Another caveat here - this includes the touchy subject of the back road to Hana. Please read it with an open mind. It wasn't an that easy of a decision!
January 4, 2014
We woke up about 7:30, feeling refreshed and rested. This morning I was able to have my coffee out on the chair overlooking Hana Bay. Beautiful and so serene.
Neal noticed these big spiders hanging around in the bushes – they were pretty good sized and looked like they only had four black and yellow striped legs, when in fact, they have eight legs. It just appears like four because they stay together in pairs, appearing as if there are only four. It is bright yellow and black, and creates a web looks like the spider must have a Singer professional serger strapped on its rear! I’ve never seen anything like it. A thick zig-zagged part of the web that looks strong enough to hold a wild Hana boar (or at least it’s piglet). We spent more time watching this goofy spider and taking pictures than we should have. After we got home, I looked it up and it is an “Argiope Appensa”, aka Garden spider or Banana spider, commonly found in the Pacific Islands.
Anyhow, enough about spiders! Today there is good news and bad news for us. Today is our last day on Maui. The good news is that our flight doesn’t leave until midnight, so we have all day to wander. And, Neal’s ear is feeling the best it has, so it’s a 99.9% sure thing that we only have about 16 hours left on the island.
We got a lox and bagel at a breakfast stand at Hana Fresh, by the Hana Health Center. (along with coffee, of course.) I also bought an amazing-looking loaf of banana bread with macadamia nuts to put in our backpack.
First off, I am feeling thankful that Trip Advisor folks had recommended over and over again to keep at least two days for the Road to Hana, and we did just that. However, I am still feeling a little sad because there is still no way that we will be able to see and do all that we wanted. I guess we’ll just have to come back again.
As we head out of Hana, we are almost immediately diverted on a detour. We end up going close to a beach park, I’m thinking it must be Koki Beach Park when I look at a map. We stop there to check it out and we are literally the only ones there. There are all these cool little inlet-beaches that were virtually people-free. We wandered quite a ways, on the beach, over the rocks, through the water. We were striving for a white-sand beach that we could see about four inlets over, but began to worry that the tide may be coming in so headed back. There was a cool OLD buoy of some kind hanging from a tree branch that ha barnacles attached to it. I also saw some pretty big bones – a rib bone and clavicle. Neal didn’t think big enough to be a whale but perhaps a big monk seal or something similar. They were bleached white by the sun so had been there for a while. Neal enjoyed watching these fast black spider crabs that were obviously not used to seeing people very often, as they’d disappeared as quick as you could blink an eye. As much as I wanted to make sure we did, this was an unplanned stop, and yet ended up being one of my favorites.
Mental note to self: When we come here again, remember these beaches for cool beach-combing and secluded beaches with great views.
We headed on and were diverted back on to the Hana Highway. I realized that Braddah Hutt’s Grill must have been on that section of road because we never did see it.
I wanted to hit the Venus Pool but not sure how we missed it. This is where the GyPSy guide would have been helpful. It is kind of difficult to read my guide book while looking for mile markers, try to take pictures (literally hold camera up and shoot – not sure what any of them will look like) ,AND keep an eye on my husband’s driving. He has high expectations for me to be the official “nagigator” when GPS is not an option, so I take this job very seriously. I even throw in the occasional “Car coming!” or “You’re supposed to honk-honk around a blind corner!” or my favorite… “Oh! Look! No! Don’t!”
But we do make it to Ohe’o Gulch, which was something I wanted to make sure to do. There were many tour vans in front of us and a lot of other people. But most of them did the small ½ mile loop around the pools toward the ocean. The trail to the waterfall was actually not too bad as far as other hikers. We filled our backpacks with the banana bread, some trail mix, water and chips.
The trail was really neat – it was a bit slippery because of the recent rains, and we had to watch the tree roots carefully (they’re everywhere!) The natural rock steps were neat – I wouldn’t mind using that idea in my yard somewhere. Except that I don’t have anything elevated in my yard that would need steps.
There are several places along the way to look down at the gulch and swallow hard. It reminds me of when we went to the Grand Canyon with the kids. Taylor, then seven, looked wayyy down below and said in a very quiet, somewhat breathy, and deep voice, “My heart is beating very very hard right now.” But there was a rail at the Grand Canyon. No rail here! Beating heart indeed! We were sure to be very mindful of the “Danger! Steep Cliff! Fatal Drop!” signs.
After we passed under the amazingly huge Banyan tree, we pass over two bridges that have great views of the waterfalls above and below. We are amazed that the water isn’t flowing harder than it is, with the recent rains. Soon, we come to the Bamboo forest. How cool is that??! The trees, tall and lean, arch up like cathedral windows, sunlight barely filtering through in some spots. It can become quite dark at times. Then when the wind blows and you hear that hollow clanking sound – I need to buy some of those bamboo chimes! I make a another mental note to myself. (I didn’t have a pad and paper, which is wayyy more reliable for note-taking.) As we walk along, sometimes just the two of us, I think of how easy it would be to just stand in there, camouflaged or not, and not be noticed. In fact, someone may have been doing just that, and I wouldn’t have known! My mind wandered a bit and I became more appreciative of our veterans who must have had to fight in that very environment, some who had never even been exposed to it before, and how frightening (or even claustrophobic, at times) it must have been to some.
After what seems like quite a while in the bamboo we come out into the opening and come to the creek beds to cross over. There are warning signs not to cross if the waters are running or if there have been recent flash floods, but at this time the streams are all but dry. Makahiku falls are in full view now, in all its glory. It’s breathtaking. Powerful and graceful all at the same time.
There is a young woman in a bikini standing in the pool right in front of the falls. She remains there quite a while so I wait to get my pictures. After many photos, we sit down to rest, relax, and enjoy our (amazing) banana bread.
