“August 2008 — One of my best friends from childhood was getting married in Maui. I think this was the last trip I took where digital cameras were the norm, so all of my pictures and videos are burned on a CD (haha! tell that phrase to a 20 year old!!) somewhere. I’ve never been a huge picture taker anyways. I’ve always thought that what doesn’t stick in my memory just doesn’t deserve to be remembered. I challenge this theory more and more as I age, and it’s a discussion for another time. For now, I’ll describe the moments during this trip in which my memory dwells, and from which sensibilities linger.
So back to Maui, August 2008…
Three girlfriends and I planned to attend the wedding together and spend some extra time traveling afterwards. The first few days we went fancy tourist: Gunning down beach side highways in a fire-red mustang convertible. A table setting with six different glasses at The Ritz for a bachelorette dinner party. The wedding was picturesque–on the beach at the Grand Wailea, only the closest friends and family in attendance, local dudes on their ukuleles and conch shell horns. Fulfilling and warm dinner reception after the ceremony; I remember just looking up in the sky and seeing the most beautiful silhouettes of palm trees against a bath of moonlight. Our laughter and joy saturates. Wine soaked gecko chasing.
Due to adventurous spirits and budgetary constraints, after the first few days at the resort, we moved on to the most enlivening environment of my life. Four grown women (two 5’8″ and two 5’11”) rented a VW Westfalia camper van from Aloha Campers.
The back seat turns into one bed, and the space between the roof and the pop up becomes a second bed. Inside the camper is a little sink and stove which we never used. We outfitted ourselves with a full cooler of food, several multi-gallon containers of water, and booze. I think there was whiskey and beer, which in conjunction with spectacular weather and surroundings kept us from killing each other in 80 square feet. Seriously. I just looked that up. We traveled and slept in 80 square feet. Remember how tall I said we all are?
The great thing about this van was that we could camp ANYWHERE. Side of the road, campground, beach, etc with no permit needed. The first day we drove the Hana Highway: Built in 1910, is about 68 miles long, and features 620 hairpin curves, and 59 bridges–46 of which are one-lane bridges. Although we were going no faster than 25 MPH at any given point, my heart was in the back of my throat the entire time, it was so exhilaratingly nerve-racking.
Easily the most satisfying drive of my life, the highway took us past countless waterfalls, through tunnels of lush landscape, and took us so close to the island’s edge that the waves crashing sent spray through our windows. Three hours as the captain of our ship (van), I don’t know how the crew felt, but for me, this experience…it’s the memory I most often go to when reality makes me feel trapped in a grind.
Later that day, we camped at the Ohe’ O Gulch, or Seven Sacred Pools. The water has carved itself a seven-stepped passage to the ocean from the mountains here at Ohe’ O Gulch. To give you an idea of size, the bottom waterfall is probably 12′ or so tall, from where it leaves the rock and then gravity splashes it back to the rock. It’s enormous and contemplative and incredibly fun to swim and pretend that you’re in a Herbal Essences commercial. Looking good while being pummeled by a waterfall is actually quite difficult.
Next day, we drove to Haleakala Crater on the Haleakala Highway, which holds the world record of climbing to the highest elevation in the shortest distance: 10,023 feet in 38 miles. The highway itself is designed to keep your speed reasonable as you climb this height. Mind you, skydivers jump from 12,000 ft. You can actually feel the pressure changing in your sinuses as you climb to the summit.
Change in elevation altered the atmospheric pressure and made my sinuses feel wonky, but it also brought a whole new Hawaii outside the van. Before we got on the Haleakala Highway, it was tropical outside. High 80’s, humid, jungle, beach. As we drove up, trees became less and less lush. It became colder and colder. By the time we got to the top, I ended up putting on most of the clothes I brought with me because we could all see our breath in front of us. We camped out and waited for the morning, laughing at how ridiculous it was to have chattering teeth in a tropical paradise.
Oh. I forgot. The reason we went there. The Haleakala Crater. Miles above sea level, the sun rises above the clouds. It makes you feel like you are the first person in the world to see the sun for that day…
Back down the mountain, we popped our ears and headed to the beach. We found a nice big tree to park under. I climbed up the tree to drink and watch the sunset. Almost fell asleep up there. Just kidding…or am I?? Drunk monkey!
This trip. But mainly that drive. Hana Highway to Ohe’ O Gulch to Haleakala Crater to that big ol tree at sunset. Surrounded by decades long friends. I would be so lucky to be able to recreate this magical trip just once. Heaven. Love, laughter, beach, nature, driving, challenges, Westfalia. I’m going to dream well tonight!!”
– Rose Chang
089/100 of #100DaysofConfessions Instagram Project