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Mel and Dan are napping, my husband has just gotten up and I've just gotten back from wandering about Koloatown. The week as simply flown by. Tomorrow we turn the cars back in and board a non-stop for the mainland. Sometime between midnight and 1 am, I'll be getting in to my own bed and Monday morning I'll be back in my office, trying to convince myself that this trip actually happened.

As I write this, the waves are lapping at the beach 50 yards to my left. The air is sweet after the days rain, courtesy of the plumeria at the edge of the lanai and a mango has just dropped off of the tree outside the living room window.







All I can say is amen for digital cameras and electronic picture frames, to make the memories real again when I need them - which I suspect will be the case by Wednesday next.
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Three and a half years ago I had a close encounter with a sea turtle. On our first full day on Maui we went to a secluded beach, mostly known only to the locals, a place called Paloea. I'm probably destroying the name, but then the Hawai'ian language is not my strong suit. I subsequently found out the beach is not far from Turtletown, a popular destination for haoli tourists out for a snorkeling adventure.

That day I spotted two Pacific green sea turtles feeding on a reef, maybe 30 feet from shore. I slowly swam towards them. I got within a few feet when they started swimming; I paddled gently after them. A few moments later they separated; one of them turned and swam back to me. stopping just three feet away.and looked me right in my mask. (I don't know why I assume he and not she. I have no idea of its gender.) This creature had to be the size of a 5th grader. I remember looking at its beak and thinking, "You are an herbivore, right?" The turtle then circled around me twice and this time a bit closer looked me right in the mask again. He then turned and swam off, leaving me breathless. The creature was so beautiful, so graceful, almost majestic.

Then it hit me. Where the hell is a camera when I need one?

Costco had a Fujifilm digital rated as waterproof up to 9 feet or so, and I was not coming back to the islands unprepared.

The snorkeling here on Kaua'i is not what I experienced on Maui. The waters off of Maui's south shore are much calmer, I think in part of the islands of Kaho'olawe and Lana'i, both to Maui's south. One needs to be much more aware of the currents here, how they interact with the topography of the island's shore and just how strong a swimmer you are, or more pointedly, are not. We were at Poiupu beach earlier this week and found a protected cove there, along with lifeguards on duty. The fish were plentiful on Tuesday, so Dan and I decided while his wife and my husband went hiking, we were heading back to the beach. Towards the end of my first snorkel, I stood up in chest deep water. Another snorkeler 20 closer to the shore was gesturing wildly; Get your face back into the water! I looked down and almost immediately, got bumped off my feet.

A sea turtle! This one was not quite as big as my first encounter, but it had to be at least 3 1/4 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide. I was literally right on top of him. Good thing fat boy here is really, really buoyant. When he bumped me, I lost my footing and I was face down no more than 18 inches above him. You're not supposed to touch the turtles. They're protected, an endangered species and there's a hefty fine for molesting them. I resisted temptation to just reach down, satisfying myself with his initial contact with my thigh. I grabbed my camera and started shooting. I spent about 5 minutes watching and swimming with him, just in awe.





Kaua'i....

Nov. 1st, 2011 12:23 am
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The four of us arrived mid-day on Friday. We had stayed at the no-tell motel, near Oakland Internat'l Thursday night, thinking we'd get a decent night's sleep, as well getting a free parking space for the duration of our trip, all for the price of the room. Sadly, none of us slept well that night. The combo of the strange bed in a strange room, and the local noice made sleep elusive at best.

We were at the terminal at 6:45am and the flight departed more or less on time. After a non-stop flight direct to Lihue we rented vehicles, hit the market for some grub, made our way to the rental house near Waimea and collapsed. The 4 of us slept the sleep of the dead, I think. It did help us get somewhat acclimated to the local time. Other than a fast hike on the beach I really remember very little of the day, other than my amazement at folks who're actually able to sleep when they fly.




This is the beachfront in front of our rental.


Saturday, we frittered. We hung near the house in the morning and after lunch, hit the hay for a siesta mid-afternoon, something I'm rarely capable of. After tossing and turning for 30 minutes, I headed back to Lihue to find some water sandals. The beaches here tend to be small and rocky. I found a pair at Payless for under $30. When I got back to the house Dan was making dinner. He took some of the poke (Hawai'ian raw marinated ahi) we had gotten for supper the night before and decided to flash cook it, to add to some gorgeously sauteed prawns he'd prepared to toss onto a spinach salad. That with a nice glass of wine made for a flawless meal. Then it was off to bed, for a good night's sleep..... or so I thought. Unfortunately, it was interrupted by the nearly incessant nocturnal cries of the bird of paradise.

