A Thanksgiving to Remember…………….

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and for the first time in my life, I will be spending it alone. I really don’t know anyone on Maui except for my kids and ex-wife, and they are spending the day with her. Needless to say, I didn’t go out and get a big turkey to cook.

But instead of feeling lonely, I feel it’s going to be one of my best Thanksgivings ever. Instead of getting caught up in all the cooking, visiting, drama, travel and endless TV watching with a bloated gut, I am going to spend the day remembering my family who are no longer here.  I am going to spend the day with my Mom and Dad, honoring and remembering them, and giving thanks for the absolutely wonderful life they have given me.

It was a rainy start to the spring of 1991. I stopped at my parent’s home on my way home from work to take care of their two cats.

My Mom was on a trip to Arizona visiting relatives with her sister, and my Dad was on a fishing trip with my sister’s husband. I used to be the one who went fishing all the time with him, but when I grew to adulthood, I lost interest in the sport and was too busy anyway. He surprised me when I opened the door to find him reading the paper in the recliner. He had just gotten back from his trip the hour before and just catching up on the news. I was happy to see him.  Not only was he my Dad, he was also my best friend. I stopped every morning for a cup of coffee on my way to work, my Mom would have it waiting since I got my job selling cars.  He was very interested in my job and very proud I could tell.

I went to my home after that, which was about 10 blocks from my parents. Within 2 hours, my Dad passed away. This was May of 1991. He was born in 1920. He was 71.

This took our family completely by surprise. We were an extremely close family. None of us had kids, and our lives had always been intertwined with my Dad as the glue. With the exception of my Grandparents who had passed many years before, most before I was born, death had never touched our immediate family unit. We were devastated, and it changed our dynamic. The funeral was a blur to me, and he was buried in a small cemetery close to where we grew up on the farm. All that we had been through, all that we thought was yet to come, was over. Camelot was gone. (That’s what we called our idyllic life growing up).

My Mom stayed in the little house my Dad had bought for her, but I no longer stopped for coffee on my way to work, it was too hard for me. I couldn’t even go in the house if she wasn’t home, didn’t feel right. They say time heals all wounds. Never really has. In fact, it took me over 10 years to visit my Dad’s grave. My soon to be wife finally convinced me I should go. She knew what I needed more than me. It helped the healing process.

Mom was 69 at the time, funny to think about now that I am getting close to that, and never wanted another man in her life. “I took care of one for almost 50 years, why would I want to do that again” she would say. I would come home late from work, drive by her house, and see her sitting in the recliner by the window reading, or sometimes sleeping, in the light of the table lamp. I would cry.

Now what I find interesting is that I feel the same way she did about getting together with someone else. If you have a big scale, and on one end was a caregiver, and the other caretaker, I would be off the scale on the caregiver side. I believe that a big reason why a lot of my relationships failed is that I was too smothering in all the things I wanted to do for them. I lost my identity trying to fit into the mold of what I thought the other person wanted. So I’m taking a break and will be much abler to have a balanced relationship when I am ready. I like taking care of my kids right now, it satisfies the need for caregiving, and they have come to expect this of their Dad. I will, however, have to adjust when they get older and strive for more independence.

We continued to have our holidays together, with the only change of people the person I was dating at the time.  We all knew it wasn’t the same without my dad, but we never talked about it. Eventually, I got married, opened up a gift shop, moved away from their neighborhood into a different part of town, and had my daughter. Mom worked in my sister’s shop and mine to stay busy, and I really think she enjoyed her alone time. I don’t think she was ever prepared to have the life she did. She was a college educated big city girl from Milwaukee, and never expected to end up a farm wife in the middle of nowhere. She did enjoy traveling and took me all over the US when I was young, just her and I, and I have a thousand wonderful memories because of it.

