Sunday, March 17, 2013

Hana Road

Just in case you were wondering how far Hana is from New York City, Rome, or the North Pole...

This charming sign, staked into the ground by our bungalow, will tell you. I actually liked knowing we were smack dab in the middle of the pacific ocean, thousands of miles from any cosmopolitan mecca. While I love people and the hustle of big cities, I also love feeling removed for a time, tucked away into a quiet corner of the earth, alone.

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Each morning Doug and I would run the Hana Road. It's the only route to, from, or through Hana. Dotting the twisted highway are 46 one-lane bridges, built in the early 1900's. 

Locals oppose adapting the bridges for two-lane traffic because they want to maintain the authenticity of the road. And I don't blame them. Hana isn't for the fast-paced who want fast-food, a quick look, and big entertainment. It's for the slow and contemplative, those who want to roll down their windows, breathe in the smell of guava crushed into blacktop, meander, relax.

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Here are a few of my favorite spots and views.

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The blue house. It's far from fancy, but meticulous and well-kept, with beautiful gardens of red ginger and poinsettia, a Hawaiian flag, and red barn for a mailbox.

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Bunches of bananas.

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Spray-painted signs. 

The Travasa Hotel has the only restaurant in Hana. So mostly, you cook your own food or stop in someone's front yard for something grilled or baked. Like Braddah Hutt's Grill. (Which was never open when we went by. A perk to running your own small business, I guess.)

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"Kids Playing" signs leaning against lava rock. A reminder to keep it slow.

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Mossy rock walls.

Hana gets over 100 inches of rainfall each year. Contrast that with Salt Lake City's average of 17 inches per year. Leaves, plants, and moss grow spontaneously. Vegetation climbs the mountain walls, tangles itself over the hillsides, then drips down the cliffs, like water.

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See the falls way up there on the top of the mountain? Most trickle all the way down to a small pool along the roadside, perfect for swimming. Doug and I would run towards O'heo Gulch, then on our return trip, take off our shoes and stop for a swim in one of the pools. Yowsas! That'll wake you up. 

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Occasionally, the road opened up to vistas like this.

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And this.

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And all kinds of flora, like these Hau Hibiscus.

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Doug running. 

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O'heo Gulch. 

This is probably the most famous tourist spot in Hana. Some call it the Seven Sacred Pools - but there aren't seven and they aren't sacred. Locals call it O'heo, which simply means "wonderful." Unfortunately, it was closed to swimming while we were there.

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Leaves the size of a throw rug.

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I loved the humidity, the rain, the locals selling their seashell necklaces and hava baskets at the bends in the road.

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Occasionally we stumbled upon some unexpected color. Like this fall leaf.

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In the afternoons, we swam at Hamoa and read. I devoured A Town Like Alice. (Thank you again Kellie!). This Aussie novel is a must-read people.

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I desperately wanted to pack a cooler full of this stuff and bring it home.

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One day we drove south on the Hana Road to a small church cemetery were Charles Lindbergh is buried. A truly peaceful place, perched high on the black cliffs. 

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Reading Gift from the Sea (written by Lindbergh's wife), made this visit all the more meaningful.

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Another day we scaled a sketchy trail along red-rock cliffs to find the Red Sand beach. Neither of us had been there before. 

I can only give you a view from the beach, because the view of the beach wouldn't be appropriate. It's one of those beaches where whatever you wear (or don't wear) is acceptable. Needless to say, we didn't stay long. 

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But it was beautiful and worth the hike. Are you starting to wonder if I wore the same thing every day? Well... yes, I did.

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Our last hurrah was at the Venus pool, our favorite swimming/jumping spot. Look at that emerald water. 

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Doug started the jumping here. 

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And then we jumped from here. 

It was morning and since the sun rises over the ocean, we had to shoot into the light. These photos aren't great, but they give you a feel for the fun we had.

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Then Doug decided to climb higher.

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And off he jumped.

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So I had to jump too. But this last jump took checking my brain at the door. Or leaving it in my flip flops.

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That's me screaming. 


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Still screaming.

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After swimming, we walked back to the road.

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It was our last day on Maui. 

