The Long and Winding Road to Hana

Oh, you guys, the sun has come out. The glacier in my back yard is shrinking, the boys are wearing t-shirts, and there are teeny tiny sprouts of green coming up in the warmest and sunniest part of my garden. Daylilies, those tenacious little sweethearts. I think they would probably survive nuclear fallout, but nonetheless I’m always ecstatic when they appear in the spring. It truly feels like spring around here and yes, I’m sure we’ll get a few more snowstorms, and yes, the ground is still kind of frozen, but SPRING.

The first time we went to Maui, my very good friend Joanne and her family were there as well, staying in the same complex as we were. One day my friend and I decided that we would make the trip to the other side of the island to practice yoga with Nancy Gilgoff. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Ashtanga tradition, Nancy is basically the mother of Ashtanga yoga in the Western world, and is the personification of “maitri”, or loving-kindness. She really embodies the whole yoga tradition, but she isn’t your typical modern yogi. She isn’t on social media, she doesn’t advertise, and in fact, you cannot even find the address of her studio on her website.

Joanne’s husband drove us across the island to the studio early in the morning so we could take practice with Nancy. We drove through a town and then down a little two-lane road and then turned onto a dirt road, after the sign for “Organic Tomatoes”, which was our only marker. When we got there we all sat silently for a moment, until her husband broke the reverie. “I’ll just wait here to make sure you aren’t going to be eaten by cannibals or something.” For the studio was really a barn on stilts in the middle of a deserted field, with wild vegetation all around. When I used the washroom I noticed a hand-written sign that reprimanded any woman practicing while menstruating, and that feminine products should never be left in the garbage can but wrapped up and taken with you, because otherwise they attract rats. Rats – eeek! I took my non-menstruating self and had a lovely and memorable practice with the lovely and wonderful Nancy and my dear friend Joanne.

It’s funny: I live in a quiet little neighbourhood in a big city, and it’s easy to be insular about other ways of living. Nancy, for example, could be a book-writing, YouTube video-starring, social media yogi darling, and yet, she isn’t. She lives a quiet life pretty much off the grid, except when she’s travelling to teach. She basically built her life the way she wanted it and I love that about her.

I was thinking about this because when we were recently in Maui, we decided to drive the celebrated Road to Hana. We read up on it and were warned that it was very curvy and windy. Ha! We laughed at that. After all, we drove the back way to Whistler, once, and also to Nelson, and would it really be that bad? YES. Yes it was. I lost count of the number of one-lane bridges and literally hairpin turns. It was exhausting and yet, some of the scenery we saw was the most beautiful I have ever seen.





Waterfalls! Black sand beaches! Mysterious caves with legends about murdered Hawaiian princesses! It was pretty amazing and worth the tedium of the drive.


We drove the extra ten miles to see the “Sacred Pools” – waterfalls cascading into several “swimmable” pools. By the time we made the extra ten miles, which took forty-five minutes, we were all hot and bedraggled and pretty excited for a swim. Off we went on a short hike to the pools!


Alas! When we got there I read a sign that said the pools frequently harbor a certain bacteria that is especially prevalent after rainfall – and rain had been falling – and that bacteria could cause flu-like symptoms or DEATH. Well. We were only halfway through our holiday, and I certainly wasn’t going to risk flu-like symptoms or DEATH. There were a number of people swimming but we stayed out, sweatily photographing the lovely scenery.


Pretty! Although, the water even looks bacteria-y.

While we drove that long and winding road, we would see little houses every now and then, with a fruit stand or a flower stand nearby. These were people living off the grid, truly in the middle of nowhere. They made Nancy Gilgoff look like a Wall Street broker.

Speaking of Wall Street, I read The Wolf of Wall Street on vacation, and it was hands down one of the most terrible books I have ever read. Gross, disgusting, and left me with a feeling of self-loathing because I had BOUGHT the damn book and CONTRIBUTED to the author’s wealth. The author should rot in jail, or burn in hell, although he’s now making tons of money with his book, movie rights, and career as a motivational speaker. (I live in a van…down by the river.) Not only was the author a criminal who made millions by ripping people off via stock market manipulation, he also ratted out his employees who he demanded loyalty from, which as we know from every mafia movie ever made is the worst crime one can commit.  The book itself was so bad I kept reading it only because I thought with all the hype that it would get better. I also thought there would be some semblance of explanation for his rise from call-connector to Wall Street superstar but no. If you’re thinking about reading it, DON’T. Learn from my mistakes.


