If you have ever been to Hawaii you have most likely heard about “The Road to Hana” which is often, deceptively, called “The Heavenly Road to Hana”. Hana is a small, barely existing, town on the far side of Maui. The round trip drive to Hana takes a full day, but there are beautiful views and sites along the way. The narrow, winding road has well over 600 turns (many of them blind turns, hairpin turns and/or just outright precarious turns). The road itself becomes only one lane, for traffic in both directions, in many spots. (And who had that bright idea, I wonder?) This forces cars to pull to the side and wait their turn for passage. The speed limit probably averages 15-20 mph. There are close to 60 narrow bridges along the way also. Arriving at Hana is not the goal …
arriving alive the excursion itself is.
I, personally, have taken this journey numerous times. For most people once is enough, and once is often one too many times for others. Our entire family has made the trek before. We would not have made the Hana trip last week except I felt we “had to” show TR’s boyfriend the less inhabited side of Maui. (What was I thinking? And, no, I was not smoking any “Maui-Wowie” when I came up with this plan!) Briefcase was not up for it. I called him a party pooper (or something like that?) and told him he could stay back at our condo’s beach. Briefcase does not like being called names and he relented. Ha!
What exactly did I want TR’s boyfriend to see? Not the town of Hana itself, but the rain forest along the way. Also, the Seven Pools just past Hana where waterfalls connect seven natural swimming pools. It is beautiful. Primarily, however, I wanted him to see the state park of Wainapanapa. For me, Wainapanapa is one of the most stunning spots on earth. Lava rock and black sand beaches, turquoise sea … it is spectacular.
We set off with a
resentful reluctant Briefcase at the wheel. After driving over an hour we arrived at Paia, a small town which serves as the beginning of the Hana odyssey. We purchased picnic lunches and gassed up the rental van because there would be no opportunity for gas or food for hours. (Maybe that should have been our first warning sign?) We drove a few minutes and our pace slowed, the turns became constant, and the beautiful scenery was yet to be found. Then it happened. The skies opened up and the rain began to pour.
Rain in Hawaii is a given. It showers, then the rain clears a few minutes later. This is not a familiar thing for a family from Southern California. We don’t really know what to do when it rains in Orange County. We just stay home if we can, or get in an inordinate number of car accidents if we dare to drive in it. In general, we just fall apart if it isn’t sunny. We were already two hours into our Hana adventure. Stopping and turning back never occurred to us … because the rain in Hawaii always stops after a shower or two.
Officially, The Road to Hell had begun. The “shower” quickly became a deluge. A deluge that would not stop. All the beautiful views and sites? We couldn’t see them. We could barely see out the windshield because the rain was coming in sheets. Briefcase scowled at me as he slowly inched the car around steep cliff turns. The teens, sensing the tension, quieted.
Suddenly RC informed us he wasn’t “feeling too well”. I looked at his green tinted face and visions of being stuck in a puke filled car ran through my head. “Stop the car! Stop NOW!” I begged. Briefcase scowled and rounded another turn. There was no place to stop … we were on a friggin’ one lane, winding road in a torrential downpour.
My kids are 19, 17 and 13 and they have never, ever gotten car sick. We’ve driven this exact road before with no problems. RC’s pronouncement was followed just a few minutes later by PR saying, “I’m not doin’ so good.” Five minutes later TR added, “I have to get out now!” I was the proud mom of three green teens. (And oh yes, wife to an imploding Briefcase!)
Being the ever-calm, unemotional, non-reactive person that I am … I looked at my green kids and immediately freaked out. “Stop! Stop! You have to stop the car! Barf is coming! We can’t drive hours to get back if they barf in the car!! Stop! Stop! They are ALL about to puke!”
Briefcase? He ignored me. He’s good at that. Also, we were on a one lane road in the pouring rain. Pulling over? That would have meant driving off a cliff.
Eventually, Briefcase found a place to stop. We decided fresh air was exactly what everyone needed. Briefcase scowled at me again and gave me a look asking, “Are we having fun yet?” We began walking around in the rain. It took no more than a few seconds for us to be completely drenched and our clothes soaked.
The vegetation was thick … all that rain is good for the plants, I guess? Maybe there’s a reason they call it a rain forest? I commented that I have never encountered rain on prior trips to Hana. I think this was right about the time that Briefcase reminded me (for the zillionth time) of how sunny our little beach was that morning when we left. Smart ass!
We hiked up a trail and became jungle people for awhile. Hiking through the jungle in pouring rain was not exactly the day I had planned. However, if my arm wasn’t so screwed up I think I would have tried swinging on the vines.
TR’s boyfriend was enchanted with the rain forest. I think we could have left him hiking around in the rain all day and he would have been happy. Eventually we came to this little pool and waterfall.
The rain stopped and everyone’s spirits improved. We took a few photos. We were hours from anywhere, standing in jungle wilderness. And then … the sky opened up and a torrent of rain began again.
Part 2 of The Hellish Road to Hana will be posted tomorrow!