The wife and kids and I snuck off for a long weekend on Maui. We took the ferry over, which meant that we also got to take along Tess Turbo, the coolest Mini Cooper S in all the Pacific (if not the world).
It was a fantastic trip. Truly. Great weekend. We were the guests of Robin and her family, who treated us like royalty and with whom we had a ball. (She blogged about the weekend, here. And the flubber recipe is here.)
But this weekend made me think about a few things going on in my life. I am getting ready to go to Iraq for a year, so it’s not light stuff.
A part of me wishes I had pursued being a writer. I think I’d be good at it. I enjoy the research, and I find satisfaction is being able to explain complex things in simple ways. My spelling sucks. When I have a chance to sit down and put together something like this, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.
With that, blogging is a way for me to write. To get things out of my head and onto a screen. I still suck at, but that’s fine– I’m doing it.
And it’s OK that I am a pretty crappy blogger. I know that I am. Good blogs have a simple, singular, unified topic. Mine does not.
I plan to find a way to keep blogging while in Iraq. Why? Because there are two things that I do like writing about: solutions, and adventures.
More times than not, I don’t point people to my blog — I point them to my Friendfeed. Why? Because it contains all of the neat little things that I run across around the web. Tips, tricks, and solutions. And it’s an RSS feed — which often means I get the chance to explain why RSS is so cool, so powerful, and why it should be their best friend.
So, go to that friendfeed, and follow the RSS. I promise you — it’ll have some jewels in it this coming year, things I find and things I write myself.
But I also like writing about my adventures. Whether it’s a week in Egypt, or my driving adventure up with the cows on Maui this weekend, I know how lucky I am to be able to roam this planet (a lot of it with my hot rod Mini Cooper S) and see and do all kinds of things. I will try and keep doing that in Iraq, but I’ll be honest — a year in Iraq without adventure would be just fine with me. I don’t need to be kicking in doors, or even firing a shot in anger or defense.
But with that, if I can give you simple answers to complex questions, well, super. Feel free to write — because I’d rather do that than go out into harm’s way.
But, before heading out to Iraq, we headed to Maui for an adventure. And we did find it. This is a tale of adventure, and a few tips and tricks.
Going to Maui
Out ferry was huge. Giant. It’s a big catamaran, and it’s both fast and very smooth. Oahu to Maui is 3 hours — very cool. A bunch of folks walk onto the ferry, but most seemed to drive. On the way there, it was all cars, but on the way back we also saw motorcycles and big trucks, to include an 18 wheeler. My low-slung car had to be angled up in a few places, to avoid scraping, but the bulk of the other vehicles — Hawaii is the land of the big truck, like Texas — had no problems. We’d pre-paid online, and getting aboard was a snap.
Heading out that early in the morning, under the threat of rain, was very pretty. That first light was getting lost in the dark clouds, which made for a pretty setting. And it wasn’t too cold, either — which made going outside to check things out a treat, not a chore. But, I gotta say — the inside of the ferry was great, too. We scored a booth, which had a 110 outlet. The ferry also had free WiFi — which just baffled me. Very cool, being able to email updates to Robin while en route.
We got there mid to late morning, plugged the address into the GPS, and headed to Robin’s house. Too easy. On the drive there, this was my favorite sign:
“Speed Limit Enforced by LASER”
Lasers? What, like a death ray from space or something? Goldeneye?
#2 was this one:
“Speeders will be fined $277”
Why $277? Why not $277.41?
Anyway, we got in, got settled, and did what everyone new to Maui does — we headed to the beach. We drove down to Paia Bay, with boogie boards and skim boards and fins and towels and more crap than any one Sherpa / mini-van could carry.
Nice beach. Waves that weren’t good for surfing, and certainly not ideal for boogie boarding or skim boarding, which meant it didn’t have gobs and gobs of folks there. Perfect for a big gaggle of kids in the 7-12 years of age range.
I spent some time talking physics with my son, about how skim boards work, about draws and spurs, and about how to get past the shore break and out into the waves. The kids need fins — maybe Xmas this year. I need to swim more — it was great to be back in the ocean, but wow, it tired me out quickly.
Swinging Bridges (Waihe’e Valley)
Sunday morning, we all had a big breakfast and headed up to Swinging Bridges, aka Waihe’e Valley, for a hike. It’s a couple of bucks admission, and then a nice, cool 2 mile hike up to a dam and a nice swimming hole.
I know what you’re thinking, looking at these photos. Easy, wide path.
But it’s not. Some parts of it get very thin and very rocky — no push strollers, no wheel chairs for sure. Covered shoes with socks would probably be best, for the cushion that offer. And the bridges. Yes, they are that cool.
I don’t have any photos to share from the pool where we swam at the end of the trail, but here‘s a video from YouTube. It was a nice place — cool, crisp water, and neat things on which to climb and from which to jump.
If you click here, I made a Google Earth file that shows the routes of the ferry (going there is different than coming back), plus the hike. The GPS did an OK job of tracking us, but we were were deep down in this valley, with little linkage to the GPS satellites. Still, you’ll get the general idea.
On the way home, the wife and I treated all to tacos and other awesomeness at a place called Las Pinatas. Wow — amazing food. Seriously, if you make it to Maui, go here. K and I had carne asada burritos that were to die for, and the kids ate tacos. $3 tacos. And yes, they were worth $3.
Oh, and that night I had both star fruit and dragon fruit. Dinner was fresh and hot homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream. Yeah, my day totally rocked.
The Drive to Haleakala National Park
The night, as we were all starting to talk about dinner, K and I looked outside and saw that we were in for a chance of rain. We opted to go for it — we left the kids, hopped in the Mini, and headed up to Haleakala National Park. The joke of the night was, “Oh, man, we went to Maui and we got soooooooo high!” True, we did — 8000+ feet high (stopping short of th summit, which is past 10,000 feet).
The drive was awesome. Zippy, uphill, and on a well-maintained road. It was something of a cross between the Black Forrest, the Dragon, and the lower Alps.
But with cows.
Kind of hard to bear down and really work the gears when there are, you know, cows to contend with.
The countryside, though, reminded us of northern California. Dry, open fields with big trees — very un-jungle-like. We might as well have been tooling through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range, or along the coast of the Pacific just about anywhere in CA, OR, or WA.
Soon, though, we were up above the clouds, and it was stunningly beautiful. Cold (50 degrees) by Hawaii standards, but we were ready — no shoes, no socks, just shorts and a pullover. If it’d dropped below 50, we would have broken out the socks.
Because of the cows, we took our time going down.
I’d talked about doing the road to Hana on this trip, but that will have to wait. This was a fine in lieu of option, and the bonus was seeking the sun set with my wife and not my kids, from a mountain top on Maui.
The Ferry Home: Moloka’i
I suppose to could just gloss over the ferry ride back, but we went around to the north / backside of Mokoka’i.
I really want to go to Moloka’i some day. It was, for a long time, home to a leper colony. It’s something of an untouched island, with a low population (probably below 10,000 even today) and a reputation for being the least developed of the Hawaiian islands and where people go when they want to be alone, as in not bothered by civilization, government, etc.
If ever you were to turn a corner and come face to face with a dinosaur, it’d be on Moloka’i. For sure.
Oh, and we saw tons of flying fish. Really. Fish, with wings that come up out of the water and fly for a while before diving back into the ocean. Seriously.