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:
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.