Shark Snack

Shark Snack

Aloha!

As those of you who follow this blog know, Mike works as a boat Captain on the Scotch Mist out of Lahaina www.scotchmistsailingcharters.com/

A couple of days ago he came home from work and told me this story: another Captain out of Lahaina had taken a snorkel tour over near the coastline of Lanai. The group of snorkelers were in the water enjoying themselves.  While the Captain waited on the boat, he looked down in the water and saw a large turtle surface. Under the turtle he saw another shape, and assumed it was a second turtle…when suddenly an eight-foot tiger shark surfaced just behind the turtle, and opening its large jaws–swallowed the turtle whole!

The Captain started yelling, “Everyone back on the boat. Back on the boat, NOW!” but the shark had his snack, and took off, not bothering any of the humans.

I guess he didn’t get the memo that the turtles are endangered and not to get too close.

For those who would enjoy a sailing adventure the next time you’re on Maui:

Scotch Mist Sunset Tour Highlights:

The Scotch Mist is the fastest production line sailboat of her size in the world.

■ Bubbly Champagne, Kula Chocolates, Beer, Wine, Soda & Juice ■ Quiet and Relaxing Sunset Sail ■ Beautiful views of Maui, Lanai and Molokai ■

Snorkel Trips Available (to the brave and fearless!) to Lanai

Call 1-877-669-1077. Enjoy!

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page. Mahalo for stopping by.

Maui Weather Today: High 87, Low 73

Aloha, Jamaica

Advertisements

You Asked for It

Maui Weather Today High 84, Low 72

You Asked for It

Aloha!
It seems we’ve been on a food theme for the last few blog posts. I have asked readers what they would like to see in this blog, and the answers came back, “Restaurant reviews.” Being that I lived for 20 years right next to the Napa Valley in California, and did Interior Design work there, I will provide some
restaurant reviews in this blog. I’m a pretty good cook, but I LOVE to eat out.

First of all, I don’t know how any restaurant survives these days. Especially on Maui, with the price of food. We used to buy the good canned crab meat
at Costco on a somewhat regular basis, and it was $ 8.99 per can. (I make a mean crabcake.) Then the price went to $9.99 then $12.99 then $15.99 and the last I saw, it was at $18 can. We stopped buying it. So if crab has doubled on the shelf at Costco, how much are restaurateurs having to pay? The same with our electric bill; it’s doubled on Maui in the last few years. Business people are paying those same rates.

When you come to Maui on vacation, you are in vacation mode. You have set a certain amount of money set aside to spend… and do so gladly. We are the same way when we go on vacation, our filters are different. We just go with the flow and if we want something, or want to eat out, we do it. It’s just the price of taking a vacation.

Not so when you live in a place. So eating out on Maui can be a minefield… We don’t have it in the budget to eat at the normal tourist places. And when we do eat out, we are more critical than a normal tourist would be.I laugh when I remember the time my stepdad John was here visiting from California, and one day we went to Ruby’s http://rubys.com/ in the Kaahamanu shopping center for lunch. It’s a hamburger place mostly, with a 1950’s diner vibe. John and I spent a lot of time in California comparing hamburger joints. There is so much to choose from there, with Nation’s, and In-and-Out Burger. The first thing we would do when he picked me up at the Oakland airport was go straight to Nation’s for a cheeseburger. It was our ritual. You can get out of In-and-Out Burger with a nice freshly made cheeseburger, fries, and a drink for around five bucks. It’s an eat- in restaurant, and has booths, the same as Ruby’s. And when we opened up the menu at Rubys, and John saw that the hamburgers were going to be about $12 a piece, I thought he was going to fall out of the booth. (He was a big guy, so that would’ve been quite difficult for him to do.) I ordered a cheeseburger and a drink. He ordered a bowl of chili, onion rings, and a shake.

The bill came to somewhere in the neighborhood of $27. He talked about that bill at Ruby’s for the next three years. To anyone who would listen, he said, “How in the world does anyone afford to live on Maui? When you can’t even go out for a cheeseburger….”
And I agree.

