I would like to apologize for the lack of updates. The past two weeks have held more adventure for me than my entire first three months on this island combined, but there is really no way I can update regularly. For a while fate smiled upon me and I was quite blessed and lucky, but the past week has not been so kind. In that time alone a bottle of water opened in my bag frying my laptop, I have dislocated my thumb hopping out of a truck bed I was hitching in, and just today my phone (and my last way to contact the outside world) died for no apparent reason. I feel quite cursed.

 

In the past few weeks I’ve gone all the way north into Hawi, hiked into a majestic sacred valley that is Polululu, and have spent  a lot of time with some really great, fantastic people. I also had the most spiritual experience of my life a few days ago. I have had so many incredible adventures, but really don’t have the time or the ability to go into any great detail with them. I will try to update eventually but I apologize in advance for the lack of posting that is sure to follow

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4/03/2013-Lava

                The past three days have been crazy. Three days ago I was hiking across lava fields, jumping across live portions of lava flows, all to see lava pouring into the ocean. Two days ago I was on the top of Mauna Kea braving 70-80mph winds, literally scared I was going to get blown off the mountain. And yesterday I snorkeled through coral reefs and drove around all of Big Island. Saw everything from towering mountains to Oceanside cliffs off the end of the world.

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The lava plume in the distance

It started on Sunday, Easter morning. Austin and I woke decided to drive out to do the lava hike at 4:20, and by around 4:40 we were at the lava fields and were beginning to hike in. In order to get to the lava you have to hike over two or so miles of dried lava flow—all very recent flow; ten or twenty years ago the dried flow we were walking on didn’t exist, and there were portions of the flow later on that were less than a year or six months old. All you can see is darkness except for the glow of the lava in the distance—when the lava hits the ocean it creates a giant cloud, and that cloud glows bright orange in the night. Even this is pretty spectacular. It is not, by any means, an easy walk though. The terrain is so varied and you are jumping , climbing, and running for the entire hour and a half walk (and that’s just one way) out there. Getting out there is definitely the easiest part—just follow the glow in the distance. There were two plumes of smoke that you could see, so we had no idea which one to head to. The constant height change of the terrain also makes it difficult to see long distances, so we really just kind of hiked straight and were adjusting our route as we walked. Around 5:45 it started to get brighter outside, and it was at this point we realized the ground around us was pouring out smoke. Austin, who had been talking

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This was a dried piece of the live flow. You can see the lava underneath the hardened rock.

about falling through into the lava long before the ground started smoking, began to minorly freak out. I assure him that it’s all fine and that it wasn’t a big deal, but, to be quite honest, I had no fucking clue if that was supposed to be happening. I convince him to walk further out with me, but he just kept freaking out the further we went. At this point the heat is definitely starting ramp up and, while it hadn’t hit the point of being uncomfortable yet, it was definitely noticeable. Not only that, but at this point we were beginning to pass some areas where you could see lava underneath hardened rock. You could see this fantastic orange glow coming out from cracks in the rock at certain points as well. As you can imagine Austin just used this as more fuel to freak out, and eventually he refused to go any further. I convince him that the smartest thing to do would be to climb the highest point we could find and look out from there. He was skeptical but eventually he agreed, so we began climbing this outcropping of huge lava rocks that was probably about 20 or 30ft high or so. As soon as we reached t he top we could see people in the distance (but they were still relatively close)—I gave Austin a vicious “Told you so” look and we climbed back down the outcropping to head to where

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A view of the landscape we had to climb over for hours

the people were. As we got closer we began to see a few more people sitting down watching something. Since it was Easter there were only about 8 others there, and they were all sitting down on a ledge just above a massive70ft cliff drop into the ocean. We got to the edge and realized what everybody was staring at—a few hundred feet away you could see the lava just pouring into the ocean, but since it was morning at this point (we were about 10 minutes late to the lava to get to see it in the darkness because we were lost) the lava was really obscured by the smoke and steam. In person it was still awe inspiring—in the pictures I took, well, not so much. The plume from the lava went a few hundred feet into the air and it was just massive. The water by the lava was actually smoking because of the heat, it was surreal. Even the water that wasn’t near the lava was smoking. Eventually, we looked up from where the lava was coming from and realized that where we had been standing before was /just/ before the live flow. The portion of rock that we could see had lava underneath it (that neither of us had stood on because it sketched us the hell out—thank god) was actually an older portion of the active flow. Once this was discovered Austin gave me a pretty nasty “I told you so” look of his own. But that wasn’t enough to stop me from wanting to go further.

