Sunday, November 11, 2012

Driving to Hana

A couple of days ago we took Peter and Elena on a road trip. I really like to go to Hana, more for the process of getting there than for the destination itself. But it's a long drive on a narrow and winding coastal road, Alla's afraid of heights, and there are parts of the road that freak her out. It's worth it and we keep going back, but this time we decided to make it easier by finding a place to stay overnight in Hana.

On the way down, we took the usual stops at waterfalls, high coastal overlooks, rocky shores, sandy beaches, an arboretum, and a barbecue. The barbecue was special. A Hawaiian fellow set up a big open grill at one of the turnouts where we happened to stop. We had a picnic lunch with us, but the cooking chicken smelled really good. I don't remember what kind of wood the man was cooking over, but it's Hawaiian and he told us that it imparted a mesquite-like flavor. He offered me a plate of a dish called huli-huli chicken. I'd never heard of this, but I trusted the aroma and bought a half chicken. I'm glad it was half of a big chicken, and we all wished we'd bought a whole bird.

We took our hot chicken down the road to a YMCA camp. Unable to find anybody to give us permission, we sat down anyway at a picnic table overlooking taro fields and the ocean and feasted on fruits, a few cold cuts, and huli-huli chicken. We really loved the chicken, and I found a recipe online when I came home. I think it's worth trying on my own. Can we buy frozen concentrated pineapple juice in Boston? I sure hope so.

Come to think of it, my major triumphs on this trip all had something to do with food. Knowing that there aren't many restaurants in Hana, I bought some delicious chili at a roadside restaurant a few miles before town. Nobody else wanted to eat yet, and I felt pretty well off when we discovered that a good dinner would cost more than we wanted to pay. I had eaten enough to skip dinner altogether, but I didn't have to.

I'll skip the details of a long story, but Peter disappeared on the way home from our restaurant reconnaissance trip. Once it became clear to Alla and me that we wouldn't find him soon, we ran off with the money Elena had in her pocket and went looking for a grocery store. There are two stores in Hana, but neither sold anything we'd be willing to call dinner. I explained our predicament to the cashier and asked her if there weren't anyplace in town where we could buy some fish. She sent us down to the baseball field, where she said we could buy grilled ahi. Indeed we could. We introduced ourselves to Captain Brad, who had caught the fish that day and was cooking it over a gas grill. We spent all of Elena's money and came home with five beautiful pieces of fish and some salad. When we finally got to our apartment, we found Peter and Elena reunited and we enjoyed a delicious dinner together.

We didn't eat so well on the way home, but we finished with a beautiful sunset over numerous surfers. You can see the last rays of the sunset below:

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