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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bending The Rules Can Sometimes Be Life-Changing

Mark, Grant and I woke up Thursday morning at the crack of dawn. We brewed almost the last of our Verve Coffee beans and made some granola with yogurt and fueled up. Mark was also nice enough to make sandwiches for our Rain Forest hike to the PU'U 'O'O Vent. This is the origin and lava source of the current eruption. This trail called the Kahauale'a Trail, was cut by state workers in 1990 and is the quickest and most direct route to Pu'u O'o. We got to the trail entrance at around 8 am. Although the signs were posted claiming the trail to be closed until further notice "due to dangerous and unpredictable volcanic conditions" we still ventured on. I guess we felt a bit more comfortable when another family of 3 passed us along the trail. This 4+ mile trek through the rain forest was just like our tour book described; " a garden of eden." It seemed to take us no time to get out to eruption. One thing we noticed though, were the cracks in the earth that we literally saw no bottom too. We crossed them on the way over in a breeze. You can imagine our anticipation though as we finally reached the vent and saw the cloud of smoke continuously flowing out of the eruption. At certain times during the year, if the wind were to be blowing in a different direction, it could be a threat with the sulfur fumes blowing in our direction. But, thankfully, we smelled nothing but clean air as we ate our sandwiches and observed this heavenly site. It was great to face another unknown situation and come out with exhilaration. On our journey back though, I faced those cracks in the surface from a different direction. All of them I conquered with ease until one that had me frazzled. The boys had darted ahead and I was left alone. In that moment, I was literally scared. I knew I had to jump and that I had to make it with this jump. Shaking and nervous, I placed myself in a position that I thought I would get the best distance with my leap of faith. I finally got the courage and went for it. I, of course, did not jump graciously and actually the last part of foot hit the crack and I fell to the ground. With little physical pain, I was just looking to catch my breath. My heart was pounding so hard in my chest I thought it was going to burst. I took several minutes to get back my composure. I faced death and made it. Bumped and bruised, but I made it.

The boys and I treated ourselves to a great lunch at Kiawe Kitchen in Volcano Village. And what a treat it was to have a wood fire oven. So we shared the Pizza Margherita made with San Marzano tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella and romano cheese. Of course we added Fontina and Italian Sausage to give it a bit more flair. The boys each got the Lunch Special Sando which was their Tri-Tip Beef . This sandwich is seasoned Tri-Tip, grilled to your preference, served with caramelized onions in a demi baguette. It also comes with a side of Dijon mustard and organic greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. I went for the Peppered turkey breast with fresh mozzarella & a side of sun dried tomato aioli. We were a bit worn down so I ordered an Affogato, which I was so psyched to see on the menu. It was presented like an ice cream sundae with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. So, I immediately ordered another shot of espresso, thinking it needed it. It was mighty delicious along side a few bites of the cheesecake Grant ordered.

After lunch, we alongside many tourists, ventured to the Kilauea Crater. After we paid our entrance fee, we parked along the Crater Rim Trail and walked up to the Steam Vents. You are immediately drawn to the steam and want to bask in it, only to find out, it's freaking hot! It is, however, super cool to see. We then drove and parked near the Halema'uma'u Crater, which was certainly not asleep with its smoke bursting from the top. Although not erupting, it could. Mark recalled 15 years back when you could actually drive up to the crater itself because there was no activity at all. The ranger informed us that it was just a couple years ago that they had to close that road down because of all the smoke that was coming out. Nature and its affects. I was in awe of the whole thing.

Before we went back to our house in Puna, we had a few stops. First, was a pull off the road to buy some sweet corn from a truck we saw parked. Haole Boy, as Charles refers himself, had igloos full of corn and smoked tuna. He gave Mark and I some samples of the different smokey treats. It was very jerky and tasty. We settled on a half a batch of corn and got back in the car. We went grocery shopping in Pahoa and got a chance to grab a little snack on the way out of the parking lot. Panko crusted mahi and chips that is. From Pahoa Fresh Fish. Served with tarter and a side of house-made coleslaw. This hit the spot. Vickie, our cook, allowed us to break out some Golden Ales from Kona Brewing Company, since she wasn't serving beer. Apparently, Vicki moved here 29 years ago from Montana. I asked what keeps her here and she claims the weather. I would have to agree.

It has been rather unusual, the weather that is. We are in midst of the rain season and have yet to experience a drop. It has been just an amazing climate. What has also been amazing, is the fact, that I have had the chance to get in the ocean everyday since I arrived. It was just before we reached home, groceries in trunk, amongst them Kona beer, that we decided to do a sunset skinny dip and bring the brews on down to Black Sand Beach. It was the most splendid way to end our stacked day.

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