I decided to take everyone’s advice and have a day off, just rest. Except it was sunny. And here it rains every day by noon. So Linda and Cheryl wanted to go scuba exploring, and I helped them find a series of heated tidepools on the edge of the Southern tip of the Southern island. No one swims out in the surf because at 2,700+ miles from the USA, if a rip tow takes you out to sea there is only…um…Antarctica as the next southern piece of land.
Then it was the drive through the woods where the wild things are. Then the visit to the state park of lava trees. And to town to pick up mail. And I did the decoration and preparation of 17 postcards. And then to sleep in order to go see the lava viewing. It was 5:30-10:00. I got 1/3 of my sleep and had a giant nosebleed. I thought I shouldn’t mention that until AFTER the lava.
We parked and everyone who passed me stared. The state workers and police who guard the viewing of the lava for safety said, “We don’t HAVE a blue badge parking section…we don’t GET wheelchairs.”
One person who had brought his wife in a wheelchair said, “Oh, you’ll have to stay behind, look at the lights of the lava going through the lava tubes.”
I had been told it was 1/10 of a mile. That was off a bit. Several workers stared then yelled, while I started the hopping of my wheelchair on the back wheels from one bulging bubble of lava down and over a crack to another rippled fractured lava stone. They yelled, “It is over three quarters of a mile!”
I yelled back that I was here to see the lava.
Lava is geology is motion. It is solid rock which is heated so hot that it is liquid, a liquid river of rock running down to the sea. Only something as large as the ocean can cool the lava in an explosion of fire and a smoke of acid and tiny stone fragments. And then the island is larger. This is the beginning of the story, the face of what we float on in tissue paper thickness of land called ‘plates’. Yes, I was going to see the lava, not just heated sulphur fumes but the lava itself. Click on the picture to see the waves behind the molten rock as they are about to hit it, creating another plume.
The path to see the lava wasn’t. There was no path. There was a lava flow on which reflective strips had been put. The first 200 meters were individual boulders with cracks large enough to eat my tires and not a flat surface in sight. It was hell.
After that, I decided it would take too long (I only had three hours to get there, watch and get back), and though my heart rate increased beyond what should be my maximum heartrate to 170-200 beats per minute, oxygen deprives and with nausea, I was helped upright and used the push handles on the back of my Ti-lite like grab-bars in the bathroom. It was falling down with a wheelchair, casters up, using that motion to go forward until I did fall down, or over the back. Feet flipped and I ground my ankle into razor lava (at least I didn’t feel that), I had legs which couldn’t keep up or my body lost balance and fell left or right. There were breaks with drinking Gatorade and water, and then onward, and onward. A 15 minute walk they said. Well it was an hour for me, with Linda holding me up and using her flashlight to find the next direction to lurch, a crash in motion.
It turns out that this beats boxing as I sweated from EVERYWHERE. Cheryl noted that my knees, which have NEVER sweated were wet once we got there. But I made it.
I couldn’t face leaving. One more picture. The truth is, I was oxygen deprived that I didn’t understand English, or really anything. I had used up everything to get here and see the lava. “How did you do it?” I got there by using every ounce.
After a short 30 minutes it was time to go. More falling. Cheryl told me she would need to hose me off. I was down, Cheryl telling me I couldn’t lie down, “Never Give Up! Never Surrender!” I used my hands as fists on the lava to go on. As we got close, followed by state officers and police, Linda said, “Look at the hut, we are almost there.”
I said, “close doesn’t matter, only once the finish line is passed does it matter.” I fell, and again, and pulled myself in my chair, and jumped a few more boulders. It was 20 minutes longer getting out. The officers behind me said that not only was I the last one out but I was the only person who had managed to get the wheelchair all the way to the viewing area. One half of my body was covered by muck, and I was wheeling one push at a time when the state police truck stopped and the officer thanked me for “an inspirational experience”.
I was confused. I WAS here to see lava. I wanted to see lava. There was lava. Ergo, I was going to see Lava.
Linda, Cheryl and I were all exhausted beyond description. Cheryl had to do the same as me with a hiking pole, an ankle run over by a tractor, a post broken pelvis and a back which was so crushed, it would leave a hand or limb limp and unfeeling when tired. She took the same trail. We were there to see lava.
As we finished and got to the van it started raining. See, I wanted to rest...but it was the sun's fault.
Cheryl couldn’t move, nor could I, so Linda who was driving opened the gate but when she closed it, she fell. Fell hard on our jutting pieces of lava, cutting through her jeans and slashing the hands she held out to stop her fall. I cleaned the dirt out of them, slowly, to stop her passing out. The first aid kit we had on the wish list was used extensively (about a quarter of it used up for all the wounds). The wounds are clean and healing but her hands are damaged. I will not be going to the top of the mountain to look at the stars. I would not do that to Linda, driving on non paved roads with those hands. Things happen, we all have had accidents happen, things happen. A van where you try to turn the key to open the door lowers the windows instead is easy to lock the key inside.
Tonight we drink champagne bought in Waikiki for what we accomplished. We saw the face of this earth: the raw creation. Tomorrow...I WILL rest...after I get those postcards done.
22 hours ago