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Nothing turns my mood sour faster than when I don’t have control over a situation. I totally get that I need to change that about myself.

Working on it. Promise.

But I pride myself in being such an exceptional planner that if I can’t plan everything I get quite grumpy. Including when I can’t control sunsets. A couple of years ago Steve and I took a trip to Hawaii where we spent a couple of days on Oahu and then spent the rest of the trip on the Big Island scuba diving (natch) and exploring what island has to offer, including trying to chase what few endemic birds are left in Hawaii.

Every guide book raved about Mauna Kea, the volcano on the Big Island, and even recommended taking a guided tour to the summit because it was a steep drive and tour operators provided all the winter gear. Because who really packs a ski parka and gloves when they travel to Hawaii? Not me.

Mauna Kea is huge at 33,500 feet, making it significantly taller than Mount Everest. (That’s measuring the volcano at its base deep into the ocean. So, kind of cheating.) At the summit there are the Mauna Kea Observatories, which are used for scientific research. You’d probably recognize them, as they’re often shown on TV and in film.

So up to Mauna Kea we went, sitting with about eight other strangers in an oversized tour van, strapped in with our seat belts. The trip was a couple of hours up and the seat I was in seemed to only have a thin layer of cushion separating my back end from the springs.

And then there was the weather. Clouds were hovering all over Kona that day and I spent the day a little sour, wondering if we just spent a lot of money on this tour and weren’t going to see a thing. No sunset. No stars. No valley. It will be a bust. I was sure of it.

Thank goodness my husband is a saint and didn’t push me out onto the road what with my unpleasant mood. He kept assuring me, “Oh I’m sure we’ll get a sunset. All this fog will burn off. Don’t worry about something you can’t control.”

Hey, my whole life is designed to be about worrying about things I can’t control. I’m just sort of wired that way.

I worry about if we’ll get in a wreck on the way to the airport. I worry every time I cross a border into another country and think “What if they won’t let me in?” (There’s no reason to think that, but I’ve seen TV shows about that sort of thing. And somehow some girl ends up in a Thai women’s prison where for food they fend for rice that is shoveled off from the back of a dirty pick up.) I worry about not making curtain at the theatre. I worry every time the cat is out late that a predator got her. I worry that… I’ll stop here. This could go on all night.

This little journey  to the top of Mauna Kea taught me a lot.  For starters, it taught me that I should listen to my husband more. He’s right. I can’t worry about things I can’t control. But even more, I learned that I should hope for the best and enjoy every moment that is part of the journey rather than stew about what horrible thing might happen. Imagine what I missed by worrying–I missed meeting new people in our van, I missed seeing a lot that was right before me. I missed a big part of this trip.

Because in the end, there were no worries at the top.

PS: Steve, I’m sorry I was grumpy that day!

Sunset at Mauna Kea

Here are more photos from our Mauna Kea trip.  Click on one and it will take you to a slideshow to view each.