Okay, I’m actually only going for a week, but since it’s Hawaii, it’s a week in Paradise. Which is almost the same a migrating for winter.
If I can’t hibernate in winter, I should get to migrate. Maybe someday.
At least my husband understands my need for Vitamin D infusions. (So does my primary care giver, but she’s not invited on this vacation with us.)
As I mentioned last week, Mr. Wonderful took me to Hawaii for my 50th birthday. Well, I wasn’t actually THERE on my birth date, but it was close enough to count.
This time I’ll actually be there on my birthday.
I have to admit, this is a PERFECT gift for someone who:
Comes to life in the sunshine
Suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder
Has been feeling claustrophobic beneath the Oregon gray skies
(Of course, as I wrote this post, it was all blue skies and sunshine outside my office window. The weather man had predicted the same for the entire week. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it’s harder to recall how bland those cloudy skies make me feel when God paints them baby blue and brilliant.)
This is what I’m looking forward to waking up to every day.
Here’s what I expect to see on a nightly basis.
Best of all, I plan to do a couple things I haven’t done yet:
Horseback riding with my oldest daughter
Stepping as close to a live lava flow as allowed
What’s strange about Hawaii in December is the Christmas trees and other decorations. I’m used to snow and cold being associated with those things, but that won’t be part of my birth month on the island.
Also, Hawaiian Christmas music isn’t the same-old same-old that’s been playing on the radio in Oregon since WAY TOO EARLY in November.
All those ukelele-accompanied songs remind me I’m enjoying a tropical holiday…during the Christmas holiday season.
Have you been to the tropics in December? What stood out to you?
Summer wanes. One sure sign is the later appearance of the sun each morning.
One of the things I enjoy about summer is the early morning runs. I’ll be outside at 6am, inhaling the sweet peace of a slumbering world.
Unless I want to blunder around in the dark, which defeats half the enjoyment, it is a 7am run come October. Some mornings, when things are especially lazy, I might not make it outside until 8am.
What a difference in the world that awaits me. Two hours and most of the peacefulness is overtaken by wakefulness. So little time yielding so many changes.
What I love about early morning
I’ve been asked many times, “What do you listen to when you’re writing? Or what’s your favorite thing to listen to?” My answer: the sound of silence.
At 6am on a July morning, that is the prevailing voice on the wind: silence. It underscores the hum of traffic on the highway, twittering of birds in the trees and occasional barking of a dog.
In my mind, this silence is a major part of the peacefulness of my surroundings.
Watching the sun peek its head over Mount Hood and the Columbia River has an enormous appeal, as well. Summer sun seems to rise and set slowly.
A freshness permeates the air. Not many automobiles have sputtered their caustic fumes. Any wind refreshes the wandering soul.
It’s not that I don’t like people, but they tend to make so much noise. Did I mention that my favorite sound is silence? At 6am, not many people are out and about on the streets and walking path of my town.
How an 8am run is different
The first thing I noticed during an autumn run is the chill breeze. Not so much refreshing as invigorating. Can’t really complain about that.
Traffic noise is tripled. Vehicles zoom past on the highway. Even two streets and a tree break can’t dampen them.
Where there are automobiles, there is stench. Those carbon monoxide emissions appeal to some people (isn’t that why they run their car in a closed garage?) Me? I’d choose naturally scented air, thank you very much.
Because it isn’t unscented. You can smell the blackberries, flowers and fruit when the potent fumes aren’t overpowering everything. Nature’s fragrance.
I have to be watchful for cars backing out of driveways as I run past. They aren’t expecting me, so I must be vigilant of my surroundings. During the 8am run inspiring this post – only three vehicles tried to run me down. I gladly yielded the throughway to them.
Another thing never encountered on the 6am run: a county work crew. On the 8am run, the van from the corrections department drove down my running path like it was a highway. I’m sure the park along the trail will be better for the attention, but dodging trucks on a path not intended for motorized vehicles didn’t improve my outing.
Certain bits of wisdom come to you during an early morning run.
For example, a flatbed truck delivered shingles and other roofing material to a house as I jogged by. I marvel at the conveyer belt transporting the unwieldy stacks onto the roof (I remember my dad carrying them up a ladder on his shoulder).
The wisdom: I want to be the guy at the bottom of the conveyor. He gets to set the pace. The guy on the roof, aided by the gentle slope beneath his feet, must keep up or be swallowed by the influx of materials.
In my town, there aren’t very many morning people. Regardless of the time, I never pass more than four or five individuals. I’m grateful for this because it means I’m not required to share my morning peace with anyone else.
What sorts of things have you noticed are quite different depending on the time of day? Do my readers who live in larger cities find the same sort of emptiness on early morning streets?
I thought I would try something slightly different for my “wordless Wednesday” posting. The picture I’ve shared here is one of my favorites from my early morning strolls around my neighborhood.
What I’m asking my readers to do today is to help me write a poem based on this photo (I have already written several because it’s a very inspiring picture). I will begin. Add your two lines in the comments. Make sure you read all the comments so you see where the poem is headed and follow the rhyme scheme (which I hope emerges).
Thanks for humoring me today.
The Sun also Rises
Golden rays burn across the blue
Pushing beyond the wind-kissed trees
Annoying in its persistence and volume, the somewhat musical tone shrieks. The lull of the ocean is drowned beneath the cacophony.
Time: 1:30 a.m. Aren’t we on vacation? Who signs up for such intolerably early wakeups?
We did. In hopes of watching the sun rise from the tallest point on Maui, we paid someone a few hundred dollars and then gave up hours of sleep.
Did someone say crazy?
