A Travellerspoint blog

Give Way

sunny 25 °C

It is Monday evening here where we are, on a very isolated campsite overlooking Goat Island on the Northeastern coast of New Zealand. These past couple of days has involved a whirl of travel and absorbing the newness of our first experiences in the Southern Hemisphere. We have already experienced remoteness and will not always be able to connect with internet to post our travels. What we will do is write when the urge hits and post when the opportunity arises.
It is strange writing all our thoughts and experiences down. I am learning to write like no one is reading the way I learned to dance and sing without the worry of eyes and ears.
We headed out to Honolulu very early on Friday January 30. Our original plan was to catch the super ferry and make the travel between the islands of Ohau and Maui by water but after talking with a couple of fellow travelers who have made the voyage on the ferry during the winter months when the surf can be up and heard that most of the travelers spent their time barfing over the railing we declined and hopped over by plane. Good decision, starting the long New Zealand flight already suffering with motion sickness is not a good idea. We rented a car at the Honolulu airport and by 8.00am sat on Oahu’s famous North shore beach outside the town of Haleiwa watching the surfers in their morning workout. The rest of the day was spent sightseeing around the whole island, stopping to take in the beaches (naps) and eating the local food. Honolulu is amazing but so busy. We walked over Waikiki beach and I chuckled at the sings posted there.” Passive beach enjoyment encouraged” followed by all that cannot be done there which would interfere with passiveness. All must have taken note, since the beach was very crowded but very quiet overall. It appeared most were hypnotized by the stillness and clarity of the water and staring off in the great distance. We drove way up Pali Highway to get a good view of the island and when again we became stuck in another traffic jam on H-1, gave up and headed to the airport 4 hours before our take-off time. We needed the rest. While we left at 9.45 pm on Friday and the flight was only 9.15 hours long, we did not arrive until Sunday morning 6.00am New Zealand time. Jetlag way, that was great. We lost no night, only a full day. It is a very strange sensation to lose a day. Where did it go and will we get it back? I am one to take day light savings time very serious. When in fall we gain back the hour lost in spring I make the best of that one special hour and do not set back our clock when told to, instead I wait until later in the day when I can honor and do it justice with a special event.

