Friday, February 11, 2011

Hawaii Day 3: The Rest of the Way Around

So the road to Hana is more about the road and the sights along the way than the town of Hana, but still, you have to wonder what Hana is all about. Well, not too much.  There are some houses, some food stands, and a lot of laid back living.  Cute little town wit h a remote and tiny airstrip that Drew drooled over.  At Hana harbor, our book told us we could find a red sand beach.  In my sand collection I have glauconitic greensand (Minnesota), white gypsum sand (New Mexico), white silica sand (Minnesota), yellow silica sand (Minnesota), orange silica sand (Minnesota), red silica sand (Utah), brown Italian sand, green olivine sand (Big Island, Hawaii), black volcanic sand (Big Island, Hawaii), but no red volcanic sand.  We had a goal!

To find the red sand beach described in our guidebook, we were to hike over a landslide along an iffy trail to a point out past Hana Harbor.  By this time, Drew was tiring of my fascination with extraordinary sand, so we stopped at a smaller pocket of red sand. 

We stayed long enough to snap some pictures, bag up a little sand,
and check out the geology of the cliffs.  The point was made by a late stage magma eruption in which the lava comes out with a lot of gasses.  Instead of flowing, the magma shoots out as cinders, ash, and "bombs". Here, it piled up and froze together.  In the picture below you can see a small bomb surrounded by smaller welded particles.  Plastic knife for scale.  The rock and resulting sand are red because of high iron content in the magma, which is oxidizing to rust.
Drew was a trooper while I geeked out on rocks and sand.

We passed through Hana and headed out to more unknown.  Most people drive to Hana and turn back to return the way they came, on pavement.  Not for us!  What are rental Dodge Chargers for if not to beat up on a curvy, mostly 1.5-lane, unpaved, washboardy road connecting settlements 50 miles apart?  The landscape just past Hana was gorgeous, lush, steep, and tropical.   
We sailed past a guidebook "must-see", Seven Sacred Pools National Park. We were waterfalled, beached, and swum out and it was getting late in the day. We accidentally drove past Charles Lindberg's gravesite.  After countless rock stops, we miss one of the only aeronautical stops on our vacations. Drew gets the short end of the stick again.

Last stop for goodies is the Kaupo store.  This place is the definition of eclectic!  Odd antiques, various types of "American" and "native" snacks, and to our delight, one refrigerator stocked with at least 15 types of beer and another with as many types of ice cream treats.  The owner loved to talk to strangers; I guess you would have to with so few other people around.

As we continued on around to the leeward side of the island, the topography opened up and dried out. Maybe it is because of growing up in wide-open spaces, but to me, this was the most beautiful scenery in Maui. Stunning!  I guess it might have had something to do with the very obvious geologic features too.  The big notch in the mountainside here is the Kaupo Gap, an huge canyon carved by erosion that later filled with lava. The crashing ocean waves, the low-angle sun on the deeply incised mountainsides, and the grasses waving in the wind were spectacular.
We stopped briefly to snap a photo of Pokowai sea arch and watch whales spouting off in the distance. 
Continuing on, the land became drier and drier, with only signs of sheep to let you know anyone was around. The road climbs away from the shoreline to a few thousand feet elevation, giving us a grand view of  360-foot high Pu'u Ola'i cinder cone.

 As we climbed higher we entered clouds and farming villages in the town of Kula.  It was nice, but it was late, so we drove on down to Kahului, completing our circumnavigation of southeast Maui.  One of our few dinners out we had at Saeng's Thai restaurant in the town of central-Maui town of Wailuku. Our guidebook said "hot" meant hot. Not so much, but the food was tasty and the beer was moderately cold.

After the drive back to the condo, we soaked in the hot tub before crashing out.  All that driving made us two tired cookies.

1 comment:

  1. Great adventure - great photos. Thanks. I remember a drive like that along the West coast of Oahu when I was 6 or 7. We were in the family's brand new '58 Ford Fairlaine convertible. Narrow dirt road with occasional wrecked auto hulks dotting the bottom of the cliff. I was terrified. I can't imagine anything like that exists on Oahu today.