Saturday, August 27, 2011

Two Wonderful Weeks on Maui, Hawaii

Welcome back, it has been a little while since my last update, as it has been about two weeks since my last little adventure.  Life has been busy for me recently. Between my trips to the San Juans, Southern Oregon, California, Hawaii and soon Alaska, I'm trying to work a few days, and take care of all my affairs so I can head international again.  It's a little tiring, but all worth it.

Anyways, back to business; my most recent trip! This one was all about visiting my friends Nick and Ellen on Maui in Hawaii, where they have been living for about six months fixing up and developing the property Ellen's dad purchased.  The idea was go to there, help them work on the property, relax, and play at the beach. All these goals were accomplished, haha...

My flight out went from Seattle to Sacramento to Maui. As a result of the clear weather, I got a wonderful series of views of all the mountains in the northwest.  This of course is Mt Rainier, views of Adams, Hood, Shasta and others were just as good.

I landed in Maui in the morning, and was picked up by Nick who had a handmade lei waiting for me.

Arrival on the property! The property itself is 5 acres, with a main house and a smaller cottage.  It is located at 3,700 feet up the side of the Haleakalā volcano, and has wonderful views of the water.  Tim (far left), Ellen's dad uses the cottage as a vacation home, and Nick and Ellen have been living there while fixing up the area.  The main house is where Ellen's aunt and uncle live, with there two daughters pictured here.

Most of the property is totally overgrown with invasive trees and a perfect habitat for jackson's chameleons, which are some pretty neat little creatures.

The goats (and Nick) playing with the teeter-totter in their pen.

That first night we had dinner with everyone, burgers with pineapple on the BBQ.

The next morning, Nick, Joseph (Ellen's uncle) and I went to Ukumehame Beach to go surfing.  This was my first time ever on a surfboard and I really enjoyed it.  I've got a lot to learn, but like scuba diving, it has given me a new and exciting perspective on the ocean and I'm very interested in continuing surfing in my next travels.

Planting flowers on the hillside behind the cottage. 

That  night, Tim took the tree of us out to Italian for dinner.

The next morning, the four of us went up to Haleakalā National Park for a little walk and birding.  This shield volcano makes up 75% of the island, and is 10,023 feet tall.  I always pictured Hawaii as green and tropical everywhere, but at this elevation, to me it looks more like the desert in eastern Washington.

Look, a bird! We stopped at a place called Hosmers Grove, with a very friendly park ranger and a nice little walking trail. 

This was the prize of the day, the I’iwi.  We were getting frustrated (bad birders I guess) with how hard it was to spot the birds, then this one came right up to us and spent quite a few minutes in the bushes getting nectar from the flowers.

In the afternoon it was time to get to work, and Nick and I worked on a planting bed we had started the previous day.  As you can see, this area below the cottage was totally overgrown, so time to clean it up and make it look nice again.  Nick and I also pulled out the chainsaw and did some tree clearing as well, a seemingly endless task around here!

The next day, Nick, Ellen and I headed down the mountain to her friend Junior's place, where he does woodwork.  We all worked on various little projects, forming bracelets out of raw branches, sanding sticks for hula dances, and Ellen working on a new prototype of some hair sticks.

In the afternoon we did  more work at home, finishing prep-work on the planting bed and getting a number of things in the ground. 

The next day was pure play.  We loaded the car up with snorkel gear, boogie boards, beach mats and towels and set off down the mountain. 

This is the resort section of Maui, what I think most people have in mind when you say 'Hawaiian vacation': palm trees, condos and green golf courses.

This is not how we were experiencing Hawaii, haha...

Beyond the resorts however, is Makena State Park, a smallish beach with some good snorkeling.  The coral seemed to be fairly healthy, with may species of fish swimming around.  In addition, I we saw three or four different turtles, which was much better sightings than I ever got in the Philippines of Thailand. 