Going back to our flight to Auckland by Air New Zealand. Great airline, great service. They even managed to get us there early, serve nice meals with wine on real plates and glasses and thanks to my sister’s great booking we had the best seats with extra leg room. During the flight we were handed a New Zealand Passenger Arrival card with a warning attached that failure to make a correct declaration can result in an instant fine of $200 or more and imprisonment. We have of course nothing to declare but very honestly marked that we hiked in the past 30 days and are bringing in hiking boots. Immediate red flag at customs and we were sent to gate 1. New Zealand operates very strict biosecurity procedures at airports to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases of animals and plants so they now need to see our hiking boots. In Tom’s case that was easy, he wore them and lifted his feet and they passed. Mine was a different story, they were at the bottom of my back pack, stuffed with and surrounded by my dirty laundry but they had to be shown. One look at the bottom of my boots cleared them but I was left at 5.30 am with having to repack my pack and since I now am missing some dirty laundry, not all was picked back up. It was a fun, different but understandable Haere mai (welcome) to New Zealand. Next came a trip in the super shuttle van for a 45 minute ride to the down town Auckland hotel where Tom had made reservations for our first night stay. With us in the shuttle was a young Dutch mother with her two children and I had great fun chatting in my native tongue with her and learning about New Zealand and its customs. She and her family have resided in Auckland for three years. The shuttle driver shared that he was a child of two Dutch immigrants and how his parents held on to their Dutch nationality since in their words “ Born Dutch, die Dutch. In no time we arrived at our City Central Hotel where amazingly they let us check in at 7.00 am. The rest of Sunday was spent walking and exploring the city of Auckland, by far New Zealand’s most populated area known for both its cultural and geographical diversity. It is an amazing city where ancient trees, historical buildings and an old harbor share the space with impressive glass skyscrapers, thousands of stores and determined traffic. Auckland combines all the sophistication of a world-class city with extraordinary natural wonders right on its doorstep. The names of the streets gave away its connection with the United Kingdom; Wellesly, Victoria, Queen, Trafalgar. The first couple of hours we walked confused and lost with map in hand but started recognizing landmarks later in the day. While Tom took a nap I found Albert park next to the University of Auckland, only blocks from our hotel. Beautiful resting place on a sunny Sunday afternoon and I was not alone. It was while snapping pictures that I noticed the closeness of the Sky Tower, totally unexpected and when returning to the hotel I asked the hotel concierge of its location she looked astonished and told me it was on our same block” Had I not noticed?”. Nope, sometimes when one is too close to that which towers over us, we have to take a step back to see. Later on Sunday we went to the top of Sky tower where indeed breathtaking 360degrees views of Auckland and its surroundings can be seen. Lots of sailboats, yachting is a passion here. If one wants to, at a cost of NZ $200 one can have an adrenaline pumping Sky Jump adventure by being plunged over the edge tied to bungee cords. We declined that fall from the Southern hemisphere’s tallest building ( 60 stories high) and instead enjoyed others who dared and were willing to pay. Monday morning we rose early, ready to pick up our reserved “wicked campervan” at what we thought was a location only a kilometer or two from our hotel. Well in walking distance. Upon arriving we found a note tacked to the door to pick it up instead in the neighboring