Hawaii – 2006

Janice & Hilary the Hula Queen Do Hawaii

February 21 – March 8, 2006

Hilary, my 12-year-old niece, and I are spending two weeks in Maui.  We’ve rented a condo in Kihei and will be snorkelling, taking a private cooking class, hiking, exploring and generally lazing about in the hot tub.  Enjoy our adventures!

Entry 1:

If you’ve looked at some of my other travelogues, you already know I’ve been taking each of my nieces and nephews on a big trip around the time of their 12th birthday. Hilary’s choice for her Big Trip was somewhere warm. She’s a beach girl at heart. If she lived by the ocean, I’m sure we’d be calling her Gidget.

Our first thought was the Caribbean, but I didn’t want to spend a week or two confined to a resort and I wouldn’t have felt entirely comfortable touring there independently. Hilary also suggested a cruise. Although I’d like to try a cruise sometime, it just doesn’t excite my independent-traveller’s heart either.

We’ve both been to Florida. We’ve both been to California. I thought about Bermuda, but then offered Hawaii if — and only if — I could dig up enough airline miles. My research indicated that Hawaii would offer the beaches and warm weather Hilary longed for and the scope for exploration that I wanted.

So, airline miles in hand, I booked our flights and researched my little heart out.

I asked Hilary to write a few paragraphs about what she’s looking forward to. Hilary doesn’t always express her excitement and sometimes I felt I was planning this trip blindly. Her comments were quite illuminating. Here’s what she wrote:

“I am going to Hawaii with my Aunt Janice and I am really excited to go. I am looking forward to having a cook come to our condo to make Parmesan Chicken. I am looking forward to making it later at home for my family. [JB: I’ve booked a Maui chef who will come to our condo to give us a private cooking class. Hilary loves to cook! In fact, she watches the Food Network like her Fishing-Auntie, Krista, watches the Outdoor Life Network and like I watch Space.]

“I’m also looking forward to going to a volcano to see the sunrise. [JB: News to me! I’d better check the map…] The only thing I don’t like is having to get up in the morning REALLY early and driving for two hours, but I really want to go so I guess I will have to get up.

“There are a few more things that I am excited about, like going to a luau (a morning one and a dinner one). I am also excited about going to see a movie that I have always wanted to see. I am really excited to go swimming on the beach and in the pool at our condo. But my favourite thing is going shopping because I LOVE shopping and I am going to buy a lot of stuff.

“That is some of the stuff that I am excited about when I go to Hawaii.”

Recently, I asked Nick (who went with me to England in 2004) if he had any special travel tips for Hilary. Here’s what he wrote, with his own inimitable spelling technique.

Traval Tip’s For Hillary
Hey hilly here are some tips for ya
1. Take any chance u get to try new excperiences
2. try new food like bangers and mash
3. buy cool soivners
4. Take a book for looking at boring musiums
5. Take good walking shoes (anuty janice likes to take detour’s)
6. take lots of film and a good camera
7. Take a barf bag (aunty janices driving needs work)
8. learn to yell curb! curb! and drift factor
9. stay out of volcanoes they may look inviting but there very dangerous
10. and over all have a great time”

Some great advice there, but I protest the driving comments!

Ah, well, as I write this, it’s blizzarding outside here in Toronto, but we’re packing our suitcases and I’m looking forward to the hot tub in Maui! Stay tuned for our tropical adventures.

Entry 2

JANICE: Actually getting a new trip underway is always exciting. I spend so much time planning, sometimes I feel I’ve already taken the trip, even before leaving! But this trip has possible adventures I’ve never experienced before … sunrise from the top of a volcano, humpback whales in the waters by our condo, snorkeling in tropical waters … this holiday has lots of adventure potential!

Our trip here was relatively simple. Or so we thought! One flight from Toronto to Vancouver and one flight from Vancouver to Maui. Ha! The flight to Vancouver went quite well — it was very smooth and less than five hours. However, the fun began when we arrived in Vancouver. We had a layover of about 1 1/2 hours. In that time, we had to go through US customs, including claiming our checked bags and getting them through customs, as well. When we entered the Vancouver terminal, we discovered that we had to go from one building to another AND we had to find our way pretty much on our own. Because these terminals are under construction, there are temporary access routes, poor signage and confusing instructions. We must have asked six different people where we were supposed to go and received six different sets of instructions. No one seemed to care. For a while, we wandered around the shopping area, looking for a mythical duty free shop that also contained the entrance to US Customs. This whole episode was beyond belief. Ultimately, we made it to our gate (which wasn’t the one we’d been told to go to) with less than 10 minutes to spare. Whew!

Hilary was a trooper, trailing behind me as we flew through the terminals, frantically looking for the right place.

Once we made it onto the second plane and were airborne, we spread out a bit since the flight wasn’t filled. This was great because we were hoping to get a few hours of sleep on this six-hour flight. Then the First Officer came on the PA system and gave his usual spiel of weather and flight times. Then he said, “Those of you who have flown this route before know that, at this time of year, we can encounter a fair bit of turbulence. Please keep your seat belts fastened. If we do encounter turbulence, we will wake you up to make sure your seat belt is secure.”

Great. Hilary slept for a few hours, but I don’t think I did more than doze between periods of turbulence. I’ve been through worse, but turbulence is always nerve wracking.

Nevertheless, we did get into the Kahului Airport about 20 minutes early. We made the connection with our car rental office and even found our condo in the dark. It was a challenge. I was trying to figure out how the car worked (“Hilary, where are the lights?! Hilary, can you see how to open the trunk?). Such fun! But we found our parking spot, found out how to open the condo lock box and door, hauled our luggage into the apartment and crashed! We slept a good five or six hours — sleep I sorely needed.

Today has been a series of small errands and quiet time in the pool. (We’re trying to conserve our strength for tonight’s adventure.)

We started out with breakfast at Denny’s down the street. I’d read about the high prices of food here — both in restaurants and in grocery stores. Well, at Denny’s the breakfast prices pretty much started at about $9. Yikes.

After breakfast, we headed to a nearby grocery store to stock up. I studiously avoided monitoring the prices here. We just bought what we’d need for the next week or so.

After putting the food away, we headed to the pool and hot tub for some serious soaking. The pool is large and doesn’t seem heated — very refreshing! The hot tubs were wonderful!

After lunch, we took a walk on the beach. Kamaole (Kam-ay-ole-ee)Beach III is just across the street from us (our condo is located at Kamaole Sands). It really is beautiful with lots of soft sand, grassy banks, trees and spots of beautiful rocks. We examined some of the tide pools and saw a number of critters in them.

