On the road to Hana there is a stand of Eucalyptus deglupta. Brought to Maui from Papua New Guinea or some other Pacific Island, the tree is unique and breathtaking. It's the only species of eucalyptus native to the Northern Hemisphere, and it's the only tree I've ever seen with such colorful bark. No trip to Hana is complete without a pause to admire these beautiful trees.
Eucalyptus deglupta (Rainbow Eucalyptus) from afar.
Thigmotropism. If you took biology in high school, you learned this word. Here's a little reminder...
Thigmotropism is what Botanists call it when plants can respond to touch by moving. The most commonly known example is the Venus Fly Trap. A bug crawls in, the plant senses the touch, and snaps shut to trap the insect. These ferns, which we found along the Hana Highway, are thigmotropic. Very cool!
Every year, sometime in September, the Hana Relay takes over the north shore of Maui. It is a huge event, with close to 200 teams of six running fifty-two miles from Kahalui to Hana. The narrow, winding, cliff-side road is jammed packed with athletes, support vehicles, and fans, thousands of people relaying their way to Hana.
While the road to Hana is beautiful, the ocean views and jungle vines are a mere backdrop to the real show. Each team picks a theme and then stays in character ALL DAY. Truck beds are converted to WWF wrestling rings, "flight attendants" pass out snacks and serve drinks, Jesus's run in robes with a wooden cross, Honey Badgers don't care about their blisters, horns beep, hair band music blasts, butts moon, and everyone is crazy from the first start time at 5:45 am until the last team crosses the finish line at 3 in the afternoon.
It's just about the most fun you can have on a Saturday in September.
The start. What kind of race doesn't have a man in diapers, a uniformed airline pilot, and the luck of the Irish?
Staying in character is key at the Hana Relay.
You don't just run 52 miles, you throw dodge balls, scream
slogans, and cheer your heart out too.
One of the rare quiet moments that comes as teams spread out later in the day.
Note: Visitors to Maui be warned. Hana Relay day is the single worst day of the year to take that road trip to Hana you've been dreaming about. Don't do it. Seriously. The two hour drive will take you six, and you won't enjoy it. Seriously! Join a team and run there instead.
You have to earn Maui's hidden treasures. You have to live here, make friends here, listen, watch, and spend time wandering lost in the jungle. You have to be open to seeing the world with new eyes, open to saying yes instead of no, and ready to guard the hidden treasure you've been entrusted with. Most of all you have to be patient because the treasures won't let you find them until you're ready for them.
Sweaty, scratchy, narrow jungle path. The best kind.
Hiking across the top of an open ridge.
Fun, steep path to the rocky shoreline with ropes to assist.
The final reward. Deep, clear water and a cave worth swimming into.
One of the coolest things about life on Maui is the insects. This Huntsman spider stopped by for a visit last night. I let out a little scream when my fingers brushed his body while opening the microwave door.
When it became clear he did not want to share the microwave, we had a little chat about his visit, and I squeamishly escorted him out the door with a large tupperware container.
In the short time I've lived in my new place I've had two Huntsman spiders, a cane spider, two dead scorpions, three live centipedes, four dead centipedes, and countless cockroaches. Somewhere around year two of my Maui adventure I decided living with insects is better if you just go with it.