town of Onehunga and directions on where to find the bus which could get us there. Another couple of Kilometers or so we thought. Well, due to road repairs the bus stops were changed and after a while my walking through town was no longer enjoyable and we returned to our hotel where I knew the receptionist would take care of my problems and answers. For the past 24 hours she had all the answers. She came through again and directed us to the correct stop which was of course right across the street from the hotel. Figures! While waiting for the bus we met Nadine from Canada who moved here 20 years ago and was a well of information on how to learn to drive on the opposite side of the road. New Zealanders prefer for us not to call it the “wrong side”. When learning of my being Dutch she stated I belonged to the most stubborn nationality on earth and was surprised I had never before heard the saying; “ wooden shoes, wooden head, wouldn’t listen. “ I bet my friend Jeannie at home is chuckling over this and totally agreeing with the comment apparently well known here. We showed up at Wicked camper early in the afternoon and were ready to leave the city and start exploring in our quite original set of wheels. While waiting for the paperwork to be done I wandered around and observed the quite noticeable paint jobs on the wicked vans, some maybe a tad lurid and offensive for some . I took many pictures but the questionable images will only be sent to a selected few. Our van was the mildest on the lot and I asked the delightful young woman from Wicked whether it was done according to age. She denied it and said it was based on availability. I still wonder but am grateful to be the Kings of Lear. This van will now be our home for the next 27 days and it has all the comforts of home in a very tiny space. Bed, storage, seats, cook by small camp burner and ice chest. Leaving the city of Auckland over Motorway 1 Bridge was amazing. Too bad Tom missed the view since he was very busy learning to drive left. It is easier with traffic in a way so you can follow. Learning to drive left is like an intense defensive driving course. We plan to spend the first week driving by the coastline and go as far North as we can while camping along the way. On February 10 we hope to cross over to the Southern island by way of Wellington. If all the camping sites are as nice and relaxed as the one here at Goat island we will do well. It offers a great community room where everything is available for the guests and people come and mingle. Many languages are spoken here and the Germans are out en masse, as well as Canadians and of course the Dutch. There are so many ways of speaking English and I love sitting back and hear it spoken by the New Zealanders. They bloody well have their own way of speaking the Queens English. Upon arrival it felt like coming home to my native North Europe through recognition of certain customs, seeing queens on coins again and the traffic signs. While the universal triangular sign may mean yield to us, the New Zealanders added the words “give way”. I love the gentle meaning. Give way to others. Not only in traffic but in life. These past couple of days Tom and I have been strangers in a foreign country and often needed help, direction. We needed … given way… and we were., with grace and humor. The New Zealanders are ready to offer their help to all to make a stay in their country the best possible and we are gratefull.
We are ready to put on some snorkels and see for ourselves whether the swims and dives here are the best in the world. It is a marine protected area and Tom is in heaven with the life he found in the wading pools alone. Goat Island was the name early European travelers gave to these shore islands where they left goats as food supply for those who ended up shipwrecked. Legend here says that there were never any goats left on this island, only pigs who escaped their lot by swimming back to shore.

