Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mixed-Orientation Marriages: Falling Away

I keep noticing that one post I did a year ago entitled A Callous Dumbing Down of Mixed-Orientation Marriages keeps getting a lot of page views every month. Because of this, I am republishing a post that was originally posted on my Invictus Pilgrim blog (now closed) in hopes that it may benefit someone.


James is a gay Mormon man in a mixed-orientation marriage who recently wrote to me. What follows is part of James’ story. You will see that I have asked for input from readers. Please reach out to James through your comments. He could use our support.

“I am in my early 40’s, and my story is typical of others I have read about.  As you blogged this week in behalf of "Dave", I found myself reading the responses with great anticipation to finding the answer to my identical questions.  I must say that I found quite a bit of clarity within the responses; however, I'm still longing for someone to tell me that it will all be ok and that I will find favor with God pursuing a gay lifestyle.”
Question to Readers: I would like to invite readers to share comments and their own experiences of how (a) they came to a point where they received assurance that God is “ok” with their gayness or (b) they came to a point where they decided they neither wanted or needed divine “approval” of their gay identity.
“I, like many of your readers, grew up knowing that I was different. I wanted to be like the other guys who were so masculine and athletic but I always fell short. I wanted to be attracted to women but it just didn't happen. I, too, went on a mission after bargaining with the Lord that I would give him my very best for two years in order to be freed from the clutches of my gayness. I worked my ass off and the day I left my mission, I knew it would never go away. What a ginormous letdown.”
Question to Readers:  Did anyone else go on a mission with similar feelings, hoping that the mission experience would get ride of same-sex attraction? What was your experience?
“I continued to keep my dark little secret, no one knew, but plenty of people speculated. I attended BYU under the assumption that living in that controlled environment would help my situation. It didn't, it made it worse. I dated woman after woman, hoping to find someone who, if she found out my deep dark secret, would have some level of compassion and understanding.

“I never told my soon-to-be wife about my attraction to men. I had the misguided belief that for this marriage to work I had to jump in, feet first and NEVER look back. 
Question to Readers:  I certainly had the same approach to marriage, believing that I had to give it my all, including my Self, in order for me to experience “success”, i.e., in spite of my gayness.  Can anyone else relate/share their experience?
“The woman I married was intellectual, stunningly beautiful, full of optimism and a very faithful Mormon. Her father taught her to be loving and non-judgmental. At the time I thought it was a perfect fit, especially if I ended up coming out of the closet: I figured that if she ever did find out about the real me, there would be some level of understanding and she would be successful at finding someone else. I never told her about my attraction to men.  I deceived her and everyone else, including myself, all under the premise that if I followed the prophet, I wouldn't be led astray. What a crock!

“About three years ago, a perfect storm formed and I just couldn't resist my natural urges anymore. I indulged in an unforgettable affair with an unforgettable man. We fell in love. He, too, was married but gay.  e sought opportunities to spend time together, fell in love and shared intimacy in a way neither of us had ever experienced. 

“Eventually, my wife discovered the affair and the identity of my lover. She threatened to expose him to his wife if he ever contacted me again, and that was the end. She then went to our bishop and our stake president and, not content to stop there, told her parents and her siblings and, for good measure, not one but two general authorities. The closet door was flung wide open. There I stood, naked, vulnerable, exposed and very, very frightened while feeling the enormous loss of losing the precious love I had discovered! 

“For her part, my wife was crushed, disappointed and heartbroken. She thought that the “problem” was with her and that she had driven me to have a gay affair. She begged me to stay for various reasons, none of them particularly healthy. We seriously considered divorce; however, primarily for the sake of our children, for financial reasons and, particularly in the case of my wife, for the sake of appearances in our conservative, close-knit Mormon community, we decided to stay together.

“Two years later, I continue to live a double life filled with inauthenticity and deceit - knowing that I am gay but pretending to be something I’m not - in order to protect those around me from the pain, shame and disappointment that would come from me leaving the marriage. As a result, I have dealt with extreme emotional despair including depression, raging anger, fear, hopelessness, more anger, injustice, betrayal by God, betrayal by the church, anxiety. . . . and so on. I even considered driving my car under a semi truck on the freeway in order to escape the bone crushing pressure and pain.  But, as I thought of my children, I reconsidered and decided to stick around.