This short taste of the ocean was followed with more time at the pool and then we headed to Snorkel Bob’s where we picked up the snorkeling equipment we’d ordered. For myself, I had arranged for an mask that has special lenses that are fairly close to my own eye glasses prescription. In fact, in a pinch, I think I could drive with them if I had to! The sales people were really helpful. Part of our gear package included net bags to haul our equipment around in. They showed us the bin, filled with red, green, yellow and purple bags and said we should take our pick. We started to take bags from the top, when the young guy who was waiting for the next customer took one look at Hilary and said, “There’s a pink bag in there!” I started to laugh. Hilary, of course, was dressed in pink from head to toe. That is one observant sales guy! The sales girl helping us told us about the whales that winter in the this bay. She said it was like whale soup out there. This I’m really looking forward to seeing!

After a short shopping trip to Wal-Mart, we came back here for supper and are fading fast. Hilary is already sitting in bed, watching tv. I keep losing my train of thought … did I say I was tired? Let me see if Hilary will contribute anything to this entry.

HILARY: It’s warm here. There are lots of palm trees and flowers. The water is warm. It rained last night and this morning — hard. It was windy. We went shopping at Wal-Mart and I bought souvenirs for people. At Denny’s this morning a bird flew in the open window. Tonight we’re going to go to the top of the volcano and watch the sunrise and then we’re going to go snorkeling. That’s about it.

JANICE: Tonight’s adventure is to find our way to the top of the volcano. We had a bit of a dry run today since Wal-Mart is on the route to the mountain highway. We’ll have to leave about 3:30 in order to get to the mountain top in time to see the sun leap out of the eastern ocean! This adventure is very popular and the mountaintop can be very crowded. My expectation is that there will be a conga line of cars and tourist busses heading toward the peak. I hope! 🙂

We’ll try to bring you up to date on the cold early morning — hopefully with a spectacular display of sun and cloud!



Entry 3:


JANICE: Such a day! We’ve been from the glory of sunrise at the top of the world to scraping sand out of our bathing suits!

We started the morning by getting up at 3:00 am. This wasn’t as hard as it sounds since we’d both crashed by 9:00 last night and are really still on Eastern Standard Time. Nevertheless, we pulled on our long pants and threw all our warm clothes into the car. We took some bananas and water, but I was holding off on coffee — there are no bathrooms at the summit.

Before we left for Hawaii, I had decided we would pass on the Haleakala sunrise. It’s a nearly two-hour drive to the top in total darkness and I was a little nervous about doing this in the middle of the night and at the beginning of our trip, before I’d found my bearings. (Everyone recommends you do this activity early in your holiday, before you adjust to the Maui time zone). You can take bus tours, but the cost (probably $150 for the two of us) just didn’t seem worth it.

However, before we left Hilary announced she really wanted to see the sunrise. So, I decided we’d give it a go.

As we pulled out of our complex, the stars were sparkling over the ocean. It looked like we’d chosen a beautiful, clear night. Hilary was wide awake and a big help, using her little flashlight to illuminate the map and keep us on track. We passed through the city of Kahului and turned toward the mountain. If I remember correctly, Haleakala is considered to be one of the biggest mountains in the world — if you measure it from the ocean floor. Mountains like Everest rise from a continent, while the island of Maui is actually part of the mountain of Haleakala. When we walk the beaches of Maui, we’re actually only part way down the mountain.

Well, the road began to rise and twist and bend back upon itself. Soon, we could see only smaller and smaller bushes (rather than trees) in the gleam of our headlights as we sped by at the lightning speed of 30 mph. I wondered how our car would hold out; it’s a 1999 Sentra and seems pretty gutless to me. However, it never faltered and the heat gauge never got excited.

After almost two hours, we reached the summit — as far as the road goes. We had already turned the heat on in the car because, of course, at this altitude the temperature drops. And did it ever drop! And the wind is ferocious! Once we were parked, I stepped outside so that I could put on socks and closed shoes, my sweater and coat. I nearly froze to death and blew over – in that order.

Although we still had a good hour to go before the actual event, we decided to investigate the summit. We stumbled up the stairs in the hillside and found at the very top and windowed shelter that provided a very welcome relief from the wind. Although it was still completely dark (and there are no electric lights at the summit – or bathrooms, for that matter), we could see our immediate surroundings because of the spectacular stars. We’ve never seen so many! It was beyond belief. I wonder if Abraham laughed when the Lord asked him to count the stars. I would have.

Apart from the starlight and a few small flashlights, there wasn’t much else to see at this point, so we headed back to the car to have a banana and wait for the show to start.

More and more people were arriving, including many individual cars like ours, groups of Japanese tourists and – astounding to us cold weather experts – people who were dressed as if they wanted to experience frostbite rather than see a sunrise. We saw one man in a light sweatshirt, shorts and a tea towel draped over his head. Many others had brought the blankets from their hotel rooms. A surprising number were wearing shorts! What were they thinking?! Hilary and I, on the other hand, had long pants, socks and closed shoes, sweaters, coats (Hil wore TWO jackets) with hoods, hats and hand-warmers to boot. We were eventually fairly cold, but managing quite nicely, thank you very much!

The crowd swelled as the sunrise approached. I kept wanting to sing, “From the rising of the sun …” We eventually stood outside by a low stone wall and prepared to take photos as the light increased. Because we had such a clear night, with no clouds above us, we didn’t have a spectacularly coloured sunrise. That happens when there are clouds above to take on the bright colours. Instead, all the clouds were below us and the sun rose from behind them into a clear sky. However, it was magnificent. For a while, all we could see was a lightening of the horizon (Oh, that’s where east is! – We weren’t sure.). Then, the dimensions of the clouds started to take shape and we could see each other’s faces. The yellow and orange horizon became brighter and brighter and, then, there was a brilliant, golden edge to the clouds. And, then moments later – pop! – there’s the sun! And – poof! – almost everyone disappeared into their cars and were gone! As Hilary asked several times, “But when does it stop?” I guess when the sun has well and fully risen, most people feel it has “stopped.”

Hil and I walked around a bit, hoping to see the Haleakala Crater, now that we could see beyond our hoods. Unfortunately, the crater was filled with clouds and we really couldn’t see much at all. We think we’ll go back during the day time and, perhaps, even hike a little bit along the Sliding Sands Trail into the crater. However, I don’t think we’ll go far; I did find the air quite thin at that altitude.

Finally, we headed back to the car and, still bundled up in our winter gear, began the slow descent. It can be a bit tricky. For one thing, now that it’s daylight, you can see the hairpin turns and the major drop offs beyond the three-inch curb (very few fences at the upper levels). A second challenge is that, by this time, everyone in the car is desperate for a bathroom break. The third challenge (after the bathroom break at the Visitor Centre a few minutes’ drive down the mountain) is to avoid either hitting the millions of bikers coasting down the mountain or to avoid getting stuck behind one of their convoys.