Who knew that the bird of paradise is a chicken?



I had not expected to find feral chickens are bloody everywhere, here on Kaua'i.

Literally.

EVERYWHERE.


In town. In the countryside, In the mountains. In the canyons. Today, I saw them on the beach in Poipu, walking around the people enjoying the surf. Hens nest almost anywhere they choose and broods of chicks following their mothers are easy to find. The cocks crow at any hour. At night they argue with one another. I found myself dreaming about smothered chicken last night, smothering that involved a pillow and not gravy.

Yesterday, we drove up into Waimea Canyon. There's an 18 mile road that winds it's way into the mountains that ring the canyon. The views are breathtaking. The road ends in a look out vista above the Na Pali coast. I don't have enough superlatives, so I'll let the photos speak for themselves.



This is the first major vista point of Waimea Canyon. There is a reason they refer to it as the Grand Canyom of the Pacific.


The Na Pali coast from above.


Time for bed; in the morning we're off to an all day trip to snorkel of off Ni'ihau, Lehua and the Na Pali coast.
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When the hell did 70 degrees get so bloody cold?

We're home again, nestled in the redwoods and the fog. LJ is fast asleep, which if I had any sense would be true for me, but I did catch a few hours of shut eye on the plane (unlike my husband) and I did nap for 4 hours here on our arrival.

Yesterday seems almost a blur, but then the last day of a vacation often is, at least for me. Weaver communes with Spinner Dolfins.... )
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West Maui is beautiful and overrun with resorts and tourists.

We drove to Lahaina for the submarine excursion. Now I have never even seen a submarine in person let alone been inside of one. Perhaps this was why this captured my imagination. I'm incredibly bouyant, particularly in salt water. I've tried to dive down to see things closer. I bob right back up to the surface tout suite. My feet are barely belowthe surface when I pop back up again. (ergo, if I am ever found drowned, suspect foul play!). A sub that would drop me down 120 feet to see what's down there? Yup, sign me up.

Well, we saw a white tipped shark, something they see perhaps 2 times a week on these dives (& they do 4-5 each day' 7 days a week), a pair of spotted eagle rays (seen 1 dive in 3) plus a shipwreck in 80" of water which is seen on every tour only this time, there were divers on it. All & all a very remarkable tour. 2 hours went by very quickly.

We got bounced from the time share presentation. We're staying at a friend's condo and hence not eligible. So after fast light lunch, we headed west to Honoloa bay to snorkel. The beach there is very rocky & the footing is awkward and unsteady, but the bay is calm & sheltered. There is a small stream running off of Halemahena that feeds into the bay. The snorkeling was excellent right off the shore. In my book, this place is a must for the novice snorkelers.

With Luck, tomorrow we swim with dolfins.
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I apparently needed some down time today.

We were out the door at 9 & at Boss Frogs at 9:30 to look at activity options. Not cheap, but enticing. We decided to discuss things over coffee. Four doors down is a French owned coffeehouse Café @ la Plage. We stopped there yesterday, their prices were better than Starbucks, and the quality as good, if not better. Both the men working the counter today were native French speakers, though I'm no longer proficient enough in the language to be able to place their accents. A chic woman in her early 30's with two young boys in tow, ordered as we eaves-dropped. She was a rather attractive creature, draped in a gauzy off the shoulder short tunic, her dirty blond hair tied up with a gauzy white scarf. The boys both had distinctly American accents, and when they got a bit rambunctious (as boys of 6-7 are prone to do), she turned and became rather stern with them, to which the older stiffened and replied,"oui, Maman." his face suddenly downcast.

We decided to take the submarine trip. However, given it was now past 10 all the trips for the day were booked. Instead, we'll catch tomorrows 10am sail (dive?) out of Lahaina. It will be almost $200 for the two of us, but as my husband often says, they're just pictures of dead presidents. Then I noticed they had a snorkel trip out to Lana'i. Lana'i, where we're more likely than not to swim with dolfins.

I gave in. We're doing something I said I was not going to do. We're going to spend 90 minutes at a time share presentation. That will get us the Lana'i trip free, plus it got us a $20 discount on the sub trip, and a $10 bottle of sunscreen for $5. When we get back to Lahaina after the sub trip, we'll stroll over to the Wyndham showroom nearby, listen to their shpiel, and get nearly $200 off what the two excursions would have cost us.