Once we were done snorkeling, we headed to a different beach for some boogie boarding and sun bathing.  Again, we saw a number of turtles bobbing around us in the waves.  The boogie boarding was a blast and the sandy beach was perfect, hardly a rock around.

Stopping for a beer after a long day of beach activities. 

Sunset from the property. 

The next morning we headed back in town to run errands, stopping at the weekend swap meet.  Honestly it wasn't that exciting.  We then stopped for shaved ice, which made all three of us feel kind of sick, then to Kula Hardware, almost a daily experience, to get a few odds and ends for the property and plants from the nursery.

Finishing up the planting bed.

Chainsaw time!  This was a full day of land clearing, with the goal being to improve the view from Tim's cottage and kill the stumps in order to be able to plant on the terraces at a later date.

A campfire, hotdogs and smores for the evening activity. In the background, you can see the main house on the property.

Camping time!  We loaded the car up with food, tents, surfboards and boogie boards, and set off to the Hana side of the island. 

This is very much the dry side of the island at this point, and near the site of the most recent lava flow from Haleakalā.

We set up our tents in the national park to hold our spot, a great little area on a cliff inside some shrubs, and set off to the surfing beach.

Yep, we are on the wet (and very green) side of the island now.  This is how I have always pictured Hawaii, and it did not disappoint. 

I can't recall the name of the beach right now, but it was a totally different experience for my second ever day of surfing, the waves were pretty big (by my standards).  At the face, some were probably 6 feet tall, and I had a total blast.  I caught a few big ones, and the feeling is pretty fantastic.  I also got tossed a few times as well, and the feeling of being totally out of control under a huge crashing wave while tied to a surfboard by the ankle isn't such a nice feeling, haha. Anyways, we had a great time at the beach, but it began to rain so we headed back to camp.

We cooked dinner and relaxed with a small campfire that evening, and went to bed under our canopy of greenery, with the sound of the waves all around.

The next morning, we headed up the Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls.  A short hike, just 1.8 miles, but a great little walk.  Along the way, you pass this huge banyan tree, something I'd love to have more time to climb and play in.

The second half of the hike takes you into a bamboo forest.

Then to the end where Waimoku Falls awaits. 

As we went back down the trail, we stashed our bags and headed out to a secret little spot.  We swam a decent ways up the river, with rock cliffs on both sides and vines hanging all over the place.

Our goal? Reaching this waterfall and rope swing!  You have to swim to the waterfall and climb up the steep rocks, but you get a pretty good ride out of it.  After having our fun, we swam back where we'd come from, and headed back down the trail.

Yep, back to the dry side.

Back at home, the girls put on a bike show, preforming all their best tricks.

Grilling some veggies for dinner

The next day was another full work day clearing trees.  Most are about 4-6" and the biggest were maybe 10", but even the ones as big around as your arm can be 25 feet tall.

My excellent ground crew stacking the brush.

And the finished job for the day.  As you can see a previous owner had terraced the hillside for some kind of planting, and that is the idea eventually, but first you need to make space!  Many more rows of terraces go down the hillside, and will be dealt with later on.

For dinner, we went out to a total local place, I forget the name but it was something like 808 Deli?? Anyways, classic unhealthy Hawaiian fare: chicken, pork, fish, spam, rice and macaroni salad. This is Ellen being sad because here food hadn't arrived yet.

Next, it was time for a hike. Once again we loaded up the car, this time with only what we could fit in our backpacks, and headed up to Haleakalā National Park again.

The top of Haleakalā is a large crater, and our hike would take us from the upper rim into the crater where we would spend the night, then out the Kaupo Gap down to the ocean, basically descending 10,000 feet.

The Haleakalā Silversword, a plant that only grows here on Maui, and only above 7,000 feet. This is in the bottom of the crater, near the beginning of the trail and the ground is nothing but loose, sharp, volcanic rock and dust really.

