Monday, March 30, 2015

Four Days in Hana

On Friday morning, we packed up the old Rav4 and headed for the tropical northeast coast of Maui and the little town of Hana.  Our accommodations were quirky and basic, but directly on the wild, rocky coastline of Hana Bay.  With nothing but large screen windows throughout, the waves sounded like freight trains rolling through all three nights.  The occasional gecko ran across the floor.  As one would expect in a tropical forest, the rain poured down numerous times during our four days and the sun did the same. 
The Waianapanapa Trail winds along a section of rugged, undeveloped coastline for just over 3 miles, and after Sunday, is one of our favorite day hikes...period.  The entire route is filled with blow holes, black cliffs, large caves, arches, blue water, and constant spray from the crashing of Pacific Ocean into the lava rocks.
Within 100 yards of the parking lot, you're on the coast
for the next 3 miles.

Star is getting violent again.

We met Wilson's 1st cousin, Buoy, on the trail.

Entering sacred grounds

Ancient Ruins stand together

Traditional Hawaiian Fishing

Meanwhile, back near the parking lot.
And THIS is why tourists die here almost weekly

We stopped at one of the many local organic farms serving
fresh coffee from the beans grown on-site.
Getting wired on local coffee!
Blossoms of the Mountain Apple Tree

Video from the trail

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Star's Molokai Adventure

I was hoping to spend a week in Lake Mead while Ben took a course there, but I decided it would be traitorous to leave my colleagues of the last six weeks during the last work week. I was rewarded by spending most of the last two days on Molokai. Although it's only a 35 minute flight from Maui, it's a journey into the past. Largely rural, with a population of only 7,000, it boasts of incredible mountains and waterfalls, farms and tiny villages, and native Hawaiians who would live nowhere else. I'm going back and taking Ben next time!

Molokai (from my 9 passenger plane):  These are
the highest ocean cliffs in the world.
Molokai Mountains

Kaluapapa, Former Leper Colony
and National Historic Park

Kaluapapa: Note the high mountains
designed to keep the lepers within the colony

Twilight from the Molokai Hotel

Sunset, South Molokai

But I Don't Want to Go to the Mainland

This past week, Star and I took separate adventures.  I was sent to Lake Mead outside of Las Vegas for training, while Star took off to our neighboring island, Molokai.  In my opinion, she had the bigger adventure by far.

We have decided to do two separate blog posts to attempt and illustrate just how far culturally our two experiences took us.  Star will follow my post with hers later tonight.

Talk about culture shock.  After being on Maui for 11 months straight, I finally ventured back to the mainland, and the sensory input was almost more than I could handle.  The huge city crowds and interstate driving was literally a shock to my system. 

Admittedly, part of the fatigue and stress was due to me waking up at 3:45am Maui time every morning and driving out to Lake Mead for class that started at 6:00am Maui time.  As the week progressed, I realized the Maui lifestyle has literally spoiled me.  I could feel my stress and anxiety levels rise as I attempted to navigate traffic and deal with people who were generally rude and unwilling to offer such simple things as directions and advice.  As Star told me on the phone Thursday night, you and I could not be in two more opposite cultures this week.

Upon returning home yesterday afternoon (yes, it's home, because home is wherever Star is), I was ecstatic.  I had returned to the friendly, jovial, laid back people of Maui.  As the sun set last night, I stood on our lanai and looked out at the sleepy island of Maui and could literally feel the stress of the past week leaving my body.

My hope for Maui is that it can somehow avoid joining the fast paced world of the mainland, because for all the immense beauty of this island, the lifestyle here is what sets it apart from most of the world.

I'll start my photos with my last full day in the Vegas area on Friday.  We had an exam Friday morning and were released from class at 10am, which gave me time to head north to the Valley of Fire State Park and do a little hiking:

Former Visitor Cabins Built by the CCC
Valley of Fire State Park

Beginning of White Domes Hike

Cool Slot Canyon

Silica Dome

Incredible Petroglyphs
On Thursday night, I went to Fremont Street, where the original casinos are located.  Since we want to keep the blog PG, however, these are the only photos I can share...
Mr. T and Mini T

After my hike Friday, I attended Pole Day for the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  The final group was fantastic.  Dale Enhardt, Jr. broke the track record and less than two minutes later Jeff Gordon set another track record and gained the pole position with a 195 mph lap.   

Coming off Turn 4 at 200 mph

Obligatory Hoover Dam shots...

Earlier in the week, I took the 5 mile Historic Railroad Hike near Hoover Dam before sunset.  This was the route the contractors transported materials to the construction site. 


Just made it back to the parking lot at dark