Saturday, 24 August 2013

Biking down from the Haleakala Crater and a HUGE spider story.

Crater Cruising at it's best!

The view from 9000 ft.
Yesterday was another of those early mornings.  Well at least it was for the kids. Wade and I were up at seven and we had to wake them at seven-thirty so they had time for a quick bowl of cereal before we drove to Haiku for the start of our epic day.

The drive to was about 40 minutes from Ma'alaea and once you hit the Hana Highway it was absolutely spectacular.  The area is very tropical compared to Kihei and Ma'alaea and therefore lush with vegetation.  It reminded me very much of living in Kloof, a suburb of Durban, South Africa.  Huge tropical plants, lots of shade trees and very, very green.

Me with the crazy helmet.
We arrived at the Haleakala Bike Company at nine o'clock and checked in for the ride.  The service was very efficient.  Within a few minutes we had signed our life away with the waivers, been given our rain gear, huge face helmets and backpacks and were waiting outside to get our bikes.  I was a little apprehensive about the large helmet being too heavy to wear for a twenty-three mile bike ride, but I have to tell you I was glad I had it.  

After the rest of the riders checked in we began the trip up the crater in the tour bus with the bikes.  We had chosen the Haleakala Bike Company over other bike companies in Maui because they allow you to bike unguided.  In other words, they take you to the top of the mountain in their comfortable bus and then you get to ride down at your own pace and not in a large group.  It sounded exactly what we would prefer.  As we drive up the mountain I was beginning to wonder if it was such a good idea.  The amount of twists and turns in the road were crazy, the so called "bike lane" ran for only a portion of the ride and it was so skinny and overgrown with grass in places I wouldn't call it a "bike lane" at all.  The road was steep and mountainous, single lane and skinny with a fair bit of traffic coming down it.  I told Wade I wasn't sure what I'd gotten us into.  
We biked from the inland "X" to the "X" near the ocean.
Alika, our driver and guide was fantastic.  He spoke clearly and knew so much about the history of Hawaii I was blown away.  As we drove up he spoke to us about landmarks we needed to remember so we would not get lost on the way back down.  You know, things like remember the teal house, and at this Y intersection make sure you stay right or you will end up at the old ranch and have to bike back up, it all became a blur but I hoped my photographic memory (along with their very sketchy map) would aid us in getting back.  The big intersection we didn't want to miss was a four way intersection in a little village where most of the bike companies (guided) went straight through the intersection and ended up in the town of Paia.  This was a no-no and a $20 pickup if we ended up there.  Apparently it had happened so much in the past that the bike company was now charging for pick ups.  Alika mentioned this about four times on the ride up, so we were determined not to end up in Paia.  If you look at the map image you will see the town of Paia to the left of the "X" near the ocean.  Not good, we would have had to bike back up hill a long way to get the bikes back.

We had chosen the Summit Deluxe Tour which gave us a guided (by Alika) and very educational tour
Haleakala Silversword
up to the top of the peak.  We learned lots of history about the islands, we learned about the rare plants (including the Haleakala Silversword) that grow in the lava rocks on the mountains, and about the Battle of Kepaniwai.  I highly recommend requesting Alika as your guide.  He has been here for years and knows his stuff.  

After the summit, we were driven back down a short distance to where we got on our bikes and began the long descent to the town of Haiku.  I decided that I would lead the pack and Wade would be the sweep at the back.  With the idea that the kids would be safely between the two of us.  This worked for the first few minutes until I heard Kate (who was right on my ass at 30km/hr) yelling that I was going too slowly.  What the heck!  No way I was.  This a very curvy, very uneven road with no shoulder and as the front rider I could warn her of potholes etc.  There was no way I'd let little miss wild child fly down the mountain ahead of me.  So, we had to have a little stop and family confab about safety and keeping your distance and not passing.  

Kula Lodge view of restaurant patio
Our first stop was in the town of Kula, where we had lunch at the Kula Lodge.  The place is gorgeous, overlooking the valley and the ocean.  As a matter of fact you can see both sides of Maui from this location.  If you look closely at my photo you will see.  

