How Many Sunsets Do We Get?

 

How many sunsets do we get in a lifetime?

Better yet, how many sunsets do we see in a lifetime?

You'd think the answer would depend on how accessible sunsets are. I spend a lot of time in San Francisco. I love the city, the weird people, the yuppies—not really, the restaurants, niche neighborhoods, and especially the ocean. I take a lot of walks by The Embarcadero and Fisherman's Wharf. The smell of food mixed with the salty sea air reminds me of my childhood in South America. But the one thing that's a little hard to come by are sunsets. The tall buildings make the sun set around three or four o'clock.

For the past three months, I've been living in Hawaii, and the one thing I do is go see sunsets. It's different every time, it's always beautiful, and it attracts tons of tourists. Since the Waikiki beaches face westward, there's nothing to block our view of the sunsets. I'm always amazed at how much the sky we see here, at least on the beach.

But my roommates don't spend much time on the beach nor do they go see sunsets, despite the fact that we're literally a ten minute walk to the edge of the Pacific Ocean. I'd understand if they were bogged down by family, work, life. But that's not the case. I'm older than they are, so there is a part of me that understands that we only get a certain number of sunsets, sunrises, full moons, laughs, shared moments with loved ones. Instead, they spend their time drinking and partying. And that's cool. I've done my share. But that part of my life quickly waned. For my roomies, it's a slower ebb. 

Now the question becomes will I get tired of sunsets, the beach, swimming in the ocean, and communing with nature. I don't know. But I'm grateful for having seen more sunsets in the past three months than I ever have in my life. And it's apparent by the tourist turn out that they love sunsets too.

Life's a beach.

The Shunned

Since postponing the move to Hawaii, I've gone on a bevy of hikes, happy hours, house parties, game nights, BBQs, writing groups, and whatever else you can think of. Well...no swinger parties, but not because I wouldn't...just don't really know where they're held. Aside from that, I seem to have a hard time connecting with people, save the writing groups. Interesting discussions and analysis are always had, and I've always connected with people in those groups as they've helped my writing. Maybe because we all have a singular goal, I'm not sure, but I look forward to those whether I've submitted something for critiquing or not.

Damn Dat is One Skinny Pencil
Damn Dat is One Skinny Pencil

Recently, I've really had a hard time connecting with non-writers. On an urban hike to sightsee holiday lights, I ran into an acquaintance of mine and said Hi to his clique of photographers. Fellow artists, right? They joked about who had the longest lens, and one guy asked another if he was happy to see him. If you haven't figured this out, ladies, they were all men. So I quipped, "It's the girth. Girth is more important."

The breeze blew. Crickets fell silent. Even the stars seemed to stop twinkling. Girth. It's a double entendre. Common! The width of the lens is an important factor. Same goes for the penis. Ask any woman. Pencil dick is a real term.

What Tha
What Tha

They stared at me like I was an uninvited guest. I was, and my attempt at inserting myself into their banter failed. Or maybe they all had pencil dicks and wondered how I knew.

Aren't we all artists? Can't we just get along?

In high school, I always found myself with the nerds and geeks, not that I had a problem with that. I loved my friends and loved being passionate about geeky stuff. But, at this point, my inability to connect with fellow artists was the tipping point.

There's gotta be sumthin' wrong wif me. A Jew even scolded that my sarcasm could be construed as truth. Uh...yeah. Sarcasm. Look it up.

What do I need to change to gain acceptance? Am I too aggressive? Too assertive? Can people sense the anger boiling behind the humor? Do others feel my antisocial tendencies? Or am I so set in my ways that I just choose not to connect with people?

Then I got a hold of myself and shook. I found that to be rather difficult, easier to do to another person. Thinking back to the people that I had talked to, I wouldn't hang out with most of them. I didn't feel any type of connection to the group of photographers even before I said one word like the woman from the hike and dinner, whom I wouldn't touch with a ten foot electric cattle prod. OK. I would but that's because she's a freakin' bitch. In fact, the only people I seem to connect with are people of depth. Often times, peeps ain't open to discussing anything that deeply, which is kinda sad.

Chatting it up with a dude one time, I asked him why he thought his son needed to choose a practical career. "So he can get a slice of the financial pie." But is that going to make him happy? "You're thinking too deeply about it. He needs to support himself." I didn't dispute that, but if talking about happiness was too deep a subject, then, shit, what isn't? The weather?

Sun sure is bright and yeller.

Yeeup. And circular like a circle.

Is That Poo?
Is That Poo?

