Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Molokai to Maui:Hawaii:Part 1

Hawaii: Molokai to Maui

Everyone who knows me well will tell you I don't like flying very much. It's not that I'm inexperienced to the whole ordeal, I imagine I've been in an airplane at least one hundred times or so, it's my active imagination that dooms me every time I step from the gate to the plane, then to make matters worse, you're treated like a sardine being crammed into tiny seats and patronized throughout the entire flight being asked to buy a blasted Coca Cola for three dollars. A can of coke, for three dollars. It's a lesson in modern society at it's finest. Say nothing of the fact that you're sitting in an aluminum tube, at 35 thousand feet, going at an incredible rate of speed, made by the lowest bidder. But as I found on this trip to the US State of Hawaii, it's much much better to fly with someone to share the experience with, bless her soul!

It starts in the Portland International Airport, one of the finest I've had the privilege to use. After a rather bumpy five and half hour flight we touch down our Alaskan Airline to Kahului, Maui around mid day. Gathering our belongings from the carousel proved smooth and simple. Before we knew it we were setting our bags down at the Maui Seaside hotel, notorious amongst the locals for being a cheap place to stay. The accommodations weren't that bad and we had a chance for some R&R. Nightfall came soonafter and Randi and I saw our first Hawaiian sunset, well sort of, the part of it not obscured by Mona Haleakala. We had to get up early the following morning to catch the bus at 5:30am to the western side at Lahaina
, so it was an early evening for the both of us. Due to the time differential it proved easier to sleep. Shortly before bed I went out along a rock wall and snapped a shot of the moon over Kahului.
The morning afterward went as to be expected. Got onto the Lahaina Islander #20 and made it to the town of Lahaina just after six in the morning to catch our boat to the small island of Molokai. It was still dark and the both of us were hungry, tired and ready to go. It took the 'money person' quite a while to arrive which allowed me time to photograph Lahaina's famous single-giant Banyan tree, eventually, however, we finally got to board and before we knew it we were on our way to Molokai.

One thing Randi and I had wanted to do was take a whale watching boat out to see the Humpback whales, what we didnt know is that this particular year there was a record amount of them surrounding Maui, over 7,000 by some estimates! Whales excite me to great extents, I get all giddy when I see one. To say the least, this one boat ride was, by far, the most active I've ever seen the great mammals, comparable to the Orcas of Argentina.

They were magnificent! Rolling, waving, spying, fluking, slapping, crooning, breachingly magnificent! Unfortunately I didn't have any sort of telephoto lens with me but I used what I could to get anything I was seeing. The activity of the animals was rather impressive as we only expected to maybe see one or two... but you would look out at the ocean for less than two minutes and you were guaranteed to see some sort of whale sign.

The entire trip took around two hours or so and the whales never let up the entire time.

The island of Molokai, we were told, was the most 'Hawaiian' of all the Hawaiian Islands. Naturally, me being the adventurer that I am, aspired to visit this tiny place in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Tiny indeed! There's only one main town on it called Kuanakakai. There are no stoplights on the entire island, truly rural, and it felt that way. People on Molokai like things simple and prefer to stand apart from the hustle and bustle of Maui and the 'the big island.'
I could definitely relate to people here as I prefer rural environments. Though things are even more expensive on Molokai than anywhere on the other islands, it still rang through to me. A jagged, mountainous island with environmental extremes that pertains to the four directions. The northern and eastern sides are moist jungles that cover some of the highest sea cliffs in the world, making for a rather dramatic landscape, while the southern and western parts of the island are relatively arid in comparison, it's rumored among the locals to even find certain species of scorpions under some occasional rocks. All while Humpbacks, singing red Cardinals, Geckos and puffer fish drift about the area.
We had rented a Toyota Echo for our time there, it was nice to have our own car to explore the island. I truly felt able to do what we wanted now that we had a car, thus exploring the island was first and foremost. On our first day we ventured east to the end of the road in Halawa Bay, a beautiful place of secluded beach and dramatic mountainous jungle surrounding. It was the site of the intro to Jurassic Park 3.

