Turtle Diving and Volcano Stomping

Aloha, ya’ll!? I’m so behind and need to resist word vomming all over everything right now – I’ve gotten used to writing again over the past year, and living an exotic, jet-setting life over the past few weeks has left me composing things in my head on planes, trains and automobiles that are long lost in the maze of my brain. For now, I’ll spare you the deeper thoughts (and I’ll probably spare you forever from the lengthy, rage-y, feminist-y rant that’s been going on full-force for the past day, because you’re hearing it all over), and attempt to not break the internet with a small sampling of the 1000+ photos I’ve taken over the past week and shorthand summary so I can resume normal programming again.

First and foremost, Chazza touched down after a lengthy plane saga from Baghdad -> London -> Paris -> London -> SFO last Tuesday, and I’ve been dragging her patient, Scottish self across California and the Pacific in attempts to do ALL THE THINGS in a short amount of time.

Totally tourists.

Because there is no rest for the weary and jet-lagged, we spent Wednesday cycling to and from Sausalito in the sunshine and then walking across San Francisco before collapsing in exhausted silence at an Italian restaurant in the FiDi… and then promptly hopped on a plane to LAX and then to Maui (because who knew Hawaii was actually really far into the Pacific and kind of halfway to New Zealand, and who wouldn’t want to fly for another 8 hours?!) to hang out with Meg and Koko and live their island life for a long weekend.

Koko, towards the end of two hours of racing back and forth down the beach, pre-post-beach sickness.

Maui is great. Megan is great. Koko is the chillest Hawaiian bro’ gentle giant mastiff ever. We hit some beaches, found out snorkeling in waves is actually a bit harder than it looks, drank some wine under the glow of torches on a beach, acquired sunburns and ridiculous tanlines and got to do that whole ‘vacation’ thing (…what is ‘vacation’?).

After Charlie headbutted a sea turtle, before she lost all of her snorkel gear.

Anyway, because we weren’t in colder climes for Charlie’s birthday over the weekend and couldn’t, therefore, do the normal ‘Remember, remember, the 5th of November’ Bonfire Night shenanigans, I instead did the friendly thing of dragging her out of bed at a slightly early-ish hour to go climb Haleakala, Maui’s volcano.

Summit views. Before we even started.

Normally, when you (I) climb/hike/run, it’s up mountains, where the general theme is you start at some lower altitude and rise, hit some pinnacle, admire the sweeping vistas, and then get to run down.

Volcanoes that are craters are apparently not that way.

Almost like being lost in the desert.

Instead, we started at almost 10,000ft after driving up a long road, in the middle of a Martian landscape that appeared to stretch for miles (and was also entirely a descent into a crater).

Really unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

After about 3-ish miles of watching our elevation drop and becoming acutely aware that that meant going out-and-back would be climbing out of said crater, we made an impromptu decision to switch from Sliding Sands to what looked like a loop to vary up the scenery. Don’t get me wrong – Martian landscape was eerily stunning, silent and unlike anything I’ve ever seen… but there was a lot of sand. And rocks. And volcanic death.

Signs of life!
Not just a squiggle.

After about 3ish more miles, we finally started to see vegetation, and then suddenly found ourselves at a gate at the foot of a mountain… at which point we pulled out our trusty paper map, looked at the squiggle, decided it went around this giant mountain, and carried on.

Apparently National Park maps are not to scale, because upon closer inspection (slash walking for another mile), it became very clear that we were definitely not going around the mountain, and that squiggle was actually switchbacks. Upon switchbacks. Upon switchbacks.

So that was fun.

Somewhere near the top. But definitely not at the top.

We finally made it to the top (at this point, about 11 miles in), had a wee lie down in the very scenic parking lot, and then rallied for the final stretch of climbing the road back to the car.

“It’ll be fine!” we said. “No, we don’t want a ride!” we said. “We don’t give up!” we said.

Let’s just say it was probably one mile too far (but also one mile too short of us resorting to playing Snog/Marry/Avoid to keep from falling over and dying of altitude sickness and/or exhaustion).

But sunsets over clouds are never a bad thing.

But alas, after 8 hours, we made it and didn’t die, although neither of us could walk for two solid days, because this was a lot of up and down at a pretty high altitude in a pretty hot Hawaiian sun.


(If you are in Hawaii and are on Maui, it’s totally worth doing, despite this ringing endorsement, but my #toptips: 1) wear sunscreen, 2) loop at a map with elevation and 3) don’t be a stubborn idiot and listen to the bus driver when he offers you a lift.)

Alas, we are now back in the California mountains for the rest of the week and weekend, waffling between politics, singing High School Musical and B*Witched gems, watching David Attenborough and GBBO reruns, and playing outside. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with myself when I go back to ‘normal’ life and lose having the other half to my constant running life observation commentary.

Life friends, ya’ll – there to embrace your craziness, tell you it like it is, laugh with you, cry with you, chat nonstop for hours, sit in total silence, finish your sentences, remind you where you came from and gently push you to where you’re going.


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