I love this time of year – getting together with friends and family, the lights, decorations and all the Christmas music, reliving memories. Yesterday we attended two family style Christmas recitals. I know – it seems like a little much, but both were held in really neat locations and we went to support family and friends.
Keawala’i Church in Makena
The first was a local piano teacher’s piano recital held at the historic Keawala’i Congregational Church in Makena. If you have the opportunity to attend a church service or a concert at this church, do. This church was built in the mid-1800s (exact date unclear to me) out of coral and wood. Nowadays we know not to even step on the reef, but back then people sometimes used coral as a building material. The walls are a foot or more thick and white washed, and there are beautiful native wood floors. The church itself is quite plain, and yet just beautiful. Decorations consisted of two Christmas trees and poinsettias – plain but beautiful. Outside the church you can find a small cemetery (please be respectful) with a beautiful view of the ocean. Check here for an interesting history of the church.
This is an operating church and no, it is not open to visitors during non-service hours. If you stop by when it’s closed, just admire from the road.
The Grand Wailea Resort
In the evening we attended another concert in an entirely different setting, the Grand Wailea hotel lobby. A friend and his neighborhood ukulele band (mainly retirees) performed various Christmas and Hawaiian songs with a few other audience favorites thrown in. It was a family style Christmas concert – our friend is one of the higher ups at the Grand Wailea performing for his employees and friends, another employee danced hula to several of the songs. The band recruited members of the audience to play tambourin now and then. It was overall a lovely evening.
The setting in the Grand Wailea is of course beautiful. Totally different than at the church, the Grand Wailea hotel is one of the fancy hotels here in Wailea and decorated to the nines. If you have the opportunity, do wander through the hotel grounds. Check out the giant ginger bread chair in the lobby, the beautiful decorations and (my favorite) the more than 7 miles of Christmas lights wrapped around trees in the driveway.
We were fortunate to be able to participate in an imu again this year. An imu is an underground oven, a traditional Hawaii style of cooking. For much more information and ‘how to’, check out this link. When you go to a luau, typically a whole pig is roasted in an imu and unearthed during a special ceremony. One of the schools built an imu as a fundraiser – a few parents, teachers and the kids did all the work, while I happy bought my tickets, dropped off my prepared turkey yesterday evening and then picked it up again this morning. Here are a few pictures for you to enjoy! It’s a really neat experience.
A few tickets? Well…. I thought we’d do a turkey and some pork (two wrapped containers) but as Sig pointed out – we had two turkeys in the freezer, so why not just cook them both? The good news is – our Christmas turkey is carved, packaged and in the freezer!
How is it?
The meat is deliciously moist. It has a bit of a unique smell – a bit smokey from the keawe wood fire, and a little different from the banana stalks/leaves. It is absolutely delicious. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in an imu, do! Also, word to the wise, choose a smaller turkey. Our friends’ 20 lb turkeys still needed to spend some time in the oven while the meat just fell off the bone on my 13 lb bird.
This September we took advantage of an opening at our Palms at Wailea condo and moved in for a little staycation while tackling a two week floor installation project at our own home. After all, why try to live through a remodeling project when you can escape it (and the dust) altogether. By the time we needed to move back home, the demolition stage was over and the upstairs of our house (including kitchen) was completed.
I am thankful we had a condo to move into, even if it was a little stretch for a family of five. Our kids are used to their own rooms, at the condo they shared. I am used to my own bed and kitchen. A staycation at your own condo is always the ultimate test as a vacation rental owner. It’s not actually a vacation, but another project. What needs replacing, fixing or doing?
The master bed was amazing. Guests have told us they love the bed, but it was lovely to sleep in it myself, possibly better than my bed at home. I loved the shower – we remodeled the condo 3 years ago and this is one of my favorite parts of the remodel. So big and luxurious. And I love the large tile flooring – almost made me wish we did that at our home instead of the vinyl planking we chose, but then I remembered how much we hate grout lines. It took me a while to get sorted in the kitchen – different space, different places to store things. I did buy nice new pots, the old ones were getting weary. And who keeps using metal utensils on the non-stick frying pans? I have to replace them at least yearly.
