Outdoors, Travel, Visual Perspectives

Finding the Needle (It Wasn’t in a Haystack!)

16 Dec , 2018  

In my sometimes vivid, sometimes hazy, sometimes mixed up memories of Hawaii from 30+ years ago, Kauai is the island I most associate with the words, “lush, green paradise.” I will confess that I may, more than once, have used the words, “most boring” with regard to Maui. This latest trip has proved to me how unfair that assessment may have been. Not in small part because one of the most vivid mental images I had of “lush, green paradise” was not actually on Kauai, but on Maui.

Just a Mental Snapshot

I remembered standing on a small, well paved path, looking up into the misty green mountains from a rainforest in a deep, cool valley. After a gentle, morning shower, the path was wet. A great stone pillar rose up into the clouds, and the sun began to peek out, ever so shyly.

Turn around, and you can see clear across to a patch of impossibly blue sky that bisects the island. Maui, that is. Not Kauai. This is the Iao Valley, and the Iao Needle.

The Hawaiian god Kāne is considered to be the procreator and the provider of life. He is associated with wai (fresh water) as well as clouds, rain, streams, and springs. Kanaloa, the Hawaiian god of the underworld, is represented by the phallic stone of the Iao Needle.

Kapawa, the king of Hawaiʻi prior to Pili, was buried here. Maui’s ruler Kakaʻe, in the late 15th century, designated Iao Valley as an aliʻi burial ground. The remains were buried in secret places. In 1790, the Battle of Kepaniwai took place there, in which Kamehameha the Great defeated Kalanikūpule and the Maui army during his campaign to unify the islands. The battle was said to be so bloody that dead bodies blocked Iao Stream, and the battle site was named Kepaniwai (“the damming of the waters”).

from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iao_Valley

For some reason, I remember this most vividly from my first trip to Hawaii, when I was nine. My grandparents were there, and my parents. My aunt and uncle, and one of my cousins. We teased the younger of my two little cousins, for years, that he’d been to Hawaii – even though he wasn’t born yet. I vividly remember the interest my mom and my grandmother took in the Hawaiian Silversword plants atop Haleakala, and my dad and I shivering in the pre-dawn cold, despite our ski jackets.

I remembered that this spot in the Iao Valley was a sacred place, and there is something that touches the soul, here. I might be forgiven for moving it to a whole different island; after all, at nine, I was not in charge of transportation. I could drink it all in with my eyes; I wasn’t driving. That doesn’t explain why I mentally moved it despite coming here on two subsequent trips. But never mind, I was just glad I figured it out in time to suggest the trip and surprise J.J. with the view. He was as enchanted with it as I had been, all those years ago.

On to Wailea

Driving across the island took about 20 minutes. We then took the scenic route up the coastal road through Kihei, stopped for some Hawaiian Shave Ice (my inner grammarian cringes, but I was told by my friend Carl Yoshihara never to call it “shaved ice” – it’s Shave Ice) atop creamy macadamia nut ice cream. We drove over to Ma’alaea Harbor, so I had some idea of where to go the next day for my snorkeling cruise to Molokini, a submerged volcanic crater with coral reefs and tropical fish, and Turtle Town, then headed for the Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott, where we’d stay for the rest of the week. This was the view from our lanai:

For some reason, an afternoon chill always seemed to set in – it wasn’t real, it was warm and still sunny – but I sensed the approach of dusk around 4:30 PM each day, and the air went from hot to pleasantly cool and breezy. It’s true that the winds seem to pick up as the day goes by, and the surf gets choppier in the afternoon and evening. I got some of the most beautiful pictures of the sunset, as well as the sunrise, in Maui. But I’ll save those for a later post.

We had dinner at the hotel, after a busy day of sightseeing (and lots of driving, for J.J. – we’d been up since 3 AM!) and I got to sleep early so that I could get up and drive to Ma’alaea Harbor at 6:30 AM for a snorkeling adventure on the Pride of Maui.



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10 Responses

  1. Pat Stoltey says:

    Wonderful photos, Holly! I’ve never been to any of the Hawaiian Islands and am so weary of air travel that if I go I might have to take a cruise. 😀

    • Take the cruise! You’ll see lots without being jammed into a sardine can for nearly 10 hours! It’s worth it, but I hear you. I have weird bruises I’m convinced are from the seat back pocket my knees were pressed against the whole time!

  2. What fun! You seem to be having a blast in the water. As for the hazy memories, that is perfectly normal – as kids, we romanticize the good times, blot out the bad and forget the rest. LOL



    • Isn’t that the truth? (And you’re right, I was having a blast – what can I say, I’m a Pisces!) I read something about how memories are formed: the strongest ones are necessarily the ones we label best or worst or choose to remember, but the ones where there’s a close correlation to a strong, concurrent, possibly unrelated emotion get cemented in our brains. The example given was the way a kid might vividly remember the gum stuck to his shoe at Disney, rather than remembering Cinderella’s Castle, fireworks, or the Main Street Electrical Parade when he’s tired – and may explain the parents’ bewilderment at what he does/does not recall.

      • I read that about our brains, too! I was in one of the books designed to help aging baby-boomers stay Scrabble-sharp! Brush your teeth with the opposite hand, place a bottle of vanilla next to your bed, etc. These are supposed to help form new associative pathways, I guess because as we age, we no longer step on bubblegum. LOL



      • Not on purpose, anyway.

  3. All I have known about Hawaii is it is the 50th state of USA and Barrack Obama has Hawaii connection. This is the first time I have read interesting facts about the islands and got to know the place a little better. The photos are nice and your snorkeling video is amazing.

  4. Esha M Dutta says:

    Loved your wonderful account, Holly! You seem to have enjoyed yourself thoroughly there! Definitely on my to-do list for 2019. Can’t wait to see the sunrise and the sunset shots. Do share them, someday soon! 🙂

    • The sunrise shots are here: https://jahangiri.us/2017/greeting-the-sun-in-its-own-house/ and the sunset shots are coming soon. 🙂 They’re not as good, though. I thought they would be, and in fact took more of them (Don’t all photographers take a hundred shots, hoping for the one that turns out PERFECTLY?) I have several more days’ worth, but the holidays took precedence! So glad this is on your to-do list for the coming year – you won’t regret it at all. Hawaii (Kauai, which I did not visit at all, this trip) is where our daughter and son-in-law got engaged. I cannot think of a more beautiful spot, and I have been so lucky to be able to travel quite a bit. These islands are a special treat.

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