Our month in Hana, Maui on “the farm”.
We are here – a year after Pat established a relationship with Sharon and Alan, on property he had wanted to buy six years earlier. We will be here from March 1 to March 27, spending all but 4 nights in Pats “wet dream-land” (Hana gets 79 inches per year on average). I view this as practice retirement for him. God forgive me, when I told him he needed a hobby to make retirement more enjoyable, I didn’t mean going to work on a ranch on the rainy side of an Island 2500 miles away from Reno.
Here is a brief background on this property: The owners bought it with a plan to retire here eventually. They have remodeled it to their liking and Sharon lives here all the time taking care of the property. Her husband Alan lives in their other home in Keihi because he works on that side of the island. They don’t get to see each other much and we worked out an agreement to watch their property for a month in exchange for us caring for the animals. They also have a guest house with people coming and going and it needs to be cleaned after every guest stay. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do animals and I have a housekeeper who comes twice a month. OK color me spoiled – I like it that way. I had surgery a year ago and still am not able to do many physical activities, so when I say US I actually mean Pat. We made an agreement he would be in charge of the animals and the outside, and do the cottage cleaning – I agreed that I would be able to paint and write and enjoy the sun, and the overall beauty that is everywhere you look.
March is one of the rainiest months in Hana and this year has been no exception. It rained 8 of the first 10 days, but mostly at night and rainfall in Hawaii is generally brief, 10 minute ordeals followed by a mixture of spotty clouds, partial sun and occasionally cocktails. It has gotten better (read more sun) and we have been able to get time in the sunshine, and enjoy the many surrounding local spots that are missed if you try to see Hana on a one day drive.
I was raised in the country, but I am not a country girl. Pat was not raised in the country and has a desire for this experience. I went camping when I was a child and backpacked across Europe for four months in the 70’s. And that was enough outdoor rustic living for me. I love the beach, biking, and hiking – but preferably from a hotel or my home. I know you’re thinking spoiled, and yeevery chance I get. Because I’m limited in my activities due to an issue with numbness in my leg, I can’t do many of the outdoor Gung-ho experiences, which really bums me out that I’m restricted in a place of such remarkable beauty. I have had cats as pets and cared for them. We had many animals when I was growing up, but most of the time I was able to avoid them. I’m afraid of many of them, and I don’t like cleaning up after them or being responsible for them. When we had to put our last cat down, she was 18+ years, it was a devastating experience, I decided I never wanted to have a pet again. We bought a new couch and got rid of the dust and mess of a cat box and I have no desire to go back. I also hate bugs, and we are in a jungle. As jungley – (is that a word?) as “Romancing the stone” type jungle.
When Pat found this property for sale six years ago we drove by to look at it. He fell in Love with it and wanted to move here and buy it. I as you might guess by now I did not (surprise face!). I love Hawaii, but I know Hana is not the “sunniest” part of the Island. It is also reached by the famous Hana Highway, that you can’t begin to understand if you have never driven it. It is winding (which is a tame word) almost the entire way with multiple single lane bridges and hairpin turns. As a matter of fact there are in excess of 630 turns between Hana and Paia. The waterfalls are beautiful during a wet season, but there are few places to pull over to enjoy them. There are a couple of rest stops, but when I stop and get out of the car, I almost require a pep talk to convince myself to get back in the car and keep going. Of course, people who enjoy driving roads like this (my husband) just see it as part of the beauty that comes with the experience. To me the Hana highway is an elongated version of the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland, only built inside Jurassic Park – like for an hour and a half. You count your blessings when you don’t run down a tourist who has arrived fresh from Oblivion, who decided to stand in the middle of a bridge and take photos or videos of the waterfalls, or come face to face with a tour bus coming your way. I should interject for you that have not driven this road that in both directions there are “yield to oncoming traffic signs”, with “road narrows” being the second most popular posting, followed by “one lane bridge” coming in a close third. I often find myself wondering how are they measuring the narrowing part? In Inches? WTF! as the flora and fauna pound the passenger side mirror as we go smoothly from one curve to another, I have a death grip on my I-pad as I try to play candy crush and pretend it’s just another scenic road. I don’t really need to look. Perhaps the most useless sign on the Hana Highway is about 2/3 the way to Hana it is on a stretch where you can actually see “300 feet” straight in front of you it says “Pass with Care” – are you kidding me, the sign before that said “road narrows.” Help me Jesus.
