Flying High!

Well, the day finally arrived.

When we began planning this holiday, Dad expressed a strong desire to go zip lining.  An 83-year-old hanging high above the ground on skinny wires?  He knows no fear!  So who would go with him?  Mom?  Not in this lifetime!  The Kid?  Just as unlikely.  She has trouble climbing stairs with her cane!  Well, that leaves me.  Am I up to it?  I sure hoped I would be!

So, this morning Dad and I headed out before daylight to check in for our zip lining adventure.  Only about a 20-minute drive from our condo, Flyin’ Hawaiian is considered to be the most extreme zip lining course on Maui (there are several other companies in various parts of the Island).  I had been impressed with the reviews and the length of the course.  They have eight zip lines ranging in length from 250 to 3,600 feet in length.  3,600!!!   That’s two-thirds of a mile.  On one zip line, we floated across 650 feet of nothingness (that is, the valley below us was 650 feet down).  The course travels along the lower eastern slopes of the West Maui Mountains from north to south.  On a good day, the views would be spectacular.

We checked in at about 6:45 am, signing a waiver that would protect the zip line company from every possible happenstance — from a hangnail to catastrophic failure of the lines — we were fitted out in our harnesses.  This company uses sophisticated full-body suits that make for very, very comfortable zipping.  We weren’t at any time constricted by tight wires or cords.  An excellent system!  Even the helmets fitted me (I seldom wear hats becaue I can never find them big enough)!  Our group was small on this day with only four other participants.  We were accompanied by three guides — strong, friendly and local.  They were just terrific!

Our adventure started with a brief ride up the mountainside in a shuttle bus.  At the starting platform, the guides gave us some instruction and prepared us for our first zip — the shortest and most gentle, a training run.

To be honest, I never really had time to be afraid.  Our group was small, so zipping happened rather quickly and smoothly.  There were no greatly fearful people, so we didn’t have any blood curdling screams.  It was all quite matter of fact, but thrilling just the same!

After our first training zip (Dad kept forgetting to lift his feet), we faced a relay of rides further up the mountainside in an ATV that seated a maximum of five.  Dad and I were in the first group and, once we arrived at the top of the narrow, twisting, rough, rough, rough track, the guides pointed us to the trail that headed further straight up the hillside to the first true zip platform.  I was glad we had that head start because the climb was a challenge for both of us.  Neither of us is terribly in shape, although healthy and able.  I found carrying the equipment we were given was difficult.  This equipment is what you hang from as you glide along the zip line.  The weight (about 15 pounds) wasn’t the issue so much as the fact that it completely threw me off balance as I struggled up what passed for a trail up the hill.

Eventually, we made it to the top and stumbled onto the viewing platform.  The day was beautiful and perfect for our adventure!   The sun was peaking over Haleakala (the volcano across the valley from us).  Eventually, as we zipped from platform to platform across the mountain gorges, we could see both north and south shores of Maui simultaneously.  Just exhilarating.  The guides and other participants kept an eye on Dad.  I’m sure they were worried he’d keel over because of his age.  But, in fact, he did better than I did with my wonky knees.  The guides called Dad “Brah Rick” and “Slick Rick.”

My brother, Steven, had lent us his GoPro for this trip and especially for this adventure.  You can watch some of our zips here:  http://youtu.be/S9O9mpofJVwhttp://youtu.be/I5CqXyH64JEhttp://youtu.be/5TYo5kCbeh0http://youtu.be/dYqngQvphRQhttp://youtu.be/Ca5HG1fa-A4.

When we’d finished the last zip, we were pretty tired, hot and sweaty.  We climbed into that small ATV that had brought us up the mountain at the beginning of the course and was now waiting for us miles away at the end of the course.  Then began our last adventure of the morning — going DOWN the mountain on a spectacularly badly rutted track.  Watch some of the process here:  http://youtu.be/2wFD7_EzDeY.

When we finally arrived back at our condo, we zoomed down to the pool and hot tub for some wonderful recovery time.

This was a most excellent adventure and I’m so glad Dad wanted to go zip lining.  I probably wouldn’t have chosen it on my own.  And Slick Rick is happy we did it, too!

Aloha!

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A Concert Surprise

This morning we attended the morning worship service at the nearby Hope Chapel.  The building reminded me of the California churches I knew when I studied there many years ago — outdoor “foyers” and entries directly into the auditorium and classes.  I really enjoyed the praise team’s  work.  Mom and Dad found the music too loud and heavy (electric guitars and drums) and I found the music too exclusively contemporary for my taste, as well.  But they led the music with great skill and humility.  The songs were all focused on lifting up the name of Jesus.  I was very impressed!