For a moment, I feared that I scare people away. Then Oakland came to mind. Whenever I looked lost in the murder capital, brothahs have always helped me out. And one guy who was late meeting up with his buddy asked if he could use my phone, then offered to pay me a buck for letting him. Common. I gots me unlimited minutos.

A part of the issue is people are afraid to feel. They don't mind feeling good, but anything that makes them feel bad, NO, stay away. Unfortunately, bad feelings do come up. That is the nature of being human, just like the nature of the weather is that sometimes it's sunny, sometimes it rains. We need both in order to grow.

Think about Hawaii. Everyone thinks it's a sunny local, and never in their minds would tha islands rain and have overcast. But they do. And it's not bad, nor is it good. It's just the nature of weather. Dammit! Somehow I made the weather a deep subject.

Coming back to my problem of not connecting, I realized there was nothing for me to do. For one, it isn't a problem. Trying to run away from a bear that can run faster than the fastest human without breaking a sweat is a problem. I'm going to connect to some people, but, at the moment, I don't connect to most. Changing myself, applying a filter, is the worst thing I can do because, as a writer, I have to allow my creativity to fly. Are there times when I need to filter myself. Of course. But at an outing when we're celebrating life? Fuck no.

All In My Head

Ooh. Ah. Oh. Eee. Eye.

Ooh. Ah. Oh. Eee. Eye.

It's been a month and a half since coming back from my month long trip in Hawaii. For me, I needed some time to let the whole trip simmer inside my head.

A lot of people think Hawaii as this exotic place. Don't get me wrong, it can be if you're going there on vacation, and in my opinion, Waikiki is what people think of when it comes to da H.I. That's what it was to me. Although, I've spent time hiking in different places, most of my experience was trapped there. Get it? Cuz it be a tourist trap. Sorry. This time around, I wanted to explore a bit more, the neighborhoods where the locals lived, and even took a cool bus trip up the north shore.

The beach front properties, the massive luxury hotels like The Sheraton, Hilton, Moana Surfrider line the man made beach of Waikiki. Most people don't know that most of the sand people sunbathe on originated from California and Australia. Waikiki stretches about two miles along the south. Even walking a few blocks away from the beach, behind Ala Wai Canal, you'll see that Hawaii isn't just about luxury. Comparable to the streets of San Francisco, the homeless team the sidewalks and beach and grassy parks. I mean, why wouldn't you? As opposed to sleeping on the streets in the city by the bay, Hawaii's weather, even at night, provides more than comfortable temperatures. During this trip, I found the definition of beach bumb was literal and not just figurative.

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Locals hang their clothes to dry, kids play in abandoned parks, buildings, and concrete beds seen usually in war torn countries, and religious groups, usually non-whites, gather for their weekly meetings in out-of-the-way parks; parks where I had to walk a good half hour back away from the pristine shores of Waikiki. Though, I never felt threatened, maybe because after a few days on the beach, swim trunks, and flippity flops I looked like a local.

I thought I had seen some of the worse. Don't know why I thought this, but here we are. Then I ventured down to Chinatown. I've been to the Hawaiian Islands many times and have always drove past Chinatown on the way in from Honolulu airport. It wasn't until this trip I had the time to go to mytown.

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I took The Bus to downtown Honolulu, where Chinktown is, and got off at...how do I say this...a small version of the ghetto, if the ghetto was located next to Hell. Despite my own slanty eyes melding me into the background of the locals, I didn't feel safe. The homeless occupied every corner. Stores felt dirty, icky, and every package I picked up to look at the price left an invisible layer of gunk on my fingers. It got so bad, I had to rush into a bathroom to wash my hands. Garbage carpeted the streets, piled high in some places. Store fronts were dilapidated, and a local who used to live on the mainland told me all the health scores of eateries had failing grades. Fantastic. Needless to say, I never ate there.

Now before you tell me how my blood has thinned cause I live in the burbs, I visit my mom weekly and she used to live in West Oakland. West Oakland is also known as the void cause white people avoid it like the plague, where the white on rice hold on to their brown husk.

In saying all these positives, I actually loved exploring these areas. It gives a neat dimension to any place and provides perspective. So far, I don't have to wonder about where or when my next meal will come, I'm not in the business of curing cancer, and I don't suffer from anything beyond a caffeine high, a brain freeze from drinking an Icee too fast, or the occasional fear of public speaking. Whether my books will be widely received or not, I don't know, given the thousands of hours spent working on them. In the end, I have no right to complain about anything.

