As we waved back at family, embarking on our Route 66 journey from the Midwest to California in a used Town and Country minivan, we didn't know what lay ahead. This was the start of our move from the East Coast to Maui. With images of the tropics fueling our road trip, we were hoping to leave the winter temperatures and snow behind us, especially because the minivan didn't have heat. We bundled up with multiple layers and extra socks and foraged on. Where we were ending up, it wouldn't matter.
Even on this Southerly route across the States, however, we encountered flurries and chilly temperatures from Missouri through Kansas and Oklahoma, in the high elevations of Flagstaff, Arizona. We arrived at Joshua Tree National Park to find it covered with almost a foot of snow. The Park rangers told us that it had been a decade since snow had fallen in Joshua Tree. Lucky us, I guess, to have this rare experience while traveling in and old van with no heat.
We made the best of it, turning snow into a snowman. Warm beaches were waiting in our new home.
Plan A to D
Our Plan A was to cross multiple states within a week. Most people suggest a two- to three-week trip along the Mother Road to take in iconic sights such as the St. Louis Arch, the Kan-o-Tex filling station in Galena, Kansas, and Cadillac Ranch in Texas. We skipped most because of time but made a couple necessary detours to satiate our curiosity. We stopped to explore caves in Missouri and take a glider flight outside of Albuquerque.
We never strayed far from Route 66, however. Our GPS was set on Long Beach, California to ship the minivan to the Valley Isle by boat. After, I would return to South Florida to tie up professional and personal loose ends, sell a house, and pack up a pod. Meanwhile, my other half Brian would fly to Maui to start a new position in aviation in the medical field and pick up the van.
What we did not anticipate was a global pandemic that forced plans to be postponed and canceled. Covid-19 put many wrenches into the move to Maui, making us pivot to Plan B, C, and D. However, nearly a year and a half later, that same minivan on Maui has driven the Road to Hana with its 620 curves and 59 one-lane bridges. It has also summited the Sun Gate of Haleakala National Park countless times.
For the majority of those adventures, we have not been behind the wheel.
Out of the Driver's Seat to Address Hawaii's Rental Car Problems
Not only has the van, nicknamed the Aloha Van, helped us cross country and explore our new home, but it put us on the road to embracing a new side of tourism. Once jetsetters—I a tour guide in Cuba and my partner a helicopter tour pilot—we shifted gears from traveling for work and driving the open road for leisure to sharing the adventure of the open road with other travelers. While remaining in place, we embarked on an endeavor that combined our local knowledge, marketing skills, and troubleshooting. We became Airbnb hosts of our camper van on the Valley Isle.