Sunday, July 3, 2016

Day Four Maui: Stranded during a Maui Disaster

It's now our Day 4 and today's plan included a day over on West Maui. After a long day over in Hana, we decided to just take it slow today. 

Malasada mornings
I got up at 5am, and I worked on my blog from the day before. By 5:30am, Ethan also got up and reminded me, "Dad, you gotta wake up Evan so you can get your malasadas." Hahahahaha sure! How convenient for Ethan to use his brother as the reason to go get malasadas. By 6am, I woke up Evan, and all I had to say was "malasadas" and he got up so quickly and was ready to go. We opted for nearby Home Maid Cafe in Kihei. We've become a familiar face to them. The guy who cooks greeted me with, "you're back!" 

No Itinerary
We headed home directly after ordering our malasadas. We left the condo close to 10am and we headed towards Lahaina. Again, the plan is let's see where the day takes us. The drive was oh so beautiful. It was a bit windy, and already hot at 10am. We stopped at the factory outlet in Lahaina and bought a few clothes for us to wear later this visit. It was close to 12 noon when we finished shopping and we decided to go to Local Food, a little stall not too far from the outlet.The kids ordered Shoyu Chicken, while I ordered Kalua Pork with Cabbage. That was so delicious. Why I've never cooked with cabbage is beyond me. I've got to incorporate that in my next home cooked meal. The pork was so flavorful and the cabbage had a great bite. We sat and ate right in front of the store, and with the heat and everything, we just had to order their Shave Ice and Halo Halo.



Ok it was time to get in the water. I wanted to take us all to a new beach so we went to Napili Bay. We had our boogie board, but Napili is known for snorkeling for beginners. It's got a nice cove, reminded me of our stay in Disney Aulani a few years ago.
Napili Bay


Since we didn't bring our snorkeling gear, the kids asked that we go to a beach with more waves. We tried to go to a couple of local beaches near Kaanapali, but the waves didn't compare to what we've had in Kihei. By 2:00pm, we decided to go to Lahaina and we walked around Front Street. Again, it was hot and we found ourselves at Ululani's for shave ice. Shortly after that, we started to miss our "home" beach, and we decided to head home and swim in Kihei.



















Maui Brush Fire
We left Lahaina and once we got on the highway, after driving no more than a mile, we hit bumper to bumper traffic. No signs of any accident or anything. There were also no cars traveling in the opposite direction. Little by little, the cars in front of us decided to leave and turned around and back the opposite way. We had no phone signal. I couldn't get on the Internet. I didn't know the local radio news station so I didn't know where to tune in. Since we were on a dead stop, I asked one of the parked vehicles what was going on, and she said there was a fire on the highway and that cars were not allowed to pass. 

Adapting to disaster
Not knowing the extent of the fire, we decided to turn around and head back to Kaanapali. We spent a couple of hours at Black Rock and swam our hearts out. Our cell phone reception was spotty. By 6pm, I checked Tripadvisor, and AkamaiNick4SW posted the following:

This started several hours ago, after a different fire in the area late last night. Be advised that at this time, the road between the Kihei Junction and Lahaina are still CLOSED. The back road (Kahekili) is also CLOSED.

If you are on the West side, plan on staying, possibly as long as overnight. There's no way to predict this because of the high winds on the Pali and the huge amount of fuel for the fire.

If you are supposed to fly out, contact your airline and your hotel or condo manager. If you hustle, you could catch a flight out of Kapalua before the last one.

Power has gone in and out for many areas; I lost most of mine for about 30 minutes, then got it all back. Some areas are still out.


My immediate reaction was not to panic, but it was more of thinking through as what are we going to do, where are we going to sleep? Accommodation wise, I have points that I can easily use at the Hyatt or Marriott (there are 2 properties on this side of the island).  It would be strange to use those points on an "emergency" situation. The issue? We couldn't make phone calls. At 7pm, we also haven't fully showered since we planned on heading home and showering at home. So we stopped at a local beach and showered outside. It was already getting dark at that time, therefore, it wasn't as hot anymore. Showering outside while windy, and using cold water was not the easiest thing. But we had to clean ourselves from swimming today. 

We headed further West, hoping we'd get phone signal but to no avail. We found ourselves at a Local L&L and had dinner, talked with other locals, and tried to get tips. No one could give me a radio station to listen to, but one of them said to try 99.9 FM. One of them also said that the back roads were open, and that they were letting cars through. Their landline was down. I was hoping to call the Hyatt or Marriott. Those were the only hotels that were available for me to use on this side of the island. Again, I was hesitant of staying there. You can imagine that they charge a lot of points, but we might have to stay there if we had no other choice. 


By 8:00pm, we went back in the car, tuned in to 99.9 FM and it wasn’t really a "news" station. It was playing Top 40 songs....great. But for some odd reason, 5 minutes after we started to drive, there was a public service announcement that informed us that the highway has been opened. At this time, we still had no idea how big of a fire this was...no clue. We decided to gas up the SUV and then we made our way home. We were on the road by 8:15....not for long. After a mile of driving past Lahaina, we hit a dead stop again. If ever we moved, we moved at a snail's pace. It was so bad that whenever we moved a few feet, I had to turn off the ignition and the headlights. I didn't know how long we'd be crawling. 

Again, no phone signal. Nothing. I was also feeling very tired but I didn't want to give up. Everytime I turned off the ignition, I'd close my eyes and would get startled when I heard other engines. That's what happened for 3 hours. We must have crawled no more than a mile or 2. The kids had fallen asleep by this time. By 11pm, we finally picked up our drive. We were running 30 mph and kept driving. Suddenly, we saw the flames on the mountain side of the highway....lots of them. And that kept going on for miles. Although our windows were rolled up, the smell of the fire still penetrated through our vehicle. 



It must have been at least 10-15 miles of burnt damage. The fire even hopped over the highway. There were burning flames on the seaside. All in all, it took us 4 hours to get home (a drive that would've normally been 40 minutes). Thankfully, we all made it safely to Kihei by 12:30am.

This was AkamaiNick4SW's update today about the fire:

This fire burned 6000 acres in less than 6 hours, which should given folks an idea of how fast it was. It jumped the Pali Ridge in a matter of 3 1/2 hours. Luckily, no injuries and no lost houses so far.

We're just glad that we made it home safely. Otherwise we might have been stuck in Kaanapali for an extra day, something we didn't really plan for at all.


This is all for now. Mahalo for following our journey.

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