As we headed downhill, we stopped at several lookouts and at one short trail. The trail looks as if it’s just a scenic lookout, but is actually a 15-minute walk below the road that leads around the edge of the mountain to a spectacular view of the crater. I had read that this trail was worth taking, but didn’t tell Hilary what we’d be able to see when we got to the end of it. We were both thrilled with the view. The end of the trail provides a sort of side view of the crater. We could see cinder cones and rugged rock, as well as (in the other direction) ocean and rain forest. It’s a great stop and I highly recommend it, although the footing is very uneven. I’ve forgotten the name of the trail, but it starts with L – Leilele or something like that.

For the next long while – more than an hour – we slowly descended in 2nd gear. I hardly needed to use the brakes. I found the road – both up and down – a very easy drive. It’s a two lane road, without many turnouts (I expected more), but it really isn’t that steep and the hairpin turns are very broad. The pavement is excellent, lined on either side with very reflective paint and the line down the middle has those reflective little things they embed in the pavement in the south. It’s a long trip, but very, very doable. As well, we didn’t get lost at all; everything was adequately signed.

I’m so glad Hilary really wanted to do this trip. It was a great event. Hilary is very glad we went, although the sunrise wasn’t as spectacular as she’d hoped (“Is that it?). However, the crater was much more than she’d imagined. “Will it be as big as my school?” she’d asked. It was hard for me to explain the immensity of the crater when I hadn’t even seen it myself. We were both very impressed with it when we finally saw it from the trail lookout.

When we’d finally reached Kahului (“Ah, civilization,” said Hil.), we stopped at McDonald’s for breakfast. Can you say, “Expensive?” We had hotcakes, three hash browns, an Egg McMuffin, an orange juice and a large coffee (remember, I was sorely caffeine deprived) and bill totaled about $16. US.

By this time, it’s late morning and we decide to head to the beach to try out the snorkelling equipment we picked up yesterday. This really was too late to do at our beach; the winds had picked up, as they do each day by noon, and the waves were too big. I failed abysmally. Hilary was much better, but after about 15 minutes we decided to abandon the snorkelling for the day, and just played in the waves. We had great fun! The water wasn’t as cold as I’d feared but, before long, we were both thinking about heading for the hot tub and pool.

Our plan for the rest of the day included only an evening at the Old Lahaina Luau, a 40-minute drive toward the west end of the island. The luau takes place at a beautiful, outdoor grassy area, surrounded by swaying palm trees and overlooking the Lahaina harbour. We were so close to the water that we could hear the waves crashing on the show during the show and, as we waited for things to get underway we were able to watch the sunset. (Sunrise, sunset – you’d think I had planned this!) We had reserved – at Hil’s request – traditional seating on cushions at low tables. This is not the most comfortable situation, but gave us front row seats (although, be forewarned, these are the last tables to eat). We were greeted with fresh flower leis – they smell wonderful but are a little strange feeling around the neck. Hilary had hers on and off so many times, I was surprised there were any petals left on the string.

The dinner buffet was wonderful. It wasn’t an extensive selection, but included everything from pork (we watched them remove the whole pig from the underground oven – it had cooked with hot stones, covered with dirt), to chicken, steak and fish. It was all delicious. The staff are all dressed in sarongs and were very entertaining and helpful. The show is considered to be an authentic depiction of the Hawaiian dance through the ages. There were many beautiful slow hulas and there were also the mind-numbing, gyrating hulas that make you think the dancer is going to break some bones. How do they do that?! It just looks painful!

Hilary really enjoyed the entire show. But, after the long day we’d had, I wasn’t surprised when she fell asleep in the car on the way home. When we finally got to the condo (by about 9:30 pm), she walked in, changed into her pj’s and was asleep in her bed – all before I’d even locked the door!

It was a long, long day … but a great one!

Entry 4:

Dear Readers,

Thanks for the messages you’ve been sending us! We’re still having a wonderful time. Today has been pretty low-key. I’m not sure we even took a single photo, but I’ve tried to upload the movie clips we’ve shot.

This morning we went to the beach across the street again. It was a little earlier in the morning and we were hoping to try snorkeling once more. As soon as we crossed the park and descended to the sand (beautiful, soft, very pleasant), we noticed that there were warning flags up. There was a dangerous shore break happening, although there were still a number of people in the water. We sat for a few minutes and watched the waves, but we could see that the waves were pretty big and crashing on the sand in such a way that we would really be asking for LOTS of sand in our bathing suits. So, we gathered up our stuff again and headed back to the pool and hot tub.

After a bit of lunch, we put on our Shopping Shorts and headed out. We tried a number of shopping plazas and enjoyed the Hilo Hattie shop the most. We’d made a quick stop here the other day and discovered that they give everyone person who comes in the door a free shell necklace. Excellent! We plan to visit a number of times and Hilary expects to amass quite a collection. One of our last shopping stops was a little open air market. There weren’t many vendors, but the ones there had some great selections and even better prices. We’d shopped enough already to get a feel for the prices of the kinds of things we wanted.

One of the vendor families was Hawaiian and we overheard them speaking to each other in Hawaiian. I hadn’t really expected to hear that outside of things like the luau. It was wonderful to hear; Hawaiian sounds like singing to me.

Several of the tables had lots (LOTS) of shell jewelry. Some of the necklaces and bracelets were $3 each or 2 for $5. Hilary walked up to the vendor with three necklaces in her hand. He took one look at her and said, “For you … $5 for all three!” This was just what happened to Megan in Paris at the antique market. Deja vu!

Hilary says she found a lot of treasures including: “A coconut purse, shells and a starfish, a dress and a shirt, a shell lei and lots of souvenirs for my family and my friends.”

After dropping all our goodies off at the condo, we went to a Fish & Chips shop we’d noticed for supper and then to the movie theatre to see “Eight Below.” Hilary says the movie was “great and all my friends should go to see it.”

And that was our day!

Hilary & Janice

Entry 5:

JANICE: This morning, I took a short walk along the beach across from our complex. I wanted to see if the sea would be quiet enough for us to snorkel there. I was a little concerned about our snorkelling, since I had such a hard time with it the other day. I just couldn’t do it at all. The salt water kept getting into my eyes and I felt very panicky when I had to breathe through the snorkel. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to do this!

It was still quite early (and a little cool), so the beach only had a few people setting up their towels and chairs. I walked a few minutes down the beach, watching the surf. It looked as rough as the day before to me, but there were no red flags out — until I turned around to go home and saw that the life guards were putting up the red flags behind me as I walked along.

