Thursday, November 29, 2007


Homes of Maui

We took some photos of some of the houses we found in the little town of Kula which is on the flank of Mt. Haleakala. I don't know the elevation here but would guess it is around 3000 feet, high enough the temperatures are not so hot as down at sea level but still low enough to not have it as cold and windy as at the summit. The plants here are also different and there is a teaser photo coming here in this post to show them but I'll do a full post on this most fantastic flower later. Anyway, here are some of the homes we saw, most taken by Pat with the Sony camera as the car was moving so the sharpness is not perfect.

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A beautiful home and with beautiful grounds. There are a lot of them somewhat similar to this. Notice they make good use of picture windows and decks to enjoy the great views.

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Another home in the same general area. These are along the highway we drove to the summit but before the turn off where Pat took the photo of the sign post in the previous post.

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The grounds of this place were so large that we couldn't see the house but did photograph the hedge, Bird of Paradise flowers, statues of horses and other things that were visible from the road. These flowers were all over the place in this town.

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Our motion is showing up a little in this photo but you can see the place. I am glad that I don't have to mow these lawns but I'll bet the owners hire it done! As I said earlier, I don't know the value of these places but we did hear radio ads for starter type homes in the low $600-thousands on Maui, so I'd bet these are multi-million dollar places.

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This house in the background isn't as impressive as the others were but you can see how they are perched high to maximize the view opportunities. The main reason I took it is for the bush and flowers in the foreground. I will do a whole post soon on these most amazing flowers. Consider this just a teaser. Does anyone know the name of these (I do)?

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After our adventure on the mountain we needed to stop for lunch and picked this Inn. The grounds here were beautiful and I'll have some photos to post soon. This shows a general view of the area outside through the windows and a closer view of the most beautiful flower I found in Hawaii. And I got to bring her home with me!

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This was taken from our table in the restaurant at the Inn, just a quarter turn to my left from where the previous photo of Pat was taken. There is a little glare or something from looking through the glass, but this will give you an idea of the view these homes enjoy. You are looking across the flat part of the Island that is between the older West Maui Mountains in the far background and the newer, larger part where Mt. Haleakala is located. If you look carefully you can even see the water at the middle left side of the photo.

Maui is a beautiful, unique place. This was my second trip and Pat's first and I think we would both like to go back sometime. The only negative is the long flight to get there & back and the hassles of air travel anymore. But once you are there, it is well worth it.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Mt Haleakala, a 10,000' tall volcano on Maui

To me one of the most impressive places on the island of Maui is Mount Haleakala, the 10,023 foot tall volcano that formed the main part of the island. Haleakala last erupted in 1790 so it has been dormant for quite awhile but they say it is past due to erupt, if it is going to again. Needless to say it didn't do that while we were up there on Sunday, Oct. 28th. I have been there before so knew it is cold and very windy at the summit. We wore our normal Hawaii clothes but did take jackets along. The temperature at the top was in the upper 50s with a steady, strong wind blowing.

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This first photo was taken by Pat as we turned off the main road to start up the mountain itself. From here on it is up.

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This is at the 6,500' level. It is a little over half way up to the top but to put it a little in perspective, it is about 1,000' higher than anything that is east of the Mississippi River in the USA. As you can see the plants are still pretty much what you would expect although nothing like the lushness found at the lower elevations. You can also see clearly how red the soil is here. That is pretty much true all over the Island.

The crater near the top is very impressive. The absolute highest point is not in the crater and the best place to view the crater is not at the highest point. There are a group of observatories that have been built near that highest point but they are not open to the public. The best crater views are at the Visitor Center which is located about 250' below the highest point.
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Here is a part of the crater. It is quite large and I could not get a single view in one photo of the whole thing, even while using an 18mm lens. The colors of the rock are amazing as is the blueness of the sky. When you are this high the air is thin and the sunlight very intense. You are looking down on the clouds. Many people will develop high altitude sickness and have to go back to lower levels. It is a stark world, unlike anything I have ever seen anywhere else. The deserts of the west are stark but nothing like this.

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This view is from the same location as the last one but the camera has been turned to the right. The peak that is in the center of the previous photo is at the left side of this one. The red colored hill in the center can also help to orient you.

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Another of Pat's photos with the Sony camera that is of the same place but with a different lens. You can see that we are really looking down on the clouds, even some that are inside the crater of the volcano.

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I have zoomed to a telephoto view to bring part of the crater in closer. You can recognize that red hill.

