June 29: Day 3

In light of the day's itinerary, drinking wine and champagne after dinner at Mama's last night was probably not the brightest idea we've ever had. Day 3 began painfully early. The alarm rang at 3:30 A.M. We threw on clothes, brushed our teeth, and climbed into the car. It took nearly two hours to make our way to the top of Mauna Haleakala.

Haleakala (Hah-lay-ah-kah-lah) is a 10,000 foot tall sleeping volcano on the eastern side of Maui. In Hawaiian, the word means "House of the Sun." Every year, more than one million people trek to the crater overlook area in Haleakala National Park to watch the sunrise.

Prior to that morning, I had been looking forward to making this pilgrimage as much as James had. But at 3:30 in the morning, nursing a splitting wine-hangover headache, all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. So, as best I could on that curvy, dark, nauseating ride up, up, up Haleakala, I slept. But not before swallowing some advil and water.

I awoke at the gates to Haleakala National Park when James was paying the entrance fee. I felt slightly perkier after napping, and my headache had subsided. We followed a chain of cars to the parking area at the crater overlook, located at an elevation of 9,470 feet. Our excitement grew as a slight glow in the sky became visible in the distance.

We scurried out of the car past hundreds and hundreds of other people to claim a spot from which we could watch the sunrise. My excitement quickly faded as the cold, biting wind ripped through the three thin layers I was wearing. The temperature at 9,470 feet, at 5 :35 A.M., was 51 degrees before the wind chill. I don't know what the temperature actually was after factoring in the wind, but I can tell you that it felt as cold as winter in Boston.

James and I cuddled, as wind whipped tears ran down my face. I almost went back to the car. I was so miserably cold I could hardly breathe let alone stand. Fortunately, at that moment, my husband (that still sounds weird!) told me there were only 8 minutes left until sunrise. We reasoned that we could stand anything for 8 minutes. So we huddled together, watching the sky and taking pictures to distract each other from the bitter cold.

After what seemed like days as my teeth chattered and my fingers and ears ached from the cold, the sun finally began to creep over the horizon. The view was breathtaking, over the top of the crater and a layer of clouds so thick below us, we felt like we were watching the sunrise from another planet. It was a sunrise like no other I have ever seen, and it was definitely worth freezing our little buns off for, and it was well worth the hype.

As the sun rose, so did the temperature. Before further exploration of the crater or journeying to the top of the summit, we went back to the car and BLASTED the heat for a good ten minutes. By the time we finally felt warm enough to venture back outside, the air had become tolerably warmer.

For the amount of time and energy people put in to getting up early and driving to the top of a mountain, you'd think more of them would stick around after sunrise to see what else the area has to offer. But apparently, people would rather hurry back down the mountain for breakfast or to go back to sleep. So, James and I had the crater and summit areas essentially to ourselves, after sharing the most amazing sunrise of our lives with 800+ perfect strangers.

We spent the morning exploring the National Park. Maybe it was the altitude. Maybe it was the lack of sleep. Maybe it was because we're newlyweds on our honeymoon. Maybe it's because we're just plain nuts. Whatever the reason, we spent hours goofing around, doing flips, and tap-dancing together on top of the summit, figuratively (and probably literally as close as we'll ever get) on the top of the world.

When we had finally had our fill of Haleakala, we were ravenous. We ate a delicious late breakfast. We then went wine tasting at the Tedeschi Winery. Being the California wine snobs that we are, and also hating almost all sweet wines, we weren't too keen on anything the Tedeschis were pouring.

After a long drive to the other side of the island, we made a stop at the Safeway in Airport Town for some groceries. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at our private house, Pali Uli. James cooked burgers on the grill, we swam in the pool, and relaxed in the hottub at sunset. Exhausted after our early morning adventure, we went to bed early in preparation for another early morning start on day 4.

1 comment:

Eve said...

pretty pictures!