Category: life on Maui

What to do if there’s a tsunami

The Pacific Ocean can look so peaceful

Yesterday around 9PM I saw on social media that Hawaii was in a tsunami watch with a predicted 1AM arrival time. There had been an 8.2 earthquake off the Alaska coast. I pulled out my guest contact information and started calling our guests, starting with the ones needing to prepare for evacuation. Thankfully by the time I was done (and had filled my own bathtub with water, started the dishwasher and plugged in my phone), the watch was called off. It’s good to be prepared.

The likelihood of there being a tsunami while you are on vacation is very slim, and yet, it’s a good idea to know what to expect.

Tsunamis are caused by displacement of ocean water, usually by earthquakes. There are two types of tsunamis – those caused by a local earthquake and those caused by earthquakes far away.

Local earthquake

If it is a local earthquake and you are at the beach, there will be little time for warning. Here are the signs to look for:

  • sudden pulling back of the water
  • earth moving for at least 20 seconds, possibly knocking people to the ground
  • hearing the ocean roar

If you experience any of these while at the beach, you should move away from the beach to at least 100 feet above sea level (one mile inland or in a pinch at least to the fourth floor of an apartment building). If it is a local earthquake, the tsunami waves could arrive within minutes.

Far away earthquake

If it is a far away earthquake, there will be more warning time. The NOAA Pacific Tsunami Warning Center tracks all earthquakes and monitors their DART buoys for possible tsunamis. Should there be a tsunami headed our way, they issue alerts via local media (radio, local TV stations etc). For Maui specific news, follow MauiNow and Maui247 on Facebook or Instagram.

The most obvious warning will come from the tsunami sirens located wherever there is danger of flooding (if you are in a remote location, there may not be a siren). When there is a tsunami warning, these will start wailing (steady three minute tone), fortunately not non-stop but at regular intervals (note: there are monthly emergency tests the first day of every month at 11:45 – don’t panic!) If the sirens start wailing, listen to the local news and follow their directions. Warnings will always tell you when the first tidal wave is expected to arrive. Please listen to these warnings and obey them.

What happens in a tsunami

Prior to the tidal wave, the water will recede further than normal, and then come rushing back in. This more extreme wave action will continue for multiple hours. Here is a NOAA animation of what can happen.

You will want to avoid going into the ocean for a day or two after a tsunami as the ocean is in turmoil, normal currents disrupted. The water will be brown and sharks hunting for food.

If you are familiar with our Sugar Beach condo, the former resident manager Cliff Jordan (now a local realtor) filmed this incredible footage after the Japanese tsunami in March 2011. Note, that tsunami hit Maui around 3AM. Cliff filmed this four hours after the initial waves hit. The initial waves came as far as the BBQ area but also circled around the building and flooded the parking lot. Thankfully the groundfloor condos were not flooded, however guests in the first three floors were evacuated. Ma’alaea Harbor sustained significant damage, in Kihei portions of South Kihei Road were covered in sand, fish and coral.

Do you need to evacuate?

How do you know if you are in an evacuation area? Here is NOAA’s tsunami evacuation map, if you allow it to know your location it reduces the need to search and guess. Kamaole Sands and Sugar Beach condos, you are in the evacuation area. Maui Kamaole or Palms at Wailea condo, you are NOT in the evacuation zone (you do not need to evacuate).

If you need to evacuate:

  • pack your valuables and documents
  • pack food and drink, a flashlight and blanket. Bring some beach chairs along too, evacuations can take a while.
  • close windows and lock the condo behind you
  • head out of the evacuation zone. There are churches (Kihei Lutheran and Hope Chapel) along the Piilani Hwy that open their parking lots to those who need to evacuate. In the past Safeway parking lot has become a bit of a town party. County shelters don’t open until after a tsunami has occurred
  • on Maui shelters do NOT provide anything besides a roof and bathrooms. You will need to bring all your own supplies
  • do not return into the evacuation area until officials give the go-ahead. Remember, it isn’t just one tidal wave, they come in sets for several hours. If there is damage, it may not be safe to go back – so please wait

