Friday, February 13, 2009

Maui Day 2: Whale Watching, Art Buying, Iao Valley, Run, Napili Beach Sunset

That is what it is according to the DJ's at Kapa Radio , the Hawai'ian station we've permanently set the station too for the duration of our stay. M commented a little bit ago that it was too bad we only had two more nights. She is really enjoying herself.

And how could we not when the morning greets us with scenes like this?

Not a cloud in the sky.

Today was a rush.

Watching Whales

Up early to get into Lahaina for a 7:45 check-in for our whale watching trip. We just made it. We had to park in a pay lot and while I did that M went down to check us in. I ran after her, picture me in Teva's running down the streets of Lahaina Town and you can imagine why heads were turning and, perhaps, people were laughing and smiling. :-P I caught her and we made into the check in line on time.

I've been on quite a few whale watching trips and have seen Humpbacks and Greys mostly along with scads of dolphins. The closest I ever got was while paddling off Isla Vista. My friends and I were out testing some new kayak safety equipment and a Grey with its calf surfaced right behind me. Scared the willies out of me!

Today's trip wasn't like that but it held its own excitements.

It was brilliantly sunny when we left the dock. We shared a table on the top deck with a rather jovial (and tanned) couple from Chicago who were experimenting with a pair of those binocular cameras, their results had not been good thus far. As we cleared the harbor area we were seeing whales blowing all over. It really was a matter of pointing the boat in a direction and go. Eventually we were going to see whales. And we did. Two special things.

First, we saw a mother and a calf swimming along side-by-side. The naturalist said that judging by its coloration the calf was about a week to ten days old, a "2009 model" she said we were seeing. 

There was a male accompanying them too but that was not, as we were informed, what it seemed either. 

The male, it seems, was waiting around for the off chance that this female would immediately be ready to mate again instead of going off for two years. 

Things got even more exciting as we left this trio. 

Almost immediately we saw quite a bit of activity ahead of us (more rushing of the rails to get a good picture, etc.). 

We spent the better part of an hour shadowing this group of whales and they were not playing, they were fighting

There were at least four whales, possibly five, forming what the naturalist called a "competition group" in which the males were duking it out to see which one would be the female's main "escort", if you catch that drift. We could only imagine what it looked like under water but to my mind it could be something like a WWI Dogfight  in which large powerful beings maneuver for the best hit using their weight and barnacles as weapons. 

This situation was pretty disturbing at first given the fact that we have been taught that whales are "gentle" and "wise" creatures rather that what they are, living beings with the same basic agendas as us all—life, food, and sex—for which we are prepared to do violence (even, as happened a few years ago we were informed, to the death). This fellow (below) has just been hit hard from below and forced to the surface. 

And then there was a chase to the surface (I apologize for the fuzziness of the photo but things were happening fast and my camera is, well, not really set up for speedy shooting).

Amazing how time flies. Our two hours on the water was almost up and we had to head back but not before seeing the winner seeing the "losers" off and then he and his paramour swimming slowly off to parts unknown. 

Buying Art

Yesterday we saw some pieces in the old Lahaina Jail cum non-profit art gallery that we liked and decided to stop in again to see if they still stuck. They did and we have two new pieces of art to hang and M has a new turtle pendant hanging from her neck by an artist named Lundquist (who will be doing a workshop in the Seattle area this coming summer). I met another artist who does his art by burning designs using candles and then painting them. Very interesting effect and though I didn't see anything that captivated me the technique is intriguing. I also learned that there are those who do not hold the Pacific Whale Foundation in high regard who question the earliness in the season that they start making trips out there. Ah, politics even here in paradise. Or perhaps I should say "Especially in paradise!"

Walking Back In Time

After a quick lunch at the condo (I seem to be eating nothing but sandwiches on this trip) we jumped back into the car and headed out to the Iao Valley State Park. Kind of a long drive and I was pretty tired by the time we got there but the walk was pretty neat. We had some clouds but were able to see "The Needle" quite clearly. 

Can you image climbing that in a last ditch effort to survive the great battle that took place here when King Kamehameha invaded in 1790?

If you come to Maui you should see this little park and go on the walk therein. There are a number of pools, streams, traditional plants, all set up in the manner in which native Hawai'ians would have used the space. A nice walk (and we did not need the bug spray we were advised to purchase). But I would combine it with some of the other mid-island areas rather than making a special trip.

I did stand on a rock and do my best Haka face. M just laughed and said that I simply don't have the right temperament to pull something like that off. I think it is because I have no desire to kill someone (or even make them think I am going to do so) AND that my neck is simply not thick enough. 

By this point we were both tired and so we headed back to the condo, hitting Friday afternoon beach traffic in the process. But the sun was out and the views beautiful—the wind was so high, gusts up to 38 mph, that driving became challenging due to the cross winds. 

Got back to the condo and I put on my running kit and went off for a very easy 7-miler in the heat and the wind. I ran towards Highway 30 and discovered a "Beach Walk" in which I had the following experiences:
  • I was greeted by the cutest pit bull puppy whose wiggly demeanor belied the spiked collar its owners had outfitted it with (funny how that happens). I couldn't help but stop, squat down and get showered with enthusiastic puppy kisses.
  • I was surprised to see a public beach amidst all the resorts that surrounded the track AND to be running on a path made of Trex
  • Running though resort after resort feels kind of strange. They were all strung together and it was only possible to tell the difference by looking at the architecture and the various signage as the people lounging around all looked the same and were doing basically the same things
  • People look at you funny when you run through a line to get into the Luau. They look at you even more funnily when you repeat the performance 10-minutes later on the return journey
  • Did I mention that running from resort to resort feels strange yet? It didn't get any better on the return
  • Bucking into a 23 mph wind is not a lot of fun. Even less fun is when it is a hot desiccating wind that dries your sweat so fast that you cannot us evaporation to cool off
  • Gatorade really tastes good when you are very hot and running into a wind
  •  I do not need to run along Lower Honoapiilani Road anymore. Enough sucking exhaust, dust, and barbecue smoke
Actually, it was a great run and finding the Beach Walk access was a bonus. Here is the track —

Tomorrow, however, I am going to run around in Lahaina before heading out to Haleakala for a hike. 

In the meantime, I leave you with the sunset at Napili Beach, a little north of Kahana. 

1 comment:

ChrisG said...

It's been over 10 years since I was on Maui, but your descriptions are reminding me exactly why it was worth all the money it took to go there. The sunrise, the sunset, the beach, the breeze. Delightful place. Great travel log.