Sunday Travels: Hikes and Flights

Sunday I was up before dawn and continued the tour I had started the day before. First stop, sunrise at Koki Beach in Hana, next to which is a hill that is believed to have formed from the bones of Hawaiian goddess Pele.

Later I stopped at Haleakala National Park (which extends from the top of the extinct volcano, where I was earlier, all the way to the ocean). Here I took the Pipiwai Trail (described as “4 miles roundtrip with a rigorous 650 feet elevation gain”) to see a couple of more waterfalls, a huge banyan tree, and sublime bamboo forest. At the end is Waimoku Falls — tall and magnificent and worth a long, sweaty climb.

After a quick (and much needed!) shower, I drove to Kihului to catch my flight to Honolulu. With time to kill before my flight, I stumbled into a Ukulele festival in Kihului where I heard two sisters playing ukuleles and singing a portion of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Never saw that one coming!

Moments before boarding my flight I realized I had somehow left my Kindle in the rental car. I had no time to go back for it, and my phone call to the agency dumped me into voicemail hell in which I learned, in essence, there was no way I could recover my device in less than a month. I said words I shall not repeat here! Bad, bad words…

Fortunately, Honolulu has a Best Buy near my hotel, and they carry Kindles. A stupid expense, but I’ve become very reliant on this device when I travel. The good news, however, is that I seem to have hung to everything else I brought (so far, at least!).

The (Long) Road to Hana

On Saturday I embarked on the Road to Hana, a storied drive famous for its many twists and turns (more than 600!) and numerous one-way bridges (over 50!). Along the way there are any number of fantastic hikes, breathtaking views, and awesome waterfalls. I followed a tour on my phone, using an app called Shaka Maui. This was the third time I used this app, and I found the directions clear and the guidance invaluable.

Specifically, the app told me about all the sights worth seeing, giving me enough information to know whether I should want to stop — or not. Very helpful!

This had the effect of turning a two-hour drive from Kahului to Hana into an all-day affair, and I didn’t even get all the way to the end of the tour! Very worthwhile, yet very tiring. Still, one of the most rewarding exhilarating days of travel I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing.

Alii Kula Lavender Farm

A much quieter day today. Went to visit the Alii Kula Lavender Farm. While I did get to see (and smell) some lavender, most of the plants had already bloomed for this year. Fortunately, the Farm also features a number of other plants and flowers which I clearly enjoy photographing.

For dinner, I was planning a quick trip down the road to a restaurant that had caught my eye earlier. Nope. A nearby shopping center gets turned into a music and crafts and food fair every month on the fourth Friday. Food was offered by a great collection of food trucks. Dinner for me was from Big Al’s, a large serving of kalua pork and cabbage with a side of rice. Meanwhile a number of arts and crafts booths were set up in the parking lot with live music being offered from at least two locations. Great fun!

Oh, and I did a load of laundry today. Because, you know, dirt. Good times!

Flying High — and Driving Slow

Up at dawn (again!) and found the pod of what looked like four pygmy killer whales pretty much where I saw them two days earlier. This is not the right time to see whales in Hawaii (and usually they’re humpbacks) nor is this really the normal place. Literature was circulated asking folks to keep their distance and advising that perhaps one of the whales may be ill.

At 8 am I was onboard a helicopter for a 45-minute aerial tour of both Maui and Molokai, especially tall waterfalls, dramatic cliffs, and impressive valleys. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Fr. Damien’s inspiring ministry at what was then known as the lepers’ colony on Molakai. I could certainly see how that part of the island is accessible only by boat. (To learn about his extraordinary ministry, visit here.)

After, realizing I still had most of the day before me, I undertook another driving tour using the Shaka Maui app on my phone, this one a loop ride around West Maui. Stops included an otherwise unmarked petroglyph site, a visit to the Dragon’s Tooth Trail (which included a pretty cool labyrinth!), and a visit to the Nakalele Blowhole. Visiting this is not recommended as it can be quite dangerous. A hand-painted sign warns: “Warning. Stay clear of blowhole. You can be sucked in and killed. It is not a waterpark.”

I went anyway. This required quite a scramble down from the parking lot to the blowhole far below. Of course, this also meant that I would have to climb back out. I was huffing and puffing pretty good when I got back to the car!

One of the last stops was at the Iao Valley State Monument, known especially for the formation known as the Iao Needle. Oh, and the drive included a few miles of a twisty, one-lane road that nonetheless still hosted two-way traffic. No way to drive fast on some of that heart-pounding stretch of road!

A great day! I went out in my Teva sandals (bad idea, but both footwear and worn feet survived just fine). I also went out without sunscreen (bad idea, and the back of my neck and the top of my head are glowing a lovely bright red today).