OK, so no snorkeling here today. I went back home and checked my Maui guides for other nearby snorkeling beaches that would be good for beginners. Ulua Beach was mentioned and it was only a couple of miles down the road, so off we went.

Ulua Beach is in a very beautiful, expensive area. It has beautiful sand, grassy edges and a good amount of shade. The snorkelling is around a rocky reef outcropping at the end of the beach. The water is quite shallow and, because of its position relative to the prevailing winds and waves, is very sheltered. Perfect for us!

We set up shop in the shade of a tree and waded into the water. Even beyond the small breaking waves, the depth was still no more than waist deep on Hilary. It was easy to get our equipment on and practice breathing without being overwhelmed by the waves.

Success!!! If I concentrated on breathing slowly in and out and didn’t try to move around too much, I could easily and calmly view — the sand on the bottom!

So Hilary and I slowly, hand in hand, floated and swished our way along the edge of the reef. And then I started to have trouble breathing again, but this time because I was so excited at the sight of all the tropical fish we could see. There were yellow and blue and green and black. Some were spotted and some were striped. One of the first fish we saw were a number of needlefish — long skinny fish with very pointy faces. They seem to float just below the surface of the water. When Hilary saw them, she started to get very nervous and didn’t want to go near them. Then, when we saw a Spotted Pufferfish, she wanted to go in. But, I kept reassuring her that the fish were used to snorkellers and were not going to hurt us. For the next half hour we ranged back and forth along the reef, watching all the little critters. It was just magical!

After a short rest back on the beach, we went back in for another half hour. Because we didn’t have any flotation belts yet, we kept pretty much to our own depth. Even here, we watched many, many different kinds of fish. Just before we left for the day, Hilary said, “Listen to the whales!” She’d realized that we could actually hear the whales sing if we quietly put our faces in the water. I held my breath and, yes, I could faintly hear the whales singing! What a great morning! Now I’m not dreading our boat cruise to Molokini on Monday.

During the afternoon, we went to the Maui Ocean Center. It’s not Sea World, but has great collections of reef fish, including many of the ones we’d just been watching. We spent a very enjoyable few hours there.

On our way home, we made another stop at Hilo Hatties — collecting two more free necklaces in the process. Hilary also bought a mussel — hopefully containing a cultured pearl. In fact, someone gave her a two-for-one coupon, so she actually got two mussels. And they contained two BEAUTIFUL pearls. One is a creamy colour and one is — believe it or not — PINK!!! She had the pink one set in a gold flower setting. It is just gorgeous.

This has been a very successful day.


Entry 6:

JANICE: Well, we picked a good day for a couple of mostly indoor activities. The sky was quite overcast and there were showers quiet often. It even rained in Kihei, a town that gets a total of about 10 inches of rain a year.

We left our condo early in the morning and headed across the island to Kahului (the largest town and where the airport is). I had learned earlier that there was a church there that has 8:00 am worship services and, on the last Sunday of the month (today), has a service in Hawaiian. I wanted Hilary to have a chance to see worship in a very different culture and in a different language.

We found the church, Kahului Union Church, without any trouble and, as we headed toward the main doors, I could see the greeters spotting us. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a warm welcome at a church before. They had handmade ribbon leis for us. They gave us each a bookmark made by a 92-year-old member of their church.

We walked to the front of the sanctuary; Hilary wanted to be close enough to see everything. The service began with two young people blowing conch shells from the back and then from the front. Shofars! I know this part!

There were a number of prayers in Hawaiian and the hymnbook was all in Hawaiian. I would like to have had time to read through the hymnbook. Many pages had interesting bits of information regarding Hawaiian life and faith. I was particularly interested in one quote that indicated that, when the first missionaries arrived here, the Hawaiians didn’t know how to sing. This I simply can’t fathom. How could a people not figure out singing?! Apparently, they chanted, I guess, in a rather monotone fashion. Anyway, the missionaries were the ones to teach the Hawaiians how to make music. I’ve always felt that traditional Hawaiian music has a sound rather like hymns and early gospel music. Maybe this is why!

Part of the worship service included a gospel hula dance by about five young teen girls. They were clearly learning hula, but it was touching to watch. Later the girls were joined by about 20 women and they signed a song together. There were no hula skirts in sight … this was a very sedate and worshipful performance.

The message was in English. I’m sure Hilary was relieved at that. The service ended with more conch shell blowing and a bit of oneg outside. All in all, we had a great morning there.

Our afternoon was reserved for our cooking class. Chef Tracy arrived and set up shop in our kitchen. She taught us how to make Parmesan Chicken and Homemade Pasta. As Hilary said, “Homemade Homemade Pasta.” That is, from scratch. It was fun to watch Hilary pay such close attention to every detail and grow in confidence as she and Tracy worked on each part of the dish (I mostly watched). And, when it was all finished, Hilary and I ate a DELICIOUS dinner!

We had a great day!

Entry 7:

This morning we were scheduled for a cruise to snorkel at Molokini, a submerged caldera with fabulous snorkelling. We had to be at the slip for the Four Winds II at 6:30 to check in. It’s only a 20-minute drive, so we didn’t have to get up too, too early. As we drove along, Hilary repeated for me the entire recipe for the Parmesan Chicken and Homemade Pasta that Chef Tracy had cooked with us yesterday. She remembered the entire thing!

When we reached the harbour, we had no trouble finding the slip and checked in. It was cold and windy, but the sun wasn’t up yet. The crew was very friendly and lots of fun. Once we boarded, we lined up for breakfast – bagels and fresh fruit, juice and coffee. And soon the boat headed out into the bay.

Once we had quickly downed our breakfast, Hilary and I headed for the upper deck to watch for whales. The Four Winds II is a large catamaran style vessel. The lower deck is mostly indoors; the upper deck has a small central area with a sun shelter, and a larger open area. We sat right in front of the captain at the bow area. The seating is all bench seating, so sometimes you kind of slide around and the boat heaves and the wind blows. And, let me tell you, the wind did blow!

Maalaea Harbor, the home base of this ship, is the second windiest harbour in the world. As we headed south toward Molokini, the wind was whipping the entire bay into white caps. Even so, we almost immediately saw whales blowing and breaching not too far from us. This went on during the whole trip. None of them were extremely close, but they were close enough that we could see what they were doing. It was hard to get pictures of them because of the way the boat was bouncing around and because of the uneven sea, but we tried!

About five miles into our journey (took us about 40 minutes, I think), the captain announced that he’d been talking to other boat captains on the radio. The general consensus was that it was too rough for snorkelling at Molokini. How disappointing! Instead, the captain slowly turned the back toward the coast of Maui and headed for Coral Gardens, a coastal snorkelling area that would be sheltered from the wind.