Tuesday February 3. We are sitting in an internet café in Whangerei , checking our e-mail, making contact with our children and friends before heading up to the Bay of Islands where we will camp tonight. Very remote and we have stocked up on groceries. These past couple of days we have lived on meat pies and felt the need for some fresh produce. No more phone for awhile but we hope to make internet contact while heading back south in a couple of days. This country is indeed beautiful.

Apopo, Tom and Els

Posted by tomstrick1 17:47 Archived in New Zealand Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Sounds of Maui

26 °C

I am sitting in our room at Dave and Uma’s upcountry home listening to the sweet sound of soft falling rain hitting the ti plant leaves right outside our window. It is a sound I wake up to most mornings, a sound which is soothing and lulls one back to sleep. It is a sound of Maui in winter which I will carry with me. There are other sounds which characterize our island’s stay. Very early in the mornings, really still in the dark of the night, the roosters start crowing. Here upcountry, they belong to every house and dwelling and most wander freely down the roads. Too many to count and they must be in strong competition on who can make the first sound-off for the approaching light and they cheat! Then there are the fighting roosters who are shackled to their own little crate on large fields with many other crates. I will not even attempt to find grace in the cruel activity called cock fighting which is another ancient, popular event on the island. On my morning walks through the valley I hear birds sing and dogs bark. Somehow I believe that the sounds of the guard dogs have changed from a hysterical frenzy to a friendly morning bark. I may be wrong but after all these mornings the neighbors have gotten to know me and we exchange friendly greetings so why would their dogs not have come to the same understanding? I pass by “our” home twice during my walk and hear the sound of Tom cracking macadamia nuts. He wore out the nut cracker and found two very fitting stones which do the job equally as well. While I am out meeting and greeting in the valley Tom finds projects like changing a mound of dirt and concrete dumped years ago into an aesthetically pleasing flowerbed. At Jan’s house Tom has spent many hours this past month adding another room to her house and taking care of other handy man’s jobs inside. When I hear the sound of the Mac.Cracker, I am reminded that I am married to a man who in his very own quiet and unpretentious way leaves there where he has been, always a better place. All over the island there is the sound of water. The gentle surf by which a beach nap can be taken or the wild pounding surf which whitewashes the rocks below where our tent is pitched and keeps us awake. This same surf gives great joy to many. I loved hearing the whooping of the surfers’ screech when catching a monster ride and listening to the cackle of laughter an elderly woman made over and over, each time her boogie board hit the sand after gliding in on baby waves. The sound the water makes when the whales slap the ocean with their tails and fins and the eerie, magical songs heard under the water from these huge mammals communicating down the coast. Spouts generate sounds whether it is a blowhole made from traveling whales or from underwater lava tunnels. The nibbles we can hear from the parrot fish eating their meal from the coral reef. Hearing the washboard when the surf leaves black sand beach and jostles and smoothes all the lava pebbles on its downward journey. The difference in sound our paddles make from the kayak it moves through the water. The sound of the wind moving through the trees and recognizing the rustling palm fronds from the banana trees. The rapture of standing inside a dense bamboo forest when the wind kicks up and hearing all the chimes chant, simultaneously. The vocals of a strong winter Kona storm and the sounds of fruit falling on the roof and the breaking of eucalyptus tree branches before crashing down. The sing song of the Hawaiian language. It is a language made up of vowels with a sprinkling of consonants and I have learned that the secret in pronouncing this language is by sounding out every letter, even the silences in between the identical vowels. The state fish goes by the name of humuhumunukunukuapua’a and is that not a much more colorful sound than Hawaiian triggerfish which it is. Since 1949 until the present there has been a rightful gradual increase in promotion of this Austronesian language and a public Hawaiian language immersion started through the Puana Lea pre-schools in the 1980’s and continues on. It is a language which should not become lost.
The blow in the conch shell which heralds both the daily rising and setting sun. The Sunday drum circle and cycle at Makena beach which sets the tone for either the week’s ending or beginning. The flapping of wings heard while hiking through the misty crater floors and learning later they belong to ring-necked pheasants living there where not expected. The spitting and hissing from the Hawaiian monk seal whom I did not know was endangered and should immediately have granted her much needed rest. The sound of laughter we share with our friends while playing board games at night. The only television we have seen this past month was our new president’s inauguration and that has been good. Gecko’s chirps and I think back of the moment when I walked in our bathroom and saw this beautiful statue of a great lizard on a stack of towels and wondered who placed it there to please me, only to remember that no one but Tom and I walk in our bathroom and the statue was real. Tom gently carried the gecko outside. While in Hawaii I dress more like the natives and can often be seen in a sarong and tank top. Outfits I do not wear while in court in Faulkner County or at the CASA office. One morning while checking on the laundry outside on the lanai (porch) where often the washing/drying machines are found here, I met the weekly garbage pickup crew and while I was taking care of my job they were doing theirs and then I heard the whistle. I felt my ego soar. I am being whistled at, at my age, an age where I qualify for senior discounts. I truly must look hot in my Hawaiian outfit. The garbage men went on, and on down the street and over and over again I heard the whistle. Should one let go of the inflated ego feeling when realizing that the whistle is there only to let the truck driver know that the job is done and move on to the next ? Nay, hold on to that sound which makes you feel good..
The most cacophonic island sound happens at sunset when thousands of local mynah birds settle down at the same roosting tree for the night. The Banyan Tree in Lahaina shades more than two-thirds of an acre, measures nearly one-fourth of a mile in circumference and reaches upward to a height of 60 feet. The tree has spread over this area via aerial roots created by many caring members of the Lahaina community for over 12 decades. The Lahaina Banyan tree is the largest in the State of Hawaii and is a member of the fig family and originates from India. At every sundown, the tree comes alive with the raucous tunes of the island’s birds sharing their daily adventures and the sound is both deafening and thrilling for a short time before all becomes quiet with only an occasional peep heard.

We have loved our time in Maui, its sounds of all and now are ready to hop over to Honolulu early on Friday morning before departing for New Zealand later that night.
From now until we arrive in Greece the middle of May, Tom and I will be in new and never before chartered for us territory and we are ready and excited to move on.

