We picked up several other people at a few more hotels, then we headed to the Mountain Riders headquarters to pick up the trailer full of bikes, as well as our guide. We had a great driver, Jason, and guide, Pops. Pops was really talkative and made sure to get everyone involved in interacting. On the way up the mountain the dark, he asked what the name of the mountain was. I said, "Haleakala" (which, by the way, means "House of the Sun") and he said, "Right! What's your name?" I told him Heather, and he said, "Alright, Heather, you get a bike with brakes!" So as you can see, he had a nice sense of humor, too.
Before we left the headquarters, they had "breakfast" for us... some Costco muffins, coffee, and juice. Then we all loaded back into the van to head up the mountain. Michael and I both managed to doze off a bit on the way up. Once there, we got out and walked up to the observation area. It was still pretty pitch black, but started to get lighter pretty quickly. We were probably up there for about an hour total. The sun came up over the clouds, which was really cool (it was FREEZING in the meantime).
After sunrise, we went back, got into the van, and went a little bit further down the mountain to start the bike tour part of the excursion. I was nervous about it prior to the start. I had this impression that we'd be riding down the mountain on the shoulder with cars whizzing past us. However, as it turned out, our guide went down on the bikes with us, leading the way... we rode right down the middle of the road (well, our lane). The driver followed us in the van and blocked the lane so that cars couldn't pass us until we were ready for them to (we would squeeze over to the shoulder).
It was really awesome. I loved the bike ride part. I'm glad we did the whole sunrise tour to experience it once, but if I were going to do it again, I would just do the bike ride (they offer daytime tours, too). No reason to put yourself through getting up in the middle of the night for it for a second time.
Getting ready to fly down the mountain!
On the way down, we stopped every 5-10 miles (it was a total of 30 miles) to take pictures and rest. At every stop, we shed more and more clothing. At the top, I had several layers on. By the time we got to the bottom, I just had shorts and a t-shirt. The temperature difference at every stop was pretty amazing.
One of the photo op stops we made on the way down. Still in our "space suits" because it was quite chilly!At one point, we stopped at a little garden/snack shack type thing and got a little something to eat and drink. Back on the bikes to finish the ride. The views were beautiful the entire way down, and there were so many cool smells--eucalyptus, lavender, sugar cane--it was truly an adventure for all of the senses.
At the little farmer's market/snack stand, one of our stops on the way down Haleakala
We ended the ride at an historic Catholic church, which was really beautiful. Jason loaded the bikes back into the trailer and then we headed back to the headquarters before we were all taken back to our hotels. We were back at the condo by noon. We had already been up for more than 10 hours, so we were exhausted. Michael and I settled in for about an hour nap.
End of the ride... Historic Catholic Church
When we woke up, we decided to finally go out and try our snorkeling gear. We drove to a nearby beach, figured out the gear, and then dove right into the water (face first!). It was really, really fun. We saw a lot of cool fish, coral, and got tossed around by the current (it was pretty strong). We also tried out the underwater case for our camera (so cool) for the first time. It worked great. We managed to get a lot of pictures and even a few video clips. Totally worth the little investment in the case! We can't wait to use it again.
After about a half hour or so in the water, I couldn't stand my flippers anymore. When we rented at the dive shop, I was kind of in between sizes. The guy told me my feet would shrink half a size in the water... well, I don't think mine did. My feet were KILLING me in those things. I couldn't handle the pain anymore and was too afraid to go barefoot because of the coral, so we called it a day. It was already after 3:00 p.m., and we hadn't had a real meal all day, so we decided to go back to the condo and shower and get ready for an early dinner.
Once cleaned up, we headed into downtown Lahaina to go to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. What a cool little restaurant. I guess it is a chain that is in many touristy cities throughout the world, but it was new to us.
A flower in the lot where we parked to go to dinner in Lahaina
On our way to dinner in Lahaina
The whole restaurant is centered around the movie... menu items, decor, etc. Obviously, the majority of the menu consists of shrimp dishes. Bad news for me since I hate seafood. Michael loves it, however, and I hate to deprive him when we're in coastal areas with fresh seafood. So we went... I ordered a burger and was pleasantly surprised with how good it was. Michael had a shrimp and mahi mahi dish, which he thought was excellent.
We stopped for ice cream on the way home, and now we're just ready to crash. Getting up in the middle of the night has taken its toll and we're ready for a good night's sleep. We're getting up relatively early again tomorrow to do the Road to Hana, but it will be NOTHING like this morning, so we're OK with it. :)