A Quiet Day in Maui

So this was my view for much of today. I started with a 5-minute walk down the beach and then across the street to a local bakery that serves malasadas, a kind of Hawaiian donut. Then onto a lounger for much of the day. Except for leaving for a sandwich made with kalua pork and a serving of shave ice this describes my day: Read, nap, swim; read, nap, swim. Yeah, a most energetic day!

Later I headed out to Wailea, just south of where I’m staying in Kihei. Everything seemed very tony and high priced. For example, I found a restaurant with burgers that cost more than $20. Found Coconut’s Fish Cafe instead where I had (I think for the first time every) fish tacos. The idea of “fish” and “taco” appearing in the same sentence — much less on the same plate! — always seemed a bit odd to me. My loss. These tacos were delicious!

Sunrise to Sunset

Tuesday, my first full day in Hawaii, and what did I do? I woke up by 3 am to be on the road by 3:30 to travel the road to a viewpoint on Haleakala — the elevation up to about 10,000 feet (about 3,000 meters), the temperature down to the low 50s (about 10 celsius). Brr! I arrived about an hour before sunrise along with a few dozen others. The time was magic as the first glow of dawn slowly arose before the sun finally broke through. Pretty fabulous!

Later I walked along a few different trails to viewpoints and to visit a nearby grove, comprised mostly of trees brought in from outside Hawaii. (Why? Long story…)

Sunset back at the condo was not particularly spectacular as the sun disappeared behind clouds. Later, however, I realized the sky’s colors became quite glorious. Alas! I had already put away my camera. Lesson learned: I shouldn’t judge too quickly.

A Long Day Totally Worth It

A rather long day that included a flight to Dallas/Ft. Worth followed by almost 7 hours on a second flight. Totally worth it when you end up in Maui!

I should write more, but it’s already 8 pm here. Of course, that’s midnight in Albuquerque and 1 am in Dyersburg. Yeah, maybe I should just go to bed now.

Sunday: Church & Family

At the Cathedral Church of St. John in Albuquerque.

Started my day with early worship at St. John’s Cathedral, where I was baptized, confirmed, ordained as a deacon, ordained as a priest, and served for the first five years of my ordained ministry. Loved seeing a few old friends. Also, it was nice to simply be a member of the congregation there to worship and responsible for nothing else!

After church had lunch with dear friends Patty and Michael. So good to have time for a leisurely meal and spirited conversation.

Dinner tonight at Mom’s (and Charlie and Julie’s) home with most of the extended Meade family gathered for hamburgers and hot dogs. I was so blessed to see everyone and to share in a time of good food, warm laughter, and familial love. Oh, and it’s amazing how my nephews and nieces are growing so quickly!

A Quiet Day in Albuquerque

The “Roberto Special” from Sadie’s Restaurant. Oh, yeah!

Hey, since the very word “sabbatical” implies a measure of sabbath rest, Saturday was a quiet day. Nice hot bath. A little shopping (and bought 3 shirts at a nice discount). Was driving to get a sandwich (or maybe a slice of pepperoni and green chile pizza) at Dion’s (a local restaurant with locations around the Duke City but certainly not in Dyersburg!) when I realized I was driving past Sadie’s, a New Mexico restaurant I have enjoyed for many, many years. And so I had to stop in. And I had to order the “Roberto Special,” a plate of papitas (fried potato cubes) on which is a hamburger patty covered with chile con queso. Oh, and a side of pinto beans covered with cheese and diced onions. Yum, yum, and again, yum! My spirit was enlightened even as my arteries were constricted.

Tonight was my 40th high school reunion. This was the first I’ve ever attended. Twenty-two of us were there, just over one quarter of our class. One fellow even flew in from Geneva where he works with the U.N. I recognized one person on sight. My ability to remember names was as pitiful as ever. And I could recall few of the stories shared. I guess when I left high school I really left high school. Glad I went, even for curiosity’s sake. And while my memories of high school are largely positive, I experienced little nostalgia for days gone by. Perhaps I’m more interested in days yet to come — not to mention this very day.

A Day in Albuquerque

Yesterday started with a lovely walk and visit with my very bestest friend Deb in Old Town Albuquerque. It ended with a dinner with her and three other dear friends. Knowing that living in Tennessee sometimes means I am chile-deprived, every item on the menu (even the delicious home-brewed beer!) included either red or green New Mexico chile. Most yummy!

For about 3 1/2 hours today I went to the Albuquerque Zoo to animal-watch, people-watch, and take a few photos. The Zoo has come a long way in terms of providing habitats that are more habitable for the animals, but too many still lived fenced in spaces too small and spare. And (check out the last two bird photos) not all of the animals to be found at the Zoo are in cages!