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April 01, 2009

Maui, Plain and Fancy

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I dragged in from Maui over the weekend and had a few days to recover. So now it's time for pictures!

Maybe I should mention that Hawaii isn't all the glitz and spectacular natural scenes you're likely to have seen in advertising, magazine features and travelogues on TV. It was hardly glitzy at all back in the days when tourists were few because getting to the islands took a four and a half day cruise (each way) on a Matson Lines steamer or (1946-59, roughly) a nearly ten hour flight on a prop-driven Stratocruiser. These figures are for San Francisco-Honolulu; add more if one started from farther east.

I first visited Hawaii in 1963 courtesy of the generous taxpayers of the day who, indirectly, saw fit to send me there by troop ship as part of a longer cruise to the Far East. We got to go ashore at Pearl Harbor and some of us opted for a short bus tour followed by a few hours of free time in the city and beaches. Along our route up to the Pali overlook of Kaneohe I saw lots of modest housing that was sketchily constructed by mainland standards. I knew that the building style was influenced by the mild climate, but it wasn't at all like the middle class neighborhoods I was familiar with growing up in Seattle.

When in Maui last week I made a point to drive through the windward-side adjoining cities of Kahului (basically a working town where the airport and harbor are) and Wailuku (the scruffier county seat). While the jet age transformed the state over the last 50 years, it isn't difficult to find many remnants of Hawaii's agricultural, isolated past.

With that in mind, below are a few of the snapshots I took. No Photoshop work of any kind on the following pix; what I shot is what you get.


Apparently lounge chairs aren't forever. These were sighted on our way from our digs to the nearby Star Market.

Down the road is an old neighborhood that hasn't yet been converted to hotels, condos or apartments. Modest houses in Hawaii can look similar to this. Others are single-story, but are raised off the ground a few feet; between the floor and ground is a breezeway that often is screened by crisscrossed lathwork.

More beachside Maui scenery -- a vintage VW Beetle and across the road a Bad Ass Coffee Company outlet. They claim the name has to do with the donkeys that used to haul Kona coffee beans to market.

Also old is Front Street in the former whaling town of Lahaina, for a few years the capital of the kingdom. Most of the commerce on this street consists of souvenir shops, restaurants, art galleries, boutiques and the like. Touristy, yet with its unique charm.

A few blocks south is this view across the Lahaina Roads to the island of Lanai. The U.S. Pacific Fleet would anchor here during maneuvers such as in 1932 and 1935. This part of the Hawaiian Islands is unusual in that several islands can be seen from the same spot: Molokai, Lanai and Kahoolawe. The white horizontal lines in the water are surf.

Farther south along Front Street can be found the local Burger King. It blends well with the Old Lahaina setting. Also note the mountains in the background. The highest peak is 5,788 feet high and the tops are usually shrouded by rain clouds.

Other shopping areas can be decidedly upscale. Here is The Shops at Wailea in a posh residential and hotel town 50 minutes south of Lahaina on the lee coast of the island. One can encounter stores by Gucci, St. John, Tiffany and Louis Vuitton.

One nearby hostel is the Fairmont and this is in its lobby area.

An evening view of the Hyatt at Kaanapali, a few miles north of Lahaina.

Farther north is the Ritz-Carlton at Kapalua. The weather can get a little rainier here because this is nearly at the north tip of Maui where the windward and lee sides merge. Somehow the many golfers here manage to survive despite the dampness.

This, of course, is the obligatory sunset shot. It's a fish-in-the-barrel business even with a disposable camera. That's because the touristy areas of the islands tend to be on the western, lee sides where the setting sun is right before you and boats and even some ships can be counted on for additional visual interest. By the way, the dark smudge along the left horizon is part of Lanai.



posted by Donald at April 1, 2009


WTF, no pictures of the place where Thomas Magnum lives!? And you know that Higgins really is Robin Masters, right?

Posted by: TC on April 1, 2009 2:21 PM

TC -- I am so, so, so sorry. Had I known that you cared so much about this ...

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on April 1, 2009 2:36 PM

Pictures of regular homes are the best to me. You can see well-done photos of Maui sunsets on postcards, brochures, the internet... it's beautiful but a little cheapened by ubiquity.

But the little house with the rusting tin roof and the red-dirt yard and the old pickup... that's interesting.

(that story about the "Bad Ass" coffee always struck me as ridiculously strained. We have a coffee cup from an outlet in Pearl City, and the "legend" printed on the back makes me cringe. "The Bad Ass Ones?" Whatever! Anything for a buck. .


Posted by: omw on April 1, 2009 4:46 PM


You probably saw my grandparent's house back in 1963. It's still standing today. Trust me, you don't want to be in a stoutly built building in Hawaii, and you still don't. This may amaze lots of folks, but most people don't have or desire home air conditioning "Wat! You tink we rich? If you stay hot, den go to da beach and no stay inside all day, babooze!"

Also houses are raised to deal with the minor flooding that can occur every rainy season, as well as to protect the house from ground termites.

I can show you the place where they filmed the majority of Magnum PI's house, it's by my great-aunt's place. They took some of the shots from other parts of the island, though. In anycase, the house is a Shriner's meeting house.

Posted by: Spike Gomes on April 1, 2009 8:12 PM

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