Winter Golf in Kapalua, Maui, Hawai’i

I am not a great golfer, not even a good golfer, but I have played a few times and enjoyed it. I occasionally watch a major tournament on TV and am familiar with all the top names. When I found out that I would be off on the first day of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions with a line up that included Patrick Reed (last years winner), Jordan Spieth (who won five tournaments last year), Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Zach Johnson and the “old man” David Love III, there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.

I arrived in the morning to the parking lot and was transported by Roberts Hawaii (the company I work for) on a huge motor coach with individual lights, air and TV. It was like being on an airplane. We arrived at the Kapalua Plantation Course about 20 minutes before the first tee off. I found a bleacher seat on the first hole and watched while one after the other hit the ball looking like it would finally land on the island of Moloka’i! Phew, but they hit those balls hard!
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It was a perfect Hawaiian summer day in winter. There was a very light breeze, 83 degrees, the fairways were soft due to a rain the night before, but the greens were extremely fast. I watched all the teams tee off before going on to the course to walk a bit. Because the course was built on the side of a mountain it is way too high up for a trek in sandals, so while the groups were going from hole to hole about a 1000 ft. up I was enjoying lunch at the clubhouse.

Plantation Clubhouse

Plantation Clubhouse

One fun thing I was able to do was to have a mini-lesson with a PGA pro. I watched him correcting previous golfers and golfers-to be. When I stepped up he asked if I had played before and I told him a few times. He just said let me see your swing and he placed a ball on a pad at my feet. I did remember much of what my ex-boyfriend had taught me so I placed my feet and swung. It felt perfect. He looked at me and said, “you should be playing golf”. He asked me to take a few more swings and each ball just sailed into the backdrop just where it was suppose to. Finally, he just said, “you should just play!”. I felt really good. I think I will get out my clubs and go to Pukalani a little way down the mountain to take a little practice swing or two.

The leaderboard changed throughout the day. But some the of top players started slowly climbing up the board.

Kapalua, Maui

Kapalua, Maui

When the top pairings started coming down from the 15th or 16th hole, I took a seat in the grandstands at the 18th hole. There were five players tied for first. Each of he first three pairs made par. The last pair was Spieth and Reed. Spieth was in first, Reed tied for second. Reed hit an amazing shot and so did Spieth. But, the second shot by Reed took him to just a couple of feet from the hole. He finished with an eagle and Spieth birdied the hole. So, Spieth is now alone in first and Reed alone in second with ties all the way down the board. Needless to say it was a grand ending to a fabulous day and I was so thankful to be attending this prestigious tournament.

My souvenirs from the Tournament of Champions...my ticket, program, tee times and visor.

My souvenirs from the Tournament of Champions…my ticket, program, tee times and visor.

Musical surprises

On Friday while working at the airport I was surprised to see Kuana Torres-Kahele at a baggage claim carousel. I hadn’t heard anything about a pending concert. So, not being shy, I walked over and asked him if he were here just for a visit from the Big Island or did he have something coming up on Maui. Well, yes indeed, he was having a CD release party that night at the Bailey House Museum. Tickets would be selling at the door at 4:30pm. I was scheduled to get off work at 3:00pm. Perfect timing. So, I decided to stay in town and not make the long trip back up to my home in Kula. However, I was clad in my airport uniform–a bright yellow blouse and black pants. I decided the pants could stay, but the blouse would have to go. Off I go to Ross for an inexpensive top. I found a cute black and white striped shirt with a sparkly graphic print and a bonus little short sleeve “jacket” attached. Perfect. I was wearing my utilitarian shoes, had only rubber slippers in the car, so since the pants covers all but the toes, they remained. I was good to go. One stop at the ATM and off I went.

The Bailey House is a lovely little museum just past Wailuku town on the way to Iao Valley. Though somewhat small by museum standards it houses a wonderful array of ancient artifacts–carved fishing hooks, lovely feather lei made from now extinct birds, fighting implements, a wonderful replica of the sailing canoe “The Hokule’a”, huge swaths of tapa. There were little gift shops, upstairs rooms, nooks and crannies of displays, artwork painted by the once owner Mr. Bailey. So many things to see and do. I made a note to myself to visit again when I had more time and a camera.

The concert was to be held on the grassy grounds of the museum. It’s an intimate setting seating maybe 100-150 people. White tents had been erected to cover the musicians as well as the audience in case of rain. However, the night was clear, starry and, wondrous to me, balmy.

The price of the ticket was $35 which I later discovered included Kuana’s latest CD–Pi’ilani Maui. I would’ve paid the $35 just for a chance to see Kauana again and was pleasantly surprised to received the signed CD as a bonus. The island of Maui is the featured island on his “island CD set”. CDs with original songs of Hawai’i Island and Ni’ihau have already been released and Maui was the third in a set of 10. There will be a CD for each of the five remaining islands as well as a CD of original oli (chants). The 10th CD? I have no clue.