“Then there is the letting go of a testimony and tradition of the LDS church. As a result of my wife's anger and her uncovering my secret, I was disfellowshipped from the church and remain so.  I have worked a life time to understand and embrace even when it flies in the face of all conscious reasoning and logic.  I was dedicated to the church in every way, one of its finest members by way of loyalty and service.  My testimony of the “church” is completely destroyed.  I have a testimony in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it relates to . . . well, Jesus Christ; however, anything institutional I just don’t buy into anymore.  How can something that is supposed to be so right be so corrupting and wrong? 

“I feel like this situation is impossible and that there is no good resolution. There are other problems in our marriage that have contributed to an almost hopeless situation. On some days I feel like giving up. Honestly, I am not living my life day by day anymore; I am now hour by hour. I have lost everything - career, homes, businesses, self confidence, self actualization. The only thing I have going for me right now is my family. On the one hand, I cannot bear to change my circumstances any more than they already are or are about to become. On the other hand, both my wife and I are miserable." 
Question to Readers:  Have any of you come to the point where you knew you couldn’t go on “the way you weren’t” and, though seemingly insane and impossible, stepped or fallen through the looking glass into a world where your sexuality was finally accepted as a reality?
“During a recent, sleepless night, I lied in my bed, staring into the dark, contemplating how my life has fallen apart. Then the thought came to my mind. . . ‘your life isn't falling apart, it's falling away.’ Since that time, I have pondered over these words that came to me, and I have thought of the quote by Anais Nin:

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

So … here's to new beginnings … to taking that step off the edge into the abyss.  To finding meaning among all the devastation …”


In a subsequent post, I will publish comments that were made to this post. I also encourage any who so desire to answer my questions anew by leaving a comment.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Falling Over

I fell over yesterday.

In a McDonalds parking lot.

It was embarrassing.

We had stopped in Lahaina to use their restroom. Upon exiting the parking lot, I made a sharp turn at a slow speed, lost my balance, and couldn't get my left shoe out of the pedal in time. Down I went. It was the drive-thru exit, for crying out loud. Right in front of a woman who had just picked up her cheeseburger and fries. She didn't ask if I was ok, but I avoided making eye contact with her.

Fortunately, I landed - hard - on the left side, sparing my bike any injuries. When it came down to it, except for a couple of scrapes, the main injury to myself was my bruised pride. Waaaaa. I thought about taking a selfie, but, no not really, I never thought of that.

We had intended to do another tour all the way around West Maui, but the head and cross winds were so strong that we turned around at 25 miles and headed back to our car.

I can't recall when I last fell over. It's so embarrassing. I did it a few times in my first season cycling - once at a stop light on Wasatch Boulevard, once at the end of my own street.

And then there was that time in Corsica a few years ago. It was the first day of my first cycling tour. The support van had set up on the side of the road mid-morning to provide us all snacks.

Our support van. (This picture was taken on a different morning.)

After a bite, Mark and I got back on our bikes. I, unfortunately, made the decision to lock myself into my pedals before confronting a 6-8" height difference between the dirt shoulder and the asphalt road. Down I went. 

The very first morning! My knee suffered the brunt of the fall and I had some very noticeable scrapes. Fortunately, everyone was still on the other side of the van and didn't see my little accident. When people asked about it later in the day, we told them a wild pig had run out on the road in front of me. They believed me. 

Corsica is known for its wild pigs.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Shire

We cycled upcountry yesterday into what we have dubbed "the Shire." 35 miles, 3300 vertical feet, featuring a variety of landscapes. The first part of the ride was a steady uphill climb for about seven miles or so. When the road enters the Shire - so named because of the green fields, trees and lava rock walls - it starts down again, but becomes curvy and up and down. It made for a fun descent, but climbing back up provided an excellent workout for our legs.

Historic St. John Episcopal Church. 

Labyrinth in the parking lot of the church. What is it with Episcopalians and labyrinths, so that even this tiny church on a hill in Maui has one?

There were stunning vistas toward the ocean.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Last of the Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

Last night, we ate the last of the strawberry-rhubarb pie that we had bought at the natural foods store in Paia. With ice cream, of course.

While savoring the delightful mixture of the two tastes, memories floated into my mind. Memories of picking and buying strawberries in my childhood and youth ... and during the childhood of my older children in both Canada and Ohio. 

