WARNING: The following
article has NOTHING to do
with the Great Northern Railway. It's just a fun trip
Baolu and your intrepid webmaster Lindsay took to the
The Great Northern in Maui
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Our trip on Hawaiian Air two
years ago went so well, we decided to try it again. HA 29 (Boeing 767-300ER)
six hour flight to Maui. We're going first class, round trip.
Taxi out to Sea-Tac and checked in at First Class line. Tall girl and short girl
(bacon and eggs) ahead of us at the counter and the agent is taking an
extraordinary long time with them. Manager gets called over. Both employees are
shaking their heads as they stare at the screen. Airport security even wanders
over to have a look, but it turns out he's just saying "Good Morning" to the
manager. FINALLY, they assign another agent to do the rest of us in F.C.
Then it's on to TSA (Take Scissors Away...or Tear Suitcase Apart). I set off the
damn metal detector despite not having any metal on my body or clothes. "Empty
your pockets" she drones. So I put my ticket and Kleenex in a tray THROUGH THE
X-RAY and walk through without setting it off. Honestly, those x-ray machines
are just set to beep on a random setting. Frikken ridiculous.
Finally through the security theatre and Baolu heads straight for a Starbucks.
It is a very slow line, but we have lots of time to kill. We take a couple silly
pictures for posterity and soon they begin boarding.
This time they're doing that "families with small children board first" thing.
Half the plane boards and THEN they let First Class board. Hmpf. They've got it
backwards, if you ask me. Shouldn't they board them last? Asking any kid to sit
still for six hours is asking a lot. I know, I know. I'm sounding like an old
grump. Well, I am.
First Class. Ahhh.... They get us settled in and start right in on the
champagne. Baolu gets hers with a splash of guava juice. We settle back in and
enjoy the ride. It quickly becomes obvious as we start to taxi out to the runway
that we have a screamer on board. Yep, back in coach, a little hellion is
screaming his lungs out as we climb out of Seattle. He keeps this up for a good
90 minutes into the flight. Really quite impressive, his stamina. I think his
voice box gave out after they served lunch. I had wanted to go back there and
take a picture of him as his parents weren't making any effort to calm him...and
it was quite the sideshow.
Seats 1H and 1J. Oh that band aid? REALLY
hacked myself shaving this morning. Doesn't it make me look rakish? ;p
Baolu is really digging the DVD player they give us, but I'm happy with my book
this time (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance). They come and take our
lunch order (select 3 out of 5 entrees) along with drink orders.
Hawaiian Air just makes the most
SUPERB spicy bloody marys. On the way home, I'm going to have to ask them what
mix they use. Baolu is switching between Guava Mimosas and white wine.
Soon lunch arrives and it is top notch. It's followed by a dish of ice cream
with a marshmallow cap and some sort of raspberry puree. Heavenly.
Almost before we realize it, they're announcing our decent into Kahului (with
the entertaining airport code of "OGG"). I grab some more shots of the Maui
coast as junior back in coach starts screaming bloody murder.
When we left Seattle, the temperature was 45. Here it is over 90 and humid. It
It's really not that bad because the trade winds are really blowing strong today
which keeps it cooler. We collect our baggage and pick up our red Mustang
convertible at Hertz. I try to "buy the shirt off the back" of the Hertz guy for
my brother. (Long story short - My brother owns a Hertz Shelby Mustang. He wants
a Hertz Aloha Shirt like they wear at the counter.) About all the guy says is he
may bring one in next Saturday when we fly back. We'll see. I'm not holding my
We hop in the 'tang and the thermometer reads 94F. I decide to take the "scenic"
route through Kahului in the hopes of finding a grocery store to buy water, but
all I manage to find is the
Maui County JAIL. And you've never seen so many cop cars in your LIFE
driving along that road. Baolu is asking, "Where are you taking me?", when I
manage to wind my way down out of the felon-filled neighborhood foothills and
onto the main road to Lahaina. It is a beautiful drive along the coast. It is a
Saturday, so all the locals are out pulled off the side of the road barbequing
The main highway bypasses Lahaina, but I see the station for the Sugar Cane
Train, which we hope to ride (you know I had to work a train into this vacation
SOMEHOW). Finally we find a Shell station with a store and pick up a few gallons
of water. Later we pass a Safeway and Longs Drugs which we can use as a water
stop. Just out of Lahaina, is Kaanapali and our
Kaanapali Beach Hotel. This is "The most Hawaiian hotel in Hawaii". The
staff is very sweet checking us in.
View from Room 241. Those trees are white plumeria,
with very fragrant blossoms. We brought back a cutting to plant at home.