If you are not in the evacuation zone

  • avoid unnecessary driving (the roads get really clogged)
  • ensure you have working flash lights and your phones are charged (there is always the possibility of a power outage)
  • make sure you have lots of drinking water and also water to wash (clean and fill the bathtub, sinks, pots for non-drinking water purposes)
  • listen to the local news – before the tsunami wave is expected to arrive, the County shuts down the sanitary sewer system. Avoid using the toilet once that happens – when the sanitary sewer is shut down, all sewer will go directly into the ocean

It will be very difficult to find local Maui specific tsunami information. Most of the news will be about Oahu (this is frustrating).

best Maui news

Hawaii news

  • HawaiiNewsNow
  • KITV News
     

    Please do not put your life and that of others (who may have to save you) at risk by going to the beach to watch!

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Cancellation of the post-arrival testing

Early May Mayor Victorino put new post-arrival testing in place for all arriving on Maui. To many it seemed over the top, as most arriving also do a pre-travel test 72 hours prior to arrival. However, the mayor was under some pressure from many residents to prove that reopening tourism was safe. There are many residents who were insisting that travelers were bringing in new Covid variants (they have to come from somewhere, so there is some truth to this). As of tomorrow (June 4, 2021), this post-arrival testing is being cancelled. Please note, you still have to do the pre-travel test (Safe Travels program).

What were the results of the post-arrival testing

Between May 4-31 nearly 93,000 people received a rapid test upon arriving in Kahului airport and 26-29 travelers tested positive. The positives were then given a PCR test to confirm, and of those 5 tested positive – 3 visitors and 2 residents.

The news article does not state if the positive residents had done the pre-arrival testing. While most of those arriving in Hawaii are taking the pre-travel test to avoid the mandatory quarantine, there are some residents who choose to do the 10 day quarantine rather than deal with the testing. Additionally, the article does not address if those who have exemptions from the pre-travel testing (flight crew, essential workers etc.) were being tested.

Not all arriving on Maui were subject to the post-travel test. Travelers were exempt if they showed valid proof of full vaccination (plus 14 days). Also I’m told the post-arrival test station was closed when some arrived.

Safe Travels program (pre-travel testing)

Hawaii does still have the pre-travel testing requirement to bypass the mandatory 10 day quarantine. Unfortunately at this time there is no exemption for those who have proof of vaccination. Please make sure you are checking the official State website for your information. There are a few scam ones out there. Note, there is no charge or fee for the Safe Travels program, with exception that you do have to pay for your Covid tests (directly to the provider).

The official websites are:

  1. https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/
  2. https://travel.hawaii.gov/

Is Maui tourism back to normal?

Maui’s daily arrival numbers are back to near ‘normal’. A recent news article showed that we are actually right around 2018 visitor numbers, 5% down from the previous high of 2019. However, it is a bit of a different experience.

  • The State recently dropped the outdoor mask mandate, but we do still wear masks indoors and when close to others.
  • Rental cars continue to be in short supply. I am told 40% short. Book yours now. Please show respect and do not book Uhauls and the likes (it certainly complicates things for residents).
  • You will need advance reservations to get into many restaurants – Restaurants and stores are still operating at reduced capacity. Or just get take-out.
  • As with elsewhere in the service industry, employers are having a difficult time hiring employees, such as waitstaff and cleaners.

Yes, Maui is here and it is beautiful. Please be patient while we work to get back to normal.

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How to make a plumeria lei

When we first started coming to Hawaii in 2002, I fell in love with plumeria blooms and their scent. Did you know, the actual tree is rather odd-looking, usually knobby and with long large leaves. Plumeria come in many colors and yes, they can be strung together to make amazingly scented plumeria lei. Unfortunately for me, I have hay fever, and plumeria do set me off. However, thanks to Covid, my filter mask and nasal spray kept my nose ok.

One of our sons is graduating highschool this year – Class of 2021! – and so for the past 6 weeks I’ve been attending hula lessons in preparation for the traditional moms hula dance. Have you ever danced a hula? In 11 years of living here, I have not. In addition to learning the hula, someone had a brilliant suggestion – we should all make flower lei to present to our children after the dance. Oh sure…. I will admit to a little panic.