The audience was decidedly “local”… colorful aloha shirts, lauhala hats with flower lei or feather bands, glittering Hawaiian bracelets, flowers tucked behind ears. Since there was a booth selling beer, wines, soda, etc. This was a 21 and over crowd. One could buy a dinner from a booth selling a selection of food not normally found at a concert. There was pulled BBQ pork bao which is a soft sweet manapua dough folded over delicious pork. There was poke nachos (a preparation of raw fish, seaweed and spices served over chips), dried saimin, brisket and ceviche. Wow! I had the bao which was absolutely mouthwatering and a beer.

The warm up band, Komakakino is made up of a group of young men from Hilo with whom I am quite familiar. The father of one of the band members, Paul Neves, is a talented well known kumu hula from Hilo. He added to the entertainment by dancing to several of the songs. Though the band members are young and a relatively new group, they are quite professional in their musical talents as well as their look–nice matching aloha shirts and shorts.

Komakakino

Komakakino

Kuana came on after most everyone was done with dinner and feeling cheery from the beer and wine. He was in rare form and was hilariously entertaining, joking with the audience. It was a family lu’au atmosphere…a backyard kanakapila! People from the audience got up and danced. Local Maui singers were called up on stage to thunderous applause. Kuana sang a variety of songs from his Maui album as well as songs from previous albums. He told stories about the backgrounds for some of his songs. He also did melodies from the past adding his own style. The crowed sang along to old classics. I nearly cried at his version Pua Carnation…a beautiful rendition of an old standard.

Kuana Torres-Kahele

Kuana Torres-Kahele

I’m so glad I worked on that Friday or I would have missed out on a perfect evening of song and dance.

Global Warming

This is July, right? In the middle of summer? We are struggling through an unprecedented heat wave that is setting records all over the state. In Kahului at the airport it has been coming in a 92, 93 degrees with little breeze to dry the sweat on my brow. However, last night we had a storm blow through…at least that’s what I was told. I hadn’t slept the night before so last night I slept through it all. This was a little disappointing as I still miss the sound of the rain on my tin roof in Hilo. When I got the newspaper this morning I was surprised to see the photo of Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai’i (my island) covered with snow! In the middle of July! I do remember getting snow in June around 2011 and occasionally in the 1980’s but it is still incredibly surprising. And, it’s still beautiful. Of course, it has melted now, but what an amazingly stunning site while it stayed long enough for photos.

A Maui Sunset

It’s been cold, rainy, windy and cloudy and I’m so over winter. But, yesterday evening the clouds sat above the horizon and produced the first sunset worth photographing since autumn. I always have to take pause and remember those who are living through some of the worst storms in history on the East Coast and Mid West. However, they have parkas, and hats, and gloves, and boots. I have a sweater, sweatpants and crocheted booties. It’s a matter of acclimation and clothing! It’s dipping into the mid 40’s up here in Kula. I’m not use to it yet. To me it’s freezing and I sometimes wonder if I’m going to make it through the night. In the morning my fingertips are snow white and numb. I can feel nothing and find it difficult to get my sewing done. About 10:00am my fingers finally thaw out. But, last evening it seemed different. The rain had stopped, the wind stopped blowing it’s icy breath from the north, the clouds parted and from my back yard I was able to see the sky brighten as the sun slowly sank, not into the sea, but behind the West Maui Mountains. It makes me think that maybe winter has loosened its grip and I will once again have feeling back into my fingers.

Taking from my lanai up in Kula

Taken from my lanai up in Kula

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Kilauea in Fabric

Occasionally when I am wandering through the aisles of the fabric store, especially when a new shipment comes in, I will spot a Hawaiian fabric that catches my eye and tells me its story. So, last week when looking for yellow gingham I came across a print that immediately took me back to the Big Island and our very active volcano.WP_20150205_001

Kilauea had been erupting non-stop since 1987. There are periods of time when the lava flow is just a trickle and doesn’t put anyone in harm’s way and there are those times when it threatens and then carries through with that threat by inundating a district or now, threatening the town of Pahoa on the East coast of the Island of Hawai’i. As it travels through the upland forests (Waokele) it can be a flaming yellow and red hot molten lava burning the forest in swaths of destruction or it can branch off into rivulets of lava circling around with a path through the trees and once again joining the main stream further down the slope. This leads to an area of untouched forest of ferns and foliage that flourish as an island. These verdant islands in the middle of a flow are called a kipuka. Once the particular flow slows or stops it cools, the lava changes colors from a burnt orange to a solid black.

And so, this hula pa’u tells the story of the kipuka..the flow changing from molten yellow, orange, red, through the cooling stage to black with the flowers, ferns, foliage remaining untouched.