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You can see the second lava plume off in the distance towards the right of the photo

We could see a second smoke/steam plume in the distance, and I told Austin “I want to see that” . He called me crazy, and maybe I was to do it, but I figured we had hiked all that way so we might as well see everything we could see. A tour boat pulls into the water a few feet from the lava at this point, and after five or so minutes they head off around the cliff and down to the second plume, and this just strengthened my desire to see the other flow. We began talking to other people who were there about whether or not they had hiked down to the second flow, but none of them had. In order to get to the second flow you had to hike even deeper into the lava field and even deeper into areas where the ground was smoking, and this seemed to be enough to deter most everyone from trying. But fuck it, I’m not most people. Austin surprisingly agrees to hike with me, claiming he was less sketched out about falling in or getting hurt since he had seen the actual flowing lava. I suggest we take a long route to the second flow, and suggest going in a very winding way to make sure everything is safe. Surprisingly, Austin says “Nah man, fuck it, lets just charge straight in. If we’re gonna do this lets just do it.” I ask him if that is what he seriously wants since a few moments earlier he was having a minor panic attack, and he says it is, so I, somewhat reluctantly, start heading for the second column of smoke in the distance. After about five minutes of walking, I hear Austin gasp behind me and notice he has completely stopped. He looks like he just saw a ghost, and makes the “No way” signal. I try to motion for him to continue, but he won’t budge. I later learned that the reason he stopped was because the heat around him was enough to make him sweat and that he felt the ground beneath him shift. He even claims the slab of lava rock he was on cracked. Not knowing this at the time, I decided I would continue on my mission, even if it meant heading out into potentially really dangerous territory by myself. And that’s what I did. I just kept walking, and I could see the fear in Austin’s face as I started to walk away from him. I continued walking for about ten more minutes, and it was definitely extremely sketchy. The smoke coming from the ground continued to intensify as did the heat. I was honestly more scared I would break my leg on loose rock then I was about falling into lava. You could feel the earth almost melting under your feet in certain areas, which was pretty crazy. I eventually made it to the furthest end of the lava field—further than anyone else had made it that day and completely on my own. At this point my knees are shaking because it has fully hit me that I am walking on a flow of the most active volcano on earth. To say I was terrified wo

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The sea arch right next to the lava. Extremely fucking cool.

uld be an understatement. The furthest end of the lava field was yet another cliff, and below the cliff there was a beautiful, untouched black sand beach. There was also a sea arch on the beach  , and you could see the lava billowing out smoke from behind that. I considered climbing down onto the beach but didn’t want to risk getting eaten by a huge wave since the

waves looked relatively strong. I walked a bit further along the edge of the cliff, just far enough to see the origin of the smoke/steam plume with my own eyes, and then I immediately turned back. I had accomplished my mission, now it was time to make it back without dying.

The walk back to Austin was about the same as the walk there was, except for one key point at the end. At this point I’m walking with my hands touching the ground, just so I could feel the rock with my hands before stepping on it to keep from stepping on anything with lava underneath. We had avoided stepping on any rock with lava right underneath it this entire time, and I wanted to keep it that way. But alas, that wasn’t going to happen. About ten minutes after I decided to head back I start to see people in the distance. I head towards them, but I get to a point where the rock all around me is part of the live flow. Put your hand on the rock and you could just feel the heat that was underneath it, and it was so incredibly obvious that lava was a few inches beneath that. I had avoided walking on this the entire time, but this time I was completely surrounded and needed to get to the other side.  So, I did what I had to do—I lifted up my pants legs, started saying “Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckshitshitfuckfuck” and quickly ran across the live flow. I could feel the heat through my shoes and it felt like time moved in slow motion. I was only on the live flow for about ten or fifteen seconds, but it felt much longer. Pretty terrifying. Thankfully I made it through to the other side without plummeting into the lava beneath me to my death, and I set off to find Austin. I eventually found him at the location where all the people had been watching the first lava flow , and he started laughing about how crazy I was for doing what I just did but said I had massive balls. We stayed watching the lava for another thirty minutes or so, and then we decided to head back. The walk back felt much more tiring—the sun was out at this point, it’s extremely hot, and we didn’t have a fiery orange cloud to guide us in the right direction. The walk back ended up taking about 2 and a half hours, and when we finally made it back to normal ground I got on my hands and knees and kissed the ground around me. It was 10am at this point—we had been out for 6 hours almost. Feeling like our legs were made of jello, we slowly made our way back to the car and proceeded to head home.

So yeah, that’s a rough recall of my lava experience. I had originally planned to post about Mauna Kea in this same post but since this story ended up being so long I will make a separate post about Mauna Kea in a day or so.

