04 July 2008 - We woke up very early this morning to see sunrise. Harry, Darci, and Sean went down to Haiku for their bicycle adventure. One of the fun things to do on Maui is take a bicycle ride down the Haleakala Mountain. If you don’t have your own bike with you, several companies offer some variation on the ‘drive you to the top with a bike and let you ride down’ package. The company we went with drove you to the top of the mountain to watch the sun rise, toured you around the park for a bit, and then dropped you off just outside the park grounds and let you bicycle back to their facility at your own pace. In the mean time, Helen and I drove straight up to the visitors’ center at Haleakala National Park to climb the white mountain trail (in the dark) and park ourselves to watch the sun rise.
Most folks appear to watch the sunrise from the visitor’s center. One of Sean’s photography books pointed us to the white mountain trail as a more scenic alternative, so that’s the one Helen and I chose. The white mountain trail was rocky and difficult to follow in the pre-dawn darkness, but fortunately, it was also very short (it couldn’t have taken us more than ten minutes of slow walking to get there). We had brought a headlamp with us, but many others had not, and consequently we made several new friends on our way up. We found some relatively flat rocks to lean against and sit on and had a good front row seat for the show. And unlike the sardines packed into the visitors’ center below, for a little extra work and a touch more exposure to the elements, we were able to enjoy our view in a relatively uncrowded environment. The colors were fantastic and changed constantly from the moment we got there (probably 45 minutes or so before the sun came up) to the time we left (probably 15-20 minutes after the sun had risen). It was truly a sight to behold - photos can’t really do it justice. It takes one’s breath away (or maybe that was the cold - we dressed warmly, but after an hour the chill had really sunk into us). The rapidly rising orb of the sun comes up from the huge fluffy clouds below you and colors the sky and the mountain beautiful shades of pink, purple, and gold.
Next we drove up to the summit to take a gander at the world from up there. Then we drove down to look at each of the various lookouts. Finally, we drove back up to the visitors’ center to walk the first portion of the Sliding Sands Trail. The landscape was interesting and barren – it couldn’t have been a further cry from the lushness of Hana. It was really quite beautiful and once sunrise had finished and all the people had cleared out, it was a very quiet and relaxing place indeed. In our driving around, we even got to see a nene bird (the state bird of Hawaii) and her two chicks. We decided we had it in us to hike one more trail, so I conferred with a park ranger and we chose to walk the Hosmer Grove trail.
We were making our leisurely way back down to this trail when I received The Phone Call. Sean very calmly explained that his father Harry had an accident and had likely broken his collarbone and was at the hospital with Darci. After relaying this information to Helen (and her taking it with admirable calm, I might add), we tore down the mountain (as much as one can in a large car with 15 mph switchbacks) and met up with Sean to go to the hospital. All the way down the mountain, I was treated to tales of trauma in the Woods household as the kids were growing up. By the time Sean found us, I had solemnly sworn that if I ever had children, they’d be coated in bubble-wrap and possibly capped with helmets from the time they could walk till the time they were off to college (and beyond that if I could suitably extend my sphere of influence).
Harry was just finishing up at the hospital when we arrived. Turns out, there’s really not a great deal that can be done for a broken collar bone other than line up the broken bits and immobilize one’s arm as thoroughly as possible to give the collar bone a chance to heal.
Harry was being a trooper about the whole mess when we picked him up from the hospital so we went to lunch at Ba-Le, a Vietnamese restaurant in a mall in Kahului. Our food was fantastic – I’m not sure I’ve ever had such good mall food-court food. Sean ordered some sort of sliced pork – it was flavorful and sweet. I coached into having the chili garlic shrimp on cold noodles. The shrimp were flavorful and tender and the noodles with their fish sauce and residual garlic from the shrimp were fantastic! We made a quick stop by the Iao Valley State Park, played with some cats that were hanging out there, took a picture of the needle and then drove to Lahaina to our hotel so Harry could rest.
By the time we got to the hotel, between the early wake-up time and the subsequent stress of Harry’s injury, we were all completely exhausted. Too bad Sean and I had to wait something like an hour and a half to get into our room! (Of course, I suppose it’s better than the man with the busted collar bone being forced to wait.)
Later on we went to the Cool Cat Cafe for dinner. Sean had the Bogy Burger which had bacon, cheese, lettuce, onion, mayo, and thousand island dressing. I had the Duke – a burger with onion rings, cheese, bacon, and barbecue sauce. The burgers were decent enough. To wash down my Duke, I also had a blue lemonade to drink. Their blue lemonade is a mixture of lemonade and blueberry vodka. I’m not a big fan of the sweeter varieties of infused vodka, but this drink was really quite refreshing.