One of the coolest things I did in Hawaii – or maybe in my entire life to date – was to drive to the top of Haleakalā, a massive shield volcano that makes up more than 75% of Maui. It took hours to get to the top of the crater, switching back and forth slowly up the side (emphasis on slowly – those turns were not for the faint of heart). But what we saw at the 10,000 foot top made the dizzying drive worthwhile.
It was like being on another planet – Mars, specifically. I lost all depth perception in the sweeping hills of red and black dust. Rocks looked like I could reach out and touch them, when in reality, they were miles away.
We didn’t stay up there too long – we were originally going to watch the sunset, but decided it wasn’t worth driving down in the dark. We did catch a glimpse of the splendor on the way down, but it was really the scene from the top that stuck with me the most. It was a breathtaking reminder of just how unexpectedly awesome a view can be – and how worthwhile it is to make the trek (though maybe pack your inhaler next time, lady…).
And it gave me a final push to take on one of the last big challenges I wanted to tackle before I turn 30 in October: Mount Washington. Despite growing up in NH, I’ve never once set foot on the top of this giant mountain. My good friend Kate, who rowed crew with me back at Mount Holyoke (aka my twin because our coach thought we were the same person…) is going to hike it with me this summer. I don’t know what path we’ll take yet (but I’m taking suggestions!) but I’m more convinced than ever that the view at the top will be mind-boggling and worth every step. Leave your hiking advice below, please!
(All photos are my own!)
When I go on vacation with my sister, some things are guaranteed:
1. We will try – and fail – to stay still and relax. We did chill out on the beach and at Twin Falls, but we also drove for five hours yesterday. We can’t stop (won’t stop) moving!
2. We will get sunburnt – our Polish/ French skin is no match for the morning sun glinting off the ocean, as this week’s snorkel adventure reminded us.
3. We will take jumping pictures. It wouldn’t be a sister-vacation without a carefully timed photo session – we also got into someone else’s cheesy photos when I was asked to be the O in their OHIO!
4. We will sing show tunes. All those years of practicing our parts in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” really show when you get us alone in a car for hours!
5. We will have a blast. My sister is a badass, great navigator, good meal-sharer, and overall awesome friend, and I wish we could have this kind of adventure every day. For now, I’m soaking up every minute until we go back to our own cities and then immediately planning our next trip. Huzzah!
I’ve been here exactly one day, and I get it.
I get why people come to this island and never leave. I understand the appeal of the sunshine and the clear blue ocean and the fresh fish. And also, did I mention the perfect 75-degree days and that where I come from, we have had seven feet of snow this winter?
Sitting on the beach today, it was hard not to wonder why this isn’t my everyday life. Why do I sit in an office instead of a lounge chair, why not trade email for books marked with sunscreen fingerprints? Why didn’t I go to a college somewhere tropical? Why am I not a professional volleyball player (related not to my skill but to the fact that the college women we saw playing today looked like they were having a TON OF FUN!)?
Such is the joy of vacation – forcing you to question the world and your place in it, even if you don’t quit your job (don’t worry guys, I’m not done saving the world – be back next Monday as planned!). Because really, I loved my New England school and the winter makes me appreciate the sunshine more (or something).
Stay tuned for more deep thoughts and hopefully no sunburns over the next week!
As we say in my family, go if you’re going!