As the ship turned, the crew warned us all to hang on to something. Hilary and I hung onto each other and stayed that way for the next half hour as we rode a roller coaster to the coast. The bouncing of the boat was amazing. We also were hit frequently with spray – so much for our dry clothes! It was exhilarating. I wondered if Hilary would be nervous. Nope. She just laughed into the teeth of the gale! The ship’s rigging was wailing in the wind and the noise of the wind was so loud that, to talk to each other, we had to put our lips up to the other person’s ear and yell. My biggest surprise was that I didn’t get seasick. Bonus!

Coral Gardens is not too far from Maalaea Harbor and is in a small cove. It’s difficult to reach except by boat, so the only snorkellers were from our boat and one other. Although it was sheltered, it wasn’t unaffected by the wind. There was a strong current created by the wind and, once in the water, we had to keep an eye on where we were being blown by it.

In the water, we didn’t have any trouble snorkelling. We wore bright yellow flotation belts that allowed us to just hang in the water without worrying or struggling to tread water. The water wasn’t that warm and the wind cooled us quite a bit whenever we came out of the water, but the views under the water were spectacular. Coral Gardens is a large area with a huge variety of coral undulating across the sandy bottom. It’s hard to tell how deep it was, but I would guess that it ranged between 10 and 20 feet.

There didn’t seem to be a huge number of fish, but the ones there were gorgeous! We saw bright yellow fish, polka-dotted fish, striped fish, mottled fish, red fish, green fish, skinny fish, plump fish, everything you can imagine. The ship’s videographer filmed us feeding the fish and he also got footage of a nearby sea turtle (which we missed seeing). It was a wonderful experience.

After about half an hour in the water, Hilary was cold so we headed back into the boat for some mid-morning lunch. Snorkelling makes you hungry! The captain was serving the burgers and, when Hilary reached the front of the line, he said, “Well, what would you like, Blue Eyes?”

Hilary very politely answered, “A hamburger, please.”

“Now, is that any way to ask?” he said. Hilary just looked confused. What did this strange man want from her. (He rather looked like the ‘Aaaghr, Jim’ captain.) The captain then instructed her, “When you ask me for food, I want you to say: ‘Captain John. I want a hamburger. And I want a hamburger now!’”

Hilary grinned and – still politely – followed his instructions. Later, when she asked for a piece of grilled chicken, he still wanted her to ask for it his way, but she just couldn’t.

We spent time in the water twice, but it was a little tiring to keep fighting the current. Hilary was pretty cold, too. So, we finally came back on board and had our great grilled chicken, just eating it with our fingers. It was so windy, even in the downstairs cabin (with the doors open), that there was serious risk of being hit by flying potato chips and paper plates. The food just didn’t want to stay on the plates or the plates in the hand.

Eventually, the boat headed back toward the harbour. As we approached Maalaea, the captain slowly sailed around in the water outside the harbour. There we watched large sea turtles swimming by. They were amazing.

Although it was very disappointing not to make it to Molokini, we had a great morning. Hilary especially loved the wild boat ride.

As we headed home for some quality time in the hot tub, we listened to the Hawaiian music station we’ve had on in the car. Hilary’s starting to sing along! As we reflected on the sounds of Hawaiian, she said, “If they speak Hawaiian here, why don’t they have Hawaiian printed on things like cereal boxes? We have French on ours.” A good question!

The rest of day we spent – of course! – shopping. We even went to Costco where we bought two gallon jugs of the juice we’ve been drinking … a combination of orange, pineapple and guava. Delicious! We’d already drunk our way through two gallon jugs of the stuff.

I don’t think there are any more highlights from today. I’m pretty tired from the wind, the sun and the water, but with a good night’s sleep, I think we’ll be ready for more snorkelling in the morning!


Entry 8:

This morning was somewhat overcast. We didn’t rush away from the condo, but headed to Ulua Beach around 8:30 to try out our snorkelling skills again. The beach, which is only a few minutes’ drive from our condo, had only a few people; many more arrived while we were there.

After watching the surf for a while, we felt it was safe to go in, although a little rougher than we’d seen the previous time. However, this end of the beach was still very quiet. We put on our snorkelling gear and headed out. We soon discovered that the surf and the snorkellers were kicking up so much bottom sand, visibility wasn’t very good. In fact, we didn’t see nearly as many fish as we’d seen here a few days ago.

One fish we did see was the Unicornfish. Seeing a small school of this fish was very exciting; we hadn’t expected to be able to spot this fish.

After about half an hour, we decided snorkelling just wasn’t going to be successful today, so we packed up and went back to the pool and hot tub. Ahhhh … this was a great decision!

In the afternoon, we headed out for some sightseeing. Our first stop was the Tropical Plantation. This beautiful location is seated on the edge of the sugar cane fields and backs onto the West Maui Mountains. Although it’s free to visit the gift shop (a very nice one!), they charge to take you on a tram through the grounds. No one is allowed to walk through the plantation grounds – a great shame. I would like to have seen the plants up close and at a slower pace.

However, we enjoyed the ride. There was one stop where we watched the driver/guide husk a coconut. She spoke at length about the benefits of coconut water and how to get the coconut open effectively. One tip she had was to put the open coconut in the freezer overnight; she said the husk will then just peel away from the meat. We’re going to try this!

As the tram came to stop at the end of our ride, the driver sang aloha to us and then said something in Hawaiian. I was positive she said something about “Iesu” or Jesus. I found her a few minutes and asked her what she had said. “God loves you,” she said. Sure enough … we’d found a sister in the Lord!

As Hilary and I walked toward the gift shop, we came across a Hawaiian man weaving baskets under a beautiful shady tree. The baskets were gorgeous and he was selling them. As Hilary chosen one for herself, I watched him begin another. “How long does it take to make one?” I asked.

“About 15 minutes,” he said without raising his head.

“I’ll take that one.” We waited and watched as he quickly wove my basket. He told us our baskets will dry and, if we follow his directions, should last for years and years. We handed over our money and took one of his instruction papers. I immediately saw that he had signed his name on the paper with a fish. I laughed and said, “I like your fish!”

He lifted his head and saw his face for almost the first time – he’d been bent over his weaving and his face was hidden by his woven hat. He smiled and said, “Eternal life is absolutely free.”

“We agree completely,” we said. So, we met two fellow believers within a few minutes. It was a very pleasant visit at this plantation!

Our next stop was a Burger King. We hadn’t had any lunch and felt we needed some serious fast food. I haven’t seen Hilary down so much food so fast during the whole trip!