I don't remember strawberries in Salem, the town in Southern Illinois where I was born and lived until I was ready to celebrate my ninth birthday. The strawberries I remember were those that were picked, somewhere, outside of Carmi - another little town in Southern Illinois -but I also have memories of a vegetable and fruit shed/stand just outside of Carmi on the road to Crossville. I can picture the shed in my memory: a long, low affair held up by posts every so often and containing tables of whatever was in season. The floor, of course, was dirt. We used to drive out there, my mother and me, to buy sweet corn that I can only dream of today and tomatoes, the taste of which, alas, is only a memory, and those sweet, succulent strawberries.

I cannot, however, recall the name of the place. Perhaps someone who reads this will remember. (Cook's?) I recall the "stand" as well as the two-story white house that stood across a field, prim and proper. Tall, growing out of the land. Weren't those Victorian/Edwardian farm houses grand? It seems there are fewer and fewer left.

Back in the days when I plied the highways of Southern Illinois and of Indiana and Ohio, driving back and forth between my mom's house in Carmi and my dad's house in eastern Ohio, I saw those "pioneer cemeteries," lonely sentinels on the landscape upon which various interstate highways had so rudely cut, that consisted not of gravestones but of a tableau: a few large shade trees growing in close proximity to each other in a field, the house that was once shaded by these trees alas now only a memory ...

But I digress. Other memories associated with strawberries and rhubarb: Eating strawberry shortcake as a kid (we always had those little sponge cake things you bought at the store, topped with sugar-drenched strawberries and Redi-Whip). Picking strawberries outside of Vancouver when my older kids were little. Eating strawberry glaze pie made from fresh berries. Enjoying Auntie Kay's rhubarb pie, so tangy yet sweet.

We don't eat many strawberries at home, but we've been enjoying locally-grown strawberries here in Maui, taking some to the beach to savor throughout the afternoon. And then, of course, that delicious home-made strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Speaking of the beach, here are a few pictures we've taken in the past few days.

This picture was taken yesterday. Again, it is difficult to convey what we actually saw, the vividness of the colors, the line on the horizon where sky meets sea, the sweep of the storm clouds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

One Nation Under God: Sellers of Indulgences

Corporate America didn't like Franklin Delano Roosevelt or his successor, Harry Truman, and it hated the New Deal. In the years after World War II, a set of circumstances arose in which Big Business united with organized Christian groups (which tended to be headed by corporate bigwigs) to fight godless socialism (i.e., the policies espoused by Roosevelt and Truman) and communism and to make the United States a Christian nation under God.

Such is the subject of a book I've been reading for the past few weeks: One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Created Christian America, written by Princeton history professor Kevin M. Kruse. The basic premise of the book is that Corporate America, aligned with and aided and abetted by a handful of preachers, created the civil religion (of which I'll write more in a subsequent post) that we find in contemporary America.

I'm only about one-third of the way through the book, but what I've read has been fascinating and enlightening. I didn't realize how much the baby boom generation (and therefore those generations that followed) took for granted aspects of American society and government that didn't exist before Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidency. Inaugurated in his two terms in office were things like the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, the insertion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, a pronounced mingling of politics and religion, and the adoption of the motto "In God We Trust," which of course is on all our money.

Grandpa during the Depression
As I read about the first true mingling of politics, government and religion in the late 40's and early 50's, I couldn't help but think that my Grandfather Broom - who didn't like Roosevelt and was a life-long Republican and Methodist churchgoer - and his ilk would have told their respective preachers and ministers to keep their damned nose out of politics. I also couldn't imagine any president before Eisenhower targeting "Christians" as a voting group. The whole concept would have seemed nonsensical.

What these men - these preachers, these presidents of large companies, and a growing number of politicians - did was to create a new "Other," which I would identify as those who did not and do not embrace the concept of a "civil religion" and the mingling of politics, government and Christianity. This Other came to be derisively termed "Secularists" by the preachers and, as the culture wars began to heat up in the 70's it was given new names and descriptions, such as "godless elements who want to drown our nation in immorality."

This new Other was created, then fear was whipped up among the "Rest of America" that this Other must be feared; we must protect ourselves from it. If there is no Other, then there is no object of fear, and if there is no object of fear, there is no way to empower those who seek to create fear.

