Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Quiet Afternoon

(Makena, HI) – If you would like to pretend for a while that you are some kind of explorer who discovered a spectacular island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, drop by Makena State Park.

To get there, you pass through Wailea, which features luxury accommodations, fine homes, upscale shops and several high-end golf courses. When you arrive, you find the largest undeveloped white sand beach on Maui.

We spent most of an afternoon there, walking the beach, sitting on some rocks and just staring out at the ocean. As the sun began to set, we found our way back to civilization. But this was a great little stop because for a few moments late in the day, it seemed like we had the world to ourselves for a few stolen moments.

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What a Blowhard!

(Nakalele Point, HI) – It started off as benign idea, something like “Hey, let’s drive up there to see the blowhole.” As so many have discovered on Maui, the destination isn’t always as significant as the journey. When I woke up, I didn’t imagine we’d be standing on the edge of a cliff looking out at this.

To get to this vantage point, we had to pass by this ominous warning.

Being the noted adventurists we are, there we stood on the edge of nowhere.

You had to be going somewhere, though, and we were determined to find that blowhole, more dire warnings be damned.

Nakalele Blowhole is the result of the ocean wearing away the shore below the lava shelf. With each wave, water is forced through a hole in the lava shelf resulting in the "eruption" of water similar to a geyser. You have to get a photo or two of that, don’t you?

The hike down to the blowhole requires a little exertion. Claire, inappropriately attired in a skirt and sandals, went about as far as she dared.

That’s her, the tiny blue speck sitting under a rock.

Despite a steep climb and the specter of mortal danger, We emerged from the blowhole a little sore,but safe and sound, smiling.

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I Can't Break a Hundred, But I Can Break a Sweat

(Kapalua, HI) – I could just hear all my sports buddies saying, “You went to Maui and didn’t go to Kapalua?” It’s arguably the most famous place on Maui, at least for sports fans, because that’s where the PGA Tour starts every year. So, yeah, I went to Kapalua and set foot on the Bay Course. Here’s proof.

I’m not much of a golfer and for me spending four or five hours hacking away at a golf ball, even in a spectacular setting, would be a tremendous frustration and a colossal waste of time. But, I hung around for a few minutes just to say I’ve been there, as well as to fend off incredulity and ridicule from my people.
Kapalua Bay is beautiful, so we lingered for a while.

We even walked out on the point…deep to the end of the lava rocks where I attempted, without success, to wield my awesome influence over nature to hold back the power of the Pacific.

Off in the distance, humpback whales were consistently breaking the surface of the water, creating quite a show for those assembled. This added a sense of exhiliration to an already eye-popping view.

Kapalua was peaceful, in remarkable contrast to the consistent hubbub where we’re staying. It must be all the golfers. You know, you can’t make any noise around those people because you might mess up their backswings.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Great Day to Sit Still

(Ka’anapali, HI) – Sometimes, the less you do the better it is. Our day was spent reclining by the Oceanside where most of the time, this is what we saw.

If we sat up, the view changed to this.

We occasionally were forced to sit up to sip a refreshing beverage.

When we got hungry, someone brought us a pineapple pizza, which we ate right where we sat.

Then, in the afternoon the sun got a little too hot. So, we went to the shady side of the property, had dinner (Coconut shrimp, Thai lettuce wraps and various sides for those of you who demand details) with this view.

Then, we went back to the west side to watch the sun set.

After a remarkably physical experience the day before, this was just what we needed.

They’re serving cognac and Bailey’s on the terrace. Aloha.

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Chasing Waterfalls

What happened to my sit around in the resort and take it easy vacation? A sightseeing day trip turned into quite an adventure. The road itself, Hana Highway, is like something out of an action movie with hairpin turns, narrow mountainside passages and one-lane bridges.

But the views from there are breathtaking, worth stopping for without question.

But here’s the thing. Some of the sights you want to see aren’t exactly on the highway. You have to stop, hike, climb, and even hurt yourself a little to see them.
There’s a place on the map called Twin Falls and it seemed like a popular attraction. For people like us who don’t know what they’re doing, the maps mean something. There were lots of people like us. We found ourselves on a trail where Claire was fascinated with the size of the plants. “Just look at those leaves. It’s like Jurassic Park!”

The goal was to find the waterfalls. You can hear them before you can see them, and you can’t really see them without making your way through mud, over a stream and over some rocks. This one seemed more like a water trickle; but that's just me.

This is Twin Falls, remember? That means there’s another one…even harder to get to. But we got there!

Our reward for making it there and back? Fresh pineapple and coconut milk from a nearby farm stand.

By now, we had a full-blown water fall fascination. After a few more miles of near-collisions along with spectacular views, we saw a much more dramatic waterfall off in the distance. We were determined to see it up close. It took a lot of work.

