Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Maui, Day Three

Even the underside of the flowers are beautiful here.
Today, we got up and out by 6:30 am to go kayaking and snorkeling. A quick cup of coffee and a bagel, and then in the car with lots and lots of gear. Someday I hope to learn to travel light, but I'm so far away from that goal.
We had our snorkeling gear - flippers, wet-suit booties to wear inside the flippers, masks, snorkels - in a duffle bag. The booties are quite the fashion look: ankle high, black, with industrial zippers - and just at that height where you look like an old man wearing socks to the beach. We also had a knapsack with water bottles, sunblock, hats, tour book, map, and a Balance Bar (because you never know when you might get hungry.) Another bag with dry clothes to change into after the trip. A fleece, because even though it stays in the high 70s to low 80s year-round, I am a Midwesterner and you never know when a cold snap might strike. And when I say "we," I really should say "I," because of the two of us, I am the one wanting to be able to micro-adjust to each and every change in climate. I keep thinking: Amazing Race...what would they do? One small rucksack for weeks on end, and no backsies.
More to the point, the trip was great. We kayaked off of a beach near Maaleaea Harbor ( does the Hawaiian version of Scrabble have extra A's and M's?) for about 45 minutes. You use a double-ended paddle and do sort of a dip of the end, with a slight twist of the upper body, and one hand pushing away as the other pulls toward you. Then you immediately switch to the opposite side of the craft and do the same movement. I was in the front, thus had less responsibility than my husband, who was in charge of steering us as well as this complicated maneuver with the paddle. At first, it felt very foreign and I was using my arms much more than my upper body. But by midway through the trip, it started to feel smoother, and we could glide pretty quickly across the water,
After heading into the wind and making our way up the shore, the guide lowered an anchor. We all connected to the main boat, and then dropped off the left side of the kayak and into the water. So clear, you could see down from the surface to the bottom about 15 feet away. We saw a large sea turtle sunning himself, lots of yellow and blue and black fish, and could hear a male whale sounding when we dove down under the water. An eerie and beautiful sound, very melodic. We didn't see the whale, but hearing it alone was almost more mystical.
My favorite fish of the day was the Spotted Pufferfish: football-shaped and sized, white dots all over a black body, and so docile. He let me swim right up next to him a few times as he patiently looked at me. A very stuffed animal kind of fish. Also the Yellow Trumpfish: long, narrow, with a platypus-kind of nose - apparently a member of the Seahorse family, as if you took a seahorse's nose and gently straightened it out.
More kayaking, and then back into the water. Molokini Crater is often the snorkeling spot of choice for the big tour boats, and today, we found our site home to a few boats, as the weather has been rough on the north side of the island and too choppy for good visibility. We toured past the big boats in our little kayaks and felt very virtuous for being under our own power. The second time into the water, I managed to dive down several feet and see the coral reef and fish up close. No underwater camera, so no pictures, but honestly, you have to see this stuff yourself to appreciate how unusual and beautiful even the tiniest underwater creature is.
The rest of the day, I napped and read and knit, then went for a long walk on the beach. We watched the Maui Canoe Club at practice - cross-country, aquatics version, including several of the kids walking instead of running to warm up, until they turned around and got close enough to the boat house and their coach for him to notice, and then they started jogging again. And a very happy Golden Retriever fetching his tennis ball in the ocean. I bet Parker would love it here.




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