8/7/98 - MauiWe got up at 8:15 and ate our continental breakfast on the lanai. We packed our things and then headed down the street to McDonald's for breakfast. We went to the ABC Store (it seemed as though there was one on every street corner).
We went back to the hotel for check-out, and then flew to Maui on Aloha Airlines. After a brief scare that my suitcase was lost, it turned up and we drove to the Aston Wailea Resort.
We were upgraded to a full oceanfront due to availability(an upgrade of two levels!). We stopped at the room for 15 minutes to freshen up. We called the activities desk to book a luau for that night and a sunrise mountain bike ride down Haleakala for the next morning.
The luau was held on the grounds of the resort from 5-8 p.m. They roasted a pig in the ground, and there was more food than we could eat. There was a hula show with fire dancers. It was a lot of fun.
After the luau we went straight to the room and went to bed at 8:30...big day tomorrow!
8/8/98 - Haleakala Bike RideWe woke up to our alarm at 1:30 a.m., and groggily made some coffee and got dressed. A van from Mountain Riders picked us up at the hotel at 2 o'clock. There was a full moon and we could see the stars (including Orion) beautifully. They picked up other people, including our guide David, and drove us up to the 9740 foot summit of Haleakala, a dormant volcano.
We had coffee and muffins in the van while we waited for sunrise. It was very cold up there, and once sunrise approached, we went to a lookout point for the best view. It was amazing, as the full moon was setting on one side of the volcano as the sun rose on the other side.
After sunrise, the bike groups have the go-ahead to start their treks down the volcano. However, there is a lottery, and the bike companies must go in a certain order. We didn't have to wait too long before it was our turn to go. They gave us bright yellow protective rubber suits and motorcycle helmets. We felt like we were wearing radiation suits.
I was a little nervous, as I hadn't been on a bike in a while. We were preparing for a 38 mile journey down a windy mountain road. Were cars going to be trying to pass us as we coasted down? I needn't have worried. It went quite smoothly. The guide rode in front, and we needed to maintain a speed of 25 mph (as that was the speed limit) so that cars wouldn't get impatient. Our van brought up the rear, so that noone could try to pass (if we were going too slow and someone needed to pass, the van could radio the guide and we would all pull over).
The road was originally built as part of the military's Star Wars operation (Strategic Defense Iinitiative), so it was really nicely paved and the corners were banked perfectly. We were able to coast down very comfortably. The only danger was the tendency to be looking at the gorgeous views rather than the road.
Partway down we stopped at Polli's Mexican Restaurant in Makawao for breakfast. David had called ahead with our orders, so the food was piping hot when we arrived.
We finished the ride all the way down to the ocean. We packed up our gear and boarded the van. On our way back to town, the van ran out of gas, and we were stranded at a lovely plant nursery. David bought us sodas and we sipped them while sitting down among fountains and tropical plants while we waited for another van to bring some gas.
We were back at the hotel by 11:15 a.m. We walked down a short path to the beach and got our complimentary snorkel rental. This was the first time I had ever snorkeled, and Craig taught me how to do it in the shallow water near some rocks.
We ate dinner at Margarita's Beach Cantina in Kihei. We were there for Happy Hour, and we ate fajitas. We were back at the hotel for sunset, and we watched it from the lanai.
We went to bed at 9 pm. During the middle of the night we noticed that the power had gone out. We called the front desk, and they said that all of Wailea was without power. We were a bit concerned, as we were awaiting a wakeup call.
8/9/98 - The Road to HanaLuckily, we woke up on our own (as the wake up call was 30 minutes late once the power was restored) at 6 a.m. We enjoyed the complimentary lovely buffet breakfast on the patio of the hotel restaurant. In addition to the meat, cereal, fruit, etc. on the buffet, there was also a chef who cooked eggs to order.
Then we embarked in our Jeep on the Road to Hana (aka the "Hana Highway", though the word "highway" certainly conjures up images which are the total antithesis to this road.). The road was sixty-two miles in length, and consisted of 617 curves and 56 bridges (most of which are only a single lane wide, and if anyone is coming in the opposite direction, you must yield and wait your turn). It was, of course,slow-moving, but the scenery was gorgeous and we passed by many waterfalls.
