TUESDAY, JANUARY 9, 2001
Because of the brightness of the moonlight reflecting off the leaves and shiny bark of the eucalyptus trees we were both awake at 4:00, but we slept again. Here at 4,000 ft. elevation it was cool enough to be in and under sleeping bags wearing shorts and socks. We both woke at 7:00 and shared the cereal and hot water. Finally this morning I got my long-awaited wish: we were able to talk about what it takes to be an artist and how to 'make it' in one's field. How one must think of oneself and the world. How we are both too much into being good girls, when we really needed to bend rules for one's work or commitment and how that relates to selfishness, will and goals. Simply a great sharing that left each of us with much to think about and to change our thinking about ourselves and each other.
After we had compared our feelings about our work, Heidi said, "One thing I've learned on this trip – how much like you I am." We laughed much harder than her statement was funny because we both know the process. How long and intense it can be, to separate oneself from one's mother. And how, in the end, we still seem to flow along the same channel. The idea that we chose our parents before birth as a way of setting a path through life seemed to be so true that flowers bloomed along the way, birds sang in the trees and a small brook kept criss-crossing the path with bridges.
Greatly refreshed we went to the Jaggar Museum so I could get a set of the Brad Lewis postcards which I had admired so much in Heidi's collection. Naturally we ran first to the seismographs where we were rewarded with some major shifting and tilting. If only I could find devotional materials that thrilled me as much as watching the earth sigh and hiccough I would probably be a better person! While I paid for the postcards Heidi grazed the large assortment of books they offered. She found an unbelievable treasure that was even more astounding for its price. A huge, red covered 5-inch thick book of the Serial Publications of the Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory written by Dr. Jaggar and his staff. Someone had collected their monthly reports of the activities of the volcano and had them printed in book form for the ridiculous price of $5.00! Since there were three book in the matching set we each bought the two largest ones; getting volumes two and three so we could have the most for the least money. The ranger-cashier could not believe we were buying these scientific reports as reading material. How much more surprised she must have been ten minutes later when Heidi came back in to buy complete sets for each of us! We sat in the RV reading to each other the marvelous passages we could not help sharing.
Naturally, Heidi found the best report: the one of Jaggar's discovery of the petroglyphs (the very place we had planned to visit this morning). We were truly torn whether to spend our day reading the books or going off to see the many sights. Deciding that we could always read in the dark or at home, we continued the drive around the crater, to the right – a trip that we had not yet taken. As we drove down to a lower level within the larger crater, the smell of the vapor made my chest ache.
Heidi offered that we get out to explore the smoky rim but I found the feeling so suffocating I declined. We did stop long enough for a snapshot (really just that quick) of the morning light caught in a vapor cloud. I got back into the car coughing and choking so we buzzed on around to the Chain of Craters Road and descended into cleaner air. As we drove along, we began to discuss the William Dryer tapes, which Heidi had brought with her to listen to each night before going to sleep, and finally we were able to share these also. I was surprised how quick Heidi was to stop, get the tapes and how concerned she was that we listen from the beginning so I could understand his teachings. Together we listened to his soothing voice as we flew over a now-familiar landscape both from feelings and the outside views. How different this trip down this road than from the journey on Sunday!
We passed up the Desolation Trail opportunity because somewhere we had read that it was the most photographed spot in the park and we did not want to be added to the statistics. What arrogance! Now I regret that decision. Part of our decision was the fact that neither of us wished to interrupt the good sharing of the tape and we were just very comfortable riding along in the sunshine of a purring engine.
We were at the petroglyphs by 9:00 so the light was still fairly low. But the wind was already howling as it bent everything in its path. I smeared on sun cream, grabbed up my stick, hat, and camera and we were off. About 500 ft down the path I remembered that we had forgotten to bring water but Heidi thought we would be okay since we had just eaten a snack. The markers listed the trail as being a two-mile hike, but for me, in Birkenstocks (I had not brought boots because I had sworn not to go gallivanting over lava) the way was twice as long as I spent longer choosing each step twice. There was no definite path. The way was simply marked off by piles of stones stacked up on the high places. Thus, one had to look ahead to get the direction and then pick one's own way over the lava. At the actual site, the park service had built a wooden walkway in a circle around and above a selection of the drawings. With this was a sign explaining how important these drawings were to "the people who once lived here". Some one had scratched on the sign obliterating the word 'once' and the 'd' in lived so the sign now more accurately read: "the people who live here." We saw this as an example of a situation where it was right to break a rule (do not deface signs in the park), not just to be destructive, but for truth and the greater good.
