Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Life On Mars? (Bowie almost rhymes with Maui)

By Murph

First of all, thank god I've never skiied before in my life, because if I was a skiier then I would be pretty pissed that I'm down here. All you skiiers must be loving life and going every weekend, it must be a great winter for the slopes. I've found plenty to do on Maui, that's for sure. On Saturday I hung out in Kahului for the day, mostly at the hotel pool and Kahului Beach:

Then that afternoon I headed to West Maui, and checked in to the place I'm staying for this week in Lahaina. Lahaina has a really cool "downtown" area that's a oceanside road with tons of galleries, shops, and restaurants. It's real historic, and rather "classy". Most of the shops are for high end stuff, and not really sure what I would compare it to back home, kind of like the "downtown" of Bar Harbor, but maybe a little fancier. Anyway, it's a sweet place to hang and people watch, it also has a neat Wharf area, and a ridiculous Banyan Tree that takes up an entire park (I'll get a picture of it soon...). Saturday night I hit the town and several bars in the area. My last stop was at a roof top bar on the Wharf and they had a huge Samoan guy playing guitar (for you "Lichen" fans, this guy was similar in stature to "so-fat-so-good"), and singing. He was busting some RIDONKULOUS tunes. After the first few I took notes on my phone of his setlist, this is what I had captured:

Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic), The Waiting (Petty, I popped for this one, awesome tune..), Handle Me With Care (Traveling Wilbury's), Time After Time (Lauper), Hey Ya (Outkast), American Girl (Petty), Back In The High Life (Winwood), Heart Of The Matter (Henley), Is She Really Goin' Out With Him (Joe Jackson- I admit, I had to look this artist up), Street Fightin' Man (Stones), Into The Great Wide Open (Petty, with harmonica)

It was sick. I was all fired up after this and had a great rest of the evening. Sunday I was "stuck" in West Maui due to the Maui Oceanfront Marathon (which looks like a great race, the route it runs on has absurd views: wreaking havoc on the main drag out of town. But it was beautiful out so I decided to head to the beach for the day, the beach I decided on was Kaanapali Beach (regarded by some as the best beach on Maui), here's a couple pictures:

This area is also pretty cool, they have this place called "Whaler's Village" that has some high-end stores, and a few restaurants, it's all open air and right on the beach. And let's just say the "sights" around there are tough to beat, it's an absolute BAKERY if you hear me....after some serious beach time I decided to end the day by heading north in West Maui (opposite of the Marathon) until the road ended. This stretch of road (Route 30, only 15 miles or so of it North of where I am staying) was absolutely gorgeous. There were a LOT of s-turns/switchbacks (more on those later), and even a one-laned bridge (my old friend). Every time you came around an s-turn you were presented with another awesome view. (I started a new Maui album on photobucket by the way: It was a great drive, and the first stop I made was right after the Kapalua Golf Course (this place is SICK by the way, they just played a PGA event there a couple weeks ago), it was a place called "Dragon's Teeth". It's this lava formation that has eroded in a weird way due to the constant wind it's gotten from the same direction, here's a couple pictures:

I guess not to bore you with a zillion details about the rest of my drive I'll just say that I stopped at a ton of places along the way (including the "Acid War Zone" where the lava formations look like...well the name says it all) and took a bunch of pictures, here are a few that I snapped:

It was a blast to drive on this road, and I have decided that officially Maui is my favorite place to drive around, and I haven't even done the "Road To Hana" yet, that's planned for Friday. It's interesting to see all the different lava flows around the beaches, they have different colors, consistencies and shapes for whatever reason, and it's cool to look at the same thing from a ton of angles as it seems to take on several different forms as you move around.

Monday morning I got up at 3am and headed to Haleakala Crater National Park to catch the sunrise at the summit (10,000 feet). The last 38 miles of the drive are UP the dorment volcano, and has a million s-turns/switchbacks in order to ascend from sea level to 10,000 feet as you would imagine. The drive up was in complete darkness, so it was real weird to all of a sudden be at the summit without really seeing how I got there, I was looking forward to the drive back down. When I finally arrived at the summit it was a balmy 36 degrees out, and there was a constant 20 mph wind, it was chilly to say the least. They say the temp drops about 3 degrees per 1,000 feet of elevation, so it was around 30 degrees cooler at the summit than at sea level. From up there the stars were intense, the sky seemed to be filled with them. It's almost like you could see every last one of them. The morning weather wasnt optimal for a sunrise as shortly before dawn some clouds that were above us rolled in (optimal is some clouds below you, but none above you and then the sun uses the clouds below you as a canvas to paint with cool colors, etc..), but it was pretty ridiculous anyway. Here's some pictures of the sunrise, including one of me freezing my ass off with the sunrise behind me (the third one is pretty neat- the peak you see on the right side of the photo is Mauna Kea (volcano) that's located on the "big island" of Hawaii. It's almost 14,000 feet and will be featured next week when I fly over to that island):