Just going out and having a good time without worrying about the tab can be a real challenge on Maui. I remember when I first moved here and was working at the hotel, I met one of the maintenance guys who had also recently moved here from Northern California. He had a good job at the hotel, his wife also worked. But they were moving back to the mainland. I questioned him, but you just got here, why are you leaving? His answer: “Because we are so
spoiled with going out to eat in Northern California, and we simply can’t afford
to do it here.”It was their thing, and it just wasn’t going to fly in Maui.

It does become a bit of of “look, but don’t touch.” I know there are a lot of nice restaurants at the hotels in Wailea and also in Lahaina, but we just don’t go eat there, because it’s not in the budget. This was a huge
adjustment for me, being from Northern California, and having Napa Valley right there at my disposal.

You can find good, honest chef-prepared food in Napa Valley for not much money. Also, a few years ago we went to LA to the Great American Pitchfest, with one of my scripts. Afterward, we drove to Santa Barbara to stay for a couple of nights. This was going to be the “vacation” portion of the trip. And because we were on vacation, I was prepared to pay good money to eat out. We got some recommendations from the concierge and headed downtown.

And were blown away. First, by all that there was to choose from. It was like its own little Napa Valley right there on the main street of Santa Barbara. Once we chose a restaurant (not an easy feat), we were treated to some of the most mouthwatering, gourmet food I have ever had for such a good price. I still think about that meal. We had an appetizer and entrées; I had one glass of wine and we shared a dessert, and were out the door for about 60 bucks. Amazing!
This is never going to happen on Maui. So, any restaurant reviews that I do on this blog will be through the eyes of hard-working Maui people with normal working people’s budgets. Not a tourist’s budget. Forewarned is forearmed.

You asked for it!

Let the games begin.

A hui hou (til next time). if you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaiian Airlines Adds Local Food, Free Wine

Maui Weather Today: High 85, Low 73

Hawaiian Airlines Adds Local Food, Free Wine

Aloha!

This just in: Hawaiian Airlines has added kalua pork and free wine in economy class. Seems my post on ono (good) food was a little early.

Hawaiian Airlines is revamping the service on its mainland-to-Hawaii
routes by introducing more local foods and free wine in
economy class.The airline has started serving foods such as kalua pork
sandwiches and sweet Hawaiian bread with cream cheese and guava jelly in its free in-flight meals. In addition, it’s selling Spam musubi, ramen noodles and other snacks through a new feature called the Pau Hana (quit work) Snack Bar. Economy-class passen­gers 21 and older are being offered a
complimentary glass of red or white wine selected by Hawaii master sommelier Chuck Furuya. The wine comes with lunch or dinner.

Makes me wonder if Hawaiian is feeling the squeeze from Alaska Airlines on its Hawaii flights. Otherwise, in this age when airlines are cutting back and adding fees, why would Hawaiian make anything free? Alaska is using smaller planes (737’s) to move into Hawaiian’s turf, the Pacific Coast to Hawaii. And Alaska’s 737’s are approximately one-third more fuel-efficient than Hawaiian’s new A330’s, so Hawaiian may be offering free services to make sure its planes stay full. At this website http://airlines.findthebest.com/compare/7-13/Alaska-Airlines-vs-Hawaiian-Airlines these comparisons are offered:

Hawaiian Airlines Travel and Leisure Rating was 78.58 compared to Alaska’s 74.24. But wait, it’s about to get interesting with the other fees. Baggage fees for Hawaiian are $25.00 for the first bag, $35.00 for the second bag, and $125.00 for the third bag!–while Alaska offers all three for only $20.00 each. Then, an unaccompanied minor is charged $100.00 on Hawaiian but only $75.00 on Alaska.

