Recollections of Maui • Paradise Will Return

    icon Aug 23, 2023
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Back in 1989 for our 25th Wedding Anniversary my wife Paulette and I were blessed with a vacation to Maui, Hawaii, which I liked so much I wanted to live there. We returned five more times because it was our paradise and we were going to make it seven this October.  

The two of us had so many great memories. We stayed in a Napili Bay Resort right on the beach. The waves at night sounded like they were going to end up in our room. Mornings we spent inside the “Gazebo” restaurant. The views included jumping Spinner Dolphins & breaching whales. Later,  chocolate covered macadamia nuts & a newspaper. Setting outside afterwards we saw an elderly gentleman walking close to shore - a bad idea as he got body slammed by an incoming wave.

We went to a luau and met the great grandson of Babe Ruth. He said,  “Gramps hated rookie Leo Durocher when he had to room with him on the road. Babe found out he was stealing from him and  proceeded to beat him senseless. The man bought me a half dozen or so Mai Tai’s - the next morning was unpleasant.

Numerous trips into Lahaina featured great restaurants. One of our favorites was inside the Pioneer Inn built in 1901. It was on the water next to the Marina & featured a  huge nude mermaid painting behind the bar. It was across from the “Tree of Life” that’s been standing for over 150 years. It is a  colossal banyan tree that covers the entire block. Locals & visitors alike shared time together watching entertainment & enjoyed its shade from the sun. We saw Keal’I Reichel sing here. The man is great in traditional Hawaiian song and dance. After the recent historic fire, the tree lives on, but the Inn as well the entire town of Lahaina is gone.

In Maui you could count on hearing IZ (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole) singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” or “What a Wonderful World”. This man was some kind of great. These songs were 358 weeks on the top of World Digital Songs charts. He was the voice of Hawaii. At one time he weighed 757 pounds. When “IZ” passed at age 38 on 6/26/1997, his casket laid in the state capitol building and was visited by 10,000 people. He left one child behind and his wife Marlene. There is a bronze statue honoring him in his neighborhood.

When it came to dining, Mama’s Fish House in Maui was our favorite all time restaurant. It resided in a cove where huge waves pounded into the beach. The fish was fresh every day and the sushi chef at Benihana’s in Saginaw previously worked at Mama’s for one year.  The “Sugar Beach Bake Shop” had the best coffee and baked goods ever. We would eat at the counter overlooking the street. 

My favorite event was photographing the “Wind Surfing Aloha Classic” contest at Ho’okipa Beach Park. The talent displayed here was phenomenal. Getting there on the Hana Highway was some kind crazy. It is 64.4 miles with 620 curves. The day we drove it the San Francisco earthquake hit on 10/17/1989. At the end of our journey it was too late to drive back. We had to stay overnight at the Heavenly Paradise Inn. This place had record size spiders. I never slept waiting for one to crawl over my face.

The GTE Kaanapali PGA Classic was played here starting in 1987. At the Pro-Am I met Johnny Bench & Roger Clemens and  talked to Hale Irwin, who clocked 83 professional wins including three U.S. Open Titles in 1974, 1979, and 1990).  The College “Hula Bowl” was played at the War Memorial Stadium in Wailuka, Maui. I had press passes for 4 of the games.

I also flew over to Honolulu for the 1998 Pro-Bowl. When I was waiting to get my press field pass, the T.V. Station person was getting impatient waiting for his. The person getting the pass, told him “Take it easy I’m taking care of Richard Curry of Review Magazine”. That 1998 NFL Pro Bowl saw the last game of John Elway’s 16 year career & the 1st Pro Bowl of Randy Moss - NFL Rookie of the Year.

During the week I met and talked to Charles Woodson, U of M cornerback & famous Oakland Raider/Mike Alscott (played in 6 Pro Bowls) and former Green Bay Packer, Jim Taylor (He let me take a photo of his Super Bowl ring. Jim enjoyed running over people on the way to the end zone. People told me Deion Sanders was quite the party animal.

I got up at 4:00 AM and drove up the top of the “Haleakala Crater (10,023 feet above sea level). I was waiting for a sunrise photo. Out it came and 5 seconds later there it went when the clouds moved in. That volcano hasn’t erupted since 1480-1600. I’m not a fan of heights. I drove up there with no problem and now I see the drop off near the road going down. I went up at 35 miles an hour and 15 MPH going down. I think at the end I had 18 cars behind me.

This paradise will return, but it will take years to come back. This apocalyptic fire started when Maui was really dry. It came after Hurricane Dora receded. An 82 MPH wind took down an electrical wire igniting the dry grass. At 6:37 AM the spark got it going. As of 8/17 the death total is 111 people and more will follow.

I’m hoping a land-grab doesn’t start, as in Oprah Winfrey. Her home wasn’t touched. Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac didn’t lose his home, but lost his restaurant in Lahaina. There are 80 outdoor sirens on the island. They were put there to awaken people about  Hurricane, Tsunami, and Volcano eruptions.  

They were not used for the fire - here lies the problem.

The spirit of the Hawaiian people will rise this island again.


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