Friday, November 9, 2012

Vacation pictures! With zero spiders!

Feel free to ignore this post if you don't like looking at pictures of warm places when it's so cold out. We went to Maui! I've never eaten so much banana bread in my life!

We got up at 3am the first morning we were there to see the sunrise atop Haleakala. You can drive a paved road all the way to the top, which is way easier than seeing the sunrise from Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii. When we went up Mauna Kea in 2010 we had to rent a 4WD and drive miles of terrifying unpaved roads with steep dropoffs and no guardrails.

Haleakala October 2012

Because it's so easy to get to the top there were tons of people there. When the sun broke through some people exclaimed as though they weren't sure it was going to happen.

It reminded me of this commercial, which caused me to run around our whole vacation yelling, "Oh, it's so spiritual!"

It was nice but it wasn't as spectacular as Mauna Kea, which looked like this. We were pretty much alone when we visited Mauna Kea, too. Way better.

Mauna Kea October 2010

Good thing there were plenty of other pretty things to gawk over.

Haleakala silversword (Argyoxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum)

We visited the 'Iao Valley and the 'Iao Needle (the giant phallic rock) that was the site of an incredibly gruesome battle between King Kamehameha and the chief of Maui. 

There were taro plants everywhere.

We visited the Korean Garden, which was a mishmash of tributes to the various emigrants that landed on the Hawaiian islands. 

There were spaces for the Chinese . . .

New Englanders . . .

Portuguese . . .

Japanese . . .

We went to Lahaina and saw the single banyon tree that covers a huge park. It was gorgeous.

We attended the Old Lahaina Lu'au, where the food and dancing were spectacular.

We drove The Road to Hana. If we're being honest, I hate things like this, where you drive and stop every half mile to take photos of something scenic. I don't end up enjoying myself at all. But we stopped at the Kahanu Botanical Garden (pictures to follow in a separate post), which was peaceful and nearly empty.

We swam at the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa.

We saw the red sand beach but I was wearing flip flops and couldn't get down to it. The iron in the lava is rusting, giving it this unreal color.

We went powered hang gliding in Hana. This was my birthday present to Greg and I still can't believe I did this. If any of you know me in real life or follow me on Twitter, I get absolutely shitfaced before getting on flights, using a combo of Xanax and vodka. I've gotten waaaaay better at flying over the years but I never look forward to it. I took half a Xanax for this little excursion. It took about 15 minutes up in the air to unclench and then I felt like I could stay up there forever.

The pilot is named Armin and he's wonderful. He showed me Oprah's property and Pat Benatar's house.

This is Greg flying over the road to Hana.

It's a stunning way to see the island and I can't recommend it enough. The funnest part is when he cuts the engine and you just glide. Then he starts diving and swooping and you can't stop screaming and laughing. We stayed overnight in Hana (which I highly recommend) and had dinner at one of two restaurants in town. We sat outside while rain poured down on the corrugated roof and locals performed at the open mic. Hana is wonderful, especially when all the tourbuses depart.

The next morning we got up and visited the Seven Sacred Pools at 'Ohe'o Gulch.

We hiked the Pipiwai Trail, into the bamboo forest, which is one of the coolest hikes I've ever done.

It gets surprisingly dark on the trail at points, the bamboo is so thick. It can get noisy with the shh-shh-shh of the leaves and the clack-clack-clack of the thick culms smacking against each other. It's AWESOME.

The trail ends at the 400 foot Waimoku Falls. We have so many waterfalls in Oregon that I'm rarely blown away by them, but this was very pretty. 

Here's how it looked from the air.

Then our rental car started bucking and dying on our way out of town. We had planned to take the south road home from Hana, which is unpaved for five miles and mostly single-laned with blind turns. There are few towns along it. After restarting the car several times, only to have it die again, the car magically started (thank goodness, as there are no rental car agencies in Hana) and Greg said he still wanted to take the south road. 

This was not my finest hour.