The scenery was nice, at least.


  1. I’ve only been to Hawaii once– we went to the Big Island when N was 8 months old– and I’ve always wanted to go back. It was so very lovely.

  2. I think that is one of the reasons I love camping in the backcountry of Algonquin so much, there is no internet, no cell phone reception, no working toilets, just a box in the woods (and yes you have to bring your menstruating products out with you). The beauty, the silence is golden. When hubby and I were in Jamaica a few weeks ago, a trip we both truly enjoyed, he even said he does prefer the backcountry over a resort.

  3. happy geek says

    I read a post written by the “wolf’s” daughter and it begged us not to see the movie. She made a compelling point. So, I am doing my level best not to watch it.
    I will just watch comic book heroes instead. 🙂

    I am loving your pictures of Maui. SO PRETTY.

    • I read that same article and her points were indeed compelling, so I vowed not to read the book or see the movie even though I was and am very curious to see Leo DiCaprio playing a completely irredeemable human being.

      I would have jumped in the bacteria pool. I wouldn’t have been able to help myself.

    • HOW I WISH I HAD READ THAT ARTICLE. Because honestly, I wish I hadn’t read it. Stick with the comic book movies.

  4. Hawaii is one of my bucket-list places – it so far from out here, but I really hope to get there someday. Someday when we are not burdened with having to buy airfare for the children :). It looks fantastic!

    Sometimes when we are driving from Ottawa to Toronto to visit the families, we see little houses back off the highway, high on hills, surrounded by thick forest. I always wonder about the people who live there – what is their life like? Are they totally off the grid? What do they do for a living? How do they survive winter? It fascinates me, but I know I would never have the stomach for it. Even reading Catherine’s description above of backwoods camping has me shuddering and wanting to barricade myself in the bathroom. They will take flushable toilets from my COLD DEAD HANDS.

    Glad you had a great trip!

    • I wondered that too – what their lives were like, what it was like living so far from anywhere.

      Hawaii would be far for you – because it’s almost seven hour flight from here, so that would be…twelve hours for you? Ai-yi-yi.

  5. I would so love to see Hana, but since Oldest gets car sick driving to the Oregon coast on major two-lane highways, I will have to put it on the bucket list for when he’s grown up and is no longer vacationing with us. The pictures look beautiful.

    I couldn’t even make it through Bonfire of the Vanities in the 80s, I know better than to tackle Wolf of Wall Street. No thanks to reading about some jackasses excesses at the expense of everyone else. Bleh.

  6. If you want to see Leo DiCaprio playing an irredeemable human, just watch Django Unchained. No wait, don’t watch that either.
    Is the not practicing yoga while menstruating an across-the-board thing? Along with no new moon practicing? Anything about second Tuesdays when Taurus is in Jupiter? I’m just being stupid now, I didn’t sleep well last night.
    Also, this post reminded me that I pronounced bedraggled in my head as “bed-raggled” for years. That’s not right, right? It’s actually be-draggled, right? Wouldn’t it be funny if I thought I was wrong all that time and I was actually right? yeah, I’m just going to go to bed now.

    • Oh, Django Unchained. That was just a weird, weird movie. I don’t know what else to say about it.

    • Hahaha, you’re not supposed to practice when you’re having your period – it’s where the term “ladies’ holidays” comes from! But really I only take the first day off and then I don’t do any inversions, because the inversions are the real problem…also no practice on new or full moons. And that is because of the tides and moon energy and…it sounds pretty flaky. Whatever, I enjoy sleeping in on those days!

      I think it’s be-draggled but NOW I AM SURE OF NOTHING.

  7. Oh. My. Monthly “Thank Jesus I’m not a Mom again” period. We took a hike when we were in Kauai. It was absolutely beautiful and I totally agree that the water looked like a poocano waiting to happen.
    That bums me out that the book wasn’t really good. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I hear A LOT about it.

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