Sig’s staycation projects
Sig had his own list of annual maintenance projects. He’s a perfectionist and can’t sit still, so between painting baseboards (at home) and overseeing the flooring installation, he also
drained the hot water tank,
replaced cabinet hinges (slow close),
acid washed and re-sealed the 350 sq ft lanai (patio) and entry,
did some deep cleaning,
replaced filters on taps,
arranged some service work on the dishwasher and fridge,
did some work on the BBQ etc. etc.
He particularly enjoyed sitting in the condo complex hottub at the end of his long days.
Despite all the work (the other condos, my office job, school for the kids, the home remodel, living in a smaller living space etc) I really enjoyed our staycation. I love the privacy of the location – we hardly noticed our neighbors – and the large green lawn with distant ocean view. For now it’s nice to be home again, but we’ll have to plan another staycation.
I thought I’d post a short update on Hurricane Lane on our blog.
August 24 5 PM update. It turns out Hurricane Lane is no more. Thankfully the storm has been weakening and is now ‘just’ a Tropical Storm with maximum winds of 70 mph. Wow. What an incredible ride. We had 2 hours of steady rain this morning and word that the hurricane had stalled at speeds of 2 mph – more delays while it deteriorated. Don’t get me wrong – we are incredibly thankful. Just three days ago we were staring at a Category 5 hurricane headed straight at us. After days of preparation and stressing, today was quite anticlimactic in Kihei. I went for a nice walk in the rain this morning along South Kihei Road (about a third of stores/restaurants were open). Then we did some necessary de-cluttering in our home.
At noon neighbors who were also feeling stir-crazy asked us to join them for lunch. So we had a pre-hurricane lunch at Nalus. I had been snacking (on hurricane supplies), so I wasn’t terribly hungry. I had their fruit bowl while my son enjoyed the mac nut pancakes. Delicious and fun and a good distraction for us all.
August 24 7 AM update. It’s been a quiet peaceful night here in Kihei. We left the bamboo wind chimes hanging on our lanai as it would be sure to wake me if we got wind. Nothing. It’s overcast and dry with no wind. This has got to be the slowest moving hurricane ever. The good news is it’s now at Category 2 status – with winds at 110 mph.
In other news on island – last night a brush fire started up near Lahaina. It’s been windy up there with gusts up to 50 mph, and the fire has spread badly. Officials had to move the emergency shelter out of harms way and entire neighborhoods are being evacuated. The highways encircling West Maui have been closed which means there is no way for anyone to get to the hospital (in Wailuku) other than by helicopter.
August 23 9:30 PM update. It’s been a slow day here in Kihei. It’s been overcast and there’s been some drizzle. Upcountry there were about 2000 people out of power and apparently Kahului airport (OGG) lost power also. But so far we are still waiting. The hurricane’s speed has slowed some more. Moving at only 6 miles an hour, this means that even though the intensity has come down, the storm has even more time to unload moisture and rain. Parts of Big Island got doused today. Soon it will be our turn. In the mean time, here’s what sunset looked like in our part of Maui.
Currently in Kihei (it’s 3:50 AM HST on Thursday 8/23/18) it is calm and quiet. Yesterday afternoon we had some gusts up to 30 mph according to my husband’s weather station. We went for an evening walk down to the beach yesterday and were caught in rain shower.
June through November is hurricane season in the Pacific and as of now we have Hurricane Lane, a category 4 hurricane, preparing to pass close to the Hawaiian Islands Thursday/Friday. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now. I guess now is the time to do it. This is more of a general post on what to be aware of if staying in one of OUR condos. It is by all means NOT intended to be an all-inclusive list, but hopefully will give you some sense of what to expect.
Please note that in case of a disaster, Sig and I will be in touch and try to help as much as we can.
KNOW YOUR CONDO’S STREET ADDRESS. Note that the condo’s cable phone will NOT work during a power outage.
During a disaster it is important to keep calm and use common sense. The condo’s front desk of the property will become the resort’s command center. Please listen to the local news and check with the front desk for more information. During a disaster the Maui Police Department is inundated with calls – they will triage these 9-1-1 calls. It is important for you to secure your valuables (we have a safe at each of our condos).
