An affordable vacation on Maui’s Hana Highway

An affordable vacation on Maui’s Hana Highway

MAUI, Hawaii It all came back to me when a mud splattered pickup with giant tires fishtailed from around a tight bend ahead. My breath sucked in with an audible whoosh as our fenders air kissed like starlets at a Hollywood premiere.

Fleeting thought: Maybe I should have popped for the full damage waiver at the car rental counter.

This was Maui’s road to Hana, 50+ miles that has long been fabled among tourists for being as bendy as a garter snake with cramps. One lane bridges? Enough to give a Formula One driver a permanent nervous tic.

But it had been well more than a decade since I’d last driven it. With my mainlander’s view of how “progress” inevitably straightens roads, I was braced on a recent visit for the adventure to have been tamed out of the Hana Highway.

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Embrace it. Shut off the AC and open your windows to savor the heady aromas of wild jasmine and rotting guavas. Relish views of jungle waterfalls, lava rock coast and swaying palms while you keep your eyes peeled and fingers crossed.

Many make the mistake of white knuckling the round trip drive to the little town of Hana on Maui’s fabulously scenic wetter side in a single day instead of staying overnight. Even the most fun loving motorist can end http://www.cheapjerseys11.com/ up with a vacant stare. With rooms for two starting at $450, it’s not for everyone’s budget. So I set out to find the cheaper side of Hana.

Here’s a roundup of tips on where to stay, where to eat and what to do without emptying your wallet.

Airbnb and online vacation rental sites have opened up Hana’s lodging market.

But don’t stop there. On VRBO, I found a modest room in a local family’s back garden for $87 a night plus tax, a wild bargain no matter where in Hawaii. (Pay $11 more for a full kitchen; sorry, no credit cards.) It was nothing fancy, but it was as clean and well equipped as a Super 8 with a riotous garden of torch ginger outside the door. Among dozens of campsites including many with ocean views I saw only one tent camper when I visited in October. Included are picnic tables, barbecue grills and vault toilets. Bring your own water jugs, which can be refilled at the visitor center. First come, first served.

Braddah Hutt’s BBQ Grill, off the highway just south of Hana, draws you in with sweet smelling smoke wafting across the road as you drive through a tunnel of Cook Island pines. Chicken plate $11, fish tacos for $8.

Da Chow Wagon, just south of Hana’s only gas station, is a good place for classic Hawaiian dishes such as loco moco (beef patty topped with fried egg and gravy, on rice), $10; or catch of the day, $14.

In town, there’s also the Surfin’ Burro trailer (burritos), and for dessert, Shaka Pops, a stand that sells fruit packed ice pops in flavors such cheap jerseys as strawberry banana and ginger.

Lunch at the beach? Head 1.5 miles south and turn toward the ocean on Haneo’o Road. The first sand you’ll come to is Koki Beach, popular with surfers. As the road curves you’ll see a cement block barbecue where locals take turns fixing and selling lunch. For $10, I got a big plate of kalua pork with sides of rice and macaroni salad from David and Ilona Phillips.

Come to Koki Beach around dawn, David advised, to see locals fish with nets and catch lobsters.

Sated with carbs and salty pork? Stop by the Hana Fresh tent at Hana Health Center, 4590 Hana Highway. Not only do they sell lots of fresh produce, but the smoothies are a bit of tropical, icy heaven: mango, passion fruit and pineapple blended with coconut water, $7.

If you rent a place with a kitchen (good idea!), two Hana stores sell groceries: historical Hasegawa General Store, 5165 Hana Highway, and the Hana Ranch Store, 1 Mill St. Both have limited inventory and steep prices. To save money, shop in Kahului (Safeway, Costco) before heading east.

The other Hana Highway budgeteer’s treasure: roadside fruit stands. Here’s where to find the ripest papaya for a buck or two.

Take another drive

This might sound crazy after spending your day in the car to get to Hana, but the next day you’ll want to see more. This side of the island only gets more junglelike as you tour the shore south of Hana. Pack a lunch and the day won’t cost you more than gas and the $15 admission to Haleakala National Park.