We bickered back and forth, with me pointing out that if the car died on the road, we'd lose power steering and power brakes, possibly while making a sharp turn, possibly plunging us into the ocean. If the car died we'd be in the middle of nowhere. Did I mention we had no cell service either? He still wanted to do it.

So I spent a few hours quietly seething. And worrying. He asked if I wanted to stop anywhere and I basically told him, I will leave you forever if you even think about stopping this car. We don't know that it will start again.

I hate Fords, guys. This shit happens to everyone I know with a Ford. 

But the south road is beautiful and totally different than the north road, with its waterfalls and lush greenness. My friends Amy and Sloan wrote about it here. I can't recommend falling down the rabbit hole that is their travel blog enough. They are fantastic storytellers and they've been amazing places.

The road wasn't as scary as I feared it would be and it was totally doable without a 4WD car.

Despite all the worrying, I thought this drive was prettier than the north road to Hana.

We swapped out our rental car in Kihei and hopped in the ocean for a swim and I felt so much better. Swimming in the ocean is the best palate cleanser ever.

We went snorkeling at Molokini Crater, which has visibility of 150 feet or more. It was great, we even saw an octopus! I always refer to this fish as "the Blazers fish" because it looks like the Portland Trailblazers logo:


We drove around the NW top of the island, which was waaaaayyy dicier than either road to Hana. Unpaved one-lane roads, blind corners, very steep dropoffs and tricky maneuvers when you meet another car going the other direction. But it was so pretty! And there's a great art gallery on the road, as well as the best banana bread I've ever had.

Loree, is this Agave attentuata? It was everywhere and I loved it so much I failed to get a non-crappy photo!

We also laid on the beach and read two books apiece and swam and swam and swam. If you are what you eat, I was 40% pineapple, 20% dark rum, 10% ocean water, and 30% grilled meat during our stay.

Thank you Maui, for treating us so much better than Oahu.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some quick updates

Greg and I just returned from 9 days in Maui. Have you guys ever heard of Maui? It's freaking fantastic. I highly recommend visiting before the rest of the world discovers it.

I kid. October/November is a great time to visit--we had loads of sunshine and didn't feel like we were elbow-to-elbow with tourists the whole time. While we were away Meryl and Chris were interviewed by the NY Times about their renovation roadtrip. Holy shit, the NY Times!

They also wrote about their visit to my house on their blog, on Tinkernation, and on Bob Vila. I decided not to brush my hair on the big day, so I'd look extra schlumpy in photos.

The summary of all their posts is that they feel terrible that they were unable to rewire my entire house, despite the fact that they discovered and fixed a major fire hazard, possibly saving my life and the biggest investment I've ever made. We have one extra thing for the electrician we were already planning to hire to do. And they feel terrible about that. I'm guessing they must have been raised Catholic? That is some serious guilt over an awesome visit.

The good news is that I'm tan and I'm reinvigorated to work on my house. I finally, after three and a half years, weatherstripped my kitchen window. In the winter your hair blows in the breeze, the gaps are so wide. It took all of 15 minutes, but it took Chris and Meryl driving all over the US for me to get off my ass and do it. So thank you for that, Picardy Projectors. Projecters?

I'll post pictures soon of our visit to the Kahanu Botanical Gardens, AKA the land of angry falling coconuts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm still on the fence

I'm still not sure about my rusty wheelbarrow planter but the agave pups I put in there are so much happier. They got water every day this summer but the drainage is very sharp, so they've gone from skinny desiccated things to being fat and happy.

I'm hoping that the sedums fill in next spring before the weeds can.

I'm pretty excited for next summer to see what survives. I purchased a trellis to go behind this area, next to the stock tank full of bamboo. I'd like to plant Kennedia nigricans, so I have black blooms twining behind the yellow bamboo.

Photo source: Annie's Annuals

And then maybe I'll actually plant the surrounding bare ground with some grasses or something so it doesn't look so staged.