Having traveled across the  island to a waterfall, dropped off my Lava God in an idyllic home, and visited a pristine secret beach, our next destination was even more unexpected than the rock lobster or Tim Burton vines. We visited a natural, rock bottomed, salt water pool that’s heated by lava, called Pohoiki Warm Pool. Apparently it’s very healing, as there were wheelchairs next to the stairs and folks, young and old, swam and  floated. Later, I asked the locals at the hotel about it, and they didn’t even know there was a warm pool left on the island. The Queen had one on the island, which was her bath, and was called The Queen’s Pond. It was destroyed by what else, the volcano.

The pool was otherworldly, you were extra buoyant due to the salt and the heat, and the water was so clear that, looking down- you’d realized the little itch on your leg was nip from a teeny tiny angel fish. There was an inlet that led directly to the ocean and the fish came in, for a warm relaxing day, with the tide. We got there around 4PM, but apparently at low tide in the morning the temperature is in the upper 90’s. It was surreal, swimming the world’s largest  aquarium jacuzzi.

I positioned myself over a heat vent in the rocks and tuned into an older, white bearded, pink lensed, Lennon specks wearing, hippy telling a big bear of man, “I believe some people can move matter with their mind, but not all yet, or we wouldn’t have arms.” I felt my eyes bug out of my head, and I sank the bottom half of my face below the water so they wouldn’t see the smile that was bordering on an eruption of giggles.

It began to rain as a couple from Seattle told me about how they’d sold everything and moved to the island, finding their home in paradise for under 50K in the Puna District. I sat listening and mentally adding up what I have left after my year of e-baying everything extraneous. As Kahuna had a two hour drive through unlit, cliff edged roads, in the rain, we dunked ourselves one last healing dip, and ran, through the cool rain to another outdoor gallery. The covered picnic area gallery. If you sit still long enough, a local might paint you. Art is everywhere.

Extra Fancy grabbed mangos that had fallen off the trees onto the ground and began munching with the smile of a thief. As I’m on a permanent quest, I knew there’d be a message for me on the community message board. Physically, yes I am tourist, but in my squishy bits, I’m so local.

If this were an episode of “Charmed” this note would be in my handwriting and I’d have cast a spell to leave it for myself. I don’t know what I’m gonna write, but trust- I bought me some index cards. Look for me at the laundromat.

Not to be thwarted by rain or distance, or the fact that we did not have a burly-ass vehicle, Big Kahuna took us down a bumpy lava road to the southernmost tip of the USA.

Cape Kumakahi Light House sits alone, barely protected by a wimpy fence that could not hold back Kynalu or Kahuna, who immediately hopped it and charged the Light House. I love boys. The photo below is the Big Kahuna, Kynalu was already at the top, hanging on by one arm, shouting down that the door to the top was locked.

With a fear of heights such as mine, I  humbly stayed on terra firma and checked out the bizarre plants that managed to grow on this black moonscape. The flora and fauna of Hawaii are so fantastical and seem alien. “Soil who needs it? Water, pshaaa. Salt water, no big deal. Wind, whatevs’! I got you!”, Dr.Seuss’ flowers testified. I love the hard livers, and the plants were that.

From left to right: I present Big Kahuna, Fancy, Kynalu and Extra Fancy. This is our big group photo of the trip, so soak it up. Right after this photo they got taken out by a monster wave, not “out”, but it was reminiscent of the Log Jammer at Disneyland. I am so freaked out by heights that I would have thrown myself off the edge to end the panic, so I kept my distance and enjoyed the solitude, even among the team, the place was desolate. We found evidence of a fire  pit and a flat space that had been dutifully cleared to pitch a tent. Some hermit had found home and we were inspired, vowing to camp there on our next trip. Extra Fancy settled in, and used the commode, like any good sibling I shot the crime. We may be a new family, but we are family dammit.

Back in the car Kahuna led us down a street that was canopied in hundred foot tall trees, which were dressed in massive vines with leaves as big as the hood of a car. Pahoa Pohoiki Rd, AKA Very Pretty Road, was indeed very pretty. Rolling slow enough for a Chinese fire-drill, we opened all the windows and were greeted by a symphony of frogs. It was dusk and the frogs were singing up a storm, welcoming the night.

As we made our way out of Hilo we were all silent, like the morning after real drugs, where you’re all inside out and you’ve used up all your serotonin. We were roused by the snacks we’d hoarded at Island Naturals, Extra Fancy’s free mangos, and the radio. Finding a song became a game and we felt blessed when we’d find Eddie Money “Be My Little Baby”, “Mr Boombastic” by Shaggy and even a rock block of Elvis. In hour one of the drive home, when Fancy had us listening to some Hawaiian pride reggae jam, the singer listed the pleasant qualities of the island. During the bridge, Kahuna busted out the following freestyle, summing up our Island Experience, “Coconuts, waterfall, lava pool”.

We drove back to the top of the world in the rain. As night fell we hit the rolling hills, and the mist. Kahuna’s driving was incredible, as the visibility was ten feet at best, with no street lights or evidence of civilization. Up and down, up and down, my stomach felt like a kite on a string, caught between the air and the earth. I concentrated on not throwing up and like good parents, Fancy suggested, we kids watch her i-pad in the back seat. She set us up with Jersey Shore. Providing not only amusement, but an opportunity to bring Kynalu deeper into the familial fold. All other family members were way into The Shore, having assigned roles to our  new “room-mates”. How would Kynalu appreciate being “Vinny” if he didn’t know that Vinny was the glue?

After a couple episodes, both Extra Fancy and I were more nauseous than before, so we took it back to the radio, which, from the middle of the island, was reduced to two channels. Mary J Blige’s “No  More Drama” was a singalong, smelling salt of jam. With Mary leading the charge, we made it to the top of the island, and parked. With no electricity for miles we stepped out of the car into the universe, The Milky Way threading its way across the night sky. There were more stars than there was darkness. We rushed back into the warmth of the car, all still in wet shorts, besides Kynalu, who could have handled the cold mountain night, in his cardigan, denim, and boots.

We still had to clear the other side of the mountain, as it’s peak marked our halfway point. Kahuna called out names like “Poo Poo Ka Ka Road”, asking for a navigator, as he continued to forge ahead with limited visibility. I felt myself go white green, which is what happens when the blood leaves my head and I am about to be sick. Fortunately the gas light and accompanying buzzer lit up, forcing me back to consciousness. As sleeping in the car became a dim possibility, my dread and anticipation forced me to wellness. We were miles from anything, looking for street signs in the mist. We hadn’t even seen oncoming lights in thirty miles.

The consummate leader, Big Kahuna pushed and paced the car through the hills, as he googled, mapped, and yelped, late night gas stations on his i-phone. We coasted into the gas station and cheered. Everyone piled out and I staggered over to a garbage can and threw up. Once gassed up, we made it home to hit the showers and eat a late dinner. Once again Fancy ate sour cream, Kynalu had Makers Mark and toast, and Extra Fancy and I ate everything loose and unclaimed in the fridge.

Day Three, Best Day Ever. Maholao.