Have you ever been inside a volcano?
I was only five years old when my parents took me and my sister Samantha to Hawai'i for our first big vacation. The scenery provided undoubtedly some of the most striking and beautiful memories of my life. "Paradise" doesn't do it justice. But one activity on our trip stands out amongst the rest, and that is when the four of us ventured down Haleakalā, the world's largest dormant volcano, on horseback and spent the night in the crater.
Please understand that my family is not very adventurous when it comes to nature. We don't do "the outdoors". So riding horses, hiking, and camping in a little hut in the middle of nowhere was not typically on our agenda. It was very risky for my parents, and it paid off.
I remember that my horse was named Ginger, and I remember that she and I climbed very delicately up the mountain, sometimes on a narrow shelf of a path with a giant cliff to our sides. It was scary.
I remember that the tropical climate of the islands seemed to vanish when we got to the bottom of the volcano - and so do the paradisal beauty! In fact, it looked like a desert, and we froze our noses off that night!
The views of the sunset from the summit of Haleakalā were striking, and our pictures can't do it justice.
Haleakalā's last eruption was in the 1600s or 1700s. Hopefully the volcano will hold out for another twenty years so I can bring my own family back for a similar experience!