A couple days after the GBES adventure, Jessica and I left to attend Kris's wedding in Maui. We arrived at lunchtime amidst a torrent of rain, weather that happily did not return that week. We hung around Kahului, waiting to pick up the parents and brother from their later flight. The rain kept us inside the rental car, so we drove around the very unscenic airport area, stopping briefly to check out a beach that surprisingly had some sea turtles doing the egg laying thing.
Later on that night we made it to the awesome house in the hills above Lahaina. Having a 07:30 dive trip the next day, we hit the sack early.
Time zones worked well for us and we showed up in plenty of time for the Maui Dive Shop charter. It was a pretty full boat, meaning lots of divers and a rather extensive check in. The boat ride out to Molokini brought an unexpected surprise - it was (humpback) whale breeding/calving season. This was apparently known to everyone in the world except me. And there weren't just a few, looking at the Haleakala silhouette against the sunrise we could make out a spout, a tail, or a breaching whale at intervals of mere seconds.
The dives were pretty standard - warm water, no thermocline, lots of fish/eels/lobsters. I was kind of hoping for a bit more from the Molokini backwall, though maybe more vis would have helped. Also there wasn't much of a drift - I actually had to put work into the dive. That said, hearing the whales underwater made for an amazing soundtrack.
That night after wanting desparately to fall asleep in the early evening I drove back into Kahalui to pick up Jon and Tori.
Thursday was the wedding - a cozy beach affair down near Wailea. After that we had a little bit of time before the afternoon reception/cruise kicked off, so we posted up at Beach Bums BBQ at Maalaea Harbor. It looked pretty tourist trappy, but had amazing pulled pork fries.
After appetizers, we enjoyed the chartered snorkel and whale watch followed by an afterparty at the Lahaina house.
Friday morning was pretty lazy, we just had to make our 11:30 reservation at Mama's Fish House. From there we headed up Haleakala because I said it was super friggin epic. Of course it was cloudy, cold, and rainy so everyone got mad at me. Still, the views in the clouds and on the drive down were pretty good. Also snow!
We stopped by a distillery on our way back. Though we missed the last tour, they had a nice lawn with a soccer ball.
Jessica had booked us a dedicated whale watching trip on Saturday morning out of Lahaina. We were pretty happy to not have to drive around the island for this one although I thought I'd seen my share of whales. Being a super-touristy affair, this one had the nicest boat and those cool catamaran nets to sit on. This one even had a "whale expert" that had to narrate the whole journey, he made hearing my third boat safety briefing in four days seem pleasant by comparison.
Needless to say, the captain quickly spotted a mother and calf (and vice versa). We motored over to them and cut the engines. The whales were curious enough to swim around and underneath the boat, giving us some spectacular views.
Chrissy and I had been on a mission to play some volleyball, so that afternoon Saturday we made the journey to check out each of the Kamaole beach parks for a volleyball court rumored on the Internet. As we were about to give up, we found the court at Kam I. We got a couple of games in before the locals showed up and politely asked to challenge. We considered trying to defend, but since they ended up playing 5-on-5 it's probably better that we opted to do some ocean time.
Sunday, Jon and I rented gear from Maui Diving in Lahaina, and then Snorkel Bob's since the other place was out of dive flags. Our first shore dive was Mala Pier, a fairly shallow trip down the semi-artificial reef created by the ruined pier. They were quite a few turtles and the usual reef fare. The collapsed pylons form quite a few swim-throughs that Jon took full advantage of.
Adding this to the list of underwater housing issues: when a control arm switches focus to manual during assembly. Ugh.
After Mala, we drove a few miles south to the ruins of a military base near Leoda's pie shop. The kick out was a bit treacherous as there was shallow reef pretty much everywhere, and a rocky entry onto waves everywhere else. Rather than follow the reef, we headed outward down the sandy ledge that dropped to 60' and kept going. Instead of the fish skyscrapers of the pier, we had little suburb outcroppings of coral in the sand. And again, lots of whalesong.
