Contents 1 Thursday Dec. 14, Montréal
2 Friday, December 15, Maui
3 Saturday, December 16, Olowalu Village
4 Sunday, December 18, Paia - Baldwin Beach Park
5 Monday, December 18, Paia
6 Tuesday, December 19, Vancouver
A weekend on Maui - sounds delightfully decadent, and perhaps will be. Virginia spent last weekend on Oahu and this weekend it is my turn on Maui1. How is this possible? Canadian Airlines (aka CP) had some special weekend getaway fares that included, much to my surprise, Hawaii. The fare, for four days, Thursday to Monday was only $399 CDN. Virginia stayed with our friend Joyce Blesi so the additional expenses were only food and a container load of souvenirs. Virginia's flights on Dec. 7 and back on Dec. 12 were wide open but my choice was to leave on the 14th and return on the 18th. Unfortunately there was no room for me to come back on the 18th. Finally, an enterprising CP agent discovered that I could get back if I spent overnight in Vancouver. This meant that I would have an extra half day on Maui and have a chance to visit an old friend from UofT, Ian Cumming. It would be nice to visit Auntie Margaret and Uncle Ed in Sidney but I don't think it is feasible to get from Richmond to the island and back for my 12:00 noon flight.
When I checked in for my flight to Toronto, the ticket agent looked at my big bicycle backpack and asked, ``Who do you have in there?''. The rest of the flight was not quite as uneventful. As we taxied to the end of the runway, I noticed several ridges of ice on the wing. Not having any clinical experience in wing icing, I couldn't tell whether this was an annoyance or a real problem. It turned out that it was a real problem. We stopped at a de-icing station set up at the end of the runway and joined an American Airlines jet. After ``spraying'' - pouring really - pink gunk all over the wing, the ice disappeared in about fifteen minutes. There had been some de-icing done at the gate but it was half-hearted at best. I guess both jets realized that the corporate decision to forego de-icing was a bad decision. When we started our takeoff with a 3 by 5 by 1/2in piece of ice stuck to the wing. It slid a bit and remained. About halfway down the runway, it gave up and flew off. We arrived in Toronto after our allotted 55min flying time to be put into a holding pattern. Then our first approach was aborted because the plane in front of us was having trouble getting off the runway. Finally, an hour late, we touched down - quite nicely really.
This is the year to meet friends I haven't seen for quite a while. While I was having some lunch, there was an announcement for Falconer to come to the counter. This Falconer was, indeed David, an old friend from UofT. He, Marcia, and daughter Leah, were on there way to Sydney, Australia to be with son, Ian and his wife for Christmas. They were flying to Honolulu and then continuing, non-stop, to Sydney. There were five different flights for Honolulu leaving from the same gate at exactly same time. QANTAS and Air New Zealand were sharing equipment on this part of the flight and CP was doing the same for the rest of the trip. The gate announcement was Honolulu - South Pacific.
We left a little late, and arrived a little late. It was a nine hour flight and featured a double feature movie - Apollo 13 and the new version of Miracle on 34th Street. The Miracle was nice fluff.
Although we arrived appropriately, my bags did not. There were several of us from Montréal with no bags. They got theirs but mine, and some of a few people from Ottawa did not come. After about twenty minutes of no bags, my bike pack came out. The smaller one never did come. Interestingly, there were no baggage tags on my bike - I wonder how it made it this far. Unfortunately, in my zeal to reduce the weight of my bike pack, I put a number of essentials for putting the bike together in the small pack. I have no pedals, tools, light, or bike helmet. It is now 4:30am and I am about to get on my flight to Maui. The baggage people have said they will send it on to Maui when they find it. I have been mulling over all night what to do.
Although my bike is not complete, my tent is. Unfortunately I have no sleeping bag but last night, sleeping on my Thermarest pad at the Honolulu airport showed me that I don't really need it - unless I go up Haleakala.
