Maui Whale Festivities


Aloha from the winter home of the Humpbacks!

Guests from Alaska recently told me that their home, Alaska, was considered the kitchen to the Humpback whales, and our home, Hawaii, was considered their bedroom. The gentle giants come to the Hawaiian islands to birth their young, feed them, and mate again before heading back up to Alaska to eat krill, plankton and small fish.

For thirty years, the Pacific Whale Foundation has sponsored the "Maui Whale Festival." This festival is considered the longest running and largest festival celebration on Maui. Whale Day this year was held on the 20th of Feb, with a record number of people attending. The event was held at Kalama Park in Kihei with environmental displays, live entertainment with some of the great local talent, and ono restaurant food booths.

The celebration continues into next weekend with the 2010 Great Whale Count. The count begins at 8 am on Feb 27th, and runs until noon. Many volunteers in Hawaii participate in this event, "all hands on deck" to count the whales. Please contact the Pacific Whale Foundation to find out how you can participate. Great Whale Count 2009 logged in with 1,010 sightings. There are an estimated 10,000-15,000 Humpback whales world wide.

I am posting a couple of shots of the Whale Festival, some keiki (kid) fun, (what's a party without a blow up castle with a whale on top?). My friend, Mike Eilers, took these shots of the whales while diving in Tahiti. The calf and mother (below) is especially endearing. It is magical to watch the mother teaching her "baby" all the humpback antics. The mother and calf have a long lasting bond, with a calf nursing up to 100 lbs of mother's milk daily. This will fortify them for their long trip back to Alaska.


No matter how many times I see the whales splash, slap and breach, and how many times I hear their haunting melodies underwater, I'm still as excited as the first time around.

Come out, volunteer, count whales. You'll always remember the experience!


Malama Wao Akua 2009

Connie Adams painting in a Maui forest.

Aloha,

Recently, I had one of the best days I can remember. I had the great fortune of combining two of my favorite passions: art and nature.

The art was a plein air session with a wonderful watercolor teacher, Connie Adams. Connie helps me to loosen up, get bold and better understand the movement of paint and water. She is positive, a great teacher and alot of fun to work with.

Ferns in the forest on Maui HawaiiThe nature part of the day was sublime. I do not remember ever feeling as connected to nature as I did on this day. We were taken up into the Waikamoi Preserve with East Maui Watershed Partnership. Our lovely guide, Cat, was a fountain of knowledge. I was able to ask a lot of questions to identify plants and took notes as we hiked.

At one point, we all found our quiet zone to observe and experience the amazing native forests of Hawaii. I felt ancient, like I had gone back in time. Nothing else existed on this peaceful and sunny day in the forest of Old Hawaii. I heard and saw the Apapani bird flitting around in the Ohia trees with the forest floor covered in inches thick of brilliant colored moss. The only sounds were the buzzing of the insects and bird songs. This rich experience really brought home why so many folks dedicate themselves to protecting our forest preserves. I do understand this passion and want to do what I can to support these efforts.

Connie Adams, painting teacher and guide on Maui Hawaii Cherie next to a Koa Tree on Maui Hawaii

The East Maui Watershed Partnership sponsors an art show every year, the "Malama Wao Akua " show. It hangs at the wonderful Viewpoints Gallery in Makawao. The theme and subject matter is "the protection of Maui County's native species and native habitats from ridge to reef and the efforts to protect them."

I am inspired and have been working on a piece for a few weeks now. A small group of artists were taken up into the Waikamoi Preserve for inspiration and to experience the forest. I feel very grateful and privileged to have participated in this day.

Twin trees in the Maui forestThe native forests of Hawaii need our help and protection. Remember all the volunteer opportunities available to preserve our unique aina. Visitors to Hawaii will be able to go to places few can go in these environmental volunteer programs.

I hope to be able to go and paint in another special gem of Hawaii's flora and fauna this coming weekend.

Here's to finding your passion!!!, and making the most of it.........

Aloha for now,

Cherie

National Trail Day

The Maui trail clearing crew ready to go to work!
Aloha Trail Blazers!

The thrill and satisfaction from clearing an overgrown ancient fisherman's trail on National Trails Day is something I want to share today. Even though I have been off the beaten path most of my life, this was my favorite trail clearing experience.

On Saturday, four lucky Maui residents and one really lucky visitor, arrived at the trail head with our clippers, machetes and work gloves. Most of us are members of PATH, Public Access Trails Hawaii. The mission statement for PATH is to promote public access to historical, cultural and other trails in Hawaii through research, education and advocacy. Go to http://www.pathmaui.org/ to find out more.

Volunteer tourists and residents lend a hand clearing a trail on Maui, HawaiiMonica is really putting energy into this organization on Maui, and I am happy to lend a hand. I am all for restoring and recovering lost public trails.

Lucienne de Naie was leading the hike along the north shore and she had not been on that trail for a few years. From the looks of it, nobody had. After locating the overgrown trail, we hacked, clipped and cut our way down to the cliff's edge. We had a little break in the dry creek bed, at which point, CJ, the man with the machete, our hero throughout the day, scrambled up a steep hillside and found some trail remnants.

Hawaii voluntourist takes a break from trail clearing.Hardworking Lin Robbins from the great Northwest told us that this experience was the highlight of her visit to Maui. (Good on ya, Lin. It was a blast to share the day with you.)

We have many volunteer opportunities on Maui, please check my voluntourism page for more information.

We made it down to the beach after some hand over hand rope gripping, sliding on the slippery lauhala leaves. What a relief to sit on the beach in the shade watching the waves, scratched up, sweaty and content.

Hawaii vacation volunteers take a break by a swimming hole on the Maui shore.Lucienne honored us with a story about a fishing ohana who had lived in the valley we had just passed through. They had a very special bond with a shark that inhabited the bay. When I listen and look with my heart, my experiences are so rich. The entire day had many rewards.

We boulder-hopped our way down the beach to a spot where the waves gently spilled into a very large pool. It was a primordial sort of experience to crawl and float along the sides of cliffs until we reached the deeper water. We all rested and talked story in the water. Refreshed, we were ready to tackle the cliff and work our way back up towards the trail head.

Maui Hawaii volunteer tourist LynnThe picture of Lin smiling and sitting on the clean and cleared steps that we could not even find on the way down, sums it up.

Here's to volunteering while on vacation, or where you live.

Mahalo with Aloha,

Cherie