This is 40 - The Road to Hana (Day 4)

Sunday, May 3rd

The fun part of jet lag is how different it can be day after day.  I was able to sleep a little longer than normal (maybe stirred at 430a, but was truly awake at 5a), but Danielle was in worse shape, waking up very early in the morning.  Lucky for us, we had an excursion today, so we had to be up and ready to go early.  We didn't even need a wake up call. 

Today, we were going on the Road to Hana Tour.


To be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what the Road to Hana was.  I had planned my trip by doing very, very little research.  My main goal was relaxation.  I didn't think I'd be going on too many adventures.

But Danielle came up with the idea of the Road to Hana.  I was swayed by the idea that we'd get to a winery on Maui.  A winery that served Pineapple Wine.  Done.  Sign. Me. Up.

I wasn't renting a car.  And I knew enough about the Road to Hana that I knew I didn't want to drive (too many hairpin turns).  So tour, it was.

Now, the further away from this day I get, the more I don't entirely know how to frame what we did.  We drove around an island, stopping at places.  What those places were...I'm not always sure.  I made an attempt to label areas based on information such as Wikipedia.  For the most part, just focus on the pictures.  That's kind of what I'll be doing.

Pickup

We were waiting at the back door of the Hyatt at 650a, with an older married couple.  The husband had a sick camera.  After a short time waiting, a white van from Valley Isle Excursions drove up.  A very tattooed and pierced man named Keoni came out of the van and ushered us all in.  We instantly loved Keoni.  He was a bit of a smart aleck and really knew his stuff.  To make things fun, every person that drove by the van, Keoni knew.  We saw the "hang loose" hand sign many times.  So this is a real thing that happens in Hawaii.  I love that.

Our first goal was to sit as close to the front of the van as possible.  Danielle (and I) have a tendency to get a bit motion sick.  And did I mention the Road to Hana has a ton of hairpin turns??  Being slightly sick on a bumpy and windy road is not ideal.  So of course, we walk into the van to find there are four seats left.  All in the very back row.  Awesome.  I'm sure it will be ok.  Right??

Maui Lani Golf Course

The first stop was for breakfast.  It was early, after all.  Keoni gave us very specific rules for the trip.  When we find a place with a restroom, go there first.  You never know when there will be another one.  And there is always a line for the Women's restroom.  As long as we stopped at the bathroom first and made our way quickly through the areas, Keoni said he would take us to areas on the Road that "others wouldn't go."  We were on board.  At the golf course, he made us all stop for a bathroom break.  Then, we had breakfast.

Really, breakfast consisted of fruit and a few assorted pastries.  The blueberry muffin was great and I probably should have taken another one.  But I didn't want to be a total jerk.  I figured I'd leave some for the other people.

Ho'okipa Lookout

It seemed very soon after we left the golf course, we were already pulling into an area that "most busses wouldn't visit."  It's here where we got a chance to watch folks surfing.  It also was where Keoni stole my camera to take pictures of turtles on the beach.

Keoni asked, "Does anyone have a good camera??"  Yes, why don't I hand my nice camera to a perfect stranger??  But then...
He took this picture.  I'm ok with him taking my camera for a bit.


Keanae Peninsula

I kept hearing about stopping for banana bread.  Oh, you have to stop for banana bread!!  We're going to have banana bread.  Banana bread will be served.

I don't like banana bread.

Notice the sky here.  It did rain a little bit.  Mostly to be a jerk while we were on a beach that I don't even mention in my story.
So color me surprised as when we stopped at the banana bread stand, I bought some banana bread.  Look, I was momentarily swayed when Keoni mentioned it was usually still warm.  It was.  And crapballs, it was really good.  The daughter of the family seated at the front of the van said, "This is the best banana bread I've ever had."  This was much to the dismay of her mom.

There were also roadside chickens.
Bellies full, we hauled back into the van for the next stop.  Now I don't entirely know where this part was on the road.  But we found a waterfall.  And at the base of the waterfall, people were "swimming" (if "swimming" meant a couple in an embrace in the water...but no funny business).  Keoni told the 14 year old son (Matthew) of the mom from above to go down the path into the water.  Then he focused on Danielle.  Both of them were then egged on by me, a person who takes no risks whatsoever.


"Do it!!  Do it!!  Do it!!"