My 5:15am flight to Maui consisted of 5 minute taxi to the reef runway, 20 minutes to Maui and almost several minutes to get to the Kahalui terminal. It was a delight to see the lights up Kalanianaole Highway up to our house near Koko Crater. The terminal at Kahalui was nothing like I remembered. It was huge, modern, and new in 1991. Although it was just after 6:00am, the visitor bureau was open and the nice lady guided me to a bike shop on the Hana Highway towards Kahalui. I took a taxi there and now have about 2 hours to wait until they open. Unfortunately I really need them, even if I did have all my tools. My packing did not preserve the integrity of the shift levers. Both were broken off and will need to be replaced - ugh. I am not certain how I shall protect them in the future.
It is a gorgeous morning. Haleakala stands cloud free and imposing in front and the range on west Maui is larger than I had imagined or remembered. After two hours the clouds were resting on the top, and the bike store opened. I got some new pedals, and shift levers, borrowed some tools and put it all together. I had a problem with the left pedal - it wouldn't start right and stripped the thread. There always has been a problem there but the old pedal was used to it. It would soon become a major worry. I told the mechanic what I wanted to do and he said the West Maui mountains between Waihe'e and Kapalua were tougher than Haleakala.
I was finished about 10:30 and started wandering around getting provisions, (wine and bananas), and trying to find a hardware store. I need some tools, a few screws, and some straps to hold my pack onto the bike. I managed to scrounge two small straps and attach, rather precariously, my bike pack to the back. It took me the rest of the morning to find an ACE hardware, and a few of the tools and screws that I needed - no straps.
After much thought I started out towards Kapalua. I was determined to come back if it looked that I couldn't make it. The road was pleasantly dull up to Waihe'e where it started to climb in earnest. The ridges were sharp, dropping down 1000' in places. The road was mostly narrow and wider, one lane, with YIELD signs at sharp corners. I stopped to watch a hang glider try to take off. After about ten minutes of hesitation - looking for exactly the right wind gust - I gave up on him and continued uphill2. It was very very steep, but my new low gearing (.77 vs 1.00 on the Parkway) nicely tamed the hills. The road hung and climbed the sides of cliffs for about 15 miles. It really became steep around the village of Honokohau and dropped right down to the water. This was an exceedingly pleasant back country rural village that has not yet been touristed - at least superficially.
I stopped at an overlook just past the village, to look carefully at my left pedal. It had been bugging me terribly for several miles. Every time I pedaled, it would rotate horizontally. I noticed that it was not straight so I tried to straighten it - it fell out in my hand. The threads were completely stripped and metal particles fell to the ground. I tried to screw it in to no avail. It was about 4:30 with sunset in less than an hour and a half. Lahaina was about 30 miles away.
This was a popular spot to stop and one lady asked me how I was enjoying my ride. I told her it was much fun except for my current minor disaster - a one pedal bike. Jim and Dawn were from Boston, spending a week on Maui, and were currently on their way back to Lahaina. Jim was on his way back from Japan and they had met in mid-Pacific. He suggested that I lock my bike up and he would give me ride to Lahaina. I wouldn't leave my bike, but did tell him it folded and we could probably get it into his trunk. Sure enough, it did get in and we drove to Lahaina. We knew there was a bike shop in Lahaina but didn't know exactly where. At about 10 minutes to 6 we found it. The guy who ran it was very nice. He didn't have a the right sized crank, but did manage to fix it by retapping the threads. Hopefully it will last until Monday3.
I was also able to get some straps at the ABC hardware. After a short tour of downtown Lahaina (it is now end to end stuff shops), I had an antipasto salad at the Great New York Eatery. The salad was excellent and went well with my Cabernet Sauvignon. The Eatery is well off the main street so that is perhaps why they were so good and reasonable.
It was, of course pitch black - no moon yet - when I left for the eight to ten miles to Camp Pecusa. I found the 14mi marker, where it was supposed to be, but couldn't find any road going north so I continued on - hoping. I found nothing so it was clear that I would probably sleep on the beach tonight. My first foray found only rocks. My second, was more successful. It was a fine sand beach, that even had a small ``grassy'' spot, behind some trees. This is the dry side of the island, meaning no rain and probably few mosquitoes. I decided just to lay down my ground sheet and Thermarest pad - no tent. This also reduced my visibility. It was a night of brilliant stars, mild surf, and some wind. I had to weigh down all sides of ground sheet. I haven't slept out under the stars since packing in the Sierras in the 60s.
