May 2, 2013 - 12:01pm -- swingbug

And towards the mountain we go.

I have no specific memory of visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as a child, though I must have done. I do remember driving out to see the lava trickle into the ocean once. A far-off red ribbon viewed from a perch on a rock with my grandparents and a buddy when I was twelve or maybe thirteen.

But that was down where Pele met the Pacific, not 4000' up to the caldera of the volcano itself. Shawn and Luke and I headed up with the intent of a picnic at the top and arrive to steady rain. Funny thing about the rainforest... It rains there.

We hiked though fields of stunted vegetation, unfurling ferns, and open vents of steam spewing out of the ground amidst yellow sulphur crystals. "There should be dinosaurs here," Luke and I agreed. "Or spaceships." Come to think of it, didn't an away mission from the Enterprise land someplace like this that one time? You know, when that random ensign died?

This is planet Earth. It's a shockingly diverse place.

The science museum at the top of the mountain had a seismograph set up with a fleet of little kids jumping up and pounding the ground in front of it amidst peals of giggles that rattled around the rafters. In the movie at the visitor's center, park rangers told us about struggles against invasive alien species.

Ah, spaceships then.

And at the end of the night we stood around an open caldera and watched the steaming pit of Kilauea turn the night sky red. The beginning, or end, of all things, depending on Pele's mood.

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