My apologies for the longer than expected delay between this entry and the last. It seems that digging out of the mess we left ourselves before we got married just takes up more time than we would like or expect. But we finally have a couple rooms in our apartment that look like adults live in them (i.e. they are clean) and I again have time to do things like update this diary. Plus we did take out a little time for fun -- we attended a friendly poker party on Saturday night, and then went to a nearby blues festival on Sunday. It was all fun.
In any case, we last left the intrepid Dr. Geek and his new wife Mrs. Geek on the Hawaiian island of Maui, finishing up a day of snorkeling, dining, and aquarium visiting with the dark clouds of pollen allergies looming on the horizion. The story continues...
Day 5 -- Going up country
Our fifth day on Maui was devoted to visiting the Maui "up country" -- basically the eastern interior of the island taken up by the dormant Haleakala volcano. After hearing too many stories from friends and our Maui Revealed guidebook about the hazards of taking in the Maui sunrise atop Hakeakala at 10,000 feet and biking down, we opted against any kind of bicycle tour. Our ultimate rationale for this was practical; neither of us have spent much time on a bike in the last few years, and, there is no way in hell that either of us were getting up at 2am to be atop the volcano by 5:30, even with the time difference with the mainland. We opted instead to hop in our rented Dodge Neon take a casual day trip to do some up country window shopping and see Maui's Tedeschi Winery.
Our first major stop was the small town of Makawao. Up country Maui was evidently to home of several cattle ranches during the mid-20th century and this was Maui's cowboy capital. One should really use a word more like vaquero to describe the Maui cowboy because all the ranch hands tended to be imported from Brazil and South America and generally be of Portuguese descent. In any case, Makawao is not the kind of town where cattle drives still occur. It's an artsy little destination where a variety of hippie and New Age types have settled to sell upscale goods to yuppie tourists and consume organically grown foodstuffs. As Maui Revealed noted, if you see anyone in a horse in Makawao these days it's likely to be a teenaged girl in a bikini top named "Rainbow" who has come to town to get her mother some organically grown kosher coffee and locally made goat's milk brie for the mother's afternoon coffee klasch.
Our most interesting experience in Makawao was our visit to HI. Hearth & Leisure, an interesting little operation that deals in BBQ grills, hot chili sauces, and barbeque dry rubs. After hearing about where Mrs. Geek and I hail from, owner Gary Moore regailed us with a long tale from his days as a Marine helicopter pilot in the 1960's when he was stationed not far from where we now live. All that aside, he knows his hot sauces and rubs. He put me on to some "Volcano Spice" mixes that taste absolutely great... we tried the "Jawaiian Spice Blend" on some steaks this past weekend, and it was very tasty indeed. Too bad the stuff is only available on the island of Maui.
After departing Makawao, we headed further up the side of the volcano to the Tedeschi Winery. After visiting a number of major wineries on the mainland over the years, I had to say that "Maui's Winery" did not impress me tremendously. They seem to specialize in mostly sweet wines, many of them made from pineapple. They are good at what they do, but, much of it is unconventional from the point of view of the mainstream wine market. There are exceptions such as the Maui Brut, however -- a champagne-like sparkling wine that I thought was really excellent. It was a fun tour though, and the grounds are very beautiful.
After the winery tour and tasting, Mrs. Geek and I made a hasty retreat from up country Maui in anticipation of some time that evening at a luau. This is where I have to report that my previously mentioned problems with allergies became really annoying. The winery is located a few thousand feet above sea level and the rapid descent caused my ears to block due to the change in air pressure. Now this would not be a problem under normal circumstances, but, thanks to the sinus pressure caused by my allergies, my right ear would simply not "pop" to correct itself during the rest of that day or during that night. So, I got to spend a good chunk of my remaining time in Hawaii listening with an ear that sounded like it was underwater.
We attended the Old Lahaina Luau that night for an evening of roast pig, strong cocktails, and excellent hula dancing. We ended up going the "traditional" route, by sitting on some low mats rather than chairs. We were seated across the table from another couple also on their honeymoon, and got to swap wedding stories with them while we dined on pulled pork, fried rice, salad, and fresh pineapple. The after dinner floor show was excellent. Mrs. Geek and I agreed that given the popularity of low rider pants, professional hula dancers should be among the only people allowed to wear them... because their hips get a very good workout on a regular basis.
(And no, we did not get to see any "fire dancers" at Old Lahaina Luau. It turns out that fire dancing is a Tahitian custom, and as the Old Lahaina Luau is dedicated solely to the history of Hawaiian hula dancing, fire dancing is "right out".)
Day 6 -- The road to Hana
On Saturday, we got up early to take a guided tour bus trip to Hana. For those of you who don't know, the eastern side of the island of Maui is ringed by a very narrow, not-always-paved road. At the point nearly farthest from any other outpost of civilization along this road lies the town of Hana. Hana is sort of the ultimate place to "get away from it all" on Maui mostly because it is so damn hard to get there. Just to give you an indication of how hard that is, there is one gas station in Hana and we were told that gas sells there for $5-6 per gallon.
