Hawai'i Volcanoes (HI)
Park Number: 30/61
First Visited: February 23, 2012
I awoke in a panic, jolting skyward and bashing my forehead against the inside of the trunk. This is what the adventure had come to: a grown man hiding in a car’s storage compartment because he thought it the safest place to be. Checking my face for blood, now I wasn’t so sure.
In the confined space I scrambled for my flashlight and hunting knife. Something was outside the vehicle and hell-bent on entry. Sea-sick surges rocked my shelter like a sailboat caught in rhythmic waves, a violent consistency designed to destroy. Overtaken with fear, I failed to exit the makeshift bed I’d fashioned in the back of my temporary home, a rented Chevrolet Cruze, remaining idle inside the trunk instead.
My mobile fortress came easy. By folding down the car’s backseats, I created a bed which positioned the majority of my body in the trunk—my torso, arms, and head—and the rest exposed in the cab. I draped a towel over the precipice that divided cab and trunk, legs and upper body. It was a quaint space where I could read and also balance my emergency items—a phone, knife, and flashlight—in the metal mechanisms that operated the hatch.
Regardless of where I slept, however, every night was the same: eyes closed, brain subdued, but alert. A paranoid sleeper, I was ready for the worst.
But being ready for trouble and actually reacting to it are two very different things. Therefore, the darkness leached my confidence, as if the loss of light expounded the exact fears it had bred. It was the humans I didn’t trust.
So I sat in three a.m. terror, clutching my recently-located flashlight and knife, too afraid to use either. But then, just as expectantly as the shaking had begun, it ended.
Not giving in to the ruse, I waited. But, with each stabilizing breath, the terror eventually succumbed to confusion and curiosity. I contemplated the situation, the possible endings to this story, and decided to shimmy and squeeze out of the trunk to assess the danger I was in. Illuminating the scene, I was surprised to open the passenger door and find…nothing.
There was nothing near the car, human or otherwise. Nothing. I took hold of my surroundings, remembered where I was, and postulated what had happened: seismic waves, tectonic shifting, the earth alive.
From the trunk of a car I’d just experienced my first earthquake, and it was a potent reminder that I was sleeping next to the world’s most active volcano—I was sleeping in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.