We ended up at the Seven Sacred Pools in 'Ohe'o Gulch around noontime, where we did a hike down to the pools and then up to a gorgeous waterfall. The hike was amazing. Part of it took us through a dense bamboo forest. When the wind blew, the clacking of the bamboo stalks was very musical and other-wordly.
When we reached the Wailua Falls, we were quite tired and hot, and sitting on some rocks under its mist was quite rejuvenating. We were a bit taken aback when a middle-aged couple took off all of their clothes and stood exposed (and grunting) to many onlookers with the waterfall pouring down over them . The ten year old boy who was sitting next to us seemed quite uncomfortable about the whole thing.
After the hike, we drove back to Wailea. We stopped along the way at the Hana Ranch for take-out hamburgers, which we ate at a picnic table.
We were back at the room in time to watch sunset from the lanai. We spent the evening in the pool and jacuzzi, which was the hangout of some flight attendants who were laid over there. As most of them tend to only have time to stay at the hotel itself, they were interested in the adventures that we had had so far.
We went back to the room for our complimentary champagne and some room service pizza.
8/10/98 - Iao Valley and LahainaWe got up at 7 a.m. and ate the complimentary breakfast buffet at the hotel. We drove to the Iao Valley and walked around at the Iao Needle.
We drove a loop around the northern segment of the island, on which (we later realized) our rental car agreement was null and void. There were dirt roads and steep cliffs, and the road was seldom wide enough for two cars to pass. I was happy when we had made it safely back to the main road.
We went to the quaint town of Lahaina and went to some of the shops. We ate lunch at the Blue Lagoon, and then had some ice cream.
We were back to the hotel by sunset. We ate in Kihei at Peggy Sue's '50's diner. Craig had an orange Sprite, I had a vanilla Coke, and we had burgers and chili.
After dinner we went back to the hotel and relaxed in the jacuzzi and pool, again telling people about our day's activities.
8/11/98 - Haleakala and WailukuWe got up at 8:00 a.m. and again took advantage of the wonderful free buffet breakfast. After that we drove to the summit of Haleakala. The air was quite thin up there (10,023 foot elevation), and the rays of the sun were very strong and hot. We sat and ate trail mix as we looked over the landscape, which looked very lunar. The colors of the landscape were blended in such a way that the scene looked like a watercolor, painted in wide, sweeping strokes.
After descending the volcano on the same roads that we had biked down two days before, we drove to Wailuku, a small quaint town. We went into the Maui Home Brew store and bought a shirt for Craig's brother Steve, who is an amateur brewer.
There was a restaurant housed in a restored movie theater. We wanted to eat an early dinner there, but they were only open at lunchtime. On a perpendicular street (right near the youth hostel) there was a Mexican restaurant called Ramon's. We had a coupon in our dicsount book, so we decided to check it out.
The dimly-lit restaurant was empty except for the proprietor (Ramon Lopez) who was standing near the bar watching Wheel of Fortune. We wondered if it was even open. But Ramon took us to the further back of the two rooms, and gave us menus. We ordered margaritas, and he brought us nachos and some amazing salsa. I got a taco salad, and Craig said he couldn't decide between having a local Hawaiian dish (kalua pork), or a Mexican dish (a burrito).
Ramon, who was quite friendly, asked where we were from and promised that he would get Craig something that he can't get at home. That something turned out to be a kalua pork burrito. The food was excellent, and Ramon was not stingy with the chips and salsa. We almost guiltily gave him our coupon for buy one get one half off. The prices were so cheap, and the food was so good and plentiful, we felt that we were getting a fantastic deal even without the coupon.
We did some shopping and then headed back to the hotel in time for sunset.
8/12/98 - Hana Cave ToursWe awoke at 5:30 a.m., ate breakfast, and then embarked on the Road to Hana. Today's journey wasn't just to enjoy the ride; we were actually *commuting* the Road to Hana, as it was the only way to get to the day's destination.
We drove to the house of Chuck Thorne, proprietor of Maui Cave Adventures. On the residential roads near his house, people had small honor system stands where they were selling tropical fruit that grew in their yards. We arrived at the Thornes' house and met the other couple who would be going on the cave tour with us. Chuck's wife was at the house, as was their young daughter.
Advanced reservations were required, and we called to make them several days ahead of time, once we had gotten to the island. Chuck gave us our gear, which consisted of hard hats, Kevlar gloves, flashlights, and a pack full of snacks and water. We were wearing short sleeved shirts and jeans, as legs are liable to get scratched on the cave walls (as it was, Craig's jeans got torn by some of the sharp points, so we were definitely glad we were wearing jeans).
