I went back to Maui. 6 months after the first trip. Twice in Maui in a year, after a lifetime of not wanting to visit ever. (Well, about 28 years of that lifetime. Ever since tired of the tiresome forced banal prevalence of ‘hawaiian’ themed parties because of tackiness of decor and costume, coconuts & the intended humorous uses of, and the explosion of the phrase ‘get lei’d’ followed by a ha ha wink wink nudge nudge.) (I know, you’re thinking that’s a lot of adjectives—tiresome, forced, banal, tacky—yes it is. And that’s how I felt. Still do, actually, but only about those kinds of weird cultural appropriation party themes that I hope saw their heydey in the 90’s and have since fallen by the wayside. By now I realize plastic carnation-y looking things aren’t a good example of Hawaiian culture. The real leis are gorgeous.)
I had to go back, because unfinished business called. There were things I wanted to do or needed to finish. I had a really annoying need to go back as soon as I could to finish these nagging loose ends. Seriously, I could think of barely anything else outside of work for the six months it took me to get back. Is it love at first sight, Hawaii? Will this sudden love stand the test of time? Not sure. That was also part of unfinished business. Here, now, is what I accomplished the second time around:
Unfinished Business 1: Hike the Pali trail, to the windmills on top
I didn’t finish this last time as it was not actually on my list to do. It was in my head after returning from a side jaunt to Kauai to do the 11-mile crater hike in Haleakala with a guide. Then at the last minute I came to my senses and realized I reaaaallly didn’t need to spend the approximate $500 for a friend for a day (aka trail and safety educated certified of some sort trail guide). She understood, then gave me the heads up about the Pali trail. Which I could only hike on the day of my departure, since I was already up exploring Haleakala National Park (other than the long hike) for this day. So the next day with HOURS to waste before my flight left I headed over to the west side of Maui to the Pali trail, right in the sweet spot of mid-day sun and heat. The day before on the volcano with sun exposure at 10,000 feet had left me painfully sunburned, which left me feeling anxious as there is no shade on the trail and I didn’t have much water with me and I didn’t have a place to clean up before the flight home and and and and etc… so, I made it about ten minutes up the trail, saw a nice view, and went back down. It was a pretty 10 minutes, but I felt like a complete hiking failure.
This trip I would get to the windmills.
The Pali trail goes up one side of the hill and down the other. You can start at either side and do the entire thing, but to do so you’ll need a car at both trailheads, need to hike up then down and then back, hike around the big hill on the road to your car at the other trailhead, or hitchhike back to your car. I was on my own so two options I wasn’t comfortable with or couldn’t manage, and the other just seemed like an extra ton of walking in the sun I didn’t want to do. So, I hiked up and down the same Lahaina side of the trail, about 5 miles total, reapplying sunscreen a few times and at points hiking with my shawl/scarf over my head. (Lightweight shawls are helpful for many reasons. Always travel with one.) To the windmills I made it! All in all, a good and moderately strenuous few hours on sometimes tricky footing. I did not get much of a sunburn, instead I ended up with a very noticeable sock/shoe tanline and a sense of accomplishment. Unfinished business, finished.
Secondary unfinished business bit: bad attitude pose in Hawaii. I did do this, on top of the hill, but did not get a picture. My lack of being able to use the timer on my camera is astonishing. Also, the battery door latch is broken so it’s taped shut and doesn’t always want to stay connected for more than a second or two, so camera wouldn’t have made it through a timer cycle anyways.
Unfinished Business 2: Hike the rim to rim crater trail in Haleakala National Park
As mentioned, I did not do the 11 mile hike in May. So I was going to do the whole thing upon my return, I swore. However. I’m still timid to hike 11 miles in unfamiliar terrain on my own, when in powerful sun at an elevation I am not acclimated to with very few people around are factored in. I looked into a few guided tours, they either did not do the entire trail and were over $100 or did do the whole trail and cost $250 or up. No meal included. Which is a lot to pay for a friend for a day and whoever else will be in the group you may or may not like but have to put up with for hours. I just didn’t want to spend that money. Also, here’s another place where you’d either need two cars, on at each trailhead, or can hitchhike back to where your car is after finishing. Hitchhiking is widely accepted for hikers and others on Maui, but still, can’t make myself do that. Therefor I opted to start at the top of the trail and just see how far I got before turning around and coming back out.
The park rangers (park rangers are awesome) gave me a few landmarks along the way to gauge distance by—they always go by the rule of It Takes Twice As Long To Hike Up As It Does To Hike Down, So Keep That In Mind. Which is generally a good rule to keep in mind, dependent on your fitness level. I wanted 3-4 hours worth of time in the crater, figuring the scenery would be a little repetitive after a while, so started down the switchback trail. At about 50 minutes, where the trail passes through two large boulders and the trail going forward looks much the same as the trail behind me, I paused for a break and then started my return. After applying more sunscreen. Getting out of the crater, from where I was about 2.25 miles and 1217 feet down, took about 65 minutes. I must have been in better hiking shape than thought. I’ll have to do more next time, but from the other side of the trail. This unfinished business part I’m calling Good Enough For Now I Suppose, More To Come Sometime Later.
Unfinished Business 3: See some of how locals actually live
This trip I stayed in a studio condo in a golf course resort type area in Wailea, an upscale part of the island geared towards tourism. Instead of a resort with activities and onsite restaurants. The Waldorf Astoria and Hyatt and Four Seasons resorts were nearby, to give you an idea. There is an outdoor shopping area close with a Prada and other stores, that is easiest driven to, not walked. This was not where locals lived—rather where they came to work retail or service jobs, or where they drove through on the way to Makena & further south. The condo was a lovely condo for an ok price, but was more separate from town life than I wanted.
