Christmas Morning on Haleakala Volcano

Christmas Morning on Haleakala Volcano

By the time we got to the summit, the moon was setting in a cold crystal clear sky and the sun was not yet visible over the clouds below us. At over 10,000 feet, Christmas Day, 2015 we were shuttled up to the top of Haleakala Volcano to see the sun rise and then bike down the steep slope filled with blind s-curves.  It was an unforgettable experience!

Moon Set Christmas Day 2015
Maui, Moon Set, Christmas Day 2015. © Carol Labuzzetta.

This was our second trip to the island of Maui over the Christmas holiday week. The last and our first visit, prior to this, was in 2009. However, we did not arrive until the 27th that year.  Arriving prior to the holiday forced me to look for something memorable to do on Christmas Day, being that we were away from our mid-west home with our three boys. Christmas eve was spent indulging ourselves with an early, albeit, overpriced dinner at a restaurant called “Dukes”, where we sat with the ocean in view.  We relaxed at our rented condo in Kapalua for the remainder of the short evening but went to bed early – about 9:30 p.m. if I recall correctly. The early bedtime was necessitated by having to get up by 1:30 a.m. to drive to the bike shop on the other side of the island to check in and catch our van ride to the summit.

You can drive to the summit of Haleakala but since we were biking down the volcano after the sunrise, we needed to leave our rental car below, where we could retrieve it after cycling. But, here is a tip. There are hundreds of tourists who visit the Haleakala Summit for the sunrise each day. It is a National Park. You need to arrive early to be sure you are admitted (as with any National Park there is a small fee), as they only allow so many cars in due to limited parking and even more limited viewing of the dawn of a new day.  So be prepared.  You will wait in a line of cars.

The line was avoided for us by being in a shuttle van owned by the bike company.  I am guessing they took 30 of us up to the summit in the we hours of the morning that Christmas Day.  There were two vans. The ride up was quiet – as most people are not conversant at 3:30 a.m. and some actually caught a little more sleep.  Upon arrival at the lookout, the van driver parked and kept the motor running. It was still dark without any signs of dawn. We watched as more and more cars snaked their way up the side of the mountain to park and experience what all hoped to be a fabulous view of the sunrise. We were lucky Christmas Day in 2015 as the sky was clear and we were confident we would have a gorgeous sunrise.

The other way to be prepared for a sunrise visit to Haleakala is to bring blankets and wear warm clothes. In Hawaii? I can hear you exclaiming! If you have planned your visit to the summit ahead of time, like us, you will be prepared if you are wise. The temperature was in the low 30’s that Christmas morning, almost the same as some Christmas morn’s back in Wisconsin!  You need to pack something warm to wear on the summit! Blankets are used to wrap around oneself and a loved one to add to your comfort. Hats and gloves are useful, too! Yes, in Hawaii!  We could see our breath as we stood and waited patiently for the moon to set and the sun to rise Christmas Day, 2015. I remember my teeth chattering as we were positioning ourselves for the best view.


Bare in mind hundreds of other tourists are doing the same!  All I can say at this point is to remember to be respectful of  others, as well as the land upon which you are standing.

Sunrise on Haleakala Volcano, Christmas Day, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015.

There are really no words for the experience of seeing an early morning sunrise into a clear sky over the clouds, especially on Christmas Day! The summit of Haleakala is other worldly as it is, and then to see a golden orb of light turn the marshmallow like cumulus clouds from a drab gray to a pure white is a sight to behold. First, just a line of golden orange appears, signaling a soon to rise circle of light. The Dawn of a New Day. The Birth of Christ, our Savior.  Tonight, I will remember this experience, and most likely every Christmas morning for the rest of my life,  I will stand on Haleakala watching the sunrise, at least in my mind.

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

November Sunrise over the Coulee, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
Alone on the Lake, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015
Cabin Dock at Sunset on Hultman Lake,  © Carol Labuzzetta
Summer Seat, ©  Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
Summer Seat at the Cabin,  © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015
Na Pali Coast Beach on Kauai, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013
HorseshoeBayBeach Bermuda17wm
Horseshoe Bay Beach, Bermuda, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
Resting in Peace, Long Coulee Cemetary, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2015
New Amsterdam Grasslands, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
Sunset on Hultman Lake, © Carol Labuzzetta
Taro Fields on Kauai, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013
Basking Monk Seal, Kauai, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013
Pink Sunset, Kauai, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013

Inspired by the Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene


Weekly Word Press Photo Challenge: Rounded

Weekly Word Press Photo Challenge: Rounded

These are my submissions to the Weekly Word Press Photo Challenge on Rounded. What I found was there is roundedness in nature and roundedness that is man-made. Enjoy!