What these fear-mongers know is that fear and the management and manipulation of it, are what leads to power and riches; for most people - or at least a substantial number of them - will give up something in order to feel special, protected, righteous and safe. These people - people like Ted Cruz - are in effect sellers of indulgences: Give me your money (and your mind) and I will protect you from the Other. I will lead the charge to save America from the Other.

I personally feel that these fear-mongers, these sellers of indulgences, are one of the greatest threats our society and our nation face today, and it's growing worse with each new Sarah Palin, each new Ted Cruz, each new Rush Limbaugh, and a certain news channel that lives and breathes off of fear. This fear divides America. It destroys and is never positive. It tears down rather than build up. 

It is high time that Americans remember and implement the words of President Franklin Roosevelt spoken 83 years ago at a time of great fear in this nation:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Monday, May 11, 2015

On the Beach With Larry Kramer and The American People

"Most history is written by straight people and they don't have gaydar."

~ Larry Kramer

There has been relatively very little written about gay history because there have been few gay historians. Larry Kramer sets out to help change that in his new book, The American People, Volume I: Search for My Heart

Kramer is an icon in the gay community and has been for over 35 years. He is considered to be the most prominent gay political writer of our time. Some may know him as the author of the semi-autobiographical play on which the recent movie, The Normal Heart, is based. 

Others may know him as the co-founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, one of the first groups to assist gay men who were contracting and dying from AIDS in the early-mid 90's. He also founded ACT UP, a direct protest organization that fought to raise public awareness of HIV and the AIDS crisis and the very little that the US government was doing about it.

I have been reading Kramer's book for several weeks now and am approximately 40% into it. A writer for The New York Times referred to the work as "a rambling history of homosexuality and AIDS in the United States ... [that blends] farce and tragedy, autobiography and fiction." It is technically a novel of sorts, but it is based on solid historical research. Again from the Times piece: "If he had had his way, he would simply have called the book a work of history rather than fiction ... 'I believe [,Kramer said,] everything in the book is true. It may look like fiction, but to me it's not.'"

"Mr. Kramer," continues the NYT piece, "said he was driven to write the book because he had long felt that gays had been excluded from history books, written out or ignored."

When I heard that the book was coming out, I knew I had to read it. As I have written about before, I am very interested in gay history, and in his book, Kramer (in the words of the NY Times review of the book,) "is saying something quite specific: That gay men have always been with us, long before homosexuality had a name, and it is past time we extend to these men our historical sympathy and imagination."

There are parts of the book that make for difficult reading and, frankly, I have skipped through several pages on more than one occasion. But the remainder of the book makes for fascinating reading. For example, Kramer beautifully imagines a group of men in early colonial Jamestown, Virginia who, deprived of female society, form a community based on same-sex love. 

I am sure that a *lot* of people would take issue with this "imagining," but although Kramer's work, being a novel, doesn't contain footnotes to sources he has read and upon which he bases his writing, one definitely senses that there is an extensive amount of research that has gone into Kramer's prose. 

In the end, however, it is the imagining that is important. Kramer sees things that a straight historian would not see or would choose not to see. As he states in the lead quote, above, straight historians don't have gaydar. What does this mean? To me, it means that straight historians are trained (and rightly so) to look for hard evidence in the form, for example, of primary source documents.

A gay historian who is researching gay history, however, is virtually guaranteed never to find a document, e.g., an old letter, that states, "I had sex with Abraham Lincoln" last night. So instead, such historian implements their gaydar, i.e., they look at things, at situations, at men, with a sense of who is gay. They notice things that straight historians generally wouldn't and make inferences therefrom. They read the same source documents in a different way. They read between the lines of history, for this is generally where gay history is found. 

This is essentially was Kramer does in his book. He looks at sources differently from other historians, he sees things other historians don't, and ... he imagines. To me, in the end, this imagining is just as important as "hard evidence history." Why? Because it inserts, quite plausibly, gay men into standard historical tableaus in which they have been noticeably absent. It tells a story of men who were like me - and of millions of other men like me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Cycling Around West Maui

We cycled around West Maui yesterday. 58 miles. 4700 vertical feet. The coastline around the north and east side of this part of the island consists of one deep ravine after the other; thus, the surprising amount of vertical feet climbed. By comparison, this number would be similar to cycling from our house in Salt Lake to the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

We drove to Ma'ala'ea, then rode north through Lahaina and Kapalua and on around to Wailuku, then across Maui's central valley and back to Ma'ala'ea.