From the Burger King we headed into the West Maui Mountains to Iao State Park. This location is in the rain forest and is the location of the Iao Needle, a rock formation that is a sharp point that has eroded from the hillside. Earlier Hawaiian warriors used it for a lookout and this particular valley was the location of the last war in Hawaii. It was so fierce (muskets and cannon were used) that the bodies piled up and dammed the river.

We walked around the short trail and admired all the foliage and the river. At one point, we saw some Hawaiian young people swimming in the fast flowing river. We also saw some Hawaiians walking out of the trail area with collections of long wavy sticks. I asked them what they were for and one said (I think), “We’ve building a hale.” I’m not sure what that is, but they had lots of sticks!

As we strolled to the parking lot, we noticed LOTS of cats sitting around. There were so many (I’m sure we saw 20 or more) and they seemed so watchful, I was pretty sure they were feral. Hilary wanted to get pictures of them, but I kept her well away from them. We had already seen one or two mice in the undergrowth, so I think they do a lot of hunting; they looked very well fed.

On the way home, we stopped at a museum at one of the original missionary houses. Unfortunately, it was just closing, but we browsed through the gift shop.

This evening we watched a movie called “High School Musical.” It was on the Disney channel (we’ve watched a great deal of this channel!) and Hilary said Megan would be very jealous that we’d had a chance to see it.

It has been a very interesting day!


Hawaii looks beautiful
Mar 5, 2006 12:45 EST by cheryl0 ( am a friend of Pam’s, Hilary’s mom and she hooked me up to see all this. I am so glad I did, your pictures are great amd Hilary I am sure is having a wonderful time. This is a wonderful thing for both of you.
Look forward to some more pictures and adventures.

Entry 9:

We had a wonderful time last week at the Old Lahaina Luau. This morning we enjoyed Part Two.

Ho’omana’o means “remember” and is a new production of the same company. We left our condo at about 7:15 in the morning and headed back to Lahaina on the west side of the island. Once again, traffic near Lahaina slowed us down. Hilary was convinced that we would be late, but I had timed it to the minute! We were greeted at the same location as the Old Lahaina Luau with fresh juice (each cup was topped with a beautiful lei flower) and a kukui nut lei.

By the way, leis are made of many things. The kukui lei is made up of dark, shiny nuts about the size of small walnuts. Other leis are, of course, made of different kinds of flowers. They’re quite fragile and will lose their freshness. My favourite is the shell lei. Even they offer great variety. There are slim, single strands – like the ones we’ve been collecting from Hilo Hattie’s. There are others that are thick and heavy with shells. Some are made of an assortment of shells. Others are made from a single kind and colour of shell. There’s one that we see quite often made from small yellow shells that look a lot like kernels of corn.

Back to Ho’omana’o. Some Internet sites called this event as a breakfast luau and Hilary has picked up that description. However, it really wasn’t a luau at all; it’s more of an education event. The goal is to provide tourists with a better understanding of the ancient Hawaiian way of life.

The morning began with a great breakfast buffet. There was pork hash (left over from the pork cooked in an imu, or underground oven, at the luau the night before), bacon, scrambled eggs, frittata, Portuguese sausage, French toast stuffed with mango, yoghurt and granola, fresh fruit and more.

There was a much smaller group for the morning event – perhaps about 40 or 45 people. We were all seated in the same area where Hilary and I sat for the evening luau, only this time we sat at tables. Just behind us, a young man played his guitar and sang Hawaiian songs; it was just gorgeous.

After our breakfast, they divided us into three groups and led each group to a different area along the beach. The plan was that each group would visit each of the three learning centres. Our first half hour was devoted to learning about hula. We sat on benches and chairs under the palm trees and listened to a Hawaiian man tell us about the history of this beautiful dance. I’ve forgotten his name (they all told us their Hawaiian names, but I usually only barely caught the string of syllables!), but he has competed in hula and teaches hula each year in Japan. His two assistants demonstrated all the special tools used in hula. Most of the tools are used to create a rhythmic sound or pleasant movements.

As we watched the two female assistants demonstrate several different dances, I listened carefully to the teacher chant and keep the rhythm on a huge gourd drum. I was interested to hear the clear difference between singing and chanting. Although he did change pitch a many times, there was a monotone element to the whole thing. It was definitely not sung – much less so than something like a Gregorian chant. Another interesting element was the way the dancers answer the chanter at different times – antiphonal chanting!

After demonstrating different dances and tools, it was our turn. Two people learned how to use a dried gourd filled with beans and trimmed with feathers, two others learned how to use small drums (to set the beat) and we learned how to use bamboo sticks that had been split into loose ends. (We held one in each hand, hit them together three times and then tapped them gently over the back of our shoulders. It made me think of pictures of flagellation, but it was quite gentle. The goal was to create a different sound between hitting the sticks together (a harsher sound) and the sound of hitting the body (a more muffled sound). The name of the sticks translates into something related to skin something something.)

Once we had all “mastered” our instruments, we used them together while the teacher chanted. We did pretty well! Ha! The next stage was to add foot movements. All three of my left feet came into play. (This is one of the reasons I always sing on music teams and don’t participate in Messianic dance!) Even Hilary had trouble keeping her bamboo sticks going while we did the very simple steps. Arghhhh. There was a lot of laughter.

Soon it was time for each group to go to a different learning centre. At our next stop we learned about Hawaiian food, weaving and fishing. One assistant showed us how to throw a fishing net (Hilary did pretty well with a keiki-sized, or child-sized, net). The teacher was a Hawaiian woman who seemed to enjoy telling us about her people’s customs. She was a heavy-set woman in a sarong (all the staff were wearing sarongs) and had a very easy going, pleasant manner. She laughed a lot, especially at herself. While we were watching her assistant throw the net in the waves, she spied a mussel of some kind on a nearby rock. She asked the net-thrower to get it for her and she raved about how tasty it would be … raw. Someone asked about other things that would be gathered from the sea and she started telling us a story about the first time she’d collected a particular delicacy. I missed the complete description of the creature she was hunting, but it sounded like a crab or some kind of crawling creature. After collecting a whole pail of them, she left the pail in the kitchen sink overnight. In the morning, before she’d put her contacts in, she had to go scrambling all over her house to find all the creatures who had escaped the pail in the night. (It was strange to hear this non-modern-looking Hawaiian talking about contact lenses and tvs.)

One aspect of Hawaiian life found interesting was the way in which the Hawaiian leaders had organized each community and land use. The Hawaiian communities were organized from mountainside down to the ocean in long strips. In other words, each community (and there were many) had access to each kind of land so that they were able to provide for themselves in every way. The mountainsides and valleys were used for agriculture. The valleys and ocean sides were used for living areas and community activities. The ocean sides and oceans themselves were used for collecting fish and seafood. It reminded me of the Habitant strips of land along the St. Lawrence.

