Saturday, February 27, 2016

Adios Maui....but Aloha Molokai

Adios Maui....but Aloha Molokai

As a multicultural state, it's fairly easy to find evidence of the many roots of the peoples that now populate Hawaii.

Just at the north end of Lahaina, on West Maui is the Jodo Buddhist Mission. It's in a quiet location near the water's edge, with a Japanese pagoda and the largest statues of Buddha outside of Asia. The Buddha is 12 feet tall in bronze and was installed in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

Though the core of Lahaina has succumbed to many kitchy trinket shops and expensive fashion and sunglasses stores, it still has a number of historic buildings that have endured the salt and storms of the ages. Parts of the historic jail with walls constructed from coral blocks are still standing. Sailors were jailed for failing to return to their ships by dark, carousing, drunkenness, adultery and other infractions. Since the name "Lahaina" means "cruel sun", I guess the sailors had plenty of need for "recreation".

 Paul and I savoring our last sunset on West Maui, Napili Point.

Ken and Susan Hunt, our friends and hosts also at Napili Point

Sampling "Ululani's" Shave Ice, reportedly the best on Maui. However, after a 45 minute wait in better be! Similar to a snow cone made from crushed ice, the Hawaiian treat of "shave" (not shaved) is made by shaving fine snow-like pieces of ice from a spinning block of ice in a machine. It is then drenched with flavored syrups and may sit atop ice cream or azuki bean paste. When covered with sweetened condensed milk, it is called a "snow cap". It originally also came from Japan, brought by immigrant workers, who used traditional swords to shave the ice blocks to create the dessert.

Trying to choose from among the many flavors on the menu. 

The famous, gargantuan Banyan tree in the main square, fronting the old court house in Lahaina spans nearly the entire plaza. The tree was planted by the local sheriff in 1873 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first American Protestant mission in Lahaina
A type of ficus tree, it has an enormous trunk and numerous aerial roots that extend from limbs to the ground. It provides wonderful shade all day long and is the overnight roost for flocks of myna birds. 

We now bid farewell to Maui and move on to the last stop on our trip, the "most Hawaiian" of the islands, Molokai. (We're actually home by now, but I haven't yet finished writing and sharing photos!)

Barbara and Paul

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo

One of the pleasures of visiting Maui is the underwater life. The waters around Maui are rich with fish, coral, sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and this time of year, Humpback whales. 

The Humpbacks come to the Hawaiian waters to mate and/or calve. Reportedly, about a half of the world's northern Pacific Humpback population of 21,000, migrate from the far north to swim around the Hawaiian islands between December and April. Many pass through the strait between west Maui and the east end of Molokai. While visiting the islands, the whales do not feed, but only mate or calve. The observer can simply sit on the shore and watch the spouting whales swim along through the waters, with the occasional spectacular breech. Spinner dolphins occasionally frolic alongside the whales.

We did see many whales spouting from the shorelines and also went on a commercial whale watching excursion based out of Lahaina. On the boat, we saw whales cruising the surface here and there, as well as an occasional tail aloft, preparing for a dive. 

The snorkeling was another story. We saw tons of colorful fish, coral and feeding sea turtles. The water was relatively warm, though I wouldn't have shunned a wetsuit.  The shallow cove outside the condo (Napili Point area) we rented seemed to be a haven for sea turtles. From one spot underwater, I counted 5 within view. They would feed or rest or occasionally gulp extra air to then go down to the bottom to wedge themselves under a rock for an apparent nap. Herewith is a sampling of some of our friends from the sea, courtesy of Paul's waterproof Lumix and free diving skills.

Humuhumunukunukuapua'a - the name is for real - Hawaiian state fish

 Unicorn Fish

 Green Sea Turtle

Saddle Wrasse

 Ornate Butterfly
Moorish Idol


 Spotted Boxfish

 Pair of green sea turtles

Whale of a Tail

We didn't find Nemo, but certainly enjoyed visiting with his relatives.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Over the Top - Driving the Northwest Coast of Maui

Over the Top - Driving the Northwest Coast of Maui

Taking advantage of the sunny, but windy day, we drove the Northwest Coast of Maui, or "over the top", on the road from Kapalua to Kahului. 

In earlier times it was rough and unpaved, sometimes only passable with 4 wheel drive vehicles. It is paved now, but has long stretches of only a single lane and very narrow bridges. Most folks creep along as they should, but others whip around the blind curves, taking their half out of the middle, only to slam on the brakes when surprised by an oncoming car. 

Waves rolling into Honolua Bay, with the east end of Molokai Island visible in the distance.

A daredevil surfer getting some action, while an onlooker derives vicarious thrills observing from a dry, safe distance.

Waves crashing over lava shoals near Honokahua Bay

Blowhole at Nakalele spewing water almost 50 ft into the air and with the mist catching a bit of a rainbow. It's quite dramatic, but unfortunately, some visitors have gotten too close and have been washed into the sea from the lava ledge behind the blowhole 

It's always fun to watch the surfers trying to find the perfect wave, rolling through crystal clear waters.

Colorful Maui birdlife includes this Red-crested cardinal (non-indigenous), Northern Cardinals, Nutmeg Mannikins, Myna birds, Gray Francolins, Pacific Golden Plover (reportedly tipped off Captain Cook that land was nearby), Spotted doves, Zebra doves and the ever elusive Nene - the endangered Hawaiian goose.