My favorite line came from this exchange with Matthew, as he climbed down the slippery slope.

Matthew: "Is this what peer pressure is like??"
Me: "Yep.  You better get used to it!!"

Yes, folks.  I am an adult.

Danielle, Pre-injury
Both Danielle and Matthew made it down close to the pool portion.  A few seconds after I took this picture, I looked back at the area and saw Danielle sitting on the rock.  She slipped and scraped up her arm something good.  Poor little camper.  I should have felt guilty about my peer pressure moment, but...I kind of don't.

As we were getting ready to head out, a scrum of teens came through our pack.  They made their way down the hill quickly and all of a sudden I looked up to see a dude standing at the top of the waterfall.  That's when I realized they were going to do some cliff diving.  So I turned my "burst" mode on and took pictures.  These guys are much more adventurous in this moment than I'll ever be in my entire life.




Wai'anapanapa State Park

Driving to our next location, the older man with the sick camera struck up a bit of a camera conversation with me.  He liked something on my camera and was showing me the difference between the pictures he took with the polarized lens and the ones without.  I had camera envy (though, I know I can't get a new camera until I know how to use my current camera - Auto mode works for me, but I could so so much more if I actually learned what the hell to do!!).  I gave Old Camera Man the tip to watch Finding Vivian Meier.  We had dialogue!!  I also loved hearing the conversation between the couples.  "Now don't always be the last one in the van because you're too busy taking pictures..."


Our stop was a black sand beach, complete with cave!!  Keoni gave us 20 minutes to explore before coming back for lunch.  I took off my shoes and felt the sand in my feet.  Black sand.  Who'd have thunk it??

Before you hit the sand, you hit the rocks
Because I had to show off my pedicure to someone!!
You guys, I had a few rocks in my shoe.
We crab walked into a cave of wonders.  While I have been looking for my Jurassic Park moment, I didn't expect to have a Goonies one.  In the cave, the only thing I could think of was "Goonies Never Say Die!!"




Lunch was served and what a surprise.  First off, there were 13 of us on the bus.  Seven of the passengers were vegetarians or vegans.  That is insane to me.  Insane!!  But I digress.  The vegetarians ate a curry dish, but us meat eaters had some BBQ chicken.  There was a salad and macaroni salad.  It was quite surprising to have a hot lunch ready to go.  Especially a tasty hot lunch.

Haleakala National Park at Kipahulu

We had brought our swimming suits and towels.  For what, I still don't entirely know.  I thought for a while it would be the Haleakala National Park, but once I saw the waves, I knew I would never go in that water.  Plus, when I saw the "No Swimming" sign, I made a mention of the power of the waves being the reason why.  A guy on another tour said it was because of bacteria in the water.  I don't know if that guy was a damn liar or not, but it didn't matter.  A swimming suit was not happening on this journey.  And I was totally ok with that.


Keoni said we had about 30 minutes at this park.  There were two trails.  The Right Trail and the Left Trail.  He was very clear to go to the Right.  If we went to the Left, he would leave us (I hope he was joking??).  I did not want to be left at a National Park in the middle of nowhere.  To the Right it was!!


The Right Trail spits you out onto one of the most beautiful areas so far on Maui.  This really was my Isla Nublar moment.  The cliffs and the greenery and the water.  If some kind of dinosaur had flown by, I wouldn't have been disappointed.  The only thing I didn't care for were the crowds.  And honestly, there weren't that many of them.  But it would have been nice to just sit quietly while taking it all in.



Palapala Ho'omau Church

Behind a small church lives a small, family cemetery with a few surprising inhabitants.  Charles Lindbergh spent the end of his life on Maui, lured to the island by his friend Sam Pryor, a former executive with Pan Am.  According to Keoni, Lindbergh gave Pryor a present of pet monkeys, normally not seen on an island.  Keoni said Pryor and one of the monkeys was the inspiration for Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat.  This is the one things of this day that I've actually tried to research on the internet, but I kind of can't find any info saying that this is true.  If it is or isn't, it's a good story.

Charles Lindbergh

Sam Pryor

George, the monkey
After paying our respects to the dearly departed, we ended up at a tiny fruit stand in the middle of nowhere.  Danielle and I decided that this would be a great job.  Be an Organic Farmer and just sell papayas and coffee and honey and apple bananas on a roadside stand.  And then we realized, not only would it be hard work to be farmers, but it would be boring, and we wouldn't have time or money to travel anymore.  Danielle bought some coffee and tipped her imaginary hat to the girl at the counter for a job well done.


