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The Road to Hana (Maui)
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The "road to Hana" is a mythical drive known of to anyone who has ever visited Maui and virtually no one else. It is presented as a unique, semi-masochistic experience which seems to qualify one primarily to wear a T-shirt that says, "I drove the road to Hana". It is presented as a 35 to 50 mile drive, depending on exactly where one begins calling it difficult and unique, composed of over 100 one lane bridges and about a thousand switchbacks. It is as off-road as one can go and still be on pavement.
What it is in reality is a long and winding paved cow path transversing the highly fluted (erosion), steep, windward, volcanic basalt flank of Mt Haleakala which is a true, all-out tropical rain forest. It is virtually the only way in and out of an area settled by people who truly want to be left alone to live a more traditional, mostly independent lifestyle. It is frontier juxtaposed to one of the premier tourist destinations in the world.
The actual drive is both less and more than advertised. It is not that hard, nor that long. The visions of cascading waterfalls into clear, paradise swimming pools is in reality muddy water, muddy dirt, rain, humidity, and mosquitoes. A perfect human environment also guarantees a myriad of creepy-crawly, slithery-slimey, bitey-stingey critters. But the rainforest growth is overwhelming. Visibility is most often measured in single digit yards. The road itself is quite frustrating in that there are very few places where one can stop, pull off, or even stand without obstructing traffic. And frighteningly often if one straddles the 4 inch shoulder and looks down at one's feet critically, you realize that underneath the vegetation under your toes, there is nothing but air and a thousand feet down to the ocean.
With a thousand unmarked trails and two tracks taking off into the wild and bush, one is assured that there is a decade of potential exploring, some if it palpably dangerous if one stumbles on someones marijuana plot. A 4 wheel drive is mandatory for anything beyond the road to Hana itself. There is a whole 'nother world and life of experience waiting, dripping and buzzing in there. I am not sure how often I might get back to Maui. This is just a taste from one quick, go-the-length-and-get-the-sweep-of-it drive.