A Short Trip to my Big Island

I decided to take a little time off of work and return to the Big Island for a 30 year tradition. On New Year’s Day close friends have hosted a crepe breakfast for all their many friends. Everyone brings something to roll up inside the crepes or a yummy on the side. Over the years we’ve had sweet and savory. The pancake “flippers” have changed over the years, but the recipe has remained the same. I’ve watched little girls twirling around the lanai grow to become beautiful women with children…girls who twirled around, boys watching. Boys changing into young men. I missed this last year as I was still trying to get my life together. But, this year, I was determined not to miss another. It’s always so comforting to know that this is the one day of the year when things don’t change. As we age, I’m sure this will not always be the case, but I know now that most of the same people will be there, there will always be champagne and orange juice–long before this pairing became popular as Mimosas. The Rose Parade will be on the TV, now larger and more spectacular with HD. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will follow with fans drifting in and out. I usually watch a good deal of the games as I’m what some call a “sports-nut”.

I flew in on Thursday–New Year’s morning and only had until Sunday morning before flying out again so I tried to cram everyone and everything I wanted to see and do in just a few short hours. Things don’t always work out. I dropped by my old hula halau to dance again with my hula sisters and brothers, but alas the class had been cancelled. I was so disappointed. A couple of friends I wanted to see were out of town, but other things worked out. I was able to see a good friend and former neighbor, a rock for me during difficult times. We see each infrequently, but it always seems like it was just yesterday. It also worked out for me to see two close friends that I have danced with off and on through different halau for about 25 years. We gathered for lunch and wonderful conversation at Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant in my favorite town of Pahoa. From afar I’ve watched the news as a lava flow has threatened this sweet town. Lava is just a football field away from Malama Market where I bought groceries, Subway where I went for lunch, the hardware store where I bought my propane. It’s hard to watch the lava slowly creep closer and closer. I just keep the town in my prayers. The people who live in the Puna district are hardy, resilient and live close to the ‘aina (land) so they will accept what comes, pick up and go back to work even through the hardships they will have to endure. I went to see some of the flow after it had cooled.

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There have been some remarkable preparations. The electrical poles have been wrapped with layers of rock and other materials. So far the lava has gone right around them and the electricity has stayed on. I understand the idea came from students at the Pahoa Charter School HAAS and the county ran with it. This gives me hope for the future. Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences. It sounds like science is alive and well. I’m standing in front of one pole to give some perspective. They are large!

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That same night I was able to go to a holiday play in Volcano. Six of us met at The Volcano House for drinks and pupus and then off to the play. There in the cast of singers was another friend I was happy to see. The night was crisp and cool but the forecast was for whipping winds so we drove straight home afterwards. They came screaming in in the night, keeping the household awake except for me. I slept like a baby!

Sunday was clear and bright. My friend dropped me off at my church. I was so happy to see my church family. They were happy to see me. It’s been a long time since I’ve said the Lord’s Prayer in Hawaiian, sing hymns in Hawaiian. I always feel a little closer to God there in Kuhio Chapel.

From church to the airport. Seeing the Big Island get smaller as I fly leaves an ache, but I know I will return to see Mauna Kea with Poli’ahu’s white kikepa wrapped around her shoulders…in the form of snow. As I was flying away I took this photo out of the window.
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See you soon, my island.

Kalikimaka in Kula

While winter generally brings to mind snow, sledding, icicles and freezing temperatures, here on the island of Maui the daytime temperature is still in the 80’s. No one is sledding, there is no snow nor icicles. However up the side of Haleakala mountain it is crisp enough to remind us the winter months are fast approaching. Last night was a perfect reminder of the Christmas season.

Each year the company I work for has a company party. But, this year instead of having a “one for all” they decided to have intimate parties for each of the groups. So, we were escorted in the company Mercedes shuttle up to Kula for our surprise destination. It was magical…a fairy land of lights, a delightful table-scape in the yard and a five course meal that was on par with a five-star hotel restaurant. The night was crisp but there was a fire pit for warmth and ambiance. It is difficult to capture that feeling of togetherness. And, to have the General Manager, the HR Manager and the Staff Manager cooking and waiting on us was exhilarating in how special it made us feel.

We began with an open bar which for me meant a Tequila Gimlet! Next were the pupus (appetizers) of edemame and poke (soy beans and raw fish with onions, seaweeds and spices). Then, came the most delicious manapua I’ve ever had. Next was a luscious salad with homemade croutons. The main course was an Italian seafood soup with clams, mussels, shrimp, crab and white fish. After all this delectable food, we took a break to open gifts and warm our hands by the fire. Then to top it all off, back to the table for creme brulee with the perfect crunchy topping and caramelized bananas.