We have noticed that one of the more popular rentals on Maui is the 3 wheel open air Cycle which is 2 wheels in front, one in the rear. These appear to reserved and rented to only over-bearing Macho–testosteroned enriched men with no previous motorcycle experience, and it is apparently mandatory that one receives a “I am entitled” badge when you rent them – (kinda like I am driving the Hana Highway and I’ll do it my own way, sometimes spinning out the back tire, and sometimes moving so slow that you’ll think I’m outta gas. Neither with any logical reason.) What a bunch of a…holes, and as groups; we’ve seen 2-4 traveling in packs. These dorks pretend to master the turns, while they actually are the worst drivers you will ever come in contact with. The tour bus operators on the other-hand are phenomenal drivers. Most locals are “used” to the whole thing and have long ago stopped worrying about damage to their drivers’ side mirror. Note – if you are a timid driver be courteous and pull over where you can to let the tour buses, locals and Parnelli Jones get by you, for timid people its better to follow than lead. I feel like it’s a gamble each time that you get from Paia to Hana. Guess that should be a familiar feeling, gambling, since I’m from Reno. But it’s a different kind of gambling.
I want to interject at this point, although some of this could come off as negative, it is really more sarcastic. Who could actually be unhappy about sitting at a table typing or painting, looking out on 2 acres of green fields, palm trees, and a white picket fence in 75+ degrees. So I’m not really complaining, but this is certainly not the normal vacation I would choose here. Then again I wouldn’t have been able to stay here and experience this any other way for a month either. I love the people, they are open, kind and for the most part welcoming. Any lack of acceptance is more protective than anything else, So my “critique” is never of the people, only my particular situation living in an isolated, country setting.
Let me back up a little bit. I left freezing cold Reno on Thursday, February 21 to head to San Diego, California. The first glitch was that when I got off the plane it was trying to rain and not that warm balmy feeling I usually get when I arrive in Sunny Southern California. In fact we were going to sit outside at a Mexican restaurant for lunch that day and it was too cold. I was lucky enough to stay with my sister while I was attending a conference held by ”InTents”, an organization supporting farmers market managers. The conference ran from Sunday through Tuesday. Pat, my husband and farmers’ market partner, was supposed to fly in on Tuesday night from Reno. But, oh no. Although we had purposely scheduled a day in between Coronado and our trip to Maui. The wind gusts were so strong in Reno, Southwest had to cancel all outbound flights, including his. I was panicking of course. I had to decide whether to book a flight on Wednesday or if he would be able to get on another SW flight. So I checked Expedia and there were limited flights. I decided to go ahead and book it and took flight insurance, because he was threatening me that he was going to drive from Reno to San Diego, rather than miss our flight to Hawaii booked for Thursday. Because of the storm Highway 80 going west was closed multiple times. Luckily, he was able to get on another SW flight early Wednesday, and I was able to cancel the reservation through Expedia and get my money back. That was such a relief.
Thursday morning we tried to upgrade to 1st class with our Alaska points. But there were no more seats available. I did upgrade at the last minute to Premier and that was the real beginning of our trip.
Alaska has three seats on each side of the aisle and most of the time we are hoping to get two seats without a third person joining us. But boarding the plane we made eye contact with the person on the aisle of our row. A woman rather cautiously greeted us. We eventually shared our names and were fortunately beginning a great adventure. Our seat mate was a psychic healer and we ended up talking together for almost 5 hours. She had a great emotional story to share with us and she shared information about our past lives together that started with a great friendship and also involved a passionate relationship as well. Neither of us was surprised by that. She also was able to give some advice and insight. I was fascinated to learn (because I am a farmers’ market manager) that one of my past lives was along the spice trail. This has encouraged me to study that time in history. Our time passed quickly and we made a great new friend.