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So…

Hey dudes from Boston, what were those timelapse movies you wanted me to watch called? I’d love to watch one but I can’t remember the names of the films.

 

To everyone else: I’m in the process of typing up my experiences going to the lava, going to Mauna Kea, and camping behind some resort illegally and then snorkeling amongst coral reefs. Stay tuned.

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Day #71, March 28, 2013-

It’s been a month since I last wrote anything, and in that time I’ve gone to a pretty crazy rave, met tons of crazy people, and I’ve just been doing my thing. I’ve been pretty comfortable here at the B&B, and in a way that has been a problem. I feel that comfort definitely breeds complacency and I am beginning to see how true that statement is the longer I stay here. When I first arrived here I woke up early every morning to get my work done as soon as possible so I could head off into the world and explore, but now I’m lucky if I’m awake by 9 and done with my work by 4. And by that point it’s too late to do anything. But this really isn’t because of laziness; there just really isn’t much to do around here. I’ve seen the best places, I go to the best events all around town, and I’m just running out of things to do in this little 30mile area. So it isn’t Hawaii I’m getting tired of by any means, it’s Puna (the district I am currently in). And at first 25 hours a week just for rent was fine, but now it’s beginning to become a huge chore and it’s beginning to become quite grueling. I work more than anyone else in the house, yet I have to inconvenience myself whenever he needs me to work (while everyone else gets to set their own hours) and I have the smallest room. Yes, I have heat and electricity and a kitchen and a shower, but I didn’t come out here to have household amenities, I came here to explore the island and to see. Every now and then I’ll do something cool here (I went to that rave which was awesome, and tomorrow we’re hiking to the lava at 3am), but for the most part it’s the same old same old. A few days ago I started wondering why I’m working for 5 hours a day just to be stuck in this house when I could be out exploring and sleep anywhere I want to. So I think I’m going to do just that. Yesterday I went and bought a tent and next week I’ll probably go and buy a tiny propane camping stove and then I’ll probably just head out and beach bum it for a while. My current plan is to head out for a week (where to I have no fucking clue, but I guess I’ll figure out where I’m going once I get there) and then come back after that and work for another week, at which point I’ll probably just head right back out and bum around for a bit. This way I get to see and explore the island without having to be completely homeless. And, for all those worrying about my safety while I’m out and about—don’t be. This is Hawaii, not Baltimore.

Today I told my host that I will probably be leaving next week to which he replied “Great! Go have an adventure!”. He said that I would be welcomed back but he couldn’t guarantee I’d have my room left when I returned, in which case I’d end up sleeping in the basement. I can live with that.  

 

And to those dudes in Boston I met over Chatroullette–thanks for keeping up with me guys. It’s cool to know two complete strangers who I’ve never met before are reading about what I do. Pretty humbling.

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Hilo-bound

Hilo-bound

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Day #42, February 27, 2013-

Day #42, February 27, 2013-

                Yesterday was pretty much everything that makes Hawaii awesome bundled into a nutshell.

The day originally started out quite boring. I did three hours of work and, sick of all this damned, endless cleaning, texted my host (who is in LA right now and left me both the bed and breakfast and the house I live in to myself) that I’d be spending that night camping out at the beach. It wasn’t the first thing I would have liked to do out here but I figured it was out of the norm enough to satisfy my need for something new. At around 3 in the afternoon I walked a few minutes into town just to get something from the store. On my way back I saw a group of people walking my way from down the road. They looked like hippies and were dancing and acting slightly foolish and I jokingly thought to myself “Who are these loons?”. Well, the loons actually turned out to be Rayne (a hippie girl who had worked at the bed and breakfast with me for a few days before leaving because she was made uncomfortable by another roommate) and her friends from the farm she was currently staying at. She stopped by, gave me a hug and said hello and everything and then asked me if I wanted to head to Taco Tuesday with her and her friends at this community called Cinderland. I of course agreed and was really excited for all the social interaction I was about to get. We sat around my place for an hour talking and just generally goofing around. I spent this time meeting the people Rayne had brought with her and getting to know them all. Rayne always seems to have alcohol on her person and this time was no different, with her brandishing a bottle of Jack Daniels within minutes of being in my place. I didn’t really drink any beyond a sip or two (as anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m not a drinker at all), but by the time we left the house an hour later Rayne and her boyfriend Jackson (who is pretty much a slightly hippie version of Adam from Workaholics) were quite inebriated (aka: pretty wasted).

