As the sun crept in the curtains for the second time, I yawned myself awake with the slightest smile. After all the buildup for this trip, I was undeniably amongst an adventure, and only my toes were wet.
In an attempt to keep hold of a little control of my responsibilities back home, I convinced my dad to get up early with me and go for a run. I was only 3 miles away from hitting the 500 mile mark of my 1000 mile goal for the year, and I figured there was no better place to do it than Hawaii. There was also no better way to celebrate than running straight into the ocean.
We’d gone over the logistics of the day at dinner the night before, so before I made my way up for breakfast, I pulled on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and packed my backpack with a water, a sweatshirt, a pair of pants, a hat, some snacks and some sunscreen.
Around 10 o’clock we took off for the Hawaii Volcano National Park, where we spent a few hours walking among more lava rocks.
Our group of 11 spread out, walking along, taking pictures of the—for lack of a better word—off-putting landscape. It was as if we’d landed on another planet.
Miles and miles of lava rock lay all around us. The rough surface peppered with small green sprouts trying to poke their way towards the sky.
Missing from this leaves-you-speechless-landscape? Other people. So much so that after a while it felt like maybe we were the last ones left on earth. Which made you wonder—were they going to kill us out here?
Luckily, the answer was no, though with the surrounding sights—such as a massive pit that used to be a lava lake, or the boiling steam vents that puffed smoke from the floor—it seemed it was not for lack of trying.
After a long, still off-putting and yet awe striking walk back, we hopped in the car and drove to the Thurston Lava Tube, where we got to walk through a tunnel like formation that made my dad remember how much he hates tunnel like formations.
(Can’t really blame him on this one, it looked like we’re willingly walking into our own demise)
As the sun began to set, we took our places to watch the lava of the Kilauea volcano begin to glow beneath seemingly thousands of bright stars.
Then, as one always does beside a volcano, we had an enchilada tailgate party in the parking lot. #casual
“Okay, guys” Alison said in the kitchen to start the day. We were all standing in our traditional circle, holding hands, cracking jokes and expressing words of gratitude towards one another as we did before every meal.
“The first day was water, yesterday was earth and today is…air?”
We all looked around at each other, questioning. As usual, none of us knew the plan, and Alison was not one to give up a secret.
“It’s going to be awesome!” she said, and then we broke the circle and ate.
About an hour later, we were at the top of a hill, stepping out into a jungle-esque landscape, with the slightest bit of rain dampening our shoulders.
“Has everyone seen the Hunger Games?” Alison asked casually. She then turned it over to a man named David, who emerged from a shed holding handmade bamboo bows and plastic arrows.
I took what became “my bow” in my hands, slightly shocked I would soon be able to add “do Hawaiian jungle archery” to my list of life accomplishments, and immediately missed my recently donated long hair that would have been more than capable of a Katniss braid. My imagination peaked up at the trees and the sky, wondering what we’d be shooting at, and my anxious mind wondered if I’d somehow manage to shoot one of my new friends.
“Line up,” David said encouragingly, “now take your stance, tilt your bow, draw your arrow back to your cheek, and fire.”
We all shot at a small, circular target, most of us making less than terrible attempts at hitting it. He then led us in and around the trees, taking us deeper into the jungle, further into his handmade obstacle course. As we walked, I felt my brain flicker in and out of a story it was making up along the way, going from logic minded competitiveness to faux survival mode desperation. I have to feed my family, my mind would whisper before every shot, they’re counting on me.
Over the next hour, we came face to face with stuffed bears, cork pigs, and a wild boar that rolled on a zip line.
By the end I was more than happy with my performance and felt better equipped to, well, watch archery when it comes back around in the Olympics, as I now have a whole new appreciation for the required concentration and difficulty.
Then, after sharing a delicious tailgate lunch, we made our way back to the house, where we all made the decision only a true vacation can present you: nap in your bed or tan on the beach.
My sister and I chose the beach. She snorkeled and I let myself float in the water, looking up at the sky as it turned from light blue to light purple. Just before sunset, we took our place back out on the lava rocks to wish the sun a heartfelt Mahalo. It had given us another day full of adventure, and if we were lucky, would continue to do so in the days to come. So as it made it’s descent into the ocean, we offered it gratitude and love. Then we all walked back up to the house side by side, wishing each other the same sentiments.