Aloha! Today is the last day of our Hawaiian adventure. Although sad that our vacation comes to a close, I look back happily and amazed at what we have done during our time here. Last Tuesday we took a group surfing class in Lahaina. Our instructor Josh was the epitome of a stereotypical Hawaiian surfer. None of us were sure just how old he was, but one thing was certain: he had been surfing a long time. My favorite moment that demonstrates his abilities so clearly was when he started off on a small wave and then began surfing standing on his head. I kid you not. The rest of us did not exhibit such amazing talent as that, but each and every one of us did manage to stand up on the board and surf for at least a little bit! Janice impressed us the most when she stood up on the board on her very first try. Surfing is such a blast and the lesson was definitely a huge highlight of the trip.
The next day (Wednesday) we split up our group to accommodate everyone's different interests. Janice and Tessa went horse back riding up the side of a mountain for breathtaking views and frightening descents. They each said that it was a wonderful experience. Richard (Tessa's boyfriend who flew out on Tuesday), Jayson, and I arose at 4:00 AM and Tessa graciously drove us to the Haleakala crater. There, we said goodbye to Tessa and descended into the crater. As the sun slowly and gloriously rose over the crater, we began an 11.5 mile hike that took us roughly seven hours to complete. Beginning in an arid desert, we were surprised to see pretty yellow flowers and delighted when we saw a partially bloomed silversword plant. The silversword only grows in the crater and blooms every seventy years! The landscape soon transformed to offer "Pele's painting pot," a section that reminded me of the painted desert of Arizona. Next we walked through the "lava fields" where flowing lava was still visible. After a quick stop for lunch at the park's remote cabin where we chatted with the a pair of nene, we began the final leg of our journey. First, it reminded us of a prairie with tall grass and then of a tropical and very green climate. The last leg was (unfortunately) completely uphill as a twisting trail on the cliff's edge, ascending 1000 feet in only 2 miles. Needless to say, by the end of the trip we were exhausted. I woke up this morning extremely sore, but feeling extremely accomplished.
All in all I'm sad to leave, but thankful for the time I've had. Many mahalos to Tessa and her family for such a great experience. More mahalos to mine for helping to make it a reality!
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE YOU!