Here Today… Gone to Maui: Things to Like

The Historic Best Western Pioneer Inn, Lahaina
The Historic Best Western Pioneer Inn, Lahaina. No one could be seen in the upstairs area. It could BE haunted…

Okay – I was a teensy-weensy bit cranky about the Pioneer Inn.  I have stayed in WORSE places, of course (that hotel in Phoenix next to the truck stop with the staccato of high heels and the thump of heavy soled boots apparently plying a very old business on the outside stairwell all night long comes to mind right away). If you’re walking Lahaina, like we were, it IS in the MIDDLE of everything.  There’s a restaurant downstairs (Pioneer Inn Grill and Bar) that isn’t bad at all (and it’s even sweeter with the 15%-off coupon you can get at the hotel’s front desk IF you are staying there – good on food only – no discount for getting you drunk).

I was raised on sticky white steamed rice that is nowhere NEAR as good for your body as the nice brown rice Pony prefers – but it’s an option with the egg items on the breakfast menu (as is Portuguese sausage, also a favorite of the locals). Two eggs was enough for me – first day, it was two eggs that might have come from wild Molokai chickens (they’re kinda scrawny, if you didn’t read earlier postings, and I imagine their eggs are as well) – second day, Pony opined that it looked like they had used duck eggs (larger, I am told) – I thought I had mistakenly ordered three eggs. Pony had bacon, declared it to be too large a serving, and I thought it tasted delicious (little goes to waste around me).

We don’t remember SEEING the French toast on the menu, but if you’re starving, THAT’S the dish for you! Macadamia nut pancakes are on the menu as well – smelled good and seemed a generous portion as well.

Service was acceptable. I will admit that my evaluation of service IS influenced by the speed at which my coffee and water are refilled and acknowledge that I drink a lot of BOTH in a sitting… but if I have to wait for coffee or water… grrrrrrrr…

Out on the gritty streets:

Beautiful Maui Sunset. If you work hard, you can work around the sea of humanity trying to do the same thing.
Beautiful Maui Sunset. If you work hard, you can work around the sea of humanity trying to do the same thing you are.

There are several places on the shore side of Front Street that afford nice opportunities to view sunsets and view the water with Lanai on the other side of the channel the rest of the day. You will discover you are not the ONLY one who thinks this.  After six weeks on Molokai, that many humans crammed into the same place for the same thing actually sorta feels uncomfortable…

We decided to eat the first night in Maui (after walking around QUITE a bit to… ummm… familiarize ourselves with the area – as well as to give the recently-seasick some time to see if eating might still be a good idea) at the Cool Cat Cafe kitty-corner (unintentional joke there) from the hotel, because the dinner menu at the Pioneer Inn Bar and Grill didn’t have anything that seemed to appeal to the just-recently-seasick (and at island prices, you probably don’t want to invest a lot of money in something that won’t be… ummmm… sticking around to stick to your ribs).  The Cool Cat is NOT the jumping joint kitty-corner from the hotel that I mentioned in an earlier story – this place was somewhat quieter, nowhere near as jumping – and at least didn’t have a band playing that could be heard a block away (although the singer – apparently ANY type of song can be made “Hawaiian” if you strum a ukulele – ended his show with a slightly-uncomfortable reggae-Hawaiian piece about the restoration of native Hawaiian rights and culture – “uncomfortable” in that it made mention of the horrible things white man did to the place – and there weren’t a lot of native Hawaiians in the dining area – just mostly descendants of those white men that screwed the place up)(I absolutely believe in freedom of expression – just not as dinner entertainment).

Pony is a Cool Cat! Cafe overlooks Front Street.
Pony is a Cool Cat! Cafe overlooks Front St.

The Cool Cat Cafe’s menu says that it also has restaurants in Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, California.  I haven’t been EVERYWHERE in Pismo, but I’ve spent more than a few days in SLO – not EVERYWHERE, of course, but I don’t remember seeing THAT restaurant in either place. You CAN order a “Patsy Klein,” the house vegetarian sandwich on sourdough WITH a piece of REAL cow, if you like – which would be a “Marilyn Monroe,” except on sourdough and no Thousand Island dressing (the “Patsy Kline” also comes with a veggie-burger option, so I don’t know which way might be the “safer” way to order it if you wanted REAL beef on it – if a mistake was made and I got a veggie-burger, I’m not sure I would be able to tell). Unless you LIKE lettuce (like Pony), you may consider having it with no lettuce – it was kinda hard to shove into your face with the lettuce on top.

We went on the submarine ride.  This was not our first choice, but the “Reefdancer,” the glass-bottomed boat ride, was booked solid for the day (you can book on-line, although you have to call them to check for availability if you are asking less than 48-hours in advance).

