Haleakala in the Fog
On the last day of our visit, we check out of our hotel and ask to rent a car. Our flight is late in the evening and we hope to sightsee during the day. But the attendant at the hotel’s car rental desk refuses to rent us one of the many dozens of vehicles in their lot because we have just checked out. He advises us, instead, to hop a shuttle to the Lahaina rental office and ask if they have an available car. So that’s what we do.
The Lahaina car rental office has numerous cars for us to rent. Unfortunately, the selection is sparse: all the cars in their lot are Ford Mustangs. It’s not our first choice but, well, we have no choice. We are given a red one. Once we have the keys, we examine the trunk to discover it won’t hold both of our suitcases at once. It’s too small and oddly shaped. I stuff my case onto the back seat. It barely fits.
I sink into the passenger seat and find I can barely see over the dashboard or out the side window. The interior is black and feels crypt-like. Phil too is uncomfortable, but at least he can see over the dashboard. A valuable advantage for a driver.
We drive from Lahaina to Wailea and eat brunch at Longhi’s, a restaurant in The Shops at Wailea shopping mall. The location (in a mall) is unremarkable and the menu is simple, but the food is good and it hits the spot. We’ve been to this restaurant before and we revel in the quiet atmosphere and familiarity of the place.
After brunch, we drive to Haleakala National Park. The volcano is shrouded in fog for most of the drive. It grows thicker the higher we ascend. We stop at the visitor’s center and browse the gift shop before continuing on to the Pu’u ‘Ula’ula Overlook at the summit. Still encased in cloud, we hike along the Sliding Sands Trail until we succumb to the cold and the thin air. We return to the car and start our drive down the volcano. We make a quick pit stop at the visitor’s center and this time we’re lucky enough to see three Hawaiian geese, or nenes, at the edge of the parking lot.
Once we are back down to sea level, we find we have ample time for dinner. We stop in at Mama’s Fish House and, with a bit of well-timed good fortune, we snag an open table. I order the Ahi, Ono and A’u ku sautéed in Panang curry and coconut milk with tropical condiments and Mamma’s mango chutney. Phil selects the Ono caught by Mike Holley near the towering sea cliffs of Moloka’i, cherry tomatoes, garlic, white wine and capers served with Ulu. Our meals are divine. Now happy and well fed, we are ready to go. We find the airport, drop off the rental car, check our luggage, locate our plane, and start our long journey home.