The skies were swept clean by a wind that made trees bow and cats run for cover. Once ensconced, the felines could use whiskers and noses to keep track of the world around them. The trees were cleaned of trash but suffered no real damage. Months of drought had cemented their roots.
The wind continued in Waiakoa all day. This was no gentle breeze, but a gusty, gale-force torrent that turned the old-fashion, loosely hung sliding garage door into a bass drum. Coming up on the sunset, the trees stopped whipping and the cats checked out the yard.
A planned trip to the Makena end of Wailea would take longer than I cared to be caged, cut off from the elements and a true appreciation of Maui. The two-wheel alternative to the truck meant checking the weather. Never mind the forecasts. Just take a look.
Skies overhead were clear. Downcountry was shrouded. A thick carpet of wet-looking clouds ran from Kahului to Kihei. The wind in Waiakoa had abated but might pick up again. Hmmm.
Clouds began to drift across Kula. Later, they would get lazy. For now there was no need for the windshield wipers between home and Pulehu Road. Before Haleakala Highway was built in the mid 1930s, Pulehu was the most direct route from Wailuku to Kula. Its age also determined its character. Horse-drawn wagons and underpowered trucks couldn't go straight up and grading was less expensive than filling in holes.
Recently repaved and widened by the county, Pulehu is a delight to ride - a scrawl of asphalt with no side roads. It's even fun to drive. Down around the Kula Agricultural Park, the wipers were flipped to hesitation mode. You could almost hear the kiawe scrub pastures sighing in relief.
The rain more or less ended down near the Central Maui Landfill and there was evidence the clouds may have exhausted their cargo. A thought flickers. Anytime a Maui road runs below the level of fields, there is always the possibility of ponding. That was the reason for raising the level of Mokulele Highway. When the old road flooded, drivers had to take a bypass running behind the Maui Humane Society.
Ease up and peer through the gathering darkness. It's hard to read the road ahead. There are remnants of muddy runoff nearly everywhere. The glare of oncoming headlights obscured the road. An appreciation of white stripes on the edge grew. There weren't any.
Steer tentatively toward the gravel shoulder. Whoops! The steering wheel jerked right when the tires plunged into a rivulet. Rocks chattered against the underside of the truck. Gently guide the vehicle back on the road. Only seconds passed before a big vehicle sped by in the opposite lane, whipping up a wave of dirty, stone-studded water.
The wave swept over the truck. The windshield was opaque. Quick! Wipers! Relax. One swipe and the wipers made it possible to see again. There was no more rain until almost to Kihei, technically a desert since it gets an average of less than 10 inches of rain a year.
It was full dark. Let the other drivers roar along Piilani Highway. There's a longish gap ahead and another behind. Watch an SUV make a right-hand turn onto the highway from Lipoa. There's a second SUV ready to do the same. It sat. I watched. Within yards of the green light, the second SUV pulls out, apparently headed for the inside lane.
Yikes! There was no hope of braking, Without checking the inside lane, the steering wheel was wrenched left. Whew! Inches to spare. Settle into a sedate pace. The other driver followed at a distance. Chagrined?
At the entrance to Wailea, a serious rain turned into a soaking mist. It was light enough to allow a slow walk from the parking lot up to Mulligans On The Blue.
Inside, the jazz-standards-dance duo of Joyce and Gordo has become a trio with the addition of Jimmy C. Joyce sings and plays piano; husband Gordo plays clarinet, saxophone and standup bass; Jimmy drums and sings - three pros who have been performing for decades. Very agreeable.
Stars glistened during the drive home. Maui's air is never any cleaner than right after a rain. Up old friend Pulehu. The ponds were gone but there was still one more hazard to face. At the intersection with Holopuni, those lazy clouds made their presence visible. The fog wasn't that bad. You could still see the sides of the road all the way home.
On Maui, adventures - and pleasures - are where and when you find them. I'm glad I didn't take the motorcycle.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.