Sunday, March 20, 2011

A little side trip...

I had forgotten how windy it is here. Final approach felt like a ping pong ball in one of those lottery machines.

Or as Zoe said on final approach, we're 'riding a giant bunny rabbit.' 

Been 20 years since I set foot on Hawaiian soil, and I've never been to Maui until now. The weather is perfect, low 80s  and maybe 60% humidity. Makes me realize how dry it is back home in Oregon.

Kristen had gotten some great advice; if you want to do the drive to Hana, do it early in your trip. The time zone change makes it much easier to wake up sooner when your body hasn't adjusted yet. So off we go.

The trip out is 50 miles or so from Kihei, and the road isn't exactly straight. Something like 600 turns, tons of bridges that can handle only one car at a time, and lots of scenery. If you decide to go, get past the airport by 8:30.  Or else you'll be stuck in a 2,000 car procession with no way to get past.

Hana isn't exactly Los Angeles from a commercialization standpoint. But it's awfully pretty...

 We made a quick stop for a papaya smoothie, then kept going. The Seven Pools are definitely worth seeing.

Ultimate goal for me was finding Charles Lindbergh's grave. He built a house in Kipahulu to get away from the glare of publicity and died there in 1974. Kipahulu is a thousand miles off the beaten path. You don't just drop in.

Amazing thing about his flight to Paris was that he was awake for about 30 hours BEFORE he took off. Then another 33 hours enroute, nearly falling asleep several times, but without the comfort of an in-flight movie.

Later on, the house where his son was kidnapped in Hopewell NJ was about 3 miles from the house I first lived in.

Right now, a gecko is toying with my water bottle. But I digress...

The road coming back from Hana along the southern coast is an interesting one. Didn't know that the rental car agreement forbides passage due to the pavement conditions (and occasional lack of pavement). If you take it slow, like 10mph in spots, it isn't bad. Just long. And desolate in a lunar landscape sort of way.

Next day was the big test: see the sunrise at the 10,000 foot Haleakala summit after running the last 5 miles uphill. Lots of hairpin turns; a native told me that the climb is the steepest prolonged drive anywhere in the world. Maybe so. After waking at 0245, I drove for 80 minutes uphill, parked at the 8,000 foot level and prepared to run; all decked out in foul weather gear, gloves, hat. It's 37 degrees, raining sideways, and the wind is howling at probably 50 mph.

And it's dark. Really dark.

Time for a risk assessment:
1) It's nasty cold and wet and windy. No big deal, I'm prepared for that
2) It's dark, but I have reflective clothing.
3) It's at high altitude. Challenging but not a deterrent
4) Steep drop-offs on the downhill side of the road.  Forgot my parachute.
5) I didn't have any coffee this morning. And now it's 0430 AM. Hmmmm....

Any 3 or 4 of these issues and I'm off to enjoy/endure the run. Throw in #5 and it's a game changer. If something happens up here, my margin of error is paper-thin. So I recalibrated my goal and drove to the summit; now I just want to get down in one piece after sunrise.

Even colder up top. Some idiot is up there in shorts! (note: it wasn't me).

Exceptional sunrise. Do it on a cloudy day: the light gets dispersed in amazing ways. Then the sun just appears.Very cool.

Just don't do the bike tour down the mountain. That's nuts.

A Little Side Trip Part II
A Little Side Trip Part III

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