When my daughter was 9 months old, we moved 200 miles away to be closer to my wife’s parents. It was hard to visit from then on, I worked so much, had a son, and time was in short supply. We used to drive up for the day, 4 hours of driving each way and visit for a few hours every other month. She loved the kids, and always had big bags of presents for them whenever we came to visit. It was hard to see her getting older, which stands out more when you don’t see someone every day.

My Mom lived to be 87. She was born in 1922 and passed away in October of 2009.

At the funeral, I learned something about her that I never knew. She loved opera. In fact, My sister said she had a beautiful voice and she would catch my Mom singing opera by herself in her house. Unknown to me, or anyone else, my sister arranged for an opera singer to sing at my Mom’s service. It was beautiful of course. After everyone was gone, that’s when she told me about my Mom’s secret opera singing. I wish I had heard her. My Mom was also a big bowler, not professional or anything like that, but just loved the sport. She would travel around with the bowling league around the country and bowl. We even owned a small bowling alley in our town for a few years. Because of that, she came up with her own life philosophy. “It’s not about the  strikes you get in life, but about the spares.” Meaning it’s not what happens to you, but how you handle it afterward and pick up the pieces.  The name of her team was Black Diamond Fur Farm, the name of our mink ranch. They had these beautiful black bowling shirts made up. Many years after, she had saved a few shirts and had them framed into a picture for each one of us kids. Mine still proudly hangs in my house.

I had the perfect childhood. I guess when it was time for me to come back and have another human experience, I must have earned this spot. (My ex-wife says I must have been a slave in a previous life because I work so damn hard). I think I was an oop-see kid, coming 5 years after my sisters, but I was certainly never treated like that. There has never been a day my whole life that I felt my parents didn’t love or support me 100%. My Dad gave me everything I wanted, and if he was displeased about something, never said a word but just gave you one of those looks. My Mom was loving, and being Greek showed lots of attention.  We spent countless hours in the evenings playing Smear or Yahtzee. I think it really helped me develop a math brain. Every night at 5:00 sharp, dinner would be on the table, and we ate together as a family. She loved to cook, and had ton’s more food than what we could eat, which came in handy if you wanted a friend to have dinner with us.  I really don’t ever remember being disciplined, certainly not physically, and they raised me in the belief I could be, or do anything I wanted in my life. They instilled in me confidence, imagination, respect, and a hard work ethic.

My Mom and I traveled and did a lot of stuff together. My sisters were almost or were teenagers, and you know they don’t want to be with their parents. I loved to be. One year we took a trip to the Wisconsin Dells, Mom and I, and went to one of these tourist traps that had all the weird stuff set up. One of the things was a cave you could go in. We went into the dark cave, and about 50 feet in was a stuffed bear. My Mom thought it was real and knocked me over running out of the cave. Only when she got outside that she realized she had left me inside to be eaten. We laughed about that story for years.

My dad loved to hunt and fish. My Mom loved to travel. They never entertained much or had close adult friends, so my two Sisters and I were it. I did everything with them. As I grew up and was out finding an identity of my own, I always knew they were there for me at any time.  When I rebelled and went through my party days, they gave me my freedom to do what I wanted, relying on the hope that they taught me to do the right things, and knowing that I would get it out of my system someday. Must have taught me right, I never landed in jail, hurt anyone, stole anything, or did anything I would really regret. Eventually, I came back down to Earth, they were right, and when I did, it would be to go into business with my Dad until he retired.

To be honest, I took them for granted. They were always my safety net, my rock, my safe place. I always knew that I could always depend on their help no matter what. Of course that all changed when they died. Your solid ground was gone, and now you had to make your own way on the shifting sand.

Of course, there comes a time when the parent/child relationship changes. When they finally see you as a person. Mine wasn’t one of those ah-ha moments but changed slowly over time. From our being partners to my going out and getting a very well paying career. By the time my Dad passed, he knew that I could take care of myself in the world. I imagine he felt some comfort and pride in that. And after he died, my Mom looked at me for all her big decisions. I was now the man of the family.