As I write I realize I should probably mention our place we were staying in as it was a fantastic deal and an amazing place. Called the A'ahi Place, it resided up A'ahi road just about two miles east on the main road from Kuanakakai. For $75 a night we got our own house with kitchen, bathroom, parking, deck, everything. Even orange trees outside and cherry tomatoes in the back. I surprisingly forgot to take a photo of the place.

We had allotted for three nights on Molokai. We ended up staying four at the protest of our landlord, Steve and his friend Larry. Good guys, a little on the nutty side, but I think generally good people. He felt bad even charging me as I had become somewhat of a brief friend.
Our second day on Molokai was filled with our very own, self guided, 'Agro-Tour' in which we spent our day going to a Sugar Museum, Coffee Plantation, Macadamia Nut farm and at the end of the day we visited a Coconut Grove at the risk we might die by falling coconut, it wasn't too breezy thankfully. On that day we had also stopped off at the viewpoint to see the Kalaupapa national reserve, a two mile long peninsula sticking off the north side of Molokai, it's the site of one of the world's only active leper colonies. A truly beautiful sight for a lovely Hawaiian morning.

Our third day on Molokai saw us to the beach! Finally we spent some time just hanging out at Dixie Maru beach, named for the Japanese ship under the same name that went down in a storm in times past. We went snorkeling a little bit with some very faulty gear, it was Randi's first time ever, thus frustrating for her with such equipment in disarray. Quite understandable to me, as my mask's strap had broken and I was merely using suction to keep it to my face. As irritating as our gear was, I did see a few interesting fish, one of which I'm convinced was the Hawaiian state fish.... the (here we go now) Humuhumunukunukuapua'a is what it is known as. A quite nice looking trigger fish, I also saw some other interesting things and I'm convinced I found a piece of china plate... maybe from the Dixie Maru itself. I'm glad I decided to bring my underwater camera! (Note, the fish pictured is not the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a)

On that same snorkel excursions I accidentally got some seawater in my lungs, which would play out over the next few weeks, but that's for later. We took a nice walk along the beach and then went back for some dinner, we were to get up early the following morning for a 4:15am boat back to Maui for the remainder of our trip. Though during that day we had thought to possibly stay an additional day, and subsequently... we did.
Our fourth and final day went nice and easy, going to the beach for a long walk along the golden sands on the island's west side and then visiting an organic farm with endless rows of all sorts of hot weather crops, noticeable were the lines of papaya trees.
We were sunburned, thirsty and tired and knew we had to get up very early the following morning. At 6pm that night, things took a toll for the worse.

Randi, at some point, one way or another, contracted some sort of food poisoning. It was bad. And the question of whether or not we'd be leaving at 4:00am the following morning seemed to be up for debate. But she decided to carry on, and despite some morning instances, she powered through it. Before we knew it we were sitting on the top exposed deck of the same boat we came across on almost a week prior. The captain got on the PA mic and made an ominous announcement.
"Just so you folks sitting on the top know, it may seem calm here at the harbor this morning, the trade winds are kicking up good so we're expecting a rough ride, so you may want to get to the shelter of the lower decks. We're expecting a two hour ride to Lahaina."

Randi found a seat on the lowest deck to lay down on, though I was incapable of staying down there, when a boat is rocking back and forth I need to see the horizon line to have a still reference point. The seas were quite rough that morning indeed. Throwing things that lay on the deck, people's personal luggage and cargo, and wave spray breaking over the boat. Thankfully it was warm enough for a T-shirt. After it started getting light enough to actually see some things I saw a giant Humpback breach completely out of the water just a stone's throw away from the boat. It was in the very earliest hours and sometimes I wonder if it was a figure of my imagination. The sunrise over Maui was breathtaking as we entered calmer waters.


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