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The Long & Winding Road that is Hana – Maui Day Three

Links to:
Day One
Day Two
At the end of our Day Two, we all decided that we’d spend Day Three by exploring Hana. I was the only one in the family who had the opportunity to drive the Road To Hana (RTH) back in 1997 (nearly 20 years ago). Driving the RTH is not about getting to Hana, but the journey as you make your way towards Hana. I had an idea what to expect (so I thought), which was why I told the family that we should leave our condo in Kihei around 6am (fat chance)!

So much for leaving at 6am
I got up at 5am, and Nancy got up 1/2 hour later. We didn’t realize how tired we were from the day before when we explored Makena and Kihei. So on the morning of Day Three, that was when we just started to prepare for our all-day road trip. We had to pack, got the kids in the shower, prepare/serve/eat breakfast, etc. You know the drill, I’m sure.I also had to cook a quick lunch meal – just beef marinated in soy sauce with grilled onions served over white/brown rice. That was meant for us to eat on the road (well, again, we tried….”some” of us (like myself), ate “some” of it for breakfast)! The 6am plan fizzled, instead we left close to 9am. Well, I gotta say that “hey, at least  we tried to leave at 6am.” 
Our Plan A and Plan B
Plan A – Although we started late, and since we had 9 days on Maui, Nancy and I decided to go to Hana anyway, and see how far we could drive today, and if we decide to head back home halfway in between, we could do so and just return some other day. That way we’re not rushing ourselves. 
Plan B – Go and finish RTH all the way.
I was leaning towards Plan B, but was game to do whatever it takes to visit this side of the island.
On our way to RTH
Since we had to pass by Kahului/Wailuku, I got a bit hungry (surprise, surprise) and decided to look at my foodie bucket list and realized that Stillwell’s Bakery was just a few minutes away. So we did a quick detour and headed over to Stillwell’s in Wailuku. I asked the lady at the counter what would she recommend? She said the Cream Horn (Puff pastry with custard and chocolate filling), and their Banana Cream Pie. We enjoyed both desserts. The pie had these big chunks of fresh bananas too. It was delicious. The cream horn was flaky, had a good crunch to it, and the cream was just right, not too sweet. Ok, so foodie craving was satisfied. Oh yeah….back on the road again. It was already past 10am when we finally made the trek leaving Wailuku towards the RTH. A little too late in my books.
The weather at this time of day was cloudy with visible signs that these were gray cloudy rain clouds. But it’s Hawaii. I did expect it to rain a bit, and I explained to the kids that Hawaii rain typically lasts for a few minutes. So I proceeded towards the RTH.
If I only had a dollar…..
For every time the kids asked, “are we there yet?”, “where are we going, Daddy?”, “how much longer?”…..I’d be super rich! Again, I expected to hear all of these questions from the inquiring minds. They tried their best to keep themselves entertained (iPad, Kindle, Spotify, and random questions from mom and dad).
RTH Landmarks

While we had tourist maps, and notes I printed from various websites, I decided to stop wherever I saw a bunch of parked tourist vehicles. That’s what happened at Twin Falls, the very first stop. There must’ve been over 100 cars parked and I said, there had to be something to see here. I don’t remember much from the 1997 trip (I should’ve kept a trip diary – I had no blog then). I don’t remember Twin Falls. So, we all got out of the Tahoe, crossed the bridge, and entered the gate towards Twin Falls. It  
              sprinkled a bit, but we kept moving, Ethan and Madison were ahead, Caitlin and I were paired together, while Nancy had Evan. It was a beautiful rainforest, a great paved trail. There was a point where we actually had to cross a stream to get to the other side. Speaking of rainforest, it did rain.

A nice heavy downpour for about 5 minutes. We took refuge under shady trees, but there was just no escaping the fact that we’d get wet eventually. After a few minutes, the rain ceased, and we walked some more. Not soon after, there it was, Twin Falls. At first, Nancy and Evan stayed from a distance by not getting any closer to the falls. After I made my way closer to the falls, I signaled and told her it was ok to cross. I met them halfway, and in no time, all of us were a few feet away from the falls. The walk/hike took just about over 1 hour roundtrip. We didn’t wear sneakers, it was just our Rainbow Sandals that saved the day.

