Sunday, March 01, 2009

Hawaii 3-0

Just back from a month in Hawaii. Yes, an entire month. We made these arrangements a year ago under the assumption that the worldwide financial infrastructure wouldn’t collapse. Our bad.

We rented a condo in Wailea, Maui, above a golf course with a breathtaking view of the ocean and Wailea shopping mall. I figured, why stay at one of those fancy luxury hotels when we can just partake of the facilities of all of them? The RICHES go to Hawaii.

When our son Matt learned that our condo complex has no Jacuzzi he said, “What are we, farmers?”

But the unit was lovely. These complexes all have cute names like Ekolu Terrace. We stayed at the E-coli Village.

Do you like great pizza? Then go to Hawaii. Matteo’s on Maui. The reverse is not true. You can’t go to Italy for scrumptious poi.

Nowhere is the air as sweet, healing, and rejuvenating as it is in Hawaii.

You can whale watch from the Four Seasons but you must be a registered guest to see any of them.

Even in paradise there are people with deep-rooted psychological problems. Hence the “Therapy Sports Grille”. A few Mai Tai’s and Pac 10 basketball and Hawaiians are back on the road to mental wellness.

The Barack Obama/Abe Lincoln similarities continue. Both were raised in Hawaii. Both look good in shorts.

Went snorkeling. Found Nemo. Went to Roy’s. Ate Nemo.

This is not a big selling point to me: Alex Air –the only DOORS OFF helicopter tour company on Maui.

Tia Carrere is now singing at a Waikiki hotel. Not surprising. This is my favorite Tia Carrere quote: “I love to sing, so I just figured that I was going to sing or something.”

Scrabble in Hawaii: Humuhumunukunukuapua is a legit word. It’s the state fish and a common nickname.

Did not get to Hana. The only way in is through a treacherous road that zig-zags over 56 one-lane bridges and snakes around more than 617 hairpin turns. If God Himself greeted you at City Hall with a lei I wouldn’t make that drive.

Nor did I see the sunrise at Haleakala. But did get a report from someone who did. A bus picks you up 2:30 in the morning. You drive an hour and a half to the top of this massive shield volcano. By top I mean 10,023 feet. You get out in your shorts, flip flops, and aloha shirt -- it’s pitch black, and 22 degrees (literally). When the sun comes up (two hours later) it will rise to 37. Finally the dawn. It’s breathtaking, awesome, and your teeth are chattering like castanets. You don’t want to even think about the possibility that there’s a YouTube video of this. You get in the bus and go home.

For more fun you can bike down the outside of the volcano… like a rocket on a two-lane winding road that hugs a cliff that’s steeper than those in Road Runner cartoons. Bikers must also negotiate tour buses, vans, and tourists in unfamiliar rental cars. In 2007 there were three biker fatalities. Bike tours (when they’re not suspended) are $100 - $150 dollars. Bring a parachute.

But we did visit quaint Lahaina. Strolled among the charming Crazy-T-Shirt and souvenir soap stores. This bawdy whaling port has not changed in a hundred years. Lahaina also features one of the largest banyan trees in the United States. So a big attraction is shade. For all the hoopla of Lahaina, we found quite a few other smaller, lesser-known little towns that were far more charming and KFC-free. Paia for one (Paia of course is the birthplace of Abe Lincoln).

Another is Makawao. Up country it’s a little cowboy town, specializing in glass blowing – just like Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid used to do. I kept looking for the jail and saloon but alas they’ve given way to art galleries and a market that makes fresh donuts. But get there early. They go fast. There’s usually a shoot out in the town square for the last cruller.

There’s no longer a sheriff but Makawao does have two hypnotherapists and a certified colon specialist.

Overheard in a Paia gas station: A woman asking for cigarettes with “no preservatives.”

Every restaurant in Hawaii serves ribs. Even the vegan restaurants. I bet that colon specialist does a bang-up business.

Part 2 tomorrow. It was a long trip.


Anonymous said...

Did you get a chance to go to Mama's Fish House or Longhi's? Great food.

Maui Ocean Center was pretty nice for an aquarium.

Anonymous said...

Really Ken,

You needed a month in Hawaii to get away from....?

Not judging.

Just Jealous.

Anonymous said...

I'm envious - have only been to Hawaii twice, in 1981 and 1982; the first time Oahu only, the second time the Big Island and Maui. My then-girlfriend and I drove the Hana Road in a Toyota Tercel, which although already an antiquated design was at least front-wheel-drive. Fond memories. (We stayed friends, and ten years later she introduced me to my wife-to-be.) You're correct about the air there; someday I'd like to go back, but from the east coast it's a schlep and pricey besides.

John Leader said...

