An island so small, your cell phone works everywhere

Authored By Brian

Ahhh… Monday. Monday was a big day with a hike starting off Pali Highway to Maunawili Falls followed by a visit to the Hanaloa blowhole. It was going to be around 6 miles in and out so we started at 9am. In the evening we had to be back for our pre-purchased Germaine’s Luau on the western side of the island. We should have known it was going to be tough when the first climbing and snaking 1/2 mile was muddy and slow. The trail climbed up and the conditions stayed pretty muddy. We managed to stay pretty clean but it had slowed our hiking speed quite a bit.

An hour in, we were walking the trail and heard some people up ahead. As we got closer, we realized they were off-trail and hacking their way through the jungle. They were also yelling a lot and arguing about how one of them was treated over something earlier. They sounded kind of angry so we quietly continued on our way while they noisily did their thing. Although we could periodically catch vistas of the towns in the distance, we felt pretty isolated on the mountain.

2 miles in, we reached the cutoff for Maunawili Falls. The guidebook explained this would drop us in 500 feet over the next 8/10ths of a mile in order to see the falls and then we’d have to hike the trail in reverse. We headed down the steep grade and ran into some kids right as they were exiting the turn off for the falls. They told us they hiked in from a residential area down below and seemed surprised we came in from another trail. After some advice on hiking up the creek and sticking to the right, we parted ways. We dropped down another steep set of stairs and the trail meets the creek where two streams join together. The trail veered right and although that path looked somewhat narrow, we ventured onward straining to hear a waterfall ahead. One dead end followed by backtracking and exploring another dead end wasted the better part of an hour before we began a foot-destroying barefoot descent via the creek to avoid the muddy and slippery creekside trail. By the time we had returned to the junction of the two streams, it was almost noon. We had been cursing for the last half hour and were ready to bail but with one last burst of resolve we boulder hopped up the other arm determined to reap some reward from our troubles. Of course, about 100 feet up the other arm, another trail emerged on the right hand side which led a short distance to the waterfall. We ran into a couple of kids just getting dressed from a swim and in a moment we had the place to ourselves.

I snapped a picture and was ready to bolt as we didn’t have much time left but Jennifer wanted to swim so she changed to her bikini top and waded in to about her knees when she paused, reconsidered the temperature of the water, and waded back out. A quick change and we were on our way out, right about 12:45. We knew getting back in time for the Luau pickup at 4:30 was going to be tricky. We were filthy which meant we would need to shower too. At this point we decided that we would try a cell phone up on the ridge, contact a taxi company and get a ride from the neighborhood below (which we presumed was closer) back to our TRACKER at the trailhead.

Here’s where technology kicks in. In my backpack, I also had my Ogo. I sent an SMS to Google’s text service for “taxi, kailua, hi” and in moments had the numbers for three taxi companies. The first one couldn’t help us but the second one knew about the trailhead and would send a cab. We arranged to have it arrive in 40 minutes and we headed down the trail thankful that our plans weren’t lost. The trail down was much more heavily travelled than the part above and it was horrendous. Mud, deep mud, and deeper mud. There were side trails along most of it that made for slightly easier going but the tree roots and sticky mud made our prior hike seem like cake compared to this. My tennis shoes are a total loss. We passed several groups of locals and tourists on their way in while we were leaving; some going barefoot and others in just flip-flops. I somehow doubt they made it.

Our taxi called saying he had arrived as we were exiting the trail back onto concrete. A couple of calls later to coordinate where we were and we were sitting in the back of a crown vic on our way to our car. It was about 1:45 and everything was working out if not silky smooth. Our cabfare was $20 and we gave the guy $30 as a token of our appreciation. He said that was a good start to his evening and we parted ways with mahalo. (ma-hollah!)

Jennifer had been to Oahu once before and went to the Paradise Cove luau. This time we were going to try the other luau put on by Germaine’s. There is a third from the Polynesian Cultural Center (surprisingly, run by the mormons) but it is an all-day affair and non-alcoholic (not surprisingly, by the mormons). Our guidebook indicated that the Germaine’s was overall the best if you didn’t want to spend all day for the event. With a disneyland like motorcoach pickup and tour guide narrating our 30-minute drive, we headed through pouring rain before the skies cleared and we pulled off the highway into Germaine’s estate. Germaine’s was started in the 70s and is right on the beach on the western (leeward) shore. That’s the good part. What they don’t tell you is that it’s situated about 200 meters from an oil refinery plant. To their credit, once “inside” the outdoor dining area (comprised of rows of picnic tables), you can’t really see the oil refinery but the whole production seemed a bit cattle-drive like. This on a Monday night where only about 300 “cousins” showed up instead of the peak-season 800-1000. We sat in the middle, directly between the two-story bar and the performance stage. Our tour guide talked more about partying (in a “one-time, at band camp!” type way) than the show and I think that’s the emphasis. Of course, you don’t pour stiff drinks to people using their freebie drink tickets so our Blue Hawaiis tasted more like Blue kool-aid. It wasn’t until I ponied up a dollar extra for a margarita that I actually saw alcohol go into the glass. By that time, our drinking palate had been stymied by a semi-solid stomach full of sugar.

All told, the “extravaganza” (how the emmcee described the show no less than 4 times) was pretty entertaining. There were a couple of skinny and scantily clad girls hula dancing and shaking their culos and it was topped off by a giant samoan twirling fire batons. The buffet was alright and the pig they cooked underground all day was tasty but a bit dry. They also had terriyaki BBQ beef as the other main entree and it was good. One note of contention however for afficionados of Webster’s dictionary: a buffet with 14 items is not the same as the 14-course meal as described by the tour guide. Is that an “aye”, cousin?

Exhausted, stuffed and on a sugar high, we hit the hot tubs to rest our joints and then put our heads to rest.

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