Message in a Bottle…

One of my life goals is to release a message in a bottle that is found at least 1,000 miles from its place of release. Today, I released a stoppered glass salsa bottle that I prepared from home in California and that I had taken with me to Maui, Hawaii. From Quicksilver, the boat we took out on a snorkeling trip to Molokini, I threw out the bottle off the top of two levels, just off the coast of Big Beach, Kanahena.

My original goal was to release the bottle on Maui’s eastern end, past the Road to Hana, but I unfortunately forgot the bottle back in our room. I felt that the release from Quicksilver was the next best choice.

For those most interested, the exact time and position of release was N20 36.866 W156 27.083 on October 2, 2004, at 2:19 p.m.

Author’s Note: Yes, I realize this blog entry is dated September 30, but due to the screwup of releasing the bottle at the wrong location on the wrong day, and the fact that the month changed between the day of intended release and the day of actual release, and the preprinted note inserted into the bottle referenced a URL pointing to this blog that required an entry with a date in September, I had no choice but to pre-date this entry.

I chose the time and location primarily to take advantage of the waning high tide, and the southernmost spot that I reached in the ocean at the southern end of Maui to try to catch the currents that sweep between Hawaii and Maui — hoping, of course, to have the bottle avoid the nearby rocky beaches and on instead to Australasia or the American mainlands.

If you reached this website because of the information contained within the note in the bottle and you are here to leave me a comment about when and where you found the bottle, please provide as much information as possible. Don’t forget to mention the code word mentioned in bold on the note to separate your comments from the people that may attempt to fake the find. Thank you!

The Road to Hana

The Road to Hana, one of Maui’s most hyped-up activities, is a bit over-hyped. The fact that the road itself is so easily traversed, not the unpaved and potholed wreck it once was, makes the journey much more mundane and not dissimilar to the rest of Maui. Some of the most northern roads of the island were just as picturesque and rugged, and as easily accessible.

Photo © Richard D. LeCour

Our friends we were staying with on the island had done the Road earlier in the week and had previously purchased a map and CD to be played in the car while on the drive. It was a reasonably complete guide, missing a few points that we managed to visit by making the occasional diversion, and leading us to a few places that we would have sorely missed visiting. But overall the focus was mainly on the series of parks, waterfalls, and beaches along the road — not the fault of the guide, but that’s all there is along the Road.

Three things might have made the journey better: (1) more daylight, because even though we left at 7:30 a.m., we didn’t finish the round-trip trek until well into the night; (2) the knowledge that the trunk release in our rented Chrysler Sebring convertible does not function without the key in the ignition, because at times I was quite miserable carrying more than 30 pounds of equipment and essentials along slippery and often treacherous trails in torrential rains; and (3) Oheo Gulch, the location of many waterfalls and pools and generally considered the highlight of the entire sojourn, was unfortunately closed due to the sporadically increment weather conditions.

Photo © Richard D. LeCour

Interestingly, folks often refer to the waterfalls in Oheo Gulch as The Seven Sacred Pools, but that misnomer has only been around since 1947, a result of a clever and successful marketing effort by the then-fledgling Hana Hotel to drum up business.

The truth is that there are at least 24 pools in the gulch and there is nothing sacred about those particular pools other than the fact that ALL water is considered sacred in Hawaii.

I liked the many types of beaches on the journey most of all, along with the rainbow eucalyptus trees and the admission-free arboretums. The bumpy trip completely around the southeastern part of the island was pretty fun, too, even though it was dark and long — reminiscent of the old days of the regular Road to Hana.

I doubt I’d do the trip all the way to Hana proper again, other than for the reasons to visit a few of the beaches we had to miss thanks to waning daytime and somehow missing Charles Lindbergh’s Grave.

Overall, a 7 out of 10. Ride the smooth, paved, over-hyped Road if you have time. If not, go snorkeling or ride down Haleakala instead.

Hanging out at Little Beach…

Word had already spread before we even left the island. I guess it’s OK to talk about it since the cat is already out of the bag — so to speak. I admit it. I participated.

The Travel Channel’s World’s Best program describes Little Beach as “Maui’s unofficial clothing-optional beach” and rates it as Number 10 of the world’s best nude beaches. One of my goals was to eventually visit a nude beach, but I didn’t really expect to participate. Having my wife there helped (she did not participate!), not helping the way you might think, but in terms of an anchor of familiarity, a point of focus. I doubt I would have summoned up the nerve if I’d been alone.

I was nervous at first, not knowing the rules precisely. Oh, sure, I knew not to stare, take pictures, etc. But I didn’t know the more important stuff. Is there an etiquette used in getting undressed outdoors? What happens if… well… you know… things… happen? My mind filled with various and sundry questions.

Photo © Richard D. LeCour

I took a deep breath and looked around. First off, I was surprised that the “clientèle” were more varied than originally imagined. Sure, there were a few body types and ages you’d expect and then fervently wish you hadn’t seen. But the number of attractive people in their 20s and 30s was a welcome departure from what I had anticipated. Of course, it took several re-attempts to reeducate myself that after inadvertently making eye contact, with either eyes or soft, squishy female parts, that further down was not the best direction to look when attempting to avert one’s eyes!

After acclimatizing, off came the shirt, the shorts, the really shorts, and then I semi-self-consciously strolled down the short beach to the water in my all-together. Seconds later, I wondered what the problem had been. It was no big deal. Although it was kind of weird to be (1) naked within 50 feet of a few naked and not unattractive women (2) in front of my knowing and supportive wife and (3) not having her beating me senseless with whatever logs of wood or large rocks that were within her reach for what in any other situation would be a serious marital infraction!

About 15 minutes later, when I’d had enough, I realized that I had a different degree of the same problem of self-consciousness: I had to go back up that same short stretch of beach, this time facing the “audience”. Over and over, I reminded myself that they truly were not an audience and that they didn’t care at all. Somewhere around the fifteenth time repeating that in my head, I summoned up the courage to head back up to our towel, quickly dried off, and re-dressed. Of course, no one even noticed.

A few times, I asked myself what people would say when they knew. I figured my friends wouldn’t care. When I discussed it with her afterward, one friend, Heather, said she’d do the same thing if she knew she was in a place that she knew no one. I guess that’s what finally pushed me over the top, too. I couldn’t have participated had anyone I knew (wife excepted!) been present. Not a chance!

I doubt my family would care, either, although my 14-year-old daughter might look askance at me. To her, I would say that nudity or naturalism in that situation is not about sex or sexuality, instead it’s about freedom, feeling good about yourself, self-confidence, and it’s all just a bit of fun. Any overt or untoward sexual activity on a clothing-optional or nude beach will get your åss booted in a heartbeat. It’s far safer to be nude in a crowd on a nude beach than it is to go fully clothed to a college party in the dorms. How sad is that?!

This adventure simultaneously satisfied both my goals to “go skinny dipping at a secluded beach” and to “go to a nude beach.” Under the right circumstance, I think I could do it again — as long as I’m a thousand miles away from anyone I know!

Author’s Note

In the process of doing research on Little Beach after our visit, I noticed several mentions of a certain Dr. Leisure (Dr. George R. Harker) noted as an “expert” on nude beaches around the world. I remembered and recognized “Dr. Leisure” and his truck camper from the Little Beach parking lot.