Now THAT'S a Tiki God! (and THAT'S a Haole).
We get settled in and go down to the Tiki Bar and I have a Blue Hawaii (vodka,
pineapple juice and blue Curacao whilst B has a pina colada (the walk in the
rain would happen tomorrow). It's still early afternoon, but we have some snacks
and finally toddle back to the room for a nap. It is about 5:30pm local time and
we are exhausted. We start our "nap" which turns out to be sleeping all night
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Next morning, we're both up before dawn. Hawaii is not on Daylight Savings Time,
so there's a 3 hour time difference from Redmond. We walk along the paved beach
path and come across the Whaler Mall about one block away. McDonalds! And they
serve SPAM for breakfast, YES! We are SO coming here tomorrow. This morning, we
are killing time (nothing is open yet, except the ABC store). We buy three
bottles of Lychee Vodka at the ABC for Baolu - we even brought bubble pack in
our suitcase to wrap it up in, to ship home in the suitcases. We stagger back to
the room with our hooch.
Baolu got us hooked up with the uber-expensive "continually-flowing" champagne
brunch at our hotel which starts at 9am. Now to a couple of alcoholics like
ourselves, this sounds wonderful. The trouble is, this is noon on our clocks and
we are both hungry. Never arrive hungry at a Hawaiian restaurant. We are
standing in a long line for the brunch. The staff looks confused and they piddle
around and finally we are seated. The brunch is spectacular with prime rib,
sushi, oysters on the half shell as well as the ubiquitous omelet station.
Across the room is more exotic fare including octopus and shoya chicken which is
superb (the chicken, not the octopus).
Whoa! Roll me out the door! We are totally gutted and sort of stagger back to
the room. It hurts, mummy. La Bonza, she's full.
After giving our overworked digestive systems a jolly good workout, we drive
over to Lahaina, park, and walk around. It is very hot today, so we have some of
the local shaved ice which tastes superb.
Next mission: Baolu wants to buy a pair of black pearl earrings to match the
necklace from our 2008 trip. We find the same chain store:
Maui Pearl Divers along the way. After
a spirited search through their wares, the sales gal finds a near exact match. B
happily buys them on the spot. On the way back to Kaanapali, we stop at
Long's to buy 3 more gallons of water. It turns out we would go through all 5
gallons on this trip. It's still early in the afternoon, so we decide to drive
completely around the hills of West Maui. Very boonie road - just like the "Road
to Hana" (TM), but without the traffic. That evening, it was time for our first
Monday, May 24, 2010
Spam at McDonalds! Afterwards, Baolu cleans out the nearby ABC store of taro
chips. I buy some macadamia nut chocolates for the folks back home. Later, we
walk around Lahaina and I see a fellow carving these really neat Tiki Gods. One
of those would look really nice for the front yard! Ward away evil spirits and
all. I want a Tiki!
Just another beautiful day in paradise. Baolu wants to check out Aloha Mixed
Plate for lunch, so we toddle over there a little after noon. The place, right
by the ocean, is packed and I have this gigantic loco-moco. I am stuffed like a
pimento olive. Seeking a little nap, we come back to our room and discover the
central air conditioning is not working. Front desk says our entire wing of the
hotel is out and "they are sending for a part". Oi. That could be days. Ask to
be moved to another room. They are very nice about it and we quickly change keys
and move our stuff over. Room 125 comes with a lizard outside.
In fact a whole family of them - big ones, small ones, spotted
ones. B spots 3 more chasing each other in the grass outside. Discover
THIS room's A/C isn't working either. Call front desk. Turns out you have to
SLAM the outside sliding door shut. That does the trick and the a/c comes on.
Much better. Shaved ice for dinner, although not as good as the first time.
Shaved ice much better in the blazing heat of midday. We watch the sunset from
The sun definitely sets earlier here than Seattle - about 7pm
- and sunsets here are spectacular. It is still early for us (although dark), so
we drive up a local road along the west shore through Honokowai and Kahana to
the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua and back. Have to stop and put up the convertible
top during a shower. Back at the hotel, we head to the Tiki Bar. Baolu has white
wine and I have a couple more Blue Hawaii's. We listen to nearby Hawaiian band
playing old favorites (including a tongue-in-cheek version of Hawaii 5-0).
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I notice a big Polynesian fella carving tiki gods in the outdoor lobby of our
hotel. He's got them all set up and is carving one as we talk to him. He carves
them out of monkey pod wood -- big hardwood trees that grow beside the road
here. He says the highway department offers chunks of wood for local artists to
use for free - when they're trimming the trees. Very cool. We talk price and I
decide to pick up some cash at the ATM near Mickey D's. Oh, yes. We're having
Spam for breakfast again, you betcha.
