My first book

My first book is still a work in process. After Christmas I decided to get serious about writing and publishing a book. Every day after dropping the kids off at their schools, I would sit down and write. My goal was to get at least 80,000 words, which is what I had read is a good size for a non-fiction or memoir type book. I typed out everything that came to mind, all about my life, my work, likes, dislikes, secrets, funny stories, you name it. After about 5 weeks, I had hit my 80,000 words, and thought, wow I had written a book. I took a few days off from working at it, and reread it. It was horrible. Disjointed, rambling, egotistical, and self serving.

Reworking it seems like a daunting task, so I decided to go a different route. A third of what I had written was about my career, at least the last one. 28 years in the car business had taught me a thing or two, and I felt I needed to share what I had learned to help others with the process. I took the part I had already written about it, added and subtracted, and came up with my published book about how to buy a car from a dealership, called BEST BUYER BOOK. Published and sold by Amazon. In subsequent posts, I will get into more detail about going through that process of getting published.

Baldwin Beach (Picture perfect)

H.A. Baldwin Beach is on the windy, or east side of Maui about a mile from Paia, a little town known for being a tourist spot on the Road to Hana. There is a lifeguard during beach hours, also restrooms, showers, picnic area and large sports field.

This is my favorite beach on Maui, and I go there to walk about 5 days a week. This beach is fairly flat, compared to most of the others, and the sand varies from hard to very soft. Great for a workout walk, especially since round trip from end to end is about 3 miles, if you go through the woods, and walk all the way down to Paia Bay Beach.  In between that hike you will also run into Paia Secret Beach, known for clothing optional. There will definitely be a lot of different beach types to encounter along the way. Even if you skip the long hike and just stay on Baldwin Beach, you will still get about 40 minutes of sand walking in. There is also a lot of natural shade offered by the trees along the entire stretch of beach. And because it’s so big, never seems busy.

I visited Maui many times as a tourist, always staying at the big resorts on the west side ( I call them the Westworld resorts), and loved their beaches for the amenities offered by the resort, and the fact you could just walk up to your room when you wanted. I had stopped at Baldwin Beach a couple of times, and it always felt a bit awkward to be there. It is definitely a “local beach”, with all sorts of strange characters who frequent and camp out in the woods in tents, whom I have now grown to appreciate living here. Since I used to be one, I can use the word Hippies, which I feel best describes their look and carefree nature.

The south end of the beach (the Paia side) is where most of the locals hang out. Here they will be playing music, smoking pot, and the girls sometimes are without tops. You aren’t supposed to drink alcohol on any public beach, but many people do, and they won’t bother you if you don’t get rowdy.  There is also a small cove that breaks the waves, good for swimming. If you have small children, this end may not be the one for you. Then you will want to turn left at the lifeguard station, and head that direction to the more tourist part.

Since it is the windy side of the island, the waves are usually not good for swimming, but are great if you are an experienced boogey boarder. No surfers go here, but there are always wind surfers taking off from the beach. The wind can sometimes be a problem, the worst being sandblasted by the drifting sand.

At the north end of the beach is a swimming area perfect for kids. It’s called Baby Beach. There is a break wall that protects a rather large area. You can park here too, but there isn’t a parking lot or restrooms. Your restroom is the water.

I have never seen a whale on this side during season, but there are always lots of big Sea Turtles. They crawl up on both ends of the beach to warm in the sand and lay eggs. You can see them swimming in the water between both ends every day. The rule is to stay at least ten feet from them, and never touch them. They don’t seem to mind people and dogs (of which there are plenty), and you can walk right by one and they won’t even look up.

Sea Turtle resting by Baby Beach.

Are there snakes in Hawaii

I am not a snake person. I won’t go out of my way to kill one, but I will go out of my way not to see one. Hawaii is the perfect place for me. There are actually two species of snake that are native to the Hawaiian Islands, and one rarely seen non-native species.

The Yellow Bellied Sea Snake is a native marine reptile (lives in the ocean) that is not commonly seen. It is poisonous so it’s a good thing it’s rare.

