Driving With My Daughter In Maui

Two years ago in late September, my daughter and I took a trip to Maui—a belated celebration of her graduation from law school the year before. She and I have different interests, but we decided Maui offered enough activities for both of us to enjoy. And (at least tacitly) we agreed we could tolerate a week’s togetherness as mother and adult daughter.

My daughter doesn’t like the way I drive, and I am perfectly comfortable with her driving, so we also agreed she would be our designated driver. She rented a compact car, but when we got to the Maui airport, the agent told us to take any car on the lot. She chose a nice little Jeep.

Which was a good thing.

Along the Road to Hana

Along the Road to Hana

One day we drove the Road to Hana—one of the main attractions on Maui. This 50-mile route hugs the northeastern shore of the island and offers beautiful views of coastline and rain forest, but it twists and turns, and in places narrows to a single lane.

I don’t do well with twisty roads, although they don’t bother my daughter, who even likes roller coasters. I had come prepared with Dramamine, and I dutifully took a dose before we headed out for Hana. I mellowed out for the ride, and we had a wonderful day, stopping to eat and to sit on a black sand beach at the far end of the drive.

Our base point on Maui was a condo in Kaanapali on the west coast of the island. One afternoon, a couple of days after our Hana experience, we decided to head north from our condo to explore. We thought we might find a restaurant somewhere along the shore.

Shortly after passing the northwest corner of the island, we came upon Highway 340, which the map showed as the main route along the shore. Well, it was a highway, so it should take us somewhere, right?

We blithely headed onward.

Gorgeous views of the Pacific greeted us. Pounding surf, blowholes, cloudless blue sky and cerulean water.

But the road shrank from two lanes to one lane to goat track. A goat track on a steep cliff down to the crashing sea. And all along, there were hairpin turns. No visibility around the curves. And a few intrepid Hawaiian drivers who knew what they were doing, and did it at what I considered to be reckless speeds.


Highway 340, picture from HawaiiHighway.com

Highway 340, picture from HawaiiHighway.com

I have driven the Pacific Coast Highway in California. I have been on steep mountain roads in Colorado and Montana. I recently mentioned the nerve-wracking MacKenzie Highway in Oregon None of those brought fear to my heart the way Highway 340 on Maui did.

“Better take your Dramamine,” my daughter said, when the going got tough. I dutifully swallowed two pills. Unfortunately, drugs were not enough to make me feel soft and fuzzy like they had on the Road to Hana.

Here are a few 2013 reviews of Highway 340 from TripAdvisor:

  • . . . we didn’t know what to expect. . . . it didn’t take long for us to realize that the road was narrow and treacherous, without any barriers between the vehicle and drops of several hundred feet. At one point, I looked over the cliff and immediately focussed on the very narrow road ahead. . . . On several of the ascents and descents, there was only barely enough room for one car. . . . There were several blind corners and switchbacks where you prayed another vehicle wasn’t oncoming. The vistas were beautiful, but only for the passengers who were brave enough to take a look.
  • Only the brave and capable high skill drivers should go. Don’t take passengers that get car sick or panic attacks.
  • Rental cars are not covered under your policy if you choose to take it on this road. Only above average drivers with plenty of time and a sense of adventure need to attempt this drive.
  • If you have an aversion to heights, get nervous or freaked out easily, have bad eyesight, or have children in the car, I’d recommend against it. 

Would that we had consulted TripAdvisor before heading out on our lark.

Still, I’m glad we took this route (I can say two years later). I will never do it again voluntarily, but I’m glad we did it once.

Why? Because I learned to trust my daughter. I have been very proud of her as she has grown into an independent adult, but on one level she will always be my baby. On that afternoon, however, all I could do was put my life in her hands and hope she had the skill and fortitude to get us through the journey.

She did not fail me. We made it back to two-lane roads unscathed. A highway shoulder never looked so wide. I gratefully paid for her dinner that evening.

There will be times in the future, I’m sure, when I will need to rely on her again. It is good to have our Maui experience to remind me that she will come through for me. With competence and grace.

When have you had to reverse the roles of parent and child?

Maui rainbow at breakfast one morning

Maui rainbow at breakfast one morning

Posted in Family, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Oh my word, that road doesn’t even look wide enough for a goat, Theresa! Kudos to your daughter, if I were driving, I’d still be sitting out there.

    I find the roles slowly reversing as my parents age.

  2. I experienced the reverse roles in many instances with my deceased parents and first family while caregiving. Now I dare my daughters to consider me less than independent, but secretly, I see the possibility up ahead. Yikes!
    Just kidding, they are all three very capable, intelligent women. I am proud.
    You are so brave, my dear. Good post.

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