No, we have no intentions of buying a time share. But yeah, if it'll save us that amount of cash, I'm willing to sip coffee for 90 minutes and liste politely.

It was after 11 when we were done. I was surprisingly hungry, so we drove towards the beach, picked up some picnic fare & headed over to a picnic table near the water. We lunched & made calls, first to my mother & then my mother-in-law. My mother was happy to hear from me. My sister is in Istanbul presenting a paper at an ophthomology conference, & I'm here. Makes mom's head spin a bit. My youngest sister is leaving early tomorrow for a destination unknown. She turns 50 this week (now I feel old! She was still in grade school when I left home.) & her wish for her 50th was for my brother-in-law to surprise her with a trip somewhere for just the 2 of them. Even my mother had no idea where in the world they are headed for the week.

We came back to the room to put the left overs in the fridge, and one thing led to another; Starland Vocal Band came to my
mind. They may have been one hit wonders 35 years ago, but their one hit always leaves me smiling. For that matter so sis my husband.

After that I felt like I had hit the wall. I crashed. The combo of a bit too much sun the day before, all the swimming, the time change, the food and marital time was mire than I could handle. I was down for the count.

Late in the afternoon, we headed south the Makena's big beach. The sky became overcast, and while we were in the water, it began to rain. We stayed anyway. An hour in the water was rejuvenating. Then it was off to blockbusters to rent a flick, & head back to the room to cacoon for the evening. We got Avatar, something that despite wanting to see on the big screen, we both managed to miss catching.

All and all a good day.

Tomorrow coral reefs 100 feet below the surface, plus a shipwreck.
osodecanela: (Default)
It's warm here. Even at 4 am.

The air conditioner has a timer on it which I thought I had turned off. Well, I was wrong. I awoke at 4:30 in a pool of sweat. Remember, we're sleeping on an air mattress on top of an overly firm bed. A flocked plastic air mattress. Not a pleasant feeling. At first I thought my husband, who likes to turn our bedroom at home into a sauna, had turned the thing off. He said he did not (when he awoke @ 5:45). That was at about the time the room was finally cool enough to consider trying to go back to sleep. I went back to bed, but not to sleep.

Amazing what two people who love each other can find to do at 5:45am, until the alarm goes off!

Which was too early for my taste today, but we already had tickets to go to Molokini this morning.

We were on the road at 6:50, just enough time to caffienate and make it to the boat launch at Ma'alaea Harbor. The boat boarded at 7:15 and departed 25 minutes later. Very civilized. Coffee, fruit and Danish to snack on, as we sailed to Molokini, lunch after our second stop at turtle town, plus all the snorkle equipment required included for $60 per person (free if you were willing to go to a time share shpiel, which we did not.

Tom and I did a number of snorkle trips like this while we were in Belize last year. LJ was apprehensive about the trip. Snorking squicks him; the feeling he won't be able to breath frightens him. The wet suit he rented helped with both his boyancy and his confidence. To his credit, LJ did spend the majority of each stop in the water. I even got him to swim a good bit away from the boat while we were at turtle town.

I adore staring at fish in their environment. I spotted a humahumanukanukapa'aua right as I got into the water at Molokini. I'm not sure quite why, but knowing the name of what I'm looking at excites me. Moreover, I can glide thru the water, such a liberating feeling. The clarity of the water was rated at 100 feet & since we were only in 40, there was no trouble seeing all the way to the bottom. We were perhaps 100 yards off the shore of the caldera, a straight shot for me. The fish were the thickest near the shallows. I went back and forth from the shallows to the boat 4 times in the 90 minutes we were there. My first trip to the edge brought me so close to a rather large fish, I startled it. It came out from under a coral ledge right in front of me. When it turned and saw me maybe 2 feet away, it gave a fast look in each direction, to quickly access it's best escape route, and after a split second of hesitation, he was out of there.

Too soon it was time to get out of the water. It took us 30 minutes to get over to 'turtle town' just off the coast of Makena. Once again I was the second one into the water. I made it 100 yards of the shore. Lots of fish. No turtles. It was a glorious swim though. It was only a 45 minute stop and with 10 minutes left I turned back to the boat. I was 2/3 of the way back when the made the call for us to come back. Just then a green sea turtle came out from under a ledge to surface for air. This creature came up with such grace, looming as though it was flying through the water. After surfacing he swam right past me, less than 6 feet away. I'm certain we were being checked out. He zig-zagged several times, not taking him further away, but closer to the snorkelers. I can't wait to see my pictures. I'm praying they came out well.