Fortunately one of my friends (fellow mom of senior) knows how to make lei. We have several white plumeria trees in our yard, and my friend had the needles and the know-how. What could go wrong? We got together for a practice session this past weekend, and then this morning was lei-making time. I went out at 6:30AM to pick the blooms, as my google search had instructed me to do. When you pick the blooms, the sticky white sap drips both from the tree and blooms – be careful as it is hard to get off. Plumeria don’t seem that fragile, but the more you touch them, the quicker they will bruise and wilt.

My friend arrived shortly after and we set to work. We measured a 4 1/2 feet of thread (we used double thread) and threaded our needles. She had a 4 inch crafting needle, I just used a regular needle. Then we pulled the needle through the center of the flower down through the stem and strung our lei. My next door neighbor has beautiful multi-hued (pink and yellow) plumeria, so we made a bit of a pattern – five white, one colored. Once completed, we tied the strand together. Because of my big hair, I kept my lei long, my friend shortened hers a bit. See my candy lei post for lei giving/receiving etiquette. You want the lei to hang down your front but also your back (not around the neck per se).

We are so pleased with how our plumeria lei turned out. We put them in ‘contraband’ plastic bags and flicked a little water over them before loosely tying the bags and placing them in the fridge. Don’t squeeze the air out of the bag.

Contraband plastic bags?

In 2011 Maui banned single use plastic shopping bags. You can still get small style bags in the produce and meat department, but at the til everything is paper or recyclable bags.

Hula?

Yes – we danced our hula at the graduation luau today. Usually this would be an evening event and we’d have danced outdoors on the lawn, however, due to Covid the hula and slideshow were done indoors (where they could control the lighting).

Here is Sig’s hula video. I am wearing a blue/white flowy shirt from Blue Ginger (Shops at Wailea – love this store) and black capris. And yes, I’m wearing my plumeria lei. We all wore our masks (this definitely helped with the hay fever from the plumeria scent). At the end of the dance, we presented our lei to our kids. It was lovely.

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Outdoor Mask Mandate Lifted

Yesterday Governor Ige lifted the outdoor mask mandate for the State of Hawaii. Naturally we are to use common sense. Larger gatherings are still not allowed. And, private outdoor venues may still require masks.

Note, in the State of Hawaii we are still required to wear masks indoors (including public transportation). The new rules apply to all, vaccinated or not.

It will definitely be nice not to have to worry about the outdoor mask mandate and it’s enforcement when walking the Wailea resort walk (our fave).

At this time 49% of Hawaii’s eligible population (ages 12 and up) are fully vaccinated, with more waiting for their second dose. As school lets out this week in Hawaii, there have been many popup vaccination clinics around the State.

Other Maui updates:

It’s graduation season – kids are finishing up their school year this week. We’ve been cautiously celebrating graduations around Maui. Last week Maui High, Baldwin and Lahaina Luna all hosted graduation ceremonies. I’m told graduates were allowed two guests each at the ceremony. We’re definitely seeing more subdued celebrations, but it’s still better than 2020.

my candy lei for graduation celebrations

Rental cars continue to be in short supply and crazy expensive. I haven’t heard the Maui numbers, but on Kauai roughly 40% were shipped back to the mainland/sold. We have numerous guests who have not been able to secure a rental car. If you have a trip planned and want a rental car, please book that ASAP.

Unable to get a car? There are taxis, uber and lyft (though I’m told the ride-share services aren’t always available), the Maui bus service. We are still waiting for Turtle Tracks to re-start in South Kihei/Wailea – they used to provide a hop on, hop off shuttle service. We’ve seen people rent scooters, bikes, Uhauls and toy cars that barely seem street legal (do double check before you rent). I stumbled across this blog on 11 Tips to get around Maui without a car.

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New post-arrival test starting May 5 for Maui

As mentioned a few weeks ago, Maui’s mayor is instituting a (hopefully temporary) post-arrival test on May 5, 2021.

The current process is that up to 72 hours prior to the last leg of your flight to Maui, you need a negative Covid test which is then uploaded into the Safe Travels App. Only NAAT tests done by the State’s ‘trusted partners’ are valid (please see the official website for the most accurate details).

