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Monday, December 12, 2016

MY GOD: Day 2: Haleakala


Destination Maui (I've changed this acronym to Grand Ocean Destination):  an island that has historically only been my 4th favorite island in Hawaii.  I've toured everywhere through this Valley Island and conducted various energy projects here over the past few decades.  I even took the Pride of America five years ago to Maui, and a year before that, I actually drove up Haleakala for the sunrise (above), something everyone should do once.  The Jacarandas were in bloom.

According to the information passed out by NCL:
  • Haleakala, with an elevation of 10,023 feet, is the largest dormant volcano in the world.
  • 50% of the world's humpback whales return to Maui each year.
  • Lahaina supposedly has the largest Banyan Tree in the world.

This time, I bussed up with other cruisers in the late morning...and saw nothing.  It was foggy, windy and very cold.  Good thing I bought that pink sweater explained in this blog yesterday (scroll down), which matched that pink long-sleeve I purchased earlier this year.  Fortuitously, pink is the island color of Maui.  I noticed bikers getting to the top, but those firms that sell the ride down can now only start from 6500 feet because too many serious injuries occurred.  Look closely, and there are three birds that live up there.

Fortunately, just as we were returning down, I got a photo of inside the crater (right), in which, they say, you can fit Manhattan.  I've long thought about hiking from one end to the other, which takes about 7 hours.  Surely, then, you would get great photos, as from Wheretraveler.


Maui is called the Valley Island because a flat area connects two volcano systems:


Haleakala makes up the larger side, with Iao Valley the head of Maui.  They've had some terrible floods lately.

How many know that Haleakala is the third largest mountain in the world?  If, of course, you start at the base of the Pacific Ocean from which this island grew.  But if you want to get picky, Olympus Mons on Mars is much larger:

Turns out that Mauna Loa, while a bit shorter than Mauna Kea, at 13,800 feet from sea level, is more massive, and 100 times larger than Mount Rainier.

Okay, but back to Haleakala (House of the Sun, which, a long time ago, was captured by Maui, son of the Hawaii god of fire), with its floor 2600 feet (below the top of the crater) which is 7 miles x 2 miles.  The more volcanologists study the mountain, the more confusing it gets.  For example, all my life I thought that the last eruption was in 1790.  Nope, now the best guess is 500 years ago.  More so, the crater is now thought to be the combination of two calderas, not one giant eruption.  By the way, Dwayne Johnson, who went to my high school, provides the voice of demigod Maui in the Disney hit Moana.  See that hook?  It snared the Sun.

In any case, as dismal as it was at the top, there is a visitors center at around the 7000 foot level, where I took the following shots, beginning with the Silversword, which only grows here:


Here, the ohia lehua is doing fine, unlike  on the Big Island:


When I returned, I enjoyed a filling pepperoni pizza and blue cheese mushroom hamburger lunch with my Robert Mondavi Chardonnay:


Ever have a three-martini lunch?  Later in the afternoon there was a martini tasting:  $20 for six martinis.  The person in charge was not sure from where the name came, and there must be a dozen origins, but the Oxford Dictionary attributes the drink to Martini & Rossi, the Italian vermouth maker.  The person in charge clearly was a learning novice, for she started with a Vesper, and said it was a combination of gin, vodka and vermouth, with an olive.  Nope, the Vesper came from James Bond, and is supposed to be three measures of Gordon's gin, one of vodka. half of something called Kina Lillet and a large thin slice of lemon peel.  Anyway, it was followed by five more, mostly sweetish, fruitish and up, although one was a Bloody Mary, with gin, thus, called Bloody Martin.  Martini?  I asked for some ice to make them drinkable.



I staggered back to my room to await the next experience.

I went to Liberty, the high class free dining room, for dinner, where there is a dress code.  I was worried because they made a big deal of wearing real shoes, and I did not bring any.  I took both my red and white wines, and tried to cover the slippers with the only slacks I had.  Without a reservation, I was shown to a nice table.  I started with a Caesar Salad and escargots.  The salad was fine, but the escargots were merely edible.


My wait staff was very accommodating.  I thought the clam pasta was a bit simple, so they added raw onion and basil leaves on my request.  For dessert I had creme brule and chocolate lava cake in a berry bath:



I then went to the Aloha Polynesia show.:


Okay, but I've seen this before, maybe a thousand times.  It was only ten so I dropped by the Decades Party, where they started with an Elvis competition, went on to disco and ended up in the '80's.


This brought back long lost memories, for during this period, almost every major hotel in the Orient had a discotheque, so I spent many hours just having a drink, inundated by the beat and blinking lights, and being entertained as I was last night:


Towards the end, mostly females were dancing in groups, although there was a small male foursome, too.  Where have I been?  Many of the dances seemed choreographed for the entire floor and most seemed to know what to do, even old people who surely don't go discoing.

Superlative and breathtaking was My Grand Ocean Destination Day 2.  Tomorrow, I have no tour, so I plan to walk around Kahului and see if I can find Tasaka's Guri Guri, a family secret about a century old and, maybe, fried spam musubi from Da Kitchen Cafe.

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