We were back at the pier at 1:30, back at the condo an hour later after a latte. A fast shower, and we decided to pick up where we left of this morning.

I could definitely learn to live like this.
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For the handful of people not aware, the Hawai'ian islands are a series of volcanos that arose from the floor of the Pacific. Maui is comprised of two, a smaller one (extinct I think) which makes up the west side of the island and Haleakala, the larger of the two which makes up the larger east side of Maui. Haleakala last erupted in the late 1800's, so while not extinct, it's been quiet for a while.

On our last trip we made it to the top of Haleakala, which is over 10,000 feet (& bloody cold at the summit!). We also drove the north shore to Hana. We took in the black sand beach at Wainapanapa, which is more a black pebble beach and no picnic to walk on. We wanted to see the blue pool, as well as the 7 sacred pools, but we misjudged our time, got there too late in the day and it started to pour. It's a 3 hour drive to go 72 miles and so we turned back.

This morning we set out early. Well, earlier. The weather was good and the views of the north shore gorgeous. We breezed straight thru Hana south to the 7 pools. They're part of Haleakala Nat'l Park as is the top of the volcano. The trail to the pool is an easy 3/4 mile hike. We could have worn the water shows to get there, but being unfamiliar with the terrain we wore our street shows and carried the rest.

The pools were phenominal. The ones most easily accessed were deep enough to swim in, the water cool and very inviting. From the calmness of them you could see the crashing surf at the beach below. We spent 2 hours at the pools; I would have preferred longer but my husband was getting cold and we needed to make the drive back.

We had been told that the road along the south side of Maui wasn't passable, but the park ranger suggested we take that route back, that it was the way most of the smaller tour buses went. With the news that the blue pool was no longer accessible, we followed his advice. It was a rough road back which was very slow going for the first 15 miles, but we were treated to some incredible vistas on our drive back some of the most spectacular I've seen so far this trip.

The road back runs upcountry, climbing 3500 feet back up the mountain, before descending again into Kahului. It's 64 miles from the sacred pools whether you take the Hana Hwy the way you came or head out the Pi'ilani Hwy to the west. It took us an hour less on Pi'ilani but that was only because traffic on it was minimal. The road is so narrow, that had there been more than a car or 2 each mile it could easily have taken much longer. A fender bender out there would have been a nightmare.

So we circled the volcano today. Tomorrow, Molokini.
osodecanela: (Default)
We slept in this morning. We don't get to spend enough time with each other and cuddling is stuff we love to do. We finally left the condo a bit before noon. We headed north this time for a coffee spot in Kahului, and to try to find a directory of stuff to do on the Island. I thought about hitting the AAA, except there isn't one here on Maui. The coffee place we had been to on our last trip, and while a bit pricey, it's island grown coffee and locally owned.

I also had an ulterior motive; it's in the same strip mall as an Apple store. I figured why not check on their iPhone4 stock, right? Wrong. Turns out they're a 'partner' store, an approved Apple retailer, but not owned by Apple & hence, no iphone4. The salesman seemed a bit bitter actually. Then it was across the street to Kmart for water shoes and to check out the farmers market in their parking lot. Got some locally grown apple bananas and turned down the papayas she tried to sell me.

I don't care for papaya. I try one every 2-3 years just to confirm that hasn't changed. No matter how healthy they're supposed to be for you, I just don't like them. She tried so hard to get me to take one, offering to cut one open and squeeze lime on it. I declined. She seemed mystified. Strange haole boy.

Why the water shoes? Tomorrow or Thursday, we'll make the drive to Hana and head souhern from ther to the 7 Sacred Pools. We should be able to swim in them, but not barefoot and not in fins.

From Kmart we headed upcountry. Two years ago, [livejournal.com profile] furrbear asked me, "how do people communicate in Haiku, Hawai'i?" Today we found out. It's a small place, not terribly much there. We did the obligatory postcards and mailed them from the postoffice there in Haiku. So sorry not to have had you snail mail address with me, John.

From there we doubled back towards Paia. Two miles east of Paia is a sweet windswept beach favored by locals and visitors alike, Ho'okipa. The sand is white, but it's narrow. There were a bunch of windsurfers & a slew of paddle surfers. We spent a couple of hours in the water & given the number of rocks below the surface the water shoes came in very handy.
Then on to Paia & some lunch.