We arrived to a colder Maui than I ever have experienced. We had decided to stay a night in Kahului and then shop and head to Hana the next morning. Second glitch getting here was that the motel had no record of our reservation. Thankfully they were able to get a room on the backside (not ocean side) and for almost the same price. It wasn’t freezing by any means, but we had had visions of sitting by the pool and sipping tropical drinks that afternoon and instead it was overcast and breezy. We sat outside as long as we could, but finally returned to our room.
We spent a couple of hours shopping the next morning in Kahului gathering supplies for the first part of or Hana stay. There are two stores in Hana, both quite small. There is the famous Hasegawa General Store and across the street the Hana Ranch store. People complain about prices in Hawaii, but we have generally found that although some things (like milk) are pricey, if you shop carefully, you won’t break the bank. But that is shopping in one of the major towns. Hana is unique unto itself. We do shop at Costco as many do when we get here. But we also find that because items are so big, there are only certain things that make sense. Some alcohol, meat is good quality and paper products all work if you are going to spend a month like we have. The rest of our shopping we did at Safeway and Walmart. Surprisingly though Walmart has a limited amount of produce and no fresh meat. But if you are going to buy fruit, you need to look for the roadside stands or farmers’ markets where you can buy all types of fruit you are familiar with and many you aren’t.
Working with farmers’ markets and many health departments in Nevada, makes some of the shopping and eating here difficult. I know more than I ever wanted to know about regulations and the reasons for them. Almost every fruit stand between Kahului and Hana offer banana bread and from what I’ve seen most list the ingredients. They also sell fresh made ice cream (SO GOOD). Are they cottage? Are they made in a “certified” kitchen. I don’t know and I don’t ask. I trust that I will survive the food, because it tastes good and it’s what is available.
Then there is the wild life and unwild life. On this property there are two horses, JJ and Keali’i, a big orange and white cat Nala, an old black lab mix, Nahe. The owners of the property work with rescue animals and the animals are extraordinarily well behaved, probably because they are so well cared for. I can’t say the same for the 30+ chickens behavior. But more about them later.
Then there are colonies of little black beetles, geckos/lizards (who are hiding possibly since it has been so cold and wet), two to three-inch long centipedes (which are poisonous), cockroaches and who knows what else. I have seen cockroaches on the picture frame over the bed (Pat said it isn’t there anymore after I asked him to get rid of it), in the dishwasher (as Pat said a mini car wash isn’t the right choice for a roach when it reaches dry) and I sat down on the toilet the other night and to my immediate left is a glass block wall and right at eye level, “Surprise” a three inch cockroach. And I believe I let out a blood curdling scream. I’ve only seen four centipedes. One when I pulled up a rug outside, one on the ground near the guest house, one in the guest house and a mini one that I killed with a flyswatter. The beetles that were inside and outside are gone after the rains left and I admit it, some poison. So I think for someone who is petrified of bugs, I’m doing pretty well. All told the total bug count is low, considering we are in the jungle, Thank God they spray, and one cockroach a week is relatively low, especially compared to when I Lived in Paia in my youth.
We will on Maui a total of 27 days, 24 of them will be at the ranch. We only have a week to go and I can’t believe time has gone by so quickly. From the street the 6 acres are rich, bright green well-trimmed fields. There are palm trees, coconuts, a hammock, various outdoor chairs and a beautiful deck. There has been mud, rain, sun and mixed weather conditions and there are occasional reminders of horse and chicken “fertilizer” scattered about. Each day starts with the rooster crowing in the dark pre-dawn. I guess he is trying to get the sun to come up. He must be frustrated because there just isn’t much sun when compared to the Western side on Maui. Pat usually heads out to do his “chores” about 7:30 which takes a couple of hours. When we arrived one hen, who had a broken wing started “talking” to another hen, this of course is right outside our bedroom window. Soon one of the hens, I’ll call her “Pushy”, began her rounds of trying to get into the house. Pecking at the windows. She also decided to sit in a box we had put outside with recyclables. When she wouldn’t leave I discovered why, she had laid three eggs. Pat is determined to get the chickens trained to stay off the deck because when they are left to their own desires they shit everywhere. Since there are over 30 of them, they are a challenge to be dealt with. We end up hosing the deck off a couple of times a day. I recently bought a squirt bottle. They don’t like being squirted, and we are winning the battle for the porch. That being said the chickens here are really a trip to watch. We have pine trees in the yard. One in particular; a large pine is a climbing tree for them. They sometimes jump, fly up branch by branch to the top and then jump off like they are crazed fowl bungie jumping, screaming the entire free fall which is about 60+ feet. Maybe they are showing off or maybe there is some hallucinogenic in the feed bin – yeah lets go with the latter – either way it is hilarious to witness.
