zolac_no_miko: (after twenty months at sea)
Today I got paid $16/hour and free dinner to drive a bunch of NYU students around in a van. And like, see the Gemini North telescope control room, and go up to Mauna Kea summit, which are things I would do for free.

And it was just. Perfect. To slowly climb the switchbacks while the sunlight turns golden high on the cinder cones, with the whole earth and a sea of clouds dropping away beneath us and Mauna Loa growing larger and impossibly larger to the south, and the peak of Hualalai erupting into view, then Haleakalā—"Look, there's Maui!" "Whaaaaaaat, no way!"—and pulling over at the top with the swollen, luminous full moon rising just above the limb of the summit cone in the east, and the observatories gleaming like jewels in the glory of the sun to the west, and the kids gasping at the view and laughing at the way the thin air makes their heads spin, and the sky going red and indigo, and Venus, then Jupiter, then Regulus igniting above the horizon, and driving down in the dark with the full moon too bright to look at, casting shadows and illuminating objects in color vision, the sea of clouds glowing nearly as bright, the sky black and starry and the hulk of Mauna Loa even blacker, and the smudge of glowing orange cast by Kīlauea's lava against the clouds. And parking at 9000 feet with the moon too too bright but still with so much hanging above us in the sky, the Big Dipper and Polaris, Scorpius about to devour Saturn, and taking them to see the silverswords gleaming ghostly alien in the moonlight, tall flowering stalks standing silent shadowed sentinels. All the kids lying on their backs, shouting in astonishment as meteor after meteor slash across the sky, Timo asking, "Well, it's getting late, should we go?" And one girl yelling, "Noooooooo, I'm going to live here, I want to stay on this mountain forever!!"

Yeah, girl. I know exactly how you feel.
zolac_no_miko: (TARDIS)
It's two in the morning and tomorrow's going to be a looooong day, so I will be brief.

Chris and Campbell spent the day at the Orchid Show and the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens; I spent the day bloodying myself on sharp lava in Southwest Kahuku. ...Well, okay, there was only a little blood. And afterwards we stopped at Punalu‘u Bakery (the Southernmost Bakery in the United States!) and sampled their sweetbread, and I bought pineapple ice cream, iced Ka‘u coffee (I can vouch for Ka‘u coffee, it is FANTASTIC), kukui nut oil chapstick, and organic dark chocolate with pineapple, lime, curry, and KAVA in it. So, yes, I have now consumed kava. (How has it taken me 25 years of living in Hawai‘i to do so?)

After work I abruptly abducted my French coworker Laurèen; she'll be staying with us all weekend. She took one of the Blues classes this evening; had a blast. Then she, Chris, Campbell, Mom, and I piled into a rental car (the Previa's brakes are on the fritz) and drove up to Hale Pohaku, the astronomy dorms and visitor center at 9000 feet up Mauna Kea. We wrapped ourselves in fleece and down and wool and drank hot apple cider and hot chocolate, and climbed to the top of a nearby cinder cone to stargaze, forming a ring with our heads on each other's stomachs. We had a stunning view of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai in the moonlight, and the eruption was visible as an orange glow on the horizon. The moon sank into the vog and turned yellow, then red, and then the stars really came out. We identified a few constellations (and made up a few of our own– The Chris Dipper and The Skunk are favorites), and saw about a gazillion and a half meteors. Many of them had trails and were green or red in color; we would sometimes see several a minute, sometimes even three in ten seconds. We started to get cold/get tired/have to pee, and we left a little after midnight with Jupiter rising in the east.

Tomorrow: Hilo Farmer's Market, full afternoon of Blues classes, dance party at Don's.

Tonight: Not enough sleep.

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