And, really, that's what this last trip to Hawaii sunk in for me. All the problems in my life are in my head, and no matter where I go, I bring them with me. But I also have the power to let them go, cause their in my head. Another words, they ain't real. Unless I'm being chased by a great white shark, in which case bye-bye world.

Hostile Hostel

Hawaii Estimated Arrival

Hawaii Estimated Arrival

Most people who go to Hawaii spend a lot of money on two basic things: Airfare and hotel accommodations. You can mitigate the price of airfare by points or planning way ahead of time. Combining them with hotel and car can definitely help. But if you do a little research and maybe talk to people who frequent the H.I., they can help reduce the cost and spend your cheddah (cash for you Ebonics challenged) on other overpriced things like food and tours.

The Bus, Hawaii's bus system, is incredibly convenient and cheap. There's even an app called Da Bus that you can download that will give you real time arrivals and maps. Combine that with Google Maps and you got the islands in the palm of your hand. Why do people say that? Where else is the palm gonna be? Da Srings? For at least Oahu, The Bus takes you pretty much everywhere including the North Shore. It'll take time due to the many stops the bus makes, but for the month that I was there, I saved a lot from not renting a car, which by the way you can get good discounts at discounthawaiicarrental.com.

I sound like a freakin' commercial.

only twenty million a nite

only twenty million a nite

When I go with a girlfriend, I usually stay at hotels. The ladies like the comfort. But when I go alone, I book a stay at hostels. They're cheap, convenient due to their proximity to the beach, and the best part is the communal kitchens/common area. They're highly conducive to meeting people from all over the world. Many think hostels are for young people like us (wink), probably due to their associated name youth hostels. But there's no age limitation, and most have rules like no drugs, alcohol, and quiet times at ten or eleven at night.

Issue with the hostels in Hawaii, specifically Waikiki, is that all of them will let you stay for a limited time, like two weeks. Some even require you to show a plane ticket back where you came from. I've never really understood the logic until I found the one hostel that let people stay indefinitely, which worked for my month stay. When I arrived I mumbled, "What da fuck?"

Where's the toilet paper?

Where's the toilet paper?

To say this was the worst hostel that I've stayed at would only glaze over the real issue that the Hawaiian Islands is facing, the homeless. My first room consisted of three bunk beds, six guys, and one bathroom.

Now, ladies. If you've ever lived with a man, stayed over a man's place, or gone into a man's bathroom, you understand keeping the water closet clean isn't our number one priority. Getting you to his place was (wink). Now, imagine six dudes with little care to a bathroom that don't belong to them, what do you think the condition of that bathroom would look like? And continue that image with blokes that give less care to hygiene cuz they's took a dip in the Pacific Ocean where things there take a piss. And, yes, I'm talking about kids. Talk about B to the O!

The guys in my room were smoking cigarettes, pot, drinking beer, and laughin' an' hollerin', and keeping me awake. I have to wake up at 5 freakin' A to the freakin' M for work. And all these guys have night jobs. With rent being so cheap, many locals live in these places because the only real industry in Hawaii is tourism.

To make things worse, there's no lockers for me to use. Steal my iPhone, my wallet, my iPad, whatever. It'd suck, but they can be replaced. Steal my work laptop, and I'd lose my job. Every single hostel I've ever stayed at had lockers. You know, things to lock yo shit in. If we be livin' all togethers an'all, with strangers, peeps I've never met before, I's gonna need me a locker.

Common!

Dental care...look into it

Dental care...look into it

And what really capped off this wonderful experience was the process of checking in. What I didn't know then, was the front desk was really just a wooden box at the front of their garage, filled with parking spaces for four cars. This woman, who liked to dress like a man, signed me in with their fancy advanced system of erasing my name from the reservation list, a piece of paper written with pencil, then penning me onto another piece of paper, then logging me into their log book, then writing me a receipt, highlighting it so it's highlighted, and telling me I had to give that back to them along with the room key in order to get my $35 cash deposit back. Can't ya just check my name off your log book that's written in pen. Why do you need this flimsy receipt to give me my deposit back? And let's talk about this young woman's enthusiasm. Done.

What I had found out was most of the front desk people were residents of the hostel. They got free rent for working there. Many quit, which is a small indicator of the working conditions presented by this fine establishment.

Fortunately, I moved to another room with a big black dude, who was the literal definition of gentle giant. Easily the nicest guy in the whole hostel, and very considerate. Another fine dude who spent five years in lockup and actually learned his lesson. And a fifty-seven year old dance instructor and street performer doin' what he luvs.

