Thursday, October 26, 2017

Hana Rhymes with Sauna

While everyone speaks english in Maui, all the streets and towns have Hawaiian names. 

The Hawaiian language was not a written language until about 200 years ago when American missionaries arrived and soon formulated a written Hawaiian language based on the sounds they heard. And based on these sounds, the Hawaiian language only uses 12 letters of the alphabet:  the 5 vowels a,e,i,o,u and 7 consonants h,k,l,m,n,p,w. 

The rules are basic and consistent in the Hawaiian language, so if you take the time to sound out and think through each name, it should be fairly easy to come up with the correct pronunciation. And names like Haleakala, Paia, Waianapanapa and Kahului should sound just like they are written. 

However, as tourists, we usually screw this up and Haleakala ends up sounding like hell e-yeah kella (emphasis on 'hell') instead of holly awe caw law (emphasis on 'awe') I must admit I knew absolutely nothing about Hawaiian language, history or pronunciations before we landed, with the exception of the word aloha and the name Kihei, where we were staying. 

We rented a Jeep because we knew we would do the infamous Road to Hana. (And incidentally it rhymes with sauna, it's not Hannah as most tourists want to say.) Kore and Brandi had already done this drive, and the 6-hour carseat adventure is not really appealing for toddlers and newborns so we knew we would not have them as tour guides along the 65 mile road with over 600 curves and 54 bridges, most of which are single lane. 

Literally minutes before we left the condo I was flipping through a tourist brochure to ensure we had a printed map in case Google failed us, and I noticed an ad for the GyPSy Guide phone app.! This was the best discovery. 

Since returning home, just about everyone who has previously been to Hawaii has asked me, "What was your favourite part?" I didn't really have answer for them because we just generally had a great relaxing, warm sunny family time with some fabulous activities thrown in now and then. The sunsets were amazing. Our condo was perfectly located. And buying wine at Costco -that was a highlight as well. 

But I think I have an answer for the best thing about our trip. And is it sad to say that we went to Maui for 12 days and my favourite thing was a phone app? But truly I think it was. And there are GyPSy Guides for lots of locations, including Vancouver, which I will be downloading next time I go. I bought the 'full Maui' version. You download the app while you are on wifi and it uses GPS (that's where the word "GyPSy" comes from) to track where you are and guide you with tips and tricks. It's like having a tour guide in the vehicle with you. AND it doesn't use data once you get it loaded. However, it does use a fair bit of phone battery life, so I suggest you have it plugged into your car charger, especially if you will be also using the same phone for taking photos and videos. 

The narrator's voice was pleasant and while he doesn't talk incessantly, he gives lots of information and history of the area as well as points of interest that we most certainly would have had no idea about without his input. He gives you plenty of warning when you are going to take exits and gives clear instruction and points out the best parking areas. As an added bonus, you get to hear the accurate pronunciation of towns and streets. Paia is Paw ee awe, not Pie aye uh. And apparently there's a fabulous ice-cream shop there. We didn't stop. 

And the app is spiced with a bit of humour. 

At the beginning of the Road to Hana, he says, "We are just passing the Zero Mile Marker. You may not see it, as it often gets stolen."  

As we approached The Garden of Eden, the app told us about it and reminded us it was a paid entry site, and while it was beautiful and worth the price of admission, there was a free Arboretum just up the road. He really recommended we stop on the way up, as it would more than likely late in the day and we'd be tired on the way back and we would find it easy to talk ourselves out of stopping. And he was right. We somehow missed the turn on the way up and said, "We'll stop on the way back." On the way back, it was late in the day. We were tired. There was no arboretum for us that day. 

Another time he said, "We are coming up to a bridge on a sharp turn. You will likely see a lot of vehicles stopped there. But honestly, there's not really much to look at. Let's just keep going." Now that's the kind of information newbies need to hear. 

On the return trip, the app doesn't just go over the same points of interest, rather he goes through a lot of history of Hawaii while pointing out sights we didn't notice while going the other way. 