Until you have children of your own, I don’t think you can fathom how many sacrifices your parents made for you. I know I didn’t. Having kids now puts them in an entirely new light. I wish I would have known this sooner, I would have liked to thank them for all that they did for me. I think I am a pretty good Dad, that my parents would be proud of the person I have become, and the parent I am. I like to think that somehow they know that.

I was lucky as a kid, before the days of divorces and mixed families, where the lines of parenting get stretched thin.  My parents lived their lives with dignity, and that’s how they left this world.

When I look at some of their old faded photographs, which I left behind in storage in Minnesota, I see my Mom and Dad. But I know they are more, much more than that. They were people with dreams and hopes and lives. I can’t even begin to fathom all that they did, and saw, and felt, nor should I. The thing that makes all of us unique is our experiences, and in that, they were the richest people. Their lives were filled with love, and kindness, and giving, and sharing, and most importantly, they enjoyed their lives. They lived incredible lives. The biggest thing I can do to honor them is to enjoy the life I have. That would be their legacy to me.

My kids don’t remember my parents very well. And I don’t remember my parent’s parents and their parents before them very well, if at all. That’s the circle of life. I will pass on my memories of them the best I can to my kids, but they have their own lives to live, and someday they will remember me. They don’t need another big meal to remember their Dad. I hope they remember the unconditional love I give to them.

So tomorrow when I sit down for my Thanksgiving meal, I will be eating it for three. I will remember my life with them, and give thanks that I was so fortunate to have them for my parents, my best friends, my mentors, my teachers, my protectors, and oh so much more.  I think it will be a great day.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

“ I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.”         Maya Angelou

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My Defining Decade: The 70’s

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”      Helen Keller

Time is uniquely human. Animals don’t care, don’t know. They eat when they are hungry, sleep when they are tired. The Earth, time means nothing. The Universe, same. But as humans, we are counting the clock since the day we are born until we die. And even though every microsecond on the clock is exactly the same for everyone, what happens to each of us in time is as different as our DNA.

We all have a Time Machine in our mind. We can travel back to any time in our life, and imagine the future going forward. Unfortunately, the Time Machine keeps many of locked in the past, or worried about the future, instead of being mindful, which is living and enjoying the present. I am as guilty, if not more so than anyone. But there is one time in the past I enjoy going to in my Time Machine, the 70’s. (That’s the 1970’s).

January 1st, 1970. The beginning of the Seventies. I was a junior in high school, wire-rim glasses and hair almost to my waist, a hot girlfriend who had moved to my hometown from California, and driving what is now and has been my favorite car, a 1970 bright blue Plymouth Road Runner with a Hearst shifter, huge rims, a racing stripe down the hood, and a horn that went beep-beep. The Seventies were starting pretty good for a small town farm boy in Northern Minnesota.

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The Vietnam War was on everyone’s mind, especially those of us boys turning 18. Yes, there was the draft, and I was the last of it. I remember listening to the radio when they drew and read the numbers for your Birthday. The lower the number, the more likely you had to go into the military, which wasn’t revered and respected like it is now. My number was 250 something, which meant I probably wouldn’t have to go, and I didn’t. The draft ended that year.

Music was everything. Even though we had to listen to it on eight tracks, bands like Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Quicksilver,  Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and a hundred other popular bands and songs filled the air. We were our music. Disco came along in the mid 70’s, and I loved it. I was living on a sailboat with a girl I met in Key West, Florida when it started. It followed me back to Minnesota, and the clubs were alive with dancing under mirrored balls and lighted floors. I wore platform shoes and flared plaid pants and even taught Disco dancing with a girl I was dating for a while.

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Classic movies like Star Wars, Jaws, Grease, The Exorcist, Superman, Saturday Night Fever, Rocky and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest made us dream and imagine. We played Pac Man in the bars, drank 50 cent drinks, gas was 25 cents a gallon (at least until the oil crisis) and a pack of smokes was also a quarter. I worked part-time in a Men’s clothing store, so of course, I had a couple of Leisure Suits too. Johnny Carson was the King of Late Night Television.

