Back from Maui

Maui, Cycling, August 31, 2008
Originally uploaded by ochawan

Hitomi and I went to Maui for my former boss's and good friend Boon's wedding.

For our main activities, we considered kayaking some of the areas around Maui, but then later we later decided to cycle.

Looking at a map of the island, I considered the possibilities: A sixty-mile loop of West Maui, including the "pali" of the north shore; a thirty-mile climb of Haleakala, a 130-mile loop of East Maui, from Paia towards Hana and back over the Kula highway, and a shorter loop of about 20 miles on the Kula and Old Kula highways.

We did only the first and last mentioned routes. And actually, Hitomi only did the first 30 miles of the West Maui loop from Wailuku. Still, those 30 miles were extremely hilly, about 4500 feet of climbing! The rest of the route was mostly flat; Hitomi took a bus to Lahaina, I met her there and we had lunch. Then she took a bus to Wailuku and I fought some very serious headwinds (20+ knots) the last 15 miles or so.

Cycling's rough especially when the temperatures are in the nineties and there's plenty of afternoon and trade winds to deal with. So after that trip we resigned ourselves to lesser excursions. Hitomi didn't want it to become our week of "training" — this was obstensibly a vacation! So I gave up going alone up Haleakala, and although a Hana loop sounded fascinating, I gave that up for lack of time.

What else did we do? After our West Maui cycle on Sunday, Hitomi make an attempt to snorkel Monday, but suddenly reached "deep water", freaked out and kicked a sea urchin. After removing most of the spines, she was knitting the rest of that day. I rediscovered that "Little Beach" is in fact a nude beach, though great for snorkeling: I find a sea turtle! I also body surf, with my bicycle jersey to protect myself from the sun, along with nude and half nude (gay) guys and girls.

Tuesday we do that "Up Country" loop I mentioned. It's 7 miles of nonstop climbing at first, but the good news is the later 13 is pretty much all downhill. We stop by the Botanical Gardens: There's some African cranes that Hitomi says have Mohawks. Everything in the garden is pretty much the same as I recall during my visit 9 years ago. Later we stop at a bakery. Returning is easy: we're back to the car in about 20 minutes.

Wednesday we wake up at 4am and Hitomi drives up to the summit of Haleakala. We just make the sunrise but the sun's in our eyes and although it's a beautiful glow over a sea of clouds, you can't really "see" the crater. To get a look back, I suggest a hike: We hike into the crater in sandals on the "moving sands" trail which is not so great for sandals as it turns out, but it's interesting terrain and vegetation. A couple of hours later we're back to the car again. It seems a lot of people come for the sunrise then disappear, and so around 9 or 10am it's pretty quiet in the park. The rangers seem forlorn as few visit the various look-outs. I do notice a couple of cyclists coming up as we drive back down and then I half-wish I made the climb myself.

Still, thanks to the car, I had the rest of the day to hang out on the beach rather than recover from a 10k foot climb. Hitomi's not beach savvy so I'm out snorkeling alone. Swimming alone in the ocean probably isn't safe, but what choice do a I have? It's great though; I have Ahihi Bay for myself. Much of the nature preserve is "closed" until La Parouse Bay and there's little development here: The coral coverage and fish population is much better than I remember from my first trip to Maui (and Kauai).

Thursday we spent $200 or so each on a sailing cruise to Lana'i aboard the "Trilogy", a 65' catamaran similar to one I'm building. I should discuss the trip in a separate posting as it made me reflect on what Tim and I are doing. Suffice it to say, Hitomi was a lot more impressed and interested the trip than I would have expected. I think one of the things that she was happy about was being taken out on a surfboard by a crew member to snorkel and she could finally "see" what I've been seeing all week.

Friday: I wake up late (for a change) and post breakfast head out on bicycle back to Ahihi Bay and Little Beach. As it turns out, the swell is now coming up from the south, so all the crashing waves make for poor snorkeling in both spots. But it does make for great body surfing, although I get the crap beaten out of me, and whack myself on my nose at one point.