Back from breakfast, I buy my Tiki God and the artist Naki - (Funaki Tupou)
signs his work and adds our names to the back of the Tiki (all carved in). Is
that cool or what?
Today, our project is to ride the Sugar
Cane Train between Kaanapali and back. Along the way, the right of way
passes right through the middle of a golf course. Further along, we cross
a deep gulch on a curved, wooden trestle. The engineer uses this spot to clear
out the boiler of impurities by letting off steam.
Soon, we're coming into Lahaina station. There is a nifty turntable here where
the Porter 2-4-0 reverses direction and runs around the train to be headed the
right way for our return journey.
Back up near Halawai, we pull through the station, turn Porter
#3 on a wye track, and pull back down into the station where another crowd of
folks are waiting to board.
Afterwards, we drive into town to Lahaina
Music where I pick up a "pineapple-shaped" ukulele to plink on back home.
Lunch consists of some fish tacos at Maui Tacos. Very good! The floor show is
provided by a randomly-shrieking 4 year old at a nearby table with obvious
psychological problems (Mum's ignoring her). Close by, we notice the #1 BBQ
Plate Lunch place (looks like a local spot) which we mentally file away for
I saw this driving around Lahaina. Isn't that rather
blasphemous? And what's with the football?
We still have much of the afternoon left, so it's time to do a little exploring.
The first stop is Maalaea, with a highly-recommended restaurant on the
waterside. It's tucked away, but we finally locate it just away from the pier
area. This might be a good place for our final night (Friday) in paradise.
Now, since we're down in this neck of the woods, we tour Kihei, Wailea and
Makena on the south end of Maui. Kihei is much more pedestrian with its strip
malls and condos, whereas Wailea and Makena are VERY posh - the roads are lined
with palm trees and vegetation is quite lush and green. In Wailea, we pass one
tony resort after another on into Makena.
Just south of Makena, we cross a bridge, and you can literally see where they
stopped watering. In the space of about 200 feet we go from lush green to arid
desert with cactus and scrub -- what Maui really looks like without the
sprinkler systems. The road narrows and becomes one lane. We turn around in
someone's driveway and head back towards Kahului. Actually, we are going past
Kahului to Paia, the last gas stop on the "Road to Hana" (TM) and check out
tomorrow's breakfast stop.
Maui is not a very big island, and we are soon back in Lahaina. I drop Baolu off
for some alone time shopping. I relax in the room and she calls me 3 hours
later. I pick her up, and she's gotten a copper bracelet with a section of old
Japanese kimono attached to it. Very oochie. (How about those orange/green Great
Northern colors?) ;p
Dinner tonight came with a magic show - right in the hotel!
Both the show and the meal was quite good and you can read about it here:
Kupanaha Magic Show Dinner
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The Road to Hanna (TM)
We are out the door by 7am and are gassing up at Paia shortly thereafter at 8.
Breakfast is at this wonderful Mexican/US Southwestern place called Milagros
Food Company. B has the "Popeye" (spinach) omelet and I'm snarfing the breakfast
burrito. Both are huge. I wind up eating a good portion of Baolu's Popeye and so
we're on the road by 8:45. It is quite cloudy along the way and the scenery
really doesn't seem to "pop out" in this direction. Maybe on the way home. After
all, there's only one way out to this place.
The road is one of the world's most scenic. Many one-lane sections where you
have to wait for folks travelling in the other direction. A lot of the canyons
have dry washes. Only a couple have water in them. We notice an old codger
selling coconuts beside the road near Hana. Just before Hana, we turn off for
the lava tube cave - about a half mile long - looks like brownie mix or
hershey's kisses on the ceiling!
#1 - Baolu descends into the lava tube; #2 - An overhead
opening in the tube; #3 - Upside down Hershey's kisses; #4 - Baolu warning any
cave snakes to get lost or she'll BASH them with her flashlights.
On the road again, we're in Hana before we know it. Not much there except a
general store, restaurant and place to buy nick-nacks. I relieve myself in a
sauna-like bathroom outside the restaurant. Much better! (Isn't this exciting?)
We drive a little further down the road to Oheo Gulch - they want $10 to park
and walk in. I don't think so. Instead, we stop and take a picture from the
highway bridge - looks good!
Back we go to Hana. The weather is clearing up nicely and we stop outside of
town for a couple snaps.