Paia is an artsy community. I reminds me of Santa Cruz w/o the boardwalk, or perhaps the town of Mendocino. While it too is not a large town, there is a very clear accent on all things organic. We landed at a Flatbread restaurant. It was pizza really, but a thin crust baked in a hand built wood-fired oven and it rivaled any of the artisan pizzas I've ever had. Wenopted for the Kalua Pork and goat chevré pizza. Just superb.

We drove back to Kehei to watch to sunset from the beach and once again watched a newly wed couple barefoot on the beach in their wedding finery for photos at sunset. As we left I offered them my best wishes.
I hope after 29 years, they will be as in love and as happy as we are.
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This was not quite what I had planned.

Yesterday I figured I would work in the office till about 4, tying up loose ends in advance of leaving, drive south to pick up [livejournal.com profile] 1ticor, who's house/pet sitting communing with nature in the redwoods at our place until our return, and be home at 7:30, 8pm at the latest. Plenty of time to pack & get a decent nights sleep.

Yeah. Right.

I didn't leave the office until 7:30.

My transcriptionist is horrendously behind. Like almost 2 weeks. So yesterday was spent making certain that charts of patients who're scheduled to see my PA next week had the appropriate documentation of their last visits. It's one thing if I'm seeing someone back for follow-up, but no notes when it's someone else seeing the patient isn't acceptable. At 3 pm the transcrptionist dropped by the office, and was alarmed to find me frothing at the mouth dictating directly to my computer via Dragon.

"You're leaving tomorrow? I thought you were leaving Monday!" It took all that I had not to strangle my transcriptionist, but then I have a peace testimony to uphold. The message got across. Two hours later there were 3 days of transcribed notes in my email. That meant I had to proof and then print and sign them, but it was certainly faster than doing them myself from scratch.

It's an hour drive to where Ticor lives, worse if there's traffic or road contruction, and of course last night there was both. I did stop at Subway to get sandwiches for the three of us for supper (hey, as far a fast food goes Subway is decent stuff, and the way I order, I get two meals from one sub. No mayo, whole grain roll and triple the veggies. Think salad on a bun.)

We left Fairfax at 9, and after stopping for pet food, got home at 10:30. At 11 pm I started packing. At 3, I finally got into bed. We were up at 7.

Why 3am? Oh, things I wanted to take needed laudering, couldn't find my snorkle and fins, or for that matter my underwater camera, beach jams needed mending, stuff like that. And no, I was not going to pick up stuff here. My feet are size 14. Finding fins to fit my feet is not something I want to do again.

The trip to the airport was fairly uneventful, as was the flight over. This was a first for me. The plane actually lifted off 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Everyone got there early. We were on the ground in Maiu 20 minute ahead.

There has been a draught here on the islands for the past year. We arrived to a light, but very welcome rain. With only carry ons with us, we were at the car rental quickly.

The woman behind the counter was very pleasant, bordering saccharine though as she went through the company script. Did we want to upgrade to a convertable? No. A hummer, so we could see the island in style? No. (for crissakes woman, I reserved a Ford Focus!) Do we want their insurance? No. (I already have coverage onboth my own car insuance as well as from my credit card.) Are you sure you don't want the insurance? Yes, I'm sure. Finally, she asked if there was anything else and I asked if there was a fee for having LJ as a second driver. There had been the last time we were here,

"Not if you're domestic partners." she smiled.
"Actually, we're married, not that it's recognized here," I countered.
"Well we recognize it. That's our company's policy."

Budget just got my business for the future.

We drove south from Kahului to Kehei, stopped at the Safeway, finished the last halves of our subs from last night while sitting in the covered outdoor seating near the mall food court. Then it was into the market to get food for our stay (b'fasts at the very least) plus some bottle water, and then on to the condo.

A bit over two years ago, when we were talking about getting married, if the Calif. Supreme Court didn't stay their initial ruling (this was the ruling that spawned Prop 8), Ben handed us the keys to his condo in Kehei. "You need a vacation. Hell, you need a honeymoon!" This time I asked if we could use it again and here we are.

We got here at 4 local time, which was 7 by my internal clock. We unpacked, stocked the fridge and crashed. I had planned to drive down to the beach to watch the sunset, but then I hadn't planned on 4 hours of sleep last night. I was out cold for 7 1/2 hours and then *bing* awake. Wide awake. And hungry.

And now, a banana, 1/2 a basket of grape tomatoes and one livejournal entry later, I think I'm ready to go back to bed.

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