"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
- Lewis Carroll
The End of the Road...
Have you ever just followed a road because it was there, laid out before you, begging to be explored? The lure of asphalt as it disappears around a bend, or into the distance? No expectations, no knowledge of where you might end up. Just trusting in the fact that someone went through the trouble of building it, so there must be something at the other end.
It's the sort of adventure which can be either tremendously rewarding or, at times, a bit of a disappointment. But either way, it's not always the end result which counts, it's the journey we take to get there. And with a modicum of common sense, and a dash of curiosity, sometimes the end of the road is worthy of the journey.
Case in point: Last week we and our friends were on vacation in Hawaii. (Yes, I travel for a living - when I go on vacation I simply travel further.) Our friends, while having been on Maui previously, had never made the trek across the island to the eastern shore town of Hana -- which, for good reason, is considered to be one of the world's classic and most spectacular drives.
Along the way we made a few side trips, stopping at the Arboretum for a half mile walk into the forest, and stopped in the stunning seaside community of Ke'Anae for our lunch. We'd picked up some sandwiches from the Hana Picnic Lunch Company shop in Pa'ia -- the last major town before hitting the Road to Hana -- stopping to eat them as we sat on a small lava outcrop watching the waves crash into the very rugged coastline along Maui's north shore.
It struck me, as we were eating, how many people rushed into this near-paradise cove, snapped a couple of pictures, clambered over some lava rocks (thankfully not injuring themselves) then piled back in their cars and raced off to the next cove. They came, they saw, and they left to pursue the rest of the road. In other words, they sought the destination, not the drive.
(I'm guilty of it. No question. But oftentimes I am conscious of it, and make a strong effort to SEE the world as it passes by the windows of the car. I like to think it makes me a better photographer, but It's also contributing to a better impression of where I am at any given time.)
We stayed in Ke'Anae for the better part of an hour. The rocks, the blue sky, the crashing surf. Off to one side was a beautiful classic style Hawaiian church, largely ignored by the other visitors. A shame.
|The view at the end of Nahiku Road|
Before getting to the town, however, we ran across a small road off to the left. Nahiku Road.
I braked, asked quick permission from everyone else in the car, and headed down what turned out to be a twisting, winding and rather steep road into the rainforest. I knew if the road kept going downward we would eventually end at the shoreline -- (hello, island?) -- so it was simply a matter of time. We passed beautiful homes and verdant views, across the street at times from pure wrecks of more beaten-down residences. But wonderfully tropical and exotic, evocative of a James Coleman painting.
Down, down, down we continued until the road finally opened up into a small parking area, and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean lay before us.
Maui is surrounded by the Pacific, so this came, really, as no shock. But the coastline was stunning. Different. Only two other cars were in the lot. It was one of those moments when the world went away, and it was just us and the surf.
|The "whatever it is" at the beach|
We continued on, but had achieved the special, the unique. We'd followed to the end of the road, not knowing what to expect, and having no idea if the side trip would be bonus or bust. But we did it.
Next time you're on the road, and come across an interesting looking offramp or turn, using common sense, take it. See where it goes. See what was important enough for someone to build the road in the first place.
It's only a little bit of asphalt, but it might also be a very cool adventure that let's you see something only a handful of others have seen.
It's worth the risk, don't you think?
|Cross the bridge when you come to it|