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Hawaii Day 4: Pineapple Princess and the House of the Sun

sunny 86 °F

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This morning we got ready (with delicious banana bread from the luau for breakfast) and drove to Hali'imaile for the Maui Pineapple Tour. The Maui Gold Pineapple is grown on Maui, and the growers are the last pineapple plantation in Hawaii, and thus the United States (since pineapples aren't grown commercially in other states). While people often associate Dole with Hawaii, in fact Dole pineapples come from Dole's plantation in Costa Rica. The company that is currently growing Maui Gold mostly supplies the market in Hawaii (in fact, we've hardly seen any pineapples that aren't Maui Gold), but they do send twenty percent of their pineapples to the mainland, especially the West Coast.
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The tour guide (one of the two best pineapple plantation tour guides in America, as he pointed out...they have two guides...) drove us over from the distillery (more on that later) to the pineapple packing house. These two pineapples were the first harvested pineapples we saw, although many more were to come.
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Crates of pineapples. These are shipped by boat to the mainland or to other islands, or by truck around Maui.
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Putting on our hairnets to tour the packing house, which was made harder by the fiercly-blowing trade winds.
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Pineapples rolling down the line to be washed and inspected. It was amazing to see the process.
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Fashionable hairnets!
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They sort the pineapples by size and by color. Fully golden pineapples are too ripe for transportation, so they go to the distillery and the winery to make wine, vodka, and gin. Small ones are separated from the crowns and softened in the sun to feed to livestock. The crowns are used to plant new pineapples! The fully green ones that are large enough go to the mainland, and the half-green half-gold ones stay in Hawaii (they are the ripest and best tasting, but are too ripe to make it to the mainland). The company only wastes a tiny percentage of pineapples: they don't harvest unless they already have a buyer for the batch they are harvesting.
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The sorting chart that they use to determine where each pineapple ends up.
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Every person on the tour received a box of carryon luggage-approved pineapples. They last a week, so we will have to eat ours before we leave. We'll buy more to take home with us.
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The cold storage room where the pineapples are kept. The different labels show where they are bound. There is even some pineapple mash fermenting for use in the distillery across the street (the tour guide said a person with a straw could have "a good time" in the cold storage area.)
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Daniel in the cold storage area.
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The tour guide, Steve, drove us through the pineapple fields. The pineapple did not originate in Hawaii, but rather in Brazil. It's natural pollinator is the hummingbird, but there are no hummingbirds in Hawaii which allows the plants to develop seedless fruit. It takes eighteen months to two years for one pineapple to grow. They have fields at all levels of ripeness, to keep up supply for year-round demand. However, he did mention that there are upswings in demand around holidays, especially summer holidays like Fourth of July. Sometimes weather conditions result in the early or late ripening of some pineapples: it is typically not worth re-harvesting a field to look for these, although he said that they sometimes have volunteers glean for leftover pineapples for shelters and other care facilities. The fields are beautiful and unique-looking: they look like absolute chaos, but Steve insisted that they are in perfect rows when planted, and that it is the subsequent growth that leads to the chaos. He also said that the workers can plant thousands in a day and get paid a piece rate. Most of the workers are Filipino-American, and are rather elderly. However, he did say that with the piece rate they are some of the best-paid agricultural workers, so it is conceivable that they will be able to replace these workers when they retire.
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As we drove through the fields Steve taught us this song, and had us sing it along with the CD he had. Catherine loved it.
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Pineapple Princess (pineapple shirt, earrings, and necklace, and holding a pineapple.)