The wedding festivities start later that night with a Luau at the Old Lahina Luau. Although this being my fourth time in Hawaii, I had never been to a luau. Maybe because this time I did not have to pay. The food was a buffet, but still the food is quite good and fresh, as it's not kept around all day. The performances (music and hula) were interesting: Mostly it concerned the history of the Hawaiian people, who danced in various garb fitting for the various time periods. I could tell both the men and the women had talent in dance and in stage presence. And the staff/service were pretty good, in a way that made it seem people had to compete to get this job.

I had the thought that Hawaiians must generally stay in pretty good shape thanks to surfing. All that paddling out to the breaks develops a good upper body. Add in a nice tan and "tribal" tattoos, short cropped black hair and you have some handsome men. And hula's obviously good for the mid-section for the women. Those that don't exercise I imagine get pretty big from all the fatty pork, sugar (teriyaki), and macaroni salad that's everywhere. I wouldn't consider the Hawaiian diet healthy.

B and M invited their respective family members and friends. B's friends were mainly from work (including me) and he had his family from Malaysia and his sister and brother-in-law from Vegas. M had her brother and mother and a number of her friends. It was an interesting mix of races and people. Unfortunately, I think the settings that night (and subsequent dinners as well) kept everyone a bit isolated.

There was an early ceremony the next morning on a beach, accompanied by a guitar player and Hawaiian minister (?) as well as photographers and videographers. The ceremony was nice, the minister had some interesting and poignant non-religious things to say, for example in relating how the leis placed around our heads and on the sand where the couples stood would only last a few days: "Our lives are but a few days in the span of eternity." And for the butterflies released from a box at the conclusion of the ceremony, their lives were but a few seconds before being eaten by the birds.

We had a few hours post ceremony for a bit more "beach action": Hitomi's been working on her amigurumi project all week and stayed in the shade, and I headed into the surf. The swell was even larger than a few days ago and I was pummeled yet again. Yes it was fun, but I was subsequently suffering from the worst stuffed nose I've ever had.

Typically, I found that though my nostrils were full of salt water and sand, a subsequent and substantial drip would cleanse my nasal canals. Perhaps my glands were out of drip? Lunchtime at the Wailea Resort with the wedding attendees was good, but I then as pain increased, I considered returning back home to get a pain reliver. But a few automatic flushings might be forthcoming.

Boon gave us his room number and last name, so we could get access to the very expensive resort pools and facilities after getting wrist bands. Oddly, much of the facilities seemed empty. Worse were the "Shops at Wailea", where I only saw a handful of people. Was it always this dead post-Labor Day in Hawaii? I read that visitor numbers were down about 7% this year in the local paper. The lady in a henna shop said that she was getting half the number of customers as usual. And getting a spot on the Triology catamaran was no problem.

With my stuffed nose, I found relief sticking my face into the jacuzzi water, perhaps alarming other guests. Hitomi and I found our own cabana – usually cabanas required advanced reservations – and I listened to music as she knitted and the afternoon wind blew in the sides of the tent. Around 6PM, we went back to the restrooms where we changed back into our wedding clothes and headed over to eat.

I was hoping some booze would relieve the pressure but then we hear the news that we'd have to pay for our own drinks. Drinks at this resort were $10+, which might be resonable to those that spend $625 a night for a guest room. And as much as the food was really good, I couldn't taste much, and I wanted to get out of there. I was sitting with and chatted with M's brother and his companion ("friend"). Post dinner, we said a few farewells and returned to our humble condo in Kihei. It was a little bit strange, though, since it was clear everyone was tired at the end of the day and unlike many weddings nobody wanted to "party" or stick around to chat.

After finally acheiving nasal relief after a fretful night, I'm now going to be bringing nose plugs to the beach.

A couple of interesting things of note: The night we visited Koiso, a great Kihei sushi house, at the sushi bar was the local baker from Hiroki's, along with a couple of former Japanese Seattlities who had relocated to Maui. Most mornings Hitomi and I ate either out of our kitchen, and/or rode up and down South Kihei road to various bakeries. I managed to stay sunburn free all week, except the last day when I went out without my shirt on: Since I've been bicycling all summer, my arms and legs were already dark; my chest and back were easily burned. We had air conditioning in the condo, but the air conditioner was not in the bedroom but far in the living room, thus not so cool at night.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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1 Response to Back from Maui

  1. sdede2 says:

    Awesome trip. I'm planning a Haleakala climb this December when we go back to Maui.

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