Oct 16, 2016

Shiver of Sharks

I've had big finny creatures on my mind all day. This is likely in part because sharks abound in the waters around the House of Good Living and a beach in South Maui was closed two days ago because of a human vs shark encounter. I had an uncomfortable paddle with a big grey one a couple of winters ago and that event is never far from my mind when I'm near the beach where it happened. Even so, I know there's a greater chance of death by lightning strike than by shark bite and it goes without saying I try to avoid circumstances where either event may occur.

We've discussed the "sharks are scary" matter before and I only bring the issue up again because statistics reveal that October is the month when most human-shark encounters occur in the islands of Hawai'i, in part as a result of pregnant Tiger sharks visiting shoreline areas to have their babies. Unsurprisingly, hungry "pupping" momma sharks and coconut oil-frosted snorkelers don't play well together.

I'm revisiting the topic of sharks because last night's Saturday Night Live episode featured a Jaws-themed skit. This isn't a political blog so I won't opine on the threats posed to our nation's safety by either candidate. What I will do is dare you to watch the skit without laughing out loud.

The other reason I'm currently obsessing about fins in the water is because of the wonderful collective noun used to describe a group of sharks - "SHIVER". Could there be a more perfect word for a gathering of these teethy nightmares? A shiver of sharks is right up there with "crash" of rhinoceroses and "parliament" of owls and "fluthering" of jellyfish. I find these unexpectedly entertaining words so delightful I can't resist shouting them out to my increasingly annoyed husband who's trying to finish a yoga practice this morning.

Me:  A Knot of Snakes!
Him: mutters "mountain pose, mountain pose..."
Me:  A Busyness of Ferrets!
Him: Sun salutation, sun salutation ...
Me:  ~ And, because I can't resist ~ A Charm of Finches!!!
Him:  Go AWAY.

Some people, right?!

Oct 14, 2016

Morning People

Molokai waking up, Oct 14, 2016
Do you wake up easily, agreeably and eager to begin the day?
Or are you in the camp who believes that if people were meant to pop out of bed in the morning they should sleep in toasters?

Is this an "us" vs "them" issue for you? Can we still be friends if I tell you that my middle name is "Dawn?"

My first wage-paying job required that I report for work at 4:45 AM. I was 14 years old. It sucked a LOT to be the only kid in the neighborhood who needed to go to sleep before full dark and eliminated the possibility of advancing my crush on David next door beyond the wishing stage. It also effectively set in place the pattern of waking early, ready to roll with the day**.

Waking with the dawn here at the House of Good Living means I get to watch Molokai brighten with the rising sun. It's a slow, warm, green coloration change that symbolizes everything a new day is supposed to mean, IMHO.

Dawn. I guess that's me.

Jan 30, 2016


It's day 8 of my Maui circumnavigation. After tonight I'll hang up my camping headlamp and stow the
adventure gear. Hobo the Honda will be restored to his usual 'condo service vehicle' status and I'll have unlimited power outlets at my disposal. This (sometimes seemingly endless) trip will be finished.

I'll be reunited with Greg in a few days and together we'll travel the length of another coastline on the other side of this ocean. There will be time over the next couple of weeks to convert my notes from this experience into a list of recommended stops, stays, sights and selected reading for anyone interested in a similar exploration of Maui's east side.

But right now, I plan on enjoying a sunset and all that comes with it on this final night of island trekking. There's an entire symphony of sounds out here tonight:  From across the grassy tent grounds I'm being treated to the bright nimble song of a ukulele against the background of children playing hide-and-seek in the trees. I have the stereo effect of my protection pig* snorting behind my tentalow and the susurration of waves kissing beach sand out front.

This marvelous island just keeps giving me more gifts.

*my protection pig showed up yesterday, within an hour of dear friends expressing concern about my security while camping. The pig has tried to bite me, twice. I'm not sure that I feel any safer in his presence.

Jan 29, 2016

Full Circle

It's day seven of my Maui explorations. The intent upon beginning the journey was to play tourist for a week on the island that I call home for half the year, with a particular emphasis on the remote east side areas of Kaupo, Kipahulu and Hana. The trek has provided beautiful vistas, drama, comic relief and long stretches of time with no one but myself to talk with, leading to less-than-interesting conversations, let me tell you.

my tentalow against backdrop
of West Maui mountains
On this adventure I've camped, I've cottaged and last night I 'tentalowed'. This is going in the "unexpected pleasures" column for the journey, as much for the surprising level of comfort as for what this location offers in terms of paddling opportunity.

Recently constructed, the steel-framed, wooden platform tents at oceanfront Camp Olawalu are furnished with two twin beds, solar-powered lights and a private outdoor dressing area with sink and shower. Camp Olawalu has a decidedly sketchy past and likely deserves the rants posted on TripAdvisor for it's history of providing long-term housing for many of Maui's homeless. Current management is taking a hard line on the length of stay, pouring large sums of money into improving the beach-side cabins and adding more structures with private hygiene facilities, such as the tentalows. Large stretches of formerly thorn-strewn dust bowls are being planted with shade trees and grass. There's no escaping the fact that the camp lies between the highway and the ocean so there's always going to be noise from one direction or another. I coped by telling myself it was just the sound of waves and it was quiet by midnight.

