Into my second week of living in the H.I., I fly to da Big Island, better known as Hawaii. People have told me that it's very country. Through the small window of the small plane, the kind that papers write about having crashed on desert islands, I see acres of plots of land, agriculture, and tiny houses placed in the middle. It's very country. I book a tour to the famous lava flows. What I didn't realize was a ten mile round trip hike to the flows over barren, treacherous terrain that is made up of 50% silica, another word for glass. One of the requirements for this trip were pants, not leggings, but pants. One fall usually ends with cuts. Since I only packed shorts, I wore shorts. Live and learn.
We start the hike and quickly find out that the terrain is treacherous. I think a 4X4 truck would keel over. Every step sounded like glass breaking under our shoes. Everywhere you look is just cold lava where a community once lived. Our ranger said that houses still in this area has been built over the last eight years, people who are unwilling to let their land go, and insurance companies don't offer coverage to them because...well...it's lava. You can't stop lava. If it flows toward your wooden home, then pack up and say good-bye.
What seem like years, two hours go by, the sun had set. The ranger warned us: if you see a glowing crack, that means it's hot. Duh. Don't put your hand over it. Duh. We ain't stupid! One of the tourists call out and point to a glowing crack. We whip out our cameras and snap away like little boys ogling a topless woman. I stick my hand over the crack and yank it back. Yup. It's hot.
At this point, we're about a mile away from the flows:
Can you see it? It's the little red dot.
Here, the ranger said we're about a quarter mile away:
Getting closer and it feels like a hot summer day. And bam!
We were lucky because an earlier group stated that the flows had stopped. But when we got there, a small hole burst open and lava oozed out. When I say burst, I mean, there was no flow, then there was. A snail after ten shots of bad vodka moved faster. But it was amazing. I was about fifteen yards away, but any closer and the heat would start melting my Nike shoes.
I think tens of thousands of tourists come to the Big Island specifically to see this. It's the only place on da planet where new land is being created. As we trudged our way toward the flows, a lot of what we walked over was anywhere from a few hours to several days old. Most people never walk on any type of earth, given the concrete jungle that we live in. So to walk on new earth, and then to witness new earth being born is amazing. All of us watched this flow for what seemed like an eternity.
Then we hike another quarter mile and see this:
How often do we see ocean water combat red hot lava? It's like two opposites hashing it out, making brand new land. Land that someday, if we humans are still around, an agent will sell. To think we can own that is stupid, but oh well.
For me, I've always loved the creation of art. When I hike through San Francisco, I love watching street performers. They're creating art right in front of our eyes. I think that's why we love certain reality shows like American Idol, or theater, or live music, or even Cirque du Solei. We want to live in the moment, but when it comes to our own lives, we don't. So we succumb to something like cooking shows because they're not only taking risks by being in a competition, but they're creating something new, something from nothing. It's pretty amazing stuff. My vice is Design Star on the HGTV channel.
Back to the flows. I'm not sure I'll be back. It's quite an effort to get there. I'll never forget it because I have pictures. And because the experience of getting there, seeing something like that, then not wanting to leave, but we do, is a cool experience to be had, much like being in da Hawaiian Islands.
One funny story: The ranger said if we needed to pee, we should let him know. He doesn't want to lose a tourist and have that reputation fowl our time here. As it happened, I needed to go and headed over a small hill. This way, I'll get privacy, not that anyone would shine a light to watch me pee, and hope its far enough away where the smell of pee won't reach the rest of the group. As I peed, the sound of sizzle on the hot rock startle me. It's not a normal thing for me to pee and here sizzling. Then the smell of urine punches my nostrils. Whoa. Have you ever walked by an alleyway and realize people use that alleyway to pee in? Now multiply that by a thousand, add heat, mugginess, and downwind. Yuck.
My characters who are both warriors and hunters understand that concept of downwind. I apparently do not. Worse was when I trekked back to my group, that downwind blew toward us and carried with it my boiled pee, fowling that area. Live and learn.
One suggestion if you do go to the lava flows. Do wear pants. We almost made it out when two people fell. One man fell on his hand and cut his palm open. Another woman fell on her shin, but she wore leggings. Rolling her leggings back revealed she suffered some deep bruising in its early stages and several cuts. Ouchy.