The original plan was to ride Baby up Crater Road to a spot where the whole island could be seen in the light of Mahina Piha. A quick check showed a band of clouds up around the 6,000-foot level. Hmmm. There might be clear sky above those clouds, but it would be something of a crapshoot.
The plan was also torpedoed by a lack of endurance. Eyelids drooped long before Mahina would be overhead, even though she rose at 5:51 p.m. Tuesday on the official first phase, and at 6:28 p.m. Wednesday, according to those who should know.
Backup plan: Go downhill and watch Mahina Piha's transit from McGregor Point. That should work since Mahina was painting Auau Channel with a wash of moonlight.
Around 11 p.m., Baby was fired up and headed west. Once out of town, traffic was light. There was no problem finding a space in the oncoming highway traffic. Baby was wheeled onto McGregor Point. Mahina made a magic bridge across the water toward her destination on a horizon between Lanai and Maui.
Two cars sat near the Maalaea-side beach. Two heads in each of the cars. They used to call it watching submarine races. Maybe youngsters looking for a little privacy still do. Never mind. Gaze at the ocean from a spot not far from a memorial to the Norwegians who were brought from their frigid homes to help build the plantations.
Interesting spot, McGregor Point, allegedly named for a captain who sailed his ship into the shallow bay on the Olowalu side of the point. He was looking for shelter from a storm. Much later, a wharf was built on the east side of the little bay. At least one kamaaina remembers her mother saying she was picked up by a sturdy Hawaiian and handed down to another kanaka on an interisland boat. Divers still can find the concrete pilings that held up the wharf. They lie on a sandy bottom - so many Brobdinagian pickup sticks. There are iron fittings studding the rock above the landing site.
It's a good dive spot if you don't mind coming out the water in seal fashion, launching yourself into a slide across a slippery ledge. Full moon nights are tailor made for diving the critter-rich outside reef. New moon nights could be fraught.
One old-timer tells about a black night when he and a buddy were diving off McGregor Point. They were young and very much at home in the ocean. They were using ordinary flashlights "water proofed" by tire tubes from a Model T. The lights succumbed to the sea.
They came up and looked around. Nothing. Just blackness. Which way was the shore? A nearly vacant Kihei was no help. They were kept in the dark until a rare car came down Honoapiilani Highway. The headlights showed the way home. Whew!
It wouldn't have been a problem a night ago during the second of what pre-contact Hawaiians consider four full moons. Mahina Piha, also called Mahina Poepoe, would have lit the way.
Hawaiians were very much in tune with the phases of the moon. They used a 28-day lunar calendar, and the moon determined what activities were favored.
The first night of the full moon was called Hua. It was a night dedicated to Lono. It signaled a time for planting and fishing.
The second night was Akua, which can be translated as god, goddess, corpse, devil and idol. Offerings were often made to the gods and demigods who walked the Earth. It was a good night for fishing.
The third night was Hoku, believed to be the fullest moon. This was a good time for beginning any crops planted in rows. In Western terms, during this month that would have been Oct. 11.
The fourth and last night of the full moon was referred to as Mahealani, a time good for all types of work, planting and fishing.
All four nights are good for riding a motorcycle. The wind is down. The traffic is light. It's almost possible to ride without a headlight. But . . . moonlight shadows are as dark as dark can be. It can get very spooky.
The ride home was tranquil. Mahina's face was periodically veiled by clouds. Even then, the strength of the moonlight made her shroud glow.
Astronomers say this latest full moon appears to be the smallest of the year. That's because its orbit is sending it the farthest from Earth. The biggest full moons won't be around until next March.
Even something less than a full moon can still turn the island into a silvered wonderland. It's one of Maui's joys. On or off a motorcycle.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.