Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Woke up at 2 a.m. this morning - bright and chipper, ready to go after arriving home from Europe last night. Only problem is that it was still dark... imagine that? Guess I'll fade away later today, but the jet lag hasn't really set in yet.

I have always been completely fascinated with volcanoes. I can remember as a child watching some movie where the natives had to run away from a raging volcano, with giant flaming rocks careening down from the blackened skies, boiling hot rivers of red glowing lava streaming by around them... and thus composed in my head such a vision of all volcanoes.

When visiting Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, looming in the distance over the bay of Naples, I was thrilled with the opportunity to hike up its steep, red, gravelly peak, though having to huff and puff all the while in the sweaty, humid June heat. The ankle I sprained was tightly wrapped in my trusty ace bandage, and still fat and ugly. The slippery gravel was treacherous and I was the slowpoke of the bunch. An aging Gypsy couple standing at the beginning of the trail was handing out walking sticks to all the tourists, but being forewarned by the bus driver that a small fee in euros would be extracted upon their return (sticks), we avoided them. I was hoping for a promised puff of smoke from the crater or a fumerole, but there was nothing in sight. I picked up some sharp red pumice which was everywhere underfoot to put into my pocket. I'm hoping there isn't a curse on this volcano like the one on Kilauea, on the big island of Hawaii - where Pele - who is a goddess of fire, lightning, dance, volcanoes and violence, is said to curse Hawaii visitors who return to their homeland with volcanic rock. The fire god will bring you terrible misfortune until you return what you took.

Half way through our trip our camera conked out, so we used our traveling companion's camera (quite presumptuous of us, yes?) to snap a few coveted pictures. I think it will be a little while before we are able to get those pics, due to the fact that those folks are still in London...

I will post about Pompei - which is one of the two cities which was destroyed by the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius. That city has been partially excavated where it lay beneath 20 feet of rock-hard ash which covered everything. It was just fabulous to stroll down its streets paved in stone, a time so far in the past but well preserved.

The volcanoes in Iceland were the first I've ever seen up close and personal (other than our own Mt St. Helens in Washington State, which was completely fogged over with rain and clouds when I visited in 1996, preventing any viewing, and a partial view of Kilauea's old eruptions but not the current one), and are very different in color and structure than Vesuvius. I love to see anything to do with volcanos - and this was indeed a highlight of my trip.


Outdoorsy Girl said...

Welcome home, Terry! I know how that jet lag is! Ugh!

I am fascinated by volcanoes, too! Italy is defintely my top destination choice for my next European trip. I wanted to go to Pompei and see Mt. Versuvius myself, but now I REALLY want to go! That is so awesome!

Can't wait to see some pics! Sounds like such a great trip!!!

Keep that ankle on ice! Hope it heals quickly!

Again, it's good to have you back!!! :D

javajazz said...

woah, thats just so damn mighty...
such power in them thar mountains....
i dont even get what a volcano is...
like, all mountains dont spit
fire and ash, correctamondo?
thats just so fire and brimstone,
i can see one having the utmost
respect and reverence for the
magnificence of it all....
and it kind of makes sense
the not taking souvenirs of the volcano...
that would kind of be like us throwing up
and someone coming along
to take some of the pieces....
maybe not.
k, forget that poetic analogy....

jillie said...

Those are great pictures and what an amazing trip. I hope nothing happens to you in the way of a curse. Maybe good fortune?

Oh that is terrible that your camera conked out...MAJOR BUMMER! But you'll always have the memories.

Getting back on U.S. time now huh? Oh that whole first week back I was a mess I tell ya. But you know, it's worth it and I would and hope to do it all over again!



tsduff said...

Hey Julie - you would love Vesuvius and Pompei. The way you hike about you would be up and over the top in no time at all. I really have great interest in the human side of the event... can you even imagine being alive during that time when it went off? Funny thing is, the people there thought their mountain god was upset, so the very night preceding the eruption they honored him with a festival to appease him. Guess it didn't work.

Lisa!!! Ha ha ha ha ha your humor slays me. Great minds think alike, yes? I do have reverence for the Earth and all things in it, but I see no problem with moving a rock from one side of the world to another. I have three pebbles to be exact.

Jillie - The jet lag is just now beginning to take its toll. Last night we went to bed a little later - passed out around 7:30 instead of 6 pm... got up at 3 instead of 2am. Progress. Too bad my brain is still mush, and at work I think I didn't accomplish much of anything at all. Ankle is better - I'm off to get some stuff called arnica at the multiple recommendation of my fellow "in-the-know" folks... (I'm embarassed that I've never heard of the stuff). Yesterday was the first day since the sprain that I didn't eat asprin like candy. How's your foot by the way?

Glad you had fun in London with A - isn't she fun? Love her little kiddo too - miss the quick time we enjoyed with them.

ECS said...

I loved coming-back-from-Europe jetlag, and would always hold onto it as long as possible. I remember coming back after studying in Paris in late January and loving all the gorgeous winter sunrises I got to see.

Was also at a volcano myself recently, although the hot stuff wasn't so visible. They are pretty amazing land formations, and definitely one of the great things about this country.

neva said...

wow, Terry, what beautiful pictures and what a wonderful post! it seems both you and Monika have the "power" of volcanos on the brain this week -- what's up with that? ; ) xox