When dawn broke this morning I off-loaded my (very securely locked) paddle board and splashed off on water so calm and clear that every fish and coral head positively shimmered. Not even a half mile offshore I heard the distinctive sound of whale exhalations and saw water ripple ahead. To the surface less than 100 feet away arose the back of a humpback mama and her calf. I sat on the board, lay the paddle across my knees and marveled at the story her scarred back and nicked fin could tell. The calf blew bubbles alongside mama, rolling over and snorting but never getting more than a fin's length away from her. In water so clear and shallow, it looked as if the mama whale was holding herself in place by floating tail down, just touching the sandy bottom. In the hour I floated and watched, the whales descended below the surface only once when a group of kayakers paddled near, re-emerging a couple hundred feet away to take up the same resting position.

Taking this as a sign, I've decided to apply the whales' model to the day ahead of me by floating, resting and calmly avoiding any disturbance or distraction. I may occasionally blow bubbles and snort if necessary. In all, I'm going to make like a whale and appreciate that this trek is bringing me full circle back to home.
you gotta love 'camping'
when it comes with hot and cold shower
post paddle and ready for an alfresco breakfast

Hawaii Five-O

On the dawn of my 6th day of an East Maui adventure I'd accepted that my beloved Bill Foote paddleboard was lost forever as the result of:
  • a greedy thief, 
  • my own stupidity for not locking it down on the roof rack for the hour I was swimming, 
  • a greedy thief
True, I'd grown complacent after having survived hippy zombies and hammocks and eerie cemeteries on my trek around the island. But it SUCKS to feel like a victim. It sucks even more when one starts to play the mind game of "I should have..., could have..., WHY DIDN'T I...?"   So, when that kind of inner dialogue starts I find it easier to just move on and accept that mean people inhabit this same stretch of earth, therefore I should do my best to cancel out that blackness with what delights and revitalizes me. Of course, that's usually a happy paddle on my (now missing) paddleboard so I was back to accepting the loss, until .....

At 8:30 AM my friend Joan informs me via Facebook: "Your board is in Paia and posted on Craigslist yesterday. What scumbags." 

Sure enough, there it was, complete with cell number naming "Dillon" as contact.  I send "Dillon" a message: "Still have SUP for sale?"

And immediately he responds:
"Yessssss!" (apparently Dillon was in Slytherin House while at Hogwarts)

Encouraged, I race to the Hana divison of Maui Police Department (MPD) to see what law enforcement recommends in situations where stolen goods are offered for sale. There I'm interviewed by a handsome (really, it bears mentioning) Hawaiian officer who offers many observations about how hard it is to recover something as easily concealed as a surf or paddle board when every other vehicle on the island has a board rack. To his credit, Officer Gorgeous gave me his cell number so that I could text photos of the board and takes his own screenshots of my Facebook posts from Nov '14 after I bought it. He advises me: 
If the seller contacts you again, try to stall him to give you time so Wailuku police* have time to set up a meeting. 

And right then, another message arrives from Dillon:
"I'm in Paia, can you meet me here?!" Officer EasyOnTheEyes gives me raised eyebrows and a shoulder shrug.

Okey dokey - I'm primed for SUP search and rescue now! I wave goodbye to Hana and its handsome peace officer, and respond to "Dillon" who I've now added to contacts as "SUP Thief":
I'm at work, on the West Side (a lie, obviouslyand can't get to Paia before noon & have to borrow a truck from a friend, could be a while." (all lies, please forgive me).

To which Sup Thief responds: 
Ok, great!" I figure I must be dealing with the happiest thief ever. He uses exclamation marks with EVERY text.

Here's where we are to date:
Board stolen from Hamoa Bay in Hana
Posted on CraigsList for sale in Paia
Hana PD recommends heading straight to Wailuku PD to set up apprehension of SUP Thief

It's now 9:30 AM and I'm on the road out of Hana to Paia. Have you ever driven this road? It's crazy curvy, right? Imagine it in a Honda minivan, with a drippy egg salad sandwich in one hand and a twitchy SUP Thief buzzing the phone with "How long before you're in Paia?! texts every time there's a stray cell signal. Oh, and you have to pee really, really badly. Got that image? That was my drive. There was a certain urgency to the experience.

I arrive Wailuku Police Departement at 11:15 AM and tell the story all over again: Board stolen in Hana/on CraigsList in Paia/Contacted seller who wants to meet ... and in the middle of all this comes new text from SUP Thief:
"Can meet you at Wailuku Coffee Company!" ** 

The Wailuku officers (I'll call them A, B and C because that's what their last names started with) became quite energized by this information. They know the location because it's across the street from a municipal parking lot and they all enjoy coffee there. They develop a plan that involves me parking a block away from the coffee shop (in attempt to ensure the 4-wheeled crime scene that is Hobo isn't recognized), walking up to the SUP Thief and engaging him in conversation about the board, verifying that it's indeed mine, signalling Officer A when verification occurs and then stepping aside while the MPD confronts the dude. Great plan, right?

