We recently vacationed in Hawaii–on Oahu and Kauai–and had the opportunity to drive around in a rental car with three teenagers.
This is a vacation?
Getting around Hawaii is not as easy as it sounds. It has to be one of the worst places we have ever been to with regards to the driving experience. If you already know where you are going, you’ll be just fine. Being that this was our first trip to the 50th state, we were anything but fine.
For instance, we wanted to visit Pearl Harbor. Travelling on H-1, a ten lane highway in Honolulu at one point, there are signs over three lanes that say “Pearl Harbor.” You would think that if you got into one of those lanes, you would be able to get to Pearl Harbor. Maybe you can. We couldn’t. Twice. From either direction.
We had maps. We basically knew where the harbor was. We were on an island for crying out loud. There’s ocean, shore and inland. How hard could this be?
But there were no signs that actually told you which exit to take to get to Pearl Harbor.
We couldn’t get there from here. Or there. Or anywhere.
There are no signs along the Interstate to tell you what attractions, amenities, facilities or restaurants are available. You just have to guess. Or perhaps we should have rented a car with a GPS. The kids were no help. They had iPod ear buds in their ears and couldn’t even hear the cries of anguish from the adults up front.
But I digress.
In Kauai, there was a section of highway that was under construction. We know this because there were signs saying so, not because we actually saw any actual construction occurring. There were orange barrels. There was a sign that announced that the project was going to begin in June 2010. Almost two years later, the road is still under construction. Maybe they are importing it from China, inch by inch. Glad I don’t live there. What the hell am I saying . . . it’s Hawaii. I WISH I LIVED THERE! But I’m glad I didn’t have to drive in that traffic every day.
So there we were, tooling along at 5 mph or less in bumper to bumper traffic. It was midday, and I think maybe the schools were letting out. As a result, there were some police officers coordinating the traffic jam.
As we passed one of them, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him grab the radio on his shoulder and say something.
I’m in a rental car going 5 miles per hour. Grandmothers are passing us in hula skirts. I must be imagining things. Surely I have done nothing wrong.
But about five hundred feet later (let’s see, maybe five minutes have passed–just kidding, but things were going slow) another cop pointed and signalled me to pull into the blocked lane lined by orange barrels.
I muttered something under my breath and complied, still wondering what was going on. Surely, this must be some mistake.
I’d like to type that I wound the window down, but that is rather archaic. So I powered the window down.
The cop pointed to my son in the back seat and said, “the one in the middle needs to be in a seat belt too.”
OK. Let’s stop right here. We always make our kids wear seat belts. Always. Just going to the store. Sitting in the parking lot. Sometimes when they are not even in the car. Doesn’t matter.
Always, except for this time.
I’m not sure telling him we always make them wear seat belts helped our case at all, particularly when NONE of my kids in the back seat had their seat belt on as it turned out.
To his credit, the officer never asked for my license or the rental’s registration. He asked where we were from and whether we were on vacation. Then, he reminded us that the kids always need to wear their seat belts in Hawaii. He even stopped the slow-moving traffic to allow us to get back on the highway.
The kids learned a valuable lesson that day. If you don’t want dad asking if your seat belt is buckled every fifteen minutes of the vacation, then make sure you don’t get pulled over for not wearing it in the first place.