We left the house and all started walking up the road to the intersection where we needed to hitch a ride from. There were six of us, which meant getting a ride was going to be especially tough since we’d pretty much be limited to sitting in the beds of pickup trucks, and I was honestly unsure if we would get picked up, but within five minutes of standing at the intersection this combination station-wagon/truck thing pulls up and offers to take us a little more than half the way we needed to go. We gratefully accept and hop in. The drivers are a redneck looking couple (about 45-50 yrs old, the man was driving while the wife was in the passenger’s seat), and they are very friendly and kind to us on the way and are very talkative. Rayne was getting especially friendly with them in her less-than-sober state, and within minutes the wife turns around and asks us in the back “Y’all wanna smoke dope?!” which was met with cheers from everyone else in the vehicle. After a couple seconds though, Jackson asks “Wait…do you mean dope as in weed, or dope as in ice (which is what the people on the island call meth)”? The lady responds “Well, I have both”, but everyone makes it very clear that none of us wanted any ice. She begins to agree and starts to tell us “Oh yeah definitely that stuff is bad don’t touch that…” but then she continues, saying “but, it’s okay to smoke it every once in a while.” At this point I realize this is the craziest hitch I’ve had in my time on the island and, while I wasn’t freaking out and while I didn’t feel in any danger what-so-ever, I just kept thinking how crazy the ride was. It was honestly hard to keep from laughing like an idiot. Within thirty seconds after this conversation, I look up to the passenger’s seat to see the woman brandish a meth crystal bigger than a golf ball. Before this, I had never seen meth in my life. Now, I’m looking at what is probably a couple hundred dollar crystal meth sphere. It was crazy. This island never ceases to surprise. A few moments we finally arrive where they had to turn off. I wasn’t scared really, but I was still glad to be out of the vehicle.

The couple pulls off and Rayne and Jackson start stumbling to some national park that was called “Lava Tree Park” across the road. We try to keep them from going and try to tell them to stay with us (partly because we wanted to stick together, partly because they were pretty fricken drunk) but they just began getting a bit belligerent. Frustrated, the other guy in the group started heading off to the intersection we needed to reach, telling the rest of us to just forget them and that they’ll meet up with us somehow at some point. We all follow, and I am now spending a day walking around the middle of Hawaii with people I had met about an hour beforehand—it’s one of the crazy things that seems to happen here that doesn’t really happen elsewhere. We reach the intersection within two or three minutes and begin hitching, and only end up having to wait five minutes or so before we are picked up by a man who takes us all the way to the entrance of the place we need to be. This ride was, thankfully, much less interesting than the last and was completely uneventful.

We arrived and still had to walk a half mile or so to the entrance of Cinderland. Cinderland is, by the way, a place that has been described to me as a ‘sustainable-living community’ or an ‘eco-village’. Basically, a man created the place because he had a vision of creating a community that is completely self-sustaining and something that can run completely on it’s own, without assistance from energy companies or the government or, really, the outside world. The facility still hasn’t reached that point—runs to town are still made and there is a basic level of connectedness they have to maintain—but they’ve made a pretty good start. The facility is built on extremely new lava flows (as in thirty years ago new, which is extremely small on a geological scale), and while the land all leading up to Cinderland looks like the moon—very rocky, covered in lava rocks, very alien—the efforts of the crew at Cinderland has led to Cinderland being a lush oasis. They have their own private tropical forest. It’s crazy. There are countless fruit trees, tons of herbs (and tons of ‘herbs’), and apparently pretty much everything growing on the property is edible or can be eaten in some form. All the trees create a canopy over Cinderland, and the entire place is like a giant hippie camp (because, well, it really is a giant hippy camp). It’s quite a cool place. Anyway, we walk for a bit and arrive at Cinderland. We were actually worried we had missed the tacos when we arrived since we saw no one sitting in the main meeting area where it is usually held. A hippie guy came out of nowhere and started talking to us and told us we were really early, but he offered to give us a tour of the place and we agreed. He spent like thirty minutes showing us the place, all the dorms, all the artwork and the yoga studio and things of that nature. After that we headed to the main meeting area and sat down and began to smoke. There were a few people there now and someone was starting a fire. We all chilled and talked and began to get sociable. I met a cool kid who spent most of the night with me just smoking and talking. I also saw this kid Forest who I had met at the hot ponds a few days beforehand, and it was cool to see him again. At one point during the night he asked if I wanted to meet up today during the morning, but I said I couldn’t because of work. But, I feel like I might finally be starting to make some somewhat longer term friends, which is cool. But yeah, Taco Tuesday was insanely fun—we met up with Rayne and Jackson again, talked to lots of people, smoked a lot (nothing illegal, of course), ate delicious food, and had a really great drum circle with some really great people. The night itself is another entire paragraph and I’m not sure I want to write about all that here, so I will just skip to the ride home.

