Friday, February 27, 2015

High and Low on Maui, Part II

For Part I of my Maui travelogue, see my previous post.

Here's part two.

Haleakalā sunrise: above the clouds, above the ocean

Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Day 48

Day Two. My goal was to explore Lāhainā, the historic whaling port on Maui's west shore. I write about Lāhainā in the third chapter of my dissertation. It was, especially circa 1840-1860, perhaps the most important port in all of Hawaiʻi if not in all of the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of foreign ships arrived each year and recruited thousands of Hawaiian workers. A lot went on in Lāhainā in those days. It's hard to imagine, though, because it's kind of a sleepy place today. And heavily touristicized!

First of all, I had to get there. It was a 90 minute drive down from camp at 6,800 ft. to Lāhainā on the other side of the island. Upon arrival, I had a big breakfast of lox benedict (smoked salmon and eggs benedict on a bagel, with a side of homefries). Yum. After breakfast, it was off to see the historic sites:

Banyan Tree Square, Lāhainā. In the historic center of town, a tree planted in 1873 continues to grow, encompassing the entirety of the plaza! Pretty amazing.

 At the center of town is a historic plaza and abutting it, the Old Lahaina Courthouse. Built in 1859, it also served as a customs house, so all those records of ships arriving and departing, of goods coming in and out, and sailors arriving and departing: those records were produced here! The courthouse now houses a museum and gift shop.
View of the old courtroom. Note the infrastructure at foreground which faces the judge's chair. The rest of the room has been turned over to exhibits about Lāhainā's history, particularly its whaling days. Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā.
View of the harbor from the Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā

 One of the most interesting objects on display in the courthouse building is this flag that used to fly over the courthouse building during the nineteenth century. In 1898, as the United States began its military occupation of the archipelago, the flag was lowered and replaced with an American flag. Apparently it was stowed in someone's house for over a century and only in the last decade came out into public view.
Ka Hae Hawaiʻi, the Hawaiian Flag. This one dates back to the nineteenth century. Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā

 Other aspects of the courthouse site are less interesting, like "ruins" that are actually a modern reconstruction of just part of a fort that once stood here in the nineteenth century. Why reconstruct the fort as faux ruins? Or the "jail" in the basement of the courthouse, which truly was a jail, but is hardly recognizable today as it is now an art gallery!

Reconstructed ruins of a nineteenth-century fort, Lāhainā

A nineteenth-century jail now used as an art gallery. Old Lahaina Courthouse, Lāhainā

A few blocks from the center of town is Maluʻuluolele Park—just a dusty field, but in the nineteenth century it was a royal fishpond that served the seat of Kingdom governance. There are plans today to turn it back into a pond and reverse the landfill of the early twentieth century.

Maluʻuluolele Park, Lāhainā

 Just up the road on Prison Street is Hale Paʻahao, literally "Prison House," a large prison complex constructed in the 1850s to deal with the scourge of drunken whale workers. Today it is a quiet peaceful park/museum, except for the scary mannequin of a Euro-American sailor inside who, in the accompanying audio track, mouths off about those "damned Kanakas." If it wasn't for those Hawaiians, he says! Then he wouldn't be in the slammer. Yeah, yeah, we've heard that one before.

Hale Paʻahao, a prison built in the 1850s in Lāhainā. The wooden part is a modern reconstruction; only the coral walls are original.

A creepy white dude behind bars at Hale Paʻahao, Lāhainā

The next stop was the Baldwin House, built circa 1835 by Euro-American Christian missionaries. 

The Baldwin House, Lāhainā
Inside the 1830s-era Baldwin House in Lāhainā
I also visited a few other historic sites: the Wo Hing Museum, a former Daoist temple and meeting house for Chinese immigrants in the early twentieth century; and the Pioneer Inn, Lāhainā's most famous downtown hotel.

 But after a while I got tired of nerding out. I love history, but it was hot and I was sweating and I would rather be swimming, honestly. So I grabbed a shave ice for lunch (very healthy, I know) and drove north out of town to Hanakaʻoʻo Beach

Hanging at Hanakaʻoʻo Beach, north of Lāhainā. Great view of the Island of Lānaʻi in the distance.

 After a swim and a brief moment of relaxation on Hanakaʻoʻo Beach, I returned to Lāhainā to catch a two-hour whale watching tour with the non-profit Pacific Whale Foundation.

 Our tour was led by a fearless young woman with striking blond hair who made us laugh and smile throughout the entire journey. She really loves whales! She even migrates every year to Alaska in the summers and Hawaiʻi in the winters to follow the whale migrations.

Our fearless leader. West Maui mountains in the background. On a whaling cruise in the ʻAuʻau Channel.

 We saw tons of humpback whales, including a little baby! It was really stellar, although I got a horrible sunburn on my neck (so bad that I developed a few blisters later that night. ow!). While learning about and seeing the whales was fun and enlightening, it was also just nice to be out on the water, especially since I study Hawaiian maritime workers at such great length. It is helpful to get a sense of what it felt like to be on a boat pulling in and out of Lāhainā harbor, just as whale workers did two centuries ago!

Haleakalā, standing at over 10,000 feet elevation, peeks out from above the clouds, as seen from the ʻAuʻau Channel

West Maui Mountains, as seen from the ʻAuʻau Channel

 Upon return to Lāhainā it was 4:30pm and time to start driving back up Haleakalā to my camp at Hosmer Grove. First I stopped at Foodland and picked up a poke bowl. I returned to camp at 6,800 feet just at dusk and gobbled up my food. The temperature quickly slipped down into the 40s again. This time it was a completely clear evening and I could see thousands of stars in the sky!

 On the drive up to Hosmer Grove, I snapped a few pics of the sunset from the slopes of Haleakalā. The next post or two will be about my explorations inside Haleakalā National Park. A hui hou!

The last rays of sunlight hitting the slopes of Haleakalā at approximately 6,000 feet

 Goodnight, ka lā

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