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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 15- Volcano Time

Today we rode bicycles down a dormant volcano! Haleakala is 10000 feet high and a popular place to watch the sunrise. There are dozens of cycling places that offer this service, and some charter buses that will take you w/o a bike. We picked Maui Sun Riders for two reasons; they let you go at your own pace and they had the best price online. Natalie was our driver and guide, and her voice lulled us through the early morning (3am) in order to arrive in time for the spectacular sunrise.

The top of Haleakala is chilly, so dress in layers! There is also a long line of cars waiting to pay and get to the top, so start early. It was beautiful sunrise with no winds and clear skies. A NPS officer sang the Hawaiian chant to welcome the sun (we recognized it from the Celebration of the Arts event on the beach) Once we met back at the van we zoomed down to 6500 feet to get our bikes and start the ride. These bikes are made for cruising (single speed with disc brakes) so it's easy to go fast and miss stopping at 1. Lavender Farm 2. Produce stands (honor system payments) 3. Art gallery and shop with gorgeous landscaping and neat stick sculpture 4. Sacred garden (two miles round trip off the main road and back, some pedaling involved) 5. Lots of animals for photo ops 6. Farm stand near town. Of course there are lots of turn outs for scenic photography as well.

Snack at the Lavender farm was a Kings Dream Bar, with lots of nuts for energy (and a good taste!) Lunch break was picnic goodies at the Art Gallery, including some fruit stand guavas. They were soft and yellow outside with pale flesh inside. You could eat the whole thing. (And I did!)

They ask to have the bikes back to the shop by 4:30. We stopped (a lot) but still made it back to the bike shop by 12 so we drove to change and rest a minute at the condo. While we relaxed, Dawn found an article about a meteor shower happening that night, so we decided to head back up the volcano after a few errands to watch the sunset and stargaze. Errands included a stop for shave ice, of course.

It's a long drive up the volcano! We made it to the top of Haleakala around 5:30 and walked around (the plant in the photo is a Silver Sword—found no where else in the world!) a bit before hunkering down in our parking spot for the sunset. Phew, it's time for a quick cat nap, 3am was a long time ago. We wake up hungry! Dinner is picnic with olives, pickles, lunchmeats, lettuce, chips and some of those shortbread cookies for dessert. Drinks are half guava juice/half white wine. Tipsy at 10000 feet. Wooo.

The top was off the jeep for optimal stargazing later, but the weather was quite nice until after sunset when the chill air began to creep around us. We were expecting the meteor shower to begin around 8ish, but we didn't see anything extra spectacular. There were a few space nerds up at the top with us, but we didn't hear any whoops of excitement. We suggest that if you don't want to fight the sunrise crowds then head up the valcano for sunset. It was quite brilliant and the cloud watching is awesome. We finally left around 9pm (safe and sober), so if you don't like pitch dark switchbacks leave the top before the fading light of sunset disappears into complete darkness. 
The dawn's early light--don't stare at the sun and burn out your retinas!
Sunrise Haleakala
The kings dream bar
First stop coffee--at the Lavender Farm
Outdoor art at the gallery.
The Sacred Garden, a peaceful stop with two walking labryniths
Shave Ice hits the spot!
Maui! Hawaiian Super Man (he lassos the sun to slow the days)
Afternoon view from the top of Haleakala, it wasn't nearly as cold as Mauna Kea (Big Island)
Silver Sword
Sunset. Well worth the 18 hour day!