At about 11:00pm the drama started. There were flashing blue Maui Police lights and a voice on the loudspeaker, ``Throw your keys out the window onto the sand!''. Then it escalated slightly - ``You are at gunpoint. We are the Maui Police. Throw your keys out the window onto the sand!''. Later ``We have information that you have a gun. Put both hands out the window!''. The guy was less than cooperative so the intensity in the policeman's voice increased. Finally he did throw out his keys, put his hands out the window, and get out of his truck. It took about 15 minutes (forever!) and then the lights stopped, and it was over. I was very quiet the whole time! The truck was still there in the morning.
The road from Lahaina has had much work. The old road apparently wound up and down the cliffs that have now been sliced for the new one.
Breakfast had to wait until I got to Kihei where I had my standard Egg McMuffin and went across the road to buy my toothpaste and some soap from Longs. At the moment I am finishing this part of the journal at the Kihei Post Office, glancing occasionally up at Haleakala - still cloud free at the top at 12:00 noon.
*** Longs in Kihei is very jealous of their electricity. I was just told that I cannot use their electricity and must move on.
I continued down towards the very upscale resort area of Wailea. It was about time to augment my banana collection so I ventured off the road towards the Wailea General Store. As I approached, River, a recently transplanted black from San Diego, asked me if I would like some ice cold tea, on him. It was his concession. I was delighted, and described to him my trip so far, and that I was on my way to Hana via Ulapalakua. He said you can't get there from here. The Ulapalakua ranch has closed their area, to cars and especially mountain bikers. I showed him my map. It showed the Piilani Highway going through to Ulapalakua. In reality it now dead-ended at Wailea. I left, determined to try and see if it were passable. There was a Road Closed sign where the Piilani highway turned into Wailea. The road was a standard farm double track which was unpleasant but passable. However, after about 500m, it became a single tracked trail. At this point I decided it was indeed impassable and turned around. I went back along the Piilani highway which runs up country of Wailea and Kihei. Then I turned and went up Central Maui towards Kahalui Airport to see if my bag had returned. There was incredible wind as I rode through the cane fields. It was not entirely pleasant.
I finally made to the airport and discovered that, indeed, my bag was there. It appears that my attempt to have it forwarded directly to Aloha caused it to be lost. I won't do that again.
*** CP has managed to break things that I thought impossible. My T-bike tool has had the top of its T broken. My flashlight/headlight does not work - probably the bulb but I can't check. Although I protected the trip computer sensor on my bike, it was quite mangled. They also broke a small plastic bottle with food coloring that is used to check my water filter.
It was almost dark when I started out towards Hana, and Baldwin Beach Park in Paia. I followed the signs to Hana, avoiding the Haleakala Highway, and found myself on a new 4 lane divided road with a nice wide bike shoulder. The old highway is much shorter. I will take it when I go back to the airport. Paia is about 8 miles from the airport and advertises itself as Hawaii's Historic Plantation Town. It is a small delight. However, when I arrived, I knew I was lost. I should have found Baldwin Beach before I entered town. Two independent opinions said that it was about 1/2 mile back, and that it did have a sign. I started back, very easy with the Trades at my back, and found it. I had missed the sign.
I put up my tent using my trusty headlamp and set about to get some more light. One indulgence on this trip is a new Camping Gaz lantern. The days are short and the light is welcome. It was not destroyed, although the mantle was broken. I have several extra mantles so it is not a problem. The light is welcome, especially waking up at 4:00am after 7 hours of sleep.
As far as I can tell, I am the only tourist in the campground - a small, fenced-off area with no character. After hearing that I intended to ride to Hana, one guy told me that they had just been thrown out of the Seven Sacred Pools by the Haleakala Park rangers. The US government has shut down again and Haleakala is closed. However, they couldn't close the Hana Highway. My plan was to go towards Hana until 1:00pm and then turn around and come back. I want to get back before dark.
The Hana Highway is the main reason for going to Hana. Hana, itself, is not especially memorable. After about 15 miles, past some semi-decent surf (6 to 8 feet) and against heavy trades, I reached the real beginning of the Hana Highway, announced by ``Winding road for next 30 miles.'' The first few miles was winding, up and down sharp ridges but still inland. The really spectacular part of the Hana Highway runs for about 10 miles, where it hangs on the side of 1000 foot cliffs, dropping in and out of bays and beaches. It was much wider and less intimidating than I remember from 20 years ago.
