Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fri 12/20: Sunrise & Biking Down Haleakala


This was our 3rd trip to Maui in 19 years.  I guess 3rd time is a charm, because we finally got up in the middle of the night to see the sunrise on Haleakala!

The hotel alarm that we set didn't work.  Good thing Todd set his iPhone as a backup!  The iPhone alarm woke us up at 2:20am.  We groggily got out of bed, but it wasn't too bad.  Ate a little bit and got ourselves ready.  Drove from Kaanapali to the Haleakala Bike Co. in Haiku town, about 10 miles past Kuhului on the northern coast of Maui.  The drive took about an hour, without any road traffic whatsoever at 3am!

We arrived at the bike tour right around 4am.  They told us the meeting time was supposed to be 3:30, but we told them the email said 4.  They said they'd been having issues with sending out the wrong time.  Not our problem!  But because we were one of the last people there, we had to hurry and didn't get fitted for bikes.  We had to use the restroom and then were relegated to the very back of the van.


I really wanted to be in the nice tour bus instead of the cramped van, at the very back no less.  I was pretty disappointed.  They give us the wrong time and then we were basically punished for it by getting the worst seat in the house.


Todd and I took Dramamine because sitting in the back of that van in the dark, going up all the switchbacks to the top of Haleakala was NO FUN!  At around 6500 feet, they dropped off the trailer with all the bikes.  Around then, the air got thinner and it started to feel claustrophobic in the very back of that van.  The driver did not turn the air on so it was getting really stuffy back there.  Not only that, but it was getting cold outside and our breathes were making the windows fog up.  Not being able to see outside at all felt extremely claustrophobic in the back of the van.  We both hated it.  

We arrived to the summit of Haleakala around 5:30.  We put our rain jacket and rain pants on.  It was not only cold outside but it was raining!  It was so cold we could see our breaths.


I guess it gets cold at over 10,000 feet!


Apparently it was totally clear up until 5:20 or so, then all the clouds and sop suddenly came in.  We were told we may not see the sunrise over the volcano crater.  :-(



I was really disappointed, since the ride up was no fun.  Not only that, but Haleakala Bike Co. provided no drinking water!  That is a cardinal sin in my book.  How can you bring a bunch of people up to the summit of Haleakala, driving for 1.5 hours, and then expect them to ride bikes down the volcano for 2.5 hours without any water???  Ridiculous!



We used the restrooms up at the summit, next to the visitor center.  The air was thin and very cold up at 10,000 feet.  Then Todd and I went back to the van to find warmth and shelter from the cold rain.  Around 6:20 it started to get lighter and lighter outside.  Finally around 6:40 we went outside to the rim of the volcano to witness the spectacle of the sunrise.  It was completely fogged over and we did not see the sun rise.  I was SO disappointed!

But a few minutes later, miraculously, the fog at the top burned off and suddenly we saw a small slit of orange light in the distance.




It grew bigger and bigger until the sun was shining like a fireball over the clouds.







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Woooo!  Ahhhhh!  It was fantastic!


I'm so glad we didn't give up and go back to the van!  That made the trip so much more worth it!  Some more different views from our vantage point.  This was looking back towards the parking lot.


Looking into the crater, after the fog burned up a little bit.




Panoramic photo.


People on the edge of the volcano as the sun came up.


Todd looking happy when we finally saw the sunrise.

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The orange glow of sunrise.



After lots of photos of the sunrise, we went back into the van and drove down to about 6,500 feet, where our bikes were in the trailer.  We got a very brief tutorial with the bikes.  He did not go over gear shifting hardly at all.  I got a small bike and Todd got a large bike.  The guy adjusted the seats to our heights.  Then he took a photo for us and off we went!


Todd went ahead of me.  At first I was a little scared because it had been a while since I'd ridden a bike, plus we were on narrow and windy roads down a volcano!  But I gradually got used to the bike.  Todd is an expert at riding bikes, so he actually took a few photos while riding.


We also stopped off the road for some awesome views.






The bad thing was, my rain coat that they gave me was way too long for me.  When I tried getting off the bike, the back of my raincoat always got caught on the bike seat so I couldn't get off the bike properly.  Todd said that was really not cool, because at worst I could have fallen off the bike while trying to get off it and got run over by a car.  It is a safety issue and I think Haleakala Bike Co should have done better.  That and no drinking water was egregious!  At the first sign of a little Lavender cafe at the side of the road, we pulled off to get some water, banana bread, and a brownie.  That made the rest of the ride much better!



The view from the café.


We stopped one more time briefly, after getting into Haiku town.  It was too warm and I had to take my rain jacket off.



After that we cruised back into the bike tour headquarters in Haiku.  I was sort of glad it was over.  

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While I was glad that we did it, I would not get up at 2am and do this again.  It wasn't THAT great.  For safety reasons, I did not take any photos while riding my bike, because it was almost all downhill and I had to have both my hands on the handlebars/brakes.  Biking down from 6,500 feet to sea level took about 2 hours for us.  We were one of the first ones back into the bike shop.  I have to say, I was glad it was over.  The last 3-4 miles were on bumpy road and wasn't that fun.


While Todd used the restroom, I went to the general store in the same building and bought some Coke, Ginger Ale, and a bag of Cheetos.  Todd was so excited when I came back with them!  We have a history of Coke + Cheetos after doing something active on vacation.  It's like a tradition now.  After enjoying the eat & drink, we changed back into shorts and got into the Escape and drove back.  Along the way, we stopped at a scenic view point on the north shore of Maui to look at the big waves and the surfers.






It was beautiful there!






I like this photo because the tiny people in it show the size of the rocks and waves.




We decided to go to Sam Sato's in Wailuku for lunch.  We got there around 11:30 and we were lucky to find a parking space in the lot!  There was a waitlist already!  We waited around 20 min and got seated.  


I had the saimin.  


And Todd had the dry noodles.



Then we got some manjus and turnovers for dessert.



Then we drove back to the resort.  I loved this tree canopy on the way back.


And this view of the fields with the valley.


Got back to the resort around 1:30.  We were so tired from getting up at 2am.  We watched some TV, ate some snacks, and took a long nap.  When we woke up it was 5:30pm and we were ready for dinner!  We decided to just take it easy and walk down to the Honokowai Okazuya takeout again.  On the way back it got dark and the light on the trees at the resort was really cool.

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Todd got chicken katzu and I got Korean BBQ chicken.  Both were pretty good.




Then we watched some TV and packed our stuff up.  The next day was our flight home!  We missed Noodle and couldn’t wait to see him!

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