It will be cold at the top. We were told to dress in layers. I’m on vacation in the tropics and I have no layers. I throw in my sweatshirt. The tourism brochure said wet weather gear would be provided.
Darkness caresses my skin as we make our way to the lobby. A van will pick us up at 2 a.m.
Along with the driver, we’re the only people awake at such an hour of the morning. We collect ten other people at various resorts and then head to the east coast of the island.
While our guide and driver hook up the trailer full of bicycles, we snag a cup of coffee and a granola bar. The coffee isn’t worth drinking, but the caffeine keeps my eyes from succumbing to the urge to close. They know we’re on vacation. Read: sleep in.
A winding trip up the mountain in pitch black ensues. Only the orange glow of the burning sugar cane fields offer indication that something beyond the windows exists.
At the summit, the hive of activity buzzing from every direction revs up our adrenaline. Sunrise is 50 minutes away.
Outside the van, the oversized Columbia Sportswear wind suit provided by the tour company blocks a fraction of the wind chill. It’s 35 degrees at the summit. Did I mention I’m wearing shorts, t-shirt and a long-sleeved t-shirt weight zipped hoodie beneath the wind gear?
Thankfully, they hand out insulated gloves. A gift shop with viewing windows waits on the edge of the crater.
Fifty or more people stuff themselves into the small viewing center where a modicum of heat and the lack of wind offer reprieve from the chilling, non-tropical weather outside. 40 minutes until sunrise.
“You’re blocking a fire lane,” the gruff proprietor announces to some unfortunate souls on the other side of the 20 foot wide room. “You can’t stand in the doorway.” 30 minutes until sunrise.
People mill about, bumping each other: it’s bumper cars without the cars – or the smiles. The viewing window fogs over. Automatic doors admit more people into the sardine can accommodations. A cold wind chases them and discourages me from attempting to gain some elbow room. 20 minutes to sunrise.
Like a petulant child, someone asks, “Will we be able to see the sunrise in here?” Seeing anything through the thickly fogged windows seems unlikely. A wave of uneasiness sweeps through the crowd.
“Don’t worry,” snaps the woman behind the counter. “I do this every day. I won’t let you miss anything.” 10 minutes to sunrise.
I decide to brave the freezing temperatures and leave the cocoon created by the press of bodies. Outside, a thick fog covers the ground. Wind whips around the little building. My husband stands at the railing, camera at the ready, drenched from the press of clouds.
Egress is blocked. I shiver and slap my hands together. I try rubbing the gloved appendages against my upper arms. I stamp my feet. Nothing helps, so I give in to the chattering teeth.
A swell of bodies flows out of the building. A red glow in the distance incites a unanimous inhaled breath. Sunrise.
Or not. It’s the first time ever that I have seen the clouds defeat the sun. Will we live eternally in blackness?
A faint line of gray light announces the onset of day. No spectacular photos of the sun rising out of the Pacific. Phenomenal vistas displayed beneath the shadow of the highest point on Maui remain obscured by the fog bank.
Happily, I return to the van via a stop in the restrooms where I use the hand dryer to thaw my ice encased fingers.
At 6,500 feet, we emerge into a sunny realm high above the island plains. Now the downhill bicycle ride begins, offering expansive views of the neck of the island and both coasts.
In the end, it makes the early wakeup worth the effort. If only the weak links in the front of the line stopped wearing their brakes out, we could sail down the winding road, whooping and hollering. It’s almost as joyous as flying and it doesn’t make the heart stutter like bungee drops.
Eucalyptus and lavender farms line the lower hills, embracing our sense of smell with free doses of aromatherapy. Later, we pedal past the last working ranch on the island. A whole different fragrance greets our unsuspecting noses.
Not the longest day ever, but it seemed like bedtime when we arrived back at our resort around two in the afternoon.
I think this is what sensory overload feels like. Or maybe that’s just sleep deprivation talking.
What have you risen early in the morning to do? Was it worth the effort?
Soup should be served hot: coffee hotter. Wait staff should smile and serve with friendly deference. Eggs Benedict means rich, yellow liquid from the egg yolk beneath the Hollandaise sauce.
Expectations: we all have them. They color our experiences in every aspect of life.
The problem with expectations is that they have the power to derail our joy when they aren’t met. If we expect to see dolphins on the boat ride, but we only see a manta ray and sea birds, our expectations are dashed, so much surf against the rocks.
Will unmet expectations ruin the day?
Years ago, a woman I worked with traveled to Maui for her daughter’s wedding. When she returned, she bubbled about the sunrise bike ride from the top of the mountain. More recently, people who learned we were traveling to Maui said, “You have to do the sunrise bike ride.”
When asked by my husband what I wanted to do on vacation, I replied, “The sunrise bike ride and sit by the pool.” These desires should be easily met, right?
When the clouds obscured the sunrise and I was tired, cold and frozen, the trip to the top of Haleakala could have been a bust.
I determined to prove a new formula for unmet expectations:
Anticipation + Expectation = Atypical Results
My mother-in-law, a travel mate, said the night before, “I hope it’s everything you hope for.”
What did I hope for? A fantastic view of Maui and heart-pounding thrills from a downhill race.
More than a few breathtaking views punctuated the speedy descent down the mountain (House of the Sun). Sounds like what I hoped for had been achieved.
It didn’t have to be a sunrise view from the summit. I had anticipated thrills and sights. My experience flourished with vistas and whoops.
Perhaps we need to carefully define our expectations. Or maybe it’s best to just sit back and let come what may.
Can you think of a time when unmet expectations dampened an experience? What recommendations do you have for turning our expectations into friends rather than foes?