But here’s where Alaska will really make a traveler’s heart sing: carry-on baggage. I have to say that when traveling on Hawaiian it’s always frustrating  that my carry-on that I can get into a bin on other airlines, is a no-go on Hawaiian. It just won’t fit in there. Here’s why:

Both have a weight limit of 25 lbs. Hawaiian’s length is 14 inches, Alaska’s is 24 inches. Hawaiian’s width is 22 inches and Alaska’s 17 inches. But Hawaiian’s  bag size cubed was 2,227 inches, while Alaska’s is 4,080 cubed.

Pets were listed at $100. on Alaska and not listed at all for Hawaiian. Cancellation 12-month average was 0.08 on Hawaiian and 0.6 on Alaska. And perhaps most important of all: complaints were at 1.17 per 100k passengers on Hawaiian, and at 0.44 on Alaska.

We are always happy with the service, the leg room, and the food on Alaska. We signed up for the Alaska Awards program because they are a sister airline to Air France and we would love to go see our friends in France by using only points. So our end-game might be a little different than yours.

So I’m curious. Which airline do you use to fly to Hawaii, and why?

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Ono Food

Maui Weather Today: High 86, Low 73

Ono Food

Aloha!

Spam musubi, courtesy of Flickr user bandita Spam Musubi

Food is an education in Hawaii. When I worked at the hotel, http://www.astonmauikaanapalivillas.com/, I got a good grasp of just how important food was to the locals. Every day from the time the front desk workers got to work, I could hear them discussing what they would eat for lunch. Who are we going to order lunch from? What are we going to have? Are we going to order as a group, or individually? Discussing food is a major component of life here: “And what did you eat last night?” they would ask each other. No one gets in the way of its enjoyment. Good food is known as “ono grinds.” (Not to be confused with Ono, the fish).

When we were building our house, we had a carpenter’s-helper named Edward. Edward was a short, stout guy from Canada who looked like a leprechaun, and he had a fun, dry sense of humor. Everyone has a story of how they got to Hawaii, and Edward’s story was that he had met a local girl, Lorna, online. Lorna was Filipino, and in due course he moved to Hawaii to be with her. Unfortunately, this meant that Edward gave up a very lucrative career as an engineer in Canada. (Love makes everyone stupid at some point.) And that was how we came to have his considerable talents for not much pay here in Maui.

Edward eventually married Lorna, and we went to their backyard wedding. After that, each morning Edward would show up here for work clutching his stomach, complaining of indigestion. Seems that his Canadian constitution was being subjected to Filipino food on a regular basis now. He described at length the “strange things they eat,” but what got to him the most was the night he visited some of her relatives and there was a goat tied to a tree in the yard…and the goat became dinner. Instead of referring to the ono (good) food in Hawaiian, Edward took to calling it “Oh, no!’ food. We still laugh about it to this day. And in true Maui style, Edward eventually moved back to his home in Canada…and Lorna was faced with the decision of whether or not to leave her family on Maui and follow him. This happens on a regular basis here. She did go, and the last I heard was that she was going to move back to Maui, whether Edward did or not. Some people bounce back and forth to Maui like ping-pong balls.

If the shortest path to love is through the stomach, what happens when the stomach recoils at the sight and smell of the food? Oh, no!

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

Where you stay?

Maui Weather today: don’t care what they say…it’s windy, chilly and looks like RAIN Upcountry! A very unusual summer.

Where you stay?

Aloha!

In pidgin, “Where you stay?” means where are you…or where do you live? We got invited to a friends’ house for dinner Sunday night. They live near Makawao, and I started thinking about why people live where they do on Maui, and on the way I snapped these horses:

Makawao Horses

And then the rainbow behind them got brighter:

Maui Horses

When I moved to Maui I had only been Upcountry once, on vacation. “Upcountry” refers to the area at the base of Haleakala mountain and includes the communities of Kula, Pukalani, Olinda, Makawao and Haiku, plus surrounding areas. When I vacationed here, someone told me it was where the “normal” people lived (whatever normal is!) meaning full-time Maui residents who wanted to buy a house and not live in a condo. Other than that, I had no idea that there were cowboys and horses and ranches and a Polo Club http://www.mauipoloclub.com/. up here. We went one Sunday to watch Polo and it was a lot of fun.

