whole lava centipedes
2k2 August 01 - 9:57 PM HST
Where did July go? It's already August 1st! Ack!! Only 23 days until we're off on our trip to Los Angeles - or as those posh Brits say, 'we're going on holiday.' I have only a few weeks to make an itinerary for myself , only a few weeks to plan my wardrobe - not too Hawaii-casual, not too touristy-dressy - only a few weeks too sneak in some overtime at work!

Feda and I had our family over for lunch this past sunday. This was the first time his parents met my mom. We fed them BBQ pork chops, hot dogs, pasta salad, Jell-O and ice cream. Feda's family brought Huli Huli (Hawaiian rotiesserie) chicken and BBQ ribs. My family brought ice cream and brownies for dessert. Yep, it was a nice casual meeting of the kinfolk. Feda and I've been dating for almost four years and it took us moving in together for everyone's schedule to sync before the parents could meet. Weird, 'cause we only live out on a tiny rock in the middle of the Pacific ocean. You'd think that the odds of them bumping into each other at Costco or KTA would be high, but no...

Feda and I drove down to see the lava activity at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on tuesday night with my Aunty Helen and cousin Leigh. It was roughly about 8 o'clock when we arrived down at the end of Chain of Craters road but there were so many other cars that we had to park at least a mile away from the (temporary) observation point. This should be 'old hat' for me since I was born and raised here - this particular eruption of Kilauea started when I was in elementary school! - but it never fails to amaze me when I'm standing ten feet away from stuff that has pushed its way up from miles below where my feet are planted. Personal observation: new cooled lava flows look like brownies!

I remember my parents packing us kids up in the station wagon to drive out to Pahoa to watch the flow make its way through the Ohia forest back in 1983 or 1984. At the time I was a little freaked out with the idea of driving to the volcanic activity but they wanted to give us a bird's-eye-view geology lesson that millions of other people only get to read about in the paper. [thanks dad & mom!] As I watched the pahoehoe take over the Ohia trees in flames I remember thinking that thankfully our house was built at the top of the hill on our street and that we had lava rock walls around our property - "Pele will just make the lava flow around the lava rock walls so we'll be safe." Well, that notion was plainly put to rest when many families in Kalapana lost their homes. Mother Nature does not bargain and neither does Pele.

So this trip to see the lava entering the ocean was a bit of rubbernecking and somewhat of an attempt to witness history. I think the last time I'd gone down to that part of the park was in February 1998 but I didn't chance hiking the four miles past the 'safe zone' to see it entering the ocean closer to Kalapana. No way, not after those Hong Kong celebrities died when the lava they were standing on fell into the ocean. I don't want to be a sacrifice.

I tried my best to take some interesting shots of the flow coming down the ridge and the glowing smoke plumes entering the ocean. Hopefully I'll be able to post some neat-O things for you readers to view soon. In the meantime, you can check out the HVNP website and also get updates on the volcanic activity at the US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory site.

If you go, remember to take a wet cloth to protect yourself from the clouds of lava haze, aka "laze" (oddly enough, breathing in hydrochloric acid makes me feel like I'm walking around in Boulder, CO). Take your time to enjoy the view, pack a few snacks and lots of water and take lots of film. Squeamishly, I learned from an article in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that CENTIPEDES bit a reported thirteen unwary tourist monday night. Only a reported thirteen sought first aid from the Park rangers...and more probably went home quite swollen. I am so happy that we decided not to lay out the goza and blankets to eat our bentos on the roadside after the hike back to the car. *cross fingers, shake ti leaf, toss salt*

Most of all, remember this picture from the USGS HVO:

"New land built by lava can collapse into the sea with little warning, sometimes resulting in explosions that blast lava spatter and large rocks into the air and send scalding water onshore."

Those two fleeing figures on the left could've been Feda and me!