Instead of listening to the State of the Union, I went down to the sea to check out the state of the world.
I left my home – about 3000 ft/914 m elevation – and drove up to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park entrance – at about 4000 ft/1219 m elevation, then headed all the way down the Chain of Craters Road to the ocean. The sun set in the west, the moon rose in the east, and I had a perfect view of both. Lovely. Where I was, no lava was entering the ocean, but as night came on, I did see a small red glow up slope.
Here are some shots of the Keaukaha area of Hawai`i Island. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous winter day to talk story, mend net, catch waves.
Also, you may have read about the false missile attack announcement the other day. If you did, you may also have read accounts of people freaking out and responding badly, but I’m here to say those stories are just click bait. People I know are more, “oh well, cool it wasn’t real!” and they feel sorry for whoever pushed the wrong button.
Just wanted to clear that up; not everyone in Hawaii went bonkers.
Since the 1980s, when I first visited this district of Hawaii Island, Lower Puna has been famous in my mind for various things: spectacular coastline; impenetrable jungle; soaking in magma-heated hot ponds nestled in naturally-formed lava basins; murder; heroin; domestic violence; lava flowing into the ocean; lava flowing into houses; hippies; slackers; movers and shakers; yoga; hurricanes and fires. It had been a while since I visited; after all, Lower Puna has No Outlet, so to speak, unless one wishes to drive into the water or lava, neither of which I have any interest in.
The first time I visit Pahoa (1983?) it was a quaint, former plantation town that had been overtaken by New Agers, Mother Earth types, and lots of tie-dye. It was somewhat rundown, but it had its charms, certainly. When I visited in 2015, I thought Yikes! It was the worst I’d seen. After the lava invaded in 2014, news outlet camera crews did, too (the little town made it on CNN). Schools were closed, and students bused to other systems. Access to health care and food sources was an issue; Civil Defense issued daily updates. Power lines were reinforced with (hopefully) lava-proof bases. There was a collective breath-holding by thousands. The town looked haggard and depressed; so did its residents. I thought It’s all over for this place; maybe that’s not such a bad thing . . . But I discovered yesterday, that is not the case. The lava stopped just outside of town! And Pahoa is rebounding, in ways I both approve (small businesses are thriving) and don’t (national drug store chains and fast food outlets, and a new mall – why???).
I had plans to spend more time exploring the area, but I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen for ages, and we set off for the Lava Tree State Park to catch up before our respective evening plans (hers was a rave; mine was watching a belly dance performance). Here is my first photographic report of the area. Much more to come.
Speaking of small businesses, if you require something sweet, vegan, organic, gluten-free and yummy while cruising Pahoa’s main drag, check out Nicoco Hawaiian Gelato. Hardworking entrepreneurs Ashley and Sean epitomize all that is good about The New Pahoa.
I spent my last day in Florida, a place I have lived in and visited regularly since 1967, making discoveries, which is so cool. Guess what? There are wild monkeys in Fort Lauderdale! It’s true! I saw one! I also saw countless iguanas lurking and slithering, fascinating to look at – baby dinosaurs! – but wreaking havoc on the defenseless ecosystem. Crazy.
Florida was my last stop on this two-month trip; my next flight takes me home to Hawaii. I’ll be happy to see family and friends of course, but the road lures me; I feel the tug to travel again even before finishing this trip. In the meantime, until I board anther plane (or maybe ship?), I’m going to treat my home state as the travel destination it is, play tourist, and blog about it.
Until then, aloha!
P.S. It was pointed out to me by a very clever person that while in Malta, I held a falcon . . . Get it? Maltese Falcon!
At last! I got my lifetime US National Park pass; cost: ten dollars (and 62 years). This was a thrilling day! For the REST OF MY LIFE I can visit any National Park FOR FREE! The cost of the pass rises in a couple of weeks to $80, so I’m doing a lucky strut dance right now. In the distance, just behind the top right corner of the beloved pass, the steam/smoke of Halema‘uma‘u rises.
Besides getting the pass, I also cruised the island hoping to get in the ocean (but not accomplishing that) and taking photos of trippy stuff. Here you are:
It wasn’t a birthday celebrated in Venice, but it was a good day. In the evening, I attended a friend’s wake. On my birthday in Venice, I visited Isola di San Michele (Venice’s separate cemetery island). And now this year, a wake. It is a good idea to contemplate mortality; it pushes me to live more fully.