mercat: (Default)
Heeeeey, okay, I'm here and I'm posting! Here's what happened on Maui.

So Sunday was an amazing day. I had so much fun. I didn't get much sleep the night before because packing took a little bit longer than I expected but printing out my confirmation papers took WAY too long (installing printer drivers sucks, Windows Vista sucks more).

Soooo Sunday rolls around and I wake up at 4:00 so I can get to the airport on time to catch my flight. (My flight was super-early because the tour I was taking started at seven.) So I am tired because I didn't get much sleep and it's early, and I just grab a Nutrigrain Bar for breakfast. (Also, I have no idea when this happened, but I like poptarts and nutrigrain bars now. Maybe because last summer you're always just in the mood for sugar and salt no matter what, and I started getting those poptarts they had? I dunno.) Anyway so I try to sleep in the terminal but geez it was freakin cold in there! So finally the plane loads and we take off. You couldn't see much on my side of the plane but you could see Molokai as we came into Maui.

So I hop off the plane and it is just gorgeous outside. =D I managed to get there with only one bag, my backpack as a carryon, though it was kind of stuffed. They said it would be about an hour until the tour bus came to pick me up, so I just sit where they told me, waiting. I finally noticed there was an open Starbucks so I get a milk and a chocolate chip scone ($6!). The scone wasn't that good, it was really sweet. =/

Anyway the bus finally comes and I hop on and get situated, and the tour guide is really friendly. He has us introduce eachother and he introduces himself and he drives over to a gas station so we can all use the restroom and grab snacks before we get started. I made sure to grab a Mountain Dew because I knew I was going to get really tired. So also on the tour was a couple of ladies from Australia who were headed to Maui for a wedding (the tour guide kept saying he loved their accent), a newly engaged couple (from Montreal, though the guy was Italian; he was interesting, I couldn't tell if he was bossy or nice enough sometimes), an older couple from New Jersey (adorable), and a guy from France studying Japan. So the tour guide is just having a ball telling us that he does this every free day he has (he works 12-hour weekdays, and this is his fun) because he loves it so much, seeing the island, and passing on what little knowledge of his culture he knows. He sang a traditional chant and gave us all flowers (right side if you're single, left if you're married, like a wedding ring) and told us about growing up on Oahu and getting transferred to Molokai and growing up there and eventually moving to Maui. It was really cool to hear about all the stuff he did. I guess he was the first guy to surf on Molokai! Crazy. Anyway, he was super friendly, and we started our tour up Haleakala (house of the sun). On the way up we stopped at a Protea garden, which was really beautiful. Proteas can last something like up to three months in a vase with water and then if you let them dry they pretty much last forever. They were really gorgeous. So we got back on the road and something broke in the van that caused us to lose power and have a popping noise, so we pulled over and waited for another tour bus to come by from the company. We ended up hitching a ride on a bigger bus, which made me a little more nervous driving up to the summit. (While we were waiting we were in this forest that was absolutely amazing. Cool and smelled like eucalyptus or lavender or something.)

The road up Haleakala is sharp and winding and it is popular for tourists to ride down it on mountain bikes, so you always have to be watching out for them. Because of it's proximity to the water, it's the fastest climb of that altitude, being only 37 miles (if I recall correctly). It's also the... tallest? mountian in the world? Everest is the highest (IIRC, again) but because it is surrounded by a range its base is also higher, making Haleakala the tallest. Anyway, as you get up to the park, the trees lessen (and we saw one patch of sandalwood, which I thought was completely gone from the islands but I guess some was saved) and there are fewer and fewer plants. When you get up to the first visitor center there are lots of rocks and very few plants and they have some silverswords planted so you know what to look for. Silverswords are like permafrost; they are pretty rare and four ounces of weight in the area around them can kill them. They grow from two to fifty years and in that time only bloom once, then leave behind a skeleton. They are gorgeous though! The blooming season is around October, I think. Anyway at the top of Haleakala there is almost nothing, almost like you'd see if you imagined being on Mars. The dirt is really reddish black and there is pretty much nothing. You can look down into the pit (er, not the right term) of the volcano and see lots of cool things (which at the moment I have totally lost all the names of in my head). There are these smaller pits that are as tall as the Empire State Building (crazy!). Haleakala is an active volcano though it hasn't gone off since the 1790s, so the lava is more like dirt rather than the lava on the Big Island.

So after I took some pics of silverswords and got my National Parks passport stamped, we got a replacement smaller tour bus and drove up to the summit, which was pretty windy. It wasn't too cold, though. (There were a TON of silverswords up there, though.) Then we drove around to a back view of the pit again.

Oh, I almost forgot to say, up at the first station is also Science City, a set of buildings where only scientists can go (hence the name). It has something like 11 of the world's most powerful obseratories, and looked really wicked. =P

So it took us a while to get down but the driver (Thadd) told us more about the island and the history and stuff, like how Nenes (the state bird, sort of like a Canada goose) live on land and walk on the rocks and stuff (and lava rock is sharp/rough, let me tell you), but have webbed feet.