Next stop is at the "coconut guy" place. He is a man of few words. He's got a
little chair and table set up with a canopy to keep off the sun. He's got his
little black and white TV out there. His wares consist of a handful of coconuts
that have obviously fallen from the tree in his backyard. He's just chillin' and
fishing the parade of rental cars on Hana Highway.
I say, "Hello" and explain that we want to buy two coconuts to simply drink the
milk contained inside. He tells us we only need one, so we buy just one (for
$3). With a practiced air, he selects a large one and with his machete, hacks
away at the top, inserts a straw, and hands it to Baolu.
We both try it out. It tastes more like water with a very, light coconut
flavoring. Very refreshing. Once we're done, we get in the Mustang and prepare
to drive off. We don't know what to do with the coconut - maybe huck it into the
bushes later on? As we're debating this out loud, the coconut guy overhears us
and wanders up to Baolu's window and offers to break it open for her so she can
eat the meat inside. She says no, and coconut guy is clearly upset, despite his
mumbled response. This is a waste of a perfectly-good coconut and he just won't
have it. Baolu finally talks him into taking back the coconut. He saunters back
to his table, muttering, and we make our escape.
It is much better light for pictures going back, so we stop frequently and gaze
at the view.
#1 - Baolu contemplates ditching the Accountancy racket and
moving here; #2 - Flowers and coastline; #3 - Surf's up; #4 - You can see the
road carved into the mountainside; #5 - A ferocious tiger lurks in the bamboo
forest ready to pounce!
Since we passed it on the way out this morning, B's been getting a hankering for
having an early dinner at Mama's Fish House, just outside Paia. I read later in
my guidebook that this is literally the most expensive seafood place on Maui. We
get a little inkling of that as we drive up. Mandatory "complementary" valet
parking. (no such thing). OK, the valet boys get a little scratch when we leave,
I get it.
We are early for the next "sitting" at 4:15, so we plop ourselves down at the
bar. The fruity concoction is delicious. For $16 a pop, it BETTER be delicious.
Anyway, we get liquored up a bit and soon we are seated seaside with a great
view of the Pacific through the palms.
Baolu's been on a pupu (appetizers) and poke (raw fish) kick this trip. She
happily orders some poke (pronounced, "Po-KAY") for starters whilst I go for the
Maui onion soup. Both are top drawer. I'm starting to call her poke bear instead
of pookie bear.
Main course, we both have the mahi-mahi fish, encrusted in a macadamia nut
coating. It is outstanding. You know the place is a bit more upscale than your
local Taco Del Mar, because the menu not only lists the fisherman by name, but
where and when it was caught! Ours was wiggling around off some reef just
yesterday and it's so good, it doesn't even taste like fish. Washing it down was
a nice bottle of Chardonnay.
For dessert, Baolu had the Polynesian Black Pearl, which is Chocolate mousse and
Liliko’i cream in a pastry seashell.
I think we both give this place 5 stars. For the most part, I'm not a big fish
lover and I enjoyed my mahi-mahi quite a bit. After a round of coffee, we
retrieve our Mustang and head for Kaanapali.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Mickey D's again for breakfast (why mess with success?).
We are out of the room by 9am - Baolu to the beach to tan and me to the shade to
type up these notes you read here and download pictures off my camera.
Today, the plan is to visit the Haleakala National Park - 10,000 feet up the
side of Mount Crumpet (I'm channeling
Seuss). First stop is a Plate lunch at #1
BBQ, then fill up with Shell, visit Safeway for snacking food as it will be dark
when we come back.
Off we go - there are these really cool trees spanning the road with light
purple colored blossoms. Up and up. Through the timberline, through the clouds
and break out into sunlight on top. We spot a Nene (apparently, Hawaii's frikken
state bird) which lands RIGHT in the middle of the road. I swerve to miss the
little beast. No wonder they're almost extinct. It's $10 from Mister Ranger to
get in the park and suddenly the road has no guardrails and the speed limit is
down to 20 mph.
At the top are all the celestial observatories of University of Hawaii and US
Gubmint. There is a huge sign stating this buildings are off limits to the
taxpayers who fund them.
#1 - Taxpayers! Keep out!; #2 & #3 - Funky little
silversword bushes; #4 - Highest point on Maui.
It is sunny and 65 degrees at the top. I'm glad we wore
shorts. The sun is still high in the sky. No way we will wait around 3 hours for
it to set. Instead we visit the small lookout just below which has a great view
of the crater. But the best performance is put in by a camera-toting, Pakistani
woman (lit cigarette sticking straight out of mouth), chasing a mama nene and her
two chicks. The little critters lead her a merry chase across the pavement and
over the trails. Finally she gives up. Baolu and I stand still on the trail and
the nene comes right up to us for these pictures.