By the time we were ready to head home it was 10pm. I was convinced we were just going to end up staying the night at Cinderland since hitchhiking at night is notoriously difficult, but one of the guys was sure we’d be able to find a ride home (it wasn’t too far away from home, though it still would have been a walk of a few hours most likely). We set off stumbling into the dark without flashlights, something that normally would have been impossible because of how dark it gets out here, but thankfully the moon was out and that provided more than enough light for us to see everything quite easily. We surprisingly only had to wait about three minutes before someone picked us up. He had a small four person car, and our group had six people. Somehow, we all managed to cram into the car and we headed off.  We all laughed about how crammed in we were and our driver made lots of jokes about it. He was extremely friendly and we were really lucky to run into him. If not for him who knows how long we would have waited for a ride. We get to where he has to turn off and we all get out. He starts driving down this gravel road into a subdivision and we all notice that his back door is open—Sarah forgot to close it, but the guy just didn’t notice and kept on going. We all laughed a lot about this, and we laughed even harder when a lady drove from the same subdivision a minute later and told us “Man, did you guys see that crazy guy that was driving with one of his doors open?”. We all laughed hysterically and then the lady offered to take us into town. We had to cram into this car too, and I spent the next ten minutes sitting in the lap of someone I had just met that day. That’s the perfect description of Hawaii, really. She dropped us up at the top of town and we were all amazed—we had hitched all the way home in less than probably 15 minutes. That’s faster than it normally takes during the day. We were all extremely lucky. We walked the remaining five minutes home and stopped to get some candy on the way. We got home, hung out and munched for a little bit, then we all proceeded to enter into the best sleep of our lives.

So yeah, in the span of an hour I went from being about to camp on the beach to spending my day with a bunch of people I vaguely knew and going to a drum circle, meeting everyone from meth-heads to hippies along the way. It was quite a day

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Day #33, February 18, 2013-

                So It’s been quite a while since I’ve written anything and it hasn’t been because things haven’t been happening—quite a lot has happened since I last updated you all—but I’ve honestly just been too lazy to type anything out and I’ve been quite  beat. I’m finally ready to tackle the massive backlog of writing I have to do, so I will now do my best to recap some of the key things that have happened over the past few days:

                On Wednesday, February 13, I decided I was going to spend my time after work at a group of hot ponds called the Champagne Ponds. I set off hitching from the bed and breakfast and got my first ride within 10 minutes. A man picked me and two other hitchhikers up and we all rode in the bed of his pickup truck. Driving in the back of a truck going through the forest that leads to the Champagne Ponds is absolutely incredible because of the canopy the trees form and the beauty of it all. The man took me about halfway where I needed to go then dropped me off. I began trying to hitch a ride the rest of the way, but was having much less luck this time. After about 30 minutes of standing I was beginning to contemplate just hitching back the way I came, but just as those thoughts began to creep into my head a man pulled up and I hopped in. The man introduced himself as Roland and he just so happened to be heading to the Champagne Ponds too, so we set off. We ended up getting lost along the way and had a great time laughing about being lost and got to kind of bond over the fact we had no idea where we were going. After driving for about thirty minutes and talking to some locals for directions we finally found where we were trying to go. When we got there, though, we both decided we weren’t really feeling that location and instead decided to head up to another hot pond down the road. Once there Roland went to the hot pond and I went to the cliffs just a bit away. About thirty minutes later I ran into Roland at one of the pavilions in the park leading to the hot pond. He was cooking steak using one of those portable camping grills, and he insisted I sit down and share some steak with him. He proceeded to cook me the best meal I had had in days, something I was indescribably grateful for. We began to talk over dinner and we both exchanged life stories and both learned a lot from one another. We had some really great conversations and it was really nice to be involved in such deep conversation with a total stranger. After dinner Roland said he was heading to a hippie market at the Kava Bar a bit up the road and asked if I wanted to tag along. Thirty minutes later we were at the market surrounded by hand blown pipes, homemade tye-dye for sale, delicious local food, and great local music. We met some really great people (including a girl from Austria, who was quite odd but nice nonetheless) and about two hours later we headed home. Roland dropped me off at the bed and breakfast and we both shook hands and wished one another the best. As he drove away I shouted “Have a nice life!” to which he replied by throwing his hand out the window and flashing the shakka. It was quite an awesome experience. There’s something exhilarating and intriguing about spending your day with a complete stranger.