Back to The Long and Winding Road

One of numerous falls we saw off the highway

 I don’t think the Beatles wrote this song about the RTH, but it was quite appropriate. All I kept thinking were the 600 curves/turns, and the over 50 bridges we had to cross. There were so many waterfalls in between that I simply lost track as to which waterfall was right in front of us. We did stop at the Halfway to Hana store. We had to get out and stretch for a bit. Ethan ordered shave ice, while Nancy and I shared a warm banana bread that just came out of the oven. Oh my!                                  

Better than the Ice Bucket Challenge

Not long after, we found ourselves in  Waiʻanapanapa State Park. First, we went towards the cave. Again, I don’t think I went here in 1997. I would’ve remembered and here’s why. I didn’t see a cave then. What was in the cave? A handful of tourists swimming, screaming, yet enjoying their time. Madison jumped in and she did just the same. She said, “Cold!!!!’ So I made my way down, and my kids and the tourists told me to just do it and jump. So I did……brrrrrr!!!! Now that’s better than the Ice Bucket Challenge. The water was ice cold. I gotta tell you, jumping in that pool of 

Glorious Black Sand Beach

your ice-ness was the break we needed from The Long and Winding Road. It sure woke me up. It woke up my senses. Not long after, Ethan jumped and joined. The 2 kids jumped in again, and again….it was that fun!!! After a few minutes of playing in this cave ice bucket, we walked out and headed down to Black Sand Beach. It was just picture perfect. It was packed with tourists, but the beach was big enough to accommodate the crowd. 

There was no more turning back…Plan B it is

It was already past 4pm and there was just no way we’d be turning back now. So after leaving Wai’napanapa, we finally arrived at Hana. We were very hungry at this point. We stopped at Braddah Hutts BBQ a food truck off to the side of the road. We ordered the most delicious BBQ Chicken and Grilled Steak. We were on a mission to eat fast because at this point, we’ve not even seen the Seven Sacred Pools yet, considered one of the highlights when you drive the RTH. So we did what we could to eat quickly, but it was just wrong to do so. The chicken and steak were flavorful, and I was not expecting that from this little shack. It was amazing. Another family next to us enjoyed watching us devour our food. Hahahahahaha I don’t blame them.

BBQ Chicken – Braddah Hutts

Pools of O’heo (aka Seven Sacred Pools)

Lower Pools at O’heo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools)

We arrived at O’heo Gulch around 5:30pm. I knew that I wanted us to at least see the pools. This would be our very last stop, and the plan was to take the back road leaving Hana. We all made our way down to the pools, took a few good pictures with the kids. Nancy then decided to take Evan and Caitlin back up to the car, while I stayed with Ethan and Madison. We played in one of the pools. Definitely much warmer and cooler than the icy water from the cav
e earlier. It was fun jumping in the water with my kids, I’m also just glad they know how to swim. Not long after, we decided to get out and leave the pools. I was left behind since I couldn’t find my Rainbow Sandals. After a few minutes of searching, I found it. I started to rush, not a good idea. My left foot slipped on one of the moss-covered rocks, and at that moment, it felt like the longest 2-3 seconds of my life. I thought I broke something or that my foot would get stuck. Thankfully, none of that. No wound, nothing. Just a little bruise and I’m sure I’ll survive,

Black Sand Selfie

The Back Road

Orange-colored sky on our drive home from Hana

When I took the back road before, I do remember the “rocky road” and then I remember ending up in some nice residential area. That’s what I was expecting. After leaving the Seven Sacred Pools, we were back on the winding road, lots of rocky areas. Just imagine yourself sitting at a Brookstone and sitting on one of those massage chairs….it was rockyI Did I have appreciation for paved roads the moment we left the rocky/unpaved areas? You bet. As we drove out further, I thought’ we’d end up somewhere in Makena/Wailea area….but that was just too good to be true. The road took us to a long stretch of 1 to 2 skinny lane paved highways, via cattle farms, and near the foot of Haleakala. It was a long way home (probably took us close to 2 hour). We got home past 9pm, and as you might imagine, we were exhausted. I am just glad that we did the RTH and with 4 kids in tow, we tried to take in as much as we could with so little time. Road to Hana is now crossed off our Maui bucket list.

What kept us entertained? The kids of course. Caitlin had a craving for chips, so she asked for “TORTATO” chips (we thought she wanted Potato chips).  Come to find out she was referring to TORTILLA chips. She couldn’t pronounce TORTILLA (pronounced TOR-TEE-YAH), instead, she kept saying TOR-TEE-TA. That took about 15 minutes which gave us a good comic relief during this strenuous drive.

Ok….that was the very exhausting, yet rewarding Day 3….good night….and mahalo for following our journey.

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