Monday, June 11, 2012

Maui No Ka Oi

I took my time and drove down to Nu’u Bay. I had been there a few years ago and had always intended to get back and spend some time. There was a large village of fishermen that lived there at one time: King Kekaulike and afterward, his son Kamehamehanui, both were in residence at different times.  I found the petroglyph field easily and began photographing. Was it the light, the squall that was brewing or the fact that the images had actually weathered that much in just a few short years? Whatever the reason, they were worn—the whole place was “worn”—just plum worn out. The sadness in the air, palpable.  This particular petroglyph caught my eye because it was the one that looked almost alive. Did its sense of being alive come from the way it had been drawn on the rock—had the artist really intended it to look so alien? Whatever it was, it stared at me with big round eyes—and stared and stared. I could hardly bring myself to move; I was transfixed for I don’t know how long.

I went on down to the rocky beach. The wind was whipping up the waves and when I looked to the left, I saw the squall racing toward me.  I snapped a couple of pictures and shoved my camera back in its case because the rain was upon me. In seconds I was drenched. The keawe thicket beckoned and I crawled under the branches to get out of the worst of the rain. 

 I stumbled through the grove until I found the trail again.  I looked down and saw blood running down my arm, mixed with rainwater and sweat.  It looks much more dramatic than it was.  When I got back to the car, I wiped my arm off with a Starbucks napkin and examined the small nick I’d gotten from the keawe thorn.  Yes, I had paid in blood, but it was a small price.

 Every time I looked in my rear view mirror, I could see the squall chasing me up the coastline.  I drove for a few miles and then stopped to take pictures of Kahaleamakani Gulch.  The road crew had put up the rock nets to protect what few travelers venture into these parts. Although I understand the danger falling rock represents (and almost was the victim of a boulder on the road one night near Hanauma Bay), I still look at those nets as putting the rocks behind bars.

When I got to the other side of the Gulch and up to a pull-out, the wind pushing the squall was right in my face. The closer I got to the edge of the cliff, the stronger the updraft until it was all I could do to stand up in order to take this picture.  Below there were lots of stone walls—windbreaks for the fishermen who camp down there in better weather.  Just that few minutes of picture taking and the squall had caught up with me again. 
I looked over to the slopes of Haleakala—which are behind the clouds that were scuttling along—seemingly as fast as I could drive.  I knew that somewhere behind all those clouds there was a 10,000 foot mountain.

 This is a small section of the King’s Road. Every year, the king would make his rounds of the island, collecting taxes.  As I flew in from Honolulu, I was also able to make out part of the king’s road around the Lahaina area. It’s easy to see once you know what you’re looking for.

I had always wanted to find the petroglyphs behind Buzz’s Steakhouse at Ma'alaea Bay. First I had to hop the traffic railing and wait until both lines of traffic allowed me to scurry across the road. I walked straight up the hill to the water tower. It was hot, the sun was beating down on my head (I hadn’t worn a hat because I figured I’d just be fighting the wind for my hat), and I had only a small bottle of water. The road went up at better than a 25 degree angle and my old body felt it!  I sat down and rested in the middle of the road, watching that same squall coming up the coastline.  I found some petroglyphs, but I’m not entirely certain they are the ones I’ve read about.  Nonetheless, here is one.

 The next day I drove my friends up to the crater.  Allison hadn’t been up there for years; D, the old horseman, used to take the tourists down in the crater in 12 person trail rides.  At about 8,000 feet Allison said she was feeling funny. By the time we got out of the car at a little over 10,000 feet, she was dizzy. We walked up the trail to the top of the rim. This is the Kaupo Gap—the place the last lava flowed out of the crater. In the distance is the Big Island—hidden in the clouds.

This is the Ko’olau Gap, the other flow went down the windward side.  When we were able to sit down on the boulder and get out of the wind, we tarried long enough to get a sense of the rarified air and the intense quiet (when the tourists weren’t jabbering). I had a small bag of potato chips in the car, and the bag swelled up with air until I thought for sure it would explode. I wanted to open it up there—just to see what would happen—but D said, “You’d have chips everywhere!” so I decided I’d watch the bag decompress on the way down.  I was busy driving and forgot to look until we were down to about 3,000 feet, and by that time it was almost back to normal.

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