                On Friday new WWOOFers moved into the house I am currently staying in. One is a man named Tom, about 26, from the suburbs of Chicago. The other is a 19yr old hippie girl named Rayne from Canada. I spent Friday helping both of them get adjusted to the place, and after we were finished with work for the day I took Tom to my favorite hot spring to introduce him to the island and show him around. I absolutely blew his mind and it was pretty cool to see someone so excited about everything, especially since that had been me a little less than a month ago. Tom is quite odd, though, and doesn’t exactly fit in on the island. Nevertheless I am trying my best to make sure he survives out here. He doesn’t have any money and our host isn’t too pleased with him, so it isn’t looking too great for him at this point, though.

                On Saturday I woke up early to hitchhike to another local farmers market. I got some local bananas and avocados for really cheap and they were both absolutely fantastic. The hippie beach was on the way home, so I hitched there and stayed for around an hour before hitching back home. On the way back I got picked up by Roland! We were both really excited to see one another and laughed at how weird life is. We talked a bit but sadly had to part ways a few minutes later. We exchanged phone numbers, though, so I there’s still a chance we’ll do more before he heads back to Seattle in a few days. Afterwards I spent the rest of the day helping the news guys (and putting up with Tom). At night Tom and I went to a few of the local bars, during which Tom got me ripped off by a local (even though I had warned him about locals beforehand). I was furious. I tried not to get too mad though and instead just went to bed.

                The next day I didn’t do much. It was a day of self-discovery, and it was quite interesting. Later that night—around 1 am or so—Tom wakes us up. His head is bloody and he has huge bruises all on his eyes and his forehead. Apparently he hadn’t learned his lesson the night before as he was apparently once again fraternizing with the locals. This eventually led to one of the locals getting in Tom’s face before proceeding to headbutt and pummel Tom into the ground right in the middle of the bar. It didn’t help that he was extremely drunk, and when he got back to the house he continued to drink more rum. Even though he had woken us up asking for help, he eventually starts trying to say that he is alright and that he doesn’t need any medical attention. He said his shoulder was dislocated and tried to get us to put it back in place for him. We tried but eventually told him he had to call an ambulance. He calls and for some reason starts to lie to the operator and tells her he fell. I yell at him to tell her the truth, and he reluctantly listens. When the ambulance arrives they try to get Tom to sit on the stretcher in the back of the ambulance so they can take him to the hospital. Tom argues and instead insists—quite drunkenly—that he sit in the seat next to the stretcher. It was painful to watch.  It gets slightly heated but eventually they get him to lie down. They close the door and through the glass I could see the exact moment in which Tom realized what was happening and the reality of the situation hit him. You could see it on his face and seconds later he let out a scream that I can still hear in my head. It was really quite sad. The ambulance then pulled away and off he went. It was like a movie. It was nuts. The rest of us were all quite confused and shaken, and we all chilled and talked for a bit to calm down and then headed to bed.

                This morning we wake up and Tom still isn’t there. I eat breakfast, go into town for a second, and am about to head next door to start work when Tom walks in. He’s all bruised and bandaged up, and his arm is in a sling. We talk for a bit about what happened and then I went off to work. At the bed and breakfast our host spent a long time talking to me about Tom. He doesn’t think he’s cut out for life out here and is really worried about him. He also feels Tom doesn’t work enough. I share his feelings, to be quite honest. I agree to try and talk Tom into finding another place that will suit him better, and then head off to work. Three and a half hours later I’m done with work and head back to the house. When I get there I find Tom even more drunk than he was the night before, which is really saying something. He is completely incoherent and makes absolutely no sense the entire time we are trying to communicate with him. I left to the beach shortly after that, which wasn’t too great because it was dreary and rainy pretty much the entire time. The waves were absolutely massive, though, and I stayed for an hour watching them crash along the shore. During this time a naked man decided to lie down on the sand in front of the waves and lets them sweep over him—it was slightly odd, but it honestly seemed like it would have been fun to do. On my way out of the beach I was walking a decent distance away from the water when a huge wave hit the shore. It was so powerful the water came all the way up to where I was standing and sucked my sandals straight off my feet. As my sandals left my feet I immediately realized how incredibly difficult it would be to hitchhike while barefoot, so I sprinted further up the beach, dropped my bag, and rushed to the water. After taking both of my sandals and churning them through a couple of massive eight or nine foot waves, they miraculously returned to shore. A man had been watching from the cliffs above and cheered “Hooray!” and started clapping when he saw me reclaim them, and I laughed and smiled and waved back. I got a ride halfway to town by a man who ended up offering me $12 an hour to do some basic landscaping for him, which is quite awesome. We exchanged numbers and hopefully I’ll start doing that at some point. After that a woman picked me up, and she was very nice. She only took me about a mile though because her car ran out of gas. We laughed, I thanked her for the thought, and she pulled in to a small processing plant to ask for some gas from somebody. I sat along the road and tried to hitch a ride the rest of the way, but before anyone else could get me she comes driving back up and we both laugh and I get in. She was extremely nice and extremely interesting. She was a roller derby coach and apparently spent age 18-28 living as a nomad all across the US. She had also been to dozens of Rainbow Gatherings, which I found quite neat. After having some nice conversation she dropped me right off at the house and told me “Wander safely!”. And that was pretty much the end of the day. Phew. Finally. I’m done. There’s a ‘quick’ rundown of what has been happening lately. It isn’t everything, but it’s enough. I am now going to rest my fingers from all this typing.

