Heaven on Earth - Fall 2006 travel blog

fab four

healthy Don and bike van


clouds roll in

pink protea

white protea

We rode bikes 38 miles today and aren't even tired. Hard to believe? Have we spent our week at sea getting buff? Hardly! Some explanation is in order. You probably know that all the Hawaiian islands are volcanic in origin. You might not realized that the same hole in the earth's crust made them all as well as a number of others that have eroded back under the sea. As the lava is forced out through the earth's crust, the tectonic plates keep marching across the Pacific - we're talking a march with a geologic cadence. As the plates move, older islands such as Kauai get moved off the lava vent and newer islands, Hawaii being the newest, have active volcanoes while they are over the vent. I have always thought that Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, but here they tell us about mountains that are 55,000 feet tall. That's because they are measuring from the ocean bottom and in some cases below the bottom. These volcanic lumps are so massive their very weight forces them to collapse down upon themselves.

So, today we were on Mt Haleakala, one of the extinct volcanoes that is no longer over the lava vent. A 38 mile road takes you from sea level to the top where a national park reveals the caldera of the volcano and astronomers study the heavens from observatories there. A tour van took us and bikes to the mountain top and we coasted from 10,000 feet the way I would measure it all the way down. Ken and I had done this ride 20 years ago and it is one of our fondest memories. Last time we rose at 4am so we could be at the summit at sunrise, but this time mid morning promised warmer temperatures at the summit. As we ranted and raved about the Haleakala ride, we convinced Don and Mike to join us, but the wives would not be moved.

So the four of us put on our Star Wars helmets and wind breakers and began the long coast down. We were with nine other riders and rode in single file allowing lots of stopping space between us. If you did not brake, it would have been easy to exceed the posted speed limits for the cars which were also on the road with us. Of necessity the bikes have powerful brakes and Don hit his a little too hard. In an instant he was head over heals over his bike and lay bleeding on the pavement. At the beginning of the ride we were accompanied by the folks that had driven us up, so they scooped Don up, bandaged his wounds, and let him ride back down in the van. It was a real shame that he missed this chance to ride through six distinct climate zones as we coasted down, but it was a blessing that his wounds were not serious ones. A favorite stop on the ride for me was a protea farm, which grows the most gorgeous, strange looking flowers. When we return to Maui I will feel sorely tempted to ship some home. They are so beautiful, they even look good dried.

By the time we got back to the ship Don became more and more aware of the extent of his wounds. Although he was wearing good shoes, he must have bounced onto his toes when he fell off the bike. One was split open and the other black and blue and swollen. Once he took his shoes off there was no way to get them back on. He does not normally wear sandals and had not brought any along. His wife Lora rushed off the ship to walk to a nearby mall to purchase him a pair so he could leave his cabin. In her haste she tripped on some rough pavement and injured her chin enough so that it required four stitches from the ship's physician. She also has a number of bruises on her arms and knees. When Don and Lora return to our neighborhood early next week long before we do, the rest of the neighborhood is going to wonder what sort of combat tour we took them on...

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