by Charles Nuetzel



"Why Oh Why Oh Maui?"

There are a lotta comments I could make about our trip to Maui.  Much of which has been said in the preceding pages.  Though, to be truthful, those comments were suited to the pictures, and to some extent to fill out the empty spaces necessary to hopefully make things more interesting.  Informational wise I wrote what seemed to work, basically structured to fit the visuals.  Like I said, there are a lotta comments I could make--and now I'll keep them less slanted and more basic.

First of all I'd have rather gone to Mars.  But since that was out of the question, I'd have accepted a trip to Rome to see some ancient ruins, or Greece, for the same purpose.  Certainly Egypt was high on my list of interesting places to see.   More ruins.  How about Babylon?  Well, that was in Iraq, not the best place in the world to visit at this time.  Nor is Iran, with all the ancient Persian ruins to search through.

"Tourist traps all," so spoke a wise young man. [Actually our Geman nephew.] It was pointed out that all ancient ruins have developed into major tourist centers.  Egypt was a popular place to visit more than 2000 years ago.  Probably twice that long ago.

Oh, golly and gosh.  Babylon oh Babylon, where have you gone?  Those brinks not stripped from its ancient walls to build homes for the local populations, were buried in the depths of endless sand. Only in modern times have these wonderous ruins been swept clean, rebuilt and offered up to international tour agencies to denude the newly rich masses of their vacation cash.

So. What about China?  That's a new tourist wonder to visit.

Even England, France or Germany might be interesting to see.  Ah, yes, my wife's relatives live in Germany.  All the cheaper to visit.

Cost is a problem and these places are far far away and somewhat pricey.

On a more practical basis I would gladly pick Mexico, to see the Aztec or the Mayan or the Toltec ruins.  You name it; I'd be quite delighted. Really! Cancun, of course, is my top choice since I've always wanted to see Chichen Itza, having read so much about the Mayan civilization.  [In fact, it was on our list of two places to visit this year.]

More to the point: you can get there by cruise ship!

Now, that's an idea with some real solid merit.

I love a cruise ship; I'll pick one of those any day of the week!   Though they have a tendency to be sold as floating luxury hotels taking people from port to port.  Which is fine for those who wanna see a lotta ports (other than those in a bottle).  I'd rather just enjoy the ship, be out to sea, crossing the Atlantic or Blue Pacific, with nothing but water water water from horizon to glistening horizon.  Talk about a luxury vacation!  They really pamper you on these liners.

So.  What about Hawaii?

Why not?

It is right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!  Heck you don't even have to possess a passport to go there!  And consider all the flowers, birds and whales!  The tropic breezes, the palm trees, the sun and the sand. And all those luxury hotels.

Take a look at any pamphlet offered up by most travel agencies and you'll be gagged by all the palm trees, beaches and hotels; picture after picture of them.  The beaches are crowded, crushed, with one fantastic hotel after another!

Well, heck, I can go to Santa Monica for palm trees, hotels and beaches.  Or Santa Barbara.  Both are within an hour's drive from where I live.  Both are beautiful and tourist attractions on their own rights.   I don't have to visit a South Pacific Island to get that kind of experience!

So Hawaii was last on my personal list of super vacation spots.  I was interested in going there--someday.  Sometime, in the distant future; perhaps.  Maybe.  I just happened to have other places that more dramatically sparked my imagination.  Even Canada offered up unknown wonders to be experienced.  But, sad to say, that certainly wasn't the US of A--exactly.  So, if one had to go American-style, I'd have picked New England in the Fall, or maybe New York New York?  Well, I'd rather go to Santa ...

Santa Barbara?  Santa Monica?

"WHAT?" you say!

"What's this Santa this and Santa that.  Pretty soon it will be Santa Claws.  Hmmm....well, Claus?  What kind of mini-mind would equate Hawaii with some mundane big city on the mainland?  What kind of--"

Well, maybe I should explain.

Okay, I'd love boarding a cruise liner to Hawaii.  Something like five days at sea, then so many days in the land of hula girls and luaus and leis--

Why not go to Hawaii?  By sea!  Now that's a thought.

Well, there are a lotta reasons why that was out of the picture.  One close buddy pointed out that a Pacific Ocean crossing ain't no easy roll down the hill; not that peaceful.  "So," I counter, bitingly, "the Atlantic crossing  wasn't that calm, either."

Actually, while there are some ships that go to Hawaii, the norm, now, is to fly.

And, the cruise ships depart from Baja California--also they are designed for a special kind of vacation experience.

By the early part of  this year we had come to a decision to go either to Cancun or Hawaii.
Decisions; decisions.

The sound of ancient Mayan drums tempted me south of the border, Mexico-way.  Visions of grass skirted hula girls seductively undulating their hips invitingly to all comers, teased my imagine Hawaii-way.   The beat beat beat of Mayan drums tempted my ears.  Ancient ruins for the mere taking!  For the taking?  The seductive call of murmuring female voices sang across the distance of time and space.  The visions of swaying palm trees, lush tropic vegetation, scantily skirted native girls, drove me wild with desire.