The fresh egg were something I was really looking forward to. Of course, I thought I could wander around the yard and pick them up preferably laid in pre-sterilized container or colored like Easter eggs. When I found out you have to go to the hen house and stick your hand under them to get the eggs, Pat got that job as well, (again Princess doesn’t do that). I have cooked some and they are great. However, I have developed a small fear. When my mom and sister were here for a week, I gallantly decided to make eggs benedict for breakfast. One of the first eggs I opened looked questionable, but as I went through the rest of my seven eggs I discovered 5 partial chickens – arrggh. That was almost more than I could handle. Pat went and found some more fresh ones that were fine. It was difficult to be able to keep my “OMG this is disgusting” under control, but once I finally had the breakfast made It was fantastic. Now I have decided that if I am going to cook with them, Pat can open them first. (You need to keep remembering, I’m not a bitch, but there are some things I didn’t sign up for.
March 22, 2019
Today is bittersweet. Pat is feeding the horses and chickens for the last time. This has been a real “working vacation” for him. I will miss the peacefulness and greenery of this property. He will miss everything about it, the splendor, the meadows, the quiet and especially his new bond with the two horses Keali-i and JJ. I won’t miss the bugs. Two nights ago I was coming back to bed at 1:00 AM and saw a huge cockroach on the ceiling over my side of the bed. Pat woke up. I reminded him he said he would take care of the bugs. So he chased it and finally successfully knocked it to the floor and smashed it. Then we were up for a couple of hours (probably adrenalin) and slept maybe two or three more hours, prior to the roosters calling for the sunrise. In the whole month I have only seen 10 bugs, so considering we are “in the jungle” I should be more understanding – but its me.
We are packing up and heading to Kihei for two days. The hotel is located on a beach and hopefully we will be able to enjoy the sun there. The stay on the West side of Maui will make for a milder transition back to the mainland on Wednesday.
It is different living in a house for a month than vacationing at a hotel/condo for a couple of weeks. You settle in differently for each location and making either surrounding yours takes some time. There is something special about living in someone’s home versus a “rental property”. You feel special that they are allowing you into their lives and it’s not about the revenue. In this instance we want to leave the house and surroundings in better condition than when we got there. I know Pat is hoping to return here again. We think we helped the owners and this property couldn’t have been in better hands than his. He was attached to this place (when it was for sale in 2013) and has grown more attached during our stay. We agree that this is a lot of work for him, and we were a little tied down but that has been a trade off well worth the price of the experience for him. Hana Highway will just never be my favorite, and I can’t imagine getting used to driving it on a regular basis, though he has no complaints.
Daily, our routine has been to get up at around 7:00 and have coffee. The Roosters awake at some pre-dawn time of about 5:00 AM. For me, after coffee I play some games on my Ipad, paint, write or straighten up inside the house, while Pat starts his chores promptly at 7:30. People were concerned Pat and I were going to be spending too much time together like 24-7, but with his morning and afternoon chores. (that take him roughly 2 hours twice daily), we have about 5 hours during each day to explore or be together. I don’t go out to help him. I am not comfortable on the uneven terrain, and I am not interested in taking care of the horses. My niece on the other hand would be very proud. She cares for and trains horses and lives in an equally isolated area of Reno with the same kind of mud. Pat has so taken to this lifestyle it’s almost scary. Although I do believe he is more tired than he expected and understands why farmers don’t have the time (or the need) to go to the gym. The animals like him, and both the horses and chickens follow him around the property like he is the Pied Piper, of course he is giving them treats or food so why shouldn’t they. The dog and cat feel the same about him. They try being affectionate to me but find out he is the more passionate towards them, so they concentrate on his affection. That’s ok, I really am just along for the ride, and I have been able to create my own comfort zone. At night I usually cook and we might play a game or watch TV and then retire early about 9:00 to start all over again the next day.
