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Published: February 14th 2016
We left our resort on Kaanapali Beach around 9:00 AM. I warned Jackie that it would end up being a 12 hour day and I was pretty darn close. Our first stop was Charley's in Paia. Paia is the town that is at the beginning of the Hana Highway. Jan and I just stopped there on probably our second drive to Hana quite a few years ago. Way back then we learned that Charley's was a favorite hangout for Willie Nelson, who has a home near there. The story goes that he comes in and plays whenever he's around. There have been many other famous musicians that have played there, too. They serve a great breakfast there and also some great Bloody Marys. You have to be fortified for the long drive ahead.
It's a mere 41 miles from Paia to Hana. A drive that includes at least ten thousand tight turns. I don't think that even the locals that drive it like maniacs can do it in less than three hours. We mere flatlanders take even longer, believe me. Every turn offers spectacular views of the mountains, waterfalls and the BLUE Pacific. Even though this
area of the island is rain forest, evidently there has been a drought over the last couple years and even this area wasn't getting a lot of rain. it was a bit disappointing on the drive up to Hana to see none of the normal waterfalls flowing. It was a gorgeous day, though and the sights were still wonderful. On the way, we stopped at Hana Bay Beach and Hamoa Beach for a nice break.
This is the fifth time I have driven the road to Hana. I did it on Jan and my honeymoon 38 years ago, I did it when we brought our whole family probably 20 years ago, again when Jan and I came here alone 15 years ago, again when we came here with our traveling buddies, Dan and Marilyn and this time six years later. You would think by now I would remember where most of the places are, but I wasn't too sharp on finding them. Our goal was to go as far as Charles Lindbergh's grave which is 7 miles or so past Hana. Having been a pilot and air traffic controller in the old days, I still love the
whole Charles Lindbergh story. He truly was one of the great aviation heroes in history.
His resting place is VERY difficult to find. There are no signs on the road about his grave. It's in a graveyard of a very small church along the road. There is a very small sign for the church which is barely visible from the road. Well, maybe it was the fatigue of the drive or perhaps the fact that this was a senior citizen adventure, but I drove a good 7-8 miles past the church. When we were climbing very high up into the mountain on an ever narrowing road that was barely paved, I knew we had gone too far. We managed to find a place to turn around and when making a left turn came face to face with a small tour bus. There was no possible way for either of us to pass. There was also a second mini tour bus behind the first one. We also had a couple cars behind us. I started to back up and then the other cars did the same. After backing around the curve, we pulled to the cliff side as
far as we dared and somehow the tour buses crept past us. I was kinda nervous and I think Jan and Jackie were a little scared. We had to be at least a thousand feet above the ocean at that point with a sheer cliff a mere foot or two to our right. When our heart rates slowed down and we found a bit wider spot on the road, I saw a young guy working on his fence. I asked him how to find Lindbergh's grave and he told me it was about 1-/12 miles ahead and to look for the sign for the church.
Well, while walking back to the car, I started wondering where my cell phone was. Talk about your senior moments. It wasn't in any of my pockets and we all started to search frantically everywhere in the car. We couldn't find it in the car. We had no cell phone coverage, so Jan couldn't call me to listen for the ring. I had taken a picture of Jan along the road to post on Facebook. All we kept thinking was that I left the phone where I had taken the picture, so
we gave up and started again for Lindbergh's grave.
After a mile, we looked at every drive lane to our right and finally one of the girls saw the small, obscured sign for the Palapala Hoomau Congregational Church. We went down the lane and there was the church and graveyard. This is the third time we've been to his grave and we both remembered being able to see the church from the road. Not so. It's a good 1/4 mile down the lane toward the Ocean. It's a beautiful setting. The church is a small stone and plaster church, painted white. The graves are all covered in stones. The graveyard is on a cliff with a spectacular view of the ocean below. I wouldn't mind being buried there, but I'm sure they would give up trying to find the place to bury me!
We started making our way back down toward civilization and after several miles, Jan got phone reception and tried calling my number again. Sure enough it started ringing. We started the search in the car all over and found the phone stuck in a small crevice in a console pocket below
the dash. What a relief. I had visions of many cars running over it where I had taken the picture.
On the way back it started raining and the waterfalls were running again. We stopped for a picture at one of them. It was gorgeous. We got back to the resort around 8:00 PM. It was almost 12 hours!
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