Maui: Paradise Lost - monikachacephotography

Paradise Lost on Maui

For the last 3 or 4 years, I've been hoping to be able to get out to Yosemite to catch Horsetail Falls in mid to late February when the setting sun catches the water and lights it up like it's on fire. And for one or another or several reasons, it just hasn't happened. Normally I just do a photography road trip to the South West US/4 Corners area. The last 2 years, I've gone to Iceland in search of the Northern Lights, and then headed to the SW for warmer temperatures. Last year we had the record flooding here in Colorado. We lost the bridge and some of the roads to our house (both of which still are in a state of temporary repair) and we're still trying to get funding to help with the rebuilding. Between that stress and it looking like Horsetail Falls wasn't going to be a strong event this year, I decided that maybe a beach vacation on Maui was the ticket.

 Then, in early December, our 10 year old dog, Pele started getting sick. Really sick. As in we were sure she was about to die, but we were afraid to voice it. A trip to the vet gave a tentative diagnosis of lymphoma and we started on a rollercoaster of her rallying and deteriorating. It became clear that she wouldn't make it until I got back from my trip. As it happened, my husband was putting her down as I was on the shuttle from a hotel near the airport to the airport for an early morning flight to Maui.

The next thing to happen was that I was on the last boarding group and United was requiring everybody in that group to gate check their roller bags. Mine had all of my photo gear in it. I took the dome port for my underwater housing out, as I knew that would be smashed. I left the housing, which was cast aluminum with polycarbonate handles in as I figured it was "bomb proof" and my camera inside of it. I also left most of my lenses in the bag as I didn't have room in my other carry-on bag. As I boarded the plane, I noticed that there were spaces in the overhead bins for another 6 or 8 bags, but knew that my bag had already been taken by the baggage handlers. I crossed my fingers & hoped for the best.

When I got to Maui, I collected my rental car, got groceries & headed for the first of 2 places that I was to stay. The first place was for the first 4 nights as the agent didn't have 1 place for the entire 18 nights. I got the key out of the lock box and unlocked the door. It was obvious that people were still there. I called the agent and she exclaimed, "You were supposed to be here last month!". I assured her I was not, that I had only made the reservations last month. Being brought up as an Asian female, I had to doubt myself & think that I had made the error. Sure enough, when I checked our correspondence on my iPad, the dates were for when I was there. "You have to find somewhere for me to stay," I told her. She told me it was high season and they had no places available. I repeated, "You have to find somewhere for me to stay." After several more exchanges like that, she said that she wasn't at the office & it would take her a half hour to get there. My phone battery was very low. My groceries were sitting in 82-degree heat. Mosquitoes were feasting on my feet and ankles. I was too tired to be upset. I found an outdoor outlet for my phone. I called one of our partners in the office who was also vacationing on Maui and left him a desperate message about needing somewhere to stay and could I stay with them for a few days. I called a colleague of my husband who had moved to Maui the previous summer and left him a similar message. Finally she calls back & tells me that it was indeed a mistake on their part, but at least the 2nd part of my reservation was for the correct dates. I could stay in the studio behind where I was right then for 1 night, but she had to find somewhere for the other nights. Eventually, it was worked out that I would stay at her sister's house, but was warned that there was going to be a party at the neighbors' house the 1st night I was there. A party, I thought, no big deal. Later, the sister told me that it was so loud the previous year that the neighbors called the police. I still thought that the neighbors were probably being hyper-sensitive about their peaceful island retreat being disturbed. Boy, was I wrong! But first, back to being in the studio apartment. I took my photo gear out to get it ready for underwater photography and noticed there was something strange with the housing. The airline had sheared off one of the handles! The bag was somehow undamaged. I tested the lenses & they all seemed OK. Later I was to find that the battery case for the moisture sensor had become detached and many of the knobs were knocked out of alignment. The power switch sometimes worked and the shutter lever was OK, so I just had to have all of my settings set up before I put the camera in the housing & turn it on before I went into the water. The business part of the housing, the waterproofing, seemed to be fine.

On to the 2nd place to stay. It turned out to be a beautiful 30' diameter yurt with an outdoor shower and resident cat named Pepe, who had found that if he meowed, he'd get fed. Pepe was shaped like a football. Then that night, the party started. There was a professional DJ. Which meant a professional sound system. The music started out merely loud, then the tempo and volume increased until my bed was vibrating. Yurts have no insulation in the walls. Or at least this one had none. I could have been in the middle of the room that the party was in. I thought, "I should go out & do some night photography on Haleakala". I listened. It was pouring rain outside. Then I thought that I should drive out to an overlook over the ocean & nap for a few hours. Then I thought of the signs I had seen posted all over the place about this woman who had disappeared 10 days before. Her vehicle had been found 2 days before in the Peahi area of Haiku. I was staying in Haiku on Peahi Road. Not a good idea. I just sat on the bed, knees pulled up, fingers in my ears until the music finally quieted down & calmer music was played around 2:30 am. Then it stopped. Until they started cleaning up, when they played more loud music, but just for one song. I slept until almost 4, when the roosters were on their 2nd round of crowing (the first round started around 1:30 am every morning) then got up and went to take sunrise pictures on the summit of Haleakala.

After the yurt, I was in a soulless studio apartment. A studio apartment with at least a little insulation in the walls. The roosters' crowing was much quieter and they sprayed for mosquitoes in the yard. But it was an urban apartment, complete with screaming babies, not a house in the mountains with only 1 other house on the road like where we live. I was able to do a fair amount of snorkeling, got some nice pictures of the green sea turtles, and drove out about halfway to Hana (the Keanae Peninsula). I got a lot of reading done on the beaches, did a fair amount of yoga and took a few pictures. I hope you enjoy the them. My next trip will be a river trip through the Grand Canyon in May. Check back in June to see pictures of that trip! And if you belong to Google Plus, my pictures will be up on that site earlier than here.

My hope for this trip was to get a higher quality picture similar to this one, taken in 2009 with a point-and-shoot camera. It was not to be. Between dolphins just not being around, numerous days of high surf warnings and the highly enforced laws prohibiting contact with them, I gave it up.

I was able to do a fair amount of snorkeling, got some nice pictures of the green sea turtles, and drove out about halfway to Hana (the Keanae Peninsula). I got a lot of reading done on the beaches, did a fair amount of yoga and took a few pictures. I hope you enjoy the them.

My next trip will be a river trip through the Grand Canyon in May. Check back in June to see pictures of that trip! And if you belong to Google Plus, my pictures will be up on that site earlier than here.