Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mele Kalikimaka -- a travelogue

We just love Maui! It’s hard to spoil our enjoyment, even when American Airlines sent our luggage to Seattle, it rained upon our arrival, and we were locked out of our room at the Grand Wailea. But hey, that’s any Levine vacation.

We always go the beginning of December because no one’s there. Once the hordes start arriving for Christmas we’re gone. The last two weeks are nuts. Every lounge chair is like a Snickers bar in a fat farm.

Making decisions based on Hawaiian weather forecasts is like buying stocks based on Tarot cards. They have no idea. In their hourly report I’m surprised they get “night” right. Suggestion Accu-Weather people: Open a window.

Don’t tell anyone but “cloudy” in Hawaii is almost as nice as “sunny.” Sure you can get the same crippling sunburn where you’re begging for death, but it’s cooler, you’re not fighting Jeffrey Katzenberg for shade, and the sunsets are more striking (if that’s even possible).

Tourism in Maui is at a record-breaking high. But fewer Canadians are aloha’ing this year. Their dollar is in sad shape. But all that will change come January when half of America relocates there.

Favorite thing to do: Ask Siri directions. “Left on Ki’i’oni’oni Place, then right on Lumi’au’au Street” becomes “Left on Keeohoheeohnoloni Place and right on Loomanoomaloon… aw fuck it. Ask someone who gives a shit!”

There was a Maui women’s NCAA basketball tournament and several of the teams stayed at the Grand Wailea. You’d think Oregon State could find a different name to call their women’s basketball team other than the Beavers.

Friday night: Flash flood warning.

The first Saturday we splurged and rented a cosabella, which is really two attached lounge chairs with a hood. Shade costs more than Maui Wowie. So we’re relaxing, it’s serene, we’re reading our books when suddenly BAM! Loud Country music begins blaring from speakers now set up just behind us. It was the second annual Maui Singer-Songwriter festival – a passing parade of musicians serenading the pool area – all twanging the exact same damn song. She done him wrong, so he cheated on her, now there’s a custody battle for the kids and Chevy Tahoe. Meanwhile, no one at the pool was paying the slightest attention. Wrong crowd. You don’t schedule a Trump rally at Barbra Streisand’s house.

They sell fine (read: expensive) jewelry at the kiddie pool at the Grand Wailea, and believe it or not, idiot women buy it. Even rappers know better. 14 K Diamond rings are sold right next to the Shave Ice machine. Recently a woman lost a $100,000 ring in the water and thirty-five hotel employees ran to look for it. (Talk about service!) Shockingly, no one “found” it.

Saturday night: Flash flood warning.

After a couple of nights at the Grand Wailea, Debby and I moved to a nearby villa and awaited the arrival of our son Matt, his wife Kim, and our first grandchild, Rebecca (is six months too early for surfing lessons?). Our daughter Annie and her husband Jonathan would join us a few days later. I would tell you how many days we were there but you’d hate us. The villa was lovely. We promptly locked ourselves out on the lanai and had to call security. “The Beverly Hillbillies go to Hawaii.”

Then it took us four days to figure out how to turn off the ceiling fans ignoring the remotes that were only in the rooms with ceiling fans.

Monday night: Flash flood warning.

The Kihei police station in the Kihei Town Center is now an Indian restaurant. Let the crime spree begin!

My son knows how to party. His flip-flips had a bottle opener in them.

“Panties in Paradise” in the Gateway Center had a sale. That’s the only reason I was in there. Hey, I’ve got to bring back gifts for my fellow UCLA faculty members, don’t I?

Wednesday night: Flash flood warning.

While taking our morning walk along the beach one day we bumped into my accountant (who was staying at a more expensive place). He said, “Have a great trip, and you might want to get used to the taste of Spam.” I wonder what he meant by that?

We always hit Matteo’s Osteria. The only reason to go to Hawaii is for the pasta. Our friend Michael was named the Maui Server of the Year – an award that still ranks higher than a Golden Globe. Not sure what exactly Michael received, but I’m guessing it’s either a handsome plaque or a twenty-dollar tip.

Thursday: No flash flood warning. Just a tsunami alert.

So taking stock: A possible tsunami and both Matt & Kim were sick. But again, that’s any Levine vacation.

Our unit was considered a “penthouse,” which should have brought us some comfort during the tsunami alert except our “penthouse” was on the first floor. What exactly does “penthouse” mean in Hawaii?

Very relieved the tsunami didn’t materialize. I saw the movie. Other than Naomi Watts whooshing by there would be no upside to it.

Annie & Jon finally arrived, having been routed through Seattle. The airline must’ve thought they were our luggage.

Every girl on the beach now has a tattoo. Imagine a remake of those Beach Party movies but with biker chicks.

Friday night: Flash flood warning.

The health department is not as stringent as they are in Los Angeles. Instead of restaurants being rated A, B, or C, the highest grade you get in Maui is PASS. That’s reassuring. The grades are PASS, CONDITIONAL PASS, and ANY PLACE SELLING POI.

Annie posted this on Facebook: “Matt Levine and Kim Shultz left Jon and I alone with their baby for a day. Big mistake. Huge.”

Perfect for the series I always proposed. Just as there were “Muppet Babies,” I always thought a great series would be “Cheers Babies.” She could even keep her real name.

Sunday: Flash flood. One to two inches of torrential rain an hour. The Honoapiiani Highway (try saying that, Siri) was closed. Cabana prices were reduced. It was the worst night of rain they had on Maui in over three years. (ANY Levine vacation.)

