Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jack’s House

by Wilfred Bereswill

Since nobody has posted, I thought I'd bring back a story from exactly one year ago.  I hope you enjoy.

So we found out the hard way that you shouldn’t get in the way of Mother Nature. Jack found that out too. Who is Jack, you ask? Jack is a guy that built his dream home in a subdivision on the southern slope of Kiluea. In case you don’t know your volcanos, Kiluea is the active volcano on the Big Island. Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are the other two volcanos that make up the rest of the Big Island.

My wife had a quest on this trip. She was determined to see flowing lava. We’ve been close in the past, but never saw the glowing, flowing molten rock. So I decided to book a helicopter tour. Not only a helicopter tour, but since I’m a bit of an adventurist, I booked a tour on a helicopter with no doors. YEP, you sit right there, no doors and the only thing holding you in is a seat belt.

Me, Linda, Joyce (our pilot), Jack

Things were going pretty good. It was windy, cool and wild. We flew straight to the spot where Kiluea is pouring lava into the ocean with great fury. Steam boiled out of the ocean and we even got a glimpse of the RED lava.

After hovering overhead for several minutes, we headed to Jack’s House for a landing and hike. We made a perfect landing on the unused road that was beginning to be devoured by Mother Nature for lack of maintenance. It’s reallly amazing how quickly nature will reclaim it’s hold on things.

Jack’s road.

Jack’s House.

Jack built a home some time ago. It was his dream home. No sooner than he paid it off, Mother Nature made her move. She decided to release her pressure somewhere above the subbdivision where Jack lived. Jack watched helplessly as the lava crept forward, rolling and flowing at a snail’s pace right toward him. Only somebody was watching out for him. A hill just above him diverted the lava around both sides, destroying ever other home in the subdivision, except his. The oasis in the middle of the flow looks alien.

Now things are not all rosy for Jack. The roads are gone. It’s a 3 1/2 mile walk over treacherous razor sharp lava rock to an accessable road. There is no water or electricity. He hauls in gasoline for a small generator to power his television and propane bottles for his stove. But he plans on living there for as long as he can or as long as Mother Nature allows him to share that little patch of earth.

Lava Field

Happy Face in the Lava from where it surrounded trees and solidified before they burst into flames.

So after we walk around Jack’s place and visit the lava field, we jump back in our Hugh’s Helicopter and the rotor starts turning… Then they stop…

Joyce our pilot tries again. They start turning again… And they stop again.

Then Joyce announces that this is her first day flying that helicopter. We reeally didn’t need to hear that.

I offer to go get a pair of jumper cables from Jack, only to realize that Jack didn’t have a car. We all piled out of the broken helicopter and me being the smart ass, ask Jack what’s for dinner.

We didn’t have to wait too long, because Steve, another helicopter pilot came to the rescue and flew us for the rest of the tour. He showed us a Skylight. That’s where a hole in the crusted lava allows you to see the flowing lave underneath.

Skylight as seen from helicopter

Skylight blown up

Another Skylight

Blow up of skylight.. Madam Pele’s evil eye.

Kiluea Caldera

Another shot of the Caldera

The Rift Zone

After the flight, we headed to the “End of the Road.” Highway 130 stops where it is covered in lava from the most recent flow. It is now the viewing area and opens at 5 PM. It’s creepy driving along a road only to see it covered with lava. They have paved a one lane path for about a mile which allows you to park about 1/2 mile from the flow. A 20 minute march along the flow to the sea and you’re about 1/8th mile from the action. At first, as the sun begins to set, you can occaisionally see debris hurling into the air as the 2000 degree molten rock hits the cool water of the ocean, instantly vaporizing it into roiling steam.

But when the sun goes down, is when the action get good and you can see just how powerful Mother Nature is. Red sparks spew into the air setting off the crowd in a series of ohs and ahs. Just like you hear at a fireworks display.

I’ll shut up and you can just enjoy the pictures. Unfortunately, the autofocus of my little camera didn’t work as we lost the sunlight, so some of the pictures aren’t the best.


Gina said...

What's there to say? No one is commenting because we're all sitting in the corner, weeping in frustration because we want to go to Hawaii!!!

Laurissa said...

Amazing photos! Thanks for sharing them.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Thanks all. That was last year's vacation. This year I'm poor because I have to girls in college and a wedding to pay for.