Chasing the sun

Ocean sunsets can be spectacular. Ocean sunrises, while usually a bit more subdued, are at the very least an inspirational way to greet the morning.

But how often can you see both in one day?

We decided to give it a try.

We rose in the pre-dawn hours, gulped a few cups of (what else?) Hawaiian coffee, and jumped in the car. The roads were, not surprisingly, empty in town. But as we rounded the bend from due south to swing toward the east coast, traffic picked up.

Not only did we have company, we were already late to the party. There were motorists, cyclists and even hikers already hitting the roads and trails to witness the very phenomon we were pursuing.

Sunrise, Oahu.
Sunset, Oahu.

There are several vantage points on the island of Oahu from which to observe the sunrise. The Wai’anae Mountain Range, the remnants of a string of volcanoes that gave birth to the land mass, provides a bird’s-eye view. But virtually any beach on the east and southeast side of Oahu will do nicely.

We decided to try our “secret” location, a half-mile stretch of sand that is hidden in plain sight just off the highway on the eastern seaboard. We discovered this place by accident a few years ago. (For two avowed introverts, having a beach all to ourselves is a blessing.)

We parked in the empty lot and hiked a short distance to the water’s edge. An ominous interlocking bank of grayish clouds hugged the horizon, threatening to photo-bomb our festivities and, perhaps, provide a bit of precipitation in the process. So we weren’t sure we’d witness anything of note. Yet the breeze, while a bit gusty, was balmy and pleasant enough to wake the senses and stir the soul. It was not a bad place to be kicking off the daylight hours.

Soon, as if on cue, the billowing mass of cumulus out at the vanishing point lifted, as though a curtain parting for a show, surrendering its position to the main act: a fiery red solar ball.

Hawaiian legend has it that the demigod Maui had to capture the sun to slow it down because it was moving too fast. As we watched the sun rise in super- slow motion, Maui’s work seemed to have had the desired effect. The sun leisurely eased its way into the sky.

When it was overhead enough to transform from its crimson hue to a more pedestrian yellow, we decided it was time to get moving.

So we checked off the first task for our day and hopped back in the car to head into town to grab some breakfast. We strive to shop locally wherever we are, avoiding the homogenous conglomerate chains if at all possible. But at this early hour, the only thing open for the early birds searching for worms or any other edible sustenance was a Whole Foods. So we dropped into Jeff Bezos’s newest acquisition, wolfed down a couple egg sandwiches, slurped more coffee, and headed back to our incognito loco, with the intention of getting in some snorkling before the sun got too intense.

Unfortunately, the wind and surf picked up considerably. And, as the only inhabitants of our secret spot, we decided it probably wasn’t advisable to test the ocean currents on our own. So we spent a few hours on the sand reading, painting and just enjoying the weather before heading back to home base.

Despite the demigod Maui’s efforts, the solar disk sped through the sky, and before we knew it, it was time to to hike the short distance from our apartment to the docks of the boat harbor to catch the final act.

Once again, the clouds seemed to have a mind of their own, threatening to put on their own dark show. But again, the sun prevailed, poking through the puffy obstacles right on time, putting on a spectular display before dropping off for the night.

Our work — and our day — way done. A little thanks goes to Maui.

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