Showing posts with label driving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label driving. Show all posts

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Crazy school bus accident, and the dangers of the road by Mama's Fish House

Maui is so relaxed and rural, it seems that nothing really bad could happen here. And while we complain regularly about traffic, it’s nothing compared to anywhere else. Excluding the Road to Hana, which has scores of one-lane bridges and more curves than the Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.

Photo by Corinne Bourgoin on MauiWatch.

DH and I are driving down Hana Highway towards Paia this morning, around 10:30 am, and suddenly come across a road block, just past Hookipa Beach Park. WTF??? Both lanes are closed and there’s a detour up Holomua Road, that goes into the sugar cane fields and leads to the old Maui High School.

Both lanes of Hana Highway are blocked!
This is the view coming back down Holomua Road to Hana Highway, on our way back.

Even though we have last century’s TV at home, complete w/ rabbit ears and fuzzy snow, I am armed with mobile technology. The Facebook page for MauiWatch, which gives Maui residents the latest accident and traffic news plus other breaking news, says there is a BIG accident with a school bus last night. Someone stole an Akina school bus and crashed it outside the entrance to Mama’s Fish House restaurant, walked away from the crash and tried to hitchhike! WTF?? This accident also explains why the power went out in the middle of the night.

How the heck are we going to get to Paia? It turns out, there are roads that wind through the cane fields and hit Baldwin Avenue. I am using my map app on the iphone and see a cross road called Lower Hamakuapoko Road, but there is a big yellow gate across it. We drive a little further, wondering if we have to go all the way to Makawao (7 miles out of the way) and a truck and car shoot past us. Hey, they must know where they are going! Besides, it’s an island, so how lost can we get?

OMG! Where are we?!
Somewhere in the deep boonies of the sugar cane fields above Paia.

We follow the truck and car and take the next right going towards Paia. It’s a windy road, but it’s paved, but there are sneaky vicious attack potholes (VAPs) that are ready to pounce on lazy drivers. DH manages to avoid most of the VAPs and we follow the curves, hoping not to lose sight of the car in front, then we turn right and voila! We are on Baldwin Avenue, heading down the hill to Paia. Good old Baldwin Avenue, I could kiss thee!

Down we go, and WTF!? There is a line up of cars going all the way down to Paia. We wait for 10 minutes in traffic, move about 10 feeet, and then decide that the powers that be do not want us in Paia, so we go home.  

Baldwin Avenue, past the Maui Yoga Shala (the old Paia Train Station,
about a mile up the hill from Paia town) is bumper to bumper with cars coming down through the accident bypass. We are heading back home, to Haiku.

The full story of the crazy school bus snatcher? Beats me. From what I gather on Facebook, he stole the bus last night, passed another car on a double yellow line, was being pulled over by police, and then took off again and flipped the bus over outside Mama’s. Some commenters said the driver tried to hitchhike and then ran off into the cane fields.

Here are a couple of comments from MauiWatch's Facebook page (original punctuation and spelling):

 “apparently dis bus was driving crazy passed my mom on a double and was pulled over by the cops when my mom was giving her statement and before the cop could get to the bus da driver took off and flipped the bus by mamas

 "The driver of the bus stay hitch hiking on baldwin and olomoa street. Brown shirt "hawaiis finest" on the front and black shorts."

But I kinda have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) around the area near Mama’s Fish House. 

8 years ago, I had a bad accident around that bend. I had my little rusty Maui cruiser (what we call a beat up car on Maui, a lemon that runs). After I pass Mama’s this minivan coming towards me, suddenly turns left in front of me towards Mama’s back parking lot. WTF!? I brake, but hit the van in the middle.

My airbag goes off and punches me in the chest. I am in shock that this dude out of nowhere decides to turn left in front of me. What was he thinking? Why would he think he had room to do this? Police come to the scene and say my car is totaled. My husband shows up, and jumps up and down the hood of the car because it is folded in half like an upside down V, like the crease on an origami paper bird. He manages to jump on the hood enough to make it flat, but it’s like an aluminum ball that you try to straighten out but it’s still crumpled and crappy looking. We exchange insurance cards with the other driver, who is from somewhere in Micronesia and works at Mama’s Fish House.

Later, it turns out that the other driver had a fake insurance card! Hawaii is a no-fault state for car insurance, meaning one’s insurance covers owns own personal injuries.  I didn’t seem badly injured, just sore, but we didn’t know yet. And the driver at fault is the one whose insurance pays for car damage. But this guy’s insurance was invalid. 