Makes sense that the country music station is out of Makawao. You see cowboys and cowgirls in boots and Western wear here in this cowpoke town. I thought for a brief moment that it might be fun to own a horse until my friend Jody, who had a horse, clued me in on what it costs to keep one fed on Maui. Nev-er mind. People who live Upcountry are different from those who live in say, Lahaina, and usually the twain shall never meet. Friends we knew from when we lived on the Westside have never been to our home Upcountry, including the formal invite to our Hawaiian house-blessing that we had with a Kumu presiding, complete with maile lei. The general attitude seems to be “We live in Lahaina, we don’t GO Upcountry.” (We don’t need no stinkin’ Upcountry!)

I did an informal poll at the dinner gathering Sunday night. Why do you live where you live on Maui? Our group included a guy who lives in Kihei to be near his job, but is from Madison, WI. (Shout out to my sister Marcia and her husband Richard in Madison!) He said when you’re from the Midwest, the pull to Maui is agricultural. That a Japanese farmer in Maui is no different from a strapping German farmer in Wisconsin. As I toured my friend Wendy’s property that evening I was struck again by how much Makawao looks like Indiana, where I was a kid. Horses and cows and fields. Rapsberry bushes running wild along Wendy’s fence row, just like in Michigan, where she grew up. They say you can never go home again…but do you think we try to recreate what we had as children? It that really why I live Upcountry?

What about you…if you moved to Maui, where would you choose to live and why? The real question is: how would you design your life? Many who live on Maui wish they had a place at the beach for in the winter and a place Upcountry for in the summer when it’s hot. In our dreams!

I saw a funny Facebook post the other day. Someone was vacationing on Maui and said, “I didn’t know until this trip that there was any hiking at all on Maui! I was always all about, ‘Why would anyone ever leave the beach?'”

Exactly. The reasons are as many and varied as the people. The carpenter from Kula who helped us build our house, in referring to Lahaina said, “That’s Disneyland down there.”  Another friend who’d lived in Lahaina but moved Upcountry said that she “grew weary of the transience: everyone’s just there for a year or two…there’s no real sense of community”. And yet the Lahaina people can’t understand why Upcountry people would ever live away from the ocean. For Mike and me, it was a matter of 1) being better able to afford a house, 2) cooler weather (he napped all the time when we lived down there, it was SO hot, he never naps Upcountry and 3) we eventually got our fill of the crowds. Especially Mike. I thought maybe a vein was going to pop in his head or something…

Example: you go to Safeway in Lahaina and the tourists, who have no idea where anything is, have their carts parked sideways, blocking the aisles. And they drive sooo slowly. Looking at the scenery, or more likely, lost.  And clueless that we need to be somewhere, like now. I totally understand this, because as a tourist in Napa Valley a couple of years ago, I nonchalantly headed out from my hotel onto the old two-lane highway for breakfast one morning, and when I glanced in my rearview mirror, a local girl was making a rude gesture and pounding her fist on her watch. Then she sped around me. Stupid tourist, indeed. Yes, they have jobs and time schedules, but don’t they know I’m on vacation?

On Maui, do tourists realize we have jobs, doctor’s appts and dentist appts. to get to, kids to pick up from school…just like they do back at home? Vacation is a bubble people live in for a brief moment that they wish could last and last…so they stretch it out. Slowwwllly.

I find it one of the most interesting phenomenoms that people stake out their little corner of Maui and don’t leave it. You tell yourself you won’t do that when you move here…but somehow it happens. Maybe it’s the winding road into Lahaina that keeps people from going over there. And then you certainly don’t want to drink at a restaurant and then drive that road back home. Or maybe it’s that people work over there and don’t want to drive back over for entertainment? But how does that explain that Lahaina people who don’t want to leave there? Seriously.