Tot ziens Amerika ,
Tom and Els

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semi-overcast 26 °C

It is amazing how one can be here for a month and initially believe in having the time to do and see all and now realizing that with our time here nearing an end, we do not. We have been busy though. Last Saturday we enjoyed the day ocean kayaking and attended a surprise birthday party for our friend Jan. Tom and I have spent the past couple of days at the Hana side of the island and loved our time there camping at Ohe’o Gulch. It can be found past Hana and it is a wonderful, quiet place to pitch a tent and hike up the Pipiwai Trail to see the water cascading from the backside of the crater at Waimaku Falls. Years ago, Ohe’o Gulch was not very well attended by the tourists. Most turned around in Hana for the drive back to the sunny side of the island. There was a meeting of the minds on how to attract the tourists to this beautiful spot created by the rain waters high up. Suggestion was made of changing the name and so Ohe’o Gulch became known as “seven sacred pools”. Sacred worked like a magnet and the tourists started coming to see these terraced pools from the mountain down to the ocean side, pools fed by both fresh and salt water, depending on rain and surf. It makes for a very cold, clean and refreshing swim after a steep hike up to the water’s origin. The tourists still leave at the end of the day, not many like to camp at a wild shore without any amenities or basic luxuries. Sacred is as sacred does and for us the place is sacred and meaningful for the many memories created there with our children and good friends. One of my favorite pictures inside our house is our son Tony at age three sitting by one of the pools looking at his reflection. This time the night was special since with the new moon there was no light pollution standing in the way of a magnificent star blanket. The drive around the back side of the island was as always spectacular, lonely and an ever changing landscape. Throughout Maui, even at the loneliest, most deserted places churches are found and with Hawaii’s Portuguese and Philippine heritage the roots of their religion is Roman Catholic. We stop often at these old churches and take pictures both inside and out. One of my favorite churches is the Episcopal Church on the beach in Lahaina where in the baptismal font I found flowers floating. Blessed water indeed.
A wise friend once told me of God’s manifestation through self and others, art and creation and worship. Last Sunday I found myself awake very early and in the dark left Tom asleep with a promise to meet all later at the beach and drove to a small church half way up the crater, in the town of Kula. On the island there are 4 Episcopal churches and I learned that the Anglicans were invited personally by the king of Hawaii many years ago and the land where the churches stand is a gift from the king. St. John’s in Kula has a view of the South shore and includes many rolling fields down the mountain side. Before the onset of the 7.30 service I watched the clouds over the ocean turn pink when warmed by the rising sun. The church itself is very small and there are only a total of 20 pews, 10 on each side divided by a narrow aisle. There were maybe a total of 25 early worshippers and a visiting priest who was quite humorous in his delivery of the dangers of righteousness in the Kingdom. At the peace he asked if there were any visitors and all in the church pointed their finger to me so I stood and introduced myself to the congregation. I thought I heard a gasp when I mentioned my home town of Conway, Arkansas. Sure enough, after the service a couple came over to me and asked if my home church was St.Peter’s, which it is. I met Paul and Cindy Schumacher who for the past 10 years or so spent Christmas with Paul’s parents in their home town of Conway and attend the (almost) Midnight Christmas Service at St. Peter’s. We must have shared communion many times before sharing communion now at the table of St. John’s. I loved participating with Paul and Cindy in the second Holy Sunday event, the Episcopal coffee hour and learning of their warm feelings for Conway and St. Peter’s. Later, while driving down to the beach I looked at the pretty lei, made of colorful spun wool which I was given by the congregation as their guest and marvel at the moment of connection which happened because of an urge I had that morning to seek tradition and liturgy. I felt that connectedness earlier in the week while walking the labyrinth with Shelley at the Sacred Garden of Maliko. While labyrinths are ancient and tied to Christianity, they are relatively new here on Maui, introduced mainly these past 10 years. While I have walked the labyrinth before, never in the surroundings offered by the garden. Hugged by the wind and serenaded by the birds in the many trees which circled the stone labyrinth. God and worship in creation. I found the same while snorkeling hand in hand with Tom out in the ocean, chasing the many fish for hours over the coral reef until we came upon a sea turtle and floated still in the buoyant, salty waters and watched those to whom the ocean truly belongs. Later on Sunday afternoon we participated in what Maha calls “ the open Cathedral”. Many flock to Little Beach Makena for the drum circle which starts late on Sunday afternoon and lasts past sunset. Taking pictures at Little Beach is a tad difficult since many participants worship as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. Still, God’s promise remains the same “where two of more gather, I will be”.