This is actually a pretty common in Hawaii. People get insurance, then cancel it, and keep their insurance card. Called the police officer who was on our case, and he was totally useless and said they won’t pursue it.

By the way, Maui police are a mixed bag. For accidents, they don’t seem to be very helpful at all. Another friend got into a car accident in Haiku 8 years ago and the other driver had no license, no insurance and the police did nothing. On the other hand, we have the infamous officer Taguma who loves to give tickets for speeding and we don’t have tons of cops on the road, so that can sometimes be pleasant. DH claims that Maui’s police force numbers compared to population size is about 10% of the national average. That could be changing with the supersize police station in Kihei.

Ah Maui! The Hana Highway is now open, at least as of 2 pm, and traffic is flowing slowly according to the folks at Mama’s Fish House. But it’s a dangerous section of the highway. One Facebook commenter writes, “I lived on that corner for a little over a year and saw a lot of spaghetti I hope all are well.” Us too, because it’s a lot of excitement for a little island.

For more info, visit the MauiWatch page. Kind of wish I had checked it this morning! Big shout out to MauiWatch!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Watch Out for Taguma

(To the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"):

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not SPEED
I’m telling you why
Officer Taguma just got me…

He’s got his laser
And checking it twice
Gonna find out who’s speeding or nice
Officer Taguma just got me…

He sees you when you’re speeding
He knows when you are not
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So don’t speed for goodness sake!

O! You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not SPEED
I’m telling you why
Officer Taguma will get you…
O! Taguma will get you…

If you’re stressed about the holidays, and racing to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center, better think twice about pushing hard on the gas pedal. Or if you’re racing to the more resort-oriented Shops of Wailea, ease up on the gas.  Just because it’s Christmas or Hanukkah or the holiday season, doesn’t mean that Officer Taguma will play nice. He also seems fond of that stretch of highway between Kihei and Kahului.

This is the gray car that belongs to Officer Taguma.

Officer Taguma is Maui’s idea of an urban legend. If someone gets a ticket for speeding on Maui, nine out of ten times, it will be a ticket from Officer Taguma. He is downright notorious as the only officer with a laser, although there’s probably one or two others in the Maui police department.   There are countless stories about Officer Taguma, about how he ticketed his own mother for going 5 miles over the speed limit, about how he shot himself in the foot, and about how ruthless he is in collecting speeding tickets.  Supposedly, there’s even a support group for people that Taguma's victims.  If you see the bumper sticker, "Taguma Got Me," you’ll know what happened. 

Also, Taguma writes up a lot of parking tickets, especially in the Wailuku area. So he doesn't just tag speeders, he gets everyone. 

Slightly closer view of Taguma's car... 

I wanted to take better pictures of Taguma, but DH turned apoplectic. Given what happened to Tommy Russo, publisher of Maui Time, every time he tries to take a picture or video of Mauipolice, I guess that’s understandable. I don’t really need Taguma to get me too!  But I found this great photo set of Taguma by Maui Time on flickr. And I also found another funny local style blog post, Taguma Got Me

This is NOT Officer Taguma. He is NOT Santa Claus.
But it is part of the international Santa display in Haiku.

Drive safely (and park carefully) this holiday season - and the rest of the year - because you never know when Taguma is watching.  Watch out! Taguma might get you!

Updated 7/14/13: There's an awesome Facebook page called TagumaWatch which has some good updates on where Officer Taguma is on the island, plus occasional traffic or accident reports. There are some fun stories too!

PS. I'm linking this blog post to other blogs written by the Maui Bloggers Network, so will add more holiday links as they are posted by members. This is my holiday gift to other bloggers on Maui. 

3. Toby Neal- Living a creative life in Hawaii-

4. Joyce Chin Photography - The Maui Roller Girls 'Stache Bash: A Drag King Revue

Skipping 5 - which is this post

6. MauiShopGirl - Modern Holiday Cards

7. Lena Castles - The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree:

8. Chris Norberg - Wedding on Pride of Maui with Natalie Brown:

9. DzinePOD - Go Elf Yourself!

11. Gorgeous Maui Weddings - Stop missing the posts of your favorite FB pages, create a favorites list:

12. Winter in Hawaii- It's feeling a lot like Christmas

13. Maui Qigong - Why I lLike Sheng Zhen Qigong -
14. Maui Oceanview Condos - Santa in the Shark Tank!!

15. Linda Lindsay - 10 Maui People BIG on Pinterest -- A Collectible Delight! -

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hana Highway Tree Trimming and Ethnic Jokes

It's easy to stop traffic on Maui with a few orange cones and some construction crews. The lush vegetation grows year round, so it's a constant battle to keep the grass cut and the trees pruned. A typical Maui scene right on Hana Highway, where traffic is being stopped in both directions. 