Since I had left my camera at home, my friend and co-worker Rieko was kind enough to share her photos with me.

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A beautiful setting for a delightful party

A beautiful setting for a delightful party

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A composite of some of the yummies

A composite of some of the yummies

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Yum-yum

Yum-yum

The Maui Airport Shuttle crew

The Maui Airport Shuttle crew

I am reminded that it isn’t the snow, presents or cold weather that epitomize Christmas. It is Christ, wonderful friendships, co-workers who care for their employees and times shared with loved ones.

MELE KALIKIMAKA A ME HAU’OLI MAKAHIKI HOU…Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the island of Maui.

Kihei and Wailea—how different can we be?

I go to a sweet Hawaiian church in Kihei on the South Coast of Maui. And, since it was my day off I decided after the service to drive through Kihei to the next district of Wailea. Oh my, what a distance a few miles make in both scenery and vibe.
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The town of Kihei is very family oriented and has a distinctive local vibe. There is an abundance of parks, beaches, little shops with quaint names like Snorkel Bob’s and Boss Frogg. They rent anything a beach goer might need from snorkel equipment to sand chairs; paddle boards to surfboards. There are a lot of little restaurants for pizza, tacos, shave ice or the standard local fare…the plate lunch. Cars park everywhere and bicycles are definitely the secondary mode of transportation.WP_20140831_001

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However, Kihei gets very little rain so is often very hot and dry. It’s the perfect place for beach activities but the heat gets to me in a very short time.

Kiawe and palm trees thrive, but little else

Kiawe and palm trees thrive, but little else


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So onward into Wailea. The feeling immediately changes from local style to tourist elite. Here is the home of the four star hotels…The Andaz, The Grand Wailea, The Four Seasons and the Marriott Wailea Beach. The streets are manicured, the trees are trimmed, flowers are planted everywhere. The temperature drops about 20 degrees! It’s beautiful but feels like a fine sculpture behind velvet ropes. Only a few get to touch and the others can only dream.
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The Grand Wailea Hotel...the grounds are just spectacular

The Grand Wailea Hotel…the grounds are just spectacular

I decided to go to the Shops of Wailea–oh my..way out of my league, but fun to visit.
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Even the parking area was nice and cool. My little car fit right in!

My car sat in the shade while I walked through Gucci, LV, Tiffany's, and upscale art galleries. The second floor is a little more "local" with a surf shop, ABC store and an ice cream shop.

My car sat in the shade while I walked through Gucci, LV, Tiffany’s, and upscale art galleries. The second floor is a little more “local” with a surf shop, ABC store and an ice cream shop.

All in all my day was a good one. Today, I went to another amazing Botanical Garden…soon!

The Kula Botanical Gardens

I have lived in Kula for almost a year and have never taken the time to go to the Kula Botanical Gardens which is only a few miles from my home. But, last Sunday I remedied that particular remiss and decided to drive up. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect–slightly cool, sunny skies with a light tropical breeze–like I said…perfect.

I entered through the gift store where I paid an entrance fee. The cashier Harlan was a delightfully chatty fellow and I received some history, heard some lively stories and was given a great map of the grounds. Right out the back of the store is a path leading directly to a cage with two Jackson Chameleons which look like miniature dinosaurs. For our entertainment, Harlan came out to feed them a couple of mealy worms. The male was particularly interested and from a great distance flung out the longest tongue I’ve ever seen. It curled around the worm and recoiled in a flash. My photos, unfortunately, I took through the screen of the cage and were not in focus so you will have to imagine this scene.

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The garden path winds down to a Koi pond filled with colorful fish. They didn’t appear afraid of strangers and lazily swam past me several times, probably looking for a handout.

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In this same area was a little waterfall which added to the serenity of the ponds.

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Following the path, I discovered a small bird sanctuary with the Hawaiian Native Goose…the Nene. He looked quite complacent and completely ignored my presence, content to enjoy the sun on his back. He was too far away for a good photo but the foliage in the area was spectacular…Image

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Most of the plants were marked with signage though I was more interested in the colors than the names. In my walkabout I came across a large bird-cage with cockateels and love birds. Unfortunately, again, the cage wire…Image

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So many plants–flowers, ferns, trees, bushes. There were covered bridges and seating areas, sun-rooms for plants requiring more humidity.

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More photos of “local flowers”–anthurium-like flowers, bird of paradise, ‘uki’uki grass, protea (for which Maui is renown) and an array of colorful plants introduced to Hawai’i…

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About this time I ran out of memory in my camera and had to switch to my cell which was low on battery, so I hurriedly took the last remaining photos…especially of my beloved Jacaranda tree on which was the last group of blossoms clinging to Spring.

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And, standing guard over all this beauty are the carved ki’i of Ku, Lono and Kanaloa.

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