Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Grand Rounds! Bamboo! Dolphins!

In Which We Announce This Week's Edition of Grand Rounds

This week's Grand Rounds is up, hosted by Dr. Samuel Blackman. I'm truly honored that he not only included the post I sent him, but said lovely things about my blog and then included a second post I hadn't even submitted. Thank you very much, Dr. Blackman!

In Which We Correct An Earlier Error

My post on Sunday said that we'd be returning next Sunday, but in fact, it will be next Saturday. I love Maui so much that I extended our stay by a day. Talk about Freudian slips!

In Which We Hike Through the Rain Forest

Yesterday, Gary and I hiked four miles through the rain forest, two miles up to a 200-foot waterfall and two miles down again. He's a much better hiker than I am, and this was a tricky trail: muddy and often fairly steep, with very uneven footing (lots of rocks and roots). We also had to forge a stream, across slippery rocks, in two places, although we fairly quickly hit on the idea of just wading through instead.

I did much better than I've done on hikes before, probably because I've been working out so regularly at home. I did manage to jam an ankle (which is fine and didn't even bruise) and bash my forehead on a low tree branch (again, no consequences), but I never fell. For me, this is a big deal.

The most beautiful part of that hike wasn't even the waterfall: it was walking through the bamboo forest. The park had put down wooden boardwalks, so the footing was easy there, and the bamboo was incredibly beautiful, rising yards above us with sunlight filtering dimly through it. It felt like being in a cathedral. When the wind blew, the bamboo stalks clacked against each other, making an eerie chattering. I felt like I was on another planet.

After the hike, my clumsiness continued: we went to another park where I swam briefly under two waterfalls, but also managed to fall and scrape my leg (again, nothing serious). Later, at dinner, I was pouring some olive oil onto my bread plate when the whole top came off; I righted the bottle before the oil overflowed onto the table, but everybody was teasing me for yet another mishap. Luckily, I managed not to spill olive oil all over our friend's new silk Hawaiian shirt!

In Which We Enjoy a Fabulous Whalewatch

Today we went on a Pacific Whale Foundation whalewatch out of LaHaina (we'll be doing another tomorrow). We saw lots of humpback activity: two juveniles playing, some bottlenose dolphins playing with the whales, and a pod consisting of a cow, a calf, and two whales. We saw lots of tails from diving whales, although there were no breaches as spectacular as the one we saw last year, when a cow breached and then her calf breached six times in quick succession. ("Look, ma! I can do it too!")

One young whale swam so close to us, maybe 75 feet, that we were being held captive, because the boat can't run its engines when a whale's that close. (Research vessels can get closer, but everybody else has to stay 100 feet away.) But the most magical thing happened when we were heading back, already late, to the wharf: we were suddenly in the middle of a group of five or six hundred Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins. The naturalists on the boats were going nuts, because they rarely see groups of more than twenty of these animals. Gary and our friends and I were right against the rail in the bow of the boat, and we could at least twenty dolphins directly under us, racing the boat and each other, periodically leaping into the air. You could tell they were out there just having fun! One dolphin, a few yards ahead of us, turned on its back and slapped the water with its tail.

I think dolphins are probably the most graceful animals alive, and seeing so many of them was an incredible thrill. I wonder what we'll see on tomorrow's whalewatch? Even if we see no animals at all, even if we only get a beautiful boat ride, we'll have considered our whalewatch money well spent.

And on Thursday, we get to snorkle! Gary and I really psyched about this; we both have horrible eyes, but it turns out that the snorkle place has optometric masks. I'm sure they can't correct for our astigmatism, but at least we'll be able to see more clearly than we would have otherwise.

And if I actually get to swim with sea turtles, I'll be ecstatic.


  1. Hi Susan. Your experiences sound awesome. Especially the bamboo and the dolphins! Suggestion, why not get some bamboo wind chimes so that you can have that wonderful sound at home to remind you?

    Peace & Joy!

  2. Nothing can compare with being that close to nature! I was thinking how happy a Panda would be in the bamboo forest with you. And the whale and dolphin encounters. I cannot imagine....

    Your vacation sounds wonderful. I hope to see pictures when you return.


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