The Blessing of a Wrong Turn

“Adventure” doesn’t have to mean jumping out of airplanes, hanging your backside off a cliff by a rope, or venturing to remote, off the beaten path locations. Simply making a left turn when you should have turned right can change your life.

I can testify to that. Here’s how one of the best days of my life happened as a result of doing exactly that.

One morning at dawn, I pulled out of my hotel in west Maui with the intent of hiking Mount Haleakala and driving the shortest route to get there, which is up through the “neck” of the island to Kahalui where I have driven many times, and then eastward and southward – which would only have taken 1.5 hours drive if I had turned right onto Highway 30. However, because I had not been sleeping well, I mistakenly turned left onto Highway 30 and began driving on my merry way up the coast and around the “head” of the island.

On most tourist maps, there is an advisory not to drive Highway 30 north, which narrows and becomes Highway 340 at the top of the “head”. It wasn’t until I was about 15 miles up the coast that I realized I had made a big mistake and that I was in for a much longer and more arduous drive to Kahalui. But the drive was so gorgeous that I decided to continue northward on Highway 30 anyway and not to turn around, despite the warning on my map.

When I reached the the top of the “head” where Hwy 30 becomes Hwy 340, the road became much narrower with very tight hairpin curves, and a few times was no more than a one lane dirt road with magnificent views and steep drop-offs with only a small space to pull over to allow drivers coming toward me to pass.

It was a harrowing drive, to put it mildly. But it was well worth it. I saw so many beautiful, real Hawaii scenes, such as the one in my picture above – overlooking the pretty little village of Kahakuloa – that most tourists never see, and which I would never have seen if had had turned right and taken the familiar route, instead of mistakenly turning left into what became a beautiful adventure.

I finally made it to Haleakala in 3 1/2 hours, and was able to hike the Halemau’u Trail almost to the bottom of the crater before I had to turn around and hike back out. As I was walking back up the switchbacks, I began hearing thunder so I quickened my pace. When I finally reached the trailhead, the rain was beginning to fall. During the drive back down the mountain, the rain became torrential creating rushing cascades of water shooting off the tops of the road cuts.

When I got back to the hotel late that afternoon, my roommate and others in our group asked me how the drive and hike went. I described my experience, and said “this day of discovery was the best day of my life!!”. I asked them how their day went. They told me that they had gotten massages, manicures, and laid on the beach. Every one of them then said to me “I can’t say this was the best day of my life. I’m so jealous of you.”

Yes, simply mistakenly turning a different direction than you intended can change your life, if you allow it.