From Sea Level To 10,000 Feet Above Sea Level – January 2013
My Trip to Maui
There is a mountain on the island of Maui named Mt Haleakala. If you enjoy mountain scenery and beautiful vistas of the ocean and other tropical islands in the distance, this might be a place you would love to visit. The mountain stands over 10,000 feet in elevation with a volcanic crater at the top which extends for seven miles in width and drops 2,600 feet inside the walls of the crater. The surface at the top is covered with cinder pebbles and trails lead all through the area. Although I would have loved to be able to set foot on the Moon or Mars, Mt. Haleakala is as near as I can imagine the surface on the Moon would be. There is no vegetation to cover the red-brown barren surface extending for miles.
Getting to the top is quite an adventure. The island of Maui is not that large. There is a paved two-lane highway with easy access from Lahina or other seaside tourist hangouts. To be able to go from sea level to an elevation of 10,000 feet requires quite a steep climb. The driver needs to be on the lookout for bicycle riders who have been van-pooled to the top and effortlessly coast down the curvy 35 mile mountainside without ever needing to pedal. (I wish the bicycle riders would equally be on the lookout for cars as well.) I suggest an early morning or late evening trip to the top, due to the fact that to be able to view a sunrise or sunset from the top of this Hawaiian mountain is the view of a lifetime.
On my first visit to Halealaka, I arrived early morning and really enjoyed my visit. Several years ago, my wife, Lorraine, and I enjoyed a Hawaiian cruise with a one day stop in Lahina. I thought that a sight-seeing trip to the top would be just the ticket. We had friends staying in Lahina at the time. Our friends greeted us as we disembarked from the cruise ship, and after some early visiting they drove us along the ocean where we saw numerous whales breaching within a short distance from shore. Our friends asked me what I would like to see. I told them I would love to take Lorraine to the top of the mountain. Because neither of our friends had been there either, they were gracious enough to be our tour guides for the day and drive us to the top and back.
So off we go. As we climb the mountainside, through the switchbacks, dodging bicycles and oncoming traffic, we stop at the Kula Lodge and gift shop as all tourists should do. From there we could see the ocean on both sides of the island. A sandwich and coffee for lunch completed out stop there and we continued toward the top. As we motored upward, we could see the cloud bank ahead. In no time we were surrounded with clouds, as the entire mountain top was engulfed in cloud-cover which I understand now, is the usual everyday occurrence. With all the clouds, the moonscape view was impossible and our sight-seeing adventure was wasted, except for one thing. That is that we were privileged to spend a beautiful day with some wonderful friends.
If I ever get the chance to go to Maui again, I definitely will take Lorraine to the top of Mt. Haleakala in the early morning time. Or if I can convince her for a real adventure, maybe I can trick her into a 3 hour drive (that takes all day) on the road to Hana and visit the Seven Sacred Pools. On second thought, I think I will just take the rental car to Maui Raceway Park and go drag racing.
PS: You may be wondering about our friends who hosted us for a day on Maui? It was none other than Jim and Lynn Livingston. Little did I know that Lynn suffers from altitude sickness and yet was so gracious to go with us to the top of the mountain and show us a fantastic time while we were there. Lorraine and I are forever grateful.
Elvon Kauffman has been drag racing since 1975. He has been a NHRA Northwest Division Bracket Champion twice – first in 1978 when he defeated fellow Woodburn racer, Joe DiFillipi at Seattle International Raceway and secondly, in 1980 when he again defeated a Woodburn racer, Ron Burch at Woodburn Dragstrip. He was the first and only World Champion in Heavy Bracket, winning with his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 4-speed at the now defunct Ontario Motor Speedway in October, 1980.
Elvon’s variety of life experiences become the basis for the stories he shares in Straight Talk, a monthly column produced by Woodburn Dragstrip.