Saturday, August 20, 2016

P is 12 - A Volcanic Birthday

There's nothing like keeping a secret for weeks, even months, and then revealing it to a person who is completely surprised. P12's birthday in mid-July was SO satisfying.

First, the cake. She wanted a volcano cake, and I had hoped to make it erupt using dry ice, but the only dry ice on Oahu turns out to be a 2-hour drive away (without traffic), which wasn't the best use of her birthday. So I "erupted" it using Jell-O.

I made two round cakes, stacked them on top of each other and cut them into the shape of a (steep) shield volcano. I cut out a caldera in the center. After icing the cake in brown, I made Jell-O using half the water called for. I put the cake in the fridge, and once the Jell-O was cool but not set, I spooned some of it into the caldera. I repeated the process every 5 minutes or so, resulting in a layered look to the "lava". Candles, of course, added to the "eruption" effect.

Next, presents. I know other people got her good gifts - there was a tessellations coloring book and some marvelous art supplies - but I was mainly waiting until she opened the gift from us. It didn't look fancy; it was just a few pieces of paper in an envelope.
She wasn't quite sure what it was all about, at first. "It says... Hilo? Someone is going to Hilo? Tomorrow?"
"Look at the names of the passengers," suggested Ari.
Realization slowly dawned...
"That's right. Just you and Mommy are going to leave Daddy and the boys behind and spend 5 days on the Big Island. You leave tomorrow morning, so let's work on packing!"

She and I had a marvelous time. We stayed with friends of friends, who were amazingly wonderful people and gave us great advice about what to see. And the volcano satisfied abundantly! P12 is a good hiker, so we were able to scramble all over and see all sorts of things that we wouldn't have been able to with the little guys in tow. I'll leave you with a sampling of photos.

On our first day, at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The crater with the main eruption is behind us. It's a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night:
The next day, we did some serious hiking.
We started out with the Thurston Lava Tube, then hiked all the way across Kilauea Iki caldera. The hill behind P12 was a fire fountain back in 1959, and the flat surface of the caldera was a lava lake.
Since a 4-mile hike in the morning only whetted the appetite of these two hard-core ladies, we decided we were still up for a 10-mile hike in the afternoon/evening, since it involved watching lava flow.
After a restful Sunday with our new friends, we drove around to the Hilo side of the island on Monday to see Pu'uhonua O Honaunau, also known as Place of Refuge. It's a place where the ancient Hawaiians were able to flee for safety if they had broken any of the kapu, or taboos. They had to swim or canoe in, likely with someone chasing them intending to kill them, but if they spent the night in the place of refuge, they were safe. I have heard the claim that many traditional cultures have elements that make it particularly easy for them to understand the good news about Jesus, and wondered if this might be such an element in Hawaiian culture: we have broken God's laws, and the natural consequence is spiritual as well as physical death, but if we run to Jesus, we will be saved.

In the afternoon, we drove to South Point and took turns being the southernmost person in the United States, and then hiked 3 miles round trip to a green sand beach. The sand isn't pure green, but there is a lot of olivine (a green mineral) in it, which gives it a greenish hue. The olivine erodes from the cliffs behind the beach.

On our last day, we spent the morning looking at lava trees (the structures left behind when a lava flow travels through a rainforest), and then went swimming in some gorgeous tide pools with more corals than I've seen anywhere in Oahu.

When we got back, the guys had managed fine without us, and we enjoyed being back with them - a good break helps you appreciate people more! I'm still amused that P12 asked for a volcano cake when she had no clue that the next day, she would get to see an erupting volcano.


  1. That is so so very cool!!!! Jealous.

  2. What cool parents you are... And raising amazing human beings