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Another telephoto view, this time showing the rocks at the left side of the crater as we were viewing it. I need to go up to Washington State's own Mt. Saint Helens to check and see if our volcano scenery is about the same. I would guess they are a lot alike.

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The entrance to the Visitor Center at the edge of the crater.

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There are very few plants that can grow and survive in this environment. These bushes are one of them. The sun light is very intense due to the thin air. The wind blows all the time and it is cold, at least for Hawaii.

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Another plant that has adapted. Notice how the roots travel along the surface of the rocks as they cannot penetrate the solid rock.

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The most unique plant up there is known as a Silver Sword. As I understand it, this is a young one that has not yet "raised it's sword."

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Here are two of them with their swords raised. The nearest one is nearly finished with its life cycle while the farther one is flowering now.

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We asked another visitor to use my camera and take this photo of us with the crater behind. You can get a feel for how cold we were! Remember, it was 87 degrees down in Kehei where we started this trip from!

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Another of Pat's photos taken while we were driving back down. This is a good example of the terrain near the top. There are a lot of rocks and very little foliage.

Mount Haleakala is a fascinating place to visit. It is well laid out for tourists and has a lot to see that you will find in very few other places.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007


The Sugar Museum, shopping and Bad Ass Coffee

Yep, that is the name of the coffee company that we enjoyed most while on Maui. The coffee is a Kona coffee from the big island of Hawaii. I guess in the past they used donkeys to haul the harvested beans down from the mountain where it was grown. Apparently those critters were very noisy and well known in the area. So when this coffee company was started they chose that name in honor of those infamous animals from the past. But that is later- let's start at the Maui Sugar Museum. And by the way, Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sugar cane has long been a main agricultural product of the islands and Maui is probably the best known one. I think everyone has heard of C & H Pure Cane Sugar. Here is where it comes from. But that is changing, probably because there are other places in the world where the cane can be grown and the costs to produce it are a lot less. And the land here is so valuable for other uses, like building more houses. Anyway, this is the sign at the entrance to the parking lot for the museum.

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This is a small patch of cane that is growing at the edge of the parking lot for the museum. It takes two years from planting until it is ready to harvest. About three weeks before harvest they stop watering it to let the leaves dry. The cane itself is about 85% water so it retains a lot of moisture which is important since the next step it to burn the field. The leaves burn but not the cane, due to it's high water content. It is then brought to the factory for processing.

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The museum itself is housed in this building which is a former residence for the plant manager.

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The processing plant is across the street. The "smoke" you see coming from the stacks is really steam. The cane itself, after the sugar has been extracted, is burned for heat to operate the factory. The product that comes from this factory is sent to California (the "C" part of the name) for final packaging and distribution to your store shelves.

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There are some large parts around the place that show the massive size of some of the equipment used here, including this gear or whatever it is. As I recall the shaft of this thing was over a foot in diameter.

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Another very large part with Pat standing beside it to give an idea of how large this gear really is. Pat is 5' 3" tall.

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Flowers grow all over the place in Hawaii. This bush was near the museum parking lot and probably had been planted & cared for at one time but I think it is now just going wild. It is very colorful.

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There are Starbucks shops on Maui but we chose to drink a local product called Bad Ass Coffee. The coffee is a Kona coffee from the big island of Hawaii but I think it is roasted on Maui. The company name is to honor the small donkeys that were used in the past to haul the freshly picked beans down the mountain. We had a shopping list from our kids here of certain blends to bring back for them as the coffee is available in a few places here on the mainland, so two of mine at least are familiar with it but have a problem finding it in our area.

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The shop we visited is kind of small and funky. It is right beside a parking lot and on the other side a fairly large shopping area with lots of small merchants selling a big variety of things. We shopped there quite a bit but I'm not going into what all we bought as some are for Christmas presents. Those shops are open air but under a roof, so shaded. You can see the front part of the roof cover behind and above the coffee shop in this photo. There are two sections of overhead roof with a nice garden courtyard between them.

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This is the back shop area as seen from the courtyard. You can get a partial idea of what all is sold there from this photo.

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There is another entrance to the courtyard directly from the parking lot. This little foot bridge goes over a pond that is larger than it looks and has a lot of koi fish. The courtyard is nicely shaded and has comfortable places to sit, relax and drink your Bad Ass mocha.

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Pat is sitting on the edge of the koi pond with our coffees beside her, looking at the fish. This photo just shows four of the fish but you can get an idea how large they all are.

