Lunch Upcountry, Dinner Afloat

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Trip 4 Journal

Trip Journal entry for Thursday, February 26th.

Today was about easy with a lovely lunch with new friends and a tranquil dinner cruise.

Another Slow Morning
We took our time again getting moving this morning. Come a week from now when we’re back in the day-to-day grind, we’re sure going to miss mornings like this. We opted to sleep in a little later rather than make our way downstairs for breakfast, which was okay because we were heading out to Haiku to meet some new friends for lunch.

I’m sure we’re not the only ones, but the more and more we talk to friends and family about visiting Hawaii and Maui in particular, most have either visited the islands or know someone who has great things to say about it. It turns out Cindy’s aunt (a big Maui fan as well) works for one of those frequent Maui visitors, and we were lucky to meet up with him and his wife for lunch in Haiku on Thursday.

Meet The Artist
Allow me to start with an introduction first. Earlier in our trip you may recall me mentioning that we visited the Maui Hands gallery at their Front Street location. We were there to see the work of February’s featured artist, Mort Luby. Mort and his wife Pat have travelled all around the world, and always seem to end up back on Maui for at least a few months out of the year. To them, Maui is sort of a second home.

We ended up buying one of his paintings that first week, and were told that Mort would be painting right there at the gallery every Friday evening during the month of February. Unfortunately, both of our Friday evenings this trip were already rather full, so we didn’t think we’d get to meet him and say Aloha.

Cindy’s aunt works for Mort back on the mainland, and she and her husband gave us our first “Luby” as a house warming gift when we bought are condo a few years back. Excited that we were having another one shipped home, Cindy dropped her a line and told her the good news. Her aunt, in turn mentioned it to Mort and before we knew it, we were invited out for lunch and getting directions to the vacation home in Haiku where they were staying this year.

The Lunch Date
We had seen the signs for Haiku on our drive out to Hana earlier in the week, so we knew roughly about where we were headed. Their rental wasn’t too hard to find. It was a very nice little vacation rental home and the location was absolutely perfect, especially for an artist. This was the first time Cindy and I met Pat and Mort, but it wasn’t long before it felt like we’ve known them for years.

Our common passion for Maui and some of the current events on the island were main topics as we sat out on their lanai where Mort’s easel was setup. Being in upcountry Haiku, their small lanai was surrounded by a calming and peaceful collection of luscious greenery and trees, with very little-to-no sounds aside from what Mother Nature provides on her own.

We talked about Mort’s paintings and his work with Maui Hands. He shared stories of their travels all over the world and why they always love to return back here to Maui. Mort and I had a good discussion on photography as well, and about some of the work I had done so far. It was really the first time I had the chance to talk at length with someone with an artistic background about my photography. It was very encouraging for me.

A Home-cooked Meal
Pat had prepared lunch for the four of us, which consisted of a salad and homemade chili. It was very delicious, and come to think of it, the first home-cooked meal we’ve ever had while visiting Maui. After desert and a little tinkering with Mort’s website (I’m a travelling techie, I couldn’t resist), we got a small tour of Mort’s little workshop in the garage.

Mort had a nice arrangement in the garage. It was neat to see some of his works in progress, paintings waiting to be framed, things like that. He explained a little bit about how he submits work to the gallery, how they review it, provide feedback, make requests for other works, etc. Up to that point, I hadn’t thought too much about how all that works, but who knows, that could be me with my photographs someday.

Time was flying by at this point in the afternoon. We could have stayed and talked with Pat and Mort for hours, but we had a dinner cruise scheduled for that evening and it was just about time to head back to the resort and get ready for that. We couldn’t thank Pat and Mort enough for inviting us over for a lovely lunch and sharing their Aloha Spirit and stories with us. A hui hou!

Rush Hour On Maui
It was almost enough to make us homesick for the traffic back home. Our drive from Haiku back to Ka’anapali took us through Paia, Kahului, Maalaea, and Lahaina all during the busiest time of the afternoon. It certainly could have been more stressful if we were running late, and something I can only assume the local folks have grown well accustomed to. Fortunately we made it back to the resort in time to get ready for our evening on the water.

We typically do a dinner cruise every year as part of our vacation, although we had to cancel the one last year. This was the first one we’ve done with the Pacific Whale Foundation, and since we’re long standing members and had already arranged two whale watches through them, why not stick with them for the dinner cruise. With some of the windy weather we had been seeing the last day or two, we were a little worried about ocean conditions and a chill in the air, but the weather seemed to be cooperating tonight.

Whales, Dinner, Sunset
Even though it was a dinner cruise and not a whale watch, it’s rather hard to not find whales in the waters around Maui come February. The boat wasn’t out to follow them or seek them out like on a whale watch, but as we saw activity here and there, we all paused to watch. It was a nice little addition to the evening.

Dinner was lovely, and since we paid for the premium seats, we were up near the front of the boat at the upper level. It was a table for two, and ours was in the middle of two other very nice couples. We later decided the premium seating really wasn’t needed because it wasn’t a full ship and many of the tables and spots on the boat were all wonderful. The service was great, as we’ve always seen when going out with a PWF tour.

As we’ve taken many sunset and dinner cruises in West Maui in passed years, we’ve come to enjoy some of the gorgeous views of not only the sunsets from out on the water, but the coastline and the majesty of the West Maui mountains. Cue the first photo, please:

West Maui Mountains

You can get a sense of just how grand these mountains are by comparing them to the lonely sailboat in the forefront. As many times is the case, photos can’t do the actual views justice, and the clarity of the air on a cool, early evening night is remarkable. You can see cars driving along the highway next to the shoreline, houses up higher in the hills, trees, ridges, and all sorts of shadows along the well sculpted mountains. And the colors, well…

I mentioned the whales and dinner, and the last piece of the dinner cruise puzzle is, of course, the s
unset. Since we were heading a fair distance south, we got to watch the sun set over the top of island of Lanai this time. From where we positioned at that right moment, the sun dropped onto the island like a jewel on a crown. See for yourself.

Lanai Sunset Crown

Again, pictures are lovely reminders, but never as good as the real thing. Oh, and those colors I was talking about along the mountains just a moment ago? Here’s another shot of the view shortly after the sun ducked behind Lanai.

Mountains After Sunset

We have somewhat of a tradition on our trips of saving the last night for either a dinner cruise or a cocktail cruise at sunset. It’s always seemed sort of special ending our two weeks with a spectacular Maui sunset out on the water like that. This year though, like last year, we were headed out to the MACC the following evening to see HAPA. That meant this wasn’t our last evening, but it still sort of feels like it.

As a bit of anticipated irony, we always end up talking with couples on these dinner cruises that are just starting their stay on Maui. Over the years, we’ve met so many nice people, some that have visited these islands for many years, and others that are experiencing Aloha for the first time. We love to talk story and share our favorite parts of the island, as well as hear other takes and tips on things we haven’t yet tried ourselves. Similar to a luau, if you find the right-sized dinner cruise, it will have that ohana feeling and people you will meet in the process just add to an already perfect evening.

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About Kris

Kris and his wife Cindy are avid Maui fans, and have visited the island half a dozen times since '06. Over the years, they have made many friends living on Maui or through social media, which keeps them in touch with the island until they can return again.

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