I text SUP Thief:
"Be there in 10. Who should I ask for?"

SUP Thief:
"I'll b out front ... standing ... black shirt jeans!...."

It's a "go". I drive, park, walk, and approach a man who fits the description, introducing myself as the CraigsList responder. There's no board in sight. I ask where it was and SUP Thief says he parked down the street, behind some buildings and I could check out the board if I walked there with him. Uhhhhh.... this wasn't covered in the ABC's plan. I tel SUP Thief that I'm uncomfortable leaving a public area to walk behind some buildings with a man I don't know. 

I'd just finished saying this when my phone rings and I see Officer A's name on caller ID. I say the first thing that came to mind:
"Hi, honey! I'm here with the man I told you about who has a board for sale but he wants me to walk with him behind some buildings to see it. What do you think I should do?"

On the other end I can hear Officer A begin to tell his Superintendent there may be a change in plans. I hold the phone away from my face and say to SUP Thief:
"I want to buy this board and I have cash on hand but I'm not going behind any buildings with you. I'll save this parking space for you (and I step into a just-vacated spot) Why don't you bring the board back here for me to check out."

Meanwhile, Officer A, still on the phone, is asking me to describe what SUP Thief looks like and I'm doing all I can to keep from shouting back: "Just step around the corner and see for yourself"! when SUP Thief begins walking away from me, down the street.

I hang up on Officer A.

SUP Thief doesn't come back with the board.

I spent the next 15 minutes doing several things while the cops are presumably doing their own pursuit, questioning, investigating. I ask the coffee shop workers if they knew who SUP Thief was - though I called him Dillon. Then, I compose a suitably PO'd text to him about how he wasted my day since I'd had to drive over from the fictitious West Side and how'd I might STILL be interested even though I wasn't happy about being dumped.

Officer A got over being hung up on and calls me back, instructing me to meet the rest of the ABCs behind the First Hawaiian Bank building across the street from the coffee shop. There I am introduced to the Superintendent and we debrief. No one but me got a good look at SUP Thief even though there were four officers within shouting distance. There was some commiseration, more shoulder shrugs, and the suggestion that I wait a day or two before having a friend contact SUP Thief, using a different number, to try for a better result.

And then, right on cue, another message from the dude:
OK...at coffee store Kehei...Azeka mauka plaza. Have board in parking lot outside next to Peggy Sues. Can you call me! ...

The ABC's inform me that's out of their jurisdiction and that I'd need to enlist the services of Kihei PD in order to set up another meet, verify and nab activity at that location. I thank them for their time, tell them I'll head to Kihei and return to my car where I ponder the psychology of a SUP Thief who uses exclamation marks in every text message. 

So I call him. And I say:
"Tell me about this board. How long have you had it. Why are you selling it." 
His responses had to have sounded lame, even to himself.

I follow up with:
"You've got to know that this board was stolen from me yesterday. There's a police report filed with photos and serial number on record. The police have your phone number, your CraigsList account info, photos of you and your truck (I made up that last part) It's only a matter of time before they find you. Why don't you just turn the board over to me and I'll call the cops off."

SUP Thief tells me he'll call me back.

I immediately send him the following text message:
Please consider what the board is worth vs a felony arrest. Why don't you take it to Maui Ocean Center and leave it on the grass parking strip at the corner closest to Carl's JR. No cops will be around, you can drop it, leave and the theft report will go away.

No response.

I drive to Maui Ocean Center and wait. It's 1:45 PM. I use the time to catch up on emails and Facebook. I post the board "Stolen - Reward Offered" on CraigsList, incorporating the SUP Thief's own posting with my images, showing his contact data, stating there's a police report filed with current action to apprehend. I call Greg and tell him it was a good try but the board is gone for good. After waiting an hour, I begin driving toward West Maui and the next stage of my island exploration. 

At 3:05 PM I receive the following from SUP Thief:
Board is in Kihei...at beach parking lot...it's up against a fence...on the grass...I didn't steal it!"

It takes me another 45 minutes to find the right beach park and sure enough, there against a rock wall rests my tricky, dinged-up, fantastically fun Bill Foote board. I deconstruct my carrying harness in order to have sufficient straps to secure it to the roof racks because the original straps were cut in the theft. And I drive to Safeway to buy a bottle of champagne. 

*Why Wailuku PD instead of Hana PD (where the board was stolen). Because Hana is the backside of the island (and what a beautiful backside it is). Any criminal activity that occurs outside of Hana has to be handled by other divisions because of the travel logistics.

**Wailuku Coffee Company is hands down the STUPIDEST place for criminal activity to occur as it's directly across the street from a bank and next door to a pawn shop - both with surveillance cameras in place at streetside.