We have gone out a couple of times. We went to the resort Travaasa (previously the Hana Ranch Hotel) and listened to Hawaiian music and shared a great dinner of crispy beef and avocado caprese salad with macadamia nut pesto. Breakfast there was interesting as well. Pat had Shaka-Shuka which I later had to come back and have myself. It was a dish of spiced roasted tomatoes, onions, peppers, and spinach baked with feta and a sunny-side up egg served with toast for dipping. The sauce was amazing. I also had Red-faced Farmer, egg scrambled with red bell peppers, caramelized onion, Portuguese sausage, green onion and I requested fried rice instead of potatoes. Fried rice is often served at breakfast and it is fabulous here. Cocktails are pricey but they do have specials.
We also visited one of the food truck sites which are hugely popular in Maui. This site had “Da Fish Shack, Slice of Paradise, and Trays Asian cuisine” to name a few. At this location is also the Ono farm stand. We learned that on Friday nights they serve pizza. The first Friday we stopped we had a bbq chicken pizza, delicious! Seating is at picnic tables and we met a couple of local people and had a really fun visit. Brian who owns Da Fish Shack and the pizza truck and his wife Kim, who is a teacher at the high school were interesting and we laughed a lot. Brian has been in the food industry on Maui for years and years I enjoyed hearing about their lives in Hana and the challenges they face from their health departments. They also have another setup in West Maui. People who stay and live in Hana love it and can’t imagine being anywhere else in Hawaii that is more populated. We came back the next Friday and were able to socialize with them again. Another guy who is a local handy man, a character of sorts, and frequents this location after work ended up telling us he would like eggs and so we brought some by to him a couple of times during our stay.
The first two weeks we had torrential rains almost every day and night. There was mud everywhere and it was so hard to keep out of the house. And we were warned that centipedes like that environment and to never go barefoot in the grass because they are poisonous. Another great bug in the “jungle”.
We go to the local landfill instead of putting garbage out. It is the cleanest, most organized landfill/dump I have ever seen, anywhere – wow. When you live on an island, you need to be extra careful about how trash is handled. There were hints of that “dump” smell, but they have extensive recycling with separate dumpsters – one for metal, one for paper, one for plastic, and then an area for “regular” garbage and another for compostable type products. And it is free. This is a huge problem on the islands with limited places to recycle and dump garbage. But they do a stellar job. It’s so impressive and makes you think even more about the ways we handle waste on the mainland. People have a tendency to keep things more than anywhere else I’ve visited. First, I think it’s because it’s hard to dispose of things and since it’s difficult to get things here, you just never know. You might need it later. So, the style of many homes I’ve been to are eclectic to put it mildly.
Probably Pat’s favorite was tandem hang gliding with a local legend, Armin on his Ultralite. It is a motorized hang glider and Pat took a 45 minute flight – flying over many of the most cherished scenery in the Hana area. We have some great photos and movies of that adventure. He was able to see coastline, waterfalls, and into mountain areas that would be difficult to hike into for anyone. I was not interested. I can handle a helicopter and small plane, but this is just too exposed for me. He loved it.
For a small area, there are some fascinating places to visit – although sometimes difficult to get to or just never seemed that interesting. Wrong. Many of them I had never seen because prior to this stay, I had usually gone to Hana and returned all in one day and never had the time. The Seven Pools at Ohe’o Gulch, Ono Organic Farm, The Chocolate Factory, and Lindbergh’s burial site are all in this small area. There is Tropical Flower/Orchid plantation here as well. To and from Hana are challenging from any direction. And even some of the little excursions can turn into a full day.