For hurricanes and tsunamis (except locally generated) you will have time to prepare.
Check your condo’s binder on whether you are in the flood zone and need to evacuate (Sugar Beach Resort and Kihei Surfside yes, Palms at Wailea and Maui Kamaole no). Portions of South Kihei Road itself are considered flood zone and may be blocked off – you may not be able to leave the property after the event. The local power plants and water treatment facilities are also in the flood zone. Be prepared to go up to seven days without water, electricity and outside help. Clean the bathtub and fill it and as many containers as you can find with fresh tap water. Locate and check the condo’s flashlight, check batteries. Charge all your electronic devices. If you have time, stock up on food, paper plates, batteries (for flashlight & radio), gasoline (for your rental car), cash (possibility of no credit card/bank machines in power failure) etc. Avoid unnecessary travel as the roads become clogged quickly.
Earthquakes cause landslides, property damage, and tsunami waves.
Local earthquakes are no-notice events. There is no way to predict them. If you feel an earthquake, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON.
If there is a local earthquake, it typically takes 3-5 minutes for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center to let Civil Defense know if a local tsunami has been generated. If the earthquake is strong enough to knock you off balance and you are in an evacuation zone, move uphill as soon as things stop moving. Don’t wait for a siren. You may only have a few minutes until the tsunami wave arrives.
A tsunami is a series of waves caused by a local or distant earth quake. Do not go to the beach to watch until the all-clear has been given (usually a number of hours). Tsunamis can create erratic currents and there can be debris washed into the water, so stay out of the ocean for a few days.
Maui is equipped with tsunami warning sirens (these are tested on the first day of the month at 11:45am). If you hear them sounding otherwise, move to higher ground and tune in to local news for more information. The siren closest to you may be out of order. If you are in a remote area, there may not be a siren. Signs of a pending tsunami: the earth shakes strong enough to knock you off balance, you hear the ocean roar, or there is a sudden pulling back of the water.
The water treatment facilities are shut down 30 minutes before the first tsunami wave is scheduled to arrive. Avoid flushing the toilet until the all-clear has been given, waste water will flow untreated into the ocean (another reason to stay out of the ocean for a few days after).
You may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own supplies. Even if you do not need to evacuate, keep in mind you may be without water and utilities and the road may be blocked.
Hurricanes have 3 danger components: wind (can also cause tornadoes), rain and lightning, storm surge. During a hurricane, you want to button down anything loose outside (move all patio furniture inside), secure all doors and windows and then stay away from windows.
Again, you may or may not be in a flood evacuation zone. There will be emergency shelters that open, if you do need to evacuate. Listen to the news and check the front desk for more information. Do not go to an emergency shelter until it has opened and, very importantly, you will be expected to bring your own supplies.
Stay out of the ocean for several days. Storms wash debris into the ocean and stir up the ocean currents.
Did you know that the Pacific Ocean also has a hurricane season? I remember mainland news focusing in the Caribbean in years past, but yes, we also have hurricane season – and it also runs from June through November (6 months).
Normally we don’t get much hurricane wise, but a few years ago (2015 and 2016) we sure felt like we were on a roller coaster. At the time I wrote a number of blog posts about hurricanes and what to expect. With Hurricane Hector approaching the islands, I thought this would be a good time to revisit the topic.
Wait a minute? Did you say hurricane? Yup. There is a Category 4 hurricane approaching the Hawaiian Islands as we speak. For more scientific information on Hector, do check out the Central Pacific Hurricane Center’s website. They have many details, cool graphs etc.
Should you be concerned? At this time forecasters are saying Hector will likely miss Hawaii and not to worry. However, they point out we should keep an eye on it, just in case. A few decades ago Hurricane Iniki, the last hurricane to do major damage to Hawaii, was also forecast to miss Hawaii. Unfortunately it veered off course and did major damage to Kauai in 1992. So yes, it’s important to be aware. But no need to panic – yet. In the past number of years any hurricanes and tropical storms that have hit Hawaii, have hit Big Island and its 2 large (14,000+ ft) volcanoes first, dismantling the storm system. Maui is so-to-say rather protected.
