Reub's journey

22 January 2019

Fire, Water, Air

Hawaii's summery weather and gorgeous landscape beckon people from darker climes in the middle of winter, but early November was a good time to visit this land of fire, water, and air. And now in late January it's fun to think about it.

There were moments in the interior of the Big Island that I could have sworn I was back in Wisconsin: so green and rolling, dotted with cattle, the air balmy and soft.

But mostly the landscape of the Big Island was loaded with the drama of violent explosions, rugged cliffs, and the vivid blue of sky and ocean.

The volcanic origin of the Hawaiian Islands is a profound part of the indigenous culture.  Religion, story-telling, music, and dance all reflect the unique sense of place. In a land created by the whims of molten lava and surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, the themes of great legends are woven with both violence and deliverance.

Hula, as practiced by a dance group in Volcanoes National Park, was an impressive spiritual experience.

We were lucky to be there when this group performed, a great opportunity to learn about the mighty gods and goddesses of Hawaii. The recent activity of Mt. Kilauea meant that the dancers themselves had increased their energy and involvement in the past year.

The very top of Mt. Kilauea steams at nightfall. The eruption of 2018 resulted in the visible lava being drained away, leaving a gaping caldera, closing most trails, and ruining the museum that stood at the rim.

A section of Devastation Trail remains open to the public. This area was laid flat by a fiery eruption in 1959.

A lava flow from yet another eruption at the base of the mountain, running to the sea.

Cooled lava forms beautiful patterns at your feet in this isolated part of Mt Kilauea.

Here are long stretches of volcanic rock, sometimes dotted with petroglyphs. There is no sound of traffic, no potable water, and only the sound of the wind and the heat of the sun. This area remains a holy place for indigenous Hawaiians.

Hawaii is a favorite getaway for people who tire of Oregon's dark winters. It's common for Oregon cars to have sea turtle decals on them, and a sure sign that the driver has been to the islands. No, our car does not sport such a sticker, but I do carry with me the clear memory of a group of sea turtles resting on a breezy, obsidian beach, the waves crashing nearby. A symbol of beauty and peace dwelling in a land of fire, water, and air.


  1. We were at all those same places, except it was October!

    1. We just missed you! Although we ere there for the last few days of October as well.

  2. we went summer of 2017 for a week, Maui and the big island. it is a beautiful place.

  3. Maui sounds gorgeous. Maybe we'll go there some time.

  4. Loved my few weeks in Hawaii in the early 80s. We were hiking Devastation Trail when a museum vehicle gathered us up in a huge hurry and ferried us to the airport where we watched an eruption on the airport TV! I would happily have stayed on the Island forever but had family waiting my return in frigid VT. I can still remember the scent of flowers that wafted every morning through our hostel's open bedroom window and the startling contrast between one side of the island and the other.

    1. It's amazing that you were there at that exact point in time. What are the chances of that? The big island is like a small tropical version of Oregon, with a wet side and a dry side, volcanoes and beaches, surfers and cowboys.


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