After returning to the west side of the island, we decided to drive to the top of Haleakala. Years ago we made another attempt, but the mountain was so shrouded in cloud we couldn't see a thing. This trip, the weather was perfect. 

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The higher we drove, the quicker the clouds moved. They curled their fingers around the mountain - reaching, stretching, spiraling thin. I could have watched the changing clouds sweep over us for a long time.

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These pictures don't capture the magnificence, but we were right there, eye-level with the clouds.

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Then pretty soon, we were above the clouds.

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Elevation at the summit? 10,023 feet. You can see the crater behind us.

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Coming down, the sky seemed to catch fire. Light blazed in and out of the clouds, turning the pavement gold. It was ethereal. 

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As if we were in a different world.

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That night we ate at the Hali'imaile General Store, Bev Gannon's original restaurant. The seafood was amazing. And so was the pineapple upside down cake.

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And this is the last photograph of the trip. Me, delayed in LAX for six hours, where I got a phone call from Doug's parents telling me my Mom had fallen down our stairs and broken her wrist! 

I was sick about it. Nothing to do but read, twiddle my thumbs, and wait to hear how she was doing. 

We were delayed out of Kahalui so I missed my connecting flight (Doug and I were on separate airlines). And after three hours of sitting, I thought, "Oh man.... I just wanna go home!"

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My poor Mom. Watching our kids was no easy task, but tacking an injury like this onto the end of the week was SO unfortunate! Here she is in the lovely purple cast she wore until after Christmas. Bless her for all her help. And thanks to all four grandparents who shared the duty of caring for our children while we were gone. We love you.

Oh Hana, I wish we could go back to you sooner than later. To hear the light rain washing in like waves as we fall asleep, see the sun rise over the ocean, feel the warm sand on my haole skin. 

Mahalo beautiful Hana. 


  1. Mahalo for this beautiful post.

    My fav picture is you looking out to the sea (although the one of you screaming down into the water is pretty awesome too.)

    Looks like you had a wonderful time to relax and recharge your batteries.

    1. Mika - yes, it was wonderful. Quick question: I don't know if you saw my response to your last comment. Would you mind emailing me to tell me where you are in NZ? Doug's parents are there on a full-time mission and I would like them to keep a look-out for you. They are over the pacific area for public affairs and do a fair amount of traveling. xoxo

  2. Dear, dear Cath, I'm here reading more about your lovely trip. Wow. I am SO happy that you and Doug were able to go on this magical adventure. The Venus pool looks incredible. I thought of you this week as I read Katrina Kenison's new book Magical Journey. Her writing style reminded me in some parts of your writings. You absolutely have a similar gift. Both of you are such insightful weavers of words. I got really excited thinking about you publishing a book one day. I know you will. The world needs your words..lots of them. Love you.

  3. Looks like a great time in Hana. We as guides ourselves spend our off-days in Hana doing pretty much what you have experienced. The difference is that we are there with our ohana which makes for a fun, exciting yet relaxing time.

  4. Thank you Catherine, for taking me on a mini vacation with these posts of your beautiful trip!!!. I wish it could have been 2 weeks but that would have been too much for your kids and parents I bet.

  5. Looks and sounds so peaceful and perfect! I'm so glad you guys were able to go!

  6. Anne Marie - Did you like Magical Journey? Would you recommend it? Curious. I do have a flicker of a dream for a book some day. Maybe a collection of personal essays? Hard to imagine it ever happening. I love hearing from you. Are you well??

    Tours... - Fun to get a local's persepective. How lucky you are to live there (with your ohana!). I think Hana is paradise.

    Kristen - Um, spot on. Two weeks would've left my parents incapacitated. ;) Grateful we had the time we did.

    Deb - Anxious to hear about FL. Miss you.

  7. I feel warmer reading these posts, Cath, so I keep re-reading them. And dreaming of a future trip that I might take to Hawaii someday. What a wonderful time with your husband.

  8. what a fabulous trip! did you do separate flights on purpose or because of miles? i always worry if we take a flight together without the kids what might happen...

  9. Cath! Simply phenomenal! Luv the pictures, luv the update, luv the time you had together and the air you got to breathe. What a memory. So happy for you...


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