Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hawaii Day 2: A Hydrologist's Dream Vacation

Maui was under a flash flood watch when we arrived.  The forecast was for thunderstorms and it had been raining on and off all day.  As soon as we got back to the condo that first night it started to rain harder.  We fell asleep to the sound of the wind rustling the palm fronds and a nice steady rain. We woke throughout the night to thunder and lightning, and a roar that in my grogginess I thought was one helluva rain storm.  It wasn’t until 5:30 AM when I got up and went out on the lanai that I realized it was a flash flood in the previously dry creek bed 30 feet off the back of the building!  It was still too dark to see the water, but we could hear boulders rumbling down the channel.  At first light, the creek had calmed considerably but was still raging and about 4 feet deep.  By 9 AM when we left the condo, it was down to 1 or 2 feet.  I wonder how high it had been?  As we ventured out, the damage became apparent.  Streets were filled with debris, and the main road paralleling the ocean was completely closed.  In fact, it didn’t open until four days later so crews could haul silt out by the dump truck load. 

I thought it would be cool to walk along the beach and view the destruction first hand, but when we tried, we got reprimanded and honked at by a crabby woman with a nasal voice over a loud speaker, “The beach is closed due to high runoff conditions. Mahalo.”  Not even 24 hours on the island and we’re already breaking the law.  We caught a glimpse of a gouged stream channel emitting brownish water into the ocean before we scuttled away.

Since it was obvious the beaches were a no go today, we figured we’d drive the road around what people refer to as the north side of the island, but which technically is sort of the west third.

A check of road conditions indicated that the road was closed due to mudslides, so we headed back toward the airport side to a place called ‘Iao Valley.  When we arrived, the road and park were closed there too.  We broke the law again and walked up the road anyway.  The river that carved ‘Iao Valley was angrily carving deeper into its channel and a sign that said “swim at your own risk” was pointing out the obvious.  The rains had created many tall waterfalls, which graced the slopes of the valley.

You know those one signs you always see…

Sometimes they are very appropriate. 

The road led to a trail which led to an overlook for the ‘Iao Needle

which is actually the end view of a ridge created when weaker lava flows eroded away from the denser, more resistant rock of a volcanic dike (magma that intrudes into a vertical crack).   Very cool.

It was still early, so what to do now?  We tried to hike a nearby trail called Waihe’e Valley, which promised swinging bridges and river crossings, but a confusing sign on an open gate at the edge of the plantation property said it was closed, so instead we hiked Waihe’e Ridge.  After a nice picnic, we hit the trail. 

We gained lots of elevation 

over slippery roots on volcanic rocks and soil and experienced the gamut from tropical grass and shrubs 

to Cook Island Pine trees 

to full on cloud forest type vegetation.  

The ridge provided vantage points for nice views looking back down the valley

and up the valley.

The end point is in the West Maui Mountains caldera (~volcanic crater), and though all the ground was covered by vegetation, the topography seemed to be expressing extinct vents and cinder cones.  Even though Drew doesn’t look like it here, he was fascinated by the geology.

We turned around and came down the same way we went up.  After yesterday’s plane ride, it was good to get out and get dirty.

It was a good hike!

After such a work out we deserved a refreshing smoothie and a leisurely drive to Hookipa Lookout, still on the windward side of Maui, to watch the surfers catch some waves on a beautiful cove.

We watched from the lookout for a long time and then poked our way down to the water’s edge to feel the waves crashing on the rocks. 

As sunset approached, we made our way home to the leeward side of the island.  Dinner at the condo consisted of our Costco pineapple bacon chicken sausages (when in Hawaii, eat pineapple!) grilled on the community gas BBQ at the pool.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Maui Day 1; Arrival

January is a great time to escape from the Salt Lake Valley.  The air quality is often bad and the temps are frigid.  So on Tuesday,  January 11 we flew, compliments of Southwest Airlines, to Oakland, California.  Got a hotel and lined up for the 7:45 a.m. departure on Alaska Airlines direct to Kahului, Maui, Hawaii.  I had a paid ticket, but Drew was on space-available.  Wednesday morning it didn’t look good for him. I boarded the plane with a plan B in place in case he didn’t get a seat. (Plan B was for him to fly to Los Angeles and try from there. I said I would come back to the airport and get him later that night, after I had checked out the beach.) At the last minute, he strutted onto the plane and took an aisle seat right behind me.  Lucky dog.  

