I just wanted to put down some notes about my exciting New Year’s trip to Maui. Getting up at 5am sucks, but arriving in Maui around 3pm local time does not. After some initial stress of finding our way around town to the essentials like water shoes (yes I shopped at the Maui Walmart, but I didn’t feel good about it), we made our way around the island toward the hotel. Memories of my previous trip there (must have been around 2000?) started to come back to me. Slowly letting it sink in, the magnitude of the difference in scenery and climate there. Like being on another planet.
We stayed at the amazing Sheraton Maui resort, noted for having one of the nicest beaches on the island. Travelocity hooked us up, because a room there can run upwards of $800/night, and we didn’t pay near that much. The grounds there are breathtaking. Check out their site for pictures, but if I ever win the lottery, I would want to move in there permanently. (Turns out it’s actually very close to the Hyatt I’d stayed at when I was in Maui before.) The air smells sweet, I’m not kidding. It smells perfumed everywhere you go. Then big, open, manicured grassy areas all over. A pool that snaked through the landscape along with a hot tub. We checked in, put on shorts, and headed out to one of the outdoor bars to eat. Not 30 seconds after sitting down to dinner that first night, the older Australian couple next to us noticed my Smiths shirt and started talking to me about them — surely a good omen for the new year. There was live music and hula all the time. Took a walk on the beach at night, where even in December it barely dipped below 70°.
I can’t get over the freedom of a vacation like this. I probably haven’t had it since that last Maui trip. The freedom to just roll out of bed, put on nothing but board shorts — I mean no shirt, no shoes — and walk through the resort on your way to pick up a piña colada (which you carelessly charge to the room) and head to the beach. No need for heating or AC. Indoors and out, day and night, you are comfortable in shorts and nothing else. I felt like I spent the whole week in my underwear, but that’s what everyone does there. There’s no shame. And that feeling is the highlight of the whole trip. I can’t overstate that. The freedom of no schedule and no climate restrictions. (Side note: I wore sunblock religiously and as a result got almost no color at all!) Some of the noteworthy activities include: We went ziplining from tree to tree in a forest canopy. I swam so much in the ocean… which is warm and so clear. Totally unlike the ocean in the Bay Area where it’s murky and prohibitively cold. The ocean in Maui is like being in a bathtub. It’s that comfortable. You can be in it all day, just swimming and rolling in the waves. It makes you feel human again… and animal, all at the same time. I climbed up Black Rock there off the coast and cliff dove. We saw whales jumping and spouting just off shore. We rented snorkeling equipment for a couple hours. I didn’t know it then, but all the time I was swimming and cliff diving near Black Rock… I was surrounded by colorful tropical fish. Armed with the snorkel gear, we got to see what was going on beneath the surface. Thousands of beautiful butterfly fish, trumpet fish, etc. swimming around people’s feet while they don’t even know it. Darting around the coral at the base of Black Rock. It was stunning. We didn’t see any turtles, but we did later see crabs along the rocks in another part of town.
The food was so-so, mostly in that it wasn’t very vegetarian-friendly. I ended up eating a lot of junk food and fried food, but I survived. Front Street was great for shopping and some food. It’s more or less their Pier 39 equivalent. I had some handmade chocolate with kava… which numbed my tongue. We had a fancier dinner at Roy’s, where I had grilled tofu steaks. We had more “local” food at Aloha Mixed Plate. We rang in 2012 at the Sheraton’s New Year’s Eve party, which included a nice buffet, dancing with awkward white people toward the countdown, and an opportunity to wear a Hawaiian shirt. At first I felt a little strange as many others were dressed kinda ritzy for NYE. But soon I realized that I was just the rock and roll one at the party, and I got into that mindset. It’s an expensive resort, and these people don’t know who I am. For all they know, I’m a real rock star. At least that’s the irreverent mindset I adopted, and I think I pulled it off. Our last night there, we did the obligatory luau which included an open bar, a whole roast pig (which was kinda depressing), and a full on music and dance performance. Again, the Sheraton is reputed to have one of the best luaus on the island. Other than NYE and the luau, the resort’s food was overpriced and not great. I was happy when we got to venture out. One last note… at almost every restaurant we ate at, the seating was open air or at least facing wide open windows. There weren’t many bugs, but there were plenty of birds flying into these places and hopping around the floor. I rediscovered my love of feeding birds and exercised it at nearly every meal. As with the geckos that came out at night around the resort, and the flowers everywhere you go, I just loved how much nature and open air is a part of everything you do there. It makes my life back home feel sterile and isolated and artificial by comparison.