The one lane bridges still remain, and all of its famous hairpin turns, but a couple of years ago, the Hawaii DOT made major improvements. They widened the road, not always successfully. In several places half the new road was sliding back down the cliff - and left some of it in its old narrow state. This meant that at any time the drivers had to be ready to slow down and yield to oncoming traffic. Several people asked me if I found the heavy traffic scary. In fact, I was given a lot of margin, both by tourists and Kamaainas alike. This is not a standard bicycle route and even the local kids would give me encouraging shouts of ``Go at it!'' as I was climbing up a hill.
I got as far as the Taro patches at Wailua, climbing up to the far side. At this point the road turns inland and becomes, as I remember, much duller. The highlight of the trip was the Ke'anea Peninsula. It is set on a rare piece of flat ground surrounded by black lava pillars, pounded by huge surf. It has its own small, flat Congregational Church and a magnificent view of the coast in both directions. It was well worth the couple of hundred feet steeply down from the main road. Then there was the Lauhala basket weaver from Haiku who gave me some filtered water from his van, which used to be his home. He is now living in Haiku and was quite upset that in two years, his van has started to rust into oblivion. He said his VW camper van did the same thing, even before the engine died.
The closest I got to being killed on the Hana Highway was when I stopped to get some water. The rocks at the stream, where I was using my water filter, made butter seem sticky. I went down to get near a water hole that was deep enough to get water and not sediment and found it nearly impossible to get back up. On my first attempt, I slipped and spilled most of the water in my sack. I refilled the sack, circled around, and found a way up the far bank.
The surf was still up on my way back, but it was the end of the day and everybody was going home. It was still light when I arrived in Paia where I stopped for my first real meal on Maui - Blackened Sashimi at the Paia Fish Market. It was absolutely delicious.
At about 7:00pm I was back at my tent.
I was up at 4:00am, a very long night's sleep, had some breakfast, and have been writing. We just had an early morning downpour - I had to close the front door - it is now past dawn, cloudy, but not raining. Yesterday, on the Hana Highway, it alternated sun and torrential downpours. It was warm and my jacket kept me dry enough.
There are rainbows - one thing I miss most about Hawaii is the rainbows. This morning there was a strong one over the ocean. It kept me company almost the whole way to the airport. After some shopping, I arrived at about 9:30. It took me an hour or so to disassemble my bike. My weekend in Maui is almost over.
*** Maui Chips: These are the chips that spawned a new industry of Hawaiian Style Chips. They have virtually disappeared from the island. I only say the occasional bag and it was evident that they were quite old. Unfortunately they have a very short shelf life of only a couple of days. It was sad.
At 1:00pm, my 20 minute flight to Honolulu started. Aloha has open seating on all its flights. The clue is to pick the right side of the plane. From Kahalui, the left side gives you a view of West Maui and then ocean. The right side gives you Haleakala, all of Molokai and the eastern end of Oahu. Molokai is really empty. There is little sign of the effects of people anywhere except in the tiny town of Kaunakakai. There aren't even any fields.
My bags arrived at the carousel even before I did - amazing. I carried my packs over to CP and tried, unsuccessfully, to have them checked through to Montréal. We left about one half hour late from the reef runway, swung away from downtown Honolulu to the eastern end of the island and then over our house. Waikiki and Honolulu were in sun but our end had junk weather - clouds. Even the windward side was under clouds.
Just after midnight in Vancouver, I was out of customs and immigration looking for Ian. We have not seen each other for almost 30?? years. I couldn't find him so I went outside. Then he came up to me, looked at the name tags on my packs, and said ``Mike?''. We had connected.
Much as I would like to get over to Sidney to see Auntie Margaret and Uncle Ed, it is just not feasible. Definitely next time. It is now 7:30 and still pitch dark. I wonder if there is any sun and/or daylight here, or are we too far north?
*** My weekend in Maui is over - not relaxing but fun.
1It was logistically awkward for us both to go at the same time.
2There was another couple watching him. I met them later on the Hana Highway. After 20 minutes and no takeoff, they left.