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As I said, the courtyard is also a garden and here is a beautiful example of one of the red ginger flowers growing there. We will have a lot more flower photos later when we visited the Tropical Plantation, but as I said above, they are all over this island. Enough for one post.

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Friday, November 16, 2007


A glass bottom boat trip from Lahaina harbor, Maui

On Friday, October 26th Pat & I drove to Lahaina, north of where we were staying in the Kehei area of Maui, to go for a ride on the Reefdancer, a glass bottom boat that takes people out to an offshore reef to see the under water landscape and the fish in the area. Pat's daughter had suggested that we go on a ride on the submarine trip but the cost of it was three times that of the Reefdancer and we were a little concerned about feeling a bit claustrophobic in a submarine, even one that only goes 140 feet or so below the surface, so we bought tickets on this boat instead. We went out on it in the morning rather than the afternoon as it tends to be windier later in the day, with rougher seas. Our trip was scheduled for 10am and we were there almost an hour early, which gave us time to take some of the photos I've already posted here about the town of Lahaina.

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This first photo is taken in front of the check-in place for the boat, of Pat taking a photo of me as I was taking a photo of her. In the background you can see a part of the Reefdancer, the yellow boat behind her, as well as a catamaran across the small harbor near the breakwater.

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I have never been on a boat like this and it is a bit different from most. I have some photos taken down below that will give a better idea of what we found inside below the water level. Here is a photo that shows more of the boat and a couple of the crew.

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Pat & I are sitting near the stern (back) end of the underwater observation area. The circular stairs behind us are another way to get back to the main deck but are not the primary way.

We left the harbor on about a 20 minute trip to the reef area they use. I was surprised at how shallow all the water there was. We could see the bottom all the way out although it was not as interesting as when we arrived at the coral reef. It is kind of hard to get good photos through these windows and I am sure the color balance is not perfect, but here are a few examples of what we saw:

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This shows the reef itself. Coral is alive and growing and is a very important part of the ecology of the ocean. Many fish and other sea creatures live in or near these coral reefs. I don't think there are any noticeable fish in this photo but they are there.

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When we arrived over the reef one of the crew, a gal from England, went over the side diving to bring up to the windows some of the things to show us. Many of the fish gathered near her. Here she is bringing a spiny urchin to the window to show. Pat took this photo with our little Sony camera.

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Another photo of the diver outside the windows.

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This is a school of fish known as Black Durgon Triggerfish or in Hawaiian, humu humu-'ele 'ele. They are an example of those that tend to cluster around divers when they are in the water. The fish are probably around 10 inches in length, maybe a foot, and have that very bright stripe along their bodies where both the upper and lower fins join the body. This is another of Pat's photos.

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This view is looking forward from where we were sitting and shows Pat starting up the stairs to the main deck. When we started back toward the harbor we all went up above for the return trip. This boat was pretty good sized, as you can tell from these two photos.

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There are a lot of popular things to do in Hawaii around the water and this is one of them, but neither of us were interested in trying this. I guess it is pretty safe because even if the boat towing you stops suddenly the parachute will lower you to the water at a speed that you should not be hurt. At least seriously.

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This scene is on the deck as we were returning to the harbor which is ahead and to the port side of the boat. We were glad that we had decided to go in the morning as the sea was smooth enough to make it easy to stand on the deck and we got to see and photograph things that we would have missed had we been below the whole trip. Notice the canvas "tent" above the head of the pilot. Even this early, about 11 in the morning, the sun was starting to get pretty intense. Especially if you were stuck there driving the boat! The hills behind the town are the foothills for the West Maui Mountains. Maui is almost like two islands that have been connected by lava to make one island. This part is older and these mountains are more "rounded" than the newer part of the island formed by Mt. Haleakala, where we were staying. We went to Mt. Haleakala on Sunday and have photos still to come from there.

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The ocean going racing sailboat, the America II, is now out of Lahaina Harbor and available to go on. Here she is heading out of the harbor under power before raising sails. This boat was an America's Cup contender a few years ago and is quite fast.

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I did get a few photos of my favorite subject while she was on the deck. Pat is concentrating here on her next photo.

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The Reefdancer is rounding the breakwater at the entrance to the small harbor at Lahaina. You probably remember that sailboat I had a photo of that had sunk on a reef just outside this harbor in a previous post. You can see from this photo how small that entrance is and there are reefs all around, so that is why the owner wanted to stop overnight and wait for daylight before entering. Unfortunately he anchored too close to one of the reefs and his boat was sunk overnight on that reef.