While the teacher was talking to us, one of the assistants pounded a taro root into poi. It looked a little like kneading bread. We tasted this paste that is so loved by the Hawaiians. It’s really very bland and sticky. Definitely an acquired taste. They offered us a chance to try a raw fish mixed with poi. I passed on this golden opportunity, but some of the women who tried it, thought it was great. The teacher talked about how this kind of fresh poi was so much better than the commercially available poi, which is watered down because of “a shortage of poi.”

One of the assistants demonstrated a little weaving and presented Hilary will a small tropical bird with a very, very long tail – all created from palm fronds. It will go nicely with her woven basket.

Our last learning centre was all about Hawaiian warfare. Different weapons were demonstrated. Some were wooden or gourd tools, edged with shark teeth. Very frightening looking things. I found this section least interesting, but perhaps the warm ocean breezes were starting to get to me. At the end of this session, one of the assistants gave Hilary a temporary tattoo on her arm. By the way, I’ve never seen so many tattoos as I’ve seen here in Hawaii. They seem to be on almost every local or Hawaiian person you see. The designs are tribal rather than the typical ones seen in North America (hearts and logos, etc.). They’re quite attractive, but I think there is a great deal of religious symbolism involved.

After this last session, all the teachers and assistants did a last gentle hula for us and then we said goodbye. It was a great morning. I enjoyed it more than the evening luau, but Hilary said she preferred the evening with all the exciting music and dance.

Our next goal was to … shop! We worked our way through the Lahaina Cannery Mall across the street, then we headed north a few miles to the Whalers Village Mall. We didn’t buy anything more than some ice cream (very expensive brand-name stores), but we really enjoyed the 40-foot long whale skeleton and the Whaling Museum.

Kaanapali seems to be a beautiful area. Green mountains are behind the town and the blue ocean and soft beach are before it. It was very busy and warm, too. After seeing all we wanted to see, we headed back to Lahaina to get a closer look at the gigantic banyan tree on Front Street. It covers a huge area. I’m not sure it’s bigger than the one in Florida at Edison’s House, but it is mighty big! We strolled a few blocks up Front, looking into many of the shops. Hilary also talked me into buying pearls in a mussels, as she did a few days ago. My first mussel contained a beautiful silver pearl. They offered me a second, free mussel and Hilary was very proud that she picked out one that contained TWO pink pearls. This really is quite a scam that encourages you to pay bigger bucks for the settings, but it’s a lot of fun.

On the way home, we stopped at a lookout where it’s quite easy to spot whales. And spot them we did! We saw at least three, spouting and flapping their tails about.

It was a great day!

Entry 10:

This morning, we left good and early – our plan was to made the drive to Hana. Everyone who goes to Maui learns about The Road to Hana. Hana is an isolated location at the eastern edge of Maui. Between Hana and the rest of the island lies the huge mass of the volcano, Haleakala. You can’t really go through Haleakala, you must go around. There’s a rough road at the south edge of this part of the island, but general consensus is that it’s not suitable for tourists’ rental cars. The road that squeaks along the north edge of the island – narrow, winding, surrounded by rainforest, spectacularly beautiful – is The Road. Although it’s only about 50 miles long (depending on which section you measure), it takes at least two hours to drive, much longer if you stop for waterfalls and other photo ops.

We started out by getting a full tank of gas and then making a pit stop at McDonalds (not many bathrooms or gas stations after this). The weather wasn’t great; showers and very overcast. Other islands east of us had flash flood alerts, but Maui was only expecting some rain. As we headed east on The Road, the foliage grew greener and greener and thicker and thicker. We drove slowly through funky Paia, known as the home of some of the state’s most idiosyncratic people, and saw some interesting folks. The buildings are older and sometimes ramshackle, but quite picturesque. My favourite store sign was “Pizza Paia.”

As we drove on, the rain fell harder. The flash floods causing havoc on the other islands are caused by rainfall in the mountains that rushes downhill, overflowing streams and causing landslides and sinkholes. Maui, although not experiencing the same heavy rain, has many, many streams running past The Road to the ocean. They say flash floods can happen at any time. I was keeping a close eye on the rain and road conditions. Not too many miles beyond Paia, the road began to snake about (although not as severely as it does further on). I also started to notice small streamlets running across the pavement. I also saw a some spots where the road was puddling quite a bit. This started to concern me; I could envision some kind of washout cutting us off from getting back to our condo. So, at the first opportunity, we made a u-turn and headed back to other part of the island. I’m writing this the morning after this non-adventure and have just learned that there was a landslide later in the day, not too far from where we turned around. The road was closed for safety, so I guess we made the right choice! If we have a chance, we may try The Road to Hana again before we leave for home.

On the way back Kahului, we stopped briefly in Paia to check out the shops. We also went into a postal outlet to buy stamps for our postcards. We asked the clerk, a friendly resident of Paia, about possible nearby public bathrooms. In typical Paia style, he suggested we exit by his back door, go around the corner to a local bar & grill, enter by their back door into the bar area and use the washrooms at the back where “no one will hassle you.” Hilary thought this was far too unconventional and was not going to step foot outside his back door. So, we went out the front door of the postal outlet, into the front door of the restaurant and asked the host if we could use the bathrooms. No problem!

We also stopped at Ho’opika (or something like that), a world-famous surfing and wind-surfing location. From a cliff top lookout, we watched 35 surfers (we counted) catching the waves.

Our next stop was the Queen Ku’umaana Mall. If I remember correctly, this Queen was one of the wives of King Kamehameha and became a Christian when the missionaries arrived. Her example encouraged other Hawaiians to believe, as well. She also introduced many laws (such as against murder and theft) and practices (schools, etc.) that changed the lives of Hawaiians much for the better.

We also made a stop at the Sugar Museum, learning way more about sugar than anyone should know – especially someone like me who has no sweet tooth. After that, I just wanted some bread!

We ended our day with some quality time at the pool and hot tub and watching a rented movie.

What did Thomas Magnum say? Just another day in paradise!

Entry 11:

Today wasn’t a very active day. We started a bit late with a visit to the beach across the street. There were no red flags this morning, so we played in the waves a bit. It’s quite easy to get past the breakers and bob about in the rollers where the water is still quite shallow … except when a big wave passes. Hilary lasted about 20 waves and then we headed in and back to the pool. She can dive and do somersaults endlessly in the water there, with regular visits to the hot tub. I even had a little time to read my book.

Later, dry once again, we headed south of Kihei to The Shops of Wailea, a very upscale shopping centre. After cruising the very expensive shops, we decided to keep going south to see where it would take us.

