Do you sometimes think your tech device is getting to know you a little too well? Like freakishly so? This actually came across my mind on the last day of my latest travel adventure to Maui — one of the prettiest and relaxing places in the world. Trust me. On this particular visit, I found myself exploring the island alone (mostly), in a lovely SUV, with only my “Summer 2016 2” playlist to keep me company.
I love that Maui is such an accessible, easy to get around, island. It’s full of charming towns, unique terrain and chill people. It really is a great place to drive and get lost on your own. Picture it: you have the windows rolled down, salty air blowing through your hair, slowly nodding your noggin to a banger of a song, all while winding your way along the smoothest of roads. Ah bliss, she sighed.
And if you’ve driven Winnipeg roads, Hawai’i’s amazing road system will bring tears to your eyes. You will for sure have “does this vehicle have incredible suspension or can roads really be this smooth?” kind of thoughts.
Now, let’s get back to that playlist thing. My musical tastes are so random it hurts. One minute you could hear Neil Diamond belting about how good life is in blue jeans to Notorious B.I.G crooning about his money problems to Adele just saying… Hello (admit it, you just sang “hello” in your mind exactly like Adele does). Problem is, that type of playlist can dole out some real stinkers that don’t mesh with your driving vibe. It’s like when you’re making out and all of the sudden Jesus Take The Wheel comes on. 😳 Awkward. But this time, that “Summer 2016 2” list was pure gold. Gold, Jerry! So as I was cruising from place to place, here are the tunes that got my mind on the Maui and the Maui on my mind…
The Doobies sent me to Pāʻia
When those first few familiar notes of Listen to the Music begin, you know you’re in for a chill ride. And this is the most perfect song to play on the way to the hippie town, Paia. Like, this is a song by the DOOBIE Brothers. Not only are they the lords of Yacht Rock — the chillest music genre around — but they are literally named after a hippie’s favourite vice. 🌱🚬 So of course I hit repeat. Twice.
Once in hippie ville, I met up with my sis and bro (her hubby) to share lunch at the good karma restaurant, Flatbread Company. We sipped on salty margaritas and made sure to add plum tomatoes and Hawaiian goat cheese to our salad. Then we ordered the Mopsy, an incredible flatbread made with mango BBQ sauce and topped with Maui pineapple and kalua pork. Even though Mercury was in Retrograde (silly concept), these were all excellent decisions.
After lunch, I hit up Ho’okipa Beach Park hoping to catch a bit of surfing action. No go. Just rain and choppy waves. ☔️ 🌊
Feeling good, feeling fine, oh, baby, let the music play.
Chilliwack showed up in a flooded forest
There’s a spot in lower Papua Gulch that is home to a very cool little forest trail. It’s at the bottom of a big curve in the road. The trail has a small stream that inches alongside a short trail, under giant canopied trees, leading you to a (usually) great snorkeling spot in the Honolua Bay area. It’s also full of loud wildlife of the rooster kind. My sister Sherri and I did this little trek on a rainy morning. Most rainy days are lovely in Maui, except this particular one was a little on the dangerous side. Both of us were receiving super-loud flash flood alarms on our phone. No WiFi, no data, no worries, those alarms went off incessantly. Oh, and that small stream was actually gushing like a mofo, but it didn’t seem dangerous, just vocal. However, the amount of slick, crimson mud on the trail was dangerous to our cute sneakers. Utterly destroyed. Whoops.
As we drove away from our wet and muddy forest walk, ascending back up the Honolua Bay cliffs, the classic musical stylings of Chilliwack started blasting out My Girl. You know…the “gone gone gone, she been gone so long, she been gone gone gone so long” one? This is, and always will be, one of my sister’s favourite jams. It’s one of mine too. It was nice to share a moment listening to one of our fave songs together as we giddily explored West Maui. It was wet, we got muddy, we ruined our shoes, roosters yelled at us, sirens were going off on our phone, it was the best. 💚
Dolly took me Upcountry
On a day when I drove up the winding road from the north shore to Upcountry, the ultimate country song, Jolene, started its plaintiff wail. Country music is the rarest of the rare in my library, unless it’s by icons like Cash, Nelson or Raitt. But Jolene, oh Jolene, she’s a beauty of a song. It’s never left off the playlist. Dolly delivers it in her usual sweet way, but with a side of pleading sadness in her voice. Aside: if you have to beg Jolene to please not take your man, he’s probably not worth those words. Still, amazing song tho.