There's an old ethnic joke, "How do you stop traffic in Hawaii?" Answer: "Two Portagees (pronounced Port-a-ghee) and an orange cone!"  This joke will only be funny if you have lived in Hawaii long enough to experience being at the mercy of an orange cone and a couple of construction workers for some road work that would only take a few minutes to complete anywhere other than Hawaii. 

This joke picks on the ethnic group, the Portaguese, who are descendants of the original Portuguese immigrants who worked on plantations. But they don't call themselves Portuguese, they call themselves "Port-a-ghee" with a hard "g" sound. Unlike more racially sensitive places, in Hawaii, there are a lot of jokes that tease different ethnic groups, and they are not PC in any way - some jokes pick on the Japanese, or the Chinese, the Filipinos, the Hawaiians, the Koreans, the haoles (the Caucasians) and of course, the Portagees. There are relatively few jokes that pick on Samoans, because no one wants to be beaten up! (I guess that is the joke about Samoans.)  The Portagees in Hawaii are considered to be hard workers, practical, proud, obstinate, good farmers, and solid as the earth.  Portagee jokes are similar to Polish jokes elsewhere. The Portagee are famous for Portaguese sweet bread, also the Molokai sweet bread, sold in most supermarkets here. 

I grew up listening to popular local comedians known for their ethnic jokes, like Frank De Lima and Andy Bumatai. Most locals don't mind a little ribbing and won't mind making fun of you either!  It's also considered fun to try and guess other people's ethnic backgrounds since most local people are quite a mix, and proud of their diverse ancestry. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Local Style Hitchhikers and Flowers in the Hair

Long before there were public buses on Maui, there were hitchhikers. Even with the public bus system, hitchhikers are still pretty common on Maui since the buses don't run that often and don't go everywhere.

Hitchhikers are a common sight on Maui.
This one is probably a local wearing an aloha shirt,
maybe even going to work. 

There are many kinds of hitchhikers - scruffy bearded types, jocks with surfboards, hippies or wanna-be hippies, campers on a budget, and ordinary folks who just don't have a car.  

Depending on how much stuff is in our car and what we're doing, DH and I will pick up hitchhikers. I don't recommend that people do this of course, but we've often had some interesting conversations this way. Many times, we've picked up Jeffrey, who is pretty well-known for hitchhiking with duffle bags of books.

Recently, we picked up a young couple going to Wailuku.  Ashley was very friendly and had grown up on Maui. Her boyfriend was from the mainland and she was showing him around the island. What made Ashley distinctive for me was that she was wearing a flower in her hair. 

A flower in the hair - a rare sight
(outside of a resort area) on Maui these days. 

Ashley's flower was very distinctive.  At first I thought it was one of those flower hair pieces, but it turns out it's a plumeria with a red flower embedded in it. I can't remember the name of this flower. Ashley likes to combine flowers together to create new looks. 

By the way, in flower lingo:
Flower on the left side of the face: I'm taken.
Flower on the right side of the face: I'm available.
(Just like with rings on the left or right hand.)

And DH's additional version: 
Flower on the back of the head: Quick!  Follow me home.  

That made all of us laugh. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Anole Lizard Driving the Truck

A very short post today.

Maui jungalows are full of critters, and so are the cars and trucks of jungalow dwellers.

An anole lizard surprised us by jumping on the steering wheel and driving the truck. No driver's license either!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crazy 11-11-11, APEC, and Maui Rental Cars SOLD OUT

Breaking news!

I was looking for a car rental for a visitor to Maui who had not made a car rental reservation ahead of time. Usually it's no big deal in November.  November is not high tourist season yet.

But due to the APEC Conference on Oahu next week, a huge business summit, all those visitors are flocking to Maui like ants to a picnic - just for the weekend. Plus with 11-11-11, people have been coming to Maui to celebrate by getting married here...

So ALL the major car rental companies are sold out. Thrifty, Dollar, Alamo, Enterprise, Budget, Avis, name it, I called it.

Even smaller "local kine" rental companies are also SOLD OUT, including rent-a-second hand car... or rent-a-truck.

Here's a list of alternative, local rental car companies:
No Ka Oi Car Rentals
Surf Trucks
Maui Cruisers
and Al West Maui Vans.

All sold out, except for a 4-Quad truck which rents for $100/day... But they close at 12 noon on Saturday, so that doesn't help the tourists I'm assisting.