Chuck drove us down to the spot on his property that contained an entrance to lava caves beneath Haleakala. He had fully modernized bathroom facilities near the entrance to the cave. We had signed up for a four hour tour. It was recommended for physically fit people; there are shorter hikes which are less intense. It was amazing; he took us to some upper sections of the caves where only 50 people had ever been. We had to squeeze through some pretty claustrophobia-inducing spots, as well as climb a rope ladder.
There was a skylight in one section of the cave, but once you got away from it, our flashlights were the only source of light. At one point, Check had us sit down and turn out our lights. We tried to let our eyes adjust to the darkness, but we were never able to see a thing. It was the most complete darkness we had ever experienced, and it was disconcerting.
The caves contain some of the best specimens of batryoids in the world (an amazingly delicate geological formation). There was also evidence of light. Chuck knew the caves like the back of his hand. You could tell that he had such a passion for them. At one spot he pointed out a small piece of wood. He picked it up and pointed out the insectc crawling on it. He was having an expert come to study them, as he thinks that they are as yet undiscovered species that may exist only in that cave. There was also a bat skeleton deep in the cave (it marked the point at which we turned around), though no evidence of any live bats. It was amazing. surely one of the most fascinating places we have ever visited.
He mentioned that he also offered six hour tours. All of us expressed a bit of disappointment, since, had we known, we would have signed up for that instead. Chuck is great guy, and ended up keeping us out there for five hours, at the same price as the four hour trip.
When the hike was over and we arrived back at Chuck's house, his wife was waiting with fresh muffins and juice. We bought some T-shirts and signed his guest book. It was a great experience, and he and his family were incredibly informative and friendly.
We ate burgers and onion rings at a picnic table at the Hana Ranch restaurant. We drove back to the hotel going the opposite way, a dirt road which is even more secluded than the Road to Hana. Back at the hotel, we hung out at the pool and jacuzzi, and then ate room service pizza.
8/13/98 - Snorkeling at MolokiniWe got up at 5:30 a.m. and ate the complimentary breakfast buffet. We embarked on the Maui Classic Charters's catamaran Four Winds II for a snorkel trip to Molokini.
The sun was shining, and we had a great boat ride. Our captain, Captain John, was quite friendly and personable.We saw dolphins on the ride over (they played in the boat's wake).
When we got to Molokini, we jumped into the water and snorkeled. It was beautiful. There were so many fish, and the water was great. We had brought disposable underwater cameras, and we took some pictures.
They started cooking lunch on the boat, and we were allowed to get back on and eat whenever we were ready. After we had snorkeled for a while, we boarded the boat and ate burgers, chicken, and chips. They also had beer and wine.
After eating and digesting for a few minutes, we wanted to snorkel some more. But as midday approached, the trade winds picked up, and things got choppy. We constantly got snorkels full of water, and had a hard time climbing the ladder as the waves were growing. So we sat on the top deck for the rest of our stay.
They took a video throughout the day (with an underwater video camera) and they screened it on the ride back home (making copies at the same time). If you were interested, you could buy one. We opted not to, though I did watch it for a while. We saw some turtles on the way back to Maui. It was a very enjoyable morning.
Once we got back to Maui, we drove to the end of the road in Wailea and Makena. Then we went back to the hotel and went to some of the upscale shops and galleries there. I bought a nesting doll of a hula dancer to add to my collection.
Then, as it was our last night on the island, we went back to Wailuku to eat one last dinner at Ramon's. Craig got his same kalua pork burrito, and I had a delicious teriyaki beef plate. We each had two margaritas, and we ate lots of chips and salsa. Ramon came over and talked to us, and we had a very nice conversation. He's a great guy. Craig took my picture with him. Turns out that the building itself used to be a brothel way back when. There's a little article as you first enter that tells a bit about the history, and how Ramon has fixed the place up. He told us to come back before we flew back to the mainland. Great guy!
Luau, Aston Wailea Resort
Taking a break during our bike ride down Haleakala
Seven Sacred Pools
Hiking trail, Haleakala crater
A skylight in the Hana Cave Tour
Batryoids, Hana Cave Tour
Hana Cave Tour
On the catamaran to Molokini
Snorkeling at Molokini
Snorkeling at Molokini