Maui: Sunday, December 6, 2009

As I predicted, we were up early. I don’t know whether we’ll ever adjust to the time and since we’re on vacation I’m not sure I really want to. There’s not a whole lot to do here at night and getting up early to enjoy the beautiful mornings is so worth it.

This morning we didn’t spend a lot of time in the room, we jumped in the car and drove to Safeway to pick up some breakfast items. We got cereal, milk, yogurt, chips, cheese, crackers and what would soon become our cocktail of choice, POG (passion fruit – orange – guava juice) and Malibu coconut rum. We packed the fridge back at the hotel, enjoyed a quick, light breakfast and got a little more beach time in.

After a while we decided to drive North a bit, to see what was there. I remember from last year that the Ritz Carlton Kapalua was up that way, but I didn’t have a car at that time and really didn’t get off property much due to a very packed meeting agenda. We drove past it a little way, then soon found ourselves among twisty, turny, tropical roads where when they say “15 miles per hour” they mean “15 miles per hour”. I had looked in my guide book and knew that there were some interesting stops along this road, so we did a couple pull-offs to admire some really pretty views.

The waves were really big and actually quite dangerous. We had overheard some hotel workers talking about how a woman and her daughter were caught up in them the previous day, and once someone finally realized they were calling for help, it was too late. They were in the hospital, but “unresponsive”. I guess looks can be deceiving – the waves don’t look too ominous, but with the beach being so steep and the water surging a certain way, people easily get thrown around and banged up against the beach or even carried out seaward from the undertow. Sad as this phenomenon is, it makes for very exciting surfing. We did see quite a few surfers in some spots, obviously enjoying themselves.

Some other interesting sights we got to experience were not so pleasant. We drove by a pull-off area where someone had taken a skinned boar and draped it over a large rock. It had quite the collection of flies and honestly reminded me of Lord of the Flies which I was forced to read by my junior high English teacher. Gross.

Another pull-off point we encountered seemed to have a lot happening there, as there were quite a few cars. We parked, got out and noticed quite a few signs reading “KEEP OUT” and “PRIVATE PROPERTY”. But heck, why should we listen? Look how many other people are here? Besides, we could always just play the “stupid tourist” card. One other sign which we’re still not sure about, read “COLD COCONUT.” I wonder now if that was some sort of code?

Anyway we walked along a very extremely rocky “beach” area which ended up being more like a cove. There were seacliffs on both sides and a few surfers enjoying the waves. We enjoyed the scenery but also felt some eyes on us as though we didn’t belong there. So we didn’t really dawdle, got back in the car and continued up the road.

Just a little further there was an area where again there were many cars so I pulled off, figuring there must be something here that was interesting enough. We got out and noticed some people hiking toward the sea. Why not? Let’s see what they’re looking at? A few steps later Terry exclaimed, “Cool! Look at that!” It was a huge blowhole, resembling a geyser, set in a rocky area near the coastline. It was the Nakalele blowhole, the very thing I was looking for to surprise him (thank you to my guide book Maui Revealed for the tip). We were instantly excited and really wanted to get closer and experience it. The only caveat – several hundred feet of sharp lava rock lining a deep descent.

Definitely not an easy hike. Definitely not a fun one. Definitely not something I would recommend while wearing flip flops as we were. Especially not my $2.50 Old Navy flip flops. Honestly getting down was not too difficult once I learned to take my time and choose my path carefully. Only one time did I nearly slip due to sandy conditions, which probably would have happened even with sneakers or hiking boots. I’m guessing it took us a good 20+ minutes to hike down to the bottom but once we finally made it, we realized how worth it that climb down was.

There were only two other people at the hole, a very nice couple from Vancouver named Jen and Larry. Can you believe that? The four of us took turns taking photos and videos of each other getting doused by the blowhole and finally when we thought we had enough photographic evidence, we put the cameras aside and just enjoyed the experience together. Honestly this was the most fun I have had in a long time.

I didn’t want to get my camera too close for fear of getting it wet and rendering it useless forever, so I’ll have to describe the blow hole. It is a natural 3-foot-wide hole in a very large, flat rock. It is pink inside, and quite smooth, with some very interesting round starfish which looked almost like  one-inch, black buttons. Underneath is obviously a pocket where water fills up. When the sea is as rough as it has been, the waves crash into the pocket, causing the air and water pressure to spit water straight out into the air (I’m guessing as high as 50 feet or more). At some points it instead heaved out large, heavy swells of white seafoam and water, completely drenching whomever is standing next to the hole.

This photo was taken from quite a distance away – at this point, the blowhole is shooting water up about 100 feet into the air, to give you some perspective.

When we finally had enough of the blowhole, we started our climb back up the rocky hill. Cheap flip flops are not made for hiking over steep, sharp lava rocks, but cheap WET and MUDDY flip flops are certainly not made for it either. At one point I was so focused on getting my footing that I took a wrong turn and ended up on a cliff’s edge. It was a happy accident though, because I discovered a rock with a hole, perfectly shaped into a heart. Very cool.

Back on track, and making my way up the hill I slipped too many times. Finally I discovered that a flat, sandy area, a flat, muddy area or a flat rock was best taken barefoot. That helped a bit, and after a long, truly exhausting climb, we made it back to the car, sore and tired, and more than ready to go back to the hotel.

Full of dirt, ash, dried sweat and sea salt, we both took some much-needed showers and I mixed up some pre-dinner cocktails. We discovered the most delicious beverage ever and named it the “Tropical Storm”. All it is, is POG mixed with Malibu rum. BEST. DRINK. EVER! I have to say, this cocktail is the equivalent of our love affair with gelato when we were in Rome.

After enjoying cocktails, we headed off to Lahaina Town for dinner. We walked along the streets and poked into a few shops. One art gallery had some wonderful prints of retro advertising, something Terry and I are both very fond of. We stepped in to a gift shop where Terry found a cowboy-style hat that looks great on him, and we picked up some T-shirts for the kids. We opted to eat at Kimo’s, a rooftop restaurant overlooking Lahaina Beach . Another sunset dinner and more mai tais – life was good! I enjoyed my filet mignon immensely but saved room for their famous dessert, Hula Pie: Oreo crust with macadamia nut ice cream.

Completely full, we walked back towards the car, but were sidetracked by Cheeseburger in Paradise. We went upstairs to the bar which was loaded with kitschy Hawaiian tiki décor, license plates and plastic cheeseburgers. Terry enjoyed a local beer called Longboard and I had a Pina Colada, while we engaged in conversation with the bartender, a really friendly and nice guy.

Drinks at Cheeseburger in Paradise.

Exhausted (again) and thoroughly stuffed (again), we made our way back to the car and drove back to the hotel to crash for the night. Having fun is hard work!

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