Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Island time is setting in

Greetings from Maui!

You might remember that I ended my last blog post with the statement "more soon."

Well... after two days on the island, "soon" has become a very relative term. Our friend Marnice laughs about what the locals call "island time..." appointments are very fluid things. It's easy to understand how the dictates of the clock could be less important out here now that we've spent two days waking up with the sunrise, hearing the neighborhood roosters competing with the exotic birds in the trees (the birds out here are a trip! It really does sound like 1950's jungle movie background sound - "OO OO AH AH AHH AHH AHH OO OO OO OO...")

I did want to give you all a little run-down of what we've been doing over the past couple of days... the pace is a lot slower, but we've managed to pack a few things into the past couple of days. Read on, and click on the maps to see where we went:

Monday, 1/22/07 After a five-and-a-half hour flight from Oakland, we touched down in Maui at around 1:15 (that'd be 3:15 Portland time). As we came into the airport, we were surprised to see that there was farmland all around it - there were a few buildings, but for the most part we saw cultivated fields and farm equipment.

Our first clue that we were in a new and magical place came as we walked down the escalator to baggage claim... a warm breeze hit us about mid-way down. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from until we got to the ground floor... and I realized that there were no windows (or walls) in the baggage area. It was all open to the elements.

As we waited for Marnice and Ash to come pick us up, we looked out over the parking lot to the range of mountains to the west. The sky was a wonderful shade of blue with a few clouds, and the temperature was just perfect - low 80's with a slight, moist breeze blowing in our faces.

Marnice and Ash picked us up after a few minutes wait in their rommate Ben's SUV. Marnice looked radiant - certainly better than we expected, given the fact that she'd just finished radiation treatment. As we drove to their house "upcountry", they explained that the majority of the island is taken up with sugar cane crops (in fact, one sugar company owns most of the land on the island). That's why we saw so little "city" as we flew into Kahului Airport.

After about a half hour of driving through cane fields and farm land we arrived at Marnice and Ash's house. It's a great place with an Ohana in the back - that's Hawaiian for "mother-in-law apartment." They'd rented the apartment for the month so that Marnice's parents could stay there when they visited earlier in the month... and so we could stay there while we were visiting. It's a wonderful little airy one-bedroom place with a private entrance and a great view of the golf course behind their place.

We spent the rest of the evening sitting on their deck, sipping drinks and getting caught up. The view from their deck is amazing; if you look at the map above, you'll see that Maui has a western volcano and an eastern volcano. Sitting on their deck, you can see the Western volcano and the water on each side of the isthmus (isth it an isthmus? I'm never sure of these things...). Truly a spectacular sight.

We did get one piece of bad news that night. Trish's bother Pete, who's house sitting for us while we're gone, called to tell us that Buddy had escaped. Luckily he called a bit later to tell us that our neighbor up the street had caught him.

We hit the sack early that night, after a short night the night before and some cramped naps on the plane, we were more than ready.

(Click here for a photo slideshow from Monday)

Tuesday, 1/23/07 We woke up suprisingly early, listening to the exotic bird calls and chickens and smelling a slight hint of salt air through our open window. Looking at my watch, I was amazed to discover that it was only 7am... until I realized that it was 9am in Portland, and I'd actually slept in a bit.

After some coffee we checked in with Marnice and Ash; Marnice had to visit a doctor's office, and Ash was going to putter around their garden and do some yard work, so Trish and I put on our walking shoes and took a walk around their neighborhood.

It quickly became apparent why the locals say Makawao, the town they live in, is upcountry. As Trish and I walked up a small incline (probably only a 4 percent grade) we realized that we were both breathing pretty hard. Then we turned around and looked the way we'd come; the little grade we were climbing may have only been 4 percent, but we were probably 1000 feet above Kahului and sea level. The air was just a little thinner up there!

While we walked, Trish took lots of pictures. She paid special attention to the bright, vibrant blossoms and exotic flora in the neighborhood. Of course, photos can't do the plants here justice; it's pretty obvious why Hawaiian shirts look the way they do.
(Click here for a slideshow from our walk)

We got back to the house at about the same time Marnice did. After a nap, it was time to start thinking about dinner. Their roommate Ben had some guys over to play poker that night, so we decided to go to one of Marnice and Ash's favorite restaurants in Paia on the North Shore.
Before we left, unfortunately, we got even worse news from Pete back home. He'd stepped out of the house for about 40 minutes, and when he got back he found that BOTH the dogs had gotten out. I wish I could tell you that he found them again as easily... but alas, at the time of this writing they're still MIA. If you see them, for the love of god PLEASE let us know.

Undeterred by that news, we all piled into their pickup truck (I sat in the cab with Ash while Marnice and Trish bundled up in the truck's bed) and headed out. The back road we took was dark and a little windy, but we got to see a lot of stars along the way.

In Paia we ate at a lovely little place called Cafe Mambo. After a sampler appetizer platter (filled with a delicious cheese fondue, some bread, eggplant, falafel, and a bunch of other goodies) we dug into some fajitas. Seemed odd to come to Hawaii to eat fajitas, but these were certainly a bit more exotic than you'd get at your local Mexican restaurant: they had crispy duck, kahlua pork and "jumbo shrimp" (a term I've always found funny) inside.

