Part 2: In which I survive a harrowing car ride, and eat a frozen treat.
Have you been to Maui? It’s a little good, and a little strange. We will explore both.
The mountains (volcanoes/craters) are generally in the center of the islands, and for the most part, the highways and roads make their way around the mountains. That means you get a nice view of the ocean when you’re driving just about anywhere. Oh, it also means that sometimes, you’re driving on a one lane road next to a steep cliff that drops down to the ocean. Ha Ha, Adventure! This is really fun for anyone who’s not particularly into ensuring the continuing natural function of their organs/generally living. On one of the particularly bad roads, luckily for us all, was a population of Schiedea globosa. This means I got to spend a day trying to collect plants from the side of a one lane road, while tourists unaccustomed to mountain cliff driving attempted to avoid killing us, hitting an oncoming car, or driving off the side of the cliff. I’m starting to think I did something long ago to dishonor this plant’s family, and now it’s getting its revenge. On the plus side, after climbing up a steep cliff with unstable soil and thorny shrubs, we got to a little point where we could watch whales spouting in the ocean while we were collecting. Turns out, it’s whale birthing season! That’s right, this is the time of year when humpbacks journey from Alaska to Hawaii to welcome their babies into warm, paradise-like waters. Only to force them to swim back up to Alaska afterwards in a painful tradition comparable to spending the better part of 24 years in the Midwest. I kid. But seriously, every time I’m starting to attribute malicious, humanoid characteristics to the landscape, Hawaii does something that makes my heart melt.
Example: I finally got Hawaiian shave ice. But Megan, you say, Hawaiian shave ice is available everywhere! You can drive to Loveland and get it! Ah, you would be right. But the shave ice here, it is an entirely different animal. For starters, they will put a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of your shave ice cup. Ice cream! Like macadamia nut or coconut pudding ice cream! Then the ice goes on top, and it’s topped by fresh fruit purees (like mango puree made from the FREE MANGOES LITERALLY LYING ON THE GROUND). As if that weren’t enough, you can also get a snow cap, which is a sweetened condensed milk mixture that goes on top. It’s how they get mainlanders to relocate permanently to the islands! No, not the beaches, stupid, it’s the shave ice.
Ok ok, you’re jelly. I can tell. Let’s keep it real. We go to another field site, which is a whopper. It’s off a little dirt road that we can’t access with our rental PT Cruiser (-___-), so we hop in the back of the land manager’s pickup truck to get there. On the way, there is a seemingly non-functional farm with one lazy goat (aren’t they all, amirite? JUST KIDDING GOAT LOBBY), a pack of peacocks, and a baby cow that gallops around playing with its best friend, a dog (;___;). An assortment of animals that are entirely useful, I’m sure. Also we have to cross a river. I couldn’t find any hiking sandals in Ohio before I left, so I got to cross the river in my waterproof hiking boots. Which worked great until my boots were submerged and the water was trapped inside the boot. All day. Curse you, past Megan!
Ok, so we get to the field site after all that, and the whole population has apparently slid off the cliff into the ocean. Hawaii is made of shield volcanoes (no, trust me, that’s incredibly geologically accurate), that have really unstable cliffs that often slide into the ocean. On the plus side, that was our last group of plants, and here we were in Maui for 4 more days. We were trying to locate more populations by asking the locals, but here’s a funny thing: the locals weren’t really into telling us where the plants are. And it’s not like we’re just asking people waltzing down the street, we’re asking biologists and academics. Now, most of the Hawaiians I’ve met have been exceedingly nice and helpful. Perhaps they just want to keep Hawaiian research in Hawaii. But it’s not like anyone else in Hawaii is really studying this plant, so who knows. Maybe they have already realized the malicious nature of globosa and are simply trying to protect us. JOIN US NEXT TIME, on Oahu.