Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maui Day Trip to Haleakala

The day we decided to drive up to Haleakala was one of those perfect Maui days with clear blue skies and perfect wind conditions.
On the way, we drove through Kula on the Old Haleakala Highway and marvelled at the green lush fields which are such a contrast to the ocean side property where we are staying. It wasn't hard to picture in our minds the paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) rounding up their herds or checking their fences in this wonderful up-country place.

As we made our accent up the curvy narrow road, the terrain changed again to brush and lava rock, reminiscent of the eruption of the volcano, so long ago. When we stopped the car to enjoy the breathtaking view down towards the ocean and city, it was chilly and we were grateful that we had brought along some warm clothing.

We found out that it was wise to go pretty slowly along the windy road, as we met vehicles, bikers and even large buses heading back down. When we arrived at the entrance to Haleakala State Park we had to pay a $10 fee which is a seven day pass to the park. That means if you go to Hana within 7 days, your pass will get you into the seven pools which are also part of the state park on the other side of the mountain. We finally got to the visitors centre and mistakenly thought we were almost there. It turns out that there are quite a few hiking trails before and at the summit, if it is your bag to explore some of the flora and fauna of the area. There are also Wilderness Area Hikes, and even overnight camping if you get a permit

It seemed to take forever but finally we neared the summit and huge parking lot. If we thought it was a bit chilly when we stopped on the way, it was freezing now. It probably felt even colder to us because we had been living in 85 degree weather after escaping winter in Canada.

Chukar Partridge
Silversword Plant
Summit of Mt. Haleakala
So with chattering teeth we made our way to the look out, with spectacular views of the crater and informative signs. After taking lots of photos we made our way to the very top where there are even more views on the opposite side down towards Kihei. Here there are also some of the silversword plants which are indigenous to this altitude. Hoping to get a glimpse of the rare Nene bird which is the Hawaii state bird, we saw instead an interesting bird which we found out was a Chukar Partridge, introduced to the US from its native Pakistan.
It was no wonder that we felt the cold, because the altitude at the summit of Mount Haleakala is 10,023 feet

Horse trail ride into the crater
There are some great hikes into the crater, if you are dressed warmly, and also you can take a horse trail ride if you are game. Another fun thing to try is the bike down Haleakala, which is offered by several local companies. My daughter and husband are coming to Maui in May and plan to ride up the mountain. They are triathletes so maybe they won't have any problem. I personally couldn't even begin to imagine biking up hill for such a long way, but hey "each to his own" I say. After we had shivered enough we got back in the car and made our way downhill to Paia where we stopped for a great lunch at Charlie's before returned home to Kihei.

A trip to Haleakala is definitely a worthwhile day trip on your Maui vacation.  For more information go to the website of  Haleakala State Park.

Be sure to make your base at one of the many Maui Vacation Rentals on the island.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paddling with the Maui Canoe Club

As a dragon boater when back home in Canada, I was eager to experience Outrigger Canoeing here on Maui so was excited when our friends Gord and Joyce invited me to go with them early one morning. They had received inside information that The Maui Canoe Club, was offering a Provisional Membership for a 1/2 hour paddle, in exchange for a donation to the Food Bank. Not needing any more encouragement I grabbed some tins of food and headed for Sugar Beach, the new home of the club.

First we were required to sign a waver, exempting the Canoe Club of any responsibility for our adventure.
Shel, a long time canoe club member, then gave all the newcomers a quick lesson on how to get in and out of the canoe without tipping it, as well as paddling technique and how to respond to commands.
Each of the seven canoes had a captain/steersperson and around 3 canoe club members, while us provisional members were invited to fill in where there was space. Phil was our captain, and he was the kind of person who inspires confidence in first time paddlers with a few helpful hints and words of encouragement.
It was time to go, so we took our positions beside our assigned seat and waited for the command to push off into the water. I was surprised how easy it was to enter the canoe, sitting on the side, legs swinging over and into my seat. I picked up my paddle and was ready for action. The first command was 'Ho'omakaukau' (ready your paddles). 'Hoe hapi' (paddles up) was the seond command and the third command was 'Imua' (push forward). Because I didn't understand these Hawaiian words, I just had to play a game of "monkey see, monkey do" for the time being.

Unlike Dragon Boating which has a crew of 22 seated in pairs, the Hawaiian Outrigger has a crew of 6 in single file seats including the captain who sits in Seat 6 as the steers person.
The person in Seat 1 at the front is called the stroker as in Dragon Boating, and sets the pace for the rest of the crew to follow. Seat 3 is typically the caller who yells out commands for changing sides.  Thankful for Shel's brief lesson I knew that "Hut Ho" means that on hut you prepare to change and on Ho you make the transition and paddle on the other side. I was in Seat 4 and was told that I had a special job to do whenever we stopped paddling for whale watching, turtle viewing or just to rest. I had to sit on one of the beams (called the 'lako') that support the outrigger or 'ama' part of the canoe. Also in rough waters it the job of the person in Seat 4 to keep an eye on the 'lako' and steady it if necessary. This is to ensure that the canoe won't flip over, so not really prepared for an unexpected swim I was happy to comply.

At one point someone thought they spotted some manta rays but it was a false alarm. We sat and rested anyway, enjoying being out on a calm ocean, hoping to spot a whale. Finally it was time to head back so it was "paddles up" "hut ho" and we were slicing through the ocean towards the beach. Coming in was timing and turning so we could back the canoe up onto the shore. This time, once I was back on the sand, my job was to hold up the 'lako' so it didn't drag. Outrigger conoeing etiquette, requires that each crew member does his share with "Kuleana", a Hawaiian word meaning "one's personal sense of responsibility." I thoroughly enjoyed my morning paddle and went away wanting to know much more about this sport and the fascinationg history and culture that is still so much a part of Hawaiian Outrigger Canoeing today.