At this point, I think I ran info what Trip Advisor calls “that person”. The young man states loudly how he is going to get in that water fall and cleanse his soul. He proceeded to walk straight into the fall and then scream at the top of his lungs. For a long time. By this time, we had already started heading back. We could still hear him screaming when we reached the bamboo forest again. It really took away from the whole serene experience and probably wrecked other people’s peace as well. The way he screamed on and on, his soul must have been plenty black and I’m not sure it ever got fully cleansed!
We made it back down the hike and wanted to make sure we did the ocean trail by the pools as well. I was warned about how windy it was in the gulch area right below the steps down. Windy, pffft. We live in wind-country. Heck, our area even has hundreds of wind turbines to prove it! Who am I to be afraid of a little wind? But this was way beyond what we normally experience here. There was something about the uneven ground and the chimney effect of the gulch that made it seem amazingly forceful. I braced myself, took a quick pic one way and then the other, grabbed my headband to keep it from blowing away and was outta there!
We did rush a little bit but had a good time, and all in all I loved this hike. It had it all – mountains, beach, lush forest, waterfalls, and even bamboo thrown in there! Next time we come back (I love saying that), we will definitely do this hike a little slower.
Neal wanted to make sure to see Charles Lindbergh’s grave so we headed there. True humble Hawaiian style, it is not advertised with big bold signs, or any signs for that matter. Just a simple old sign pointing the way to Palapala Ho’omau Church. When we got there, a tour van was right in front of us beginning the tour. The guide was kind enough to practice some aloha and let us have a moment to look. He didn’t approach until we were done. Thank you for the kindness!
The ocean view from the ledge here is one of the most breathtaking on the island, I think. Just so rugged and unapproachable. I don’t know if there would be any way to get down below, and if there was, I know I wouldn’t want to try to attempt it. The drop off where we stood was literally not just straight down, but even inverted a little bit. Taylor’s words at the Grand Canyon come to my mind once again.
So at this point in our journey, we had to make a decision on what route we wanted to take back to Kahului. We knew the road back was going to be ultra -slow with all the traffic, tour busses included. We also wanted to check out Tedeschi Winery, in which it would make better sense to just keep on going.
I had my concerns, only because our rental car contract specifically marked these spots and stated “Do not drive on these sections.” There was no question of whether or not it would have violated our contract. It was very clear, black and white.
On the other hand, that was my one and only concern. We have driven some mighty narrow roads with drop-offs and no guard rails and blind turns. I wasn’t real concerned about that. And there was dust being kicked up from the guy in front of us, so it didn’t appear to have been affected by the rains. After much discussion, my husband just said he was going to do it. Okay. I put my nagigator hat back on and strapped it on tight.
So…. my take on this part of the road. Yes, it is *very* narrow in spots, and rough. A 4-wheel drive jeep probably would be best IF you do the drive. And I certainly would avoid it altogether if it has rained recently, especially heavy. We did see a little bit of small rocks on the road, but nothing like we saw before we hit Hana. But we drove with aloha and pulled over when someone came behind us. Neal came to actually honk the horn at a blind corner rather than just verbally say “honk honk”.
We made it through and it was very slow going. Very slow. Did I mention how slow it was? I still think it was quicker than going around though, so was glad we went the way we did. We weren’t able to make any more stops, the Ohe’o Gulch was the only hike we got to do.
We made it to Tedeschi Winery with just 10 minutes to spare before they closed. Their Pineapple wine was actually very good, and better than I thought it was going to be. We bought a bottle of that, along with a bottle of coconut syrup for Taylor who loves coconut, as well as pancakes.
From there we headed back to Kahului. I kept asking Neal how his ear felt. It was almost normal by now, so that was good. Right?
Our last meal was at the Ale House Sports Bar in Kahului. Kind of a strange last meal in Maui, but it’s what Neal wanted. Maybe he was trying to ease his way back into mainland food. He had the Reuben and I had the mushroom-swiss burger with sweet potato fries. Both were very good.
Out in the parking lot, we emptied out the car and packed everything up. We drove a few miles to the airport and dropped off our car at Alamo. Since we had done the Costco stop, we had a lot of single bags of chips and boxes of crackers left over that we weren’t sure what to do with. It was all sealed up so we should be able to find someone to “pay it forward” to. We ended up offering it to the girl at the Alamo check in. She was so grateful to have it as well as a few bottled waters and Diet Cokes. I am glad we offered it to her. I think the price of living is so expensive on Maui it probably was appreciated very much.
I’ve decided I love Hawaii. I mean, not just like it like I have always liked it, but really LOVE it. I could come back her four times a year and never get tired of it.
I try to always sum up our trips with my “Top Ten”. So, as hard as it’s going to be to narrow down, here goes, in no particular order:
*Warmth and sunshine, the air so moist that a lot of times I don’t even need lotion.
*The Lahaina Methodist church Tongan choir – I’ll never forget!
*Being mistaken for being a Maui resident, twice. Not sure why, but once it was by a Hawaiian, so it in itself was a compliment.
*Having a whale wish me happy 50th birthday with a series of tail slaps – I should have counted – it may have been 50!!
*Listening quietly to the wind through the bamboo forest.
*Having everything work out perfectly on my birthday at Mama’s Fish House.
*The extremes of Maui’s landscapes, from other-worldly cosmic-type lava formations to the lush Tarzan-type jungles.
*Spending 10 days in paradise with my best friend in the world, and feeling blessed all over again.
*Bringing in the New Year in an entirely unusual and unique way – running in Kanapali in a cocktail dress and running shoes
*The aroma of a fresh Lei around my neck. Tuberose and Plumeria has to be what borders all of Heaven’s gardens.