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On Sunday, I got up early, dropped my rental car off at the airport and took a flight from Hilo to Maui. The time I spent in security took longer than the actual flight.
When I arrived in Maui, I had happen what I dreaded. My debit card was declined. This happened the last time I was in Hawaii on four separate occasions. It seems that if you have any gas purchases that are too close together, its raises a flag with the fraud prevention unit at the bank and they shut your card down. (It turns out that when a credit card is stolen, one of the common things to do is to fill up a car with gas along with the friends of all the the thieves.) In principal its a good thing to be looking out for you, but it really sucks if you’re on the road when this happens. My gas purchases were over 12 hours apart and it still made the flag go up. If I didn’t have a cell phone available to call up and resolve the situation, I would have been totally screwed.
By the time I got that resolved and got my rental car, it was about 9:30am and I couldn’t check into my hostel until 5pm. I figured it was as good a time as any to go visit Haleakala National Park, which takes up most of the eastern half of the island. Not including historical sites, there are two proper national parks in Hawaii: Haleakala and Volcanoes. Volcanoes is by far the better known of the two as it is the one with volcanoes actively erupting. I had no idea what to expect at Haleakala as I’ve read very little about it.
The summit of Haleakala is about 10,000 feet above sea level. Like Mauna Kea, you have to drive the entire 10,000 feet so there is a huge elevation change in a short period of time. The time from 0 to 10,000 feet is probably faster on Haleakala. The first thing you notice as you drive up the mountain is waves of people on bikes going down the mountain. Turns out its a popular activity to take a van to the top of the mountain and then coast down the 20 miles or so to the bottom. Everyone had full body windbreakers on and motorcycle helmets. It seemed like it would be pretty fun.
Unlike Volcanoes which is mostly just bare lava rock (at least around Kilauea), Haleakala has lots of vegetation. They also have more real backpacking and hiking options than Volcanoes does. Haleakala is also home to many plants and animals which are native to Hawaii and are only found there. One of the indigenous species to Haleakala is the silversword plant. Its only found at elevation, only on Haleakala, and it only blooms once in its life, every 15 to 50 years.
The Haleakala crater is really big and very pretty. The red from the oxidized rock its very breathtaking. The day I was there had lots of clouds so I couldn’t see the entire crater.
BTW, I think that’s the best photo I’ve taken so far…