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Feel the heat...

Posted Oct 14 2010 8:59pm

I can't believe tomorrow we're leaving Kona. Time has flown by and Reid doesn't want to go home, he wants to stay here.

Before our family day started, I went for a 30 minute run. It was hard to get mentally out the door and get my legs moving. I was afraid it was going to hurt.

Once I got going it wasn't too bad, albeit slow. Near the end of the run I was faster than the beginning and it was a nice easy and relaxing run.

I stretched afterwards and still have the pain in my hamstring and buttocks. I really need to rest it.

Unfortunately with the NYC marathon only a few weeks away it may be difficult. I'll need to do the marathon with less training or make it more of a training run than try to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Today our family outing was an open door helicopter ride over the volcano's. The brochure called it "Feel the Heat" and said we'd be close enough to the volcano that we can feel and smell it.

It was out of Hilo which is a 2.5 hour drive from Kona. The drive was part of the adventure. We drove cross Island, which gives you a real perspective on it's elevation. Just on the normal roads we got up to 7000 ft above sea level.

As we were driving, I saw a sign for the Mauna Kea Observatories , which is on top of Mount Kea and when you get to the top it's almost 14,000 ft elevation. We were ahead of schedule, so we drove up to the visitors information at 9,000 ft.

We rented a "crappy" four cylinder Dodge Calibre and when we got to the visitor center I could smell something in the engine was burning from the climbing. I didn't say anything to Alice or Reid about it.

Inside the Center I spoke to a Park Ranger and asked him if we keep driving up the road is the observatory on top, he said, "yes, but do you have a four-wheel drive vehicle? We only allow four-wheel drive vehicles past this point. The road is not paved and is loose gravel". I said, "no we only have a two-wheel drive". He said, "then you won't be able to go any further up than where you are now which is 9000 ft".

As I was leaving the center, another guy who had just returned from the top said, "I wouldn't worry about what the Ranger said, we just came back and we only had a two wheel drive Ford Edge and I saw other smaller cars like yours up there. It is steep at points and you just need to keep it in a low gear and give it everything at some points. And before you get to the top, it turns into paved road again and then you're home free".

That's all it took. Against Reid and Alice's "pleas of NO LETS NOT" I decided we have come this far, lets go for it. At that moment the Ranger came out of the visitor center and I had to hide until he got in his vehicle and drove where he couldn't see me and then I "gunned it up the hill".

The ENTIRE time, Reid and Alice were freaking, saying, "come on lets turn around, the Ranger said this is dangerous, don't be a fool, I don't want to do this". Undeterred, I kept going. As we climbed we got higher than the clouds, it was a cool and scary feeling.

The road was bad and I had it in low gear. They were grading the road and at one point I was riding over the middle of a strip of rocks that hadn't been graded and heard a loud "BANG", the bottom of the car hit a big rock. I'm used to my Toyota 4Runner with more clearance.

After I hit that rock, Alice was freaking, "what are you doing? Don't you know that's a dangerous part of the road to drive on?". Actually, before I hit the rock she was freaking "get away from the middle that's a dangerous part of the road to drive on".

Eventually, I wore the family down and they stopped trying to turn me around. I was determined to get to the top, which is about 6 miles of a drive. We finally got to the paved road and were only 400 ft from the top when we all smelt something burning from the engine and the car seemed to be having a real tough time climbing, it felt like the car was minutes away from "tapping out". Even I was "worried".

At this point Reid was also sick to his stomach and had got back to "Dad, lets turn around, I don't want to go to the top, my stomach hurts, I don't feel good, lets just go down" and was near tears.

Finally, after the car started smelling like burnt rubber, I agreed to turn back around and go down, which took some maneuvering in the middle of the road on an incline. For the entire way down, I had the car in neutral and was riding the brake. Just as we got near the visitor center I saw the Ranger driving up. It was a good thing we didn't make it, I'm sure I would have gotten in trouble when he caught me at the top.

The ride from Kona to Hilo is worth the trip. The terrain changes and has a little bit of everything. There is a lot of climbing and hills. The speed limit is 45 mph and I was going 65 mph over some of the hills. Driving over some of them was like driving on a roller coaster. At one point, we were going so fast it felt like we were on a roller coaster when we'd drop down, you'd feel it in the "pit of your stomach". Of course Reid and Alice were nervous and complaining about my driving, which is "nothing new".

We just made it on-time to the Hilo Airport for the helicopter ride. It was a good thing we didn't get to the top of Mount Kea or we would have been late. As we were watching the video and then got a safety lesson, I started to get nervous and "a little scared".

They walked us out to the Helicopter and the group coming off before us told us "you'll enjoy the wind" which freaked me out a little more. They strapped us in, I was in the front with the double shoulder harness and Reid and Alice were in the back with lap belt style seat belts.

The pilot was an older women that looked like a professional women's golfer or "a lesbian". Now I was even more scared, "a women driver?" She lifted off and and introduced herself and asked "Cody" a question. It turned out that somehow they screwed up and instead of havin the name "Reid", they had "Cody" on the paperwork. It didn't take long until I started calling him "Cody" too. I was constantly bugging Reid and saying , "hey Cody, ........(insert lots of questions here).

Flying a helicopter with open doors was a little unsettling for me, especially if we caught some wind or she did a mid-air turn and I felt like I was going to fall. Even with the harness seat belt I felt like I was "slipping out the door" and when I took video, I had to hold on to the camera with both hands or it'd blow away.

In the end, it was cool, we saw the lava fields, although there was "NO FEEL THE HEAT or SMELL THE SMELL" experience. It was more of a , FEEL THE WIND AND COLD and SEE THE SMOKE" experience.

When we landed, Alice and I got a good laugh about Reid's new hair style. The wind coming off the blades of the helicopter made him look like "Vanilla Ice" .

It was 4 pm by the time the helicopter ride ended and we stopped for some dinner before heading back to Kona. In hindsight, I should have went straight back to Kona. We had to travel the same road, which can be narrow in spots, it hilly, windy and VERY DARK.

The drive took longer than normal and 9 miles into it Reid and Alice were "freaking" that I didn't have enough gas to make it back. I checked on the GPS and the closest gas station was back in Hilo, I had to turnaround and go back to where we started.

When we got back on the road, I was telling Reid and Alice that the helicopter ride freaked me out. Reid said he wasn't freaked out or scared about riding in the helicopter or scuba diving, but he is "major league freaked" about my driving. My driving style "is unsettling" to both him and Alice. Big time.

We got back by 9 pm and were all pretty tired. For Hawaii, staying up past 9 pm was a late night.

Easy Run - 30:05 / 5.39 km / 5:35 pace / 122 avg hr

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