I really cannot recommend the app enough. Even if you are a seasoned Maui traveller and have done the Road to Hana many times, I am certain you will be amazed by what you learn - and much of the info will affect how you view the rest of the island as well - even the areas that aren't part of the guided tours.

People recommend you have a convertible for the drive. However, stats will tell you there is a 90% chance you will encounter rain somewhere along the Road to Hana. 

Our first stop was at the painted eucalyptus trees. No, they aren't painted, they grow like that. 

Without the GyPSy Guide we never would have taken the detour to Ke'anae 

This church build with lava was only building in Ke'anae to survive the 1948 tsunami. Many lives were lost.

There are many waterfalls along the way. The size of them can vary day-to-day depending on the rainfall. 

Jime took a dip at the black sand beach

These red cliffs and sea caves reminded me of St Martins in New Brunswick.

View from above the Seven Sacred Pools, which aren't really sacred at all. Get the GyPSy Guide and you can learn all about it. :) 

The blowhole at Waianapanapa Park

Friday, October 20, 2017

What the cluck?

We'd never been on a tropical vacation before. I've always secretly blamed this on my husband who has always preferred to drive wherever we go, doesn't love water and can't handle too hot of weather. But truth be told, while I knew we would enjoy such a vacation, I didn't feel like we were missing out - I also am not a water baby, and while I can't stand being cold, don't really like excessive heat neither. But I do love the ocean. I always have. And I was certainly willing to test out a tropical vacay to see what all the hype was about.

Brandi and Kore, on the other hand are travellers. They love to vacation and see the world. And three-year-old Beatrice has more stamps on her passport than I do. But with the whole zika virus issues, being pregnant kept them pretty grounded over the past year. And months before Daphne was even born, a trip to Maui evolved.

Travelling with a toddler is one thing. And travelling with a newborn is another. But travelling with one of each takes things to a whole 'nother level. I'm not really admitting anything in writing here, but there might have been a bit on conniving between my daughter and I to get a trip planned which Papa would agree to participate in, so I could "granny-nanny." And it took very little bribery to get Jim to come with - he, on the other hand, is a water baby who loves the sun.

And so it began...

As with all flights originating in Vancouver, we touched down in Kahului late in the evening and went straight to the condo in Kihei after we were greeted with a Hawaiian Lei and shuttled off to pick up our rental vehicles. Esther and Craig (fabulous PGers who are friends with B&K, and really everyone they meet) met us in our parking lot with a lovely care package to get us through to morning - wine and a charcuterie board of yumminess. So far so good. I'm loving Island life thus far.

It was late- nearly midnight our time when we arrived. Bea finally fell asleep literally as the landing gear hit the runway.  But both girls are travelling rockstars. They were certainly born into the right family. 

With the whole time zones change thing, and aided by early rising tropical birds, we were swimming in the ocean before 8am the next morning. Even Papa.  And by the time the afternoon Tradewinds picked up, B and I were headed off to Costco to stock the condo for our 12-day adventure. 

As I got out of the vehicle, a chicken hopped out of my way. Do chickens 'hop'? Or walk, or scurry, or whatever it is that chickens do, she got out of my way. What??! A chicken in the parking lot? In the middle of the city. I expressed my astonishment. Brandi's casual response was, "Yeah, there's chickens here." 

Feral chickens are a thing. I hear conflicting stories of where they originated, ranging from "they escaped during the 1985 hurricane" to "the Tahitians brought them centuries ago when they first inhabited the Islands."

I know a lot of people who go to Hawaii regularly. I have never once heard of there being "chickens there." But there are chickens there. Lots of friggin' chickens. EVERYWHERE: in parking lots, in bushes, along roadsides - even the road to Hana. And more familiar to me, they had them on a rotisserie inside Costco. We had one for dinner. 

But there are no sea gulls. None. Not a one anywhere. Odd. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Ugly Parts are Part of the Beauty

One of the seasonal options with Art Class with a Wine Glass

I love my job. I really do. I am an art facilitator. At least that is the title I have come up with for myself as the leader of watercolour wine and paint nights. Not many people can say they created their own job from their hobby, and even fewer can say they go to work, drink wine, party with 5-18 fun loving women (and men) and come home with a pocket full of cash. And all this while picking and choosing which days you do and do not work. I am blessed, this I know. And I am grateful.

