Editor’s Page: It’s About the Destination
More road trips, please.
PHOTOS: KAREN DB PHOTOGRAPHY
I had an epiphany on the way to the North Shore. I was in my 20s, living in a rented apartment in Makiki that I couldn’t afford, when a few girlfriends decided we should take a trip to the beaches beyond Waimea Bay. I showed up with a towel, sunscreen, water, magazines (and, I admit, a case of beer). My townie friends arrived toting enough salty snacks, vegetable sticks, fruit and bottled water to keep a party double our size alive for a few days in the wild. It was just for the drive.
When you grow up in Hawai‘i, your sense of distance is skewed. We think nothing about hopping on a plane for 10 hours to go to Asia or New York. But once we’re in a car, anything farther than 20 minutes—stoplights included—feels like a trek.
It’s understandable. On O‘ahu, it is usually not about the journey, but the destination. On the Mainland, people embrace road trips through rolling hills and open fields to vacation in other states. Here, Honolulu’s 791,739 registered cars (for 634,231 driver’s licenses, by the way) mainly sit in gridlock on the concrete H-1, H-2, Nimitz and Pali highways. Most of my friends and co-workers dread getting in their cars.
I, on the other hand, love driving around the island. It started when my intermediate school friends and I would hop on the 52 bus—the circle-island route—to Waimea Bay. When I got my license, we would save an entire Saturday to go to Hawai‘i Kai, cruising past the dramatically carved cliffs of the Kaiwi Coast, around Makapu‘u and on to Kamehameha Highway for a leisurely drive around the North Shore, through what was then a sleepy Hale‘iwa before returning home through fields of sugar cane. For a group of landlocked suburban kids, cruising along the coastline, stopping for pickled mango at a roadside stand, shave ice at the general store and Kahuku corn on the way home was an adventure.
The Wai‘anae mountain range doesn’t get as much photo love as the Ko‘olaus, but this view heading away from the North Shore is one of my favorites.
When the H-3 opened, it turned the trip to Kailua into a weekly Saturday morning jaunt for fried rice and giant pancakes at Brent’s Restaurant and Deli. Today, Brent’s is gone and quiet mornings in the beach town have all but disappeared, leaving people there trying to balance a burgeoning tourism trade and their way of life. Editor at large Robbie Dingeman knows all about it. The Kalāheo graduate and Kailua resident takes a look at conflicting sides of Kailua, what’s coming next and how major landowner Alexander & Baldwin and local residents hope to preserve the small-town life there.
Feel like exploring? Venture down to Kapahulu Avenue. Senior editor Don Wallace strolled the 700 block to discover family-style Hawaiian food, eccentric shops and a dog named Skip. If you do get behind the wheel, we’ve got seven local podcasts to download for the drive. And when you have a moment, take a daytrip to discover another part of the island. Just remember to get off the freeways, relax and enjoy the journey. Or just bring the snacks and make someone else drive.
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SEE ALSO: What’s in The February 2019 Issue