The Romance of Sunrise at Haleakala


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Yesterday the whole family awoke at 2:15 a.m. for the drive to see sunrise at Haleakala.  It’s been my mother’s dream and I thought Scott and I should enjoy this romantic escapade before we die.
My sister wrote that she vaguely remembered doing Haleakala at sunrise with her husband, that it wasn’t very romantic, and that they missed the sunrise.
I wrote back saying I’m pretty sure I was her companion, which is why it wasn’t romantic, but that she was right–despite rising at 3:30, we missed the sunrise.  
That took place 20 years ago when I had the privilege, as a 25 year old, of chauffeuring her around the outer islands as she collected data for her “homeless families in Hawaii” undergrad honors thesis.  Her grant paid for the hotel and rental car but we had no money for food.  
I was a poor grad student and she was a poor undergrad, so we bought a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and then used the freebies coupons that came with our Budget rent-a-car.  We were so broke we didn’t feel bad about ordering the free mahi-mahi dinner at Denny’s, splitting it, and leaving a $2 tip.  When our parents joined us on the Big Island for a mini-family vacation, they paid for food and we gorged ourselves on macadamia pancakes and sashimi.
The drive at 2:30 was a little rough.
“Stop leaning on me!”
“Put your head against the window!”
“You’re taking too much space!”
“I can’t sleep!”
My mother promised the kids $5 each if they managed to not bicker for 24 hours.  They sure should have lost that moola.  Come to think of it, maybe she should have offered it to me as well because a mama with only 4 hours of sleep isn’t much better.
We got to Haleakala by 4:30 a.m.–many kudos to Scott who managed to drive the windy roads with bickering and coffee as his main companions.
Our kids claim I didn’t tell them back in Boston about Haleakala and to pack accordingly.  I distinctly remember giving this piece of information about 5 times over the course of a week, but nevertheless, we had 2 girls in capris and yoga pants with a hoodie and a windbreaker.  Good thing my mother thought to bring blankets from the condo–it was 48 degrees at the coldest point on the drive.
We reached the Summit and huddled into the enclosed viewing tower.  Us and 50 other honeymooning couples, families, photographers and tourists. 
Ren insisted on being wrapped in his king-sized blanket so he looked like a gnome and couldn’t use his hands, but his blanket kept unwrapping, so he’d demand being re-wound like a mummy. 
It was pitch black when we arrived, but somewhere around 4:50, a faint pink dot appeared in the horizon.  For the next hour, we watched that dot grow and bloom into a full-blown sunrise.  Us and the 200 other sun-gazers who arrived wrapped in hotel towels and blankets, including a boy who made loud snorting noises every 2 minutes or so. 

Sunrise at Haleakala–not my picture, but this is what it looked like
I leaned against Scott and whispered that perhaps you just couldn’t feel romantic with your kids, parents and snorting boys along for the ride.
But it sure was beautiful. . .

About Kathy Tuan-MacLean

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