We enjoyed our trip that day but I had hoped for more to see while near the reefs and better visibility through the boat's underwater windows. The cost wasn't very much and it did give us an outing on the water. Maybe the next time we will spring for the submarine trip.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007


The old whaling town of Lahaina, Maui

North of where we were staying, along the west side of the older mountain range on the island of Maui, is a place where the old Hawaiian royalty used to take their guests to party. When European explorers discovered the place that harbor was ideal for the ships of the time and it soon became a major port in the whaling industry. We drove up there about three times while on Maui and I have some photos of the town that I'll post here. It's Hawaiian name was Lele but we know it as Lahaina.

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This tree has become one of the main landmarks of the town. I don't know if it is the largest Banyan tree in the world or not but it must be close to it. The tree was planted in 1870 and now covers over an acre of land. Pat is walking toward the tree as we are taking photos of it.

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This is a view taken under the tree and shows how the limbs spread out. They have been supported which no doubt has helped it last and stay healthy. You can also see my favorite photographer taking a similar photo, but without her in hers.

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The old Courthouse has been restored and is now a museum. This is right across the street from the harbor and just in front of the Banyan tree.

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These cannons were positioned to protect the harbor from invaders but I don't think they were ever used for that purpose. It was interesting to read that they were all salvaged from ships that sunk, so it was a pretty low budget protection system.

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These plants were near one corner of the old courthouse and close to the Banyan tree. Pat says the red flowers are red ginger. The plants in Hawaii are beautiful and prolific. This is one of Pat's photos with the Sony camera.

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The same area as the previous photo but this one shows more of the Banyan tree behind the courthouse.

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Lahaina has become quite an artists colony with many art galleries. There is also a lot of shopping for other things there. This little shopping mall is across Front Street from the Banyan tree park. This was just a few days before Halloween and as you can see they really get into decorating for that holiday. This is another of Pat's photos with the Sony.

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This photo shows a bit of the coast line of Lahaina and was taken from our trip on a glass bottom boat. I'll post some photos from that trip in the next post. You can see the foothills of the West Maui Mountains and the clouds that are usually hanging over them. It looks threatening but we experienced no rain and the temperature was in the upper 80s every day that we were there. But it did get a lot cooler when we went up Mount Haleakala.

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We were told that sometime last year an Englishman arrived after dark in this sailboat and dropped his anchor. I guess he wanted to wait for daylight to enter the harbor, thinking it would be safer. Well, as you can see, he anchored in the wrong place and the boat ended up on the reef and sinking. I do not know why it is still there and has not been salvaged, but there it is for all the world to see. It isn't just the old sailing ships that get sunk on Hawaiian reefs!

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A major food crop on Maui is sugar cane. There is less of it now than there used to be but in older days this locomotive was used along with another to pull rail cars from the fields to the factories. Now the Sugar Cane Train operates daily as a tourist attraction, taking people on an 8 mile trip north from Lahaina and back. We tried to ride it after our glass bottom boat trip but missed the 13:00 trip by six minutes. We didn't want to wait nearly two hours for the next trip, so just bought some things in their store & took some photos before leaving. I did ride this train in 1997 while I was there and it is a fun trip.

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The flowers and other plants of Hawaii are amazing. They are all over the place and do very well in the climate there. This is another of Pat's photos with the Sony.

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Here is another flower that is just a few feet from the last one. These are along the sidewalk near the old cannons at the harbor.

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This is a street scene in Lahaina, looking south along Front Street. The Wharf shopping mall is on the left, the Banyan tree park on the right and the harbor just a block west of here, across the street from the old Courthouse that is behind the Banyan tree.

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This one was taken from about the same place as the last photo but looking north along Front Street. North of Lahaina there are some great beaches and hotels but I have never been up there. The island of Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian Islands and over 700 square miles, so it is pretty large. Much of it is wild due to the mountains & volcanoes and there are no roads that go through those mountains. On both parts of the island the roads that go around the mountain ranges are not passable in a car so it can take a long time to get to a lot of places. To go south to the town of Hana means driving the Hana Highway, which is about 57 miles of mostly one lane road with a speed limit over much of it of 15mph. There are also over 50 bridges on that roadway, most one lane. I don't know how long it would take to really explore the whole island.

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Here is Pat heading into The Wharf shopping mall, doing what we did so well while over there. Shopping.

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