{maui} day 4

The sunrise the morning of Day 4 was so beautiful it nearly made us forget the awful, stormy night we just had.

We even had another rainbow sighting over the Seven Sacred Pools.

Another breakfast of oatmeal and banana bread in our bellies and we headed out to drive the southern coast of Maui and make our way up to Haleakala.  Past Kipahulu, the landscape abruptly went from lush greenery to dry desert (complete with stray cattle and mountain goats), and the road became even windier and narrower than usual.  Several stretches were unpaved, or used to be paved and are now simply a mosaic of pothole patches.

After an hour or so of driving we started making our way up Haleakala.  The road to the summit is essentially 20 miles of switchbacks, climbing up to the visitor center at 7,000 feet, and then higher to the summit at 10,000 feet.  Betty did surprisingly okay and the views made up for the nausea.  (There were points at which we could actually see turbulence in the clouds as we climbed above the cloud line.)

We finally got to the Leleiwi Lookout (around 9,000 feet and a few miles from the summit) and it became very clear why we'd endured all those switchbacks - Haleakala Crater was vast, impressive, and stunning.  The temperature drop was very noticeable at this altitude, so I was even colder than usual.

We made our way up to the summit, which I thought wasn't as impressive as the view from the Lookout.  Don't get me wrong, it was still beautiful, but the view from the Lookout felt more like we were in the crater.  Still, looking out into the crater it was hard to believe that it was all once an active, lava-filled volcano.

We also saw these cool plants called silverswords.  The summit of Haleakala is the only place they exist in the entire world, and - like salmon - they only spawn once in their lifetime before they die.

After a lazy lunch at Hosmer Grove (the campground about halfway up Haleakala), it was time to tackle the switchbacks again.  Going down the mountain was much much worse.  There wasn't a gear low enough that made it possible to not ride Betty's brakes the entire time.  The smell of raw brakes greeted us as we got back to civilization, but the old girl came through for us.

We made our way back to South Maui to tour the beach towns that stretch from Kihei to La Perouse Bay.  There were some very nice houses and hotels, but the towns themselves lacked a lot of the character we saw in Central and East Maui.  The lava fields we saw down at Cape Kina'u were probably the best thing we saw along this stretch.

After that it was more driving - this time back up the coast to Hwy 30 and West Maui.  It was here that we finally got closer to real shave ice at the Olowalu Market.  It was much bigger, the ice was more finely shaven, and the syrup was much more flavorful.  Jared had been driving for 10 hours at this point so he probably would have welcomed anything that was cold and sweet, but it was a nice little bonus for the shave ice to be so good.

We struggled to find a good spot to camp for the night, and after getting stuck in the sand at one beach, and weirded out by the chickens and stray cats at another, we decided it was best to fork over the $20 to park Betty at Camp Olowalu for the night.  I was finally able to get in a short military-style shower, which was cold but extremely enjoyable.  We cooked up another dinner of hot dogs and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese and settled in for the night.

On the menu for Day 5... we finally complete the trek around the entire coast of Maui and visit one of the best sites of the whole trip - the Nakalele Blowhole.

{maui} day 2

We woke up early on our second day in Maui to very light rain sprinkles.  Getting rained on in paradise is way better than getting rained on in Portland, so we didn't really sweat it when the rain turned monsoon-like about an hour later.  We broke out the stove and cooked up a small breakfast of oatmeal while we waited out the storm.

After taking our last hot shower for the next 3 days, the rain stopped and we packed up and got back on the Road to Hana.  Our first stop was Aunty Sandy's in Ke'anae.  (I should mention that we were religiously following the advice in Maui Revealed, a must have if you're going to Maui and a total lifesaver for us.  The author is a BIG fan of the banana bread in Maui, and it wasn't hard to see why once we had our first taste of the stuff.)

One of the handful of things my dad is really spectacular at making in the kitchen is banana bread from scratch... I haven't had it in years but I remember it being insanely good.  He said the secret was using overly ripe bananas.  The warm banana bread we got at Aunty Sandy's was even better than my dad's.  Far and away the best banana bread I've ever had.  I really can't put into words how moist and delicious it was.

Aunty Sandy's is located where it is because there also happens to be a great little stretch of coastline there that tourists flock to for photo ops.  It was here that we got our first up-close glimpse of the lava rocks that make up the majority of Maui's beaches.

Back on the Hana Highway we stopped at a blink-and-you'll-miss-it gravel lot on the side of the road beneath the Wailua Valley State Wayside.  The steep flight of stairs to the Wayside were definitely worth the climb, as once we got up there we had sweeping views of the Pacific below us, the tiny village of Wailua and several small taro fields.  Behind us was a great view of Haleakala.

The next stop was the Upper Waikani Falls (also called the Three Bears Falls.)  They were pretty, but it was a really busy stop so we didn't stay long.

Pua'a Ka'a State Park a little further down the road was a surprisingly pretty stop and slightly less busy.  It was here that I finally figured out the settings for getting a nice waterfall pic, which got me super excited.

The book makes a big deal about a little community down the road a bit called Nahiku - going so far as to say "As you stand there in your own private paradise, you can't help but wonder if there's a more beautiful place in the world."  Well, Mr. Doughty, you need to book yourself a week at the Thala Beach Lodge in Port Douglas, Australia.  Or stand on the cliffs in Capri, Italy looking out onto the Mediterranean.  Nahiku was pretty, but not nearly as impressive as the book makes it out to be.  For one, the road to the actual beach is closed to non-residents (a result of being mentioned so enthusiastically in the book, no doubt.)  There were plenty of tourists who disregarded the signs, but we parked at the head of the road and walked through the town and down to the beach.  The swimming holes the author highlighted were all dried up, and the beach itself wasn't really anything special compared to elsewhere in Maui.  This was once of the few places where the book led us astray, and if you're taking the Road to Hana, I'd recommend not bothering with this stop.

Our next stop was Wai'anapanapa State Park where we had a picnic lunch on the beautiful black sand beach.  There was also a cool little cave / lava tube there that we explored.

After the black sand beach we went to a red sand beach at Ka'uiki Hill, which was also beautiful but we were hot and desperate for a beach where we could do some swimming so we picked up our first Shave Ice and got back on the road.  Not all Shave Ice is created equal, and this first sampling was basically just a slightly tastier snow cone.  Thankfully the cooldown we were looking for was only a few miles away at Koki Beach.  It was one of the prettiest beaches I've ever been to and we got in some much needed bodysurfing in the warm clear water.

Back on the Hana Highway we skipped a few waterfalls and the Venus Pool (we'd get to them the next day) to nab a good campsite at Haleakala National Park in Kipahulu.  The campground was busy since it was a Saturday, but we were right along the coastline and the views were unreal.

About 200 yards from our campground stood one of the best sites of our whole trip: 'Ohe'o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools).  We got there just as the sun was starting to set, which made the water appear several shades of blue.

A dip in the pools would have to wait, since daylight was fading and we were starving.  On the menu for dinner: hot dogs and Kraft Mac 'n Cheese.  Low in nutrition, high in sodium, and completely delicious.

Up next for Day 3... our anniversary, sunrise at the Venus Pool, bodysurfing at Hamoa, 400 ft falls, and a massive double rainbow.  OMG!  :)