December 10–11, 2017
The ship left Honolulu and sailed over night to Kahului Harbor on Maui, where we stayed for two days. I had signed up for a tour each day, and didn't have time to see much of the island otherwise. I didn't get to the main resort area on the southwest side at all. I think I used my time wisely for my interests. The first day I took the "deluxe" Road to Hana tour. The "deluxe" part meant that we went in a van in a small group. I'm not sure that I would want to travel the road in a larger vehicle anyway.
Hana is a town of about 1200 people, and there's not a lot there, certainly not enough to warrant a nearly three-hour drive if you don't stop. Here is a case where the journey is the reward. The road was completed in the 1920s, with 49 one-lane bridges, so you no longer have to swing from a vine to cross various waterways. The road was paved as far as Hana in more recent decades. It is still a gravel road from there out to Lindbergh's grave. There are over 600 turns by the time you reach Hana.
We drove through the quaint town of Paia, home of Charley's Bar, a hangout for Willy Nelson.
Our first stop was at this scenic location.
This church built of stone was the only building in the area to survive a major hurricane.
We stopped at a greenhouse where they grow quite a variety of orchids.
Our lunch stop was near a black sandy beach. In the park was a private cemetery.
On the drive back from Hana we stopped to see some of the waterfalls and pools. Nobody in the group chose to go for a swim, which was an option.
Besides being a lovely color, there was something special about these trees. When I remember what it is, I'll post that here.
On Monday I took a tour up to see the Haleakala Crater, going from sea level to nearly 10,000 ft. Our driver and guide went by the name of Uncle Charlie. He was very personable and played the ukulele and sang as we would get back on the bus, some Christmas songs, some popular songs like "Over the Rainbow," and some Hawaiian songs. He was also very knowledgeable about ecology and biology, and talked about the evolutionary history of the island. A few new species of plants and animals would arrive, and soon evolved into a large number of species to fill the various biological niches. He said that Darwin would have forgotten Galapagos if he had spent time on this mountain. With the rapid ascent, there are many micro-climates. We stopped at a visitors center where they had endangered plants on display, like this species of silversword, which lives only on this mountain.
There is a space surveillance system near the peak of the mountain.
The volcano hasn't erupted for centuries, and the crater is really the product of erosion over time.
The result is definitely scenic, and I can't decide which pictures are my favorites, so I'll post a few more than I usually do.
The way back down the mountain gives views of the top of the clouds and the numerous switchbacks on the road.
Back in lower elevations there are many varieties of flowers, even in December.
I saw poinsettias in many places, but was not able to get a clear picture from the moving bus. The one below is the best I came up with.