Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 7 & 8, Maui

Saying g'bye to Ka'anapali Beach I had to leave Ka'anapali Beach (I was staying at the Maui Eldorado and only had a week there), sadly. But it meant that there was a "next phase" of the adventure.

I booked a few days in Paia, a surf town on the north shore that's popular for windsurfing, but also serves as a gateway to two popular tourist attractions: the Road to Hana and Haleakalā National Park.

So the morning I had to leave, I -- what else? -- went snorkelling. I walked to Black Rock, which is about a 7-minute walk from the condo. It was around 8am and there were already a bunch of snorkellers out there. Other people reported seeing rays and an eel. I didn't see those things. I did, however, have a moment of panic when I was having trouble swimming back around the point against the current. But aside from some extra/unexpected exercise, I was fine.

I finally packed up my stuff, checked out and spent part of my day at my beach cabana, reading and swimming and eating ice cream that I had left over in my freezer. It wouldn't make it to Paia, so I had to eat it. Heaven knows how I hate waste ;) What I didn't eat, I gave to the two families with children who were hanging out there. They were SO happy that it made me feel good about leaving behind ice cream.

Onwards to Paia.

It didn't take long -- just over an hour. I pulled into Kuau Inn and there was a note for me, but no one answered the door bell. I hadn't read my confirmation emails, which apparently had given me instructions for a lock box key to let me in. Oops. I had no internet access at that point and didn't know that the email contained that information. I dropped off some stuff in the outdoor fridge and went to check out Paia the town. I ate a good fish burger ('ono' or wahoo) at the Paia Fish Market. The picnic tables make for friendly communal eating and I met a really nice family who'd just arrived. They thought I was VERY organized. Ha!

Hookipa Beach, Paia
Hookipa Beach, Paia
After checking out the town, which has some good local art/souvenir shops, I went back to the Inn. Still no one there. So I drove on to check out Hookipa Beach for the sunset. The beach is very popular with surfers and windsurfers. There's a lookout point where you can watch them do their thing. It wasn't particularly windy so the surf wasn't great and there weren't many out on the water. Back to the inn. I sat on a chair outside until someone arrived who then went to ask the owner (?) what was up -- they told him about the lock box and the email confirmation.

It was silent -- it's a bed and breakfast so I'd expected other people. Thought it might be nice to talk to others who'd been there and get some recommendations -- maybe even someone who wanted to do the Road to Hana together. No such luck. The only connection I made was with a massive spider in my room. There were also what looked to me like red ants and some cockroaches. Don't get me wrong -- it's a NICE place, older, and very clean. But it's surrounded by sugar cane fields, so there are bound to be critters. But the spider freaked me out and I acted like a real girl. Finally some people arrived and I asked them if they knew whether it was a bad spider or a benign spider. No one knew but they offered to kill/get it for me. The spider was very fast and ran away to hide. We couldn't find him in the end, and I guess I slept with him in the room. As long as he didn't bite me, I was OK with that. Although a little anxious that he'd come out and run across my face while I was sleeping.

The other unfortunate thing is that the inn is on a busy highway. I didn't realize how close it was. And there's no air conditioning (it was VERY hot) so at least some windows had to be open. Trucks and motorcyles whizzing by outside my window? Ya, I didn't sleep well. Maybe at all. At 6am I stopped trying. I got coffee and tried to decide what to do. Today was the last day before the tropical storm was supposed to blow through, so I'd wanted to do the Road to Hana... but I also couldn't stay there another night or I would be miserable. So despite feeling like a jerk, I called the owners and told them what a bad sleeper I was and asked if there was anything we could do. They were VERY nice and offered to refund me (even though it's not their policy) if I could find another place.

I started researching (again) on the web, calling and emailing. I finally found a place in Kihei for a reasonable price. Not exactly where I wanted to be, but not TOO far, but the woman answered my call and it promised to be quiet. I snatched it up. A few minutes later, a place in Paia that I was REALLY interested in emailed me back -- sadly, I had to turn it down.

I was about to head to Kihei to check in to the condo when I realized I'd be driving right past Haleakalā National Park (the entrance highway, anyway). I decided to check it out. After stopping for more coffee in Paia (and drinking it at Baldwin Beach), I was on my way.

The road to Haleakalā is amazing. Switchbacks and craziness. I was glad I hadn't been driving it for the first time in the dark to get there in time for sunset (this is what most people do). Driving the roads made me feel like a race car driver!

Haleakalā National Park - Sliding Sands Trail - Keoneheehee
Haleakalā National Park - Sliding Sands Trail
I paid $10 to get into the park, but the pass is good for three days, so I could use it for the O'heo Gulch, if I get to go (there's a tropical storm hitting today, but it's pretty wimpy). The visitor's centre (at the bottom and the top) are both excellent for information on hikes. On the way up, I picked up hikers hitching a ride up. They were doing a hike called the Keoneheehee Trail (Sliding Sands), so I decided to do it too. It was an excellent choice, it turns out -- although a tough one due to the soft cinder paths and a steep walk back up.

What they say about this hike:
"This trail is definitely not an easy hike, but it does come highly recommended as a good, if not the best, hike for the Haleakala summit area. The extremely strenuous trail descends 2,800 feet in the first 4 miles to the valley floor."

I'm not sure EXACTLY how far I went, but it was past the first turn-back, but not as far as the cabin. It took around four hours. And I burned my forehead.

See the trail map here.

Haleakalā National Park - sunset
Sunset at Haleakalā
After resting a bit, I did another 3-4 short overlook-type walks. I had time to kill before the sunset, afterall. Then I went up for the sunset at Pu`u`Ula`ula Summit Hill. Elevation here is 10,023 feet. Apparently, it's as high as you can go as quickly anywhere in the world. I sat down and ate some snacks while I waited for the show peacefully. Then a busload of kids (first-year university?) arrived and stood directly in front of me. Blocking my view and being generally loud and disruptive. I allowed my serenity to be stolen by their presence. Perhaps I should have just moved. Or told them to move. I didn't. I did eventually ask two of them to move to one side or the other from me, so I could take the picture I was trying to take. They shuffled a bit, but still were in my frame. Sigh. Eventually, they sat down and watched the spectacle and were appropriately awed.

There we were, at the top of the world, watching the sun set into the clouds. Magic. When it was done, we all scrambled to our cars. Now that the sun was gone, it was COLD!

Then it was more race-car-like driving back down the crater. By the time I got to my condo in Kihei it was around 9pm. I got my stuff inside, showered off the volcanic dust, emailed my husband to let him know I was OK, and dropped into bed, exhausted. Thank goddess for the quiet.

It was an amazing couple of days. I think sometimes the Universe has plans for me that I don't understand and it finds a way to make them happen. Sometimes you just have to go with it.

Off I got to explore Kihei and avoid being eaten by the tropical storm ;)

More photos here:

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