As Maui’s new Covid infection numbers had not been going down in recent months, the mayor is instituting a second test. The second test is a rapid test which will be done at Kahului airport, free of charge for travelers.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • if you have proof of being fully vaccinated (both doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of J&J) you are exempt (you DO STILL NEED TO DO THE PRE-ARRIVAL TEST). Proof of vaccination means presenting your original CDC vaccination card or certificate of vaccination downloaded from the CDC’s Vaccination Administration Management System (VAMS).
  • the rapid antigen test administered at the airport is free. Results are expected to take 15-20 minutes.
  • if you test positive, you will be asked to return to the airport for a second test, a PCR test this time. You will be notified right away if the confirming test is negative. If you refuse the second test or it comes back positive, you will need to quarantine for 10 days at your own expense. NOTE: by law you cannot quarantine in a vacation rental but would need to stay somewhere on the County’s ‘approved list‘.
  • kids aged five and under are exempt from the post-arrival test
  • see the County of Maui’s website for more details

Where is the State of Hawaii at with their vaccination passport

The State will be phasing in a vaccination passport program. This vaccination passport program will eliminate the need for the pre-travel testing when showing proof of being fully vaccinated.

Phase 1: testing exemption for inter-island travel for those who have been vaccinated within the State of Hawaii

The State is just starting the program, so as of May 11

  • if you have been fully vaccinated at a facility within the State of Hawaii
  • and it’s been more than 2 weeks since you were fully vaccinated
  • upload a copy of your vaccination certificate to the Safe Travel App (starting May 7)
  • these will be manually verified with the State health records

The State is starting the program small – in-State vaccinations are easiest for them to verify.

At some point (possibly in summer), they hope to open the vaccination passport program to those vaccinated in other states.

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Reef safe sunscreens and sunburn remedies

This weekend I got the worst sunburn. It has been a long time since I last burned this badly. Yes I was wearing sunscreen. I just forgot to re-apply. This is ironic since I worked for a dermatologist for a number of years. Ugh.

Did you know, as of 2021 by law stores in Hawaii are not allowed to sell sunscreens containing reef-damaging oxybenzone and octinoxate. Of course, you may still bring these sunscreens into Hawaii, though in the interest of protecting our reefs, we would prefer you didn’t. Here is an article by the Star Advertiser with much more information about the new law.

Sunscreen options

Which sunscreens to use? My dermatologist friend’s favorites were Blue Lizard, EltaMD and Vanicream. Another great way to avoid sunburns is to wear UV protectant clothing and hats. There is also a product called Sun Guard which claims to add UV protection when used in the wash (not sure how long it lasts, I think you need to re-use it from time to time).

I don’t know about you – but I really don’t like wearing sunscreen. My preferred way to avoid sunburns is to stay inside until 4pm and then venture out. Yes, I realize I am missing out of beautiful days in the sun and I guess you should still wear sunscreen even after 4pm… but I’m not much of a beach body anyway, so I’m usually ok with that.

A few of my favorite products – no Advil doesn’t protect you from sunburns. But it helps with the post-sunburn pain. Ugh.

Sunburn remedies

The best way not to get a sunburn is to protect your skin. But when it’s too late….. hydrate, use aloe or aloe products, pop a few Advil for the pain, stay out of the sun and then moisturize to minimize large scale skin flaking. One product I came across a few years ago and love is Mauivera. On Maui you can find it at ABC stores, grocery and drug stores. Yes, Amazon carries it too. Do avoid after-sun products containing alcohol.

As for me – my sunburn is slowly calming down. Yes, I’ve learned my lesson. I will be covering up or staying in the shade for the foreseeable future.

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Lahaina in late November

Last weekend we headed up to Lahaina for a family outing. The given excuse was to buy soccer cleats at Adidas, but really, we just needed to get out and do something as a family. We hadn’t been to Lahaina since July. At that time only a quarter of shops had been open and frankly it was depressing.

Here we are 1 1/2 months into Hawaii having reopened for tourism with the pre-travel test option, and I am happy to report that places are reopening. Yes, there are still many empty shops and boarded up windows, but many businesses are trying to make a go of it. Our tourism numbers aren’t nearly where they used to be, but we are thankful for those who have returned.

