Tuesday, February 10, 2009

It was as good as vacation adventure gets. I noticed a small note on a national parks service map that said lava flows can be viewed from Highway 130. The national park and the drive from the volcano crater down to the ocean, tracking the lava flow on Chain of Craters Road had already absolutely undone me. There is no amount of money Disney Co. can spend that can compete with Mother Nature; the entertainment that She provides cannot be duplicated anywhere. So seeing this little mention that if you want, drive out to the end of Highway 130 from town, where the road stops and no longer follows the ocean because of the lava flow and there you can see the lava flowing right into the Pacific Ocean made me think well, okay. Why not go on out to the end of the road that runs long the ocean? The Pacific Ocean. The Most Magnificent Ocean of all.

Went into Cronies in Hilo about 4:30 and had a burger and a beer and hung out with the locals watching the Mizzou game until I just couldn't stand it any longer. So got back into the Toyota and headed into a driving rain storm in rush hour traffic, heading for Highway 130 and a nighttime glimpse of the lava flows. Althought it was only about 50 miles, it took about two hours to get out there, in no small part due to the hellacious rush hour traffic. But finally made it to the road block, where there is no longer any road because the lava kept destroying it. Finally, the HDOT just quit rebuilding the road. It was an inky black Hawaiian night out there in the middle of no where so imagine my surprise to see at least 200 cars parked at the roadblock! Turns out seeing the lava at night is a huge happening, such a happening in fact, that Japanese tour buses go out there!

Well at this point, my competitive juices were completely fired up so I hopped out the car in Nike flip flops and a Balinese muumuu, not deterred in the least by the dark, black night, the rain or the lava field.

Yes, the lava field. Turns out you have to hike 40 minutes over a 2 mile stretch of lava in the pitch black darkness down to the ocean. Absolutely no problem for a child of North Idaho. It quit raining and started raining again twice before I reached the ocean. My muumuu, soaking wet at one point along the path, had completely dried itself by the time I reached the viewing platform that was adjacent to the lava dumping into the ocean. No rain poncho, fleece, water bottle, surgical mask, hiking boots or flashlight for meeee. No sir. Candy asses.

I stood for an hour in the darkness and watched some of Our Mother's finest work; I could only think of the glaciers in the Canadian Rockies and Ha Long Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. And walking back over the black lava in the black night with the surf thundering in the background, I thought about the politics in Washington at the moment and the squabble over the stimulus bill. And I thought, you know, you just can't fool Mother Nature.

Once at the car, I looked back over the fields of black at the fire still in the sky, chuckled, got in and drove.

On Assignment
Kilauea Caldera, Hawai'i


The Fool said...

Awesome. It sounds like quite the venture. Volcanoes up here tend to explode...quite unlike those in Hawaii. I don't think I'll be purposefully getting up close and casual with ReDoubt. Any chance of photos?

The Fool said...

Now, I swear those photos weren't there just a few minutes ago.

Way cool. Thanks! ;)

MarmiteToasty said...

wow.... bloody wow....... JBelle you are so lucky to experience all the wonderful places and all the amazing things you see.....

And, because of that I get to share it to, in a tiny fantasy way..


toadman said...

When I was on the big island in '88, I walked on a lava flow, right past a sign that said "do not walk on lava flow."

I'm such a rebel.

Only later did I realize that I very nearly could have fallen through a paper thin expanse of lava-flow into the oozing molten blood of our planet.

I'm such a lucky rebel.

BX_boy said...

badass pics! love it!

inlandempiregirl said...

I have enjoyed the whole armchair tour of Hawaii and have really enjoyed your different blog headers. This very experience you wrote about here will surely be one of those keepers to reflect on over and over again. Amazing shots of the contrasting dark lava and the bright molten lava.