Thursday, May 31, 2012

Many Mahalos

Aloha! Today is the last day of our Hawaiian adventure. Although sad that our vacation comes to a close, I look back happily and amazed at what we have done during our time here. Last Tuesday we took a group surfing class in Lahaina. Our instructor Josh was the epitome of a stereotypical Hawaiian surfer. None of us were sure just how old he was, but one thing was certain: he had been surfing a long time. My favorite moment that demonstrates his abilities so clearly was when he started off on a small wave and then began surfing standing on his head. I kid you not. The rest of us did not exhibit such amazing talent as that, but each and every one of us did manage to stand up on the board and surf for at least a little bit! Janice impressed us the most when she stood up on the board on her very first try. Surfing is such a blast and the lesson was definitely a huge highlight of the trip.

The next day (Wednesday) we split up our group to accommodate everyone's different interests. Janice and Tessa went horse back riding up the side of a mountain for breathtaking views and frightening descents. They each said that it was a wonderful experience. Richard (Tessa's boyfriend who flew out on Tuesday), Jayson, and I arose at 4:00 AM and Tessa graciously drove us to the Haleakala crater. There, we said goodbye to Tessa and descended into the crater. As the sun slowly and gloriously rose over the crater, we began an 11.5 mile hike that took us roughly seven hours to complete. Beginning in an arid desert, we were surprised to see pretty yellow flowers and delighted when we saw a partially bloomed silversword plant. The silversword only grows in the crater and blooms every seventy years! The landscape soon transformed to offer "Pele's painting pot," a section that reminded me of the painted desert of Arizona. Next we walked through the "lava fields" where flowing lava was still visible. After a quick stop for lunch at the park's remote cabin where we chatted with the a pair of nene, we began the final leg of our journey. First, it reminded us of a prairie with tall grass and then of a tropical and very green climate. The last leg was (unfortunately) completely uphill as a twisting trail on the cliff's edge, ascending 1000 feet in only 2 miles. Needless to say, by the end of the trip we were exhausted. I woke up this morning extremely sore, but feeling extremely accomplished.

All in all I'm sad to leave, but thankful for the time I've had. Many mahalos to Tessa and her family for such a great experience. More mahalos to mine for helping to make it a reality!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mercilessly Winding and Narrow

May 22, 2012
9:19 PM at Home
3:19 PM Here in Maui

Aloha! Ok, I hope that will be my last act to completely out myself as a “Howley,” a person clearly not native to Hawai’i by there obvious outsider dress, speech and actions (something I learned from Tessa when I told her I would be bringing my bright aqua L.L. Bean backpack that is covered in hibiscus flowers so that I would fit it). If you have not been able to tell already, I am currently in Maui, Hawai’i!!! Perched by an airport window across from Janice and next to Jayson, I patiently (ok, maybe not so patiently) wait for our friend Tessa, the reason for our near fourteen-hour journey to this friendly island. Our recent graduation from college lingers as we await our ten-day vacation at Tessa’s family’s Maui vacation home (Whew! That’s a mouthful). We hope to spend our time here with days at the beach, to hike nature trails, and enjoy one another’s company. However, we must wait until Tessa’s flight gets here (which won’t be until around 5:00 PM) before we can even leave the airport, so I’ve hijacked Jayson’s computer while he and Janice play a game on her kindle. It’s intellectually based, so of course it was easy to get them both sucked in (they ah wicked smaht). Our day began way too early with Mom driving Janice and I to the airport for our 6:00 AM flight (thanks Mom!). There we met up with Jayson and almost immediately boarded the plane. After a very long flight, thankfully shortened by me sleeping through most of it, we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona. Once we realized which gate our next flight would leave from we found a place to have lunch (although it was technically only 9:00 AM in Phoenix). The flight from Phoenix to Maui felt much longer, but I managed to occupy the trip by reading the third book in the Hunger Games in its entirety. An excellent book! I would recommend it to anyone who will not be disappointed by unhappy endings but enjoys books about dystopian societies. Anyway, I won’t bore you anymore with uninteresting information about my travelling experiences. I’ll write more when something actually happens!

Aloha, as it not only means, “Hello,” and “Goodbye,” but also, “I love you!

May 27, 2012
9:40 PM Here in Maui

Aloha again! Wow. The landscape of Hawai'i is absolutely breathtaking. Our days here have been stuffed with good food, fun music and fabulous sights. We spent a couple of days on the beach where we body surfed and snorkeled. This was on the side of the island (East Maui) where the waves are not as intense, but every once in a while we would go tumbling into the shore, frantically adjusting our bathing suits and spitting up sand. We arose early on our third day here (4:00 AM) and made the winding trip up Haleakala, East Maui's dormant volcano, to watch the sun rise over the "crater." This could only be described as a spiritual experience. Huddled together for warmth as we held fast against the relentless winds, we watched the sky transform and spread its light down on us. Half way through the sunrise a woman who works at the crater, for the national park service, began singing what I assume was a kind of prayer of thanks as it was in the Hawaiian language and the only word that I understood was "mahalo" which means, "thank you."

Yesterday we drove on the infamous "road to Hana." This road has become so well known for being both beautiful and extremely dangerous. Mercilessly winding and narrow, it goes right through the rainy side of Maui which is an amazing rain forest. This is one of those breathtaking views that I mentioned. Once in Hana, we went to the other side of Haleakala national park and took the four mile hike through the forest to the Waimoku falls. This trail begins in a rain forest and then brings the hiker through a bamboo forest that is so think it darkens the forest as it blocks out the sunlight. We also went to a local lavender farm, plan to go to the Tedeschi Winery today for a tour, and we hope to make a stop at the sugar cane factory. Mahalo for reading, and Aloha!

The view from Tessa's house!