Que Sera Sera

Linda Lou Burton posting about Maui from Little Rock, Arkansas – Sunrise in Maui’s Haleakalā National Park occurred at 5:53 Hawaiian Standard Time this morning. My day was perfectly planned – 2 AM: wake up, dress, go to the lobby of Maui Seaside Hotel to wait for the tour bus. 2:40: hop on and ride to Skyline Tours headquarters for fresh Hawaiian coffee and a continental breakfast. Then ride the winding road (very winding at the last) to the summit of Mt Haleakalā, 52 miles from my hotel, over 9,000 feet above sea level. And it would still be dark.

“View the Sunrise from the Top of the World” is the tour promotional. What better place to see the sunrise over Maui than from Haleakalā, Maui’s highest peak and a top visitor attraction. In a Skyline eco-adventure in the middle of wao akua, or “realm of the gods,” be there when Haleakalā National Park awakens with the rising sun near the summit of Haleakalā. Edge-of-the-world view in all directions while the early sunlight casts hues of natural light onto Haleakalā’s crater floor.

It’s been 31 years since I got my first hankering to “see the sunrise” there. I was in Maui with my parents (who were younger then than I am now). They simply had no interest; Mom had signed us up for an evening luau, so that was enough, they said. This year, I’d finally knock it off my bucket list. I booked on February 21, $176 paid in full. Ready and set. Haleakalā would be my 34th National Park out of the 62.

The Park, created in 1916, was designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. The name Haleakalā is Hawaiian for “house of the sun.” The legend: the demigod Maui imprisoned the sun here in order to lengthen the day. The crater is an erosional valley 6.99 miles across, 2.0 miles wide, and 2,600 feet deep. The interior of the crater is dotted by numerous volcanic features, including large cinder cones.

Haleakalā is one of the best places in the United States for amateur astronomy, due to its long scenic drive with numerous overlooks, and the unusually clear views of the night sky. Haleakalā Observatory, near the visitor center, lies above the tropical inversion layer so experiences excellent viewing conditions and clear skies.

But back to the Tour. Of course we are ravenously hungry after starting a day at 2 AM, so on the way back down the mountain we stop at Kula Lodge, perched in a forest on the west slope of the Crater. The restaurant has floor to ceiling windows and a terrace, all with views of flower farms, mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. I’ll have the Haleakalā Mountain Meal with pancakes, or maybe the No Ka Oi” Omelet?

Yes, I’m tired now, but also pumped, with more great stuff ahead. Back to my hotel by noon; time to sit by the pool and gaze at the ocean before scooting to the Kahului airport, very close by. My 5:03 PM Flight to the next island, Hawaii, gets me to the Hilo (ITO) airport at 5:42 PM. I pile my luggage into my Budget car and drive 42miles to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where I check  into Volcano House. A room with a view – another crater, smoke rising over the rim of Mt Kilauea just out my picture window. (More about that tomorrow.)

But I seem to be sitting at my desk in Little Rock right now, with a heat advisory in effect that feels like 112 out there! What happened?

Aw, you know, reality. The National Parks closed back in March. Today’s online message: Park Closures, Alert 1 Severity. Some locations closed due to COVID-19. The NPS is working to increase access to the park in a phased approach. Limited Areas in the Summit District are open. All visitor centers, Crater trails and backcountry areas remain closed. 

On June 12, I received the following email from Skyline Tours: Aloha, In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Skyline Hawai’i will be suspending all operations through July 31, 2020. If you currently have a reservation and would like to postpone or cancel your booking, please send us an email.

I canceled. The company kindly refunded my $176. Today, their site shows a possible next available opening of September 1.

I also canceled my two-night stay at Volcano House; they kindly refunded my deposit of $347.

The airlines is another story. On June 24, Hawaiian Airlines notified me that my 43-minute flight from Kahului to Hilo was changed; instead I’d go from Kahului to Honolulu (45 minutes), 1 hour layover, then Honolulu to Hilo (50 minutes) arriving at 7:30.

So it goes like this: I can’t get INTO the state without a 14-day quarantine, but Hawaiian Airlines changed my flight without considering that even if I GOT there, I wouldn’t be allowed out of my room. No refund offered.

Someday, as the saying goes, we may look back on this and laugh. But today, Que Sera, Sera is the best I can do.