My parents were still alive. What I wouldn’t give to be able to drive up to our home and see my Mom smiling out the kitchen window. She loved to cook. Or walking next door to the farm and seeing my Dad doing what he loved. He loved being a farmer.

Eventually, I married a hometown girl after numerous girlfriends and dozens of cross-country trips. I settled into a working married life, driving truck and working with my parents on their farm. I also bought a 400-acre farm and had tractors and all that fun stuff. As the decade wore on, the economy sucked, gas got expensive, and jobs were hard to find and interest rates soared, but it taught me that none of that stuff matters. You make your own way in life.

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The 70’s either defined me, or I defined the 70’s, I’m not sure. It was a decade of change for a boy of 18 to a man of 28. Those ten years probably created more memories than the other 50 for me. It was a time of discovery and change. We often say if we could go back and do it again, this would be the time for me. Would have I changed anything, of course. I made a lot of mistakes like everyone else. Saying you have no regrets is a whole lot easier than meaning it. I think a lot about the choices I made, and how my life would have different had I chosen differently. I hope to impart some of that wisdom to my kids, not that they will listen to any of it. And in a way I agree, you learn by doing. I just hope the lesson they learn is that everything you do today, is tomorrow’s memory.

December 31st, 1979. The Seventies have ended. So has my marriage. The next decade brought a lot of change too, from moving and selling my farm, and eventually getting the occupation which I stayed with for 30 years. Nothing ever came close to the experiences I had in those carefree years of the 70’s. Well, they weren’t all carefree I agree. I had plenty of tough emotional, physical, and financial times too. They were a huge deal then, but looking back I have tempered them over the years.

Now when I hear an old song, one with a strong emotional attachment, or happen upon an old photograph of an instant frozen forever in time or talk to an old friend, I get in my Time Machine and travel back. I have had a wonderfully full life, and feel grateful for every minute of it. I feel I have lived two lifetimes, one lifetime in those ten years of the 70’s, and another the rest of the time. Sometimes I think about all that happened to me at that time and am amazed how much there was. Now ten years go by in the blink of an eye.  Maybe the best is yet to come, but I will always be connected to the 70’s.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

Mark Twain

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The Perfect Ten Minute Meditation……….

I don’t like to meditate. I know it’s good for me.

I love sunsets. To me, they are very relaxing. I know you aren’t supposed to look directly at the Sun. I do it anyway.

They say (whoever they are) that at least 10 minutes of meditation a day will lower your stress. I believe that. But to tell you the truth, I get more stressed trying to meditate. I try it at home, but then my computer or phone beeps and I have to check. If I go outside, then a car drives by or someone starts their weed wacker. I have seen a lot of people meditate on the beach. Seems like the perfect place. But not for me.

I figured it out. I don’t like to have my eyes closed unless I’m tucked safely in bed. It’s kind of like being in a shower, I feel vulnerable.  Lately, I have tried to meditate for a few minutes after my beach walk, I close my eyes, concentrate on the sound of the waves, then someone with a dog walks by and the dog runs over and sniffs me. That will make you jump with your eyes closed. There are also a lot of tiny crabs that come out of holes all over the beach. They are very timid and will scurry back if you walk by, but when you sit quietly, they jump out and run around you. That’s a bit unnerving too. Finally, and I know it’s because I’m a guy, some hot gal in a very skimpy bikini walks by. That changes my entire meditation thought. (I may be old but not dead).

Last night my Daughter and I drove up the volcano instead of down to the beach to watch the sunset, the first time for me. It was gorgeous and I filmed ten minutes of it. When I got home and watched, it was extremely relaxing but lacked sound. I found some music, combined them and I now have the perfect solution for my meditation quandary.

