Super Bowl Sunday is a much-anticipated opportunity to take a ride without dealing with traffic. Most everyone is sitting in front of a TV.
Pregame: Down Pulehu and over to Kihei. Usual amount of Sunday traffic on Mokulele Highway. Baby mutters along at about 50 mph. Cars zoom past at 20 mph above the speed limit.
Another cup of coffee needed. Stop at the Tesoro on Lipoa. Wonder what will happen when the oil company leaves the islands. The convenience store is busy. Mostly guys picking up ice and 12-packs of beer.
The sun is hot. Lash the jacket to the pillion seat. Feels strange to be riding wearing only a long-sleeved T-shirt. Piilani Highway another spot where the speed limit is treated as suggestion.
First quarter: Traffic definitely lighter. Head into Wailea. The resort is improbably lush. Remember when the area was nothing but slipper-piercing kiawe, sandy soil and a scramble of cockroaches at every step.
Resort managers say much of the irrigation water is supplied by brackish wells. Fact remains the resorts didn't get built until water was piped across the island from Waihee. Kihei-Wailea-Makena is officially classified as a desert due to an average yearly rainfall of fewer than 10 inches. Pass Wailea Beach, thinking about all-night parties. Spent more than one night sleeping on the sand, too stoned to ride home.
Go through the intersection of the road to Polo Beach. The coastline road was an adventure of deep holes, blind hillocks and clouds of dust bordered by beach houses built when all of Kihei's water came down from Kula through a 1-inch line.
Second quarter: Look sharp before hitting the Maui Prince, or whatever it's called today. Small green sign says "Makena Landing." Getting to the landing from the Wailea side proved baffling on a previous excursion.
The landing is a natural oasis below a cluster of high-buck houses. No longer pigs in the kiawe at the turn curling around the comfort station and boat ramp. The parking lot is a good place for a cigarette break.
Sit on the horizontal trunk of a kiawe felled by age and/or a storm surge. The water is clear and ruffled only a little by wind waves.
A group of scuba divers exit at the ramp and walk toward a pickup truck to dump their gear.
A same-age haole guy walks up and starts talking about Baby. "First CBR250R I've seen in the flesh," Ken says. We talk about the motorcycle's various attributes. He lives in Huelo and rides a big metric cruiser. Pleasant conversation ends with him saying, "Got to get back to the family." They are picnicking on the other side of the ramp.
Might as well go to the end of the road. A couple of roadside stands feature cold coconut milk. One has frozen chocolate-covered bananas. Hmmm. The main parking lot at Makena State Park is filled.
The only traffic appears to be timid tourist vehicles. Just inside the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve, the old houses have been replaced by impressive structures. Not many folks snorkeling at the boat ramp cove.
Out into the a'a fields. Turnouts have been blocked by boulders to keep guidebook tourists from tramping over the lava. It's slow going. The driver of a whale-sized van stops whenever there's on-coming traffic. Maybe she's intimidated by the roadside a'a. The road is more than wide enough for two cars to pass.
At La Perouse, a young Japanese couple get out of their rental. Honeymooners? She's carrying a tiny camera on a spindly tripod. Later watch her set up the camera, hit the timer and pose with hubby in front of the bay.
Fourth quarter: Fewer cars than normal on South Kihei Road. Make a stop at the Kihei Boat Ramp. A couple of boat trailers in the empty parking lot indicate fishermen still at sea. Two fishing boats are being hosed free of salt.
Kids are splashing around on the Wailea side of the ramp. Just above is a gated concrete drive. Sign says access denied by the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission. Turns out the driveway goes to a KIRC boathouse.
Clouds lower the temperature to a jacket level for the ride home. Traffic still lighter than normal. Two-thirds of the way up Pulehu, ride into a downpour. Even getting soaked, think "Great. We need the rain. Hope it gets over to home." It does.
This year's Super Bowl Sunday was as good as any, but it ended in a wash.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is email@example.com.