Mark's go juice

Beautiful Honolua Bay

Stopping for a break near Kapalua

Moloka'i quite visible in the distance.

A steep decline leads into this inlet, and the steepest climb of the entire ride is visible on the other side. It is the most challenging grade I've ever ridden - at least 20% if not more.

I'm pretty sure this sign meant "winding," by it was also very windy. It seemed like the wind came from every direction - off the ocean, down the canyons from the West Maui Mountains, into the ravines that we descended into and climbed out of.
The ocean views were breathtaking. Kahakuloa Head is visible in the distance.

Retired snack shack at Kahakuloa. The lead photo was also taken at Kahakuloa.

One of the ravines past Kahakuloa. You can see the road on the other side, descending down to a one lane bridge.

It is nearly impossible for this iPhone photographer to capture the vibrancy of the greens and yellows we passed along the way. I enhance the pictures and often use filters to try to better convey what we saw.

Kahalui Bay and the shore of east Maui came into view (at long last)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mom and Christopher

This is a very personal post about my mother, who died almost ten years ago.

A little over a year after the above picture was taken in the summer of 1951 (which shows my mom on the left and her mother on the right holding Mom's firstborn, my brother Mike) my mother gave birth to a microcephalic baby who was named Christopher. This means that he was born with an underdeveloped brain. 

In Christopher's case, his brain and head were extremely underdeveloped and he had other severe deformities. They knew he wouldn't live long, but there was no way of telling how long. Chris never left the hospital, dying there seven months later. My mother never saw him. I don't know why.

I thought of Christopher and Mom recently while reading Kate Mulgrew's memoir, Born With Teeth. She had a teenage sister who died of cancer, and her description of both her sister and her mother reminded me of Chris and Mom. I wrote the following journal entry the other day while we were en route to Maui. It seems fitting to publish it the day before Mothers' Day.

Christopher's burial was recorded in the records of St. Theresa's Church in Salem.

Christopher. Had there been any signs of trouble in the pregnancy? Was Mom conscious when Chris was delivered? If so, what did she hear being said when the baby slipped out and was so obviously deformed? Were there gasps or groans? Were there cries of shock and confusion? Did she sense that something had gone horribly wrong? Was she feeling afraid and alone, Dad being in the waiting room somewhere down the hall? Did the doctor walk up to him after the baby was removed (or was Mom?) and tell him? How did he react? 

How would I react? I used to be so anxious before the births of each of our children, hoping that everything would go well and wondering what would happen if it didn't. Christopher's shadow, as well as that of my younger stillborn brother, Phillip, hung over each of my children's births. 

Christopher and Phillip. The two lost boys. I grew up being told about them. When there was lightning and thunder, I was told that the thunder was caused by my brothers bowling in heaven. Later, when I was in first grade, I told my teacher about my brother (Phillip) who had been "lost." (I was the youngest child in my family at the time; he would have been my younger brother.) We had all gone on a family picnic, I explained, and Phillip had wandered away and was never found again. He was lost, never to return.

But back to Christopher. How was the decision made for Mom never to see him? Did she participate in that decision? Or did she make it herself? Did she want to see him? How did she feel? How does a mother feel who gives birth to a "monster" or a "monstrosity"? These terms were actually used at one time. I recall doing research in some birth and death records and coming across a birth/death record that used these terms.

Indeed, how does a mother feel? How did Mom feel? What did she think? Did she feel a sense of guilt, that it was somehow her fault? Was God punishing her for something? Something that may have happened a long time ago but wasn't her fault?* Was God a righteous judge? Was he able to be fooled? 
Surely, He knew the Truth, but did I? 
Am I a failure as a mother? Will I be able to have other children? Will they be like he was? Did we really know he was a he? I never saw him. I had to rely on what others told me. Were they telling the truth? Was my next child, a daughter so perfect and beautiful, recompense for Christopher? She came on Christmas Day. Was she a special gift from God who realized He had made a mistake in punishing me for something, that, upon further examination, found me blameless?
Mom would never understand this, of course. She would continue to be tormented. He couldn't do anything about the addiction she would later suffer; but he could give her beautiful children, and so He did. Later, He wondered if he had made a mistake when he saw the pain that followed. But, God bears no blame, by definition. Otherwise, who would ever accept the job?