A slippery, soaking wet obstacle-strewn trek of about 300 yards during which each of us fell down at least once yielded a couple of nice photos.

As difficult as the hike to the falls was, it was just as tricky going back; but we made it and pressed on.

For some reason, this place on the Road to Hana that sells banana bread is famous. I think it’s because it’s one of the few places you can stop for refreshments along the way. Determined to maximize the experience, we stopped and bought banana bread.

We had dinner reservations nearby and were on the opposite side of the island from our hotel. Fortunately, we had planned for this and brought a change of clothes. We did this because we wanted to dress relatively well for dinner. It turned out to be an absolute necessity because we were covered in mud and a little bit of blood, at least from the waist down. We had to go to the restrooms at the restaurant and wipe ourselves down just to be presentable.

It was worth it. Mama’s Fish House is one of the most famous restaurants on Maui and we found out why.

After an elegant dinner, it took more than a hour to drive back to the hotel. We got back to basics: a hot shower and a comfortable bed.
Can I have just one more day where we sit around, watch the waves and simply avoid injury?

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Monday, January 23, 2012

A Whale of a Boat Ride

(The Pacific Ocean) – People kept talking about the whales. “You have to see the whales!” Before we left home, we were told to see the whales. As we arrived, while making final approach into the Maui airport, some people were looking out of the windows declaring that they had seen whales. So, we went to see the whales!

North Pacific humpbacks, to be specific, are here in the south for warm water and reproduction.
This leads to some pretty exciting whale watching.

We were on a catamaran during the hours before sunset. The boat ride, with the requisite mai-tais, was nice on its own with plenty of photo opportunities.

But close encounters with the whales: that was something special.

If you come here, you have to see the whales.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Aloha and Peace Be With You

(Lahaina, HI)- “Oke aloha o ka Haku e mau ana me ‘ouku.”
The proper response is “And also with you.”

Holy Innocents Church provided a worship experience which was exceedingly familiar but in many ways completely different from any other I have had.

Praying in Hawaii's native tongue in concert with English was moving, and the setting was simultaneously soothing and uplifting. We congregated in open air with a gentle breeze lifting the scent of nearby flowering shrubs into the worship space.

There was an organist playing traditional hymns, but no choir. When he played the intro to the opening song, “I Danced in the Morning,” I tentatively sang the first few words; but the little church, which was about 2/3rds full, just exploded with sound. The people were singing, singing well, in full voice. I remember thinking “Wow. This congregation is really devoted to its music ministry. Who needs a choir?” The commitment to song continued throughout the service. It actually brought tears to my eyes.

Then at the offertory, the priest said “Normally, I would ask our visitors to stand and tell us we’re they’re from, but there are so many of you I think it would take too long.” He asked for a show of hands from people who hailed from the west coast, the Midwest, the South, and the east coast. I watched people raise their hands and did the math. There were only about ten people in the church who were members. I overheard one of them say, “Communion’s going to take a while.” It did. In fact, the organist added an unplanned hymn to fill time, “Let Us Break Bread Together.” The congregation took it on, without music or hymnals, in full voice. It was just so beautiful.
Another thing I noticed was father Bill Abinger’s footwear. Sandals, flip-flops maybe. Later, he would tell me “don’t call them flip-flops, for Heaven’s sake. They’re ‘slippahs.’” Okay. He takes his “slippahs” off when he’s at the altar to honor the Hawaiian tradition of removing your shoes in your home.

I wasn’t prepared to pray for King Kamehameah IV or Mother Maryanne of Moloka’I, either, in the spot where usually (depending on where you are) you mention Pope Benedict or the Archbishop of Canterbury. God bless the King (and Queen Emma, too).
Madonna and Child have a different look, too. The image was painted in 1940 by New York artist Delos Blackmar. A Lahaina mother and her infant daughter posed for the piece.

Panels on the altar portray the Hawaiian staffs of life and symbolize the body and blood of Christ.

Panels on the pulpit depict rare or extinct native birds, left to right: ‘apapane, ‘ou‘ou, ‘i‘iwi, mamo, and ‘o‘o. They symbolize God's word winging forth from the Christian pulpit.
The stained glass is much more traditional. The triptych portrays the baptism, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I was tingling as I realized that all of these people from disparate points on the mainland made a decision to come together in this lovely space to follow the command E ho ‘omaka’I aku kakou I kakou Haku Akua “Let us give thanks to the Lord Our God.” I’m so glad I went. And so, on Sunday from Maui, I’ll say it one more time: Oke aloha o ka Haku e mau ana me ‘ouku. May The Lord be with you.

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