Architecture in Washington, D.C. from Old Postal Pavillon, 2010
WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C.
Barrel Cactus, Balboa Park, San Diego, 2012
Clock Face
Water Wheel, 2011, Mississippi River Cruise


Silent Sunday: Remembering the Florida Keys

Silent Sunday: Remembering the Florida Keys

© Pier at Hawk’s Cay Resort, Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Resort Grounds, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Sun Shadow Phenomenon, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Lagoon Rest, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Sea Grass and Sea Oats, Sombero Beach, Florida Keys, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011.
©  Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys, Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
© Carol Labuzzetta, Sunset at Hawk’s Cay Lagoon, 2011
Water Bird, Florida Keys, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
 Water Rest, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Hawk’s Cay Sun Shadow, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Sombero Beach, Florida Keys, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
A Street in the Keys, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Resort Signage, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
 Sunset over the Lagoon © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Dusk at the Lagoon, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
Keys Kitsch, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2011
A Year Later: Still Pining for The Hague, Netherlands, and Maybe a Tulip or Two.

A Year Later: Still Pining for The Hague, Netherlands, and Maybe a Tulip or Two.

Last September, I was fortunate enough to visit The Netherlands, specifically the city of The Hague with my oldest son. He presented at an international scientific conference as a college student on some research he had conducted over the previous two years. I was able to go with him on my first trip to Europe!  It was a fast trip, but one that left me wanting more. I would like to return to Holland, as well as take more trips with my son.

We found the city of Den Haag easy to get around, clean, filled with busy yet polite people, and beautiful to look at. Here are some shots of the streets of Den Haag (The Hague). There are many types of architecture which meant that there was always something interesting to look at during our daily adventures.




We did a lot of walking, riding the buses and trams, and sightseeing in between his conference obligations. All presenters also had to volunteer time at this conference. Having been both a conference presenter and volunteer myself, I know what an obligation this can be. So, the first morning there, I made my way to one of the many museums in The Hague to occupy my time while my son was busy volunteering. I felt comfortable walking from our hotel – a quaint room in an old mansion – now a Best Western affiliate in a residential section of the city, to this particular museum.




Given it was our first day, I was not all that sure of using the public transportation by myself.  As we found out later, the public trams and buses were safe, reliable, clean, and easy to use since we had purchased passes that allowed unlimited rides to anywhere in the area we were staying and even to Delft, a mere 30 minutes away, and the beach, Scheveningen – on the North Sea, which was even closer.

Delft, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016
Scheveningen, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016

The beach was deserted the day we visited, but you could imagine how popular it would be on a hot summer day! We got to see this seagull trying to eat a tennis ball! He did get it in his mouth, too! I wonder if it smelled like fish?





Some of our the most memorable places include those off the beaten track, such as the trek we took a year ago tomorrow to visit three windmills in the Dutch countryside. It was an adventure well worth it!



Trips to the conference venue continued intermittently throughout the week, with us being able to explore different routes around the city. We walked where and when we could, somewhat afraid to ride a bike in this face paced, yet professional appearing city. There were advantages to walking in that we could take in all the new surroundings have to offer and easily return to a place, if desired, later in the trip. In a few short days we found a two restaurants we liked enough to return to twice, tried two grocery stores, bought some fancy dutch chocolate – although I think the STAM chocolatiers (also, Dutch) in Ames, Iowa are just as good and much less pretentious, stuck our toes in the North Sea, travelled the trams like we were pros – except for the one time we got on going the wrong way,  gawked at artwork by some of the most famous Dutch Masters, wandered into the countryside armed only with a map and an accurate inner compass that my young companion has always had, felt reverent in some ancient kerks (churches), and luckily were not run over by any bicyclists!


Yes, there was a lot to like about Den Haag. I am drawn to go back in the future. It is a place that is both old and new, with a glistening city centre bordered by centuries old parliament buildings and churches. There are museums for art lovers, bistros and music for those to love the culture of food, as well as a sense of a history of sustainable living with the bicyclists, solar panels, windmills, canals systems, and dikes. I guess I am just attracted to a place that functions to uphold peace and justice on an international level. The architecture draws me in as well, since old seems revered and appreciated, while the need for new is recognized. Somehow, it all worked together!  Until the future arrives, Den Haag, I bid you adieu but will continue to admire you from afar.



This is my third post on Den Haag. You can visit my other posts  here and here.


Silent Sunday: Churches

Silent Sunday: Churches

Old Kerk, Delft, The Netherlands, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2016
St. Peter's Church in St. George 2017
St. Peter’s in St. George Bermuda, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017
Pretty Church in Madison, Wisconsin, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2012
Mission Church in Hanalei, Kauai, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013
Altar in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, NYC, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013


Our Doors Are Open, Church in Madison, Wisconsin, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2012
Trinity Church in NYC, Stained Glass Altar © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013
Arched Doorway at St. John the Divine in NYC, © Carol Labuzzetta 2013
Facade at St. John the Divine Cathedral, NYC, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013


Old Church in Hamilton Bermuda, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017