I took the brunt of the storm. Watching the DICK VAN DYKE SHOW in color on CBS several lines of dialogue were obscured during a flash flood warning. And an annoying scroll appeared at the top of the screen telling people to evacuate. Otherwise, there were no injuries or cosabellas washed out to sea.

Waiters are so programmed these days in waiter-speak that they even ask sharks, “So how were the first few bites?”

Certainly a trip highlight was a one-hour helicopter ride over the island. Despite our pilot being Otto, the bus driver from THE SIMPSONS, the ride was spectacular. Volcanoes, waterfalls, lush forests, a valley only accessible by air, the polar bear from LOST; every ten seconds another startling view. They don’t let you take selfie-sticks on board so that cut the number of passengers way down. It’s a phenomenal experience and now I never have to drive to Hana.

We wanted to see snow but there was none at the top of Haleakala and we didn’t fly over the Queen Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center.

Nick’s Fishmarket in the Kea Lani Hotel features the dessert of death --Strawberries Panzini. It’s a plate of strawberries engulfed in blue flames. Have ordered it twice and both times the waiter has set his sleeve on fire. The trouble is it’s hard to get coffee refills when your server has been rushed to Urgent Care.

“Goggles” is not a good look for me. Even fish were laughing.

Speaking of which: Coconuts fish tacos are a must. Note: They do not serve chickens – either as an entrĂ©e or customer. There are live chickens walking around their outdoor patio. This is not uncommon in Kihei strip malls. Suddenly, grading a restaurant PASS starts to make sense.

And then there’s Sansei for the best sushi you’ve ever had. The keys are: make reservations early and never ask what exactly you’re eating.

The old Puunene Sugar Mill closed. I will miss those smokestacks always spewing out God knows what. It’s a little bit of Pittsburgh in paradise. They say the mill opened in 1870 and now it’s kaput. Goddamn Splenda!

Matt, Kim, and the baby headed home last Thursday. Their non-stop Alaska flight from Maui to San Francisco turned into a direct flight to Honolulu, where it was then cancelled. They had to scramble and get on a United redeye and kill six hours in the airport. Great fun with a six-month-old. (I’m telling you – ANY…)

Annie & Jon didn’t want to leave. They were considering barricading the door and becoming squatters. Jon: “Special instructions for Amazon deliveries: Go to the front balcony, throw it over.”

All in all, a wonderful trip. No one lost a diamond ring in the ocean, our rental car had brakes, and for the first time in years no one had to see a local doctor! Hopefully you too can soon go to Hawaii. Or a Cineplex showing MOANA. When I saw that movie and all the trials Moana went through, I thought, “Yep, any Levine vacation.”

Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka

(More photos tomorrow!)


Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Fun stuff! Keep 'em coming!

Luke said...

Have fun Ken!

Everyone kept saying that they will relocate to Canada. But none did. I love my country no matter what. So does everyone. Just a lot of hot air and posturing!

Betty said...

Jealous! Sounds great!

YEKIMI said...

I don't know. Had a friend say that if Trump won he was moving out of the country. Results came in, next day he said he was moving to Hawaii.....didn't have the heart to tell him it was the 50th state of the USA.

sumerlad said...

A friend of mine, a sweet and lovely lady, told me on the telephone that she had rented an apartment in a new complex.
I asked her what the name of the new place was. She replied "It's called Beaver Place".
I stuffed my hand in my mouth.

ODJennings said...

Speaking of the sugar mill closing, there's an interesting article about the death of the sugar industry in Hawaii with a rather touching letter from the Captain of the last "sugar ship" over on GCaptain, a website for professional mariners (and someplace you want to avoid like the plague if you're thinking of ever taking a sea cruise).

Mike said...

A rare creature has been seen off the coast of Hawaii. It is ghostly white and resembles a rag doll, with plates for teeth, a retractable penis XforX on its head, and plunges the depths for its living.
The Levine family are urgently searching for Ken.

Jeff R said...

Ken - Happy Hour at Gannons! Loaded Tater Tots...and a great view!!

Mike M said...

My wife and I went to Maui for the first time in January and loved it. I did try the fish tacos at Coconuts... fantastic. Also saw the chickens out front and thought it was strange. Next trip Ken, check out the Sunset Ceremony on the roof at Fleetwood's on Front in Lahaina. Just stay away from the burger, it's a little pricey - even if it does come with a Harley Davidson!

Jean said...

Oh, my, what a baby!!!! Lucky grampy Ken!!

Joe in VA said...

Re Siri and Hawaiian names: I was on Oahu recently (#humblebrag) and noticed how much Siri struggled with native names, but they glided right off of Ms. Googlemaps’ electronic tongue with ease. Maybe Apple needs to send Tim Cook on an island vacation.

Johnny Walker said...

Very funny. Very jealous!

Breadbaker said...

If we had simply taken the Apple weather forecast and done the opposite we would have been more prepared on Maui. Drive down to Big Beach when the forecast was for rain with all our rain equipment but no swimsuits and no sunscreen: perfect and hot sunshine. Drive up to Ho'okipa Beach when the forecast was pure sunshine, bringing bathing suits, towels, sunscreen and no raincoats: you can guess.

Ed from South Bend said...

The thing about beavers? They have magnificent tails.

The thing about KL? He spins fun tales.