I was going to blog about snorkeling. And I will.
But I’ve also rumbled a 2010 gold convertible mustang to the top of a volcano, ogled my way through an authentic pineapple tour, lost myself in time while beachcombing some of the most spectacular shorelines in the world, and I’ve done it all with Shauna, my wife for life.
First, the volcano. Mount Haleakala tops out at ten thousand royal feet above sea level. But that’s just the icing on the cake. Haleakala began spewing out it’s footing more than 19,000 feet below the surface, which means this behemoth stands more like 28,000 feet from the tips of its toes to the top of its weathered head. The road to the summit snakes up the mountains in countless switchbacks, many of which teeter you along the edges cliffs with no guardrails. About two thirds of the way up, you drive into the cloud cover and the grey wetness chills you to the bone. Two thousand feet later, you rise out of the clouds, wondering if that’s even possible. And then you keep going, and going, and going, until the clouds look like cosmic meringue hiding a coconut pie. People often drive up to the summit to watch the sunrise, which would be trippy since the sun would rise like a phoenix from below you. Shauna commented that we were on sacred ground. All of Gods’ world is sacred, but this was purer, more stunning than most places.
Second, the pineapple tour. Did you know that virtually none of the trees we’ve come to associate with Hawaii were planted by missionaries and traders after most the island had been reduced to desert due to gross mismanagement and greedy foresting practices? It’s true. On the way to the pineapple fields, our tour guide treated us to a wonderful hodge-podge of history, trivia, and personal anecdotes that made the tour one of our highlights. Tasting pineapple you’ve picked two minutes before is a spiritual experience. Sweet yellow goodness, running down your arm, coursing down your chin, and mostly down your throat. My, oh my. Thank you, Jesus!
Third, the beaches. Our favorite is aptly called “Big Beach,” part of Makena State Park, south of Wailea. The cream sand is glorious, soft and rich for the toes. The waves tumble in like angel haired juggernauts, offsetting the turquoise water romancing the shoreline. Just south of the beach lies a protected area, a Marine Preserve handing out killer snorkeling ops by the millions. Today the surf was turbulent, a manic depressive powerhouse armed by tangles of volcanic outcroppings daring me to get by. I did, but my heart was pounding. Two feet in the wrong direction, and I might have opened up an errant shoulder on a protruding rock had I not been careful… and a bit lucky. Or blessed.
Ten feet in I was confronted by swirling gangs of fish masterfully navigating the pulsing waves. I would guess that God was inspired to invent rainbows after creating these reef fish. They’re that awesome. Here, finally, words fail me. Creature after creature smashed my heart, leaving it worshipping in reverent pieces. But the main attraction for me was a pair of sea turtles. I almost sucked in a mouthful of saline when I first spotted them gliding beneath me, not even ten feet away. I quickly gulped in a gallon of air and dove to join the gentle giants. The kingly beast I chose to stalk and photograph paparazzi style was nonplussed by my awkward excuse for swimming. He let me flank him, edging nearer until I was just out of reach (touching a sea turtle is illegal, so I let him be). I’m guessing that my nemo buddy’s shell stretched probably five feet protecting several hundred pounds of marine studliness.
Personally, my heart is tranquil, saturated by the peace radiating from Hawaiian beauty. Life is so simple here, vacating and holy-daying every day. I love my Shauna so much, and I’m grateful beyond words that we can share these moments as they become treasured memories.
Jesus, thank you.