Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Haleakala

We were told that we had to drive up Haleakala Highway and watch the sunrise from the top of the mountain. It's apparently a spectacular view. But it took an hour just to drive to the base of the mountain, and an hour or so to drive up the mountain. Getting everyone up and dressed at 4:00 in the morning to drive up a dangerous, winding road up the side of a mountain is not my idea of vacation.

I guess what I'm saying is.......we didn't go see the sunrise.

We did go in the middle of the afternoon.

And frankly, it was terrifying.


This is a relief map which shows the Haleakala Highway as a little white line climbing up the mountain. It doesn't look so bad. Five little sharp turns and you're there! Right?

Wrong.

The road is a two-lane highway (very well maintained - there are no potholes or cracks in the road). But there is no guard rail and no curb. And about two feet past the edge of the road, it just drops off.

Just. Drops. Off.

Add to this, a driver who wants to look at the view as much as he wants to look at the road, and bicyclists hurtling down the road (because it's fun apparently) as well as tour buses coming around the curves at you (which makes the driver swerve slightly toward the edge to avoid the bus, which makes the wife scream bloody murder) all adds up to quite a scary drive.

Well, scary for me. The kids had a blast. I thought they'd be bored just driving up a mountain for a couple of hours but apparently I'm hilarious when I'm terrified and if you ask them, they will tell you the drive up Haleakala was one of their favorite parts of the trip.

Of course, they assume everything will be fine, and Kerry knows what he's doing and no one coming down that mountain could possibly cause us to drive off a cliff. They are immortal you know.

But even Kerry kept flexing his hands every so often because he had a death grip on the steering wheel and it was causing his hands to cramp up.

We stopped at Leleiwi Lookout on the way up. The elevation is about 8,800 feet here. We followed this rocky path for about five minutes to reach a point where we could look out over the crater.

On a clear day you would see this.

We saw this.

Actually, the clouds swirled around so much, we did get glimpses of pretty much everything, just not all at once. It was a pretty spectacular view. And cold. We all wound up putting on sweatshirts and jackets. Except for Ben who would rather die than admit he's cold. We actually counted about a dozen snowflakes falling around us.

Then we drove the rest of the way to the summit..........

.........where we spotted a true tourist.

It's cool to be standing on a mountain looking down on the clouds!

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