I hope you enjoy watching this Maui sunset from a two thousand foot elevation and perfect 75 degrees.

 

 

 

 

Guaranteed two step method for using the internet to make money. Part II.

First, let’s recap what the two ways are to make money off the internet.

  • Find jobs posted by Monster, Indeed, CareerBuilder, etc. in your area that you are qualified for.
  • Go get that job. You have now used the internet to find a job that will make you money.

In the last blog, we talked about one of the only legit ways to make money selling services or products on the internet, which is Amazon, or it could be another large retailer with an affiliate program. You are actually selling something of value, and getting paid a commission for that service. Unfortunately, you also have to compete with that company. Google something you want to buy, and Amazon or Walmart will probably always pop out on top of the search, followed by a huge host of others selling the same or similar products. It’s these retailers that are your competition. I want to also mention that you may have something of yours that you want to sell or are already selling. That’s great. Good luck with that.

When I first signed up with Amazon, I had visions of huge profits coming my way from the enormous amount of products I could offer on my websites. After a couple of weeks of adding links, I wasn’t getting any sales and went to Amazon’s Affiliate blog, where other Affiliates offer help and opinions. I posted that perhaps I was putting the wrong products on my site, and that may be the reason for my failure so far. One insightful person answered back. Why would I want to compete with Amazon with their own products? Didn’t really sink in for several days. In the end, he was right.

I mentioned on my last blog that advertising was the only way to really get the numbers of eyes to look at your website, and thus have a chance of selling them something. Basic numbers game, which plays out in every business. The question then becomes where do you advertise, and at what cost?  I have found out.

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Facebook:  A stock price will typically follow what a company earns. Shortly after it went public, Facebook’s stock was selling for under $20. That was only five years ago, in 2012. Today it closed at 50 cents short of $180. That’s nine times what it was selling for five years ago. You might be thinking, but how do they make any money? All they are is a social network, aren’t they? And Facebook is probably one of the most cost-effective (which means cheapest) ways to get your ad out there.

Haven’t you ever wondered why all those sponsored ads keep popping up? Or the chain of likes for something? Or how about searching for something on the internet, and how strange it is that an ad for it shows up on Facebook? Fate? I fear not. It’s advertising, and Facebook sells a lot of it. By the way, Facebook also owns Instagram, so all those ads show up there too.

Now remember from my hypothetical sales, I wanted to make $200 a day, and to do that I need 10,000 impressions on my website that will be seen by prospective buyers. That is not going to happen with my 95 subscribers. So I started advertising on Facebook.

Here are the amounts that I spent on each blog, starting in September. Remember also that I got almost 1100 impressions and 93 clicks to Amazon, and $0 sales. But I was optimistic that I would have gotten $20 from those impressions. And to get $200, I needed to have 10,000.

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I actually got 8,718 impressions from my advertising. I spent $149.77 to get those impressions. I had 336 people click on the ad, which is posted in the timeline on Facebook, which leads them to that particular blog. The results:

  1. Sales:  $0
  2. Subscribers: 0

The idea for an ad campaign is to not only try to sell them something on the spot but also get their email address so you can market to them in the future. I got neither, not one.But it did boost my daily number of blog views, which I guess made me feel pretty good. But just as fast as the numbers came in, they dropped.

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Although I sold nothing, I feel optimistically that I could have made close to $200 with the advertising I did, had the moon and stars all aligned. I spent $150. That’ a profit of $50. Do you know how many hours I spent writing blogs, and ads, and researching products and techniques? Countless to say the least.

Because of the huge numbers of traffic you need to generate, and only get from 1 to 10 percent commissions by selling real products, the only alternative is to look for something with a higher profit margin. And they are out there, like a bad virus waiting for you on the water fountain. In my next blog, I will talk about my venture into the high-profit world of eproducts.

See you in the next blog: Guaranteed two-step method for using the internet to make money. Part II.