We fairly waddled out of Cafe Mambo and browsed around the shops in Paia before piling into the truck again (this time I was in the back with Marnice) to head home. Mid-way up the road Ash pulled off to the side and turned back towards Paia. As Marnice and I looked at each other in confusion, he explained that Trish had told him she wanted to go to the beach, so he decided to take her to the beach. Paia is on the fabled North Shore, after all. About five minutes outside Paia we pulled into a nice, secluded stretch of beach and got out.

The ground was surprisingly hard and rough. We could hear the power of the waves crashing to the shore, and could just make out the edge of the surf in the truck's headlights. The sea mist washed across the beams of light like smoke. As we carefully picked our way to the water's edge, Ash explained that the red dirt on the beach would stain our feet (it did). It was worth it, though, to put our feet in the water and feel how warm it was, even at 10pm.

That mission accomplished, we piled back in the truck and stopped at Foodland on the way home to buy some provisions. The store made me feel a bit like I was back in Alaska; narrow aisles, sparsely stocked shelves, and high prices.

We came home and had some ice cream (Marnice has been on a no iodine diet as part of her treatment. She just got taken off the diet when we got to town so she's been enjoying eating all that bad food she wasn't supposed to), then hit the sack.

Wednesday, 1/24/07 Another morning of bird songs and roosters. We had some coffee and checked our email (have to keep some connection to the "real" world, after all...), then started cleaning up the Ohana a bit. Marnice and Ash were planning to show it to a prospective renter who would take the place after Trish and I leave.
The possible renter didn't show, but it gave us a good excuse to get some laundry done and sit and sip coffee with Marnice. Once it was clear that we weren't going to have visitors, we packed up the truck and headed for the "little beach" in Makena.
On the way there we drove through a lot of cane fields (big shock) and the one sugar cane processing plant on the island. This plant plays a very important part in the island's life: not only is it a big employer of the population, but the generator it runs (by burning the sugar cane leavings) actually provides 20% of the island's electricity (another chunk of the electricity on the island is provided by a wind farm on the slope of Puu Kukui).
We also passed through Walea, a decidedly upscale "country club" area of the island.
We pulled into the beach at Makena around 1:30. The beach is broken up into a big beach (which is very big; I'd guess there's probably about a mile and a half of shoreline) and a "little beach" which is over some rocks (there are some very rough "steps" cut into the volcanic rock). It's a good thing the little beach is behind the rocks, too... because it's "clothing optional." We got to see quite a bit of scenery there.
We met up with Marnice's friend Roxane there and a cool Native Hawaiian guy named "Big Al" (no, really!). Frankly, I think Al was more interested in talking to the two hot blondes in our party (Roxane and Marnice make quite a pair in their clothes, let alone out of them), but he was very cool about sharing some information on native Hawaiian culture, the language, and his joy in being at home on the island.
Trish and I spent a lot more time in the water than we did the night before. I have to say, I'm glad that my first trip into the warm water of the Hawaiian Pacific ocean was on a nude beach. There was something spiritual and renewing about walking out into the warm embrace of the sea bare to the world and being washed back to the shore.
After the beach we headed up to Lulu's in Kihei for an incredible bacon-avacado-cheesburger (called the Magnum PI for the tourists) and garlic fries. Now, when we on the mainland say "garlic fries," we expect some french fries with garlic salt thrown on them. Not at Lulu's... these were fries with minced baked garlic thrown on top. I was armoatic the whole trip back, but they were good.
Trish had a local staple: the LocoMoco. This is a hamburger patty with a fried egg and brown gravy on a bed of rice. Good stick-to-your-ribs kinda food. She could only eat about half of it, but I think it was enough food to keep her going all night.
Kihei is where a lot of the resort condos are on the island... as we drove through the heavily touristed area on the way back to Marnice's house, Trish and I counted our blessings that we were staying with locals (even if they're comparitively recent transplants) instead of in that sterile, commercially driven environment. We really feel like we've gotten a feel for what it's like to live here, instead of just picture-postcard views of what the Hawaii Department of Tourism would like to sell to us. Kihei felt very... Disney. The streets were very plastic, with little boutiques and condo developments. Very diferent than the feel of Paia, the local town we'd been in the night before.
We had a mellow evening with Marnice and Ash when we got back home. A couple friends of theirs stopped by (including a lady named Jen who's going to rent the Ohana after we leave! Best of both worlds - a renter set up, and a friend for a neighbor!), and after a bit Trish and I tucked ourselves in bed.
We can't wait for what tomorrow will bring... We'll try and post photos of our beach trip some time in the next couple of days (sorry, nothing from the nude beach. That wouldn't have been appreciated :) ).
Hope you're all doing well out there... As the cliche'd postcard says, wish you were here. If you've always tought about visiting Maui and are just waiting for the time to be right... don't wait. Just get out here. It's beautiful, mellow, laid back, and the perfect cure to the hectic nature of "mainland" life.
More soon...