My new roomies were awesome! Much better than those whipper snappers, who didn't realize that closing the screen door didn't prevent smoke or their loud voices from entering the room. And I don't know why they gave me a key, since no one ever bothered to lock the door, which left the issue of my work laptop.

I could carry it around, but having to worry about that thing 24/7 for the next four weeks would have sucked ass. And yes I have, so I know. Actually, sucking ass was better. Again, fortunate for me, the manager of the place was nice enough to lock it in her office, a door like any door in your house, accessed by one key. No dead bolt, no alarm system (yeah, right. Remember the front desk?), no guard dog. Fantastic. And this woman looked like death with bags under her eyes. You know how you get those baggy eyes when you wake up from an unsatisfying nights sleep? Beat up bags, not the luxury kind from Luis Vuitton. The kind where they've seen Hell, spent a long time there, then for some reason Satan said, "All right. I've decided to let you leave," when He's never let anyone else leave before since the beginning of time. Those bags. But I used my manly wiles to get her to lock up my laptop everyday, a slight inconvenience on her part. Then she got that look in her eye, and I stopped using my manly wiles.

This sounds like an article about not using hostels. Nope. It's an article of what to look for in a hostel. Do they have rules about alcohol, drugs, and quiet time? Is there plenty of parking? Free Weefee? Is there a real communal kitchen. This one was located in another guests' room. Serious? Read the damn reviews, which I did and should have gotten the clue when I saw better reviews at the other hostels. Do the dregs of society live at the hostel? Unlikely if there's limited stay, which most should have. And location (the one redeeming factor here). This one was located in Waikiki, which is what I wanted.

Most hostels have semi-private and private rooms, so lockers may not be a concern if you're reserving that. But all hostels should have lockers. Jeez.

Again, hostels are a great way to meet different people, stay close to the sights, and save cash. You can meet people at hotels, but I found they aren't as conducive.

One last thing is make sure the reviews state the rooms are clean. Bed bugs are a real issue. I was bitten no less than a hundred times, sometimes over a dozen a day. I get Hawaii is a tropical place, and mosquitos are supercharged there, but I got bit a lot while working on my bed. Oh, yeah...my office:

I don't make my bed

I don't make my bed

Natural Crowd Sourcing

Having lived in Hawaii for the month of March was an interesting experience on too many levels for a single article. But the center of it all has been a spiritual experience. And not the kind where I’ve found Gawd, and Gawd spoke to me through the gates of Heaven, and I throw all my materialistic wears out and forgo wearing clothes as I become free of any shame, and blah blah the fucking blah. Many people have asked me if living there has inspired my writing.

No.

Others state how lucky I am to vacation there for so long.

Well, I had to wake up at 5 AM Hawaii time, so I can log in at 8 AM PST. I know. Poor me. But that's no vacation.

You’re still lucky to have that freedom, they say.

For sure. No doubt.

Da Lee

Da Lee

Many years ago, I saw an interview with Brandon Lee, Bruce Lee’s son, and he was talking about the movie THE CROW. He stated something to the effect that nothing is meaningless, that even the smallest task like brushing our teeth is important, not in regards to dental health, but just the task itself. How many full moons will we ever see, he stated? Hell. How many moons in any phase will we see?

No one is ever guaranteed tomorrow, and this isn’t a sadistic statement as much as a simple fact. Filming the last scene of the movie, Brandon was shot by accident on set, rushed to the hospital, put on the operation to remove the bullet that had lodged against his spine wasn’t successful, and he passed.

This simple statement wasn’t lost on me as I sat on the beach in Waikiki. Because the rainy season extends into March, I did my best to see every single sunset. To see the Pacific, the grandest of all oceans, for now anyways, to engulf that great ball of fiya, fire for those not in the know, is a rare treat for most mainlanders.

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A sunset by any other name is still damn awesome. And here’s the funny part, sunsets are fake. Or the use of that word is fake.

The people of today consider themselves very smart, technologically advanced, aware beings. Though we throw around terms like sunrise and sunsets like those are real things. Like the Earth is still flat. The sun never sets, nor does it rise. But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. What is it about these moments that amaze us?

I think it’s one of those rare times when we marvel at the beauty of the world and nothing enters our mind. That to me—Peace & Quiet—is the ultimate spiritual experience. Well…sex is one, too, but peace and quiet is not elements of that act. TMI?

Peace. Quiet. When our minds are free from everything and anything possible at that moment is possible. Ideas come from this place. Dreams emanate from this space. Connection comes from this place. True connection anyways.