Here’s my parting story: when I began my women’s group on Maui, the group of women met for the first time. The idea was to rotate houses for the meetings. There was one girl, April, who lived in Kihei. The rest of us were Upcountry folk. When Karen heard that April was from Kihei she said heatedly, “I am NOT driving to Kihei.” This, my friends, is is a thirty-minute drive, and no one wants to do it. Don’t ask me why, I can’t explain it. I lived in the corn fields of Indiana where we drove thirty minutes for a gallon of milk.

They say there are beach people and mountain people. Maybe it’s as simple as that.

Where you stay?

A hui hou (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

The Road not Taken

Maui Weather Today: High of 85. Low of 72.

The Road Not Taken…in Maui

Aloha!

My niece Alyssa just graduated from high school. This is what I will tell her:

When you move to Maui, it’s a pretty sure bet that you are not one to follow the crowd. This sounds counter-intuitive, I know, since the crowd thinks it wants to live here. But to actually leave your home, your family, and move to Maui is something entirely different. Now you’re walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I sorta envy those who grew up here..they have such close family ties. I miss my family and thought they would visit much more often than they do.  But it’s a different world now, it’s expensive to fly, it’s expensive just to get by.

All I knew was that I wanted to live somewhere warm. I was sick of being cold my whole childhood and I was determined to do whatever it took to leave the Chicago area. First I moved to California. Then to Hawaii. Everyone wants to know: how can you afford to live there? How can you own a house? They write to me and ask me that.  I once saw an interview with Michael J. Fox where he talked about the concept of “selling your twenties to buy your thirties”. While my friends were grooving at concerts, going on cruises and living the good life in their twenties, I was saving money, then building a house and delaying gratification.

It’s about choices.

I have a friend who built a house and also bought a bookstore in Mexico. People ask her, too, how did you afford to do this? Her answer: sacrifice. She and her husband lived in the Bay area, worked very hard, and saved every penny they could. They chose not to have children. They bought the land, then built the house with cash, little by little, making trips to Mexico to do the work themselves.  Choices.

Today the choices are even less clear: technology whispers from every corner “buy me, buy me”. Eric Gilliom http://ericgilliom.com/and Willi K http://www.barefootnatives.com/ from Maui did a song about Maui where they talk about not owning a cell phone and driving a Maui cruiser (junk) car. The Road Not Taken is often a beater car covered with red dirt in Maui. It’s often a cinder-block house with jalousie windows. It’s often a bunch of roomates.

My Kenmore dishwasher is 33 years old. I am not making this up. It came with the house we tore down to build this one. It looks like someone tied it to the bumper of a car and dragged it behind.  The racks inside are broken and rusting. It’s quite noisy. But is still works. So we are not rushing out to replace it to the tune of $700-$1,000. Every single thing on Maui is expensive.

I was in Foodland in Pukalani yesterday and they have hit a new personal best of $6.49 for a loaf of rye bread. I will soon not be buying bread! Also, our coconut tree in the front yard was dying, so we had to have it removed. The Samoan guy wanted $200. but Mike talked him down to $150. plus all the tangerines he wanted off our tree. The Ironwood tree is enormous and was threatening our roof. It was going to be a King’s ransom to get it trimmed, so Mike shaped a surfboard, had it glassed, and traded the tree trimmer for the board. (A Mike Turkington surfboard is a coveted item: www.amazon.com/The-Curt-Mastalka-Collection…/B002M4NM0M  or https://www.google.com/search?q=mike+turkington+surfer&hl=en&prmd). Every day now it seems we say “There is more going out than coming in.” I know it is the same across the country…but what is the cost of living where you live?

Between the cost of gas, and food (bread!) and electricity on Maui, I don’t know how people with three children are keeping up. A commentary by Lisa Darcy in the Maui Weekly http://mauiweekly.com/ Executive Director of the Ho’omoana Foundation, talked about how she is “witnessing more people in need who are doing everything right and still unable to meet their basic needs or their family’s basic needs” because so many agencies have had to make cutbacks. Lisa ended with these words: “As long as I have (dental) floss, I am in a socioecnomic bracket well ahead of most of the world. This is not something I take for granted, nor that fact that I have a warm, safe place to sleep tonight.”