Maui’s Upcountry region, specifically the town of Makawao, calls to me every time I visit. Makawao is a small town that used to be full of paniolo (cowboys), but is now full of artisans and galleries, with my favourite gallery being Hot Island Glass. On my first visit, I found a wave there, which I adore. This time I found a little jellyfish ball. (And so help me, if the cat breaks it. shakes fist)
The best thing about this shop is that the glass artists work their magic right in front of you. I ended up sticking around for about an hour to watch them create a plate of many colours. The slow, constant, rhythmic movement of glass blowing is captivating. And just when you’re like, “What are they even making here?” they spin their glowing orb like a top and that blob of hot molten glass erupts into a glorious thing of beauty. Skills for days.
Beyoncé crooned on the way to Honolua Bay
“I’m swerving on that, swerving, swerving on that Honoapiʻilani Hwy, been spying all this swerve and surfing, it’s all good, good. Surfboard, surfboard.” Ok, so those aren’t exactly the words to Beyoncé’s Drunk in Love, and that whole surfboard thing meant something completely different, but on my third trip up to Honolua Bay to catch some wave riding (the first two were a bust), that song came on and it was a perfect fit. Kind of, right? No? Anyways, as I was looking out at the wave riders, I couldn’t help but think “How the hell did this surf happen? Beautiful bodies grinding off that wave. They’re drunk in love.” 🌊🏄
Salt-N-Pepa pushed us to the lava fields
My friend “Angry Greg” loves Maui, so much so that the angry goes away and he just becomes good ol’ Greg when he gets to the island. And his first stop every time he arrives is to the lava fields on the very end of the south shore. He literally says, “Going to Maui? Gotta hit up those lava fields first. They set the tone for your entire trip.” This time, I didn’t visit the fields (and Big Beach — it’s on the way) until the fourth day in. Hmm, maybe that’s why it rained for three days when I got there?! That Angry Greg, truth speaker.
My lovely sister-in-law Kyla joined me on our ride to the rocky south. She’s an absolute hoot to travel with and gung-ho to try just about anything. On our ride, Salt-N-Pepa started playing and their fierce, carefree, unapologetic style are Kyla to a tee. We had a blast touring together, watching kids shore surf at Big Beach, noshing on mahi mahi at a food truck and finally setting foot at those lava fields. The day was scorching hot once we arrived at the fields and the sun stayed out the rest of the trip. So, lava fields first, duly noted.
Here I go, here I go, here I go again. Girls, what’s my weakness? Maui! and men.
Chance praises took me to a Haleakala high
I’m not a very religious gal, but as I was climbing the zig-zagging Haleakala highway, up through the clouds, Chance the Rapper’s gospel-rap song Blessings washed over me like a warm ocean wave. There are two verses in his serenade to the big guy that really resonate with me: “When the praises go up, the blessings come down,” and “I know the difference between blessings and worldly possessions.” I’m not sure you need to be a full believer to be on board with that kind of thinking. There’s not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for the good things that have come my way or know that possessions cannot hold a candle to experiences or relationships. Amen.
And ascending to the top of Haleakala was definitely a blessing. Especially because, unlike last time, I could actually see stuff. When we trekked to it in 2015, our experience was less Graceland and more Life on Mars. We arrived in a dust storm, got out of the car, almost got swept away, got into the car, left. This time it was the complete opposite, the views went on for days and there’s not many things cooler than looking down at clouds.
On my way down the mountain, as the sun started to dip and the light began to burn gold over the rolling hills, It Was A Good Day started playing. “I looked up in my mirror, saw that there was not another car in sight, so I jacked up the volume and everything was allll-right.” 😎
Rockers took us on a crazy road to Hana
The song that played (via my bro’s list) for us on the road to Hana that we all remember? Balls to the Wall… of course. Hey, they’re not all going to be appropriate to the destination. Or are they? If you’ve never been on the road to Hana, you have no idea how crazy it is. The road has over 600 curves and 50 one-lane bridges that were all built in 1910. So yeah, you could say it was a Balls to the Wall kind of adventure.
Bob Marley sent me home
By the time my adventure was over, I was starting to think the sounds that accompanied me on all my adventures were just too perfect to be true. AND THEN SATISFY MY SOUL DRIFTED THROUGH THE SPEAKERS. I was literally on the highway cruising away from Lahaina and towards the south shore (and ultimately the airport) when this classic reggae song came on. This is one of Marley’s songs that rarely makes the playlist cut — consider it an over-listen in the 90’s — but it somehow made it on the “Summer 2016 2” list and it definitely knew when to show up. Listening to this lulling song literally brought tears to my eyes as I slowly wound my way down the Honoapiʻilani Hwy, spying whale blowhole sprays off in the distance and people paddle boarding along the shores.
Oh, and the song that came on immediately after this one? That would be Coolio’s Fantastic Voyage. It’s like my music library was forcing me to start reminiscing about my fantastic voyage before I even left. It worked.
“Oh, can’t you see what you’ve done for me! I am happy inside all – all of the time.”