Thursday, January 15, 2015

Report from Lava Zone 1

*Lava Zone 1 is a real estate term for those places on the Big Island with the highest risk of being covered by lava.*

*We live in Lava Zone 1.*

*There's a chance we're completely out of our minds. But it's really, really pretty here.*

Since June 27th, lava has been oozing in molten swaths down the slopes of Kilauea volcano toward the little town of Pahoa. Despite the constant, unnerving threat of destruction, so far only one home has been lost, a few businesses closed, and two people arrested for sticking golf clubs in the lava. Lately I've been wondering if Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of the volcano, has a wicked sense of humor.

Who else could get throngs of tourists to come to a tropical paradise and visit ... a dump?

The Pahoa "Transfer Station" -- aka "the dump" -- came within one drainage ditch of being buried under lava. It was shut down and evacuated, and the whole town mourned the loss of our brand-new, $5 million eco-friendly waste facility. Then, in October, the lava just ... stopped. Right at the edge of the dump. We held our breath for about a week, until a new lobe of lava took off, heading for a different part of town.

The dump survived, but County officials jumped at the opportunity to offer visitors a way to view the lava flow. Here are a few pictures from Pahoa's newest tourist attraction. It's well worth a visit to see how breathtakingly close the lava came, to admire its elegant, primal swirls, and see the steam still leaking from the newest rock on earth.

Locals have left tributes to Pele, which is understandable since we're really happy to still have our dump. But tributes would be left no matter what; to live in Hawaii's Lava Zone 1 is to know that things could change at any moment. It's best to honor the mighty forces at work here.


In fact, another change is coming March 1. The dump will be reopened for business. We'll still get to view Pele's handiwork as we drop off our recycling. :-)

Have you ever seen the lava flowing here in Hawaii? Do you think we're nuts to live here (only part-time, but still?) 


  1. Confused? I thought you were originally from LA, relocated to Alaska?

    1. Yep! All true. But we spend a few months out of the year on the Big Island of Hawaii. It's a nice balance and keeps us from losing our sanity during the endless winter.