Moving to Maui is The Road Not Taken. It’s well and good to tell yourself the beaches and warm weather will make up for not having “things.” It’s another to be able to afford bread and to be able to put gas in your car.

A hui hou (Til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica

End of an Era

Aloha!

If you follow this blog, you know that I worked part-time as a concierge/Activities Coordinator at the Maui Kaanapali Villas (http://astonmauikaanapalivillas.3dhawaii.com/ for about ten years. I loved my job. I was good at my job. I really enjoyed meeting tourists from all over the world, and the best day ever was meeting some folks from France whom I invited up to the house, we became friends, and then they invited us to France. We went and it was fabulous. Wow.

I began my job at the Villas in 1999. The main reason I took the job was to have someting to do while I built my interior design business in Hawaii. Also, with that job, we’d get to do the Activities on Maui for free (a major perk). So about once a year we could go do something fun with each company, and we’d also get a discount for our guests who were visiting. This job was totally commission-based and that’s something people need to understand about jobs in Hawaii. They are low-paying or commission unless you have a great office job, or a job in the medical profession, law profession, etc.

There are also instances of people being private or sub-contractors, which is what Mike is as a Captain on the Scoth Mist out of Lahaina. He doesn’t make a great wage and then must pay self-employment tax on that. So people like him, in edition to waiters, waitresses and bartenders, rely on tips.

At my job, two things happened: the first was September 11th, which absolutely froze tourism to Hawaii. My take-home pay dipped dramatically. Very slowly people started coming back to Hawaii, and then we got the second hit: the stock market plunge of late 2007. No tourists. When they did finally start coming, we saw a shift: people who before would have stayed at a resort such as the Four Seasons were looking for less-expensive places to stay. Or, people were coming who were getting killer deals on airlines that wanted to fill seats, and these people just wanted a place to stay.

But people weren’t coming to Maui to spend any extra money, so my pay dipped again. And again. By the time it was all said and done, I was making one-half to one-third what I had been when I started there. At the same time our gas prices on Maui shot to the highest in the nation, so it was no longer feasible for me to drive all the way to Lahaina for what little pay I was making. I simply couldn’t stay in a job where I was making less than the kid at McDonald’s.

In these low-paying Maui jobs, you hope for tips. But I can count on ten fingers the number of times I was tipped in ten years, and I was someone who bent over backwards for people and always has a smile on my face. I made sure people were going to have the time of their lives in Maui. So why didn’t people think to tip? Because they assumed I was getting a per-hour wage.

I addition to what has gone on in our nation’s economy, Hawaii’s economy is tourist-based. We also took some very hard hits as both Aloha Airlines went under, and then Maui Land and Pine. I have a friend who worked at ML&P for years and retired with the understanding that she would have health insurance forever. When they went under, there went her health insurance.

When you come to Hawaii and are wondering whether to tip, consider this: hotel bellhops and Skycaps at the airport see turnover all day long. We know a Skycap who owns a large house on Kaanapali hillside, he does so well.  But I would spend a minimum of an hour and and a quarter with guests planning their vacations, sometimes two hours. In an eight hour day, how many people could I really serve? When things slowed down, sometimes I would sit all day with no one. Tips would have helped bridge the pay gap, but I served far fewer people than most tip-related jobs. Every once in a while a guest would ask “Am I allowed to tip you?” and I would say “Of course!” So if can afford to tip when you come to Maui, please do. Please realize that workers here depend on it. If you can afford to tip well, all the better.

I will now get down off my soap box.

As it turns out, the company I worked for all those years just lost their contract with that hotel. Owners bid on the opportunity to have thier Activity company at a hotel, and if they have a monopoly of many Activity Desks in hotels, they can bid more. That’s what happened. So sad to say, the company will no longer be there. And the women I worked with are now out of jobs, because the new company has their own workers. Takeovers happen even in Paradise.

I am sad for my former co-workers and can’t really believe that an Activity company that has been there for 30 years is no more.

A hui hou (til later). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home Page.

Aloha, Jamaica