It is already our last night on Maui. Our living room door is open and the neighborhood dogs are barking greetings to each other. The palm trees wave in the breeze just outside the door. Mynah birds chirp. A jet flying overhead reminds us of our flight to Kona tomorrow.

Flying to Maui last week started with a big surprise.

After a sleepless night, we rose early Feb. 23 to catch the 6 AM ferry. We were lucky to see Lori Borian, the Whidbey Island Waldorf School administrator, in the ferry cabin. After exchanging greetings we continued our brisk walk. We wanted exercise prior to sitting for six hours on our flight. Then Bill looked at his phone and we had to sit down. Hawaiian Airlines notified us that our flight to Maui was cancelled. We called customer service and were rebooked on the following day.

Imagine our surprise when on the ferry we received this text.

We contacted our Airbnb host to let them know we would not be arriving until the following day. Our nightly rate with fees was $292, a bargain by Maui’s pricey accommodations in these peak tourist times. However to us it’s a lot of money to lose.

We have since contacted Airbnb to inquire about a refund. We also contacted Hawaiian Airlines and were directed to send a letter to Consumer Affairs with a request for compensation. In our 40+ years flying to Hawaii, this is the first time our flight was cancelled. We learned the following morning that the Seattle-bound plane never left Maui Feb.22.

Feb. 23 was a rare cold day in Langley and we enjoyed the views of the Cascades. We let our pet sitter know to arrive the following day, phoned Kimo’s Rent a Car to let them know we would arrive a day later as well. We lost about $40 for a day’s car rental due to the flight cancellation.

Once again aboard the 6 AM ferry Feb. 24, we saw Lori Barian. She was surprised to see us and we told her our story.

Our flight took only five hours instead of six. Arriving in Maui, we walked outside to warm tropical air and sun. We stopped for lunch at the Kahului Whole Foods. My niece Kali and her boyfriend Dallas met us and it was so good to see them. Kali was 15 the last time we saw her, and not dating Dallas. Now at nearly 20, she has become a beautiful young woman.

Heading toward Kihei we took a ceremonial dip in the ocean at Kamaole 2 Beach, which has terrific sunsets. Meeting my sister Heidi after her work we caught up while eating good fare at La Poblana Mexican food in Kihei.

Our ‘Ohana Yonegan Haiku Sanctuary” Unit #7 is a bottom unit in a converted garage below a pair of upstairs vacation rentals. It feels homey. Our bedroom slider faces a gravel lot where a car parks just outside the door. No late sleeping in with folks getting an early start, starting their car up and crunching their tires in the gravel.

Our hosts Floyd and Tennessee, host a vacation rental in Haiku. Their logo decorates pillows. Photo by Kate Poss

We drove to Wailea on South Maui for swimming Feb.25. By the time we arrived at Ulua Beach, our previously favorite public snorkeling beach, the lot was full. We drove past the Grand Wailea Hotel to its public Wailea Beach and found parking near a beautiful sandy beach. I put on fins and a mask and swam laps in the 70° turquoise sea.

Returning from a snorkel swim at Wailea Beach, Kate marvels at being out of her wetsuit. Photo by Bill Poss
Bill gets ready to snorkel at Wailea Beach on our last day in Maui. Photo by Kate Poss

A good-sized turtle covered in algae swam by. The near shore reef fish populations, whose diet depends on coral, are down significantly due to coral bleaching, sediment runoff and algae growth.

Coral share a symbiotic relationship with a certain algae, which gives them their color. Rising ocean temperatures can cause the coral to expel the algae, resulting in their bleached color. Without the algae, the coral cannot survive. Sediment runoff reduces coral’s access to sunlight. Invasive algae growth smothers coral. Groups such as the Coral Reef Alliance are taking steps to protect the reefs through encouraging filtration of runoff and prevention of erosion. The Maui Coral Reef Recovery Team has documented the decline of coral reef health during the past two decades. Their focus is on using reef-safe sunscreen, promoting cleaner ocean water, and best management practices for builders and developers.

After our swim we picked Heidi up and picnicked with her at a quiet baseball park in Paia. We talked of many things spiritual and musical. A number of dogs came by to greet us then returned to their owners. That evening we enjoyed spaghetti dinner with Amara, Heidi’s teen daughter and her dad Malcolm. Our dinner and dessert were delicious and bought at Mana Foods, Paiai’s natural food store. We quizzed Amara on high school life and learned that she likes hanging out with her friends and eating almond M&M’s.

Iconic Maui Surfboard Fence along the Hana Highway. Photo by Bill Poss

Sunday morning we arrived at Ulua Beach earlier than the day before. Here again the coral reefs were bleached or covered with algae. From seeing hundreds of fish a decade ago, it is sobering to see a just a few. After a good swim we sat on our beach chairs enjoying the view. A wet suited woman walked by and we talked. She told us the sea feels cold to her in this Maui winter. I mentioned swimming in 38° temperatures at the Langley marina just the week before. She asked if we know violinist Talia Marcus and we told her we did! The woman, Aerie, met Talia years ago at a Suzuki violin camp.

Returning to our Haiku apartment we showered and visited nearby Ho’okipa Beach, renowned for its windsurfers and surfers. A sheltered beach harbored a dozen or so turtles sunning themselves. Weighing up to 300 lbs. and up to four feet long, they lounged, some piled on the other. The Hawaiian green sea turtles are native to the islands and are the largest of the world’s sea turtles. In the Hawaiian language they are called honu.

Hawaiian green sea turtles at Ho’okipa Beach in Paia. Photo by Kate Poss
Kate at Paia Bay Beach Park. Photo by Bill Poss

We left Paia in a rainbow driving toward Kihei to pick up Heidi at work. Next we drove toward Lahaina, where we were guests for pizza at Chrissy’s ranch home in the hills. Chrissy is Dallas’ mom. Dallas is my niece Kali’s boyfriend and Kali is Heidi’s daughter. We sat outside watching the sunset over the ocean. Chrissy talked of being a drummer in bands past and how Dallas has accompanied her. Dallas mentioned performing the Beatles’ Come Together at an open mic venue a few years ago and Willie Nelson joined him!

Heading along the Hana Highway toward Wailea Feb. 27. Photo by Kate Poss
Kate gets ready to snorkel at Wailea Beach. Outrigger tours leave from this destination. Photo by Bill Poss
Looking longingly at the turquoise sea at Kamaole 3 Beach in Kihei on our last day in Maui. Photo by Kate Poss

Today we swam again at Wailea Beach, enjoying the feel and rhythm of the sea. After a picnic at Kamaole Park 3 in Kihei, we took an alternate route back to Haiku, which found us in a field of sunflowers. Once home to more than a century of sugarcane monocrop owned by sugar barons Alexander & Baldwin, this Central Maui land now is home to locally grown crops and biofuel fields. The Mahi Pono Consortium,  the largest agricultural company on Maui, has planted local crops to offset the 90% of imported foods. Pacific Biodiesel has planted 115 acres of sunflowers with hopes for yields of 100 gallons of biodiesel fuel produced per acre.

Bill took this selfie at the 15-acre Pacific Biodiesel sunflower field. The company will use sunflower seeds to produce biofuel

The sounds of winter evening rain float in through the door, bringing with it a cool breeze. I will write next from the Big Island. Aloha from Cactus Kate and Bajada Bill!

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