As I picked up a package from a friend in Kaimuki, he cautioned me to drive home safely. I thought at the time that it was a strange admonition, considering that Waikiki was only a few miles away and the initial road that I usually traveled (Harding Street) to the main thoroughfare was rarely congested or undergoing construction.
The minute that I left his driveway, I noticed the name of a typically narrow intersecting street, Kaimuki. Ha ah! I knew that the same street began in Waikiki not far from my home. So why not take it—it could even be a shortcut.
At first, I had no trouble. But soon I encountered a truck that stopped in front of me on an incline. I was hesitant to pass him because I had limited visibility. The trucker, seeing how cautious I was, waved me to get around him. Trusting his judgment, I safely maneuvered by him. There was no traffic nearby.
In the distance, I saw that Kaimuki Street became a huge hill with a row of parked cars bunched up on the left side of the road. Even though I knew that there was very little room for vehicles to safely pass by each other, I continued.
After a while, the hill became so steep that if another car lurched over the hill toward me, we could collide. There was no room to turn around, so I had no choice but to cautiously keep going. As I reached the pinnacle, no cars were approaching mine, so I sped down the hill, only to find out that I had reached a dead end. Kaimuki Ave. from Kaimuki did not lead into Kaimuki Ave. in Waikiki. With a few twists and turns, I finally ended up on Harding Road, where I would have been originally if I didn’t try to find a shortcut.
After a while, as I drove by Kaimuki Ave. in Waikiki, I vowed never to assume that roads in Hawaii are contiguous from one location to another.
How fortuitous it was that my friend told me to drive carefully. I will trust his judgement from now on.
At that point, I recalled a harrowing moment fifteen years ago while I was driving on the hair-pinned (and hare-brained) allegedly two-lane northern mountain pass in Maui. The road could barely accommodate two mini-compacts, let alone the medium-sized sedan I had rented.
Whenever I saw another car approach (sometimes at the last minute), I sidled up as close to the embankment as I could in order to make way for that vehicle. I maneuvered accordingly until at the top of the mountain, an oversized Mac truck rounded the bend. I could see that even if I inched to the far side of my lane, the truck wouldn’t be able to get through. To break this impasse, I had to drive a bit down the mountain side until I could slither into a wider niche. Hyperventilating all the way, I luckily found a haven without bumping into any vehicles coming up behind me.
After the truck barely got by me, I found enough courage to accelerate over the mountain top unscathed but still shaky. My wife, who was in the passenger seat throughout this adventure, was composed throughout my ordeal. I guess that a credit to my ability to surmount a crisis. Of course, knowing my wife, she might have dozed off during my struggles to stay on the road without catapulting over a cliff.