Here you benefit from the Hawaii law that every beach is public. Since the Travaasa Hana resort isn’t on a beach, this is where the hotel shuttles its guests. They have exclusive access to some dressing rooms and showers, but there are public restrooms, too. And everyone gets to use the well built stone stairway leading to the beach.

After a wade, continue south on the highway, which gets bumpier and narrower. Signs recommend 5 mph on some turns as you tunnel beneath thick canopies of monkeypod and breadfruit trees.


An air of optimism at Lebanon Valley Speedway

An air of optimism at Lebanon Valley Speedway

Driving past Lebanon Valley Speedway, you can smell summer love in the air: a swirling mix of dirt track, burning rubber and $1.50 hot dogs.

If you’ve never been to the half mile oval, it’s difficult to understand the aphrodisiac. But to those who count the days until racing season, the combination of grease and guts is enough to attract crowds even during a season that begins with gas prices surpassing $3.40 a gallon.

While many local businesses face tough times economically, Speedway owner Howard Commander said high gas prices and less disposable income among patrons mean the 2008 racing season could produce the biggest crowds and highest profits ever at the stock car track, which began its 57th season last night.

“During the last energy crisis in 1976 through 1978, we had our best years,” Commander said. “People couldn’t take big vacations, so they discovered our track. And there’s no greater event than a $10 race and $1.50 hot dogs.”

Pittsfield resident Amy Norkus, 28, discovered the affordable, one of a kind experience as a young girl, watching her father race. To her, there is nothing like rowdy fans, track level access and dirt cheap food.

“Fans are yelling and jumping up and down, fighting to get close seats,” said Norkus, who went to the track every weekend as a girl to watch her father race. “It’s unlike anything else. And you can go down on the infield and get food from the stands.

“You’d think food coming out of these wooden shacks wouldn’t be good. But it’s great, and wicked cheap. You just have to eat it on the way back to your seat so it cheap jerseys doesn’t get covered in dirt.”

A day at Lebanon Valley Speedway, which draws more than 300,000 fans annually, Commander said, provides several similar, free life lessons, including: Don’t wear white at a venue that has swirling dirt. Sunglasses can double as protective goggles. And do not, do not sit in another fan’s “usual” spot.

“This is our spot, and people get really mad if you sit in their spot,” said Stacey Dempsey, wife of pro stock driver Rick Dempsey, sitting with her three children in the family’s habitual first turn bleacher seat. “People come week after week. And tonight there are a lot of people here. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it this crowded.”

Jeff Watson, a 24 year old driver from Sheffield, said he has seen empty bleachers at Lebanon Valley, but only when it rains. He has watched the popularity of the speedway grow since he was a year old.

“People come week after week to cheer on their favorite driver,” said Watson, who has won back to back division championships in the block modified division. “And for someone who’s never seen a race before, it’s our own little world.”

With 30 to 50 racetracks operating in New England on a weekly basis, excitement for the 2008 season at Lebanon Valley was palpable yesterday. The track will feature 23 weekends of speed events and two special midweek programs, a demolition derby and a monster truck rally.

Bob Lang, Northeast division director of the National Hot Rod Association the track’s governing body said he travels to Lebanon Valley Speedway for Fourth of July events every year.

“It gets a good crowd on an average weekend, but for special events, they can fill the place up,” Lang said. “In that area of New York and Western Massachusetts, it’s one of the only (NHRA) tracks, and it’s a popular place.”

Lang said the financial success of a track is dependent upon several factors, including fan loyalty, the weather and the economy.

“I’d say (Lebanon Valley Speedway) has grown over the years, but it’s all relative to the economy,” he said. “When the money is flowing, people travel far away. When it’s not, more people stay closer to home and spend their entertainment money closer to home.”

Commander said crowds and track facilities are constantly improving. Last year, he invested in a new clay surface on the oval to make the racing pad about 6 inches thick.

