Get into the Grove

Staying over in Hana meant we didn’t need to rush. Yulia and I still woke up early – in fact before sunrise. Since we are on the other side of the island we took the opportunity to walk to the beach and wait for the sunrise. We watch a lot of sunsets – but I can’t remember the last time we waited for a sunrise. We pulled to lawn chairs from the condo and sat on the rocks of the beach and waited.

We weren’t disappointed. It was windy, with a bit of cloud cover on the horizon. As the sun rose it made a dramatic effect with the clouds. A low red horizon below the clouds turned more and more yellow, with rays poking through the cloud gaps. Eventually the sun made a full breakthrough and everything lit up. It was wonderful to watch. But I still needed coffee.

Yulia and I took a walk around Hana – I was hoping that the Hana-Maui hotel might have a coffee stand open, but we could see that most everything was closed there. We would have to grab coffee further down the road. So we looked around town first. There isn’t much to Hana itself. The point of the trip is the drive, not the destination. We had to go back and get the jeep to go to get coffee. We tried to go to the food truck that had a local cold brew in hand – but it wasn’t open yet. Further down we found the ranch store was open with not coffee – but fresh Spam Misubi for breakfast takeout. That was awesome, so with that we headed to yet another food truck court and found the local coffee stand.

What a relief. We got some dirty chai lattes, a macchiato for me, and a cappuccino for Yulia. It was great coffee. You really can’t beat Spam and coffee to start your day. I will fight you on this. We went back to the condo to pick up Sasha and Petru, dropped the keys, and took off.

We had plenty of time to take the trip back. We got into the Jeep and activated the tour app again. Part of the difficulty of the Road to Hana trip is that most folks don’t stay over so they have to rush and can’t enjoy everything they want. We were leaving pretty early and going the opposite direction from everyone else. So we have no driving pressure on our time. Some of the stands that the tour called out weren’t open yet, but we weren’t worried about missing roadside stands. We really wanted to have extra time down the road.

I took that time, and just let other vehicles pass. It was more important to simply enjoy the drive then make a specific time back. The road on the north shore is the regular path to Hana, and it is amazingly better that the south road. Even better than the last time we were here. The road is smooth and wide but all the bridges are still one lane from 1910. I was pretty good at the interchange at these bridges, but some of the other tourists didn’t have the hang of it yet. We would get stuck a few times as someone would go at the wrong time and we would get stuck and have to back up or squeeze through. You kind of get used to it.

We found some great stops since we weren’t in a rush. We took a 30 minute hike up a trial to a fantastic waterfall view, then later found the lava tubes again and walked through and got some great photos. The tour voice told us that there were over 600 curves on the road. I had little doubt of this as I’ve been driving to for 2 days and my shoulders are ripped as sexy as fuck now. By that I mean they hurt from all the turning.

We took a major stop on the Ke’ane peninsula that contains Auntie Sandy’s Banana bread place. This is a peninsula that was a rough lava flow back in the 1700’s or so until the local chief decided to have all his subjects take baskets of dirt from the mountain and fill in the whole peninsula so he could grow Taro. Seriously. I don’t like picking up topsoil from Lowe’s – but that’s another level. The banana bread is fantastic of course, so I bout several loaves. We milled about on the beach looking at the insane lava rock formations. Identical formations were just under our feet filled with untold baskets of soil. Crazy.

We continued the twists and turns and eventually hit one of the specific stops we wanted. The Garden of Eden botanical gardens. There was a line of cars to get in. I pulled us around and got in line. We waited and once we had tickets parked in one of the upper lots. The garden is notable as it had a great walkthrough of local trees and plants. Including a Banana grove, ad Bamboo grove, a 100 year old mango tree, and all kinds of eucalyptus. But it also has a view to the Rock that was in the opening shot of Jurassic Park. We wandered through the trails to see everything. Far too many of the trees had initials cut if from asshole tourists over the years. I will never understand the thinking behind doing that. Fuck those people.

Leaving the park we started to hit longer lines of cars going the opposite way. We got stuck at several bridges for quite a while, with almost 20 cars going by at one particular point. By my calculations these people were way too late for the drive, and were going to be heading back in the dark. Not a good idea, as this road is tough in the day. But they failed to plan ahead so they will have to deal with it later. I just had to wait for them all to drive past.

We also stopped at a beach famous for being a rest stop for sea turtles. As expected, there were several resting on the sand, and there was a line of rocks to tell people not to get too close. We were shoo’d away by the turtle patrol (that’s a real thing), but another family just walked straight up through the turtles. They were warned off, but ignored the patrol and just did their thing. As we found out, Turtles are protected and it’s a federal offence to disturb them when resting like this. So the Patrol got pictures and took notes on these folks. Those get sent to the police, so that should be an interesting time for them later.

This was the end of the tour on tape. We were now in Paia town and parked to find some food. It was hot and crowded. We were hoping to shop a bit and have a quick bite, but all the restaurants had lines, so I foc used on getting us anywhere with food. There was a great Mexican place that had an opening after a short wait, and we rested there and got some nice tacos and enchiladas. The shopping was OK – too many places had closed due to the Covid shutdown. One of the tour facts noted that on discovery by the west, missionaries brought western diseases and that killed 90% of the Hawaiian population. I don’t fault the state for being very overprotective against Covid. Business will return – people won’t.

We got back around 4pm. We cleaned up and swam and rested, before grilling up some fish for dinner on the BBQ by the pool. The sun went down, and we got to enjoy another beautiful view. This meant that we chased the sun all day from Sunrise to sundown.

With just a few hundred curves in between.

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