Wailea is south of the main Kihei area, which was much more of what I was looking for in this trip. Local shops, cafes, condo areas lined the streets, with beaches or more apartment/condo residences across the street. Guide books tell me these are some of the favorite beaches for locals. Which seemed true—as I wandered people seemed to have their beach/ocean routines set, done, then they head off to the next thing that they do everyday. It’s not always the big display we mainlanders make it to be, with all the gear and the lead up to it. Several families were having parties in the parks—big family groups, people of all ages and sizes coming together to celebrate a birthday. To jump in the bounce house for a bit, then go cool off in the ocean for a few minutes, then go play a game, then go visit with family under the tent while watching the little kids chase each other around with handfulls of frosting that inevitably end up smeared all over opposing force’s faces. Family fun in the park, set to the music of the large portable stereo someone hooked up.
Wailuku First Friday is a monthly party put on by the town of Wailuku. The town blocks off main street, puts up a stage on one end for the more well-known bands, while a park on the other end of the street serves as a smaller performance venue. The street in between and park area are filled with vendor booths for the town’s shops, restaurants, and bakeries. I heard about these friday town parties when leaving Maui the first time and hoped to visit Wailuku’s upon my return. So I did, not sure what the city turn out would be. Turns out that this is an event the town actually shows up for! With their friends, or with their family groups. (Though have to say I didn’t see that many groups of teens. Teens are too cool for a town party, I’m sure. Or maybe they showed up after I had gone for the evening. Either way, normal teenage behavior.) Many times I overheard “Hey, brah!” as greeting to friends or colleagues spotting each other in the crowd. There were vendors that were definite favorites among the locals, judging by the lines—most of those vendors had something to do with pork. I did not wait in those lines. I did have some delightful fish tacos and baked good of some sort stuffed with pumpkin. Skinny white guy with dreads was there hawking kombucha. I watched the middle shool band perform in the park venue, with the band leader named Benny who was so encouraging of his students. The band was all ukulele, of course. And amongst all of the friendly community gathering was one small dark spot, a group demonstration. A small group with their highly conservatively charged religious orator and their “Homosexuality Is a Sin” and “Got AIDs?” signs showing proudly their brand of hate or intolerance. And right next to them, several Wailuku town representatives, silently holding their own sign with the words “These Views are Not those of Wailuku Town,” who would stay the entire night, as long as the demonstration group was there. Thank you, Wailuku town.
The 2nd annual Made in Maui County Festival was happening at the Arts & Cultural center, so I stopped in. It’s like any arts festival. Jammed parking lots, lots of people, booths of local artisans. Many very talented, many environmentally focused in one way or another. A stage for product demonstrations. A food court. All outdoors. I wandered around, bought my daily dose of tuna poke from a food truck (delicious), and left. Even in Hawaii, this scene was much to similar to the arts street fairs here to be of interest. Too many people crowding a small space. This is one reason I wanted to be away from the city for a while.
Unfinished business of seeing how locals actually live: partially finished. I could do better.
Unfinished Business 4: Coffee at Ho’okipa overlook, honu up close, plus tour guide sighting
I missed out on this last time. Seeing/photographing the honu from the Ho’okipa overlook (forgot my memory card), then heading down to the beach to see them up close. This trip I wanted to survey the surf scene at the overlook in the morning standing in the breeze while drinking coffee purchased at a coffee shop in Paia on a ‘best coffee on maui’ list or two I’d seen, because that’s what I do, then wander down to the beach to get up close but a safe distance from the honu that use this particular beach as a resting spot. This happens to dovetail nicely with another secondary unfinished business bit: getting a picture with our tour guide for a day on the Road to Hana tour in May. Both Carrie and I realized this oversight almost immediately upon returning. I vowed to rectify this if I ended up in the same place at the same time with said guide, however awkward it may be. Ho’okipa overlook was one of the stops on the tour, and as I was there in the morning to drinking coffee while surveying honu and surfing, there was a chance the tour buses would be stopping at the same time I was there. So. Coffee at Ho’okipa, yes. Watching surfers, yes. Honu on the shore below, yes. Up close with the honu, yes. Was there even a rainbow? Yes. Was there a tour guide? Yes, many, from several companies. But not the one we knew. This was always an outside shot, so I shall call this unfinished business #4 finished nevertheless.
Unfinished Business 5: Bring back a Maui sea monster for my home
I purchased one for a friend in May and have had whiny voice saying “but I want one toooooo” in my head since then. Now I have one. And so does my mother. Happy Birthday to her.
Unfinished Business 6: Ali’i Kula Lavendar
Not really sure the impetus for having this on my list, but there it is. I stopped on the way down from Haleakala for a quick bite to eat and a beverage, and am glad I did. Lavender is not in season but the lovely gardens are still open to wander, there is a selection of great-smelling lavender products for sale in a no-pressure environment, and there’s a purple tree painted on the wall. So of course I loved it here. The woman taking care of the shop that day was one of the most friendly people I have ever met. We chatted a bit while waiting for her iphone to charge so she could ring up my lavender soap purchases. Turns out she does sometimes miss the more varied seasonal weather of other climates, though it does occasionally snow up on the mountain and trees kind of change color in the higher parts of upcountry. She mentioned being in Minnesota once, for a wedding in the winter. At a resort on a lake somewhere she didn’t remember where. She asked me if there was place like that in Minnesota, where there is a resort on a lake? I smiled and said yes, we do have a few resorts on lakes in Minnesota.
And now, Unfinished Business 7: Finding out if my sudden love for this place called Hawaii still exists
Based on Maui, yes. It’s a little more real to me now, instead of just resort life. But I think I’ll still have to go back sometime to reassess.