Aloha, Tom and Els

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"Haleakala " house of the sun

sunny 26 °C

Third time is a charm and on Sunday January 18 we were able to start the hike twice postponed due to circumstances beyond our control. This time it is only Tom, Shelley and I who in the dark set out and drive the 36 miles up the crater mountain to the Pu’u’ula’ula summit where the temperature is freezing and with the wind-chill factor, well below the 32 degrees registered. Since later on we will have to carry all the extra clothes needed now, we brave the cold on top in hiking shorts and only a fleece sweater over a short-sleeved shirt and we do not dawdle around long but head inside the Haleakala crater, House of the Sun. We have an almost 12 mile hike ahead of us, but stop often on Sliding Sands trail while the crater slowly unfolds and the sun removes the shadows. The frozen lava sand crunches under our boots and around us we hear small lava rocks tumble down. Tom, who is my fountain of knowledge, explains why these pebbles are falling down without any commotion setting them off except the unfreezing of the sand pushing the pebbles up and out and letting gravity win. We start Sliding Sands trail at an elevation of 10.000 feet and the trail brings us down 4.000 feet to the crater’s bottom floor. We encounter only one brave soul who started out at the other side at 3.00 am and who as preparation for a planned Mount Rainer hike is taking Sliding Sands trail up. Tom and I did the same about 25 years ago, at a much younger age and found it to be gruesome. For every two steps forward and up the 4000 feet incline ones slides down 1.5 steps. It never ceases to amaze me that so few people venture inside the Haleakala Crater, many drive up to watch the sunrise, only to turn around and drive immediately back. We meet one other person on the walk down. A young man from Slovenia with whom I tried to strike up a conversation since with his camera equipment he would be the one taking the pictures I covet. We attempted to find a language we could converse in together since his English was haltingly but found none. While I still have hopes that Paul ( I believe that to be his name) did understand my request and e-mail address and soon fantastic pictures from the crater will come my way, it may prove to be unrealistic.
Inside the crater, on opposite sides of the floor there are three cabins which are for use at a very reasonable price through contacting and making reservations with Haleakala National Park. In the early summer of 2004 Tom and I, together with our daughter Nikki and good friends Cathy and Charley spent a couple of nights in these. The cabins are in the wet, wilderness areas of the crater, away from the dry, sundrenched crater floor. The cabins, while primitive, offer shelter from the rain, there is a wood stove with plenty of wood laid ready and pots and pans to cook and boil the collected rainwater before consumption. Candles offer light and with the bedding one carries in, the narrow beds are fine for sleeping and resting after a day’s hike.
This time we are in for only a day hike and experience all of Haleakala’s diversity in the 8 hours our hike took. At the highest elevations the alpine/aeolian zone is barren. The rainfall sinks rapidly into the porous, rocky ground where the surface becomes summer every day and winter every night. Plant cover is sparse since only a few hardy shrubs, grasses and the ahinahina (silversword) can survive this harsh environment. Silverswords have shallow root systems that allow them to catch moisture in the porous, loose cinders. The dense covering of silvery hairs on the leaves helps conserve moisture and protect the plants from the intense, high-elevation sun. On our trip Sunday we did not see any blooming silverswords which is a sight to see but the landscape was dotted with the young plants. Distinctive cinder cones also dot the landscape and are a result