The road south along the coast here quickly leaves the beautifully manicured and watered lawns of Wailea and enters some of the most harsh and rugged land I’ve ever seen. As soon as the irrigation ends, the scrub brush and prickly trees/bushes begin. Then you reach the lava flow.

This last firey breath of Haleakala happened several hundred years ago, prior to about 1700 most think. At first, we thought the black stuff we started driving through was very roughly ploughed earth. Then we realized it was nothing of the kind; it was solid lava. I’ve never seen such rough, forbidding countryside.

This is a protected area, so the road is largely unimproved and you aren’t allowed to park or leave the road. The road is very narrow in spots (I pulled to the edge a number of times to allow others to pass) but fairly straight and low.

It looks as if the lava escaped from a spot partway up the mountain and just oozed down to the ocean. I can just imagine the heat as it ate up the countryside and then the hissing and steaming as it reached the ocean.

Once it had cooled, some Hawaiians built a village on top of the remains of the lava flow. The remains of the stone foundations and walls can still be seen at the end of the road. The stones they used were, of course, volcanic rock. Stone walls made of this black material can be seen all over the island. Most are of a newer vintage, but they look the same as the ancient ones, so you never know how old they are.

After all this lava, we decided we needed some more personal time in the hot tubs and pool … that’s how we ended our day!

Entry 12:

This morning we headed up the side of Haleakala to the Surfing Goat Dairy. We’d had reservations for their Grand Dairy Tour. The Dairy is located on the lower slopes of the huge volcanic mountain, Haleakala. We followed the directions carefully, but we still ended up on the wrong road. Our little car sped up the hill while Hilary and I tried to read the map. Instead of driving up the correct road and arriving on time, I took the Scenic Route and looped up higher on the mountain and drove down to the goat farm.

We zipped into the parking lot about 10 minutes late (Yikes!). One of the staff members spied us and waved us into our parking spot.

“Are you the Canadians?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered. “I’m sorry. We got terribly lost.”

“That’s the good thing about living on an island,” he grinned. “You’re never lost for long!”

We joined about 15 other peoples, including three or four pre-schoolers, and walked over to the goat pens with the owner. This farm was started by a German couple. She was a school teacher and he owned a large software company. I think they moved to the US some years ago. When they moved to this location, they decided to start a small goat dairy, making goat cheese just for their own consumption. However, it began to grow quickly. Now they have about 20 different flavours of goat cheese, ship it all over the world, win contests for goat cheese and made a profit of about $250,000 last year.

They have two kinds of goats: Alpine and Saanen (I think those were the names). The owner, Thomas, introduced us to each goat by name. He refers to the females as “The Ladies.”

After a leisurely stroll around the edges of a couple of the pens, Thomas took us back to where the goats are milked. There, one of his staff showed us the system they have for milking the does. He always referred to the goats as “The Girls” and he, also, knew each one by name and temperament. He had kept about six of The Girls back from the regular early morning milking so that we’d have a chance to see the process.

The goats were starting to line up to enter the milking area (they get fed during the process). It was very amusing to see two of the goats lined up and then give up their places for the Alpha Female. She didn’t push them out of the way, but just got in line behind them and watched as they both moved out of her way.

The staff guy began the procedure, talking about milking techniques and tricks the whole time. Then, before hooking The Girls up to the milking machines, he gave us a chance to milk one. Hilary overcame her hesitancy and gave it a shot. And the milk just shot out!
She said it felt “gross.”

Next, Thomas took us into the milk processing area. He told us how, about 50 years ago, dairy experts put together an 1800-page manual for all dairy farmers. Even as a goat farmer, he’s required to follow these procedures. Thomas said that the problem is that the manual was written for farmers with cows and without modern milking machines. As a result he had to spend thousands of dollars installing a series of sinks and water systems in the first room of the dairy. These sinks were intended for dairy farmers to wash themselves and then their milk cans before taking the milk from the dairy. But Thomas doesn’t need to use milk cans! This whole room is redundant. He said they use the sinks for washing herbs and vegetables.

The room where the milk is pasteurized and the cheese is made was spotless. The pasteurizing machines positively lit up the room they were so shiny. The cheese process was very interesting, but Hilary got a little bored. Of course, her biggest problem is that she thinks she doesn’t like goat cheese. Silly girl. When it came to cheese tasting, she wouldn’t try even one mouthful. All the more for me! Goat cheese is one of my favourites.

At last we finished in the dairy and headed for some picnic tables where Thomas trotted out almost every flavour he has going. There was cheese with horseradish (surprisingly good!), cheese with fruit, cheese with herbs, cheese with chilies, cheese with grape leaves (my favourite), cheese with smoked fish (my second favourite), plain cheese, and others I’ve forgotten. They were all fabulous — and very mild. I rather like the zing most goat cheese has, but this cheese had only a tiny zing. Anyone would enjoy it. Hilary would have loved it if she’d tried it.

And that was the end of our tour … a very pleasant few hours.

From the goat farm, Hilary and I headed further up the mountain. It was partly cloudy (even with a few drops of rain falling occasionally) at the farm. As we drove up the hillside, we began to drive through the clouds. Our destination was the summit for a hike into the crater.

As we drove through the increasingly dense clouds, we just hoped the clouds would end before we reached the top. Sure enough, they did. Gradually, we saw more and more light and soon were driving in brilliant sunshine.

At the Visitor Centre (about 100 feet below the summit), we parked our car and donned our sweaters. It was much, much warmer than it had been last week at dawn. It was still windy, but didn’t feel like it was going to blow us off the mountain. We loaded up with our backpacks and water and headed for the trailhead.

Sliding Sands Trail goes from the Visitor Centre directly into the crater. As we started the trail, we walked slowly around the edge of a small rocky hill and then over the lip of the crater and down into the moonscape. We walked slowly because, at that altitude, the air is quite thin. Even going downhill, I wanted to take it easy. The trail is quite easy to walk. It gently hairpins down the first steeper section and then loops across the wall of the crater, heading further in and farther down. According to park rangers we overheard, we walked a little over a mile into the crater. We only went to the first real overlook and then we headed back, very slowly. We couldn’t go more than a very short distance, before we’d stop so that I could rest and catch my breath. Even Hilary said, “What were we thinking?!” She says she wouldn’t do the hike again. And we didn’t go nearly the distance others were going!

It really was a wonderful experience and I’m really glad we did it. The colours in the crater are spectacular. The other-worldly-ness (is that a word?) creates such a unique experience. It was even warmer in the crater, but we wore our sweaters because we could feel the sun starting to burn us through the thin air.

Once we made it back to the car, we sat for a while and had an orange and water. After a suitable rest, we headed back down through the clouds one last time. Haleakala is a fabulous place to experience!

And that was our day.

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