Sunset pictures don't bode well here as there is extensive cloud cover and you
can't see the land below. It looks to be a quite dull sunset, actually. Well, at
least the crater and surroundings is looking fine in the afternoon light.
We snap off some shots of the volcanic wasteland.
Photographic urges sated, we drive back towards Lahaina. I've got the Mustang
in 2nd gear practically the whole way down and off the mountainside.
As we drive into Lahaina, the sun is just going down, so we pull over and get
Friday, May 28, 2010
Absolutely nothing planned today. Have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. Drive
out to Kahului to find a plate lunch spot (to eat on the way to airport
tomorrow). No dice. We try every strip mall and likely location. No plate lunch
places. Baolu DOES spot Maui's lone BMW dealer and we buy THIS for her car:
Back onto the coast highway, we roll into Lahaina Town. We
park in the 3 hour lot and notice the local constable writing parking tickets
for all those tourists parked in the "Bus Only" slots. He's doing a booming
We find yet another plate lunch place in town and have more, well, plate
lunches. Baolu's getting her Hawaiian cravings fixed, but good. We actually
split the plate lunch and then have a shaved ice later. The gal remembers us and
smiles. Tourists. Can't live with 'em. Can't live without 'em.
Back to hotel. We do a "pre-pack" as we have accumulated a tremendous pile of
junk. Bottles of Lychee Vodka and 808 liquors, a dozen boxes of macadamia nut
chocolates, ukuleles, you name it. Baolu handles it expertly and soon all our
trinkets and baubles are packed away. Including the sweet, life-giving booze.
Did I mention the booze?
Soon it's evening and we walk down to dinner at
Leilani's. First we sample some
libations in the bar downstairs. I'm having a "Hawaiian Punch" in a tall glass,
that, actually tastes like Hawaiian punch! It is good. I can taste my childhood.
The fellow next to me receives a huge slab of baby back ribs which are just
mouthwatering. As I'm contemplating the soul food beside me, two rather high
strung 20-somethings sit down next to Baolu at the bar. They must have recently
taken amphetamines. They are firing questions at the unhappy bartender. Let's
(the guy - rapidly) "We're-in-kind-of-a-hurry-for-dinner-and-we'd-like-a-couple-drinks-beforehand-and-bring-us-both-a-glass-of-water."
(the gal - rapidly)
The bartender starts to list the ingredients. I'm staring down at my
(the gal - rapidly)
And on and on. These two we disliked on sight. They behaved like they were big
shots back at some office and needed someone to push around. Bastards.
Fortunately, we don't have to endure the
Froegers for very long. We pay off the
barkeep and head upstairs to supper.
Baolu is very disappointed in her fish (very salty - and she LIKES salt). My
small filet mignon is very good, but the accompanying seafood is kind of blah. I
didn't realize until later that this was a steakhouse. Oops. Never have fish at
a steakhouse. And vice versa. Shoulda had the ribs after all.
Dessert, on the other hand was superb. We both tried the "Hula Pie" and the
waiter talked us into getting just one slice. It was massive.
After dinner, Baolu finally got me to take a walk along the beach. In the
dark. She always did
call me a vampire.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
We sleep in today, check out with the farewell ceremony and are both presented
with a string of beads. The story goes if we come back and stay at the hotel,
they will restring the lei's with a WHITE bead to indicate we're a return
customer. I must say it's tempting. Baolu was making a lot of noise about
SELLING her plane ticket home and staying in Maui.
Drive back to Hertz and actually locate the same "shirt off your back" guy. He
didn't bring in a shirt, but his buddy said one might be laying around in the
back. He looked, but could not find one. I put the $50 cash back in my pocket
and we took the shuttle to the OGG terminal. I could say that all day long.
OGG...OGG...OGG... Anyway, through TSA (Trained Shoe Analysts...) and out to the
gate. Holy krep. There's that same, screaming kid we had on the flight over! His
momma is thoughtfully carrying him around the entire waiting area so we can all
hear him shriek.
Again, we watch half the plane board before us. Finally we're back to being
pampered and it is a relatively short flight back to the mainland. Home by taxi after
We had a blast. We did a lot of things. We did a lot of simply NOTHING. Baolu is
already talking about going back in another two years. Kona, maybe next time, or
even Kauai. Simply to make another run for Lychee Vodka. We'll see.
The Tiki god is planted prominently near the front door with sand and lava rocks
to keep him company (so much more interesting than a standard garden gnome).
About a third of this trip was paid off with credit card bonus points. There's
something to be said for using plastic.