The big surprise for us was that Sam Rotman is with them today and will be giving a free concert tonight!  This Jewish follower of Messiah Jesus is an outstanding classical pianist and has travelled around the world for decades, sharing his talent and skill in small and large venues.  I have heard him before and it was a great pleasure to hear him again.  He gave a clear testimony, describing his upbringing by Jewish parents (Holocaust survivors) and his encounter with the Messiah while studying at Julliard.  I chatted with Sam briefly after the morning service and began praying there would be some seeking individuals at the evening concert.  Sure enough, the believers who sat next to us brought their seeking friends.  I hope Sam’s clear confidence and hope in the Lord impacted them.

Aloha!

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Kamaole Beach 3

We’re continuing to lay in supplies for our month here in Maui.  You might wonder why it has taken us so long to do so.  Well, we’re all struggling with jet lag and are trying to organize our store visits in the most efficient way possible.  For example, today we went to the only Costco on the island (about a 40-minute drive away from our condo).  There we found good supplies of things such as snack food, fruit, veggies, meat, a gigantic pizza we’re going to have for supper, cereal, milk and POG!  We loaded six gallons of POG into our cart since each jug was about a dollar cheaper than elsewhere.  At one point, as I stood by the cart waiting for the others, a local guy walked by and commented that he’d never seen so much POG in one place before.  I laughed and said we just didn’t want to have to come back.  And we don’t!  That Costco is at least as crowded and busy as the one we go to in Scarborough.  Another item we picked up were two BBQ’d chickens.  They were about twice as heavy as the ones at home and only $4.99!  We’ve since heard a couple of jokes about the price of Costco chickens.

Later, we took a walk on the beach across the street from our resort.  Kamaole Beach 3 is a popular beach with locals and tourists alike.  It has a lifeguard, showers, public bathrooms, picnic tables, large areas of lawn overlooking the sea and, of course, a beautiful sand beach.

Mom and Dad enjoying their first visit to one of Hawaii's best beaches -- just in front of our resort!

Mom and Dad enjoying their first visit to one of Hawaii’s best beaches — just in front of our resort!

Here are Mom and Dad, slathered in sunscreen, enjoying the beach at Kamaole Beach 3.

Here are Mom and Dad, slathered in sunscreen, enjoying the beach at Kamaole Beach 3.

Here I am at the beach across the street from our condo.  The waves were quite spectacular that day.

Here I am at the beach across the street from our condo. The waves were quite spectacular that day.

The Kid discovered many bits of polished lava and shells that she hopes to incorporate into her jewellery designs.

The Kid discovered many bits of polished lava and shells that she hopes to incorporate into her jewellery designs.

Here is the spectacular view at our beach.  The mountains in the distance are the West Maui Mountains.  Notice the windfarm climbing up the ridge.  The older man standing on the lava point was about as close as you could get the pounding surf without being swept away ... maybe too close!

Here is the spectacular view at our beach. The mountains in the distance are the West Maui Mountains. Notice the windfarm climbing up the ridge. The older man standing on the lava point was about as close as you could get the pounding surf without being swept away … maybe too close!

The expression "pounding surf" was apt here.  When the waves hit this rock formation in the right way, a huge, thunderous crash was heard.

The expression “pounding surf” was apt here. When the waves hit this rock formation in the right way, a huge, thunderous crash was heard.

What a spectacular beach!

What a spectacular beach!

Footprints in the sand.

Footprints in the sand.

Overall, we’re finding our adjustment to this time zone slow.  It is especially difficult for Mom and the Kid.  I expect we’ll continue to take it pretty easy over the next few days, so don’t expect us to be engaging in any wild adventures!

Aloha!

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Groceries and Ukuleles

For most of our first two days, we’ve been focused on recovering from our two flights and laying in supplies for the month we’ll be here.  Although we do plan to eat out from time to time, restaurants can be a bit pricey here in Maui.  Actually, the groceries are very pricey, too.  Nevertheless, we plan to use our condo kitchen extensively and hope to cook up some good local food.

Thursday morning, we had breakfast at the Kihei Cafe, just down the road from our condo.  One reason I chose this restaurant is that they open at 5:30 am and I knew we’d be up at that hour due to our brains and bodies still being on Toronto time.  After eating enormous plates of food in the dark on the outdoor patio, we headed out for groceries.

One food item I’ve really looked forward to is POG, a juice blend of Passion fruit, Orange and Guava.  Hilary and I drank gallons of it when we were here in 2006 and I’ve thought about it often since then.  We bought a gallon jug at Safeway our first day (after choking at the price) along with a small variety of other essential food items (choking at those prices, too).  Then we headed back to the condo for rest and orientation.

