Hello Friends and Family,

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Maui on my Mind, Part 1

I have been going to Maui for about 40 years now. I think that qualifies me as an "old-timer". As such, I feel free to comment on changes that I see — good and bad, with each new visit. For example, Bubba Gumps was not here at the east end of Lahaina on my first visit. But it is here now and, to me, that's a good thing since I enjoy their food, even if I don't eat there on any given trip.

BTW, nearby I saw a plaque talking about the Japanese Fish Markets that populated Lahaina in the early years of the 20th century. They were family-owned and operated — families such as Sato, Kadotani, Kato, Nishino, and Kawaguchi. Interestingly, I have a friend from Maui whose family name is Sato — I'll bet there is a connection. Most of the fish sold at that time were from coastal waters. Times changed and those families found other more lucrative business ventures. And now, most of the fish served in Hawai‘i is from the deeper waters offshore.

Across the street is Longhi's — it has been acclaimed as one of the best restaurants on Maui. Founded by Bob Longhi, self-described as emphasizing great food, service and ambiance. There are now additional locations — one in Wailea (Maui) and another at Ko Olina (O‘ahu). Checking the online reviews and they seem mixed. It is hard to meet those high standards that we all have come to expect these days — but at least Yelp and others can give you more information when you decide where to spend your money on dining.

Looking the length of Front Street, I am reminded (as if I ever forgot), that Lahaina resembles an old western town. My guess is that is because the structures were built in the early 19th century in the style of towns on the mainland.

Lahaina became the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1820 and remained so until the capital was moved to Honolulu in 1845. That did not diminish its importance because this little town was the center of the whaling industry, which was big business until the rise of petroleum and vegetable oil replaced whale oil for lighting, soap and margarine.

Looking to the East, one can see the rock barrier protecting Front Street as well as a beach and Moloka‘i in the distance. Beautiful scenery surrounds us at every turn.

Many of the buildings on this side of Front Street project out over the ocean. The covered lanai (porch) looks like it has seen better days.

When I first started coming to Maui, there were lots of t-shirt shops, souvenir shops and ice cream shops. Over time, many of those were lost to fine art galleries — many with big name artists' work. Further evolution seems to be replacing some of those with activity desks, timeshare sales and other assorted small businesses.

One thing has not changed — the lack of parking. You can park for free on the sides of Front Street (3 hours max) if you can ever find a spot. There is a partially paved, partially dirt lot on the west end of "downtown". And there are a fair number of paid lots ($5 to park all day, more if you want to stay for dinner).

Right behind where I stood to take this photo is Cheeseburgers in Paradise, Johnny's favorite restaurant on Maui. Seems like every tourist walking this stretch is taking a selfie or posed pictures of each other.

At the other end of this stretch, I climbed up on a planter to catch this view of Front Street.

And this view is from the other side of the planter, looking in the other direction. Note the photography going on in both this and the previous photo. Now that we are all digital, it doesn't cost anything to take as many pictures as you want, right?

This building is over 100 years old and now houses Fleetwoods on Front St. Yes, "Fleetwood" as in "Mick Fleetwood", drummer for the famous rock band, Fleetwood Mac.

The interior has been completely remodeled and even features a roof terrace for dining and enjoying the sunset complete with a Sunset Ceremony featuring a Hawaiian Kumu four days a week and a Scottish Piper four days a week (on Saturdays you get both).

The online reviews seem very positive. I have not yet dined there so I cannot vouch for their veracity. The prices are a bit steep for this retiree's budget — for instance, fresh oysters on the half shell, $3.50 each; 8 oz. Filet Mignon, $48; and seared Ahi tuna, $36. I guess this is a restaurant for special occasions or a generous expense account.

Here we see the end of the sidewalk and rock-covered sand. If you look closely, you'll see black crabs crawling around on the black lava rocks (joking, see next photo).

It especially helps to have a zoom lens so you can see these crabs in finer detail. Note the light-colored spots all over and the dark purple legs. It almost looks like the metallic paint we see on modern automobiles. Quite cool.

These are called 'a 'ama and have been eaten for ages by native Hawaiians. People catch them with a v-shaped tool (mounted on the end of a pole) called an ahela. A thin line (like a fishing line) is attached to the end of the V and is used to snag the crab by its eye sockets. Not so cool for the crabs.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com