How could any red-blooded man ignore those hula skirts in favor of muscular Mayan warriors beating their drums?  It was a difficult decision; but in the long run, Hawaii won out.

Why? you might ask. Come on, really why?

Go ahead, ask!

Why Hawaii?  We don't believe your hula fantasy.

Why oh why oh Maui?

Most of all because Brigitte had, for years, been wanting to see Hawaii.  It was, for her, top of the vacation list.  This more than anything else motivated my final decision to encourage a trip to Maui.   And she wanted to fly.  [A bit less pricey than a cruise ship!]  More importantly, our trip to Alaska, last year, was somewhat of a disappointment since we'd been unable to see Glacier Bay.  A major storm closed down the place the very day we were scheduled to be there.  She was devastated by this.  For her the main event was the promise of seeing the glaciers crumbling into ocean, up close.  So, how could I make that up to her?

Well.  Perhaps I could offer flowers and birds and palm trees on a tropic island deep in the Pacific Ocean!  A romantic interlude in the tropics? A second honeymoon in Maui?

What kind of selfish pig would I be to push creepy ancient Mayan ruins in place of a lovely, modern, romantic, alluring, green, lush Hawaii?  To say nothing, or little, at the very least, about The Bird & Whale Paradise of the Pacific Ocean!  It had everything!  Long, lovely strolls along almost secluded beaches.  Sunning yourself until you turn a deep, rich dark brown.  Hungrily devouring delicious Hawaiian feasts under a full moon. [No tv dinners for us, babe!]  Sip cool tropic drinks in the sultry warm evenings.  And then experience the long days and nights totally enveloped by the sounds of strange, beautiful birds, visions of beautiful flowers, and the embrace of beauiful leis--even I wasn't that cruel.  So.  Fly me to the Maui ...

All ya gotta do, bud, is follow the yellow brick road to The Island Paradise in the Sun!

So off we went to see the wonderful wizard at the local travel agency to book our flight to Maui.

It was at this point that I decided to take a few pictures of Hawaii and make a nice little webpage.  But what to call it? Well, every time I heard the word Maui I thought "Wow-eeee!"  Maybe it was a nasty twist of my brain cells, but I kinda liked it. I figured on maybe two webpages of pictures, one to be called, tongue-in-cheek, "WOWIE MAUI!" or "MAUI WOWIE!"  The other, equally biting and nasty, would have been titled: "SANTA MAUI"--designed to underscored my conclusion that Hawaii was really nothing special at all!  Obviously I had no idea this would end up becoming a 25 page website!

The fact that I simply called these pages MAUI might indicate a change of heart.  But I wonder.  My conclusions were strangely unsurprising.

I had decided not to expect too much from Hawaii; not to go there to find a South Sea Island Paradise, nor a Las Vegas under the tropic stars.

I went there with very low expectations, prepared for palm trees, sandy beaches, flashy hotels, tourist towns, tropic "jungles" and waterfalls.  Plus: hot, terrible sunshine and humid heat to squeeze  the energy out of every cell of your body.  Well.  Okay.  I confess: I didn't have my sights too high, and, perhaps, just about as low as they could get.

Hawaii had seemed to me, when I was a wee lad in my teens, something that the upper middle class social climbers went to visit.  They gravitated to this Island Paradise in blind obedience to the need to impress their immediate hometown list of social friends and enemies.  It was the kind of experience most "status seekers" sought out.  Not because of any real vital interest in Hawaii, but rather in an effort to "keep up with the Jones"--and I wasn't buying that!  So I had this teenage "negative attitude" to crush.  Which I managed to get over, somewhat--a bit, maybe?--long before we landed on Maui.  Still, all in all...well, heck, I'd seen Hawaiian Eye, Hawaii Five-O, Magnum PI.  Weekly.  What else did I need?

Enough was enough!

In any case, my expectations were neither too high nor too low.  Just right for the final results.

Actually, Hawaii was all I could have expected, maybe more in some ways.  Only problem, though, was that many of its nice features were things that could easily have been experienced, to some degree, in California.  Of course Maui has the "compact advantage" of not being spread out over a large territory.  On this tropic island people go from rich green "jungles" to mountain peaks stripped down to bare hard, desert like, volcanic rock.  All in a morning's drive.

Still, all in all, I think that if you aren't into swimming or snorkeling or into surfing, or sunbathing, a lot of its charm is dulled.  It is a great playground for the physically active and sports minded person.  If you like golf you have it made!  But if you aren't the sporty type, it is like a non gambler going to Vegas!  [There's a lot more to see there outside of the gaming tables, but one misses a major attraction of the town.  And if ya don't go to the shows--why bother?  Unless, of course, one is hot for desert landscapes.]

