Wow, so sorry! We made it back home from Hawaii today (and trust me, I'm whining), and I haven't posted anything about our trip in over a week. I'd had every intention of being more timely, but our days were so busy that by the time we were "home" for the evening, I was too tired to go through photos and write about the day. There were a couple of days that I really want to share with you, though, so I'm going to write about them anyway. Please join me in using my handy time turner* to go back to December 28, 2014...
Alas, today Thane's mom, Carol, had to leave us at noon. Before she did, however, we squeezed in one last little jaunt up 'Iao Valley. To get there, you drive through the community of Wailuku - it's just a few miles south of Kahului (where the airport is). This valley was originally a burial site for Maui's royalty, but more recently (1790) it was where Kamehameha (chief of the Big Island) bludgeoned Maui's warriors bloody in his finally successful campaign to conquer the island. If you didn't know, Kamehameha was the one who united the Hawaiian Islands into one kingdom. His success in this battle was apparently primarily due to using a cannon he stole from a British sloop. So many people died that the river flowing through the valley was clogged with bodies. One name the locals had for the battle was Kapaniwai - damming of the waters.
Now the valley is a lush and peaceful state park. Trails lead to a view of the 'Iao Needle, the end of a long ridge that runs down the valley and a point used as a lookout by those ill-fated Maui warriors, as well as to the river and small taro gardens. The park is working to eradicate from the area plants which are either non-indigenous or not introduced by the early Polynesians from the area. Given the preponderance of non-native flora on the island, I think they have an uphill battle. The photo below is of Carol, Rowan, and I with the 'Iao Needle behind us.
I couldn't resist including this photo of Thane and Carol even though it doesn't show anything of the area. Isn't it adorable?
The real fun of the day started after the 'Iao Valley, lunch/shopping in Paia, and dropping Carol off at the airport. I wanted to check out the olivine pools and the Nakalele Blowhole on the north side of the west "lobe" of Maui. In my opinion, the Kahekili Highway puts the Hana Highway to shame. The Kahekili is just as narrow and winding, but the views aren't as obscured by vegetation as they are along the Hana. With frightening clarity you can see the cliffs over which you're about to plunge down to the merciless rocks and sea. At one point there are two successive switchbacks that each turn nearly 180 degrees, and in another section there's a mile or so stretch that's one-lane as well as totally lacking in shoulders.
It's all worth it, though. The views and the natural attractions are amazing.
The first place we stopped was not a natural phenomenon, but instead was an art gallery and sculpture garden owned by wood carver Bruce Turnbull. I fell in love with the 10-foot-tall giraffes by the driveway, but they didn't fit either my suitcase or my wallet. I satisfied myself with a print of a painting by another artist. If you happen to be up this way, I recommend stopping here.
As we drove north along the highway, the first place I really wanted to see was the Olivine Pools, as the author of our bible, Maui Revealed, called them. Olivine is an olive green (imagine that!) gemstone produced by some volcanoes when they erupt. These pools are apparently full of olivine sand and therefore look green. Because we had other things we wanted to see, we ended up not hiking down to the pools for a swim. We had to leave something for our next trip to Maui, right? Here's a photo of the pools from near the road.
A few miles farther up the highway was what we'd really come for: a hike out to the Nakalele Blowhole. I wanted to take the longer, rougher hike out to it because it went through an area the bible's author called the Acid War Zone due to the way the lava has eroded. More on that in a minute. First, a few photos of the earlier part of the trail.
At the beginning was a labyrinth laid out in stones. I knew from previous experience that I can't in good conscience abort my journey through a labyrinth once I've started it, so I resisted the urge to start this one given the late afternoon hour. Yet another thing to come back for.
The shoreline along here was fabulous, including this great area with a lava arch. I don't know if you can see it in the photo below, but in the foreground is a big lava tube through which the sea roars. The arch is near the back of the photo. (You can click on the photo to open a larger version to see the details better.)
Okay, let's get on to the good stuff. First, the acid war zone. Chemically different basalt from two different lava flows is eroding in this area. Because it's dissimilar, it's being eroded at different rates by windblown sea spray. I have to agree with the bible's author that the resulting surreal landscape looks rather like aliens fought a battle with acid here. I hope you can get a feel from the following photos just how amazing this area is, but really you need to see it for yourself.
Not too far past the acid war zone the trail, such as it is (it's pretty faint and sketchy in many places), leads along the shoreline to the Nakalele Blowhole, the main attraction of the area. It's literally a hole in the lava through which the sea spouts when conditions are right. Conditions were right on this day. Once again, I think I'll just have to let the photos replace many thousands of words. And once again, you really need to see it for yourself. If you and I happen to be in the same place at the same time, I have many more photos that show blows essentially in time lapse, as well as a couple of videos. I don't have a means of including the latter here, darn it.
After about an hour of watching water spew into the air (it never lost its novelty), long enough to be able to predict when the blow would be big based on the sound of the sea crashing into the shore, we took the steeper, more direct trail back up to the highway and walked back to our car. Darkness happens quickly and promptly when the sun sets at 6:00 - there's virtually no twilight in Hawaii - and we needed to get on our way home. We followed the road around to Lahaina, stopped for pizza, and headed back to Kihei.
Can you see why I said I was too tired to add editing photos and writing this post after all that? Thanks for being patient with me.
*Did you get that gratuitous Harry Potter reference?