day 3 :
wednesday, 6 february
This morning we cut open our first Golden Glow mango of the trip. What a mango! These are entirely different than any mango we've ever eaten. Sweet and juicy, they taste perfectly tropical, with hints of coconut and floral notes. This was the beginning of our addiction for the trip. We returned to Yee's a number of times over the next week to restock our mango and pineapple supplies, and try other new-to-us fruits.
We got out the door as quickly as we could after breakfast so we could get to Puukolii for the first morning run of the Sugar Cane Train. On our way to the west side of the island, we saw several more rainbows, and it dawned on us why they are featured on the license plates here. Duh.
The steam train was used to haul crops of sugar cane from the fields to the mill, but production shut down in 1999. Now the train carries passenger of all ages on an hour and a half round trip between Puukolii and Lahaina. While there is a bit of nice scenery along the way, the draw here is learning about how the steam train works, so it's an experience best suited to train lovers.
So of course, this was the perfect thing to do with Ian. He was so excited about seeing the train as it started to approach the platform that he did his cute happy dance (running in place with arms pumping). As soon as it stopped, he rushed onto the train, with a grin from ear to ear. It was fascinating to see the tender get filled with water from the water tower at the first stop. We could see Ian connecting the dots in his head, since his toy train at home has a water tower, too.
We crossed a tall wooden trestle bridge, and as the train started across, it released the steam pressure that had built up from the hill climb, in a sudden loud rush of billowing steam out the sides of the engine. Then it chugged down the hill to Lahaina, where we got off briefly (you can stay longer in Lahaina if you wish) so they could turn the train around. This was accomplished by putting the engine on a turntable and then driving it on a parallel track to join up with the other end of the train. Very cool. Then we headed back the other way. We got to watch the engine switch again when it returned to Puukolii. Here, it unhooked and navigated some nearby track and a pair of switches to rejoin at the opposite end. Once again, it let out a rush of steam as it did so. All in all, it was a very fun trip for a train lover like Ian.
We drove back home, and Ian got to meet lizards for the first time. He learned quickly that he had to move slowly around them. He liked how they darted away so quickly, in small bursts, and then stood motionless. After chasing all of the lizards under the plants, it was time for nap.
Eric picked up plate lunches from the Kinaʻole Grill Food Truck just around the corner. The woman at the truck was really nice. She was both cooking the food and managing the till. She asked Eric if he lived on the islands, and when he said no, just visiting, she said he seemed like a local. We tried the crispy calamari with dynamite sauce, panko ahi with wasabi cream sauce, and chicken katsu with barbeque sauce. All were yummy, and the sauces were delicious. Our only quibble was that they were all prepared quite similarly, with a fried panko crust, so there wasn't enough variety in what we ordered (in spite of ordering half the menu). Since they were plate lunches, they came with the traditional Hawaiian sides of a scoop of white rice and mac and potato salad. The pasta was overcooked, so the salad was a little mushy, but nevertheless decent.
After Ian woke up, we hung out on the beach together, where Eric did some boogie boarding and Ian adjusted to the idea of getting even a little wet from the ocean. His mode for most of the trip was to run up the beach whenever a wave came within ten feet of him.
As we had been leaving for the beach earlier, our camera strap failed, dropping the camera lens-first onto the tile floor of our lanai. Oops. The UV filter shattered everywhere and it was impossible to twist it off the lens anymore. Luckily (and this is not the first time this has happened), the filter saved the much more expensive lens from getting damaged. On our way to dinner, we dropped the camera off at Lighthaus Camera, where they promised to get the filter off within a day.
The camera store was right next to Sushi Paradise, the restaurant we couldn't get into the evening before. As we sat down, the waitress/greeter warned us that things might take a while. When it only took her about 10 minutes to take our order, we thought, that wasn't so bad! What we didn't realize was that she meant the food itself would take a while. It took forever! We had arrived at 6 and somehow, Ian managed to patiently wait until after 7 for food. Multiple patrons, including one who stopped by our table as she left, along with the waitress, commented on how well behaved Ian was during the long dinner!
Long wait aside, the sushi was our favorite of the sushi places we tried in Maui, although not as good as our favorite sushi places in Seattle (I guess we're lucky). The starter was a ahi belly, cooked through, which is amazing with such a fatty cut. The nigiri was good and very fresh. The rolls we tried were just fine, but the handroll not so great, as it was huge and fell apart, and the nori wrapping it wasn't crisp. We really liked the Sho Chiku Bai nigori cremè de sake.
When we got back, the three of us stood on the beach looking at the stars and pointing out constellations with our super-strong laser pointer. Without light pollution, the number of stars we could see in every direction was incredible.