Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunrise at the House of the Sun

There was a period of a year between my high school graduation and my first year of college that I called a moratorium. I worked at Lahaina Pizza Hut and drove my Mustang. This is when I learned that I liked to take sabbaticals.
I would leave my home in Lahaina at about midnight and gas up at the Minute Stop in Kahului. Before I resumed my drive I would deliberately look up at the top of Haleakala. The lights of the upcountry communities ended about halfway up. The ten thousand foot mountain was visible as a wall of earth even in the dark of night.
I would usually listen to the Chess soundtrack driving up. The air turned cold and the road would be dark. Sometimes there was fog and once I rounded a hairpin turn to have a cow standing in the road.
I would get to the top of the mountain before three in the morning and nap. I would wake up and hour or so later to the sound of rent-a-cars laboring their way up. Getting up and looking down the mountain I would see what appeared to be a hundred eyed snake on its way up the mountain as tourists, downhill bike vans and tour buses vied their way for a space at the top of the mountain.
I would bundle up with an old army coat and a genuine Arabic headdress my aunt brought me and sit in my usual spot outside the observatory building at the crater summit. The sky would begin to brighten. Tourists, dressed for the Hawaiian tropical climate would shiver and urge the sun to hurry up. (I’m not making this up; someone did it every time.) And the air stayed cold.
The clouds to the east would begin to glow and a brilliant light would trace their tops. Hundreds of people all stood or sat facing east. And then the sun came up. As often as I did this I never go tired of it.
I would drive down to the campgrounds at Hosmer’s Grove at about the seven thousand foot level and cook my breakfast. I always carried a pizza box in the trunk of my car with charcoal and newspaper for an instant fire. One time I didn’t end up needed it and I’ll blog that tomorrow.

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