It was raining when we arrived, but oh so warm and lush.

At the rental car agency, we opted to upgrade to a Dodge Charger. That turned out to be a mistake because it is very hard to see out the windows of the gas guzzler.  Go America!  We were too cheap to spring the extra $140 for a convertible.

We had read about how expensive everything was on Maui, so we did like everyone else that had been on our flight, we went shopping at Costco.  After loading up on precooked sausages and hummus, we headed to the town of Kihei and found our way to the Grand Champions studio condominium we found through  The place wasn't fancy, but it had a mini fridge and mini kitchen and fit the value bill precisely.  

The owner was really nice to do business with and had included a set of beach chairs, beach towels, coolers, and boogie boards for our entertainment.  The best part of the condo was that the lanai opened towards the outside of the development on a thick forest greenbelt so we couldn’t see any buildings or other units.

Grand Champions is located next to a golf course and tennis center, about two blocks off the beach, which worked out fine for us.  Drew napped while I looked around the rest of the complex.  

Later we walked to the beach for a sunset stroll.

And found a restaurant where we had pizza and two beers for $48. Welcome to Maui.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Introducing Marley and Max

Drew and I spent a week in Maui, Hawaii last week and I've got several posts in the works with awesome pictures and videos, but with there are a lot of pictures to sort though, so it might be a few days until the first one is up.  In the mean time, I wanted to make this "birth announcement".

Drew and Lucy
are proud to announce their happy adoption of 
Miss Marley and Mr. Max

Born around Thanksgiving 2010
Max 3 lbs. 12 oz.
Marley 3 lbs. 2 oz.
(As of 1/23/2011 - I just weighed them on our food scale. They didn't really like it.)

We adopted them from the Human Society only a few hours after their foster human brought them in for adoption. Seems Max and Marley's mom was a 1-year old cat that gave birth to these two precious little babies two months ago.  Friday was their first day up for adoption.  It must have been fate - Thursday I suggested to Drew that we go down to see if the HS might have two kittens we could adopt.  We were busy doing other things until late Friday afternoon, so if we had been on the ball, we would have missed these guys.  We were hoping to find litter mates, so they will have already bonded and can keep each other company when we go out of town for a few days. We were lucky to find them this young, and SO CUTE.

Max is much bigger than his sister, but doesn't bully her at all. He has more black on his face and big paws.

Marley is a petite little thing who can already jump twice her height. She is more vocal than Max.

They are very well bonded to each other. They play together...

sleep in one ball...

and even use the litter box at the same time.  Marley regularly grooms Max,

and they are hardly ever in different rooms.  Their favorite games are string, laser, and chase the tail.  They seem to be adjusting to life at our house away from their mama very well. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year's Eve party, sans Drew

Drew was working again, but at least was able to spend New Year’s Eve with friend Kathleen in San Jose while I partied it up at the Wedge’s rocking New Year’s party.  There were lots of bike friends

raffle prizes, Guitar Hero (or maybe it was Rock Star, I don’t know the difference but I know I’m horrible at both of them) 

 and a game I had not played before where you try to match the cartoon dancer on the TV screen and get points for doing the correct moves.  It was intoxicatingly fun and surprisingly hard. HHH rocked it, but I couldn't dance my way out of a rage to save my life.

Even the guys got into it.

Before we could dance off the Jagermeister shots, it was 12:00 and time for noise making vuvuzelas.

 They were much louder in the house than on the balcony.
A call to Drew an hour later completed another holiday apart.

