Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brian Versus the Volcano, Part II

Previously on Brian Versus the Volcano....

(insert video montage here: some girls get the rose, others don't...crying...."but, but, but I'm pretty." Then a preview of fantastical princess fantasy dates - oh wait, that's ABC's The Bachelor)

Ok, I left off with describing the last ditch effort to ride on the day we were leaving the islands and heading back to warm sunny Iowa. If it worked I would be riding down from the 10,000 ft summit, descending about 7,000 ft in 17 miles or so.

The Summit Team was up again at 3:30 a.m. to meet our guide, Aa’Ron, at a gas station…we wait but he’s not there. I call him, no answer. We start to get worried, but suddenly beater truck rumbles in outta nowhere. He’s got everything but the bike rack for our rental car...he thought I had it ....couple of phone calls, he screeches off. I think a rusty part flew off his truck. It looked a little like this one, except it wasn't a tow truck and did not appear to be alive.

Then he’s back again, gotta rack this time. “Oh crap” he says, thinks he didn’t turn off alarm at the shop, screeches off again. It was like watching a circus clown car show, only we were in it (and I had gotten us into it). Me and 5 sleepy ladies in a Lahaina BP station, just watchin’ the most unexcellent adventure unfold.

Finally he got everything squared away and we were off. Me and Bodie were in one car and the Ladies were following us. For the next hour and a half I was immersed in the World According to Aa’Ron. I couldn’t possibly relate all the sage surfer hippy wisdom I absorbed on that drive, but suffice to say I’m waaay cooler now than I used to be. In an ironic twist he was telling me he wanted to be more like me; find “one girl to settle down with” and “start a family” and “keep a regular job”. It blew me away a little. Here he is also telling me about how he spends part of the year being a guide and support crew for a wilderness outfitter in Montana, another part of the year surfing in Hawaii and occasionally “jets to Indo” (which I later surmised to be Indonesia) to “hang and surf”.

I was all-like, “Yeah, one time when I was writing this grant the page numbers got all screwed up and I didn’t know why because I had formatted the header and footer field correctly…..and so I just said @#$% it and jetted for Indo too.”

I knew Jackie wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of me even doing this ride. God-love-her, she is a self-appointed Safety Officer and Danger Expert.

My adventure was redlining every single of one of her Caution Indicators.

I didn’t know she was white knuckling the drive up the twisty road to the summit as well. She later told me that she’s not really into that whole plummeting-off-the-side-of-the-road-to-your-death thing.
Aw, a rainbow

Her experience just driving up there would be important later because meanwhile....

Aa’Ron was splainin' to me that the access road to Skyline was actually a Federal road while Skyline was State property (or was it vice versa?). The National Park Rangers would sometimes close the paved access road, which would mean to get to the start of our ride we might have to wait out the Rangers and “make a break for it.” You know, that didn’t sound too good for the ole’ marriage, but I was still onboard with Bodie. Then he said something about having Jackie drive our car, with the bikes on the back, up the access road. He would jump out and move the closed barrier aside and then she could drop us off halfway up the road. This would shorten the distance we’d have to “break” for, but would make her an accomplice in our “trespass”. Uhm, hold up Bodie, I don’t think she’s gonna go for that. “This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity Bro, she’ll do it, she loves you man.” Damn if he isn’t persuasive.

We get to the summit in time. The sun is just starting to come up. They tell you to be prepared for cold, but they didn’t tell you to be prepared for COLD. Unfortunately there was too much cloud cover and the sun didn’t break through for the spectacular light display, but you could definitely tell that it would be amazing when conditions are right.
The crater was cool though.

The whole Ranger/closed access road scene played out just like Aa'Ron said. We played it cool, super chill man. I don’t know how, but somehow I obtained the necessary clearance from Safety Officer Jackie. She, like the trooper she is, drove up there just as Aa’Ron described it and dropped us off. She got out of the car to give me a goodbye kiss. Her eyes were a little misty when she told me to be careful. I felt like a real selfish shalub. Then, off I went down the paved road just below one of the most powerful space observatories on the planet....

Oh, I'm sorry, that's all the time (or reader's attention span) we have for this episode. Please join us next time when we see what happens on "The Ride".

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