Now THAT was a trip.

Back from Hawaii. Exhausted, as one is wont to be after any 12-hour flight and jetlag, but it doesn’t help that I spent the whole trip doing stuff like this:

Me hiking Kilauea Iki; standing in hiking gear making goofy face

That was day 1 of the trip: a 4-mile hike around and across Kilauea Iki, which is basically the remains of a lava lake that was pretty jumpin’ — by which I mean, boiling hot and utterly deadly — back in 1959. These days it’s a much more sedate place, although the hike is substantially challenging even for people who haven’t just traveled to the other side of the planet and aren’t quite recovered from bronchitis. The ground is still hot in places, and most of the landscape there feels like something out of a desolate postapocalyptic story. I made it, though, and there’s no better feeling than finishing something like that. Better still, I decided to have lunch while sitting in the still-warm throat of an active volcano. Toasted my spam musubi over a hot crack in the ground, actually. Mmmm, delicious geothermal energy.

I also visited Mauna Kea, although I didn’t go to the summit (would’ve needed a 4WD vehicle — and the skill to drive it — to make it there, unless I wanted to go with a busload of retirees, which I kinda didn’t), and Pu’u O’o, the most currently active volcano on the island. Did the latter one via a helicopter tour, since I didn’t want to die; it’s been erupting continuously for the past 20 years or so. Apparently I’m now one of the last people to see the Lava House standing, as it was destroyed the next day! Alas, I wasn’t able to hike to the current site at which lava flows into the ocean; I was pushing the budget as it was, and while I can handle an old lava lake, I wasn’t about to go marching across a still-deadly-in-places lava field without a guide. But I did several next best things, so I’m happy.

And I did some stuff that has squat-all to do with research, like a day-long road trip along the northeastern coast of the island with fellow author and buddy Kate Elliott. Imagine spending a day talking about fantasy (and everything else) with an author whose books you’ve loved for years, and who’s as witty and adventurous as one of her own characters, while driving through one of the most fantastic settings on our planet! ::happysigh::

So. At this point I’ve been back a little over 24 hours, and I’m finding myself missing the Big Island in a way I rarely miss places I visit. The soft humid air, which my skin loved after being baked in New York apartment heat for the past few months. The coqui frogs, which are a recent and invasive addition to the island’s ecology… but their songs are beautiful. The food! HOMG, while I was there I had fresh local papaya, apple bananas, strawberries, kiwifruit, bacon made from wild boars, bread pudding made with Portuguese sweet bread, poke made with the freshest ahi tuna, sweet sticky rice treats sweetened with rambutan juice, and delicate liliko’i juice. I sampled kava (…ew) and listened to live folk music by the ocean and chased crabs along the beach on which the Kingdom of Hawai’i was unified. I wrote a chapter of the UMSP while sitting beside a koi pond at the B&B I stayed at (highly recommended, BTW), and even though I was missing Altered Fluid’s annual retreat in the process, I still managed to achieve that sense of inward stillness that’s so crucial for any writer’s creative process.

Hell, I’m even thinking about moving there, when I grow old and feel like retiring somewhere. So yeah. Good trip.

I’ll be posting more photos from the trip on my Facebook page shortly; just need a little more time to decompress.

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11 Responses »

  1. I’m jealous. Looks like it was a good trip.

    Like you did, I’d love to visit and meet Kate on her home turf one of these days.

  2. What a spectacular setting — good on you for making it to the top, especially so soon after having bronchitis. Yay for mysterious volcanoes and relaxing writerly vacations! And belated congrats on your Nebula nomination — well-deserved!

  3. It sounds absolutely fantastic.

  4. I love the coquis as they are from my native Puerto Rico, but I know that many Hawaiians don’t like them.
    It’s too bad you didn’t get to go up the summit of Mauna Kea, it’s… unearthly to say the least. Still, it looks like you had a great time! I loved my very brief visit to the island a few years ago, too.

  5. Back in the 70s, when I was young, I went to Mount Aso in Japan, with its giant caldera with a town and lots of agriculture in it. Stood overlooking the crater next to the sign warning about the dangers of standing next to the crater, with the reminder about the people who had died standing in that very spot back in 1962, I think it was. It was all very … bleak. A vast expanse of black rock with smoke coming out in various places. Made me long for green things.

    And people who live in the caldera of an active volcano, making their living off the rich soil, but with the ever-present knowledge that Armageddon could happen and their lives be totally changed AT ANY MOMENT — I can’t imagine what that would be like.

  6. I can’t seem to see the Facebook photos…should I take it personally?? ;)

  7. Katherine,

    Only if you’ve already friended me — they’re viewable once you do that. If you’ve friended me and still can’t see them, then it’s official: Facebook hates you. :)

  8. Hmmm…it doesn’t seem to be an option. Perhaps it’s your privacy settings?? Or, Facebook hates me. ;)

  9. Katherine, I’m not sure what you mean — what’s not an option? Seeing the photos? Friending me? My profile should be open to friending by anyone. The photos are viewable to all friends; other people have been able to see them fine, as far as I know. I’m not really comfortable with making my photos public, so that’s unfortunately the only option I can offer.

    Can you give me an idea of exactly what you’re doing? FB customer service is notoriously useless, but I can at least try to get their help.

  10. (sorry to turn your blog into a helpdesk)
    I click through to the facebook page from your blog, so I think it’s the correct one. It will allow me to subscribe to you, but there’s no option in the upper right hand to friend you. I thought maybe in a wave of madness I’d already done it, but it looks like no (since the option to “unfriend” you also isn’t showing up). My 16-year-old sister, who I assume is more tech savvy than me by virtue of being younger, says that your privacy settings may be set to only allow you to friend people. Honestly I’ve never actually seen this before, so I’m sort of out of ideas. When’s the last time someone friended you? It might be something weird on Facebook’s side, within the past week or so.

  11. No prob, Katherine. My settings are set so that people can submit Friend Requests and I have to approve them, but you should at least see the request. That’s super-weird! Let’s try an alternative: what’s your FB page? I’ll try Friending you, and see what happens.