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Day #27, February 12, 2013-

 

                Today was day #2 of working at the bed and breakfast. I woke up at 7 am and ate some cereal and prepared for the day, and walked next door to the bed and breakfast at 8. I cleaned a bathroom, swept some rooms, and did some other general cleaning stuff. I only had to work 4 hours today because I worked an extra hour last night, which was really cool. The host is extremely friendly and very reasonable. He shows you exactly how he wants everything done and is more than willing to answer questions. He’s a bit ‘eccentric’—he has pictures of naked men all over his office and there are copies of Hustler magazine sitting on the coffee table in the living room of the bed and breakfast. He also has a wooden, hand –carved ash-tray that is a giant wooden penis that he says he got from the Philippines. Odd, but he’s a really nice guy nonetheless. Whatever floats his boat.

                I got out of work at 12, and I would have hitchhiked to the beach at that point but my host happened to be heading there himself so he gladly gave me a ride. We ended up going to Kehena, the local un-official clothing optional black-sand beach that all the hippies go to. Naked men and the stench of marijuana are the norm there, and it’s quite an interesting sight to behold. I didn’t swim much since the water is extremely violent. I got in for about thirty seconds and struggled to swim even that long. I stayed for about two hours and then decided to head back to Pahoa, which meant hitchhiking for about 9 miles. I only had to wait about five minutes before getting my first ride, which was from a couple in Hawaiian shirts who were headed out to the coast to go try and see some lava flows. They drove me and another hitchhiker (who was about 60—thick, white beard, old. Nice man, but odd) about 5 miles before dropping us off again. During the drive we all pretty much swapped mini life stories, and discussed the island and things of that nature. It was actually really fun and a really fascinating experience. You get to learn so much about someone in such a short period of time and then they disappear from your life forever. After that, we were picked up by a man in a dingy, beat up car. The man was a carpenter and I didn’t talk much during this ride because the driver and the other hitchhiker were deep into conversation. He was nothing but kind to us though and dropped us off along the road. He said he would be driving into town in ten minutes and promised to pick us up if we were still there when he got back. That ended up not being necessary because two minutes later an old VW bus picked us up. These people were another couple and were just as nice and kind as everybody else I had ridden with. We only had basic small talk since town was pretty close at that point, and then they dropped me off outside of town and we said aloha to one another and were once again on our separate ways. To get home I had to walk five minutes through town, so I took that time to run to some shops and run a few errands and pick up a few things. After doing that and heading to the local coffee shop to use the internet I headed home and nothing of any real interest happened after that. Tomorrow should be just as eventful as today though and I’m really looking forward to it. I will probably go to the Pohoiki hot ponds that I went to a few weeks ago and chill there for a bit and just relax.

                I’m really happy here, though. As long as there are no hidden surprises (hidden surprises were everywhere at my last place) then I think I will do just fine here and this will continue to be a great opportunity. I also learned about some possible paid work in town, so I may do that in a month or so if I need some funds. But yeah, this place is awesome, and I’m really happy I made it here. Hitchhiking was surprisingly enjoyable and it’s something I look forward to doing more. Okay, rambling over.