Being on the boardwalk seemed so tame, more like a bored walk, but we righteously circled the perimeter as I snapped up all I could see. With a nod and a grunt, we agree to take off over the hill on our own where we wanted to search for new discoveries. Here they were! And they were everywhere and our eyes became greedy as we could barely stay to appreciate one before wanting to see the next one. We felt so rich discovering this design, calling to share it, storing it in our minds and on film before going off to get another one. We wandered all over, while slowly making our way back toward the parking lot. Headed only toward the green and cream of the RV that was a tiny blip sticking up above the lava. We finally did cross a place where we could see the path was. I was relieved to see another sign of civilization (piled rocks) even though it did not cool me off or give me a drink. I was astounded to find that the drier my mouth became the more my nose ran!
As we walked along Heidi began to tell me of a weeklong hike her dad had taken the kids on by himself after our divorce and how rough that had been. Usually she is so loyal she would never tell me of her times with her dad, so I was very surprised to learn about the trip and the feelings the memories of it awakened in her. Suddenly she stumbled and lost her footing. My heart went into my mouth. Suddenly I realized how dependent I was on her, her good health, her ability to walk and drive and just be who she was. With a practiced flip she righted herself (thanks to wearing those hot and heavy hiking boots) with only a slight pause in her story. As we got hotter, and there were no more petroglyphs to excite us, we were more tired, the sun rose higher and the wind blew harder. Some of the gusts seemed eager to knock us down. I stopped for a pause to catch my breath, bowed as I said some prayers to the spirits of the area, asking for forgiveness for walking on their sacred territory, thanking them for letting us admire the art and gratitude for the photos (which really turned out great!), and asking for a safe trip back to the rest of our lives. With my heart lighter, the distant, still very tiny RV did not seem quite so far away.
We both collapsed into the cool winds blowing through the RV, drinking water and reading our new books. How typical of each of us. When we need to recover from anything we stick our noses into books until our bodies recoup their loses. This time, even reading was not enough. We agreed to take a nap. As I was falling asleep I was so grateful that Heidi, with her 20-year younger body was as tired as I was.
I woke first and began writing in my journal. There is something so special to be with someone, and yet have them sleeping in your presence. You are not alone, and that is so comforting, yet the power and energy of the other is turned down low so you can feel you are alone and let your spirits spread out as far as the eye can see and the wind can blow without the caution of interfering (inter-fearing) with anyone else. Also, when someone sleeps before your awakedness, you are given so much trust. They trust you completely to care for them and for yourself while they are off repairing themselves. They are confident that their bodies, minds and souls are loved and cared for by you and will quickly and promptly returned as soon as they need them.
When Heidi awoke we quickly agreed to go on down toward the lava flows. Today as we reached the end of the hairpin curves we could see the plumes of smoke from the burning trees on the cliff. So the lava was flowing out of its channels into the forests that had resisted recent flows. We parked in our old spot. I thought we were going to take a walk down to the ranger station to get the latest reports, but Heidi surprised me by saying she wanted "to go out". She began buckling her gear on herself while she hydrated with a bottle of water and by 1:40 she was gone.
It is now 2:40 and she just checked in saying she was about halfway to the flowing lava. Earlier I had risked insulting her by giving her my simple camera and asking her to get any shots of lava. This meant that now I had no camera here to entertain myself with. All I can do is make rough little sketches of what I can see from here.
She had said she hoped the wind would die down, which it has now done, and it is hotter than ever in here!
4:10 Heidi called in that she is even farther out on the lava and that she is in the hot stuff.
4:26 Heidi tried to call in but the message was garbled so that I could not understand what she wanted said. I tried and tried to call her back but go no answer.
the lava flows
the world of angels
if you pay the money
All day one could instantly know where the best sights on the cliff were by watching the helicopters, often more than one at once, circling down ever closer to the activity. Would they see one photographer if she was down on the ground? So many of my thoughts are with Heidi.
