Rise and Shine!

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Places: Hawaii #7: See a sunrise above the clouds [Mt. Haleakala, in Haleakala National Park]

Confession time: I am not a morning person. Sure, I wake up at 6:00 AM every day and hit the gym before work, and I agree wholeheartedly that nothing beats the inner peace that comes from waking up early and being all alone in the world, but it takes me at least ten minutes of intense hatred of anything but my bed to get to this frame of mind.

However, I left my comfortable pillows far behind the morning we woke up at 2:00 AM in order to drive to the top of Mt. Haleakala. No matter; it was for a good cause. We had come to watch the sunrise above the clouds. Once we rolled out of the car, bundled in sweats and a warm blanket (you’d be surprised how cold it gets on a mountain at night), we fell into a world unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

I have never seen stars like those. Without the congestion of man-made lights, the night was sprinkled with droplets of secret sky lanterns, free at last to shine. I wanted to launch myself into the universe and just sit, surrounded by their incomprehensible beauty. And if I couldn’t manage that, then I wanted to reach my hand into the pool of gleaming darkness above me and catch the stars like fireflies in my palms.

The night felt impenetrable, but after hours of staring at the world suspended above our heads and staring down the people with warmer blankets (did I mention it was freezing?), the blackness of the horizon began, ever so slowly, to take on a tinge of red. I don’t know how long we waited for the sun to appear, but when it rocketed above the skyline, we could see for the first time the multitude of clouds that cloaked the terrain below us. For a few, brilliant minutes, everything we could see was painted ruby red as we stared at the scene before us. And then, all at once, the earth was soaked in color. It was like having the world be born in your hand.

This planet never ceases to astound me. From night to day, there is no shortage of reminders of what an exceptional place we inhabit. Watching this sunrise above the clouds is only one of the moments that makes me marvel at what surrounds me. What are the moments that captivate you?

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