I suppose the first thing that Mrs. Geek and I noticed about our tour bus was the age of our fellow riders. We are not adolescents anymore, but, I have to say that we lowered the average age of the the bus as a whole significantly. This fact had us a little scared at certain points during the trip. We had one older person fall into a ditch outside Hana and it almost turned into a "I've fallen and can't get up" situation. We had another person faint due to over exertion after stopping to see the "Seven Sacred Pools".
The other thing we noticed about the bus was the driver. He was an older Maui native who was obviously a good Catholic boy. We got to hear about how "Mass is still said" at every 100+ year old Catholic church on the far side of the island and we stopped for a roadside shrine to the Blessed Mother. He was also very knowledgable about plant life and could point out every flower and plant along the road. He had precise figures about the number of turns in the road around the island: 617.
Other than this, the trip to Hana is something like the Maui equivalent of a scout merit badge. You do it, you get the t-shirt, and you have a good story to tell. Even the food is similar to some of my memories of scouting -- we stopped at this lousy restaurant for lunch where you just took one whiff of the odor coming from the kitchen and thought "oh boy, summer camp food again". We did stop at the "Seven Sacred Pools", but we only stopped for about 40 minutes -- and given that it takes 10 minutes to get to the pools from the parking area, swimming was not an option unless you were a lot more enthusiastic about the idea than we were. My one sincere regret about the tour was that we did not get the chance to see Charles Lindburgh's grave -- who knew that someone so famous was buried on a barely inhabited section of Maui?
The tour picked us up at the Renaissance Wailea resort at about 7am. We got back there at around 6:30pm. After all that, we had a quick dinner at the restaurant just off the lobby and crashed. And oh yes, the road from Hana took us past the Tedeschi winery again... so the rapid change in elevation really messed with my ears the second time.
Day 7 -- Lahaina
Since our seventh day in Hawaii was also the Fourth of July, we planned to relocate to Lahaina to stay at the Plantation Inn -- a beautiful Bed & Breakfast near Lahaina's tourist area -- in order to see what we hoped would be a great Fourth of July fireworks display. We departed from the Renaissance Wailea at around noon, did a some t-shirt and souvenir shopping, got some Claritin D24 (Claritin with a big dose of Sudafed) that proved to be the magic bullet for my allergies, and arrived in Lahaina at about 2pm. Our room at the Plantation Inn proved to be very pleasant, and the location was perfect -- we were about a block from great vantage points to see the fireworks and the police were going to start closing the streets at 4:30. We had burgers at Cheeseburgers In Paradise, did some more t-shirt and souvenir shopping, and looked over historic Lahaina before heading back to the Plantation Inn.
Much of the remainder of the day was influenced by a telecommunications failure on Maui. There was a fire at a Verizon central office in Kihea that knocked out all cell phone communication on the island and land line communication off the island. This caused a sudden disconnection in a phone call I made to my parents after we got to the Plantation Inn. It also meant that the fireworks display in Lahaina was delayed that night because the display was supposed to be coordinated by cell phone. Lastly, it also meant that ATM and credit card readers all over the island were knocked out and Mrs. Geek and I had to briefly tally the amount of cash we had in our pockets in case we were returning to a "cash only" economy.
Other than that, the evening was very pleasant. We got to see fireworks shot from a barge in Lahaina harbor. We mistakenly left just before the final flourish was finished, owing to a short gap in the display. This had a pleasant side effect, however. We had scoped out a local restaurant called Longhi's for dinner earlier in the day and the staff there said they would be taking no reservations that evening. Our early exit from watching the fireworks meant that we arrived at Longhi's just ahead of the stampede of other watchers and were seated at a table in about 10 minutes. Here, Maui Revealed was wrong again; the authors complained that they were not presented with menus and that the waiters told you what they had when you told them what you were interested in. We found this not to be the case because we got paper menus for everything but pasta. The dishes were all a la carte and somewhat pricey, but, every dish was enough for at least two people. The guidebooks should tell you to order and share. We ate a very good last supper on Maui and then returned to our room at the B&B content.
Day 8 -- The voyage home
The last day of our honeymoon was dominated by uneventful travel. We left the Plantation Inn at around 10am. We had the Dodge Neon returned at the airport in Kahalui by 11:15am. We were expecting to spend a lot of time in line for tickets, but, had been warned by a clerk at a jewelry store to use curb-side check-in because porters would then escort your bags through Agricultural Inspection. This proved to be excellent advice because even though we had to wait in line behind about 8 groups of people each with monstrous numbers of bags, the porters not only took our bags but also got us our boarding passes and told us to proceed through security to our departure gate. Total wait time and effort: 25 minutes plus a $10 tip. As we had over an hour left until boarding for our plane was going to start, we had lunch in the airport restaurant and marvelled at our good fortune.
There were two downsides to our trip home. The first was that Mrs. Geek had a 3-5 year old in the seat behind her that unwittingly turned her seat into a "massage chair" even though she didn't want this. The second was that my blocked sinuses made the descent from 30,000 feet in an airplane into pure hell. I could barely hear at all until the afternoon of the following day. We got to chat with a pleasant couple also returning from their honeymoon while we waited for our luggage, and, Mrs. Geek's Dad picked us up and transported us back to our apartment.
With that, our honeymoon adventure was ended.
on 2004-07-13 at 2:24 p.m.
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