“Today is the first day of the rest of your life!”
she projected, absent a sound system at 9000-plus feet above the Maui sea level.
“Enjoy it, and love the ones you’re with.”
This experience somehow felt brave, and I really never feel brave. Brave is reserved for Smoke Jumpers and Marines and 8th-grade teachers…not me. I consider my “bravest act” last night when I crushed a cockroach with only a Kleenex (TM) between us–and then flushed him down the toilet since he wasn’t metal, plastic, or (only flattened) cardboard. He was technically compost, but I’ve seen too many movies and cannot take the risk he will crawl out of his mushy banana peel-filled grave and come back for Revenge. Anyway, all of a sudden I felt brave as I screeched up to the observation point parking lot in the nick of time for the magical sunrise at Haleakala.
After being scared half-to-death-awake by a mongoose or his Hawaiian-equivalent making eerie crying sounds which, at one point, sounded distinctly like the phrase “Help me!”, I called sleep a day, put on two pairs of yoga pants (I knew it would be like 40-degrees cold! where I was going), and went on another “Bucket List Challenge” sans ice:
The Sunrise at Haleakala. Don’t try to pronounce it. You will fail based on who you ask.
Despite taking an unintentional detour (sure I used GPS, but that lady doesn’t know what she’s talking about) as I flipped from NPR to classic rock and switched on and off my brights, I drove fast and made good time. I was the only car on the road because I was a little late to the Sunrise Party…all the other tourists had made this morning a scheduled priority. If I were a betting gal, I’d say approximately none of them made the split-second decision at 4:30 AM to “just go!” many, many twisty treacherous miles to the top of a mountain.
After I pulled up to the station, whipped out my handy-dandy Hawaii National Parks Card, and saw that sunrise would be at 6:43, I knew I was not only going to make it, I would be at least 5 minutes early, a feat even for a job-intervew in my world. Five whole minutes!
I feel happy and content to hang only with my thoughts and my iPhone camera and be.
The sun is rising up and over and through the clouds. In this cold (did I mention it’s 40 degrees?) the lead-up seems to take an eternity, but when it happens, it happens fast. Boom! Sun! Warmth! Good morning, Hawaii! The refreshingly animated Park Ranger explains the history and geography of the crater, which is not actually a crater but a “depression”, apparently, and as the sun rises, climbing higher into the sky, the Park Ranger chants a traditional Hawaiian greeting to the sun and Haleakala like salutes to gods. And then she says those magic words,
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” Enjoy it, and love the ones you’re with.”
Most tourists disperse and race to the bathroom or their “Roberts Hawaii” tour busses, but after a lifetime of tallness and allowing the shorties to stand in front of me, I would like (for once!) an unobstructed view for my After Sunrise (Ethan Hawke not pictured) photo. I take a few, along with photos of people taking photos (for some reason those are my favorite). And along with a few straggler couples, I linger here a while. I linger at the Observation Point to observe.
*from the Haiku/Hawaiian archives: Dec. 14, 2014