Monday, May 26, 2014

50th State: Hawaii–Swankie’s Final State to Paddle


Photo by Richard Bailey

This is a long post with lots of photos, so give it time to load.  I felt that my readers deserve to know what Hawaii was like for me. Thank you all for your support.

Took an airbus shuttle from Monterey, CA to the San Jose, CA airport at 4am on 5/13.  Flight left at 8:30am and I arrived in Maui midday.  Took six local buses to the timeshare my friends Matt and Cherrish Beals would be staying in that night, they would be arriving later in the evening.  I made myself comfortable in a recreation area and watched t.v. until they arrived.  First two nights I would be staying with them.  The next evening my son would arrive and I stayed in his hotel that night. 


Rich checking out the view from our timeshare.
Rich said: “This does not suck.”

The next three nights we stayed in another timeshare provided as a gift to me, by Matt and Cherrish.  Last night I was on Maui, I stayed with Matt and Cherrish again… and they took me back to the airport the next day.  Kinda a crazy schedule, but it was the only way I could have afforded the trip and reached my goal to kayak Hawaii this year.

Saw some interesting things while waiting for others to arrive.  This dog had just jumped from the empty surf board to the one he is on in the photo.  No fear.


I had finally come to the end of my Kayak America Adventure… Hawaii, my 50th state to kayak.  Although we talked about renting gear and kayaks and doing our own thing, I decided I wanted to use Maui Kayaks and do a tour to make sure I got to see interesting stuff.  I decided on their Makena/Wailea Explorer Tour.


Photo by Matt Beals.

May 16, 2014 – Charlene’s 70th Birthday.

From their brochure:  Our Signature Trip!  This South Maui kayak and snorkel eco-adventure is no ka oi!  Enjoy the calm, clear waters of Turtle Town where you will encounter an abundance of Hawaiian green sea turtles, occasional dolphin sightings, as well as dozens of vibrant tropical species of fish.  Experience snorkeling at Five Graves, where you can look into the skylight cave from the water’s surface or swim down and get a closer look!  Explore the historic Pu’uolai coastline.  We finish our adventure with a delicious buffet-style picnic lunch on the beach.

We arrived at the appointed spot at 7am and got our gear, kayaks, and instructions.  As luck would have it, at least from my point of view, another woman was suppose to be in our group, but had sprained her ankle and cancelled.  We had our guide all to ourselves.


Our guide, John Sheppell.


As soon as we reached the area… we saw turtles.  The one below is heading straight toward my kayak (that’s the tip of my kayak) and that is Cherrish in the other kayak.


I love the next photo, as I am not zoomed in… he was really that close.


He dove below the surface right next to me and though my camera is good down to 5’ underwater, I just didn’t want to risk it.  However Rich had a GoPro with him and got underwater photos of this one and others after we were all in the water.IMGA0953IMGA0951

I have only once before gotten off my kayak in deep water, and when I did it was extremely difficult to get back onboard (a supervised self rescue in the Monterey Bay, with instructors of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary standing by and advising me).  A self-rescue is mandatory in becoming a volunteer for the group.  So I was concerned about throwing myself out of the boat with only a snorkel mask, leaving the life vest in the boat.  But off I went.  I tend to panic when I try to use a snorkel, so I didn’t put the mouthpiece in my mouth until I was in the water and comfortable bobbing around.

My son and I kayaking Hawaii together.  His birthday is a week before mine.  What a hoot.


Finally we were all in the water and swimming with the sea turtles. 


Photo by Matt Beals

Very large Green Hawaiian Sea Turtle, me behind it, and my son with his GoPro camera on the right.  This was the highlight of my Hawaiian experience.

After our paddle and swim with the turtles, we returned to the beach to a wonderful lunch that John (guide) had prepared for us.



He was a wonderful guide, and knowledgeable about all the wildlife and sea creatures and a funny funny guy.  John Sheppell (I think that is his last name but can’t find his card right now).  He wanted me to share a link to his photography which supplements his income.  I will add it when I find the card.

It was a grand birthday and I just don’t see how any birthday can get any better than this one.


That evening we all went to dinner together at Mala’s on the shore.  It was a wonderful meal and the boys picked up the tab.  Very good food and sea turtles swimming in the water right beside us.  So many sea turtles.




Next morning my son Richard treated me to breakfast as Slappy Cakes.  They have griddles build right into your table… I ordered a gluten free batter and cooked my own pancakes loaded with fruit right at the table.  I had never heard of anything like that before.


Another day, my son, Richard Bailey and I decided it would be fun to dive in a submarine and so when out on the Atlantis Submarine based in Lahaina, Maui. 


There I go, down the hatch. Photo by son Richard Bailey. 


A shuttle boat is used to transfer passengers from the dock to the sub.


The “Roxi” is the pilot boat that keeps an eye on the surface and communicates with the sub about surfacing, etc.  It also tows the sub back into port each night. 



Can you see the Puffer fish on the left?


Our Captain at the helm


The submarine was much roomier than I expected and I didn’t have any sense of fear or impending panic attack.  I highly recommend this adventure.

Richard took me to dinner at Bubba Gump's Shrimp place.  The restaurant  was built around this very large Monkey Pod Tree.  The trunk of the tree is inside the restaurant.  The branches span beyond the walls of the restaurant.  Wild tree.


We walked around town a bit and noted the wonderful plants and interesting sites.

In the local park near the boat dock, there was a local surfboarding competition going on.  This young boy was practicing moves on a skate board.  Can’t you just see this boy out on a great pipe wave?




And then, as if my birthday could get any better, I get a surprise call from my sister-in-law, Ruth Sosa Bailey, who just flew in to Maui with her mother, to help celebrate my birthday.  We met them at Mixed Plates dinner for drinks.  Later that day we all went for pizza.


We watched a sunset together and Richard showed/introduced Senora Sosa to his ball… and did contact juggling for her.  She was fascinated and she adored Richard (who doesn’t?).  She loved the juggling as well.  And I loved her to pieces.  What a neat, happy, crazy lady.  And of course, my sister-in-law is also a jewel.  Thank you both for celebrating this special time with me.

And we spent some time walking around town, peaking in shops, eating ice cream and admiring the giant Banyan tree.


And then there were the sunsets and more contact juggling by Richard.


Thank you Richard and Matt for my wonderful and awesome birthday.


Hau’oli la Hanau to everyone else having birthdays.  Mahala and Aloha.

What’s Up Next? 
Hiking the 820-mile long Arizona Trail in 2015.

Summary of the Kayaking Adventure

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.