I was able to find a couple rocks to sit in front of shielding me from the wind so it wasn't TOO bad, but still pretty damn cold. After the sun was up I hit the Ranger station to ask about some day hikes in the crater (actually NOT a true crater, but that's what they have been calling it....they are actually trying to go with "wilderness" now...). He came up with a good one for me that was about 10 miles, and I hung out until around 9am before heading out (it was about 50 degrees at that point). This hike was unreal. I was basically inside a dorment volcano and "cinder cones" were all over the place. The cinder cones are made of volcanic ash, and are/were vent points of the volcano. The colors were off the charts, deep reds, to greens, to browns, to random "silver swords" (silver endangered species plant/flower). After a couple miles of descent I felt like I was on another planet, like I was walking around Mars or something like that. Here are a few pictures to try and get across what I was seeing early into the hike (MANY pictures on the photobucket site, it's really hard to explain):

The further and further I went the "wilderness/crater" began exposing more of itself to me. It was truly incredible. This was another place where a different viewpoint of the same piece of scenery took on an entirely different personality. The "wilderness" started to come to life, and I came across some interesting lava formations, and even more magnificent views:

About two miles into the hike (and 1600 feet of descent) was a spur trail out to the Ka Lu'u o ka Oo cinder cone. I could tell that this side trip was going to be awesome. In the picture above you can see the trail leading out to the cone on the far right of the picture, below is a little more closeup of the path out to the cone:

The path out to the cone was 6-tenths of a mile. I headed on out, and when I got there I looked down inside and saw this:

The cone had a path that went all the way around it, in a circle, and I decided to take the round trip. I took some pictures during my trip around, and here are some of them (the first one is the cone from close up on my walk out to give you an idea of what I was walking around, all the rest are from on the walk around the top of the cone itself, and the bottom two have some people in them so they can give you a little better perspective on how big this cone was, had to be 100 yards in diameter[in the bottom one the guy is dead center of the picture]):

It was a whole new perspective on the wilderness from on top of the cone, I felt like I was right in the middle of the whole thing. I headed back to the main trail and continued on down to the floor of the crater (at 7400 feet). I sat down, had some lunch, talked to some folks, and then decided to head back out as the clouds were quickly beginning to fill the wilderness. As I was ascending back to 10,000 feet I began to feel light-headed and woozy. I was starting to have some altitude sickness. I took a break, drank some water, and SLOWLY made my way out of the wilderness back to the summit. If I started to move too quickly I would again feel light-headed, and a couple of times I thought I as actually going to pass out, it was a little scary. So I decided it was best that I went as slowly as possible, and took a lot of breaks. Each time I stopped I would look back at the wilderness and see the clouds chasing me out of there, here are some pictures from my trip out (notice the clouds coming in):

About 10 mins after I got back the wilderness was completely cloud filled, it was amazing that it happened so fast! It also dropped the temperature another 10-15 degrees so it was now back in the lower 40's. Between 7:30am (sunrise) and 3pm when I finally left the temperature went from 36, up to 52 (the high for the day), then back to the lower 40's, it was hard to stay comfortable. I was ready for my drive back down the mountain, this was a lot of fun. The s-curves/switchbacks were visible all over the side of the volcano, and good views back to West Maui were also presenting themselves (after I got below the cloud coverage...). Here are a couple of pictures from the drive down:

It was a little hazy at this point, so the views weren't the best, but still quite a sight to see. When I got back to Lahaina I took this picture of Molokai (another Hawaiian Island, I'm taking a ferry there on Thursday to do some biking and maybe some snorkeling if conditions are good) from the beach:

It was quite a day I had on Monday, being inside that crater in the "wilderness" was one of the coolest places I have ever been for sure. To wrap up the day I caught this sunset over Lanai (another Hawaiian Island) from the beach outside where I'm staying:

It was a great finish to the day.

Tuesday it poured rain all day and I hung out in Lahaina hitting up the stores, and checking out all the little galleries and stuff. It's Wednesday morning now and I'm hoping it clears before this afternoon so I can do some more exploring. Thursday, as I said, I'm heading to Molokai for the day, and Friday I'm doing to "Road to Hana". Saturday I fly to the "Big Island" of Hawaii where I'll be for the next week (in Hilo). It's been interesting that, other than in Waikiki, tourism is WAY down here in Hawaii so in some cases it seems as though I have had some tourist attractions all to myself which is super cool. It was probably one of the best times to do this, so I guess that's one good thing to come out of the sh!tty economic conditions.....

Hope everybody is braving the snow OK!

With Aloha.


LaPa said...

This is becoming more and more like Man vs Wild. Take it easy Bear Grylls...remember you can drink your own piss if you have to. Or if you have Ty's wizinator, it can be synthetic.

Jamie said...

I just lost it laughing outloud in my cube...Ty's wizinator.

and you realize you just gave Scott a new alter ego to use in combo with Doug...he's going to start telling the ladies that his name is Bear.

Anonymous said...

For the record it's The Urinator

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