The kids ordered a plain cheese pizza ($26.00), Wade ordered a turkey club and I had a butter lettuce salad that was supposed to come with goats cheese and walnuts.  I had to send it back to say both those items were missing, and when it came back again they had added them, but you could barely see the goats cheese.  The salad was a disappointment, but the pizza was excellent.  Probably one of the best I've tasted in a long time.  The prices were high here, but the view made up for it.  The waitress was efficient and they have their own wifi which is great.  I would go here again on the way down, even though there are a few other choices, primarily because of the amazing view and the fact that they have Protea's (my mother's favourite flower) on every table.  They also have a Protea Gift Shop where you can order fresh Protea's sent directly to your door.  I went there after lunch and was given a lovely bouquet of Protea's including a lovely black-bearded sugarbush shown here in this photo taken of the centrepiece on our table at the Kula Lodge Restaurant.  So, when visiting the Haleakala Crater, make sure you stop at the Protea shop on your way up and send a bouquet to someone you love.  
After lunch we continued our ride down the mountain, this time we had to remember all the little turns correctly so we would not get lost and end up in a different town.  We also had to take great care as there was no more bike lane and the traffic had started to pick up.  The best part about the end of the ride is that there are three hills you need to climb.  This provided some good cardio and make me feel like I had actually had a workout as apposed to flying down a mountain holding on for dear life.  

We made it back to the bike shop with plenty of time to spare and not a single injury to be had.  The kids loved it.  They both agreed it was far more fun then they had imagined and not nearly as intimidating as it looked when driving up in the shuttle.  

So, if you are looking for something cool to do in Maui, I highly recommend the unguided Summit Deluxe bike tour from Haleakala Bike Company.  Two thumbs up!

30 Day Blog Challenge, Day 18 & 19 ----  HUGE SPIDER STORY BELOW

Now onto the serious stuff.  Day 18 and 19 of the 30 day Blog Challenge (combined into one post).  This one is building my team of supporters, those who see value in what I do and share that with others, as well as ways in which I can increase my audience and build my influence.

Let's address the building of my own team.  I'm slowly working on that by providing interesting content on my site that you would want to share.  Every time I see someone share my blog post I know I'm increasing my readership.  The next step in this process is for me to create an affiliate program to reward those of you who love my stuff and share it.  For example, if you have read one of my two books The Year I Died or The Cancer Warrior Handbook and you refer them to friends who purchase copies for themselves, then I will reward you for your trust in me.  If you want to be one of the first to be notified of this program, please join my team by clicking here and scroll down to the "Follow by Email" link on the left.  Hint:  make sure you respond to the confirmation email that will be sent to you, otherwise you won't be subscribed and will miss out. 

Now, onto building my audience and influence so as to attract media and sponsors.  Again, this is partly about providing interesting and meaningful content, but also it will be up to me to reach out to media and companies whose products and services I mention to convince them that what I do has a broad reach and that it is worth their while to sponsor posts (this does not mean paying me to write good things about them, but paying me to be honest and talk about them in blogs etc.  if I feel they fit with my values and have a great offering).  This will take a little longer, although with my strong sales skills I am sure I can get started with a few small sponsors to get the ball rolling and then as I grow others will join in.  

I'm very excited about building my online community.  I love writing about different experiences and sharing the great things I find, be it a great restaurant, cool gadget or great book.  This stuff turns my crank and appeals to my wild side - you know, trying new things.... but NOT and I mean NOT hanging around with bugs.

Huge Spider Story

As my photographer Pascale Gadbois can attest to, I hate bugs.  When we did the photo shoot for my new author photo, Pascale had me standing in ankle high grass against a cool red barn style building.  I was completely stressed by this because I had flip flops on and the grass was full of spiders, ants and other bugs.  I am not a good camper and although I love doing outdoors stuff, I don't like seeing any type of bug, especially ants.  Normally I'm not a huge panic person about spiders, but last night was a different story.

After a long day out biking we decided on a quiet evening at home.  Wade, Ben & I were watching
Hawaiian Cane Spider
Terminator 2 when suddenly Ben pointed out a huge spider that had crawled along the wall from our bedroom to the wall a few inches from the television set.  It was massive.  Of course we all freaked out, Kate came into the room to look and Wade got some implements to try and catch the monster.  Little did we know how fast this guy was and that he can jump up to six feet. 

We never caught him, so he is somewhere in our condo and we aren't too pleased with this, however Ben did look him up online and found out he was a Hawaiian Cane Spider and apparently not too harmful for us.  For the next few days we will all jump the minute something moves around us, or until we catch the bloody thing.

So......let me end this blog without the image of a spider in your brain with a few more photographs from our bike trip yesterday.  If you click on the image it will take you to a larger file.

The top looking into the Crater
looking south east
Another Crater shot
Alika our Guide
The start of the ride

30 day challenge


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