By then we are a little late for lunch (like noon/one maybe? and I haven't eaten since four) and I am falling asleep because the drive from the summit to lunch is a good hour plus. So I don't remember much after getting down the mountain.

Anyway, we pull into this shopping center with a food court, sort of a "world food" court. Thadd suggests a place that has the best "soup saiman" (sp?) (like ramen soup) that he has ever had, and since BBQ (Hawaiian bbq, let me tell you COMPLETELY different than Southern bbq which I am craving hard core [besdies bbq you know what I have been craving for months? Bread. And cheese. AND STRAWBERRIES HOLY CRAAAAAAP. {and El Toro salsa mmmm...}]right now) is something I can get on campus, I go for the soup saiman. DELICIOUS. It had shrimp, crab, pork/chicken/beef (something brown and pink, yes bright pink, I think it has to do with Vietnamese spices or pickeling or something) and possibly kalamari. The (supposedly) kalamari was done just right, not rubbery at all. And lots of veggies and the noodles were DELICIOUS. So now I have to find the restaurant "Ba Le" locally. It had all Vietnamese food even though it's labeled as a "French Bakery" and had SERIOUSLY GOOD BREAD. (They really did have a good bakery.) I had another huge thing of Mountain Dew, too.

So after that we head off to see Iao Valley and Iao Needle (the PC name... I'll leave you to look it up), which, let me tell you, Iao Valley is CRAZY gorgeous. It's walls are just so steep that you feel kind of trapped, but it's really cool. It becomes very obvious that Kamehameha's battle here that clogged the river with bodies so much it turned red is accurate. I really recommend it and I wish we'd had just a little more time there to explore and stuff (and I would love to go back and see if there is hiking there), but the Austrailian ladies had to get to another place and the rest of us were on our way somewhere else. Funnily enough, I didn't know we were still headed around to another coast, and I thought our tour was over. So I was very excited as we drove South and got to see Molokini and whales (TONS of whales surfacing and breaching even though whale season was like back in January!) and the gorgeous Southern shores. (Luckily earlier we had hit Haleakala with clear weather, but the clouds were rolling in as we left. Plus the tradewinds had been gone for the past few days and they'd been having vog problems, but I think they slowly came back over Sunday/Monday. It was still sort of sunny in Iao Valley but as we drove South it got sunnier.) So eventually we arrive in Lahaina and we have an hour to explore by ourselves. It is kind of like what Yellow Springs would be if they had the street festival every other weekend for tourists and it was on the ocean. There is a dock full of small tour bots (fishing, diving, everything) RIGHT THERE next to an old fort, in front of which is planted a GIGANTIC banyan tree. (Not the usual type of banyan you see here? I dunno, it's branches leaned out more than up.) All the art vendors were set up underneath it, and though they do this every other weekend it was a special weekend, celebrating the birthday of the tree. The tree was planted April 23rd back in the 1860s, I think. Very cool. So after checking out those artists and getting some gifts for people, I wandered around to the smaller stores around that central plaza seeing if I could find things for other people.

I walked into this little store selling jewelry on one side and world trade art stuff on the other (swords, blowguns, masks, jewelry, that sort of thing), and the lady noticed my shirt (QC Dashing Hat shirt) and said "oh only just a few more weeks!" and we got into this whole discussion of Crystal Skull and the crystal skulls and world travels and being Indy fans and she used to work at a resort as Indiana Joanna and it was awesome. So I got a picture with her and we exchanged addresses and it was tons of fun! That was the part that totally just made my day completely.

After that we headed back to the airport to drop off everyone left but me, and then to the Maui Seaside where I was staying.

Okay and now I just want to tell you a little more about Thadd the driver, because he made the tour, too. He is a total Hawaiian and when we first got in and he had us introduce ourselves he explained that he wanted us to be like a family for the day and that in order to get us more interested he would ask questions and give points and at the end of the day the winner would get a box of macnut chocolates. He was just so excited to be sharing his life with us, I really loved it. So at lunch we were talking and I was saying I was just traveling by myself, and he offered to let me sleep on his couch! It was so nice for him to offer even though UD was paying for my hotel and stuff. After that he offered to check up on me when I checked in and everything to make sure I found a good place to eat and offered to have his son drive the next day so I could get to a beach which was all really nice. I guess it sort of comes off as creepy or something explained like this, but he was just, I dunno, straight up Hawaiian. Maybe it just clicked because that is the sort of person I've always tried to be, I dunno. So I am calling him my Maui uncle (he's in my phone that way) and he said if we ever come back to Maui to call him up. And I said if he comes to Ohio he is more than welcome to couch surf there, too. =D

So, just between the beauty of the tour and my Maui uncle and Indiana Joanna, I really did have the best day ever. Though I crashed a little and I think maybe only the Mountain Dews and excitement kept me going, and hunting down souvenirs was a little frustrating and later after I eat dinner I will post about Monday and stuff (which is a whole different story).

But anyway, I love Maui.


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November 2015

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