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Guaranteed two step method for using the internet to make money. Nothing to buy.

For the last 10 months, I have been researching, buying courses and products, setting up 4 websites, signing up with Amazon to sell their products, signing up and selling products from Clickbank, signing up with Google for paid click advertising, and signing up with Peerfly, another product company that pays you for sending them leads.

I will go into each one of these in more depth, but you are reading this primarily to learn the guaranteed two-step method for using the internet to make money. Here it is.

  1. Find jobs posted by Monster, Indeed, CareerBuilder, etc. in your area that you are qualified for.
  2. Go get that job. You have now used the internet to find a job that will make you money.

There it is. If you think you can make a living off the internet, then I am going to save you some time. You can’t. At least not if you don’t want to lie, cheat, bug people to death, lose all your friends, and invest thousands of dollars in websites and email systems that will fail. The only people making money on the internet besides the legitimate retailers (think Amazon, Walmart, Macy’s, and small boutique websites) are con artists who are selling you courses on how to make money off the internet. I know, I have looked into them all.

Let me go into more detail about each money-making opportunity.

AMAZON:  I will start with Amazon’s Affiliate Program because I think of all the programs out there, this one is actually legit, although making a lot of money from it is not possible. When you sign up for this program, Amazon will allow you to place links to their products on your webpages or blog posts. You have seen them on mine. If you were to click on a link, it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase the product from them. I would make a commission if you purchase the product within 24 hours of first linking it, and in fact, I would make a commission off anything you would buy within that 24 hour period from Amazon. Here is what I would earn on those purchases. It doesn’t cost the buyer of the product any more to buy this way.

Product Category Fixed Standard Program Fee Rates
Amazon Gift Cards, Wine 0.00%
Video Games & Video Game Consoles 1.00%
Televisions 2.00%
PC, PC Components, DVD & Blu-Ray 2.50%
Toys 3.00%
Physical Books, Health & Personal Care, Sports, Kitchen, Automotive, Baby Products 4.50%
Digital Music, Grocery, Physical Music, Handmade, Digital Videos 5.00%
Outdoors, Tools 5.50%
Headphones, Beauty, Musical Instruments, Business & Industrial Supplies 6.00%
Apparel, Amazon Element Smart TV (with Fire TV), Amazon Fire TV Devices, Jewelry, Luggage, Shoes, Handbags & Accessories, Watches 7.00%
Amazon Echo Devices, Amazon Fire Tablet Devices, Dash Buttons, Amazon Kindle Devices, Furniture, Home, Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Pets Products, Pantry 8.00%
Amazon Fashion Women, Men & Kids Private Label, Digital Video Games, Luxury Beauty, Amazon Coins 10.00%
All Other Categories

As you can see, it pays 1% to 10% on products purchased from a customer you send them. You may be thinking, that’s pretty good. If you average 5%, let’s say, for every $100 someone spends that you sent them through your website, you would earn 5 bucks. Let me show you how I fared.

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Since September 1st through yesterday, November 7th, I had 1,096 impressions (that means how many times a product with a link was displayed on my web pages). Of those 1,096 times, my link was clicked 93 times, linking that person with Amazon. I sold 0 products for $0 dollars. You may have clicked on one, I have no way of seeing who clicked and who did not. I do know that not one person bought anything, however. That translates into a click-through rate of .73, which means that for every thousand impressions on my pages, I will get on average 73 actual clicks from the product to Amazon. Now if I had actually made a sale, which I didn’t, I would have had another percentage that would have told me how much each click is worth.

Let’s do a hypothetical situation. Let’s imagine that for every 73 people that clicked on one of my Amazon links, 4 people actually purchased something. This is actually double the rate at which leads are converted to sales. Now, most of the stuff you would click on is stuff on sale or pertaining to something I was talking about, so the price probably wouldn’t be that much. But let’s get real imaginative and let’s say each of those 4 people spent $100. At my average commission rate of 5%, I would make $5 per person or a total of $20. In theory then, for every thousand impressions (where my product link is shown) I would make $20. Using this example, if I wanted to start making a living selling Amazon products, I would need 10,000 impressions per day on my blogs or web pages to make $200.