I should mention at this point that an undersea adventure was NOT my idea, having SO under-enjoyed the boat ride over just the day before – but one of the things we DIDN’T do that Pony wanted to do was snorkeling (and Molokai is known for its nice coral reefs with abundant sea life that we could see literally jumping out of the water at insects in the evenings)(Hawaii is also home to nine species of “flying fish” and that’s interesting to watch).  I was even LESS-inclined to want to spend three TIMES as much for the “Atlantis,” but Pony didn’t get her snorkeling in, so…

Trog and Pony audition for "Avatar 2 - Under The Sea"
Trog and Pony audition for “Avatar 2 – Under The Sea”

So away we went on the “Atlantis,” an electric submarine. The entire event was nearly two hours, but half of THAT was GETTING to the submarine (although the ride back had a bonus – we went looking at a pod of dolphins out enjoying themselves).  The actual RIDE is 45-minutes. There was much to do and much to see – and you see different things – and you see them differently – at 130-ft below the surface. Less light penetrates to this depth – and your camera probably hates it. The iPhone camera does. The pictures left a lot to be desired – but then again, I paid it to be a smartphone, not my best camera – although I’m not sure my Nikon D800 would have done any better under these conditions (you COULD take flash pictures, but that would reflect off the very thick glass that is already under a lot of pressure to keep you from drowning).

But your eyes don’t have a problem – and we were seeing LOTS of fun things our pictures can’t show you 🙂 And this all made up for the fact Pony hadn’t been able to go snorkeling and look at sea life – and at a depth you CAN’T go snorkeling to 🙂

The nice guy at the tourist center was quick to point-out that claustrophobia isn’t a problem on this vessel, sensing my apprehension over the whole thing (that wasn’t the problem), and that you don’t feel the “motion of the ocean” (which I knew as well and that wasn’t the problem). He even said the short boat ride out there wasn’t a problem at all (and that wasn’t it either – meclizine is good for 24-hours – it was the PRICE!).  And the nice guy trying really hard at the tourist center was right about claustrophobia (I’m not, really, but I didn’t see any issues – unless you REALLY don’t do “underwater in tin can” well at all) and the only part you MIGHT get seasick IS the short ride out and back (or is that the meclizine still in me talking there?)…

…and this IS an important note as it wasn’t exactly SMOOTH sailing that day. Not bad and clearly I’ve been on worse. But we saw a LOT of folks topside on the “Reefdancer,” which sits on TOP of the water (and rocks WITH the “motion of the ocean”) than we saw when they were heading OUT. Some of them were small kids, so it wasn’t like they had gone out later with an exceptionally-large crew topside…

So given my tendency to become unhappy with things that rock in the waves, in the end, the submarine WAS a VERY good choice  – and fun. As was not being “green” when the whole thing was over. 🙂

Pony thought grabbing a quick “snack” before going to the luau might be a good idea, especially since it had a open bar. She fell for the “smiling nice person” trick outside of Kimo’s (this practice gives me the hives – obviously someone is PAYING this person and I think it’s reflected in the food prices – of course, my experience has generally been with swarthy, gregarious men in Europe who usually also have a stake in the place and MANY are the tales of a lad led astray into a bar by such men and tactics, so… however, this hawker was a not-unattractive woman), so into Kimo’s we went.

And, as usual, Pony made the right choice (she’s not perfect, of course – taking the ferry to Maui was HER idea, after all – although in the realm of “not-good ideas,” at least you can say I did it, at least). Kimo’s has a generous-sounding “happy hour,” but drinking was for later. They don’t actually have “small plate,” so we went with the nachos.  What we got was enough nachos to feed a family of four lunch (such that you would FEED kids nachos for lunch) for under $10. Pony thought the selection of cheese was nice (real cheese – not the pump-on type).  I thought the chips were a little on the “unremarkable” side (meaning I wasn’t sure they were done in-house or packaged and if they were done in-house, they were lacking in “something”), but good otherwise.  Meats cost extra – we skipped this because, well, we HAD planned to stuff our faces stupid later 🙂

Hawaii is crazy for Spam. I LIKE Spam - THIS, though, IS crazy...
Hawaii is crazy for Spam. I LIKE Spam – THIS, though, IS crazy…

So – full of chips, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, and more than a few jalapenos, we walked as much as we could, looking at all the little tourists shops along the way, to work-off the nachos…

…I wished it would have worked better – but in the end, perhaps it wasn’t so bad to NOT show-up starving to a luau… especially if you’re not particularly wild about fish…