As an American who loves to travel, I sometimes forget that plenty of the most gorgeous places on earth are located in my home country. Perfect example? Hawaii. If there was a heaven on earth, I would argue until death that it is located in Hawaii. You can walk down the street, pluck a mango for lunch, swim around all afternoon, and walk home for nap as the early evening rain rolls in.
But the best way to see Hawaii? By helicopter!
We take off, the frigid wind whipping my hair all over my poor cousin. We managed to get it in a bun of sorts, just in time to hear our captain go, “Oh my god.” Now, normally this isn’t something I’d enjoy hearing from someone who in charge of my life a couple hundred feet above ground. But when it’s followed by “you’re in for a treat today” I knew we had made the right decision. A field of throbbing black, smoldering lava surrounded the volcano, giving us the chance to see the destructive power. A few desperate trees clung to life, with a steady water supply keeping them alive. Most of the trees, however, were sizzled to a crisp.
After circling around the damage, we went to the source of the lava. A mesmerizing, glittery substance trickled for miles. Without the doors, we could lean out a feel the heat. Not sure if Stephen (I believe that was the pilot’s name) approves of that, but at the time he didn’t seem to notice.
But the craziest part was definitely the ring of fire. I could best describe it as the opening to the center of earth, with an ocean of glowing orange lava. To see the earth bubbling up like that was pretty insane. Not only were the colors mesmerizing, but the lava was slowly running like a tired stream.
When they warn you about it getting a little chilly up there, believe them. I may look like I’m enjoying myself, but I was downright shaking when I was out of the sun’s warmth. Luckily, they had a black windbreaker for me to attract as much warmth as physically possible. Highly suggest jeans, boots, and at least two sweaters.
No loose objects allowed. This includes phones, cameras, bags, scarfs, and anything else that could pose a threat. Better safe than sorry, right? Get a camera strap or create a makeshift one with a hair tie, like I had to do.
The last thing my brother said to me before we went our separate ways was something about the GoPro. I am slightly notorious for taking the minimal amount of pictures necessary to prove I was in a place. In many cases, no photos are taken at all. So I was slightly determined to do society a favor and get some badass pics. Unfortunately, fate wanted to see me panic a little bit. Within fifteen minutes of our ride, right after we clear the clouds and are at the mercy of a million winds, my GoPro malfunctions. I try to click camera. No go. Try the video. Nothing. It wouldn’t even just turn off and back on. So, with an overstretched hair tie for a wrist band, I took the camera out of it’s skeleton, popped the battery out, and prayed it would turn back on.