Just how many visitors are arriving?

I’ve spent my early morning looking at some of the online statistics. It’s really quite fascinating. Did you know, at this time Maui is getting roughly the same number of daily arriving visitors as Oahu? Interesting since typically Oahu (particularly Waikiki) is the most well-known Hawaiian island.

Here is the arrivals table from December 3, 2020 which gives you a snapshot of that day’s arrivals. (Hawaii Tourism Authority for more daily stats). By contrast, in 2019 Maui was averaging 7000 visitor arrivals/day (so we are approximately at 25% right now compared to last year).

Hawaii arrivals statistics for December 3, 2020

You will note Lihue (Kauai) has next to no arrivals. As of December 2, 2020 that County is taking a temporary break from the pre-travel test program. All arrivals will need to do a mandatory 14 day quarantine no matter what their test result. Not surprisingly this has brought their arrivals to a screeching halt from average arrivals of 500-700/day in November.

Did you know?

A number of years ago a friend told me the cost of rents on Front Street. At the time had several family members who owned jewelry businesses on front street. He said typical rent for a Front Street store was $30,000/month. It blew my mind. Just now I found a listing for the former Na Hoku store at 924 sq ft on Front Street for $26/sq ft. That’s $24,024 plus tax/month (never mind your other costs). How many customers do you need to bring in to make those numbers work? No wonder some of these businesses are slow to reopen or permanently gone.

lahaina
my Volcano Burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers was delicious

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

We tried a new place for dinner. In our soccer cleats quest, we ended up at the Lahaina Gateway Center which used to have a shoe store (no more). There we did find Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. I’d heard about their amazing burgers, so we gave them a try. My volcano burger was great!

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Lessons learned from my mango tree

In the past few years I’ve written a few blog entries about our mango tree. When we first bought our Kihei house ten years ago, we planted a dwarf mango tree. We were so excited to taste our first mango, but our tree had other ideas. We knew of course that it can take a few years for the tree to produce but…. the waiting was still hard.

A few things went wrong. For starters, the dwarf mango was no dwarf. It’s a a large mango tree that just keeps growing taller (infringing ‘just so slightly’ on our neighbor’s ocean view – oops). One year the mango tree objected to pruning and punished us the following year.

Lessons from my tree

I would like to start with a disclaimer – I am not a gardener. I have a pretty black thumb. Thankfully Sig does an amazing job with our landscaping, assisted by our teenaged lawnmowers.

The most surprising thing to me about our tree is that it blooms at least two months after all the other neighborhood mango trees are done blooming. I presume it’s a different variety.

Our mangos ripen at least two months after other mango trees in our area. This means I am drooling over everyone else’s mangos for two months until ours are finally ready. Fortunately I have a friend whose tree ripens in May. It is wonderful to have friends with mango trees!

Our tree’s fruit ripens over the course of several months. This year we picked our first mango in early August. Here it is October and we are still waiting for half our mangos to ripen. This is so different from my memories of apple harvesting as a child. The house I grew up in had some 20 apple and pear trees. They all seemed to ripen within a few weeks of another.

Mangos ripen most evenly when picked green. When allowed to ripen on the tree, our mangos ripen very unevenly. The bottom of the fruit will be overripe while the top is still rock hard. Today I went and picked three green mangos that are starting to soften. They are now quarantining in a paper bag on my lanai table – I don’t know why this works but it does.

Mangos grow in bunches. Generally on my tree, in any given bunch the lowest mango will ripen first.

Mangos that turn color are not necessarily ripe. In fact, we have beautifully yellow and orange mangos that are rock hard while green mangos are softening. When cut and peeled, they taste equally delicious. I don’t know why some of our mangos are colorful and some stay green even when ripe. From what I can tell, sun exposure does not make much of a difference.

Despite all the oddities of our mangos, they are amazing. I don’t know what the variety is called, but they taste very similar to Hayden mangos, though they are larger – 5-6 inches in length. We call them our breakfast candy.

Curious how best to cut a mango? I wrote a blog about that a few years back – check it out!

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Sports are back!

