Monday, December 05, 2005

Tubin', bro!

** Three Disclaimers:
1. I apologize if any of this background stuff is annoying. I didn't know any of it before I got here, but if I'm just repeating stuff you guys all know, just tell me to shut the hell up and I'll stop doing it.
2. I haven't been able to load any of my pictures yet, though I found out that I definitely can. So for now, only internet photos, sorry!
3. Everyone calls each other bro here. Hence the title.

This weekend, I took a road trip to Kilauea volcano. One of the most active in the world, the current erruption has been going on for over twenty years. It's located in the middle of Hawai'i volcanoes national park, and you can actually drive and then hike pretty close to the active erruptions. At the ranger's station they post what and where to see lava on any given day.

The park is about a three hour drive from where we live, so we got started fairly early (in normal people time, not farm time) on Saturday morning. Brian and Liu Zhi came, and we were picked up by Alexandriu (Belgian-Romanian who moved here three weeks ago to work with the doctor who invented pacemakers who lives here on the island as well) and Jessie (Katrina efugee who actually was in New Orleans and the Superdome, etc. who has moved here now).
First, we drove to Hilo, where they have a great farmer's market, and bought all kinds of fruit and things to snack on for the trip: once you're in Volcano (as the park is referred to) there isn't any place to get food. We also stopped at a supermarket for more food and big jugs of water. Then on to the hostel, to put some stuff down and check in with them. Apparently, Saturday at the hostel is "customer appreciation night" and they serve free pizza and beer! Being poor and already a little tired of healthy farm food; this was pretty exciting.

At this point it was about two o'clock and we sat down in the hostel to eat and look at our guide books and figure out what to do next. I had a new fruit(!) which I don't get to do too often. It's called a jackfruit, and Jessie's Philipino roommates introduced her to it. It smells crazy (and makes your hands smell pretty bad) but the tastes sort of like pineapple and has a smooth almost jelly-like texture.

So, we headed to Volcano and checked with the visitor's center to see if there were any active erruptions to see. There weren't, so instead of hiking around to look at some steam, we decided to go to Thurston's lava tube. A lava tube is what's made when lava flows through the earth and then cools. Thurston's has been cleaned up and lit, and was sort of a disappointment. We had read in the book, however, that at the end of the tube there was another section of about a thousand feet that has not been touched, and is marked by a gate. We had brought flashlights and headed right in. It's a pretty treacherous little stretch, with lots of fallen lava rock and things to navigate, but altogether pretty manageable. Once we got to the end we took a bunch of pictures and then turned off our flashlights and hung out in the dark, singing songs in as many languages as we could.

As we got up to leave, Jessie suggested that we try and come back in the dark, just feeling our way along the tube and trusting our senses to not get hurt. I don't know how dramatic that sounds to you reading it, but it was SCARY and hard work: it took us about an hour and a half to go those thousand feet. No big injuries on anyone (except for a few cuts and scrapes) and it was honestly a pretty amazing experience. At some points where there were a lot of boulders, we had to get down on all fours and scramble across boulders, totally blind.

Once we got out we headed back to the hostel for pizza and beer. I met a boy... but more on that later. [did i mention the 8-1 male to female ratio in hawai'i? alooooooha!]

After we got up on Sunday, we decided to look for some more adventures. Our book had listed another lava tube, but one that was really hard to find (in fact, the book said there was a good chance we wouldn't find it at all) so we decided to head there right away. The book described it as a path through wild ginger, then false staghorn ferns, and ten there would be the mouth of the cave. Well, we were slightly off and instead went into another lava tube that we had to scramble down and into and then up and out of before we found the mouth of the one we were looking for. This one was a mile and a half, and we didn't even attempt it in the dark. It was a lot more difficult with low places where you had to crawl through. It was rad. On the way out we found the path we were supposed to have taken and cut through the jungle a bit to get out (but we didn't have to go through the first tunnel again. I took tons of pictures of the lava formations and will hopefully load them up soon. Though I'm learning that in Hawaii, "soon" means something intirely different than what it means anywhere else.

OK, tomorrow more on the place I'm staying and what my work schedule is like this week.


Emil said...


Phil said...

Yeah, more on the boy.

I'm really glad to get so much new from your adventure. Especially considering that it's all slushy here and Tina and I are getting kicked out of our apartment, I'm getting pretty jealous.

Your blind lava tube experience reminds me of climbing around in the dark in that cave out in Wyoming.

gee whiz said...

more boy!
more boy!
more boy!
more boy!

Stephanie said...

sneaking a comment here before running off to cut wood (i'll post all about it tonight), but:

1. so glad you guys are reading and commenting, yay!
2. oh my god phil. i don't believe that shit. i'll post more on your blog tonight (or send an email).
3. the boy: more later, i swear. he lives in hilo and is YOUNG (i think) and i totally came on to him and gave him my number. his name's keawe.

i miss you guys, and i'll post more tonight! love you!

ilyushka said...

steph, i completely understand the mental freakiness of scrambling in pitch darkness using all of your senses to navigate over rocks and stuff. you're not overexaggerating the mental challenge at all.

a friend once convinced me to walk (in total darkness) through the tunnels at the ruins of the sutro baths in SF.

1. is the mosquito situation any better?

2. what language and which songs did you contribute to the multi-culti sing-along?

Stephanie said...

actually, the mosquito situation was better until tonight at dinner when i got two new bites. i think i'll try another little shamanistic journey tonight before i go to sleep...
happily, i contributed songs in french and hebrew. i also sang along with a spanish song. i thought it would have been fun to throw some arabic in there but couldn't come up with anything. we also had songs in english and lullabies in norwegian and romanian.
it's so much less pressure in the dark!