Being that autumn is in full swing, this large leaf is a painting I have guided about 30 to 40 people through creating recently. And in every group there are at least one, two or more people who start to stress about the way their colours are blending. Or not blending, whatever the case.

I always start by saying, "If you are frustrated with your painting, have another glass of wine." That usually works. But there are always a few people who need a little more encouragement to let loose.

I maintain that when painting something, you need a bit of time and distance. Distance because you are not going to view your finished painting from 8 inches away, the way your are when you are working on it. And time, because what you are obsessing over in this moment, you are not even going to think about in 45 minutes when you are stressing over some other detail you are trying to work out.  And next week when your painting is sitting on your mantle you will walk by and exclaim, "Holy crap! I can't believe I painted that!"

With this particular painting, I need to remind them it is a dead and dying leaf, it's not actually a picture of perfection. I challenge them to go for a walk (not right then and there, but the next day) and really look at the fallen leaves. They really aren't beautiful symmetrical specimens without blemishes. Without fail, every fallen leaf in nature has spots of blemish and rot and areas that aren't actually all that pretty in and of themselves. But stand back and take in the whole view, and the overall beauty takes your breath away.

It's quite a metaphor for humanity, I think. Up close and on intense inspection, as individuals, we all have rotting dying spots and lines where our colours don't match up neatly and we all have a few jagged edges. But step back and view the masses together, as a community, where each individual leaf contributes an equal amount to the overall beauty.

The ugly parts aren't even seen when you take in bigger picture.

Every blemished individual leaf contributes equally to the overall beauty.  

And check out Art Class with a Wine Glass if you want to contribute equally to my financial wellbeing while simultaneously having a super fun time and amazing yourself with your artistic ability. 

All paintings are designed so that ANYONE with zero experience or confidence can successfully complete them. It doesn't matter if you "can't draw an effing stick man"  (I hear that at least once at most art parties) because I don't make you draw an effing stick man. As a matter of fact, I don't make you draw anything. But I will help you create something beautiful. 

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Sunday Morning Service

We live on a short, quiet street. 

I can see Costco from the end of the driveway and Superstore from the back deck. But because the street itself is only a few blocks long (except there are no cross streets to actually make 'blocks') and it doesn't lead to anywhere, traffic is light. It's a big event to see a police car, school bus or motorbike. And big trucks, like the one that dropped a roll off dumpster in our driveway 3 weeks ago, are practically unheard of. 

This is a stock photo. I didn't take photos of our actually dumpster so I don't have to admit to anything that might have  "accidentally" found its way into the bin. 

Renting a dumpster when doing a major renovation (or a major spring cleaning, for that matter) is the best idea ever. It's convenient and fairly reasonably priced. Of course you pay a 'tipping fee' dependent on the amount of waste you toss, but the bin itself was only $9.60 a day to have it sit in the driveway. Inexpensive, but 9 bucks is 9 bucks. So Saturday afternoon when it was nearly filled to the top and most of the major disposal had been accomplished, we figured we'd give the company a call and let them know we were finished with their dumpster. 

We've had a dumpster from them before, and we had this one dumped and returned after the first two days, so we know the company is prompt and efficient with their service. 

"It's getting late on a Saturday, so I will make a note, but it will be tomorrow before someone picks it up. We work seven days a week." 

Had we known that their work days starts at 7am, even on a Sunday, we would have waited until Monday to call. 

Beep. Beep. Beep. The diesel engine backs into our driveway that is literally 6 inches from our bedroom and not much further from the next door neighbour's window. How many times do you need to release a blast of air from whatever it is that blasts air sound like a rocket taking off before scraping ten tonnes of metal along a concrete driveway. 

Holy Crap! These are not familiar sounds in our neighbourhood. And certainly not at 7am on a Sunday. 

We saved $19.20 by not waiting until Monday to call for pick up. But it will likely cost 10 times that to buy a round of drinks and perhaps a plate of cookies or a loaf of fresh bread as peace offerings for all our neighbours. 

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