Published: March 5th 2009January 20th 2009
'Iao State Park
Clouds start coming into the valley of the "needle."
We awoke pretty early, around 5:30 am, not because we wanted to beat the rest of our group to breakfast but because we wanted to watch the inauguration. Breakfast could wait till 8:30 and our bus to the airport didn't leave until 10:30. So we tuned in to TV and watched the lead up to the big event.
Some ultra-right wing commentators had been saying what a tragedy it would be if Obama became President. Some even went so far as to say he should not be allowed, that they hoped he would be assassinated before the inauguration.
Friends in rural areas of Wisconsin really believed there would be serious assassination attempts, based on how some of their neighbors were talking.
I wasn't holding my breath . . . exactly . . . till 7 a. m. (twelve noon in Washington, DC, where the President would be sworn in). But we stayed glued to our TV until after 7, when the Constitution said he was legally President, until after he was sworn in in a ceremony botched by the Chief Justice, and until after he gave his inaugural address. We even stayed until Rev. Joseph Lowrey gave the
Sunny 'Iao Valley
Weather was still with us.
benediction. They were all worth waiting for!
Then we went to breakfast.
The political realities almost disappeared once we stepped out of our room, except that there were reminders that President Obama was a Hawai'ian by birth. We saw T-shirts and magazines and some posters celebrating his election and inauguration here and there as we rode to the airport and in the airport itself.
Maui is the next island up the chain so the flight didn't take long.
Maui is called the "garden island" because it has such lush vegetation. The furthest island in the chain, Kaua'i, is also called the "garden island." All the Hawai'ian Islands are beautiful and have flowers and fulsome growth even in the winter. So I'll let them work it out as to which has what nickname. But we sure liked Maui.
Where the Big Island tends to have rolling hills leading back up to the volcanoes, Maui has deep valleys that lead back up into the volcano peaks. The rains that fell over the eons on Maui have carved out these profound grooves.
One such valley is 'Iao. Its jagged walls made up of a crumbling caldera are
covered with a great variety of vines, shrubs, and trees. It was a sacred valley and many of the ancient ali'i are buried there.
This valley is a popular tourist spot because of its distinctive geological formation called the 'Iao Needle. This lava feature which rises 2,250 feet above sea level was used as an altar and place of sacrifice under Kapu and perhaps before.
King Kamehameha was encouraged by the British to take control over the whole island chain, something he was very interested in doing. Taking that jurisdiction would make it easier for him to relate to the foreign traders and whalers because then they would not be playing one island's inhabitants against another's. Their wars had been bad enough of a drain on their resources.
In 1790, Kamehameha took a force of 1200 warriors to Maui. It's king was on Oahu and so his son and the other tribal chieftains chose the 'Iao Valley to take their stand. Thinking they knew the valley better than the Big Island king, they held off the Hawai'ians for two days. But Kamehameha had cannon brought into the valley and bombarded the Maui warriors with terrible effect. John
Young and Isaac Davis, English advisors to Kamehameha, fired the cannon, a first in inter-island warfare.
Maui's king refused to knuckle under to the Hawai'ians and so Kamehmeha returned in 1794 and overwhelmed the Maui fighters.
The 'Iao valley has both state and county parks and is usually rainy, having rainfalls comparable to the rain forest around the Thurston Lava Tube. But we had a beautiful day with a pleasant breeze.
From there, our bus took us to a special park dedicated to the different ethnic groups that had been brought to Hawai'i to work mainly on the plantations that had developed over the last two centuries.
The workers signed contracts to serve for three years. They were not slaves. But the plantations often hired several different nationality groups and kept them separate from one another since some groups got better wages than others. Most went home after one or two terms. But many stayed, establishing their homes, sometimes bringing family members from their home country, sometimes bringing someone for a spouse, sometimes marrying into the Hawai'ian population.
The Kepaniwai Heritage Garden acknowledges these ethnic sources which have become part of Hawai'i over the past
two centuries. Each group has its section of the garden. The photos attempt to capture a taste of their cultures.
After absorbing the quiet beauty of the park, our bus took us to the Maui Beach Hotel.
The hotel is on a main street in Kahului. As Susan promised, it was across from a major shopping center, Queen Ka'ahumanu Mall.
Well, not exactly across the street. To get there from our motel, I had to walk a block the other direction to get to the street entrance to the hotel. A fence prevented going through the bushes right to the street. Having gotten to the street a block away, I had two choices: run mid block across six busy lanes of traffic or go down to the corner to cross at the intersection where left turn lanes cut off pedestrians without any protection from the lights. Then having gotten to a pedestrian island between the left turn lane and the main thoroughfare, I had to wait for the light to respond to my pushing the walk button to get to the middle of the road where I faced having to push another walk button to get to
the pedestrian island between the far thoroughfare and the left turn lane across the street! That meant actually crossing eight lanes with two providing no protection other than my own nimbleness and peripheral vision.
Before supper, I tried the latter route (it was rush hour), was very frustrated by the lights often not responding, got across the street, and found the Radio Shack where I purchased a plug-in jack with a transformer and USB port. Now I could recharge the camera battery from a standard wall socket.
One less camera curse to worry about! Yea!!
Returning to the hotel, I crossed in the middle of the block when the lights were red.
I must comment on our room.
The hotel is a two story building with two wings across from each other off the back of the central lobby. The open end of the "U" is toward the ocean. Our room on the first floor was at the farthest end of that wing. We saw the lawn between the wings, a nice gazebo, and little else. We had to open the windows and door for an hour or so to air out the room. The
moldy smell was a bit gagging at first. But with our coming and going, the smell cleared out . . . mostly. We followed that routine of opening up for awhile nearly every time we came back to the room after being out of it more than a couple hours. No one else commented so we must have gotten one of the least used rooms in the hotel.
I'm not complaining. After all, we were in Hawai'i, right?
Actually, all my life it has been my luck to get the only pit in the cherry pie or the wingnut in the chili, the bit of hardware that fell off the pan lid. I'm used to it.
But like the pie still tasted good and the chili went down just fine, our room was comfortable, had a nice shower, and brought us a pretty good number of TV channels. We had to suffer Judy Woodruff in Hawai'i as much as we did in Florida if we wanted to watch Jim Lehrer's News Hour.
There are more photos below