On the other hand, Maui sure is a great place to lay back and relax and enjoy life. You can hide there in your room, the sliding doors open to the fresh clean ocean air, and suck it all in, day and night!  Eat until you balloon up.  And there is, of course, a lot to do.  Walk.  Drive.  Shop.  Visit endless historical landmarks.  Copter flights to take.  Volcanos to visit. But we simply didn't have enough time.  All it was possible to do was hit some of the highspots, and very lightly, at that.  We kinda "interviewed" the place.  We certainly didn't get a chance to really see all of it.

Yet we saw a lot in seven days!  It seemed like we were on the go, high speed, from the very beginning.  At such a time it is impossible to know what to do, where to start.  So you stumble through as best you can, knocking from one tourist joint or activity to another, desperately hoping you're not missing any major point of interest.  Back home it becomes obvious how much had been missed.  Too late!  Just moan in pain!  Then your good natured friends arrive, who have been there before, to announce what hadn't been seen.

I can hear them now:  "No wonder you weren't impressed!"

"Who said we weren't impressed?" we counter, defensively.

"Well, whatever, you missed the real Maui experience!"

Perhaps.  And then--perhaps there is no real Maui experience --only many, endless ones.  Each person takes their own set of preconceived visions with them.  They fill their senses with only those things that most satisfy these set illusions.  Perhaps we all slant the experience to fit our prejudices.  Hopefully not too much.

Still, what were my impressions?  My final conclusions?  My decision as to what Hawaii has to offer?  Well for the sun worshipper it is an ideal paradise.  It caters to the tourist and especially those who carry their golf clubs everywhere they go--supposedly even to bed.  For people who don't have easy access to oceans or beaches, it has to be mind-blowing.

But within an hour's drive of home we can reach the beach, mountains and desert.  Southern California has so much to offer up, all within a day's drive, actually.  We have snow in the winter mountains (though not in the city--we're a one season landscape).  We can bake in the hot sun of the desert.  We can get to Las Vegas in a six hour drive and be entertained by the biggest shows on earth--so they would have us believe.

Yet on vacations one can only rush through a new territory, city, town.  Noticing only the most flashy highlights.  There are places in Thousand Oaks that we haven't even seen--yet.  And in the general area of Los Angeles there are almost total "nations" we have never experienced.  As for the rest of our grand state, we've given much of it the "bum's rush"--drive-throughs--in order to see some places, like San Francisco, San Diego, Santa Barbara, in a bit more detail.

We've explored, in a grand tour-like fashion, much of the western states, including the Rockies all the way to though southern Canada, down to the border of Mexico.  [To say nothing about those two of trips visiting relatives in Germany, and a cruise down the western coast of Mexico, many years before last year's trip to Alaska.]  We're not rich, nor overly exposed to world travel--but we've been lucky in these few limited areas.

Even then, perhaps, it isn't all that easy to impress us.  [Well, the south west, alone, is magnificent!]

Still, Maui was a wonderful experience.  It had the luxury hotels, flashy, open-air resturants, sandy beaches, grand landscapes.  And Nature to obsorb through your very pores.  These are things we really love; elements we always expect to have as our ideal vacation experience.  It was all there in Maui!   And I'm glad we saw it, as the twenty-four pages of this website have certainly suggested.

Now, what about Cancun?  The tropics call, and again I can hear soft murmur of the distant Mayan drums calling from across the borders south of our grand nation:  "Come to Cancum...come to Cancun...come to Cancun!"

The call beats through my whole being:  "Come to Cancun!"

A dream, devoutly to be wished, perhaps.  A fantasy illusional concept that, perhaps, down there, in Mayaland one will discover the real, untainted, authentic substance that is --

No doubt another tourist trap!

Imagination!  It will delude you--always!   And chances are we'll never get see the Mayan ruins. Anyway.

Still, all in all, the last two years, in retirement, have offered up a couple of great adventures.  If we never do more than that we can consider ourselves lucky and blessed.

Nevertheless, I can't help but wish it was possible to go back in time and see those ancient ruins when they were brand new.  In my imagination I can serve up a feast of romantic adventuring back in that distant past.  This was where my fictional character, Thoris of Haldolen, roamed these very lands, [related in my novel "Swordmen of Vistar"].  Thoris lived long before any civilized centers had developed on the Western Continents.  When I close my eyes I can almost smell the winds of that Haldolen ocean breeze whispering across our Conejo valley, sweeping through the window of my room and ...

Well, after all, regardless of legend and myth, I'm not that great and grand warrior-general of some 30,000 BC.

Only his creator!

So the myth and magic of an over-bloated imagination fed by the fantasy of what might have been, or could be, remains in the endless black hole of my mind--lost in time and space.  These Haldolen fictional fairy tales are like the illusions of a make-believe Hawaii.  A delusion, I might add, which was remolded by hard truth--and the reality of our Seven Days in Maui.

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