I have lived to see my birthday come to an end. It started at 6:30 AM with a van ride to the top of Haleakala with Bob our tour guide. Bob was a little crusty and crude and my initial impression did little to alleviate my concerns that he was the best person to trust with my personal safety. But as the trip up the volcano progressed and he entertained us with his bad jokes and vast knowledge of the area, I relaxed and decided to go with the flow. Once we reached 9700 feet we had this gorgeous view of the crater created by the last eruption of the volcano.
Have I mentioned that I am afraid of heights? I've come a long way in my fifty-something years on this earth but my knees get wobbly and my stomach does flips whenever I get to the edge of a sheer drop. Grasping tightly the railing, I held my breath and squeezed the button to get the shot. If this is what it means to live life on the edge--thanks, but I'll stay back on the flat even ground. So then Bob shows me where we are headed:
What you can't see is in this photo is before you can get to a reasonably flat and safe stretch of road, there is a series of swithchbacks down the side of this mountain/volcano. We were told that to maintain a schedule and not to impede the other traffic on this highway, we must maintain a speed between 18-25 mph and hoping that the opposing traffic heading up the mountain stayed on their side of the yellow line. I was most certainly headed to my early and untimely death. Bob assured me that he had never lost anyone in his 18 years of leading the tours down and I was determined not to be the one that ruined his perfect record!
Bob fit us for bikes & helmets, lined us up, gave us last rites, I mean final instructions and we were on our way. The basic rules sounded simple, "Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the handlegrips, your feet on the pedals and your butt on the seat". I aspired to all that and added, "stay on the right side of the handlebars". I have never experienced such a rich and sustained prayer life as on that first 30 minute leg of the trip. Though it was not deep and theological, I do believe that my prayer of "God help me, I don't want to die" was heard my my loving heavenly Father. I made it to the lunch stop and would live to eat another meal.
The second part of the trip was less steep and I was a bit more confident in my skills and our leader. I actually got to the point of enjoying the view and loosened my grip on the handlebars enough to see blood return to its normal circulatory path. When we finally reached the end, this was our view from the beach:
I was happy to have completed the challenge and was happier still when we ended the day like this: It was all good!