Commander said he puts $250,000 in improvements into the track for each season. This year, in addition to fresh paint and the 300 to 400 bleachers that are replaced annually, new bathroom facilities will be installed at the main dragway building.

Commander said he’s looking forward to strong attendance figures, which net the track “millions of dollars” each year and depend heavily on weather patterns.

In 2006, the speedway and dragway lost 40 events because of rain.

“We didn’t make anything that year,” Commander said.

Last year, rain forced the cancellation of only nine events.

“I’m anxious this year for it to start back up again,” Commander said before opening day. “Whereas NASCAR fans fall asleep after the first 30 laps, here you’re always on the edge of your seat.”

“I wait all year for racing season to start,” Szesnat, 35, said. “It’s so exciting. And (Commander) runs a great family business here. This track, by far, is probably the most commercial in the Northeast. It’s so http://www.cheapjerseys11.com/ family oriented with kids events. And it’s cheaper than any other I’ve ever been to. You get loyalty, is what it comes down to. Everyone wants to see the racing community thrive, and I think (Lebanon Valley Speedway) will be around for a long time.”.


An affordable housing complex is under construction in downtown Orlando

An affordable housing complex is under construction in downtown Orlando

Atlantic Housing Partners has started work on the first affordable housing development in downtown Orlando since the recession.

Located at Hughey Avenue and West Concord Street, immediately west of Interstate 4, Lexington Court will have 104 units in four stories. Monthly rents are expected to be in the mid $700 range far below the going rate for the downtown area.

The relatively low cost apartment project follows the construction of several market rate http://www.cheapjerseys11.com/ complexes downtown. The average rent for the downtown area was $1,206 during the first quarter, according to Real Data Apartment Index. Asking rents are more than $2,200 monthly for several premium units at the new SkyHouse midrise, which is next to the Orange County Courthouse.

Pricing for Lexington Court will fluctuate with the area’s median income.

“Our goal is to provide high quality rental housing in a downtown location near public transportation at an affordable price point,” said Lori Trainer, vice president of corporate public relations for Southern Affordable Services Inc.

Bill O’Dell, director of the University of Florida’s Shimberg Center for Housing Studies, said the area of downtown just west of I 4 has a significant share of affordable housing but that the new SunRail commuter line creates opportunities for affordable rentals.

“If your question is whether the downtown Orlando area needs additional affordable housing, the answer is absolutely especially if that housing is being built in relative proximity to new SunRail stations or otherwise serviced by Lynx transit,” O’Dell said.

The Shimberg Center is expected to complete a cheap jerseys report in the next month on affordable housing and SunRail for the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council.

Atlantic Housing Partners LLP is the developer, CPG Construction is the general contractor and Southern Affordable Services is a partner on the project.

Concord Management Ltd. is marketing Lexington Court for its proximity to the rail system, which runs from south Orlando to DeBary. The new project will be about a third of a mile from the SunRail station on Amelia Street. Other marketing points include a fitness center and clubhouse.

Concord Lexington LLC purchased the 2.07 acre site in September for $1.25 million from OCP Land LLC. Concord’s managers include Paul Missigman, Scott Culp and Tricia Doody, all of Winter Park.

Financing for the project included $21.09 million of tax credits issued through the Florida Housing Finance Corp. Southern Affordable Services was unable to confirm details about the credits.


An Additional Source Of Clean

An Additional Source Of Clean

Senator Lamar Alexander on Thursday released the following statement on the cheap jerseys federal government’s awarding of the second round of licensing support for the production of small modular nuclear reactors:

“This is another step toward an additional source of clean, cheap, reliable energy. Department of Energy on Thursday announced that it had selected Oregon based NuScale for its second award for licensing support. The first award for licensing support went to Babcock Wilcox of Tennessee, under which small modular reactors will be constructed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Small modular reactors are a form of technology under development that would allow for nuclear power installations that are smaller than traditional nuclear power plants, with less capital investment.

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Roy Exum: My Life With 007

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