Why Elevation Matters On Maui

Aloha!

People write to me all the time to ask where they should live when they move to Maui. This question stumps me. It would seem they would know if they are beach people or mountain people….or if they want to be surrounded by tourists, or live in the middle of nowhere. So here’s some food for thought….

Let’s say you plan to move to Maui and will drive an electric car. You get to live in a jaw – droppingly beautiful place and help the planet while you drive, right?

Not so fast. A friend did just that – – moved his family to Kula at around 3,000 feet elevation, and bought an electric car. Only one problem: he found he cannot go up and down the hill on only one charge. At flat – level driving, the car (a Leaf) was rated to make the mileage – – it just couldn’t handle the elevation (kind of like my brother-in-law who got elevation-sick while we were all visiting the lavender farm in Kula. Hi, Richard!)

(www.aliikulalavender.com/ “In the uplands of Maui, nestled along the skirt of Haleakala (House of the Sun) mountain lay the beautiful gardens of Ali`i Kula Lavender. Maui’s Lavender Lifestyle experience.”)

But I digress. Of course, that is just another thing to consider…will you suffer from elevation sickness?

So my Kula friend now plans his days around charging his car. One day he had a meeting in Kahului (flat-land), then another meeting right afterward in Makawao (1,500 ft.) He had to re-schedule the second meeting to build in charging time, so he could make it back up the hill. Not a happy camper.

We inherited a Prius when my mom passed away. She is named “Lulu” and is the first car I’ve owned on Maui that won’t let me run the air-conditioner up the hill to Upcountry without grinding and complaining. So I pat her and turn off the A.C., even though it’s 95° out. My insurance agent told me she has the same problem with her small – cylinder car, that is neither electric or hybrid. Just not enough power.

The beauty of living Upcountry is that you can get a view, you’re away from the tourists, and it’s a bit cool-ah in Ku-la. (I owe that one to my niece).

The downside to elevation is that it’s really hard on your brakes. I burned mine up as soon as I moved Upcountry, and my mechanic said, “Downshift the whole way down, to save your brakes.” To which I replied, “But that makes the engine grind – – what about my transmission?” He just shrugged and said, “Choose.”

Everything in Maui comes down to choice, just like life. Beach or mountain? Hot or cool? Flat or views? Close to work, or a commute?

I leave you with this: your ears will pop every time you go up and down the mountain. I’ve always wondered this about airline folks too…is that an okay thing?

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

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Reader Question Answered

Aloha!
Since Mike had his knee replacement I have been behind on answering letters. Could be because I am bringing him ice, making him food, giving him shots and working through the exercises with him…anyway, his rehabilitation is going much more slowly than either of us anticipated.

A reader named Susan wrote:

Hi Jamaica,
Your blog is very informative. My daughter lives on Maui and has for the past 6 years. She loves it. I’m 61, single, a retired teacher and am seriously considering moving to Maui. I have visited the islands many many times and know I will have to work but don’t want to teach again..so I’m thinking I can make my way in the tourist industry with skills aquired in teaching. It will be a forever move..I am planning on selling everything and moving..I also think buying a condo in Lahaina vs renting may be more practical for me..My concern is getting to know people who are around my age..How easy is it to socialize? I’m not a drinker, I don’t frequent bars…and it seems like the island is full of young people. ..so what can u suggest to get settled and make some friends.
Susan

Dear Susan,
I take it that your daughter lives in Lahaina and that’s why you want to live there. We found that the Westside was full of young people, and also there’s a whole lot of drinking that goes on there. There’s a bumper sticker that says “Lahaina: a drinking town with a fishing problem.”

So that’s the basic reason we moved Upcountry. But there was more to it. We were looking for a community feel, less touristy and more local. Everyone seems to start out on the Westside… they think they want to live near the beach. But then they discover that living among the condos and hotels and tourists can get very annoying after a while. For that reason, I would suggest that you rent at first to get a feel for it and not buy right away.

Volunteering is probably your best in-road to meeting people. There’s the Lahaina Historical Society, and the library. If you’re willing to drive, many people volunteer at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (known as the MACC) and you’d get to see free shows, to boot. The Humane Society near Kihei is also always looking for volunteers.

You can find a cause and join, such as the Sierra Club, or fighting the GMO’s, or do beach – clean up, or join a hiking group. There are Maui Meet-up groups for things like boardgames, hiking, etc. (google Maui Meet-up). Many times, getting involved in these groups is what will lead to a job.

Otherwise, people can find it a tough go… They have skills from the mainland, but find that it’s mostly the hotels where those skills can be used, and there are many, many people in line in front of them for those jobs. Sometimes, a nonprofit is a better bet for your type of skills. For instance, recently there was a job opening with Canines for Independence in the front office… Low pay, but probably very rewarding. It just takes lots of time and patience to find a job sometimes. That’s why I always advise people to move to Hawaii with a fully padded bank account.

Susan, I wish you the very best as you plan your move to Maui!
Mahalo for reading along…

A hui hou. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Time to Build the Ark

Aloha!
Here is a rainbow for you. We have had these low-lying rainbows the last three days.(Yes, it’s still raining Upcountry! Torrentially. Every single day.) Usually these rainbows come and go in the blink of an eye, but this morning I captured this one off our back porch:

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The Bible story of Noah said that God promised he would never flood the earth again, but lately I’ve been wondering.

For a number of years we carried flood insurance. Mike thought I was crazy for getting it, but we live at the bottom of a hill, with clay soil, and I pictured everything above us on the hill tumbling down. Then FEMA tripled the rates, and it had basically quit raining every year, so we dropped the insurance. (We already pay for hurricane insurance…after a while it gets ridiculous.) And guess what? Last week our neighbors five doors down had a muddy river running right THROUGH their house.