of relatively recent eruptions (still eons ago though since the crater is dormant). The cones carry names like Ka Moa o Pele and Halali’I and on our hike we circle these red sandy hills and trek over at least one. I have found the Haleakala Crater hike to be an immensely, deeply felt, spiritual experience where I am mindful to remain open and not bring in that which can stand in the way of experiencing the ancient beauty. The absolute stillness is broken only by our labored breathing. The subalpine shrub land covers extensive areas below the alpine zone and above the forest line. Over a dozen species of shrubs and grasses inhabit this zone, many found nowhere else on Earth. The shrubs provide food for many bird species, including the nene ( Hawaiian goose). We stop for lunch at the Holua cabin which is locked. Too bad, I had hoped to show Shelley the inside and take a break from the slowly in- rising, cold and moisture laden clouds. We put our sweaters back on and start eating. Around us are signs to please not feed the nene! Keep the nene wild! A fed nene is a dead nene! Someone needs to get the message across to the nene who immediately after we opened our lunch came from behind the cabin, ready to snatch our sandwich. It was not a matter of us wanting to feed the nene, more a protection of our lunch. The nene is indeed a goose like no other. The clouds were rolling in rapidly and we packed up soon for the last two parts of our hike. First a cross- over to the bottom of switch back which carried is over a lava field with dense vegetation and which with the fog reminded me of an Scottish moor, this idea was intensified when we observed both grouse and heard the wing flapping of a ring neck pheasant. How amazing that in a day’s hike we can experience a rain forest with an annual rainfall from 120 inches to 400 inches or more and on the leeward slopes of the crater a dry forest zone with 20 inches of annual rainfall. Switchback trail slowly carries us back 2000 feet up the crater wall, switching back and forward first on the inside wall, then for a while on the outer wall until we arrive at the Kings Throne where both inside and outside can be seen on a clear morning, not late in the afternoon. Our last two hours up were hiked inside the clouds and while not raining, the dense water filled cloud saturated every stitch of our clothing and arriving back above the clouds at the Halemau’u trailhead felt wonderful. While Tom and I have hiked the crater now six times I marvel each time at the experience and am so grateful for our strength and ability to do so each time. This was Shelley’s first time and I love being with someone when their eyes are first opened to the Haleakala Crater. I have immense admiration for Shelley who hiked that day in brand new , too small boots and her toes ended up blue and blistered already on the down ward Sliding Sands trail but who persevered quietly on. At the end of this hike tradition calls us to Polli’s restaurant in Makawao for the best ever tasting Margarita. Shelley shared that with all the pain her toes must have caused she would not have wanted to trade the hiking experience.
Today I am sitting outside Dave and Uma’s condo in Kihei. The living room opens up to a small tiled patio, feet away from the ocean. No one is out and about and I feel like one owning the island. Last night we attended, together with our friends Maha and Diane, the “ Obama Ohana” at Maui Tropical Plantation. It was a true, YES WE DID, inaugural celebration for their native son, Barack Obama. We had a blast. It started off with a magical sunset mediation, gentle flute music and Tibetan singing bowls with words of uplifting prayer for Obama and our country. Beautifully done with peace and patriotism present in one breath. Afterwards dinner was served and the celebration started out in earnest with great music and energized dancing. What a place to have been and shared January 20, 2009.
Aloha , Tom and Els

Posted by tomstrick1 23:25 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Letting life unfold

Maui time

storm 26 °C
View retirement roundabout on tomstrick1's travel map.

When Tom and I started planning our trip we talked on how we would leave winter behind early in 2009, how we would not experience that season any longer after departing from Denver on January3rd. While the people here on Maui talk about winter, with an average year around temperature of 80 degrees, I found the term winter hard to take. That is until I saw a Kona storm and learned that the seasons here are not defined by temperatures, instead by the direction of approaching storms and the rains it brings.
We had made plans to spend a couple of days camping last week outside of Hana, near O’Heo Gulch aka the seven sacred pools. We have camped there before with our children and know firsthand the wind’s force up by the pools on even a calm day, so when mention was made of an incoming Kona storm and a possible Jaw surf we changed our mind and plans and stayed put. There was an excitement all over the island, schools and government offices closed in anticipation of the incoming wind and many headed to the beach to see the angry surf’s pounding on the shore. I cut my walk short through the valley when I heard the cracking high overhead from the upper branches of the Eucalyptus trees. I learned the difference of Maui’s “normal”rain which is soft and gentle and the Kona rain which comes from a different direction, sideways and fierce. We reacted not much different from how we respond to an Arkansas winter storm, and hunkered down with good food and a couple of movies while listening to the storm’s bantering outside and hoping that the electricity would remain on.
Maui has a greeting which is well known by an upside down hand, fingers clenched with thumb and little finger pointed out. It stands for “hang loose”, relax and be on Maui time. Maui time is not defined by a clock instead through letting it happen when it happens. This can be difficult for one like me in whom it was ingrained from birth on that time, plans and appointments need to be honored and punctuality is a virtue. So, it was with disappointment last Tuesday after we drove the 36 mile winding road to the Haleakala crater’s top that again we would not be able to hike through the crater. The second time our hiking plans were changed, this time due to a scheduled resurfacing of the parking lot up by the Halemau’u Trailhead. With us were our long time friend Dave Miller and his guest from Arkansas, Shelley. Us Arkansans get around and can be found everywhere! Due to a corporate downsizing, Shelley packed up and came to Maui and in her words, is letting life unfold, once again. I thought of that while still very disappointed in “my” plans cancellation for the day. Having been told by the park rangers that we needed to be clear of the crater road by 10.00 am we were granted not much time for a hike there. We decided to take a mile hike to the Kings Throne, a rare spot where there is a view of both the inside and outside crater wall. It is a spot which we usually encounter at the end of the 11.2 Halemau’u trail and later in the day usually absorbed by the clouds which start rolling in the crater at the North Eastern crater gap of Kaupo shortly after sunrise. The view we had last Tuesday morning was one I had not seen before. Clear on both sides and one could see the whole North shore from Paia to Hana. The same landing at Ke’anae where days earlier we watched a monk seal come ashore and where the surf explodes on the lava rocks was from this 8000 feet height marked only by a quiet line of white foam in the blue of the ocean. Overall, a well worth unfolding of the day and in better spirits we drove down the crater road and headed for another hike outside of Waihe’e, on the West Maui Mountains with a promise of seeing inside Iao Valley if the day remained clear which thankfully it did. The hike to the top is only 2.5 miles long but steep and muddy. I have learned to never leave my trekking poles behind and they saved me once again from getting a muddy behind. The view in the valley is breath taking. We are so high up that far out the sky’s blues have met, mixed and mingled with the ocean’s waters and no longer can a distinction be seen. Deep below a helicopter hovers and sweeps through Iao valley, showing the valley’s greenness to the tourists inside. In that same view enters the biggest dragon fly I have ever seen, buzzing close by. With the optical illusion depth can create the helicopter and dragon fly are of the same size and shape and I wished photography could do justice to the memories created. Since by now we were part way around the West Maui Mountains we opted to take Hwy 340 around the most Western point of Nakalele Head and end up in Lahaina. Our map cautioned us that 340 would be for the most part a very narrow, winding one-lane road driven at your own risk and they were not kidding. Maui has three kinds of drivers, the locals, the surfers and the tourists and I am not sure which one I dread more meeting on these roads. I am still learning if certain etiquette exists when one meets an oncoming traveler on the road, way, way up, with truly not an inch to spare on either side of the road beyond our own car’s width. Who should make the move, reverse and hug the little opening in the rocks or venture to the spare feet of dirt on the cliff’s side where passing can barely happen? While it would make the most sense in my humble opinion that the car which can reverse downhill should make the effort, I continue to practice successfully the “standoff”. It means that I stay put until the other car retreats and finds the space. I am also a staunch believer of laying down on the horn when going around blind corners on mountain roads and warn all of my comings. Closing my eyes and praying for the best as passenger of a driver who does not have my honking belief does not work. The road gave us marvelous views of valleys where small communities nestled and bays where the surf pounded. Outside of Lahaina we stopped and spent time watching a waterspout created by underwater lava caves which blows out the surf and rightfully is called a blowhole. Well worth the drive and my earlier disappointment of not being able to hike the crater was long gone while learning to let the day and life unfold on Maui time.
Motto for the day: Blow horn to see Blow hole.
Aloha, Tom and Els

Posted by tomstrick1 16:20 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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