New Year’s Day, while Drew continued to work the skies, I went snowshoeing with bike friends and a borrowed dog named Lucy.   

 It was fun, but these holidays apart are getting old. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Early New Years

The travel adventure continued on the Monday after Christmas.  I had purchased (against our principles) a one-way fare on Allegiant Air from Minot to Las Vegas.  The plane ride took me over Utah, which was socked in with a ground fog inversion layer.  I could tell we were near Delta, Utah when I noticed the steam from the smoke stack at the coal-fired power plant rising ominously above the ground fog.

Another key landmark south of Delta, the top of an extinct cinder cone volcano, peaked its crescent ridge out the top of the fog.  

Vegas was warm and clear, but very busy.  So busy chances were I was not getting home that night on Southwest, so Drew, just finishing a trip in Oakland, came to my rescue and we spent the night at the crew hotel before returning to SLC and going straight to work for me the next day.

We had a few days together before he went to work on New Year’s Eve and the Wasatch Mountains had a huge dumping of fresh powder, so we went snowshoeing.  Although we didn’t get moving until almost 11 AM, we still had fresh tracks in one of the most heavily used canyons near town, Mill Creek Canyon.  The powder was up to our thighs and so deep we couldn’t see the trail in places.

It made for slow, delightful, clean, fresh fun.

While we were gone, the Christmas cards from friends and family rolled in.  We were delighted to hear from all of you and proud to place your card on our mantel.

Tomorrow's post: New Year's Rocking Eve.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas #2: Planes, trains, and automobiles.

Meanwhile, my Christmas version of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles began.  I arrived MSP flying for free on Southwest, took the airport train to a shuttle stop, and then took a three-hour van ride to a small town in northern Minnesota where my sister Jackie, who lives in these parts, picked me up.  I crashed the night at her house in the even bigger woods.  In the morning, after some Lakes Latte for the road
we headed west in her car.  Our route took us past lake after lake dotted with ice-fishing houses, reminding me of one of my dad’s favorite winter pastimes. 

Out of the woods and onto the prairies of North Dakota, land of all things Scandinavian. Even the license plates are Norske. This one days YA DEN,

as in, “ya den, vee best go to da store fer Lutefisk fer church supper,” which translated means, “yes then, we should go to the grocery store to buy fish for the Lutheran church Christmas dinner .” Gotta love dem Norwegians.

We picked up my niece, Abby, in Grand Forks and continued west across nearly all of northern North Dakota.  Somehow, we got lucky and the roads were in fine shape. After 8 road-weary hours we reached home where Mom was waiting with delicious hot and hearty cheeseburger soup and homemade rolls.  You just don’t get that in Utah.

Christmas Eve day was spent making fancy candy,

visiting my brother’s house and great nieces and nephews
And of course opening presents. Abbie's boyfriend actually went to a fabric store and bought Jackie fabric, cool fabric.  Now that is a young man that knows what women want! (Jackie is a big-time seamstress).

 It is hard to believe my nieces, Abbie, right, and Aleshia, center, pictured here, are old enough to drink wine with me.  Holy cow, I've seen a lot of Christmases!

Christmas day we loaded up the SUV and on the road again we went to sister Di’s house in Williston.  She hosted 17 for dinner.  There were some helpers to put on the meal, especially when Tod carved the turkey

 But Di did a lot of work and it showed because her house looked beautiful and the food was delicious.  Although she and I look a lot alike,

 She can clearly handle a much larger holiday crowd than my Thanksgiving attempt.  
After dinner the fancy candies Jackie and Abby spent so much time on made their squeaky debut.

 Oh fer cute!
We lounged around visiting, opening more presents, and, of course, stuffing goodies into our already full tummies.

The next couple of days were spent lounging in Mom’s new house

and taking in the startlingly beautiful winter landscape around her.
 Cows are part of that landscape.

Soon it was time to go back to Salt Lake and rendezvous with Drew after his three-day work-through-the holiday trip. 
Tomorrow's post: landmarks.