Summer of 1956: My sister Karen, Mom holding Danny, Mike

What were Mom and Dad told? Was it a waiting game, waiting for Christopher to die? He lived seven months in a tiny hospital in a little town in Southern Illinois. What finally enabled him to leave? Was it painful for him? Did his tiny brain allow him to understand anything? The nurse who tended him told Dad what an angelic spirit he was.

Where was Nell [my maternal grandmother]? Did she take the bus over from East St. Louis when she could? How had she reacted? What about Grandpa and Grandma Broom? Did this awful set of circumstances remind them of the pain they had experienced some 30 years before when their long-awaited girl, Martha, was thrown from her mother's lap while riding in an open automobile and killed when only a few months old? What had they done to ease the pain?

Grandpa and Grandma were Methodists. It was painful for them when Dad converted to Catholicism. But the nuns at St. Theresa's were so kind and good to the family. Grandpa changed his mind about Catholics; he understood love and he understood loss - especially loss. Each fall for years after Christopher's death, he brought some of his freshly harvested peaches and apples to the convent for the sisters to share.

But, but, but, what was happening with Mom? How did she react when he finally died. Denied a lot chance to gaze upon her child, did she attend the funeral? How did she survive? At what cost? How had this experience changed her? What was she like before?

Sadly, I don't know the answers to any of these questions. I never talked to my mother about them. Dad told me a few things. Life had happened. There is so much I will never know about my parents. But I hope to write about them, or rather a work of fiction based upon them, hoping that in this way I will come to understand them and appreciate them more as the human beings they both were.

Meanwhile, Mom, Happy Mothers' Day.

* It is strongly suspected that Mom was sexually abused when she was a child.

Friday, May 8, 2015

On the Road Again: Ocean, Sea and Sky

We've been hitting the road again these past few days - on our bikes. I love cycling, primarily I think because it gives me the opportunity to see things from a fresh perspective and to be out in the open air for prolonged periods. I also love the solitude and peacefulness of riding on a little used road where we can ride side by side and talk.

Of course, there are downsides, too, especially on busy highways. Noise. Car exhaust. Inattentive drivers and drivers with attitudes. Gravelly shoulders. No shoulders. It's all part of it.

On Tuesday, we rode 40 miles to Paia and back. That requires riding along busy highways practically the whole time and riding in headwinds of 20-25 mph, especially through Maui's main central valley. We thought again of an experience we had in the French Alps almost three years ago when we arrived at the top of a famous pass (Col du Galibier). There were tons of Dutch cyclists there, and one of them took our picture. Afterward, we asked him how they were able to train for these Alpine rides living in a flat terrain. "We ride against the wind," he replied, smiling. So we refer to cycling in Maui's main valley as riding in the Dutch Alps.

A view of the mountains in West Maui on the way to Lahaina

On Wednesday, we road to Lahaina and back - 50 miles total. This ride is along a busy road the entire way, but it's worth it for the scenery (see lead photo) as we ride next to the ocean on our left and the West Maui mountains on our right.

Mark and J-P on the beach Wednesday afternoon

We ride in the mornings, then head to the beach in the afternoons. On Wednesday, we ran into our good friends, Jean-Pierre (J-P) and Troy. We first met them three years ago and formed a bond. They were both Mormons in their youth, Troy having grown up in Salt Lake in a Mormon family, and J-P (much like myself) having joined the LDS Church as a young man in France. They met and lived in Salt Lake for a time, but moved to Canada 25 years ago.

Wednesday afternoon

Yesterday, we drove over to Paia, then rode from there to Kula, a community in the "Upcountry" (the slopes of Mount Haleakala). 32 Miles, 3300 vertical feet climbed. This ride offers nice views out over the valley and to the ocean beyond - on both sides of the island.

Haleakala Highway

A view out over the valley and, beyond, West Maui

This ride also offers the opportunity to see Jacaranda trees in bloom. We first saw these last year - giant green that are covered in purple blossoms that only grow (on Maui) in the Kula area. They have already peaked this year, but are still quite beautiful.

The ride up was our most challenging climb so far this cycling season, but the descent was pure fun. We hardly pedaled at all for 12 miles or so, careening down the shoulder of the Haleakala highway, sugar cane fields on either side of us, the ocean in view in the distance.

The beach yesterday afternoon with the tide coming in.

Today is a rest day. Tomorrow, we tackle riding all the way around West Maui - 66 miles. That should be interesting.