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Steve showed us how pineapples are picked and cut a few to show us what the different ripeness levels taste like. He described the riper ones that are sold in the Hawaii market as tasting a little bit like coconut, and having a "piña colada" flavor. He kept opening pineapples and letting us taste a wide variety. Eventually he started back to the bus. We still wanted to taste pineapples, and he handed us the one he was holding.
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Preparing pineapples...
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...and enjoying them!
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Among the pineapples.
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The tour guide suggested a restaurant...the restaurant affiliated with the company! It was actually delicious, and a beautiful setting across from our next tour. The restaurant is in what was once the general store for the area. It is still called the general store, but is a restaurant.
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We split a kalua pork enchilada pie with mole sauce. It was absolutely delicious.
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Next, we visited Hali'imaile Distilling Company. Their most famous product is Pau Vodka, which is made from Maui Gold pineapples but doesn't have any pineapple flavor (it is not a flavored vodka--although they do sell those--but a pure vodka made from fermented pineapples. These barrels are full of their Paniolo Whiskey (a paniolo is a cowboy, thus the elaborate cowboy-style mustaches on the barrels).
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The Quonset hut where the distilling takes place.
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Some of the operations inside of the distillery.
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The glass stills where they are distilling the fermented pineapple into pure alcohol to make the vodka. They water it down to 40% before bottling.
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More of the distillery. The second picture shows the fermenting pineapple juice.
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The tanks of Pau Vodka and Sammy's Beach Bar Rum (which is owned by Sammy Hagar and made from Maui sugarcane. The only problem is that the only company still making sugarcane on Maui just closed down their operations). After the tour we had a tasting. Because the distillery was not a bar they were only allowed to give us each three small taste. They had many options: oak-aged vodka, flavored vodka, vodka mixed with cognac, gin, whiskey, various rums, etc. We each tried a variety. After the tour, we drove up to the town of Makawao, which is famous for its cowboy history. Catherine's dad wondered how far we were from the road to the top of Haleakala. As it happened, we were quite near, and so we started up the mountain.
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Some views as we drove up the mountain.
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The drive up the mountain is somewhat nerve-wracking for the driver. The passengers can see how the mountain slopes down into the clouds, but from the driver's perspective it looks like a sheer drop from the side of the cliff. Also, as we got higher and higher the air became noticeably thinner. We stopped at this pull-out to look at the view and feel the cool air. It was almost cold, and extremely windy.
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Some pictures of us at the pullout.
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The top of Haleakala. This structure is at the summit and provides amazing views and shelter from the wind. It is a beautiful place to see the crater and over the water.
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There is an observatory near the summit that is operated by the military in conjunction with the University of Hawaii. The top of Haleakala is one of the best places for astronomical observation in the world.
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Can you believe we were all the way up there?
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From the summit you can see the Island of Hawaii, the Big Island. If you measure from the bottom of the ocean, Haleakala itself is larger than Mt. Everest, and Mauna Kea on the Big Island is the largest mountain in the world.
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The crater of the volcano. Haleakala means "house of the sun" and there are legends about the sun living or being imprisoned in this crater.
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More views from the summit.
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Anthony and Daniel on top of the mountain.
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We then drove down. The top of the mountain seemed so far away. We headed back to the hotel and had dinner by the poolside, played cards with Katie and Anthony. It was a wonderful day.