Mike often pokes holes in my theories. (Do you have one like that?) He was pretty speechless when I told him about the neighbors, though.

Sometimes I just hate being right.

Time to build that ark. How big is a cubit?

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Stop Laughing

Aloha!
It’s cold here, for Maui. Okay, you can stop laughing now. Even though our house has full insulation and Anderson windows, this morning I had a space heater running and was warming my hands over the gas stove burner. And the cat had her tail wrapped over her face:

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It’s been raining for almost 3 months solid here, which is wonderful, because we’ve been in a drought for like, ten years. It’s been almost a perfect winter… but now it’s cold, humid, and raining, and we have no furnaces. It’s 67° inside the house.

See what I mean:

67 Degrees inside the house

67 Degrees inside the house

My aunt just wrote to say its 80° in Northern California. Show-off.

We all have thin blood here, even our cat, Lili. We heated up one of those microwavable neck-thingees for her to lay on, but she’s still complaining.

Oh, stop laughing.

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Last Ride

Aloha!

When I was still thinking about moving to Hawaii, I was curious to know everything about the lives of people who lived here. What did the inside of their homes look like? What was Christmas like? Other life events?

One life event that has happened much too often for us lately is a funeral, both here and on the mainland. The mainland funerals (for young and old alike) are somber affairs, held in churches or mortuaries, and everyone dresses up in their best black.

On Maui, we’ve been to two funerals in two years. One was a rodeo. (Upcountry, of course.) They strapped the cremated remains to a bull, slapped it on the rump, and off it went, bucking… “Bully’s last ride.”

This week, another. He died while enjoying an extreme sport. These adrenaline-junkie guys (and Mike is one of them), would rather go out doing what they love, than any other way. The service was held outside on a dreary, crisp day at an Upcountry property, with a number of white tents set up. The attendees, most between the ages of 25 and 35, also extreme-sport addicts, talked of their own near-misses. A funeral is sobering that way.

These bronzed, gorgeous Adonis’s and goddesses, every one of them with ripped, perfectly toned bodies– milled about, including two lactating mothers, who kept pulling out the feeding stations (with no coverage.) The women all had that just-rolled-out-of-bed- but-still-looks-perfect long hair. Their clothing was hippie-chic, and many were barefoot, even in the chill. Those who weren’t, tended toward the kind of hand-tooled leather boots one could find only in Italy. The guys wore tone-on-tone Tommy Bahama silk shirts. (The Hawaiian floral shirt is so over.)

Many in the young crowd looked as though they might have Trust funds and subsist on seaweed and fresh Alaskan salmon; the ultimate picture of health, except for the copious amounts of alcohol being consumed.

The pastor arrived two hours late–on Maui time. (Plenty of time to drink before the food could be blessed.) People stood around as Pastor blew the conch shell, gave a short talk, and then played the ukulele, as a few sang “Hawaii Aloha.” It was a perfect example of old-timers versus newcomers. Only the people who had grown up in Hawaii, like Mike, and had learned this song in school, knew the words. The rest of us stood silent. No, “Please get out your hymnal and turn to page 131” here.

A makeshift altar held the box with the ashes, draped with fragrant leis:

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The buffet table offered lomi-lomi salmon, sashimi, fish, and pulled pork for lettuce cups. And all that alcohol.

The day grew colder and the clouds enveloped us. It’s an eerie feeling to stand inside the clouds Upcountry. Gray, moist, and heavy, they fall over you like a blanket.

It was time to head back down the mountain. To sunshine and warmth and home.

Together.

A hui hou. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Maui Real Estate Stats

Maui Real Estate Stats

Aloha!
For those of you considering moving to Maui, (and I hear from a lot of you!) here are the latest stats on real estate in the Upcountry Makawao/Pukalani area.
There were 36 properties sold in Makawao from April 1 to October 17, 2012
The highest selling price was $1,780,000. The lowest selling price was $210,000. That was for a three bedroom/1 bath, 820 square-foot house on a lot size of 6595.
This makes the median price $380,000.

In Pukalani the highest selling price was $1,085,000. The lowest price was $220,000. That was for a three bedroom/1 bath 1486 square-foot house on a lot size of 11,221 feet.

Be aware that these sales figures say nothing about the condition of the houses. There are some real stinkers out there. A house in Maui is in a perpetual state of returning to the jungle (rotting) from the humidity, red dirt, wind and rain. It takes a lot of time, love, and money to keep a house in tiptop shape. I couldn’t figure out why so many people let their houses go to pot, in need of paint, weeding and repair, until I owned a house in Maui and saw the kind of time and money it takes to keep one up. It’s like a continual battle between you and the jungle. Paint alone is much more expensive here than on the mainland. Don’t forget, they have to ship it.

National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun said 2012 is expected to be a year of recovery for housing. “First-quarter sales closings were the highest first-quarter sales in five years.”

A hui hou!
Aloha, Jamaica

No Rain, No Rainbows

BIG STORM on Maui this past week. We had a flash-flood warning for Upcountry, which never happens, and residents were to told to boil their water.

So this was the view from my backyard.  I could get upset because Mike lost work as a boat Captain,  the weather being so bad that they weren’t risking the tourist’s lives by taking the boat out. Or…I could see that as the sky darkened, the colors only got brighter.

I lost someone very special to me this past year.The “sky” of my life got very dark. But now that the storm has passed, I have lovely memories left.

Never judge a day by the weather. No rain, no rainbows.

A hui hou! (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica