, but the early morning wake up and traveling got the best of us and we fell quickly to sleep.