Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A long and winding road

The rooster crowed early this morning, but indeed we were hoping he would.  Greg and I discussed in the dark of predawn, since we were both awake we may as well attempt the Road to Hana.  The tropical storm still churned the waters in front of our condo, no snorkeling today anyway.  We have visited Maui twice before together and hadn’t yet undertaken the journey. Greg remembered pieces of the drive from when he had traveled here with his parents in his early twenties.  I had never been.  Tales of hairpin turns and slow traffic on a narrow highway had kept us from spending one of our precious few days on this journey in the past, but with several weeks remaining in our trip and a competent rental car at our disposal, we decided today was the day.  We threw some supplies into bags, tossed on some travel clothes and left the condo before six o’clock without even a cup of coffee to fuel us.  Luckily among the items I had tossed into the bags, were some snacks and the makings for brunch on the go.  By the time we got to Kahului, we were hungry and gratefully nibbled on the apple bananas we bought at the farmer’s market yesterday.

Paia town and Haiku weren’t awake yet, as we started down the road to Hana at about 7:30 in the morning, the road was entirely ours.  Each waterfall and patch of tropical green foliage seemed to exist for our eyes alone.  Each vine that hung from the towering trees entreated us with the temptation to swing from it like Tarzan, as we went whizzing by.  

We stopped only at a park to use the restroom and arrived in Hana Bay by 9:30.  We enjoyed a breakfast of vanilla yogurt that I had jammed in a cooler with some ice on the way out the door, some papaya and of course the remaining pineapple bread spread with lilikoi cream cheese.  Enjoying the view of Hana Bay from our picnic table, we watched a team of young boys gather near the community center and haul a giant canoe to the shoreline.  Either a team captain, coach, or otherwise responsible adult stood on the pier shouting encouragement and instructions.  It was amazing to watch these young men in the rough water, completely at ease, working together in unison.  The speed with which that canoe cut across the bay was impressive.  As we visited the restrooms at the community center, we got to peak in on local hula class in session.  At first glance Hana seemed a rather understated anti-climatic end to our drive, but I was quickly enchanted by seeing a glimpse of the real Hawaii.  Local folks proud of their cultural traditions, organizing the youngsters during the summer time, keeping them busy while keeping the culture. 

Before getting back on the road, we followed the directions in our guidebook to a hidden spot.  A precarious but short path led from the pier to a pocket-sized red sand beach.  Just a tiny cove, completely hidden from the road.  You get the feeling that Hana hides numerous little treasure like this one.  We took our time on the way back, stopping at a stand for vegan coconut ice cream, and following a small road to the airport and ending up in a beautiful neighborhood.  It was noon when we emerged in Paia town again.  We had planned to have lunch there, but it was swarming with tourists…who were no doubt just about to be descending on the Hana road.  Pleased that we had started our journey so early and that we had beaten the crowds, we decided not to join them in Paia where there was no parking anyway and we drove back to Lahaina for lunch. 

Excited to try a restaurant we had long drooled over from afar, we stopped at Star Noodle and ate delicious bowls of steamy ramen. Back at the condo we crashed hard, late afternoon naps led to a lazy evening of cooking at home and relaxing after a long journey. 

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