Another "average" Maui sunset over the west tip of Lanai

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Wowee Maui

Wowee Maui

After a wonderful stay on the Big Island, we flew over to Maui to meet up with some ABQ friends, Ken and Susan Hunt, who own a condo in the Napili Point complex. We rented a unit for our stay so as to be able to join them for activities.

View from our rented condo overlooking little cove near Napili Point. About a DOZEN sea turtles reside here! They seem to have no concerns about snorkelers, as they mostly rest and feed occasionally. Their sizes range from about 12" across the shell to 6 feet. Great fun to watch.
The island of Lanai is seen outlined in the distance.

Coastline walk about a mile north.

D.T. Fleming Beach Park at the foot of the Ritz Carlton property which used to be a pineapple plantation

Rugged lava and sea arches

Plein air oil painter overlooking the beach. He had to weigh down his easel with a big bag of stuff, due to the wind. 

Northern coast of West Maui looking across to the east end of Molokai. Migrating humpback whales are frequently seen in this passage. They come to Hawaii to mate and calve (the following year). The mothers do not feed during their stay and the males are too busy chasing female "tails", neglecting to feed. The calves nurse, requiring about 100 gallons of milk per day, which is the consistency of sour cream, so as to bulk up for the trip back to Alaska. Supposedly the calves can gain over 120 lbs. per day.

More uncrowded beach

Tranquil sunset over the tip of Lanai

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

On the dry Dry Side of Kona

On the dry Dry Side of Kona, Big Island

To hedge our bets on the weather and to be closer to airport, we reserved a two night stay on the drier Kona side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Our lodging was 2100 ft. upland, above a coffee and mango plantation, with great sunset views.

Breakfast gazebo at the Mango Sunset B & B

We re-visited a special site called Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (Place of Refuge) National Historical Park. It was an ancient sacred locale normally reserved for royalty, and also provided sanctuary (if they could reach it alive) for those who had broken cultural taboos (kapu). 

 Entrance artwork at the Place of Refuge

          Re-creations of historical structures seen over konane table (game of checkers) 

Carved statuary at Pu'uhonua Historical Park, 
adjacent to wonderful snorkeling area of "Two Step"

  Zipper Spider and web on colorful bougainvillea bush

                                                      St. Benedict's "Painted Church"
            with the interior lovingly hand-painted by the parish priest long ago

Original Home of "Donkey Balls" (chocolate covered macadamia nuts)
in various flavors ~ dirty balls, jitter balls, hairy balls, kinda have to have been there to appreciate the humor

Presidential Campaign Headquarters???

Windless warm afternoon on Hapuna Beach State Park 

       Next Stop--- Napili Point on the northwest shore of Maui.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Blogging from the Big Island

Family and Friends,

Greetings. It's been quite a while since I've posted anything in the blogosphere, so perhaps some tropical photos will make your February seem a little brighter. Paul and I have traveled to Hawaii for some warm sun, sand and surf. 
We are starting out on the Big Island of Hawaii - first on the "wet" Hilo side (which hasn't had significant rainfall in quite a while) for a few days and then over to the "dry" Kona side for a few more. Below are a few shared cell phone pics for your enjoyment.

On the Hilo side, we were guests of most gracious Maj and Peggy (Stanton) Balej in their hand-built house near Kurtistown and Volcano National Park.
 Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa as seen flying to Kona


          Mauna Kea and small northern volcanoes

   Peggy's art studio - note exterior mural

                                                                                                    Peggy and Paul in her studio

Given the clear weather, we spent the first day at Volcano NP, which centers on the active Kilauea Volcano, at the southern tip of the island. The "VOG" (volcanic sulphur dioxide gas and fog) was quite thick in places. Lava has not been flowing in recent months, but could resume at any time.


Steaming Kilauea inner crater         
 Fruit and flower offering (next to rock) to the gods 

Rope-like ridges of lava near the sea                                Sea arch of lava at base of Kilauea


Ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs...hmmmmm, resembles some in NM

Blessed with a second crystal clear day, we drove up to the Visitor Station on the flank of Mauna Kea, enjoying the exhibits and silver sword plant enclosure, complete with another offering altar, bearing fruit, blue corn(!), flowers, coconut shells, wreaths and bits of fabric.

Later, the view was much greener as we picnicked in Queen Liliuokulani Park in Hilo and then drove up the east coast, stopping in at botanical gardens and waterfalls.


To our surprise, the view at the Waipi'o overlook was not only gorgeous, but the access was closed to visitors, due to a Dengue Fever outbreak. It is a mosquito-borne illness that can be quite serious. Already 250 (mostly residents) on the Big Island had been diagnosed and were being tracked by the Health Dept.


To cap off our time in Hilo, we stopped by a favorite locals beach "Carl Smith" to feast our eyes on lovely clear waters, a friendly sea turtle and crashing distant waves

 More waterfalls (Rainbow Falls)
                                    A mooching "Moa" rooster

                                                                                 Tall and graceful Akaka Falls. 
Next, on to the Kona side for a stay in an organic coffee plantation!
Stay tuned.