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Day #12, January 28, 2013-

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Today is my first full day being back from the Rainbow Gathering, which was without a doubt one of the best experiences of my life. The Gathering was held at Southpoint, the most southern point in the United States and one of the most remote places on the island. In order to get to where everyone was staying we had to use a 4-wheel drive vehicle for an hour, first going over insanely uneven dirt roads and then reaching the beach at the bottom and having to navigate the lava rocks that littered the shores. Once we arrived at the Gathering we walked in and were greeted with shouts of “Welcome home!” and “We love you!”. We set up camp and then I went to hang out at the main fire circle and it was incredible—so many interesting people were at this place. The attendance was about 55% hippie and 35% backpacker and it was a fantastic mix. I ended up meeting people named Spatula and Butterfly, and I even talked to a man named Valentine who had been to over 30 countries and every state just by hitchhiking. I talked to a few people like that and their stories inspired me and made it seem like me becoming a backpacker isn’t too impossible. They all say it’s totally doable and that I could easily do it, and I’m actually starting to believe them.

Much of that night was spent talking to people and just relaxing and hanging out at the beach and thinking about what I want to do with my life. Normally I’m very shy and am the last person you see walking around and talking to strangers, but that night I was insanely social and it was great—everyone was extremely intelligent and insanely interesting—I felt like I actually belonged somewhere. I played bongos around the fire, hugged random strangers, sang and dance, and was just generally free with a bunch of people I had never met before in my life.

We woke up wet because there had been rain and our tent did not have a functional zipper for the door, meaning we had to use the tent cover to cover the front door rather than have it over us to protect us from the rain. I had the bright idea to put my umbrella over the top of the tent, and that helped, but it wasn’t perfect. Regardless, the day was pretty awesome. I spent the day lounging around—I relaxed with some awesome people and just admired the sheer beauty of the location. The jungle we were living in was right on the beach, and walking a few hundred feet from my tent enabled me to see the ocean on one side, and the amazingly beautiful rolling hills on the other side. The pictures you guys will see at some point do not do this place justice. It’s really indescribable how perfect the location was. If you walked a bit down the beach you came to lava plateaus, which were absolutely beautiful. The water crashed against them and sprayed water everywhere, which felt amazing to walk through. I spent some time doing some chores to help around the place (the Gathering was basically a mini-commune and it was encouraged everyone do their part—no matter how small) and even got to relax thirty feet up in a tree in rope nets that had been placed all over it, which was quite cool. I then just spent a lot of time thinking, and a lot of time trying to make myself believe that I was really having such a crazy, awesome experience. I found it pretty difficult to wrap my head around the concept that I was in the middle of the pacific ocean, on an island, on the most southern point in the U.S. and an hour off the road, in a jungle sitting on the beach, playing bongos, howling at the moon, and sitting around a fire with a tribe of hippies. Definitely the best experience I’ve had on the road so far.

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January 24, 2013: Pete

On the airplane from LA to Honolulu I met this man Pete. Pete was 45, stocky but more on the heavy side, with salt and pepper hair who listened to Korn, Marilyn Manson, Reggae (he had a Bob Marley shirt on when I met him) and all different kinds of music. He was incredible. Pete and I moved from basic small talk to conversation on the meaning of life and us both sharing our life stories, and it was a really awesome experience. Pete was a cook at Universal Studio’s Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter exhibit, and he absolutely loved his job. His job enabled him to have enough vacation time to take trips to Hawaii 4 times a year (trips which were filled with the best days of the year, he told me) and he was even considering moving down to Oahu to open a food truck selling food out of a (properly equipped) vehicle to tourists. Pete’s Treats and Island Sweets was the name he jokingly called the venture. He was a truly awesome guy and it was a real privilege and honor to meet him. When we landed in Honolulu he let me tag along with him to the hostels because he was staying in one that was literally on the same block as mine. He showed me where to catch a shuttle and helped me get a roundtrip shuttle ticket for $13, which was awesome. Thanks to him I just had to wait for the shuttle to get me at 2 am and not pay any additional fees, whereas without him I would have had to call a cab and I would have ended up paying $40.

                It was a really awesome experience to be involved in, though. Pete was religious to some degree yet didn’t treat me any different when I told him I was Atheist and even after that he stood by his declaration that I was a fine young man and that more 18 year olds need to be like me. He said I was very wise for my age and seemed to have a very good head on my shoulders, and I when I told him about my trip his conviction to this only seemed to strengthen. He talked about how much he admired what I was doing and was saying that I will without a doubt do great things in my life (second stranger to tell me that in the span of a month—I’d say that’s a decent count) and it was all a very humbling experience and really helped boost my confidence about this whole adventure. Before we got to the hostels we exchanged phone numbers (he said if I was ever in Orlando to give him a call because I now always have a place to stay there), emails, and I gave him the address to my blog while he gave me his Youtube name so I could look up some of his drum videos. He also handed me a note which said “God bless you and I wish you the best. You are a fine young man.”—so yeah, Pete, if you’re reading this, you’re pretty fucking awesome and it was truly an honor.

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