For more information about the Maui Canoe Club visit their website.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eruption of Kilauea Volcano March 6/2011

If you haven't yet seen the fantastic video footage of the newest eruption of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii I found some footage on YouTube to share.

According to an article on Big Island Video News, "volcanographer" Mick Kalber, was quick thinking enough to take a video of the eruption during a helicopter fly over, just before it was designated as a no fly zone.
Apparently between the Pu'u O'o Craters and the Napau Crater there are two eruptions (fissure and summit) happening at the same time.  
For me, it is an overwhelming experience to witness Mother Nature in her rawest state and it has given me a renewed respect for our planet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fun Fitness Class in Kihei Maui

"Travelin Pat" is back in Maui, and here is her take on our indoor aerobics class.

Zu Zu Zumba and More!!!!

Concentrating fiercely I stumble my way to the left. (Grapevine I think) Then, thankfully not crashing into the next person we quickly whip around to the right - step touch, step touch, step touch oh oh is there one more? Oops, sorry I mumble, then back at it hands on my hips, twirling around I stagger slightly but manage to find my way back to face the front. The instructor looks at me with arched eyebrows but smiles and sexily shakes her booty and informs us that it’s all about attitude.

The zumba / exercise class is as much about your mental fitness as it is about getting in shape. I read somewhere that in order to create new pathways in your brain you need to do stuff that you don’t normally do. So why not try this? It starts out with about a half an hour of aerobics then the Zumba dance fun starts. Geared to the 55 plus set, the classes are super fun, good for any level of fitness and budget happy 2 dollars. (Bargain city!)

Instructor Jini Hall has been teaching at the center for around 20 years and makes this hour a fun, happy, no stress workout. After class we all walk out with a great big smile!

Kaunoa Seniors Center (in Kihei, Maui County)
On Lipoa Street ( adjacent to the aquatic center)

Tuesday:  9:30 – 10:30

Friday:  9:00 – 10:00

For more information call 808 270- 7308

The great thing is that if you stay at the Maui Garden House you can walk to aerobics, and get even more fit.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sequel to Santa on Vacation in Maui

I know full well that Christmas is over and Santa is not really on people's minds right now, however meeting him on vacation in Maui kind of changed all that for me.

If you read the comments on the blog post Santa is on Vacation in Maui you will see what I mean. I thought that this one from his sister Rose was very telling.
"I get very teary eyed when Santa Joe tells me all the wonderful stories he has relating to children. He also becomes very emotional about his work, and although he is my brother, I believe he has become the true Santa."

It seems that when Santa Joe touches people's lives in any way, they just never forget him.

A woman named Cindy, left the following comment

"I truly loved your article on Santa Jo. Santa Jo and his wife are an exceptional couple whom have came to our house for the past 5 years for our annual Christmas party. He really does have a way with children not to mention adults. They are genuine and very special to everyone who meets them. So glad you came across his path."
Cindy emailed me a photo taken at one of those Christmas parties, and said I was welcome to share it with my readers. (see photo at top)

This made me think that if anyone else has a photo taken of or with Santa Joe, I would love to post it on this blog.
Also please leave a comment if you can tell us more about this remarkable jolly fellow and how he has touched your life.
It is so wonderful to know that the spirit of Christmas is around not just for a day, but for 365 days of the year because of this man!!!!

If you email us a photo of Santa Joe, or if you send us a story or comment about how this special man has touched your life we will offer you a discounted rate at our  Maui Garden House vacation condo between the dates of May 1 and Nov 1, 2011 subject to availability.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Beat of Hawaii - Find Cheap Flights to Hawaiian Islands

I recently came across a great website which was designed to help promote the Hawaiian Islands to visitors. 
"Beat of Hawaii" contains a wealth of information including Travel Tips, Industry News, Culture and Events. The thing that impressed me the most is that Jeff and Rob, the authors of the site, manage somehow to get what apprears to be inside information about fantastic deals on flights to Hawaii.
For example right now you can fly from California to Oahu or Maui for only $197 each way. Some of the deals even include a hotel. And, get this, I saw one from California to Maui for an unheard of $185 round trip. Certain travel dates apply to these specials but hey, if you are flexible it may be just the ticket for you.

The most exciting news for me as a Canadian is that West Jet has reached an agreement to operate a leased Boeing 757-200 for use on its non-stop service between Alberta and Hawaii. Many Canadians are already taking advantage of this trial run taking place from February through April 2011.

In this specail email that came out from Beat of Hawaii, they also state that "Vancouver B.C. plans to cut $20 million in annual aviation fuel taxes imposed on airlines, which should directly translate to lower fares from Canada's most important Hawaii travel port." I wonder if the unrest in Libya will change this plan. Hope not. The airport also plans a five-year incentive program to freeze landing and terminal fees at 2010 levels.

We are very aware of the huge number of Canadians that come to Maui each year. Where we are living in Maui it seems like every second person we meet is from Western Canada.

With the economy picking up and our Canadian dollar hovering around par, the numbers of Canadians visting the Hawaiian Islands are increasing daily.

According to the authors , "visitors from Canada are Beat of Hawaii's third largest source of website traffic, following only California and Hawaii."

As Arthur Frommer states, "If you're a fan of Hawaiian Islands, you'll want to rush quick to the "Beat of Hawaii"  I subscribed to their news letter for free so I can keep up to date on things happening in Hawaii. You may want to do the same.