Sunday, June 05, 2005
Yesterday was a long day in the car. B and I drove over to Hilo on the other side of the island to buy a mongoose trap (take that you little beasts!) and stopped at Volcanoes Nat'l Park on the drive home. What an awesome park! Steam rises from random spots all over, large craters and old lava flows are everywhere, geologists with their own brand of humor remark everywhere that "at any time, another huge eruption could take place and drown you in hot lava that will make you dead dead dead". A bit morbid, but funny too.
The active part of the volcano (the largest mountain on earth. Something like 56,000 feet from bottom to top-though just under 14,000 is above sea level) is dumping lava into the ocean, and yesterday was a big dump day. A huge plume of steam was rising from the ocean and could be seen from quite far away. The day was hazy as a result, and the smell of sulfer burned holes in our lungs. That didn't stop us. A road that originally headed along the coast now stops where the lava went over the top of it in its mad dash to the cooling ocean. It's awesome! Man as the ultimate power my ass! A tremendous power, this molten center of the earth vomit. I love it! A discovery that brought tears to my eyes was learning that Pele and I feel the same about speed limits. They suck. In the middle of the lava I almost tripped on a speed limit sign that barely survived the flow-a burnt and twisted mass sits just above the lava surface.
The new end of the road is about 3 miles from the lava. B and I parked and walked out a bit. He headed over to a plume viewing area (a 1/4 mile in), a longer hike out of the question due to a new knee, and a second knee that clashes bone on bone. I set out towards the lava. Not wanting Bob to wait out in the blistering sun, I ran, skipped, jumped, and damn near skipped my way out. I felt bad passing poeple in such a manner, especially those who looked to be struggling (lava does not prevent a smooth walking surface), but I was happy to be getting some real exercise and getting out of the confines of the car left me giddy. Besides, who doesn't like scrambling on rock? I made it out maybe 1/5-2 miles before stopping to take some pics and then heading back (not nearly as sprightly the trip out). Got some decent photos and the cameras amazingly survived crashing against my back.
I could have sworn mongeese were stalking me across the lava, but I only caught usubstantiated glimpses out of the corners of my eyes and therefore can't prove a thing. Hairy little bastards.
Dick Cheney was there. What a friggin' riot that was. In an effort to remain unrecognized, he'd donned a Boy Scout leaders uni, a pair of glasses with thick black frames that were taped across the nose-piece, and a PBR sun hat. His "scouts" were the secret servicemen dressed also in uniforms. Some even dared to wear shorts with the knee-high green socks. That was ugly. Ah! Memories! Walking across the lava, DC made it a point to let the entire mountain hear him explain volcanoes, the ocean, flora and fauna, and international relations to his troop. Don't take my uneducated word for it, but he sounded a lot more intelligent discussing local orchids varieties than establishing friendly ties with the Middle East ("Do we really need to make them happy? What're they gonna do, sic their camels on us?")(Hold me not responsible for any cultural insensitivity. I am only repeating what I think I heard).
Fortunately I ventured no closer to them than 20 feet or so. The scouts were working on earning their "Homeland Security" merit badges. Randoms were dubbed as mock terrorists and fell quickly to the blazing tazers that popped from 20 different pockets. One poor sap tried to protest and got Vulcan neck pinched to the lava.
For my part, I taunted as I receded from view: "Oil men are Sucks!"
Witty, I know.
Awesome place, I highly recommend a visit.