The Nene goose which lives only on three of the Hawaiian islands. It is an endangered bird, at only point with only 30 in existence, and the state bird of Hawaii.  This is at the opposite side of the crater at the gap which leads to the ocean, and as you can see, a much wetter and greener part of the volcano.

Cooking dinner, with only a minor veggie explosion.

The sky was very clear, and we stayed up late into the night talking, looking at constellations and shooting stars.  The, into the brightly colored interior of the tent, haha.

Hiking out the Kaupo Gap in the morning, a roughly 4-hour walk down.  You begin within the National Park, but eventually that ends and you pass through a gate and a herd of cattle, through someones ranch-land (who is kind enough to let hikers pass) and eventually out to the highway.

We reached the Kaupo General Store, the end of the hike, at about 12:30, and after some cold pops, sat down to hitch a ride back home.  We only waited about 30 minutes before being picked up, interestingly enough by an Italian couple in their 60s who hardly spoke English.  Luckily Ellen speaks some Italian and was able to chat with them. We were very grateful for the hour-long free ride.  In the evening, we went up to the top to pick up the car, and relaxed around the house.

Oh look, more brush clearing!

After pulling all the downed brush from the area we were left with a lot of small logs, which we cut straight into the truck 'Big Ugly', and brought the rounds up the the houses to split.

In the evening, we headed back to Juniors place where he was having a little party.  We ate probably 3 different kinds of pork, sweet potatoes and other delicious food, before being sent home with large plates to eat the next day. Hawaiian hospitality is wonderful.

Junior and his friend (as well as his son joining sometimes) playing songs on the ukelele and singing.  This is true local Hawaii style.

After a day of play comes a day of work. Another project to take care of is making a drip-line irrigation system for the new beds, and we installed the tap at the top of the hill to feed the system.

And surprise surprise, more land clearing!

The improved view from the deck of the cottage, all the open area on the left was previously overgrown and full of downed trees, clearing the two terraces below has allowed for a much better view of the other side of the island, and once stumps are removed, there will be a huge amount of space to plant in. 

In the morning, we stopped to buy a few things, and I had to pick up a new pair of flip-flops.  My current pair I bought in Cambodia, and have worn through all of India and Nepal, as well as the whole summer in the northwest, but they won't last forever.  These are 'Locals' the classic cheap flip-flop in Hawaii, and I'll be wearing these when I set out for Mexico.

Day three of surfing.  We returned to the same spot as the first time out and had a great time catching waves.  It's a great feeling when each time you go out you feel yourself getting significantly better.  As a result of this trip, I've decided that my next trip will involve some serious beach time surfing, maybe a month or more in Oaxaca, Mexico?  I also tried the stand-up paddle board which was met with less success.  I guess I'm still working on my sea legs, haha.

It was not uncommon for us to get trapped by a Law & Order marathon, a great activity after a long day at the beach!

All good times must come to an end, and by the 23rd it was time for me to fly home. Nick and Ellen dropped me off at the airport, but their time here on Maui ends soon as well, as they are moving back to Seattle.

My last view of Hawaii. I was a little behind schedule getting to the airport and walked straight on the plan without too much time to spare.  Flying into Seattle at night was beautiful and my dad picked me up at the airport, thanks dad!

So as usual, another fantastic trip this summer. A guy can get used to this kind of thing ; ).    The trip was everything I hoped for and more. It was great to visit my good friends, we got a lot work done on the property, had some good local experiences, great day/overnight trips, and surfing certainly made an impression on me.  

So what's next? A little time hanging with friends and working here in Seattle, Bumbershoot, a 3-day music festival, and as I mentioned at the beginning, I'm headed to Alaska soon. I'll be in Alaska from September 7th to the 23rd, and it's going to be a lot different from this trip to say the least!  That trip is all about helping my sister Holly and her husband Rob building their cabin in Hope, and while it will be a heck of a lot different from Hawaii, I'm looking forward to it just the same. 

Until next time, folks!