The Brahminy Blind Snake is non poisonous, and the size of a worm. Anywhere from 2 to 6 inches long. They are harmless to people.

The Brown Tree Snake originally came from Guam, presumably, and is also rare to see. They are poisonous, and are actively being sought to eliminate.

I originally believed that there were no snakes due to the many Mongoose you see here on Maui. It may be true that they will find and kill a stray imported snake that gets free, but snakes are just not native to these islands.

Mongoose were introduced to Hawaii in 1883 to control the rat population in sugar cane fields. Unfortunately, rats are out at night, Mongoose by day, so it had no effect. It did affect other native species however, and endanger them by raiding their eggs, both birds and turtles. There are only two islands which do not have Mongoose, Kauai and Lanai.

There are fines and possible jail sentences in Hawaii for importing or keeping snakes and Mongoose.

Why be an author

That question seems easier to answer than it is. I started thinking about writing to use as supplemental income in my retirement. That’s the wrong mindset to have. I have discovered that when you start putting your thoughts and creativity into word, thinking about money will only allow you to focus on the financial impact you will have, and not on the real purpose of writing, which is to share what you have learned (good and bad) so others may benefit in some way, or give something of great enjoyment that fires the imagination.

I have discovered in myself a talent of writing for children. Not sure why, but it may just be that children and creativity go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Getting out of the stress of the corporate world has freed my thoughts to focus on the bigger picture of life, not the bottom dollar.


How to get a Hawaii drivers license

I have always had a Minnesota drivers license, even though I have lived in other states. Never felt the need to switch it. But my time ran out.  I am in Maui, for 4 months now, and my Minnesota license expires this month. I contacted the Minnesota DMV, and I could do an out of state application, but requires a vision check by a doctor, so looked like a hassle. So I went to the local Hawaii DMV office to find out what I needed. In order to get a Hawaiian license, I would need a passport and SS card for identification, and proof of residency (a six month or more signed lease agreement, and two utility bills in my name. Luckily I have the identification stuff, but I am on a month to month rental, all utilities paid. Got around that by having my landlord sign and notarize an affidavit that I live here, and could use their utility bills as proof that they live here. On my second trip back, I decided to not be the crabby person that they usually confront, which starts the whole bad DMV vibe. It worked, got my license, no hassles.

It was hard for me to give up my Minnesota License for a weird reason. I like to enter sweepstakes, contests, and buy lottery tickets. The State of Hawaii does not allow gambling. If you look at many sweepstakes rules, Hawaii is typically excluded, and luckily my sister who still lives in Minnesota will still buy my lottery tickets for me. One good thing however is that Hawaii residents get discounts on various events that tourist don’t. The other good thing is that I am truly a resident of the state, another bite out of the elephant on moving here.

How to Start a Blog

The most current accomplishment has been putting together this blog website.  After I left my job, and in the “what am I going to do now” phase, I took some time to learn how to build a website. I signed up with GoDaddy for a domain name, and with HostGator for hosting the site. Lesson number one, use the same hosting service as you would for getting a domain name, makes the whole process a lot smoother.

I spent about a month learning all the ins and outs of WordPress, which is how to build your website the way you want it to look, and signing up with email services to handle the huge numbers of people who wanted to get on my email list. I won’t get into the specifics, after about 4 months, with not one person subscribed, I gave up. But it was surprising that I remembered as much as I did about the whole process of getting up and running.  This time I had a workable website, in fact I have two, each one taking no more than a couple of hours to do.

My other website,, is using a free Web Builder program that is offered by Hostgator, and this website is a free WordPress platform. They both have lot’s of features and a nice look.

The cost:  Getting each domain name is $12.95 per year. The hosting service (which you need to be on the internet) was about $200 for 3 years. Building both websites were free.

My first blog post

Hi, my name is Burl Johnson. I am starting this blog as a way to document the move from my home state of Minnesota 4 months ago to Maui , and also my journey in starting from scratch and becoming an author, not rich or famous for sure, but self published. I won’t go back in my life too far, I’m just about to turn 64, but will start my story when my life took a huge change. Eight months ago I left my stressful, high paying corporate job to retire. I will start there.