It’s Going DOWN The Volcano That Gets You

1Maui-IslandPardon my posting a tad late this morning. I’ve been on quite the journey the past couple of weeks. We were scheduled to go to Maui last month, and we did go–but not before 1) I developed a major flu-like illness,; 2) I developed a severe eye infection that kept me from seeing well, which caused me to 3) fall down a significant flight of stairs, which rendered me black and blue on the left side from head to toe.

It was the head part of the bruising which caused the most consternation, travel-wise. I was forced to wear a low-brimmed hat and sunglasses, otherwise I looked like a domestic abuse victim, and people would be shooting my husband suspicious glances. The facial bruising did come in handy a couple of times, however. When we checked into the Westin 1incognitshutterstock_192787424and were told all the ocean front rooms were booked, I removed my glasses, assumed maximum pathetic expression, and told them I was there to recover and I needed to spend the week looking out at the ocean. We were instantly upgraded to an ocean front suite. (Yes, I’m not above using whatever I can use to get what I want). We spent Thanksgiving seeing an awesome Elvis impersonator performance (he had an excellent voice and physical resemblance to Elvis, right down to the aging King’s paunch).


Brocken’s Ghost optical effect atop Maui’s volcano

1elvis20140605210535_1967757812_10611_9It turns out that Maui has some very posh urgent care facilities specifically for tourists, called Doctors on Call. I got to know the fine medical professionals there on a first name basis, especially after I made the insane decision to go up (and more importantly, down) the hair-raising ride to Maui’s volcano. The top of the that volcano is one of only three places on earth where you can see an optical effect known as the “Specter of the Brocken,”–which means, you can see your shadow cast on the clouds below, surrounded by a rainbow. (You can also occasionally catch a glimpse of the same effect from an airplane, when the plane casts its shadow on the clouds below. Look for it sometime.)  Seeing that view and surreal, moon-surface landscape was worth the trip, even if I had to pay for the trip by tossing my cookies nonstop for the next eight hours, until Doctors on Call reopened.

At some point during the trip I felt moved to look into the world of Hawaiian literature, which for practical reasons, includes book about Hawaii. I learned to my dismay that one of my oldie Nancy Drews, MYSTERY ON MAUI, is no longer available in hardback, only e-book now.) (Too bad, too–the hardcover had Nancy sporting a killer Babes On The Beach yellow bathing suit on the cover). Although there are wonderful books available by authors who are actually from Hawaii, my favorite book, and I believe still bestselling book of all time about those islands, remains HAWAII by James Michener. The book is episodic, with each chapter written from a different character’s point of view. The story culminates with a character the writer called “The Golden Man,” a person who is culturally and racially the result of the millenia of immigration to the islands. We met many such Golden People on our trip, 1MauiOceanCenterincluding the man who drove our bus on the volcano drive. He’d grown up in “old Hawaii,” part of a large family that made its living fishing and working in the sugar fields. After a stint in the Army, he’d been transporting tourists on that volcano drive for the past 25 years. And yet still he conveyed a sense of excitement as he described the Hawaiian culture, the history of the gods and tribes that founded human culture on the islands. He was able to convey the current challenges that Maui, and other islands face–threats to native wildlife by the encroachment of development, land prices that have risen from $100 per acre to $1 million in less than one person’s lifetime. Our driver was a mixture of native Hawaiian and some European background. That’s important in Hawaii, because you have to have a minimum percentage of “native” Hawaiian ethnic background in order to qualify for some generous educational and civic opportunities that were set up specifically for Hawaiians by one of the original island queens. Our bus guide was a perfect ambassador for educating visitors about the New Hawaii. I believe he may have been the embodiment of Michener’s “Golden Man.”1James-A.-Michener-Quotes-1

So, have you been traveling during the holidays? Enjoying life at home? Either way, what book or series best represents the place you’re visiting, or the place you call home?

10 thoughts on “It’s Going DOWN The Volcano That Gets You

  1. That sounds like quite a trip. Hope you’re feeling better. I’m glad you didn’t let it stop you from being amazing.

    Granted I’m in Detroit, MI right now, I am a southwest girl and plan to get back there soon. So, Louis L’Amour and Tony Hillerman great, Zane Grey is pretty good too, but for my particular loves – Edward Abbey – Desert Solitaire- bang on!

    For Detroit – well, when Jim Butcher talks about Chicago, on the other side of the lake, it is pretty darn close to being us too. 😀

  2. Kathryn, So very sorry to hear of your infections and injuries–you sound like a practice case for second year med students! But hurrah for the way you used your appearance to get an ocean view suite. Are you available the next time Kay and I decide to go somewhere?
    We love Maui–been there several times–but the older we get (and the more bad things that happen in the world around us) the less we enjoy travel. As Nolan Ryan supposedly put it toward the end of his baseball career, “Anybody who thinks travel is glamorous ain’t done enough of it.”
    Welcome back…and watch that first step.

    • Thanks, Richard! I’be definitely been walking around like quite the fragile lower, lol. Better be motored. Careful on future trios!

      • Wow, auto-correct really butchered whatever I was trying to say there. Bottom line: at your and your wife’s disposal, especially in Maui.

  3. Glad you’re doing better – sound like quite the trip with everything going on in terms of injuries as well as infections! I love Maui and am so glad you got to enjoy it despite everything:) We are staying put in Colorado for the holidays but I have family coming in so that will be quite the adventure. My niece and nephew are coming for the first time and I know they are excited for lots and lots of snow…I’m just not sure if I want to wish for that myself!

    • Fist time sno for kids at Christmas? Can’t beat that, Clare! If there’s anyplace in town that hots horse-drawn sleigh rides, that’s a wonderful treat for little ones!

  4. Hi Kathryn,

    So sorry to hear of your “domino” health problems. But as you learned, traveling with health problems has certain advantages, first to board the plane, people help lift your carryon in the overhead bin, etc. I had to make several trips after bilateral knee replacement surgery, and, while everyone was wonderfully helpful, no one offered me an ocean-front suite!

    Your reference to Mystery on Maui reminded me of a classic fave, Nancy Drew’s Secret of the Golden Pavilion, set in Hawaii back around the time it became a state.

    All good wishes that you’ll be back in great shape in time to ring in a very Happy 2016.

    • Thanks Debbie, I’m definitely on the mend. That MYSTERY ON MAUI was actually the last Nancy Drew I wrote before the book packager lost the series and everyone moved on. I had no idea it had even been published until a few years ago, when I wandered into a bookstore in Newport Beach, picked it up, and thought, “hmmm…that sounds familiar.” After skimming a few pages I realized it had indeed been published. I got paid for the book, but had always assumed it fell through the cracks during the publishing house changes. (I had also been feeling vaguely guilty that, as the last writer for that iteration of the series, I had somehow “killed” Nancy Drew. Was happy to find her in a rare hardback version, looking magnificent as a beach bunny.

      • It was actually a refreshing way to obtain an upgrade. Usually my husband stands back and lets me whine and wheedle and ratchet up the tension level to get what we want. First time I ever got the same result without having to launch into “Bad Kathy” mode. ?

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