Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maui Trip in Writing-Day coffee and 6 dollar pastries

The next morn we awoke bright and early to witness one of the obligatory Maui sites of the sunrise over Mt Halueakala. Some of the more weathered travel writers have on occasion claimed the experience overrated. Having driven the road to the peak previously I knew what I was in for and having read the pros and cons of the trip elected to go with the “life altering religious experience motif” over that of the “cold, vastly overated waste of time” motif. In my mind I saw it as waking up early, grabbing a cup of kona coffee and some pastries and embrace the entire experience. The reality of the situation was that Maui is not Southern California and there isn’t a 24/7 convenience store on every corner. Imagine my horror when wave after wave of quickie marts lights were all dimmed with doors locked as my inner urban yuppie scum cried for caffeine. Alas after the hour plus drive to the base of the mountain did I find a place to get a hot cup of coffee. Truth be told their selections of breakfast pastries and cakes was sadly lacking so I settles on a package of sweet potato cakes with some type of filling not too different the Japanese Azuki bean. It looked charming enough with its 5 little cute cakes until the cashier Rang it up as 5 bucks….proved to be a semi recurring theme for the rest of the trip but I was willing to deal with it as I had paid for the entire trip with money I didn’t really have anyway so why sweat about it?

The winding road to the top of the hill was just as I remembered it and I enjoyed occasionally feeling the subtle change in temperature by putting my Palm on the glass from my drivers side window. One of the kids mentioned something about car sickness which meant turn on some air, crack the window slightly, and turn up the radio a bit louder. Shooting a glance over to Tomoko I noticed her color wasn’t its normal hue as well. I did however have a now filled bladder that I thought would be a good idea to empty sooner rather than later on a two lane curvy road at 5000 ft altitude. There proved to be more than a fair share of turnouts later that would have proved more than sufficient I discovered later and was almost disappointed that I couldn’t have killed two birds with one stone in being able to not only enjoy a good brisk outdoor leak but a subtropical vacation one at that. NOTE TO SELF-Urinate at a turnout at out Halauakala next time we visit Maui.
We finally got to the top of the mountain and paying the entry fee discovered it was still 30 minutes to the peak. Reminded me a bit of our Joshua Tree adventure where we paid at the rangers station yet still drove an additional 45 minutes to get to our campsite. We found a spot in the overflow lot and as I stepped out of the car everthing that was ever said about the blistering cold was absolutely true. There was a driving biting wind that literally found a way to quickly chill any exposed flesh it happened to come across. I was very glad we decided to take all of the blankets from and towels from the Condo with us and still questioning whether we had enough clothing to keep us warm. Tomoko started putting on the kids stocking caps and asked me where mine was. Silly me, I thought that in her pre trip packing that she would have remembered to bring 4 caps but it was not to be. She ended up wearing a towel and I used her cap which I am sure will be forever ruined for her after the stretching needed to cover the expanse of my vast cranium.
Taking Dustin out of the car he immediately began to shiver and kept repeatedly saying “I’m Cold.” Kids are so cute at that age. I wrapped him in a blanket and tried my best to assure him the trip would be worthwhile. It was interesting seeing the first ray of light that creates a new day make their way over clouds. As a matter of fact at that height some of the clouds really resembled a body of water and the mountain/water optical illusion conjured images of a cold morning kid lakes on spring morn in some eastern local.
None the less the wind still pounded and the impending rays of the sun’s heat were greatly anticipated. As the first tip of sun peeped over the horizon one of the guides from the local tour buses went into some Hawaiian traditional good morning chant(or what I assumed as much). At that point there was no doubt that the site was semi awe inspiring but at the same time I flashbacked to the times I saw the sunrise over the foothills of Westwood and LA, over Central California, hell over the sleepy Midwest for that matter. I really can’t think of too many places where the morning rays of the suns location wouldn’t be inspiring and if one could come up with a place that this effect does not ring true has nothing to do with the sun but purely what must be a truly abysmal location to witness it. So while yes, it was fantastic-I couldn’t help but think at that early in the day Fresno probably has places where this effect rings true.
The sun reared its head and a truly comical site occurred in which every tour bus waiting for the suns arrival just as quickly made its way back down the hill in what seemed like a matter of minutes. We took the time and decided to walk the extra 100 yards or so up the actual summit. The whole landscape is very bizarre…almost other wordly. I am sure if you took select pictures of the scenery set with Sepia tones you could convince someone there were pictures of Mars taken from the hubble. Alex and Tomoko hop scotched their way to the top of the hill while I was left with carrying Dustin across jagged boulders, slippery sliding soil, and other hazards that only 3 year old boys seem to accompany on a regular basis. It was fine though-apart from me starting to sweat underneath my sweatshirt and the frigid conditions proving to be an interesting paradox I took the view in for all it was worth and wondered on future trips if camping at this location would be worthwhile. Sure it would be very cold and probably not as comfy as a queen leisure at the 4 Seasons but how many people can claim that they spent a clammy chilly not camping in Hawaii? We made our way back down the mountain and the next phase of my quest came in the form of getting to actually visit the Takamiya Market but nor before first stopping at McDonalds…as much as I hate fast food I have to admit that this may have been the best Egg Mcmuffin I have ever had. I don’t know if I was just very hungry but not aware of it or this city has the golden touch when it comes to breakfast sandwiches at Mcdonalds. Either way it was amazingly good. I would have killed for such a treat later in the trip where the Road to Hana tested me like a bad episode of Survivor.

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