Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hawaii - Day six

Sunday, November 2

This morning we strolled downhill from the Phillips’ house through a huge pineapple field for about a mile and a half to the edge of the 80’ cliff that drops into the ocean on the north side of Maui.

Just offshore here, during big north pacific storms, the surf can reach 20 – 25 feet. You have to be issued a license to even attempt these monster waves at the spot the surfers call “Jaws”! The waves are so big and travel so fast that a surfer cannot catch one just by paddling. They are towed on the end of a line by a jet ski, come whipping around on the end of the rope and are injected into the curl. They have to kick out or ride off the side of the curl, since there is no beach here, only jagged rocks! Jaws indeed!

Today however, it was a less frightening sight to stand at the top of the cliff and watch the gentle swells roll in from the north.

After the hike back to the house we tossed together some things for a bag lunch and headed for Hana. The road to Hana is better than it was when I last drove it in 1991. Seventeen years ago the pavement was more patches than pavement. In the period of time between then and now the full length of the road has been repaved, and is nice and smooth.

However, there is nothing that can be done to change the character of the road. It has an absolutely amazing number of twists and turns. It is narrow, in many places much less than two cars wide. It has 59 single-lane bridges. If you plan to make the drive to Hana, here are some things to remember:

1- Leave early! I know that 50 miles isn’t far, and on the map it appears that the road to Hana is a short distance. It isn’t! Your average speed will be between 15-20 mph if you push hard!

2- There really is very little to see in the town of Hana. The only sensible reason for going there is the trip itself. The road to Hana is really a metaphor for life: it isn’t the final destination that is so important, it’s the process of getting there that makes the whole thing worthwhile.

3- Drive slowly! Plan on taking as long as possible rather than trying to make good time. Move along at 10 mph or maybe as much as 15 mph on rare occasions. Pull over to the side into one of the many slightly wider passing spots when cars come up behind you, determined to travel as fast as they can.

4- Stop often. There are many breath-taking vistas, streams, pools, waterfalls, cascades of ferns, forests of bamboo, wild guavas to be picked, fern grottoes, a blow hole, a couple of state parks, shave-ice stands, stands of sweet-smelling white and yellow ginger, wild orchids, hiking trails, and other experiences to be discovered and savored. If you take time, the road to Hana will sooth your soul.

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