The Tiki Gods are Smilin’ on Me – Part 2

Posted on February 4, 2013

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The Road to Hana is legendary for its twists and turns.

The bright colours of the bougainvillea take your breath away.

Getting around Maui is a big adventure. A rental car is essential to see all the sights around Maui; it’s so spread out. While a Mustang convertible may be a hoot to drive when the weather is good, some tourists like to get their adrenaline rush by pretending they’re Indiana Jones in Jeeps. (More on Indiana Jones later.) One road trip, the legendary Road to Hana, is always eventful, if for only the fact that you may or may not “lose your cookies” with the twists and turns along the 50-mile adventure. Visitors to Maui look upon this journey as something akin to a rite of passage. (This wild trip by car is like a roller coaster ride with dips, hairpin turns, switch-backs, snake-like twists and blind turns against cliff plunges into jungle. When the road sign says “Slow 5 mph”, believe me, take it seriously. Rental car agencies are at least getting smart about not allowing their vehicles on certain stretches of road.) I am happy to state that we made it the entire trip to Hana (and further) and back to Ka’anapali in a single day with my stomach intact and no dings in the car! Yes, the scenery was worth it too.

Just past Hana, this view awaits you..

I made it to the top!

The clouds swirl around the crater at Mt. Haleakala.

You just can’t go to Hawaii without at least being a little curious about volcanoes, extinct or otherwise. (Experiencing walking on cooled lava flows is almost other-worldly with its bleak charcoal greys and blacks and lack of anything resembling life.) On Maui, you can drive to the summit of Mount Haleakala, (an elevation of over 10,000  feet), inside the Haleakala National Park, where you can watch sunrise hit the crater slopes, or simply witness the changing colours of the crater as clouds move overhead and out to the ocean. The air up there is indeed thinner, and its chilly, but totally worth the long drive for the view. At the visitor centre there, you are educated about the Haleakala Silver Sword plant. It puts all its energy, over 50 years, into a single bloom, and then dies. (Golly, that sucks! Talk about a climax!) It is a stunning plant to see, endangered in fact, and we were very fortunate to be there to witness two plants in bloom – dramatic, yet a little sad. If you have the time and are up for a challenge, there are back-packing horses to take your group down into the crater and down further to the lower parking lot. It speaks a lot about how tough those Hawaiian cowboys truly are!

Pack horses coming from the crater.

The endangered silversword plant – beautiful.

The Trilogy catamaran took us on a whale-watching afternoon.

Another highlight of this Maui trip was our afternoon excursion aboard a Trilogy catamaran to go whale watching. One advantage to going to Hawaii during the winter months is that you are likely to view the humpback whales while they are breeding and calving in the warm ocean waters off the coast. (They can easily be seen from the shore.) I had to quickly get past my nervousness about being on watercraft  if I wanted to get a chance to get close to these amazing creatures in the wild. Armed with my trusty nausea tablets, I was rewarded with several sitings of whales flipping and smacking the waves with their pectoral fins. One giant even came a mere 15 feet from the bow of the ship, startling even the professional crew. If it had expelled through its blowhole at that point in time, I’d have probably filled my pants with surprise or worse! We could listen to the choruses of passing whales through an underwater microphone – awesome. I don’t know if I’ll ever get my sea legs, but the adventure was terrific. And I didn’t hurl. I gave myself a pat on my sunburned back for that.

Plumeria flowers smell so sweet.

Just a little souvenir?

Since Hubby and I had planned to split the vacation time between the islands of Maui and Kauai, we knew we wouldn’t be able to take in all the wonderful sights to see and still get in some longed for sun-tanning time at the glorious beaches. (You can easily spot the sun-starved Canadians down on the sands by their pastey-white legs and Blue Hawaiian cocktail in one hand.) Despite slopping on the sunscreen, I still managed to “fry” myself a bit, leading to a romantic night of “pass the aloe vera gel please, Dear”. (Actually I recall that same conversation taking place on our honeymoon nearly 35 years ago on Oahu.) Nonetheless, we packed up our cases and headed for the island of Kauai, an island we had not revisited since our honeymoon…

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