And the times when I wrought myself out of that connection was when I thought about how many more of these will I ever see? Here, my characters in my book understand forever moments. Moments that stretch into eternity, not through memory, but where time itself just doesn’t matter anymore. Only this moment matters because it’s the only moment where we can have any effect. And the effect is really only us.

Natural crowd sourcing:

The sun: Natural way to crowd source

The sun: Natural way to crowd source

My Boat Is Bigger Than Yours

Entering my fourth week living in Hawaii, I find myself a bit lonely and go off looking for parties and get-togethers. So I go to this guy's 65-foot boat, which he told a woman is big (compensating?), and enjoy Waikiki's Friday night fireworks, a regular thing. Everyone brings food and drink, the owner of the boat fires up the BBQ, and friends and strangers talk.

One woman from Taiwan, I think, sulks about her Apple stock. Back in September it was trading above $700 per share, and was da most valuable company on da planet. Sorry. My Hawaiian came out a little. Now it pingpongs in the mid 400's. As much as I love Apple, I don't own stock cuz no one really knows how stocks will behave, AAPL being the most recent and best example. (Just a note: I've done a little research and there's no real reason for the stock's downfall, save for emotional sell off due to false rumors.)

I'm watching

I'm watching

This same woman announced for Steve Jobs' revival, which would scare the shit out of me if it happened, and shakes her tiny fist at the overcast sky. Being an Apple fan, I'm prone to reading everything about the fruit company, even though I may not invest in it, except to give my money to buy those precious--my precious--products. So I said that it wasn't due to Jobs' death that the stock fell, or else the stock would have fallen when his death was announced in October of 2011, and that back in September of last year, the stock had grown to its highest ever.

Then the popular guy in our group stated it was! He went on to say that Apple's map debacle would never have happened had Jobs been alive. People have very short memories because Steve had released products that tanked like MobileMe. Jobs also said, when meeting President Obama for the first time, that he'd be a one-term president. Even the chosen one isn't right all the time.

Duh...where do I go...

Duh...where do I go...

In vain, I try to give my opinion, but the popular guy shook his head and spoke over me, shelling his diatribe, the same crap that helped pummel the stock in the first place, none of it having any basis. My ego stepped in front of me and puffed his broad, massive, humongous, armor plated chest. I, on the other hand, kept quiet.

As an artist, not only do I have to read people, but myself--my ego almost getting me in trouble for arguing with people who regurgitate emotional baseless articles about Apple. Those two would never have listened to me, despite the fact that I was wearing an Apple cap. Not that people wearing Apple caps would know everything about Apple, but maybe I would have a different opinion, given that this is a get-together and we're here to converse.

Nope.

You may ask why I stopped myself? Well, sometimes I feel that I don't connect with people, and I've asked myself why? Normally, the reason is that I judge them. When you judge someone, like that person is below you, you can't connect with them. That's how a lot of slave owners got away with mistreating slaves, slaves aren't human. They disconnected themselves from the real truth.

There were two other guys that were friends with the popular dude, and immediately I read them as being a little closed minded. That's me pre-judging them, so I throw that notion away in an attempt to connect. One of them brought pork bellies to the BBQ, and I said yuck. It's pure fat. The one who brought it looked toward the horizon and said you only live once, and the other stated once in a while is ok, it's the accumulation that you have to worry about. I agree with that. My vice is ice cream, and I consume that once a week. But pork belly? I think that's a bit worse than ice cream. But they slurped it up like it was their last meal before the needle.

Then the conversation got to iPhones. Somehow we got to talking about pricing, and I said that you can get an iPhone for free on a two-year contract, if you're ok to settle for older tech. The guys lectured me saying their has never been an iPhone for free.

NEVER

Suck on this muthahfuckahs

Suck on this muthahfuckahs

Now, at this point I could have pulled my iPhone and proved them wrong. But what's the point. My initial read of them was correct. They're in their own little club, and anyone who brings their own opinion will be met with opposition. Does that mean that I don't like anyone with their own opinion? No, that's stupid. But a debate can only be held if opinions are given, not stopped. Does that mean I should always rely on my first impression of others. Yep. But I give them a chance to disprove it. And in this case, they only proved it.

Onward to another party.

Go With Da Flows

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.

20130324-184355.jpg

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:

20130324-183709.jpg

Can you see it? It's the little red dot.

Here, the ranger said we're about a quarter mile away:

20130324-184118.jpg

Getting closer and it feels like a hot summer day. And bam!

20130324-184541.jpg

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.