From Hana the trip to Ohe’o Gulch is another windy, narrow road. We passed tour busses and large trucks coming towards us. I closed my eyes and just hoped Pat didn’t. At one point there is a stop for multiple waterfalls. In the parking “lot” is a very sweet woman making pearl necklaces from natural pearls and other shell jewelry. She was so friendly and although the jewelry is simple, it is fun to purchase something directly from the artist. The Seven Pools (which had a nickname of the Seven Sacred Pools) are the result of lava pools from two waterfalls in the gulch. “Sacred” to the Hawaiians is taken seriously and the pools, while special are not considered sacred by the Hawaiian people, so you won’t hear them referred to in that way any longer. It is a National Park and therefore costs to park there and enter. Then it is a leisurely hike to the pools. You used to be able to swim in them, but it is currently not allowed. There is a 2 mile hike in and 2 mile hike out to the beautiful Waimoku falls. The last part of this journey is through a bamboo jungle that is amazing.
Ono Organic farm offers tours for a price. And it is along the road to the Seven Pools. We didn’t actually go to the farm,but shopped at their roadside stand many times. We also traded eggs with them for pineapples, bananas and avocados. At one point we were getting as many as 18 eggs a day, and of course couldn’t eat them all.
The Chocolate Factory was a fascinating little spot. The “factory” is a very small building where they sell candy bars with up to 72% cacao. The variety is interesting with coconut, coffee nibs, orange, macadamia nuts and sea salt. Even more fascinating to me was that the “beans” are actually the size of a softball and in addition to the chocolate they have created a jelly made from the “lining” inside the shell before you get to the bean. It does not taste like chocolate but has a rather citrus flavor. This is an impressive family business worth visiting. You can order at hanagoldmaui.com
Kahanu and Pi’ilanihale Heiau temple was a surprise to us. This park is a little off the beaten path. It includes a self-guided tour that takes you to a temple that is over three acres and took over 300 years to build. It is said that a line of people stretched seven miles long to Hana Bay to pass hand to hand the rocks to construct it. Additionally, the plants are all marked with placards, and I was fascinated that almost every plant had a medicinal or food value. Then there are vistas that show the roughness and beauty of the coastline there.
We were able to visit the Hana Tropicals and Orchids. This is a large farm 426 acres with flowers and more. They actually send incredible Hawaiian floral arrangements that last over a month. There are a group of young people who work this property and give tours. There are so many varieties of orchids. Chickens, geese, ducks, and a vegetable garden are on site to be utilizde for their own meals. Currently they are experimenting with growing mushrooms on “logs” and are hopeful to be successful with that as well. You can reach them at hanatropicals.com.
SHOPPING AND COOKING
I have cooked most of the time we’ve been here. That takes planning and creativity. If you forget an ingredient you can’t just run to the store. And even if they have it the price might be outlandish. I didn’t buy spices, because in a month you will not be able to use 3 ounces of spice, so I have been creative. I ran out of flour so I crushed up cereal and potato chips to coat chicken. I marinated with real ingredients, ginger, garlic, onions, and soy a lot in different combinations. But I don’t have season salt or garlic powder. I have made shortbread cookies a few times (once using local lemon juice). But I had only bought granulated sugar go I went on-line and found out I could make powdered sugar which I did in a Nutri-bullet. I don’t have a mixer so on one of our supply runs I bought a whisk and have used it often.
JULIE AND MOM
A week after we got here, my mom and sister came to stay a week. It was still raining almost every day. My mom will be 92 in July and thought she was done traveling. But Pat invited her and my sister. We were able to convince them to fly first class. I just didn’t want my mom crammed into coach. And they really enjoyed their trip, all the attention, the food and drinks and a movie. So they arrived in pretty good shape. There was no way to share this experience with them the same way it worked having them here. We were able to visit some fun places and share some great experiences. The first night they were here we went to the one resort in Hana and listened to Hawaiian music with a hula dancer. We drove to the Oheo gulch and the Seven Pools. We took some beach drives and my mom and I enjoyed the views while Pat and Julie wandered down to the cliffs.
So heading on to bluer (hopefully) skies and ending this chapter of our Hawaiian Ranch experience. Until we meet again, Aloha!