Sunday, July 31, 2011

Polipoli Cabin Camping and a Blog Makeover

Edited to Add: I had a comment from a stranger on my blog chastising me for posting a photo of us with a fire at Polipoli and wanted to address this so there isn't any confusion. The commenter implied we were breaking the rules regarding fires at Polipoli campground. I wasn't able to reply directly to this woman as she didn't leave her e-mail address, so I'm replying here. First of all, I write this blog with my family and close friends as my intended audience but I leave it public because it's just easier. If I receive more rude comments from strangers (who I believe own a local business I have actually purchased products from in the past) I will make it private. Second of all, the commenter obviously does not frequent my blog and did not take the time to get to know my family or she would know that Maui's ecological and environmental well-being are extremely important to my family and we would never have put that in jeopardy. Prior to our camping trip, we checked with park rangers regarding our CONTAINED fire to be sure it didn't violate the rules regarding no OPEN fires in the forest reserve. We were given the green light that our grill was within accepted regulations and would be fine. Being frequent camper, we are also very familiar with fire safety protocol and had adequate provisions on hand for extinguishing the fire and ensured the fire was completely extinguished before going inside the cabin for the night (when I said I stayed awake putting wood on the fire all night I was referring to the wood burning stove inside the cabin, NOT the grill).

Before I get started, I thought I'd tell you all that I spent the better part of this afternoon giving the blog a big makeover. The photo on our header needed updating and some of the links in the sidebar were old. So I went ahead and changed the whole template. I figured since Dean starts kindergarten tomorrow (August 1), we might as well start the blog off fresh too! So if you read these posts via e-mail update, be sure to stop by the blog and check out the new look! (and don't worry - there'll be plenty more about Dean's kindergarten experience soon enough). I have a few blog posts planned for this week...

But for now, it's catch-up time. A few weekends ago we headed up to Polipoli State Park to do some camping (and I use that word lightly folks). We rented the cabin for a night and had big plans to do a ton of hiking over 2 days and just use the cabin as a place to crash comfortably. AHAHAHA. The cabin was comfortable enough, but there was VERY little hiking going on. Dean was having none of that business. He loved the cabin and was sticking close to it. The cabin was actually super nice - a 2-bedroom, 1 bath unit with hot running water and a wood-burning stove in the living area. The bedrooms each had 2 bunkbeds (you provide your own bedding). My Mom went with us and she shared a room with Dean. I decided to move a mattress into the living area and slept in front of the wood-burning stove all night so I could keep the fire going because it was COLD up there at 6200 ft elevation!!

The road up to Polipoli State Park is LOOOONG and winding and it takes FOREVER to get there. Now, I don't know if you all remember our last attempt at camping at Polipoli, but it was a disaster. We were fighting off flashbacks as we drove that long road to the campground. We arrived at the cabin around 10:00 am and it was beautiful - the sun was shining and it wasn't TOO cold (but I did immediately change out of my shorts and into my sweatpants and fleece pullover because it was NOT hot!). But the sun didn't last long. Polpoli is right at cloud level on Maui and it didn't take long for the clouds to roll in. Here are 2 photos of the cabin, taken exactly 8 minutes apart -isn't that crazy?

Once we got settled into the cabin, we tried to convince Dean to go on a hike. We didn't get very far - maybe 1/4 mile away from the cabin before he just took off running back. I was perfectly happy hunkering down inside the cabin with my Kindle in front of the fire for the afternoon! My Mom had planned ahead and came up with an elaborate story about how Pirates had once used the cabin as a hideout and had buried treasure somewhere around there. She said she found a treasure map and maybe it would lead to buried treasure (coincidentally, a few days before that my Mom had let Dean watch the Goonies over at her house - I'm sure this had nothing to do with her story). She then pulled out a list of instructions that had supposedly been left by a Pirate and would lead to buried treasure. The instructions required the use of a compass, so she taught Dean how to use his compass and helped him follow each of the steps (they were things like "from the front door of the cabin, walk 15 steps east to the ash pit. Spit into the ash pit 3 times, then walk 20 steps south to the concrete pillar". It continued on and on like that until he finally found some treasure buried under a log! It was a little black velvet bag full of coins and "jewels". He was SOOOO excited!

We pretty much didn't do much the rest of the day except gather wood for the fire. Finding dry firewood up there is NOT easy. If there was going to be a next time (there won't be. We're too big of weather weenies for that) we would take some firewood up there with us, or at least buy some of those ever log things. Joel sat on the back lanai of the cabin and played his ukulele, then cooked some bison burgers. Dinner was yummy, despite the fact that we forgot to take a spatula and Joel had to make one from some wood he found in the woods.

After the sun went down it REALLY got cold. But we still roasted marshmallows and made some S'mores. This was absolutely necessary because the week before (when the lesson plan at preschool was all about cooking and food) I had asked Dean what kinds of things he thought he was going to learn at kindergarten, he thought really hard about it for a few minutes and then said "Well, I already know how to make s'mores" and shrugged. Like he was saying "so what else is there?". It was hilarious.

We pretty much all went to bed after that. I didn't sleep much at all, but kept putting more wood on the fire every 45 minutes so we didn't freeze to death. Miraculously Joel managed to fall asleep the instant he was horizontal. I must have fallen asleep sometime after 2:30 (the last time I remember looking at my phone) because next thing I knew it was 4:57 and the fire had gone out and I was shivering inside my mummy bag. I decided right then that as soon as everyone woke up we were packing all that crap up and heading for home - at sea level, where the weather's nice and warm, as it should be when you live in paradise!! And that's exactly what we did! We loaded up, cleaned up the cabin and were home by about 11:00 Saturday morning. I looked up the weather reports online and it looked like the low temperature for that elevation that night was about 46 degrees!! I know that probably doesn't seem all THAT cold to some of you - but we're not used to that! We're pretty much cold if it's less than 75!! I think we're done with the extreme weather camping for awhile.


Anonymous said...

Aloha Tapler Ohana!!
My wife and i will be joining another couple in poli poli to campout soon. i was wanting to know if you could tell me how much fire wood we should bring? is the firepit outside the cabin open? do we need to bring a grill to cook food or is the firepit good for cooking? is the oven inside the cabin just for warmth or can it be used for cooking as well? your pics are nice and helpful!! aloha and mahalo nui loa!!

Jen Tapler said...

Reply to Anonymous - You should call the State DLNR to check with them on the current rules regarding Fires. It's been over a year now since we camped at Polipoli. My guess is that there is now a fire ban as we've had even less rain this year. There are grills at the campground and a year ago, you could bring charcoal to grill with. (If you have reserved the cabin, they should go over the fire / no fire rules with you ahead of time). There is a wood burning stove inside the cabin that we used for warmth and for roasting marshmallows (We just gathered our own firewood from around the cabin - from broken sticks and things we found lying o the ground - we didn't bring any actual firewood with us). Otherwise, I would plan on bringing charcoal to grill your food in the provided grill. You likely won't be allowed to have any type of fire outside the cabin other than in the grill. But you really need to check with the DLNR / park rangers to be sure. Have fun!

Jen Tapler said...

Phone number to DLNR: (808)587-0300