Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Road to Hana

   We got out early today because we are driving to Hana. Not only is the road to Hana described as the most beautiful in the State, we have a specific goal. About 35 years ago when we first came here, we used the CD from Snorkel Bob's that Dave and Beth had loaned to us.. You play it as you go along and it describes what to look at and where to stop, get out and hike. If you follow it in its entirety, the trip lasts from 5 - 8 hours. At the end of that first trip, we stopped at Hana’s Hasegawa General Store and among other things I bought a T shirt. The shirt proclaimed the town’s motto, “Far From Waikiki”. Like many of my items of clothing, over the years it seemed to shrink and get a little smaller and tighter each year until it got to the point where I was no longer permitted to wear it. Our goal on this trip was to get a new one. We passed up the CD, we seem to be past the park and hike phase, this trip will be drive and look.

   The Hana Highway runs a little more than 50 miles from Kahului to Hana and like the road up to Lahaina, hugs the shoreline between the base of the mountain, in this case Haleakala, and the sea. Unlike the drive up the western side of the island, the eastern side is a tropical rain forest. The road has over 600 curves, many of which are hairpins with the caution sign set a 5 MPH. There are about 60 bridges most of which are only one lane. The signs on the approach warn you to yield to approaching traffic. The problem is that the curve is often so sharp that you are practically looking behind yourself to see the traffic coming in the opposite direction. Two things I found amusing about the road were; the route number, it changes from 32 near Kahului to 360 after you pass the town of Paia, I found that number more appropriate, although you never do go through a full 360 turn. The second thing that struck me as amusing is that, although the speed limit on the highway is 15, it is 30 in town.

   Our first stop was the surfing beach at Ho'okipa Iki. This is one of the best surfing spots in the islands. While perhaps not as spectacular as Oahu’s north shore, the park has an overlook which is fantastic. Only board surfers were out when we were there because they have established rules which restrict the wind and kite surfers to the afternoon.We spent quite a while there, found a cache, enjoyed the scenery and then drove on. The traffic wasn’t too bad and we were in no hurry. If someone came up behind us, I just pulled of at the first opportunity and let them past.

   In Hana, we found that the store we knew had burned down a few years ago and was instead located in a different building. This one
was even more decrepit that the old one.

We bought a couple of shirts and some snacks, talked to the cashier and then continued south to the Seven Pools. The National Park has expanded their facilities in the area with a Visitor Center, rest rooms and picnic grounds. The road beyond here was very chancy in the past. On one of our trips, because the regular car rental companies banned using their cars back here, we rented an old beat up 4x4 Geo Tracker to make the drive which involved narrow gravel roads and one spot where you had to drive through a shallow creek.

   The Park Ranger told me that all that was changed, that the road, while still gravel in places, was much improved and graded and that the old ford was now a wide bridge. He further stated that people drove through there with rentals all the time. A full circle sounded good to us because at this point it was shorter to push on rather than turning back. We got an other chuckle when we realized that the road, when the paving resumed, was the same one Nuvi had put us on on Tuesday.

   We drove back to Kahului looking for another late lunch/early dinner. Nancy spotted a likely place in a strip mall. We turned into the parking lot behind a nice shiny pick up truck. Seated in the bed of the truck, just behind the cab were two young ladies, long blonde hair blowing in the wind, sitting in folding lawn chairs while two young men occupied the passenger compartment. Now we get uncomfortable when we see people letting their dogs ride in the back of the truck. This situation had us flummoxed. It was 96 degrees that day but we didn’t think this was the best or safest way to treat your girlfriends. We ate at Ruby’s Diner. It was a fifties style place, very white interior decorated with Pan Am Airline posters.

   After we ate we drove back across the island to #6 and took a break. Logged our finds, played some WOW and relaxed. Looking at the map, I realized that if hadn't taken the drive along the coast south from Kiihei, and since we still had a little go left in us, we decided to go for it. We found some great beaches and since they were on a stretch of road that dead ended eventually, they were mostly used by the locals. One of them had a cache put out by a couple who dedicated it to their wedding. They had been married there in 2007. Since that was our 50th, we decided to grab it. As we pulled into the parking lot, I saw a guy with a tall narrow round drum type thing getting out of his car. On the other side of the parking lot there was a fellow with a large professional type TV camera. While Nancy waited in the car, I walked down the path toward the beach to find the cache. As I was preparing to sign the log book, here came those folks down the path. With them were a few other folks including a young fellow in a dark blue suit and a gal in a long white wedding dress. I guess it really is a good spot for a wedding.

We decided that incident was a fitting end to a long and rather exciting day so we went home and crashed.