What about Longhi's?
Still there? Still serving macadamia-nut cinnamon rolls?
Homer Simpson would love that place.

Anonymous said...

Curse you! Three months ago we spent two wonderful weeks on Maui in a combination marriage and honeymoon. I had managed to shelve the lovely memories to help endure the winter. Now the snow outside is harsh and cruel as my mind's eye relives the sunrise walks on the beach.

Unknown said...

I went to Lahaina in 1978. It really was a little town at the time. I was only 13 years old.

I had a blast and still have very fond memories of the time we spent there.

I'll probably never be able to drag myself back there for fear of the ensuing trauma.

Mary Stella said...

Scrabble in Hawaii: Humuhumunukunukuapua is a legit word.

If it's a proper name, you can't use it -- even if you swiped the u tiles from three other games.

But we did visit quaint Lahaina. Strolled among the charming Crazy-T-Shirt and souvenir soap stores. This bawdy whaling port has not changed in a hundred years.

Does every store play the Loggins and Messina song of the same name, like stores, bars, bar bands and trolleys in Key West play Margaritaville and other Jimmy Buffet tunes?

wv=remies -- the casual way to order cognac. "I'll have a Remies, please."

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian I just can't wrap my head around leaving California for Hawaii.

You obviously weren't escaping the weather.

Of course I say this with all jealously. I still have snow piled higher than my Excursion and the temps the previous 2 weeks saw -30 (- 22 F) regularly.

We're finally going to see a week of above zero (32 F)

Yup. Completely green with jealously.

Call me Kermit.

Toledo said...

You mispelled Humuhumunukunukuapuaa. It has two a's at the end.

And I just misspelled misspelled. Sigh.

Anyway, I remember the word because I remember the lyrics to "I
Want to Go Back to My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua Hawaii". It's a curse.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I kept looking for the jail and saloon but alas they’ve given way to art galleries and a market that makes fresh donuts.

the police station couldn't have been that far away then

Mike said...

Even if you left off the final a and managed to purloin the extra u's, you'd then have to make the word turn a corner to fit it on the board!

WV: aseet -- not a valid word in Scrabble.

Anonymous said...

The trip sounds wonderful. But now you've outed Abe Lincoln. He couldn't have been a legit president--Hawaii wasn't a state when he was born. I demand to see his Kentucky birth certificate! The South can secede after all. Hmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I made that drive to Hana. Great road signs on the way which made us laugh:

"One Lane Bridge - Do Not Pass"

Either too much Maui wowie, or the natives are afraid the tourists don't understand the term "one lane" !

Tiffany said...

Is that in Ode to 30 Rock?

Anonymous said...



*Quickly drops to his knees and begins bowing to the floor over and over in great respect*

WV: sailinge - A syringe containing a virus that makes its receivers want to go sailing badly.

Anonymous said...

I never figured Larry Gelbart for an ALL CAPS kinda guy.

VW: dablit - occasional author

Beth Ciotta said...

You had me at:

"Nowhere is the air as sweet, healing, and rejuvenating as it is in Hawaii."

Except... "Found Nemo... Ate Nemo."

Say it ain't so!

Except for that part, sounds lovely. Welcome back, Ken. :)

By Ken Levine said...

Jesus, people. Larry Gelbart is nice enough to leave a comment and you take shots at him? Come on. Be a little gracious.

By Ken Levine said...

I had to delete a couple of idiotic comments.

Susan said...

We went to Hawaii in 2006, and yeah, we did the Haleakala sunrise trip. It's a lot easier when you do it on your first night, when your time schedule is all of anyway. To us, it was like leaving at 7 am, and we were up anyway, so it worked. (And they gave us jackets and pants to wear, because yeah, it was freezing!) My husband did the bike ride down the volcano - I got freaked out after too many hairpin turns and enjoyed the view from the van.

We also did the drive to Hana. I guess we like hairpin turns. It's a lot better when you stay at the Hotel Hana at the other end. Gorgeous resort.

Sounds like an amazing trip. Welcome back!

Anonymous said...

I spent a week in a condo in Maui last summer with my family and we did the Hana Highway. I think my kids are still carsick from it. The worst part was negotiating the hairpin turns in the rain (it is a rain forest!).

We also skipped the sunrise on the volcano but got the requisite photos under the Big Banyon Tree.

We were able to spend an additional 3 days in Oahu and five days on the Big Island (and saw Dwayne "The Rock" in the airport. But I think Maui was my fave place.

I'd love to go back to Hawaii - the air was so fresh and the night sky so beautiful and I felt healthier there than I did in years --too bad we're 10 hours and two time zones away-- and stuck in NJ.

Hawaii vacation said...

Only 3 days to go. My good I count every minut