Skip at Surf Trucks even told me that some visitors arrived to the airport, and found out their car reservation was sold out from under them!  So they rented a truck from him to drive to their wedding location on 11-11.

The airport will be crazy, and so will Kahului...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jacked Up Local Style Trucks

This jacked up truck graphic was spotted recently on a mural in Haiku.

Note: Updated 12/10/11

One of the features of the Maui roadscape is the jacked-up, beefed up, lifted local truck.  This is a truck on steroids. It's a gas-guzzler. It's usually driven by someone born and raised on Maui.  I don't recall seeing such trucks on Oahu, but if I saw any, I would speculate that the driver is from a more rugged, rural area, like Waianae.  I don't remember any big trucks from living on Kauai for a year, but there are probably some there as well.

Jacked up truck in Kahului.

Since I'm not part of the world of "born and raised on Maui," I can only speculate as to why jacked-up trucks are so desirable... Maybe they're good for pig hunting or driving to one's secret marijuana patch. Maybe they are a testosterone trip.  Maybe they signify being part of the Maui family and being able to go places most people don't.

They are not cheap. The basic jacked-up truck costs at least $5,000 or more, according to DH, who has worked in the car business. DH says that the jacking up of some trucks can cost upwards of $30,000.

Update: I just found out more information on jacked up trucks after talking with an intriguing Maui character who has Buddha statues in his yard but also likes big trucks and motorcycles. But who says Buddhists can't have jacked-up trucks?

1. The jacked up truck lets him go offroading, and to places otherwise off limits.

2. The real feature is that the truck is raised, and has higher ground clearance. Since the truck is higher off the ground, it also needs bigger tires and more structural support.  In other words, it has to get "beefed up" to "ride high."

3. It also helps when he takes his jet skis to the water. The salt water can't reach the body of his truck, which it can with his newer and nicer truck.

4. His jacked up truck can take some abuse and do things he would never do with his new, normal truck.

This is not the best pic, but look to the right half of the photo - to see a big raised truck with HUGE wheels, at the Maui Off Road Center.

Places like the Maui Off Road Center in Kahului specialize in these vehicles.

Haiku style jacked up truck at Toma's Garage.

"Jacked up and proud of it."

The driver of this vehicle was happy to model his truck. He was a proud "Portagee" (meaning of Portuguese descent)  DH said the jacking up of this truck may have cost $25,000+ but it's very likely the driver was a relative of the car specialist.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Two Kinds of Roads in Rural Maui

Rough road surface in Upper Kula

There are mainly two kinds of roads in rural Maui: rough and bumpy or rougher and bumpier. There are some good patches of road that have been recently resurfaced, Kaluanui Road at the top of Maliko Gulch near Makawao, and Haiku Road coming up from Hana Highway. But mostly the roads are really bad. In some recent national roads report, Hawaii ranked high in having a large percentage of really bad roads.  And a lot of them are on Maui.

It’s not just upcountry Haiku or Kula, but even parts of South Kihei. I know someone who blew out a tire coming down Kokomo Road from Makawao. It’s easy to do, coming down hill. Hopefully, that road is next in line to get repaved.

Bumpy Kokomo Road in Haiku

With the recent roadwork, maybe Auntie Mona of Makawao has finally gotten her message across to some politicians. At last year’s Fourth of July Parade in Makawao, she jumped up every time a candidate’s parade float or banner passed by. Since 2010 was an election year, there were a lot of candidates to confront.  If she liked the person, she would give him/her a big hug and express a big mahalo (Hawaiian for thank you) loudly in front of all the spectators.  Otherwise, she would accost each candidate with the same lines: “Hey, take care of us upcountry.  Take care of our roads!” Actually, Auntie Mona was more entertaining than the parade itself, and I missed seeing her this year.

Haiku Road getting a facelift.

Now, there are some roads that are just classically rough – much of hippy Huelo, the road from Hana to Kaupo, and parts of Waihee have these rough washboard roads, best for 4 wheel drive vehicles with a high ground clearance.  The newer fuel efficient cars have a lower ground clearance, which helps with fuel economy, but not with bad roads. Damaging the underside of a car can be costly – especially the catalytic converter and the crankcase which is part of the engine. The trick is to get the wheels lined up on the raised portions of the road, and on top of the rocks.  Easier said then done.

On the flip side, sometimes it’s good to have rough roads – it keeps those areas less developed and more rural. A lot of residents like it that way, but they have 4 wheel drive trucks.

For the rest of us though, it’s better to go slowly. As they say, “Just cruise.”  And watch out for potholes and rocks.

Just a reminder: "Slow Down."