From Kahului, Maui's main city, the little town of Hana is 52 miles away, or about 84 kilometres. Hana is nestled in the island's rugged eastern coastline, and according to the
Go Hawaii tourist website, is considered one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers. I would call it a backwater, if not a marijuana outpost. The drive to Hana can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete, because it consists of narrow one-lane bridges, and hairpin turn, not to mention spectacular scenery. A person is apt to toddle and gape.
The Hana Highway (HI-360) has 620 curves and 59 bridges. That's a lot of body and dental work. The road weaves its way through lush rainforests, towering waterfalls, plunging pools and breathtaking seascapes. Did I mention the hairpin turns? If you visit the Go Hawaii website, you will see I lifted some of the Road to Hana description, and changed the adjectives. Gosh, you'd think I was a speechwriter for Prime Minister Harper. I am merely setting the scene expeditiously, to get to the funny part.
I had just come off a gig in Honolulu, and Dan and I were vacationing in Maui. Yeah, I had a gig in Waikiki. Was booked in December 2013, at the height of the Toronto ice storm. (The internet is a wondrous thing at times, when it's not a black hole for attention spans. A company from Australia found me on the You Tube --but that is another blog to procrastinate writing.) All the tourist websites and books said to DRIVE THE ROAD TO HANA. I must confess, I am getting cautious in my advancing years. I thought the drive may be a little too tiring for Dan, because there was no way I was going to attempt it. I do not own a car, have never owned a car, and only drive the cars of other people when they are inebriated beyond repair. I am an dyed-in-the-wool urbanite, right down to my library canvas tote bag and metropass. Nevertheless, I shook off my apprehension, rented a car, and appointed Dan as chauffeur for the week.
Maui is not a big island, but beautifully craggy it is. I imagine it is like Newfoundland, without the sleet, snow and people saying "I's the B'y". As Dan turned the wheel one way and then the next, and as the car climbed the road to Hana, I felt vague unease. One false move, like say texting a client, or eating a burrito, and we'd plummet off the side of the road and explode like cars did in the TV show Mannix. It was more than that though. I felt, in my gut, that something was going to happen, and that something would not be good.
I pretended I was relaxed and happy. I had every reason to be; I had just come off a successful gig, and was remunerated well. The drive was every bit as amazing as the tourist books said. Dan parked the car at a remote beach, and we headed for the water.
That is, he headed for the water, and I was stuck guarding keys and wallets. I watched him frolic in the big surf, thinking it was a bit rough. My stomach clenched some more. I glanced over at a bbq hut in the distance, and saw a man leaning on a shovel, his eyes closed.
I turned back to the ocean, to see Dan climbing up from the beach, heading toward me.
Without his glasses.
Dan wears glasses. Dan needs glasses. To see.
"Darlin', I lost my glasses in the ocean," he said.
And that's when I flew into a rage. Looking back at it now, I supposed I hadn't completely shaken off my apprehension.
"I knew it! I knew it! I knew something was going to FUCK UP! I had this feeling ALL DAY LONG, something was going to FUCK UP. And something FUCKED UP."
I paced around in a fury, at the same time steeling myself for the tortuous drive back. I would have to get behind the wheel, be the responsible one, and draw upon my driving school knowledge from 1996.
"GET IN THE CAR NOW. It's going to take six hours to get the hell out of here!"
What happened next is what I like to refer to as "Miracle on the HI-360."
Not wanting to endure my wrath for an interminable journey back, Dan insisted on driving. Being a coward, and an angry coward, I let him. For the first 20 minutes I hollered anytime the median line disappeared . Then, I started to relax. Dan was driving well. Not only that, he seemed to drive better without his glasses. He took hairpins turns with panache, exceeding the 15mph speed limit, and then some. I resigned myself to driving once we hit towns and the city again, but no, he kept going, passing other cars and keeping up with the highway traffic going 65mph, all the way to Kihei where we were staying.
Unwinding with beverages on the lanai at the condo, I asked Dan why he insisted on driving.
"It was either I drive, or you mad at me for the rest of the day."
Yes, Miracle on HI-360. The thought of someone ranting in a car for six hours gave him new vision. And it gave me insight into my own catastrophic thinking, and my need for control. If you take the Road to Hana, remember to just enjoy the ride.