The only real downside was the sense that in general, the locals hated us. I mean, I kinda get it. In S.F., we’re annoyed by tourists. And though I don’t know the history, I can only assume there’s some less-than-pleasant past crimes of the white man against the native people. I noticed were some very aggressive and almost combative driving by locals against us both as other drivers and as pedestrians. (Though when I let one particular car in front of me, he very casually flashed a “hang loose” gesture at us, which was so charming!) At one point, we got a very chilly reception by a couple of locals carving tikis. Was it just because I was a tourist? Or white? Or with a girl who looks like she could be Hawaiian? Maybe I read into it too much, but there was a definite sense of “we’ll take your money because we need to, but in all other respects, go to hell.” I’d heard that Maui was the most fiercely independent of the islands, historically speaking. I wonder if there is an active anti-statehood movement there? In any event, if you know me, you know that I was overly polite and careful not to be in anyone’s way or make a mess. So unless I’m oblivious to something horrible I was doing, I’m pretty sure I was looked down upon for no good reason. Mahalo, bitch.
It turns out this is peak season for Hawaii, and so the limited rental cars on Maui are hard to come by. All the agencies jack up their rates significantly, and a six day rental from one of the last places with cars left cost me over $1100! The good news is that it for a small upcharge I was able to snag a convertible Mustang. The salesguy pressed hard for it, but he wasn’t wrong. Driving around the island with the top down was well worth the extra ~$100. For the view and the weather. And these new Mustangs let you change the color of all the dashboard backlighting and trim lights. A silly feature that is so up my alley. But tonight, when I got behind the wheel of my own Town Car — it’s been in the shop since getting hit by a drunk driver after the last TCB show — I was again reminded, as I have been so many times before, just how much I love my car. It’s so smooth. It was made for me.
On the way back, we were in desperate need of food before the flight. The only “real” food around was a bar and grill… it turned out to be called “Sammy’s.” And can you guess why? It’s apparently Sammy Hagar’s own restaurant, and it is every bit as full of self-aggrandizing bullshit as you might imagine. We’re talking walls covered with his platinum records. An autographed guitar. Chickenfoot merch left and right. Picture upon cringe-worthy picture of him posing with various celebrities. Even the bamboo decorations in his signature red. A menu full of recipes he allegedly picked up from his travels and his celebrity friends. A plaque at the front door explaining what a model citizen and philanthropist he is. All of the marketing, none of the artistic integrity, and all done with the delicate touch of a sledgehammer. But what should I expect from a man who has a band named after his own brand of tequila? Good Lord.
But back to the real story here. I’m seriously looking into moving to Maui. The practical side of me is weighing how much of a lifestyle change that would represent, as well as how wise it is to make a decision like that based on a week at a resort, when “real” life there would not be like vacationing at a resort. And what would I do for work? The tech market doesn’t seem to be booming there. And I don’t know if I’m cut out for the tourism/service industry. Maybe a government job? Am I too old to be a cop? I think it fits my personality, and I’ve considered looking into that as a way to do something impactful for a living irrespective of my new Maui plans. Or maybe Maui needs therapists and I could pursue that as a career? Though, who needs a shrink when you live in paradise? Everyone we talked to — and there were dozens — said that moving to Maui was the best thing they’d even done and they love it there. Be they bartender or concierge. From Fresno or Portland. They love it there. Rents are cheaper than San Francisco. But then… there’s no scene there at all. Nowhere to go dance to new wave. Nowhere to go to listen to (or play) rockabilly or Smiths music live. I’d have to join a reggae band if I wanted to gig anywhere out there. Or maybe I could start a weekly new wave club night? OK, maybe unrealistic… but the wheels are definitely turning, folks. You’d all come visit me, right?
“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.”— James Thurber
Listening to: Tennessee Ernie Ford – “The Ultimate Tennessee Ernie Ford Collection”