If you love sports, I assume you’ve been enjoying the NHL Stanley cup playoffs, basketball, baseball and the now restarted NFL season. We were of course cheering for the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley cup playoffs. Sadly they are out, but it sure was fun to watch hockey again. It is really strange to watch games without fans and with piped in cheering.

Thankfully Hawaii’s Covid numbers are improving again. Maui’s numbers are steady at 0-5 cases/day after the earlier spike among staff at Maui Memorial Hospital. We are thankful.

As a result, things are starting to loosen up again and guess what – Maui sports are back! Kinda. Covid-style.

Public tennis courts reopened a few months ago, but not for group lessons. The tennis courts are our Kamaole Sands and Maui Kamaole condos are open, but with restrictions.

Soccer has resumed, but for practices only. There are no games – which means that our weekends belong to us! No soccer tournaments (I know I should display less enthusiasm, but those of you who know, know).

Kids’ hockey practices resumed this past month and last week the rec/adult hockey league jumped through enough hoops to be allowed to have practice/scrimmage time. There are of course a lot of extra rules and there is a lot of cleaning involved, but – yeah after 6 months #HockeyNightInKihei is back!

sports
the rink, with a sand dune between the ocean and South Kihei Road

Last night I went to watch one of our kids play a scrimmage at Kihei’s oceanfront inline hockey rink in Kalama Park. Actually it is Maui’s only skate rink and it is open air. Pre-Covid the rec league and adult league games were always played at night. Now that per County rules they have to be out of the park by 7pm, rec league practice is late afternoon Friday afternoons. This conveniently coincides with sunset.

Here are a few pictures from last night. I wasn’t allowed into the bleachers area (for sanitation reasons), but I had rink-side standing room next to the fence! It was fun watching my goalie son in action again. And it’s really nice to see the familiar faces and visit with hockey acquaintances again. We’ve been part of this tight-knit community for eight years now. Love the Maui Inline Hockey Association!

sports
hockey is played on inline skates and in board shorts
sports
ready for action
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Front Street in Covid Lahaina

Sig and I had an errand to run in Lahaina today. After our errand, we parked as we always do in the Hilo Hattie’s parking lot on the Northern end of the Front Street tourist strip to see what Covid Lahaina looks like. By sheer habit, we wandered into the Adidas outlet. Sig always finds something there for the kids. Hilo Hattie’s has moved out of their street front location into the space directly behind Adidas. I wanted to go in, but the doors were locked while staff were on a half hour break.

After our obligatory Adidas purchase, we wandered through the deserted Outlets of Maui towards Front Street. It’s sad to see. This shopping center was once bustling, then died only to be revitalized a few years ago with a number of outlet stores. Now it’s pretty dead again. The big box stores were open, the smaller shops closed.

We walked past our first homeless gentleman towards Front Street. The former Hard Rock Cafe is being renovated, and there is a (strangely) newly opened Waikiki Brewing Company. The Adidas girls told us they serve bbq and is supposed to be good.

We’ve had king tides this week, so the sidewalk was wet from being sloshed with waves. Bubba Gump (Sig’s favorite restaurant) was open but on brief glance, I saw only one person at one of the less favorable tables. It was 5pm. This place would normally be bustling with people. The gift shop appeared to be closed. On the wall just past Bubba Gump’s there were four or five homeless people, just chilling. Another was talking to the security guard across the way. From there on most of the shops were closed, some boarded shut. A couple restaurants were open, such as the Lahaina Pizza Company. I have a few musician friends who used to play there, I had always meant to go and hear them play live, but never have made it.

Honestly, we turned around and walked back to our car. Front Street was depressing. While I generally don’t like how commercial it is, particularly not the high pressure face cream places, this was really sad. Acquaintances used to have jewelry places along Front Street, and year’s ago we’d heard of the $30,000/month rent payments. No wonder everything is closed.

The empty Banyan Tree – Covid-style

The good news

I like to think positive when I at all can. In my opinion it is so much easier to walk through life with a positive attitude. So here is the good news. It only took us 40 minutes to get to Lahaina today, very unlike normal non-Covid driving conditions. And there was very little traffic on the road. And our meeting went well.

But, I wonder when tourism will reopen again.

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