4:45 got her call that she is on her way back. She decided she would not stay out after dark alone (again) but come in with the light.
the smell of forest fires
burn even brighter
casting a pink glow
in sunset fumes
5:55 the cars are arriving in a steady stream, like rush-hour traffic hoping to see the best flows since last week. The row of parked cars is almost up to 'our' place. Today I found out why there is this wide spot in the road. Here is where the tour busses make their turn-around and wait for the hikers to return. All afternoon I had to fend off the dirty looks of bus drivers who resented our being here even though we had parked as much out of their way as we could.
6:00 I can already see the orange-red glowing on the lava cliff and the bright yellow flares of burning trees. Minute by minute, as it gets darker, the amounts of orange glows increase.
the hillside burnt
in the shadow
of a moonless sky
This morning, at the Jaggar Museum the ranger said the flow is less than a mile from flowing into the sea, but there was no steam plume so I assume that it has not yet reached that point. That means that Heidi, by sticking to the coast, can walk around inside of the flow. I wonder what it is like for her alone on that vast black plane of cinders melted into pancake batter. Last night at this time we were turning away from the scene. How glad I am to be able to stay tonight to fill my eyes with all the wonder I can. I just saw another tree flare up. This seems to be happening mostly at the top of the cliff.
6:20 Arnott's tour bus just left. This is the group Heidi had made a reservation to go with, and then, yesterday, cancelled. I am torn between wishing she had gone out with others, and thankfulness that she can stay tonight as late as she wishes.
6:25 no moon yet. Where can it be? Horizon clouds are surely going to obscure it for a while. A car just pulled up beside the RV. I jumped so violently I broke a fingernail. It was just a couple who decided that we surely had the best view here (which we do because we are at the top of a small ridge).
6:30 while drawing a sketch of the scene, I missed moonrise! It just hopped out over the clouds as it sails over the sea. It seems to have brought the wind back with it. All at once the RV rolls with each blast.
swaying over the sea
the eye of the Pacific
a full moon.
7:10 Heidi was knocking at the door. Exhilarated and not as tired as she was the first time. Her account of the experience came in short sentence fragments as if it was poetry she was slowly reading on the back of her memory. I think I got the best picture of her adventure when she mentioned "steam coming up her pant's legs". At least she shot all the film on my camera and got several shots for herself on hers. After drinking water and slim-fast she was refreshed ready to drive up the mountain to our camp place at N-a-m-a.
The full moon was beautiful to drive by as we pass the lava fields. Their smooth frozen ripples glisten as the sea below them does. The lava that rose up from under seas and lands now mimics this place it has come to. All was so lovely until we heard a loud bang on the right side of the RV. We slowed and began to search for a place along the road where the darkness seemed safe enough to drive on. When we finally got off the road, and the tail of cars went around us honking and waving, we found the awning pole had come loose. The guy at Harpers had warned us that the awning did not 'work' properly and suggested with a giggle that we not try to use it. At the time we simply filed the information away with the rest of the broken and unusable features of the vehicle. Now the awning was partly unrolled and the wind was whipping it, trying to rip it, trying to unroll the whole thing. Heidi knew how these awning things worked so even in only moonlight she knew which way to push, which levers to work and how futile everything we tried would be. Once she and Ashley had problems with her RV in the strong New Mexico winds. They had to stop every mile or so to rewind the awning and attempt to keep it in place. This road was too windy and windy so I felt we had to find a better solution.
I had brought a length of clothesline with the idea that we could wash out some of our clothes, hang them ghetto fashion either in the RV or romantically tied to palm trees. I had not counted on the humidity of Hawai'i that seemed to never let anything dry. With the whole length of the cord we wrapped the pole tying it to the reinforcement bar. We did our best but the wind was better. Within a couple of miles that end had come loose because now the front support was flopping down as if it wished to gather branches from passing trees with its long arm. We cut off some of the rope to tie this pole up also. Then we drove very s-l-o-w-l-y and are glad now to be back in our same old spot under the eucalyptus trees. I 'made hot dogs' for dinner (our cupboards are getting bare) with potato chips as vegetable and was very thankful when that filled us up. On our last trip to the park's facility I disobeyed the "no bathing" sign over the sink to wash everything I could reach. It felt so good to get this much washed yet my hair badly needs the same wash. According to the guidebook there are showers in Punalu'u so I have that to look forward to tomorrow.
Next day -WEDNESDAY JANUARY 10.
Hawai'i with Heidi Copyright © Jane Reichhold 2001.