We pulled off to the side of the road two or three times as we came to areas of the drive that looked more like something I'd expect to see at the Grand Canyon or Death Valley or something (places I've never been before).  I'm not sure if this is an actual desert, but it was so different than anything we'd seen so far.  And I don't know if this is normal, but the wind was insane.  Kenoi told us to keep hats off during this portion.  I'm glad I did.  Cause otherwise, I'd be missing a hat.


The group was pretty spread out as we looked into this desert-like area.  When Keoni came by to chat for a few minutes, I mentioned how parts of Maui really reminded me of Easter Island.  We got into a conversation about Travel (only my favorite conversations) and he said he didn't entirely understand the want to travel.  He was from Maui and has never left Hawaii.  I think he hasn't actually left the island of Maui.  There's no interest for him to do so.  He surfs every day and has everything he needs here.  I kind of love that, but the Wanderlust pulls way too hard for me.  I also think it would be too constricting knowing you were on an island and couldn't go too far in one direction or the other.  But who knows??  It is more than possible that I am the weird one.


The only shot I have of our crew
Another stop a few minutes later.

Maui Winery

We stopped at the right time.  Danielle was not doing so well with her motion sickness.  She had a makeshift bucket ready, but no one wanted to deal with the consequences of a puking passenger.  So we made it to the winery and all was right with the world.  Because, wine.


The older couple and I made a beeline into the tasting room.  Pineapple wine, let's do this.

Then I tried the wine.


Pineapple wine, let's not do this.

I honestly can't put my finger on why this wasn't great.  I expected it to be sweet and lovely.  It was...it was sweet, but it just didn't have a good flavor.  I tried one sweet wine, one bubbly pineapple wine, and one bubbly strawberry wine.  And none were my jam.  So I wandered the grounds for a bit.

I did meet up with Danielle during my tour of the grounds.  She was jumping up and down, trying desperately to speed up the puking process.  But it was not meant to be.  We walked across the street to the Cowboy Store, where she picked up some additional Ginger Candy to help soothe her sickness.

After the stop at the winery, we may have stopped at one last place, but for the most part, we were all pretty much done.  Danielle's severe wave of nausea was over.  The woman in front of me's severe wave of nausea was just beginning.  As we boarded the van again, Danielle asked Matthew (the 14 year old) if he minded trading seats with her for the rest of the way.  He had been sitting up front in a single seat close to the door.  And Matthew was a good kid and moved.  I was thrilled, cause if chunks were being blown, I did not want to deal with the situation.  So I made conversation with Matthew.  You know, the general, "What is your favorite thing you've done in Maui??" kind of conversation.  It was a long drive home.

The Hyatt is in the right place.  It's the first drop-off and the last pick-up.  The older couple got off the bus with us and we wished each other well.  We went back to the room for a quick hit of electricity while something very important occurred.

It was Cava Time.

I'd held on to the bottle of Cava that Adele had sent over for my birthday.  I thought about opening it on my first day, but drinking a whole bottle of bubbly by myself isn't advised, even on my best day.  Tonight, we were both still a little queasy from the drive, so Cava was the best medicine.


Let me just say...Cava went down easy.  By the time we were going downstairs to dinner, we were feeling no pain.

We actually decided to go downstairs to dinner (instead of heading off property), because we had the Tour of the Stars astronomy "class" at 9p.  So we didn't want to be far away, not knowing how long it would take us to get back to the hotel.

Turns out, we didn't need to be worried about the time.  Apparently, there was just enough cloud cover that the tour was cancelled.  I got a call on my cell around the time the waiter came by.  So between the disappointment of the cancellation and the Cava Enthusiasm, our waiter was on the receiving end of a few GOD. DAMMIT. moments.  We got another glass of wine and dug into some food.

Sadly, I never was able to go on the Tour of the Stars.  Which was probably my biggest disappointment of the whole trip.  This was the thing that swayed me the most on this particular hotel.  I guess though, the whole disappointment was better because of wine.  It was a full day.  I didn't stay disappointed for too long.  There was a big day happening soon...



I'm bowing down to the power of the Selfie.  Please forgive the hair.





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