What to expect from Hurricane Hector
The immediate things we are likely to see are an increase in clouds, wind and humidity. We may even get rain here in Kihei (honestly, that would be a great thing – it’s bone dry). What you however can’t see, is how the ocean currents are affected by the storm. Please, during and for a few days after the storm if you must go to the beach (if the weather looks ok), go to a beach with life guards and actually take the time to ask them about the ocean conditions. These storm systems can and do affect ocean currents, stirring things up and can increase chances of shark vs human activity. Please be safe and if in doubt, do not go out.
As I mentioned, at this moment it looks like Maui will be fine. Please keep an eye on local media (Maui Now, KHON) for updates and please use common sense.
Out of curiosity – what to expect if Maui were to get hit
Good question, I haven’t actually witnessed a hurricane. I have a disaster preparedness sheet in each of our condo’s binders – review it and monitor local (not Oahu, but Maui specific) media. However, Maui’s Civil Defense has a list of what to do. Check it out.
This past weekend the Maui Roping Club hosted Maui’s 63rd annual rodeo in Makawao. Typically this rodeo is held in and around the Fourth of July, this year just a few days later. The two day event kicked off with a parade down Baldwin Avenue in Makawao. Rodeo festivities themselves started at 4pm on Saturday and again at 1pm on Sunday.
Maui has an interesting ranching history. In fact Captain George Vancouver, who had accompanied Captain Cook on his third expedition which is when they ‘discovered’ Hawaii, gifted several long-horn cattle to King Kamehameha in the late 1700s. At the time the king placed a kapu (ban) on killing/eating the cattle. As a result by the 1830s herds of cows apparently destructively roaming the island(s). This prompted King Kamehameha III to bring in Mexican cowboys to help contain the herds. These cowboys spoke Spanish (Espanol) and became known as paniolos – which is what cowboys on Maui are known as to this day.
Ranches were developed in the late 1800s. On Maui the Haleakala Cattle Company was formed in 1885 and what is now the Ulupalakua Ranch also started a ranching operation around that time. Both these ranches are still in existence today. You can go visit the Ulupalakua Ranch – their general store and winery (Maui Wine) are one of our family’s favorite upcountry lunch destinations. The Maui Wine tasting room has a room dedicated to the Ulupalakua Ranch history with plaques and photographs.
For a time ranching was the 3rd largest contributor to Hawaii’s economy. Raising cattle in Hawaii is trickier than on the mainland, due in large part to the shipping factor. Bringing in feed is very expensive, as is the cost of exporting the meat back to the US mainland. Maui beef is therefore mainly grass-fed. The droughts in recent years caused Maui ranches to drastically reduce the size of their herds. However, do look for Maui beef in local stores and restaurants – it is delicious!
But back to the rodeo… it was a fun small-town event where everyone seems to know everyone. Unfortunately it had been raining off and on, so it was a bit mucky. However drizzle does make for the most beautiful rainbows.
It’s hard to miss Hawaii in the news these days. Big Island’s Kilauea lava flow is making headlines around the world. The pictures and video footage are incredible. Unfortunately some of the media coverage has been misleading, leading people to believe all of Hawaii is under siege.
Another owner at the Palms at Wailea complex told me yesterday that a family had cancelled due to the volcanic eruption on our neighboring island. She had done her best to convince the family that their Hawaii vacation was safe, but they cancelled, losing thousands of dollars in airfare and accommodations (guess what, the cancellation insurance told them no – they weren’t covering cancellation due to an event far removed from their stay). Bummer.
So, some clarification – what is this recent lava flow on Big Island all about?
Taking it back to the basics – Hawaii is comprised of multiple islands. Our condos are located on Hawaii’s second largest island, Maui. Big Island (also known as the Island of Hawaii) is the largest and newest island in the Hawaiian island chain. Hawaii’s islands were formed by volcanic eruptions out of the ocean floor. The Island of Maui itself has one extinct volcano (West Maui Mountains) and one dormant volcano (Haleakala – its most recent eruption dating back to the 1480s). Big Island – to the East of us – is comprised of five volcanos, of which Mauna Loa and Kilauea are considered active. Mauna Loa most recently erupted around 30 years ago, Kilauea has been having continuous volcanic activity for the past 35 years.
What are the conditions on Maui – is Maui at all affected by the volcanic eruption?
I live in Kihei (in South West Maui) and these are the current conditions: the sky is blue, the air is clear, there is no effect from Kilauea’s current antics. The ocean temperature has not risen here (yes, this has been asked), we cannot see the lava, in fact, it’s business as usual here.
Can that change? Yes – the only effect that we may see is vog (volcanic air pollution). This is something we have experienced from time to time in the past 35 years since Kilauea has (most recently) been active. Hawaii’s prevalent trade winds are currently blowing the vog west and out to sea. However, every now and then the trade winds do subside. When that happens, southerly (Kona) winds can blow the vog up to Maui. The sky will appear hazy and we have the most amazing sunsets, but most people will hardly notice. If you have asthma, you will want to take precautions.
Should you be avoiding Big Island?
It depends. Yes, you should absolutely avoid the eastern-most corner (the Puna district of Big Island) as local residents are dealing with their own trauma. However, many other parts of Big Island are absolutely safe. In fact, I just read that the annual Iron Man Tournament is slated to go ahead next month (it takes place on the West coast of Big Island). Here’s another graphic I found on Facebook.
Today we took a Sunday drive to our favorite lunch spot. Can you guess where we were?
Did you guess where we went? – Ulupalakua Ranch. They have the best burgers. As so often, we ran into friends who had the same idea we had. I’m not sure if it’s that the burgers really are the best, but as you drive up there, you get increasingly hungry and are just thrilled when you get to the General Store. From Kihei it’s a bit over an hour’s drive. Long and towards the end windy, but worth it for the burgers and great view!
To get there you take the Haleakala Hwy upcountry where it becomes Kula Hwy. It winds its way along Haleakala between 2000 and 3000 ft elevation. Eventually you pass Grandma’s Coffee House (make a note to return there after lunch for desert) and then the windy part of the road begins. This is where I beg Sig to slow down so we actually arrive at the ranch hungry and not nauseous.
While upcountry I discovered the purple jacaranda trees are starting to bloom. Yeah! I love their pretty purple blooms. Unfortunately it was overcast and we didn’t pull over, so this drive-by photo is a bit blurry and doesn’t entirely do the trees justice. You’ll have to drive up yourselves! The jacarandas bloom well into May.
This past week has been crazy. In the past nine days six tourists have died in the ocean with another near-fatality this morning. No, the sharks are not to blame – these men in their 50s and 60s died while snorkeling/scuba diving. I’ve linked these short articles so you can read a few of the details.
My condolences to their loved ones. This is a tragedy. When we go on vacation, we plan for things such as bad weather, sickness, even poor accommodations. But certainly not death.
How common are water-related deaths?
While this string of deaths from the past week is unheard of, water-related deaths are unfortunately more common than most think. According to statistics compiled by MauiNow we average between 12-25 deaths/year by drowning on Maui, the majority of them tourists. For much more information, please check out this article filled with statistics from MauiNow.
What should you do?
Should you avoid the ocean altogether? No. I am not trying to scare you. But, it is important to understand that while Maui is paradise, it’s not Disney. Bad stuff can and does happen, you need to understand risks and take action accordingly. Consider these suggestions:
If you can’t swim, you should not go snorkeling. As an alternative, check out all the local fish at the Maui Ocean Center. It really is well done.
Never snorkel (or dive) alone. Always use the buddy system and keep an eye on your buddy.
Be aware of water and wave conditions. The waves pick up at a certain time in the morning – snorkel early in the morning (before 9) for best conditions.
There is some discussion online about full-face masks possibly trapping CO2 in the mask. While this is an unproven theory, ask the pros and be sure you know how to properly use your equipment, making sure it is working correctly.
Remember – yes, some people die in drowning related accidents. However, consider that in 2016 we had 2.6 million visitors come to the island of Maui. According to the graph above, thirteen of them drowned. While that in itself is awful, the odds are you will be just fine. However do use common sense and be careful.
What to do if you see someone not moving in the water?
Call for help (9-1-1), try to get help to move them out of the water as soon as possible and start CPR.