Thursday, November 13, 2008

Welcome to Mordor Flats

Dateline: November 13, 2007. On the big island of Hawaii, at the Volcano House Hotel.
(The Hawaii Chronicles...Part 3. Continuing the honeymoon saga. No pictures, because they were all ruined when my digital camera went kaput.)

Ah, breakfast. Another stuff-me affair of bacon, sausage links, rice+beans, eggs, juice(yes, I was being bad, I was nowhere near low at 143 mg/dl) but I wanted juice) milk, pineapple, and a Danish pastry. Also, some fruit that looked like cantaloupe was decidedly NOT. Husband liked it, I didn't.

After that,we set off on Crater Drive, to see the sights. Huge craters(called candelas) jotted the shale shacked landscape. Smoke "vents" blew out of the veginous hillside, seemingly from nowhere.

Further on, at an Observatory, we saw green glowing sulfur piles in one of the larger candelas. No molten lava greeted the eye- the last one was in 1983. I was pretty bummed about that, why do people say the thing could erupt at any time? It's been dormant for about as long as I've lived on this planet. Borring.(the view is worth it , but honestly, its just smoke. You can take a $200/person helicopter ride to view the active part of the volcano,(its in a closed-off section of the park) but I'm not a big fan of heights and it wouldn't be worth it.(would much prefer to see it standing on the ground) Mark Twain had it pretty good-he got to see the lava flows LIVE (which he writes about in the book "Roughing It") Bet that was pretty cool.

Then we drove through what is, quite honestly, the most destitute piece of real estate on Planet Earth. (hence the name, Mordor Flats) It reminded one of various Lord of The Ring scenes, miles and miles of black rock. Got out of the car, and were greeted by sulpheric waves so strong we both started coughing. Sulfur, boys + girls, is not the best thing to be breathing- kids, pregnant women, and heart-lung patients shouldn't be anywhere near the stuff. To me, it smelled like burnt pancake syrup. Didn't stick around long to view the sulfur stink piles any closer, hopped back in the car to view some more lovely craters.

Then we did some walking trails and went back to the hotel for lunch. Ate sandwich, chips, swapped out resevoir, 140 mg/dl. All that walking did wonders for the breakfast pig-a-thon. Got a flashlight from the gift shop, and it was off to...

The Thurston Lava Tubes
Wherein, hundreds of years ago, the caves were carved out by lava. Nice little(lighted) cave walk, but without a guided tour. Then we got to the (optional) unlighted part and the fun began. 337 meters of pure spelunking blackness, pierced only by our flashlight and my periodic panicky moans. There were no maps, no assurances that it wasn't going to split into 4 paths and get us hopelessly lost in a maze of caverns. And the roof, leaked. There was a pile of rocks that looked eeringly similar to a grave and put me in freak-out mode even more. But then, we met a group coming back and they told us it got narrower and eventually ended. We proceed and see it drop off into a huge cavern, so we go back.
Then, we attempt to drive up to Mauna Koa's scenic overlook. A the beginning of the route, someone's car is smokin' in the parking lot but no one's cellphones work so they have to take a hike to the ranger station. 11 miles of winding, harrowing roads, you haven't lived till you've know the fear of either a head-on collision or plunging off the side of a mountain. Lots of weird white-silver trees and white/purplish flowers. (Another scene from Middle Earth) Occasional lava-flow remains pile. Got to the top, and it's too cloudy to see anything. Plus, my bg was close to 400 and I was in cranky, I want to be somewhere with a bathroom and water fountain mood so we didn't stick around long. Took another half hour to get down. (fortuantly, we were well stocked with water bottles)
The only tv at the Volcano House gets only one station.(and it's an Arizona vs Oregon game) The Volcano a good three hours from civilization and the only accommodations inside the park. People go there for the convenience/history(Mark Twain went there, when he was in Hawaii), not for the cutting edge of luxury. And it's expensive, very. (like everything else in Hawaii, so we decide to skip dinner and snack on chocolate bars) A day ended, a misty rain starts to fall and it gets much more Novemberish.
PS: the header picture is from the Volcano National Park-I took it with my cellphone, and thus it survived.(when the others did not)

No comments: