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  • Writer's pictureTina McLain

My First Road Trip While Living Alone

Updated: Nov 28, 2022

A story about my first road trip alone while living on the Big Island in Hawaii.



I decided I wanted to go on a drive today, since it was rainy. I started my drive to Pahoa which is south of Hilo. I took Hwy 11 which wanders through part of Volcanoes National Park. It was really cool to see, even though it was raining pretty hard. I find the change of the terrain so interesting: jungle, desert, lava rock and back to jungle again. I drove the 1 1/2 hr drive with it raining almost the entire way there.


I planned on filling up with gas once I reached Pahoa, but once I got there I didn’t see any gas stations straight off. So I pulled off the road and looked up gas stations on maps. There were 2 back up the road about 5 minutes. I went to the one with the cheapest price. I got up to the point I put the nozzle in the gas tank and pulled the handle to dispense the gas. It didn’t work. I tried multiple times and nothing would come out.

There was another gas station right across the street so I decided to go there and try again. They didn’t accept debit cards there so I followed the instructions for getting gas with cash and it didn’t work either. I was getting rather annoyed.



The next closest gas station was 11 minutes away, so headed to there. It was called Ohana gas, or something like that. I went through the process again, except this time the reason it didn’t work was because I wasn’t a member. When I pulled up I didn’t realize it was a “member only” thing. I was frustrated, but I needed to get gas before I kept exploring the area. The next closest gas station was 16 minutes way, a Shell. I was praying the gas would work there. I got to the Shell and everything went smoothly. I got the gas and was ready to continue exploring.


I drove back to Pahoa and to Hwy 130 to Kamaili Rd. The drive was gorgeous. The lush jungle grew around the narrow road. At the end of the road I turned left onto Hwy 137 and drove to Mackenzie State Recreation Park. I drove into the main entrance and parked. I opened the door to the car and the alarm went off. I tried all sorts of things to get it to quit blaring. Eventually it turned off by itself. Thankfully no one was there to witness it. Still it was rather embarrassing.



The recreation area followed the cliffs along the shoreline. The waves crashed up against the rocks. It was so beautiful. The air was very moist and misty from the crashing waves. I walked along the cliff at a safe distance and admired the gorgeous blue color of the water near the cliffs. While I was walking another car drove in—another woman by herself like me.


I went back to the car after walking for a while and tried to unlock the car, but the driver’s door wouldn’t unlock. I panicked inside a little bit since I was in the middle of nowhere with no cell service. I noticed the passenger side door was unlocked so I went around and opened it. When I did, the alarm went off again and wouldn’t turn off no matter what I did. The lady walked over, I told her I’d been having issues with it doing that. The alarm quit blaring again by itself. But once I tried to start the car it went off again! So embarrassing. Eventually it went off by itself, but on the way back it would periodically make a honking noise. I drove out of the parking lot a little rattled by the experience. I decided not to stop anywhere else because of the issues I was having with the car.


I continued down Hwy 137 and then turned left onto Hwy 130. I called my mom and told her about what happened. I really had to pee and it was two hours back to the house. I couldn’t open the car door without the alarm going off. When I got to the other side of Volcano National Park I had to pee so bad I thought I might cry urine. So I pulled off the road and peed in a cup then dumped it out the window. The things we will do when we really have to pee. Being trapped in a car and desperately needing to pee was a first for me.



When I got back to the house I braced myself myself for the alarm going off when I opened the door. The alarm went off, all I could do was get my stuff out and shut the door. Eventually the alarm went off by itself. The husband of the lady I’m renting the house and car from came out and helped me with the problem. Turns out my fob didn’t have an emergency alarm button on it. It was torn off and the unlock button didn’t work. So we switched fobs and I haven’t had any issues since.


Between the embarrassment of the car alarm and losing my dignity peeing in a cup because I was trapped in a car, I think my first day officially living on my own went really well. Oh, and don’t forget, having to go to 4 different gas stations to get gas. Even though the day didn’t go as planned I felt like I handled the problems that came up pretty well. My anxiety was definitely high, but I was proud of myself. I can do this whole living alone thing! I’ve got this!

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