Posted by danielcatherine 02:14 Archived in USA Tagged sun pineapples vodka observatory rum princess distillery whiskey haleakala hali'imaile makawao Comments (1)

Ireland Day 2: Books, Beetles, Whiskey, and Jail (Gaol?)

"I like touring around in jackets. It makes me feel safer." -Catherine

overcast 63 °F

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We woke up very early, but we rested a bit longer and ended up getting up around seven. We went downstairs and found breakfast in the kitchen. Our host asked if we had everything we needed. We had a delicious breakfast of scones, toast, tea, and orange juice. It was very good. We had the hop on-hop off pass, and so we decided to walk to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and start our tour.
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On our way we walked through the grounds of St. Mary's Catholic Church, which we can see from our room. It's a beautiful building, so we stepped inside to see it. It's over 200 years old.
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Dublin has a tradition of brightly-colored doors all over the city. On our walk, we saw many of them. They are usually dark and solid-colored. Red, blue, and yellow seem to predominate.
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Because we already had a tour booked at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, and it was getting late, Catherine suggested that we take a taxi rather than walk. We found two taxis resting nearby. The one sitting behind the other had a visible driver, the other did not. We approached the one behind, and the driver (an older Irishman) told us that he could only take us if the driver ahead of him couldn't. We approached the other car and found that the driver was lying down in his seat talking on the phone. He agreed to take us. He seemed to be from Poland, but he didn't talk much so we didn't learn much about him. He also didn't want to drive in the chaos near Trinity, so he dropped us towards the back. We toured Trinity, which was a fairly quick but interesting tour. It included a lot of information about famous people who had studied or taught there. We were near a group of people from Oregon. They were loud and they knew everything. The young man said that he was going to go to college to study beetles. Catherine now describes the condition of being a noisy know-it-all as "beetle mania."
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We saw the Book of Kells, which was amazing. We didn't take pictures because the signs were ambiguous about whether or not it was allowed, and the entire book is available to view online anyway at the Trinity College website. It is amazing to see how well the colors and script have held up over the 1200 years since it was made. We then went to the Long Room of the library. Daniel described it as the most beautiful building he's ever seen. The books are beautiful as is the construction of the building.
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This tour couldn't have happened without Catherine's suggestion to take a taxi. We got on the next bus and headed for Teeling's.
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Teeling is a new distillery. It opened in 2015, and is the first distillery to be built in Dublin in over a century. The Teeling family, however, has been distilling since 1792. The founders of this distillery are the sons of John Teeling, who founded an independent distillery called Cooley and then sold it to a larger corporation. He kept a million barrels, which his sons are using to get the distillery started. Their logo is a phoenix, which is associated with Dublin (Phoenix Park, etc) and represents their industry rising from the ashes (literally... one reason why distilling ended in Dublin was a huge distillery fire.)
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The distilling room tour was fascinating. The process is complex, but basically boils down to making beer, then distilling it. At present, because their distillery is new, they haven't produced any actual whiskey there yet. They do market some of the unaged spirit as poitín, or Irish moonshine.
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The copper pot stills are named after Jack Teeling's daughters.
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The tour guide explained how whiskey is aged in barrels that have had other things in them. Rum barrels, red wine barrels, bourbon barrels, etc. Teeling Single Malt apparently ages in all of these barrels and more.
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They gave samples for an organized tasting. We tried three of their whiskers and a cocktail. Catherine really liked the summer cocktail. We also tried a (small) amount of their poitín so that we could say we tried poitín.
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We had lunch at the Teeling's cafe. It was delicious. Then, having tried poitín, we were off to the gaol.
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The bus coming to take us to Kilmainham.
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Kilmainham Gaol (jail) is a very dismal looking building. It was a British prison that originally housed men, women, and children. During the Famine prison food was coveted and so incarceration rates went up.
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The Catholic chapel at the gaol. This is where Joseph Plunkett (a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising) married Grace Gifford hours before his execution.
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Many famous people were held at Kilmainham, including most of the leaders of the rising. It is interesting to see their cells.
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Grace Gifford Plunkett's cell is especially interesting. She was held here for supporting the anti-treaty forces during the Civil War. She drew this image of the Virgin Mary then.
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All of these leaders of the Rising were executed by firing squad at the site where this cross stands.
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Except James Connolly, who had not been imprisoned at Kilmainham and was brought in through the other gates.
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The tour guide noted that Eamon de Valera was held in Kilmainham for approximately 20 years, cumulatively. He returned in the sixties as President of Ireland to open it as a museum.
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The serpents over the door represent the "Five Capital Crimes": murder, rape, treason, larceny, and piracy (though when we were trying to remember them Catherine suggested "wearing socks with sandals" as one of them.
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Catherine's favorite Dublin door.
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Going by the bus drivers' information we thought the Guinness brewery would be open until 7. When we arrived, we found they closed at 6. We asked the cashier for a dinner recommendation, and she suggested Arthur's pub. We went there and it was perfect: we had soup, brown bread, and apple pie for dessert. It seemed like a perfect Irish meal.
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Some pretty churches on our walk back to Ballsbridge.
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A statue of the Virgin Mary with the Dylan Hotel in the background. We came back to our room and rested, then wrote this blog post. Tomorrow: Tara, Newgrange, and Donegal!

Posted by danielcatherine 18:13 Archived in Ireland Tagged churches bus tours gaol guinness library distillery whiskey hop_on_hop_off teeling's book_of_kells 1916 poitín Comments (2)

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