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


  1. 100 feet away from a whale and calf? I'm so jealous!

  2. Lynn Ries1/30/2016

    Vanessa you are the most awesome lady I know! Love that you followed Greg doing the camping but sorry you had all the drama along the way. But...also know that only you could have traveled the island to get your board back. Not sure I want to follow your lead but your stories & pics are amazing!!!