Monday morning we headed up to the touristy but nice Napili cove. Regrettably, Tori and Chrissy rented SUPs to mix in with the snorkeling and swimming. After a few hours of water time, we stopped by Kohola brewery for some ales and the meme version of Cards Against Humanity. Then burgers at the house with the newlyweds and family.
Tuesday morning I got my last swim in, then we headed back to the airport with a brief stop at Da Kitchen for insanely large portions of fried spam and katsu chicken and ramen.
Jon made a video, I've rehosted it with the audio track removed (so watch this while humming Here Comes the Sun):
The weekend after skiing was the monthly-ish Gentleman's Beer Exploration Society event. Lead Explorer, Derrick, put together a serious expedition across an unexplored, primal canyon. The event included a hiking segment, an electric scooter segment, and a Lyft segment. Several days of rain put the expedition in peril, but at the last minute we decided to go for it.
When we met at Derrick's place at the appointed time, he had already rounded up the Lime scooters for us. I can honestly say that those things are deathtraps - it's no wonder Jessica had so many scooter-related ICU patients. They're pretty quick, the brakes are garbage, the wheels are tiny, and the suspension bottoms out when you look at it wrong. But gentleman explorers are masters of primitive transportation and so we made it to the trailhead without incident.
The next segment consisted of a trek across the canyon, over not-entirely-established routes. Taking rock washes instead of switch backs, we made extremely good time and were soon at the raging Penasquitos Creek.
The river crossing was our most hazardous endeavor yet. If not for superior outdoorsmanship, we might have fallen in or been eaten by crocodiles.
The route took us down the creek where the Miramesa waterfall that was raging in its fullest glory - brown water and swirling foam.
Next came the simple, but ardous task of ascending into the tract homes of Carmel Mountain Valley Ranch Mesa Highlands or whatever.
At last we reached Mason Aleworks and enjoyed good food and drink. The rain was beginning to come down as we grabbed a Lyft back. Instead of heading directly to Derrick's, we stopped back at our trusty scooters and rode them the final mile.
And so we completed our most ambitious expedition yet, without a trip to the ICU or incident of any kind.
... well except for the gentlemen that needed steroids for the poison oak.
Friday, Derrick and I caught a flight up to PDX where Jon and Arthur picked us up for the snowy drive up the mountain.
We didn't get an early start on Saturday, so after initially aiming for Mt. Hood Meadows, we audibled to the lower, closer, smaller Ski Bowl. It was good enough for a warmup day, but its handful of old-style slow lifts wasn't ideal. Their peak did have some challenging features though.
Of course skiing with three slowboarders means watching a lot of sitting and clicking. Zzzzz.
I was excited to see the difference a flash bracket would make for ski photography. The bracket itself made for an easier grip in challenging conditions. Having a good, off camera flash made for good fill lighting in a very high contrast environment. Shooting at sync speed and below made for a little background motion blur.
I begrudgingly went with area autofocus. Trying to aim down the sights in irregular slope conditions, with goggles, in weather simply was not possible. And, simply, shooting is just something to do with my hands, it's not meant to take away from the fun of skiing.
Happily, area focus works better in snowy areas than many other places. Framing was still a crap shoot, of course.
The light snow in the morning gave way to a steady breeze with clear skies. The trees were so caked with snow, however, that they created their own snowfall.
The ski area didn't have a ton of off-piste, but I did find a rock for Jon to slide down.
Hot tub, sauna, tasty food, and a HOPR after.
Then back to the condo for Monopoly and poker.
Sunday we woke up plenty early and headed to Timberline - a larger, higher resort with a deeper base. The day started with clear skies but temperatures in the teens.
We took the lift above the treeline as the weather began to roll in. The completely open ski area was cool to look at. On the downside, it's not particularly steep and the cold winds made it fairly icy even with the fresh snowfall.
Farther down, however, there are some nice tree and gully runs. By noon the weather settled in with light snowfall and gusty winds. It was unpleasant enough to drive away what small crowds had showed up.
Monday we flew back. A little while after, Jon made a video: