! So I thought I owed it to myself to check out warmer climes. Having already lived in Florida, a friend suggested I check out Maui. So I booked my frequent flyer ticket, got myself a house off Craigslist overlooking the Pacific on the magical north side of the island in a place called Haiku, and flew across the country and halfway across the Pacific. Voila, I find myself in a land with the most perfect weather I've encountered on my travels. My friend picked me up from the airport, decked me out in leis of tuberose and orchids, and we headed over to Lahaina town and listened to live jazz and ate fish burgers at the Cool Cat Cafe. A Mai Tai got me further into the island spirit. The next few days I spent lounging in the sun, swimming the surf and watching the unbelievable sunsets across Lahaina bay to the island of Lanai. Over the next week, my friend took me to a beach with crystal blue waters for swimming, bordered by shade trees to protect mere mainland mortals from the island sun. Then off to another strand, this one flanked by languid coconut palms blowing in the tradewinds. Here the aqua waves were manageable enough for me to surf. I hadn't been on a board since Jan. 2007 surf camp in Lancelin Beach on the west coast of Australia. I was stoked to be out on the waves again, and with my friend's gentle instruction, I got up and rode a few waves all the way in. Of course, no photos of that - but great memories. There is something awesome about feeling the ocean's power underneath you, tapping into its energy and cooperating with it to guide you into shore for a ride
. I wonder why we can't cooperate with nature all the time?? Life would be so much smoother........ We also explored the hip little town of Pai'ia, nearby to my house, with its quaint shops, fantastic restaurants, awesome beaches and natural food market. I also checked out Makawao, where there are lots of artists studios, most famously glass blowing http://www.hotislandglass.com/index.html and Kula, on the way heading up the dormant volcano of Haleakala, with panoramic bicoastal views of the verdant Western Maui mountains. Here we visited the Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm, where we had a tour of the lovely gardens which filled our noses with the soothing fragrance of the many varieties of lavender, and seeing protea and other tropical plants. http://www.aliikulalavender.com/akl_tours_parties.asp#2 After our tour, we enjoyed lavender tea & dark chocolate while overlooking the tremendous views of the western part of the island, and got a gorgeous bouquet of proteas & eucalyptus for $3!! We then headed to Ulapalakua to see the winery, which was closed by the time we arrived. Not an issue, as it was the stunning landscapes along the way that was the real treat. Rolling hills and open farmland in every shade of green reminded me of Ireland and Scotland, with mists floating down from the high summit of the sacred volcano of Haleakala. There were even old stone walls to separate the historic farm lands. This section of the island is "old Hawai'i". The ancient land and its old trees almost whispered its secrets to us as we slowly wound our way through its narrow lanes. A circle of trees at the winery tells me they are glad I have come to visit. I am glad too.
At one point on my travels, I thought about heading to Hawai'l from the Pacific region, then going up to Alaska. I could hang out and get to know these exotic locales without having to worry about visas, and if I needed to, I could work and make some moola. However, that idea got nixed when airfare from Australia to da islands in the spring was not affordable. Instead, I headed north to Bangkok and then on to London, spending the summer in the UK, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. That turned out to be exactly where I needed to be at that time. After spending the winter of 2008 in New Hampshire, where a record snowfall meant over 100 inches of the white stuff, I decided to use some of my frequent flyer miles accumulated on my travels to finally head over to the westernmost islands to see if it might be a good place to hibernate over the long, cold winter. Not so much to escape the snow, which I adore, but to avoid the astronomically high heating oil bills, currently hovering at about $4/gallon. That could mean two or three grand just to make it through the winter