All of this might sound unimportant, but unless you have a website with tons of free traffic, in order to get the number of clicks to have a chance of someone buying something, you have to advertise. Advertising costs money, which I have also done, and that is something I will cover on my next blog, as about now you are probably getting as tired of reading this as I am in writing it.

See you in the next blog: Guaranteed two-step method for using the internet to make money. Part II.

Here are some links to show you how it works:

 

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The Road to Hana……………

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Lush rainforest on the Road to Hana.

The T-shirts are proudly worn as badges of honor, the coffee cups great souvenirs to remind you, small signs and refrigerator magnets to display in your kitchen. “I survived the Road to Hana” they say. Don’t go if you get carsick I hear. Better not drive a rental car there I’ve been told. Not for the faint of heart is cautioned. So what better way to spend the last day with my daughter alone before her brother gets back, than to go to Hana.

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The lava beach at Keanae.

 

Instead of a white-knuckle suicide mission, I and my daughter find the drive to Hana especially relaxing. The 52 miles of cliffside curves through tropical rainforest past waterfalls and sheer cliffs is gorgeous. With the windows down, the sunroof open, and soft music, you couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a day. The town of Hana itself is nothing much. In the early 1900’s the population was around 3500. Now it’s about 1200, not unlike a lot of small towns with a limited job market. One of the attractions is Charles Lindberg’s grave. He moved to Hana a few years before he passed away. There are all kinds of guidebooks and downloads to pinpoint every single thing. I’m not going to bore you with all those details.

It’s the road itself that makes the trip. Whether it’s hugging a cliff hundreds of feet above the ocean or rounding yet another curve with a beautiful waterfall, you seldom drive over 20 miles per hour, and many parts of the road, which was built in 1926, are single lane or in a continual state of repair. Once in Hana, you have the choice of either continuing around the rest of the island or turning back the way you came. I have always gone around the whole thing, but this time we had to turn around because the road was washed out ahead. Once past Hana, the road sometimes turns to gravel, is very narrow, and is a lot more treacherous. Huge rocky cliffs tower above you, and an occasional rock crashes down from above. Rental agencies don’t recommend you take their cars on this road, and mostly all traffic is discouraged. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to share of that side of the island at this time, but I’m sure I will the next time I go.

There are really two kinds of road trips to Hana. There are magnificent waterfalls to hike to and swim in, trails to explore, and outdoor opportunities around every corner. That’s one way. My daughter doesn’t like to hike, so we do the “stay in the car thing” stopping for lunch, getting banana bread at Aunty Sandy’s roadside stand, then eating it on the shore.  Cell service is nonexistent most of the way, as is the radio, so we ended up listening to the one song on my daughter’s phone for most of the four hours down and back. Lucky I liked it. But for me, it was just nice to spend the day with her.

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Best Banana Bread on the Island.

Regardless of the things you do, going to Hana, and the road in between, will be one of your most treasured memories of Maui. Because its rainforest and you are driving slow, you will want the windows down, the top off or sunroof open. You will feel the occasional misty rain, hear the songs of birds, enjoy the smell of the fresh forest canopy overhead, road lined with bamboo, and the scent of tropical flowers. There are also lots of unique food stands along the way. Bring your hiking shoes and a swimsuit just in case. The temperature will always be between 75 and 85, depending on your elevation. Even though it’s only 52 miles, it will take at least two hours or more depending on how many stops you make, and that’s only one way.

Pictures and videos never really come close to the real thing, but I hope that those of you locked in the grip of a cold Northern winter enjoy them. (Maybe it’s because I am shooting them with an old iPhone 5).

Hana Bay in the town of Hana.