In keeping with my theme for 2011 as The Year of Better Habits, I am definitely continuing with something I started in earnest during 2010: I’m reaping the joy of playing tourist.
In my dream of all dreams, I’d shed all my earthly possessions but for the essentials I could backpack, convince my family and friends to come with me, and set off to travel the world, living for never-rushed months at a time in as many places as I could. Yep, I really would — and I’m working on being able to do it one day, sooner versus later! I want one of those cool walking sticks which travelers stud with emblems of the trails they have hiked, and I want to take pictures with people who speak a different language, and yet we still understand each other… in our photos we’re always smiling or laughing, and we’re usually hugging.
Meanwhile, I’ve started to do so the practical way close to home, both to appreciate where I am now, and to keep my dream vibrantly alive and within reach: I play tourist.
I don’t have the walking stick yet, but I do have some photos.
At least once every two weeks, I get out to see what visitors to Hawai‘i come to see, for there’s so much here, and I want to get my wonder back about it all, and not take it for granted. When I take a trip somewhere new, usually to speak or teach, thanks to Managing with Aloha, I tweak my schedule so I can stay an extra day or two, and play tourist there.
I bet there’s a wealth of attractions nearby to where you live too: Get out and see it. Feel what your visitors feel, when they snap their pictures, and sigh, “Wow, can you imagine what it would be like to actually live here?”
You do. And Nānā i ke kumu: Your sense of place is something to be savored.
Here are some photos I took while at Volcanoes National Park last Sunday, just a bit more than a two-hour drive from my home. I’m still uploading more” you can scroll through the full set on Flickr. A bit of introduction:
When completely opened, Crater Rim Drive is an 11-mile drive which circles the KÄ«lauea summit caldera and craters of Volcanoes National Park, and it leads through both rainforest and desert, with marked scenic stops and short walks on the way. Highlights are the Steam Vents, Jaggar Museum, Halema‘uma‘u Crater, Devastation Trail, KÄ«lauea Iki Crater, and Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube).
On this particular day less than a fourth of the drive was open because of the toxic air quality being created by the current eruption, yet I was able to see all of those attractions. You can discover the full character of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park by adding another 25 miles roundtrip descending 3,700 feet to the coast, dead-ending at a lava flow crossing the road on its land-creating journey to the sea. There are also 150 miles of trails, still including the 4-mile/400 foot descent of the KÄ«lauea Iki Crater trail, where under-the-surface flows still steam through, but are deep below, and considered safe enough to tread.
Volcanoes is a very special place, and it’s such a shame that so many residents of Hawai‘i have never visited. Those who have, know that once is not enough. You might see it all in that one trip, but you leave knowing you’ll want to return.