We’re staying at the Castle Kamaole Sands resort.  (For those interested, we’ve rented from a private owner and are in Building 5.)  From the balcony — oops, excuse me, the lanai — we have a beautiful view down the gardens of the property to the ocean across the road.

Here is the view from our balcony at Kamaole Sands.  We have a small view of the ocean across the street and have actually been able to see whales from this distance!  The gardens are spectacular and the pool area is fabulous (behind the vegetation on the left half of the photo).  We're very happy with our choice of this resort.

Here is the view from our balcony at Kamaole Sands. We have a small view of the ocean across the street and have actually been able to see whales from this distance! The gardens are spectacular and the pool area is fabulous (behind the vegetation on the left half of the photo). We’re very happy with our choice of this resort.

Our last task for the day, was to visit the pool and hot tub!  Then to nap, because Dad and I have plans for this evening!

Here's Dad in the hot tub at our resort.  Actually, there are two hot tubs -- one for family use and one very hot one for adults only.  This is the hot one!

Here’s Dad in the hot tub at our resort. Actually, there are two hot tubs — one for family use and one very hot one for adults only. This is the hot one!

My hope has been to purchase a ukulele while here in Hawaii and to learn to play it well enough to use with our worship team or at our summer camp.  As I’ve talked about it over the months, Dad has caught my excitement and is now interested in this project as well.

I my research I discovered that there are free ukulele lessons offered here in Kihei every Thursday evening.  So, I arranged for us to use two free loaner ukes for the evening and we headed up South Kihei Road to Keolahou Church where we expected to find a few people gathering for the evening.  We drove up the church 10 minutes before the start time, only to find the parking lot was packed.  We hustled up to the door of the small church and found almost the last seats in the house.  The church probably seats a maximum of about 125 people.  There were fewer people than that in the building, but many were playing ukes — which take up extra space.  Dad thought there were at least 50 ukes in play.

What a great evening!  We learned a little about Hawaiian culture and were blown away by some of the great uke players we heard around us.  We can’t wait to go back again next week!  We are definitely getting ukuleles as soon as we can!

After this great end to the day, we headed back to the condo and slept soundly — at east until all woke at about 3 am — 8 am Toronto time.  Adjusting to Hawaii time is not going to be easy!

Until later, Aloha!

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Maui, the Valley Isle

It was not easy to get to Hawaii from Toronto.  To allow us to pace ourselves, we broke the trip up over two days.  The first leg took us out of sub-zero (Celsius) temps in Toronto to balmy Los Angeles.  There we met with Krista’s long-time friend Barb and her sister, Carole.  Barb and Krista hadn’t seen each other for many years and had a wonderful reunion.

The Kid and her dear friend, Barb, met again  after many years.  They're sitting under a quilt Barb made for Krista as a gift.

The Kid and her dear friend, Barb, met again after many years. They’re sitting under a quilt Barb made for Krista as a gift.

The Kid, Barb and Barb's sister, Carol.  A wonderful visit!

The Kid, Barb and Barb’s sister, Carol. A wonderful visit!

The second leg of our trip, was a flight directly to Hawaii the next day.  Both flights were extraordinarily smooth.  Mom and the Kid were taken through the each airport, coming and going, by wheelchair.  This was an ENORMOUS blessing.  The airport staff were unfailingly kind and helpful.  We were so grateful for this.

We finally arrived at our condo in Kihei in South Maui.  This beachy town is great — full of surf and souvenir shops, locals and many, many tourists — a large percentage of whom seem to come from Canada!

Many things in Hawaii strike me as slightly funky.   This sign is a prime example.  It shows the direction of a queuing at a local restaurant where we had our first breakfast.

Many things in Hawaii strike me as slightly funky. This sign is a prime example. It shows the direction of a queuing at a local restaurant where we had our first breakfast.

Our goal for our first day is to shop for supplies so we can cook for ourselves at our condo.

Aloha!

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Returning to Hawaii

My visit to Hawaii in 2006 with my niece, Hilary, was a wonderful experience.  Although I have travelled south to Florida many times in my life (and probably will again), I was totally unprepared for the extraordinary beauty of this Pacific state.  Our two-week visit was far too short.

When my parents (Joan and Rick), my sister (the Kid) and I first discussed the possibility of another trip, it was two years ago.  I remember Mom’s eyes lighting up at the thought of seeing Hawaii.  So, I began researching and planning.  Now our trip is only moments away!

Our plan is to stay on Maui for a full month.  We’ve rented (from a private owner) a two-bedroom condo at Kamaole Sands, Kihei.  We’ve also rented a van for the duration, along with two mobility scooters for Mom and the Kid.  We have some activities planned but, for the most part, we plan to relax, snorkel close to shore, shop and enjoy the extraordinary beauty and warm culture of this place.

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