Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Liar's Club Tour of Volcano Village, by T. Wilfred Forkenoy

From the archives..... -ADM

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching the Volcano area. On your left, you will see Mauna Loa Estates. Although resembling a jungle, this area was long ago recognized by our state to be prime agricultural land, of such fecundity that farms are a mere 1/3 of an acre each. The geography of Mauna Loa Estates is extremely unusual. You will note that we have been driving up the slope of Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world. Mauna Loa Estates, while appearing to be contiguous to this mountain, has actually been declared to be physically and legally a part of Mauna Loa, which erupts less frequently, much to the relief of residents. The three main streets in Mauna Loa Estates -- Jade, Ruby, and Pearl -- were named after the mines which produced large quantities of those gems in this area during ancient Hawaiian times. The pearls were extracted from Hawai`i's famous mountain oysters, unfortunately now extinct.

We're now turning onto Wright Road, named after famous religious philosopher Gerald Wright, the only surviving son of Orville and Wilber. Along this road are several noteworthy buildings and attractions. On our left, beyond the world's largest rainforest parking lot, is another link to aviation history: Cooper Center, named after D.B. Cooper, the notorious highjacker who bailed out of an airplane with several million dollars and was never heard from again. Mr. Cooper now resides on a palatial estate in the rainforest near here; his generous anonymous donations helped make Cooper Center possible.

Coming up on your right, you'll see the famous Chalet Kilauea Lodge, which derives its name from the fact that it is covered with over 2,541,150 wooden shingles taken from genuine Swiss chalets. In a few minutes, we'll be passing by the Llama Ranch, the home of this country's only herd of rare Tibetan Llamas, a species believed to be related to both the Bactrian Camel and the Yak. Wool from the Tibetan Llama is used to create beautiful maroon or saffron cloth, said to instill its wearers with a strange sense of inner peace, to deepen the voice to roughly the equivalent of a lighthouse foghorn, and confer a mystical desire to eat mouldy rice.

Ladies and gentlemen, as our bus turns around, you see on both sides the Ola`a Rain Forest. Please keep your seats. For safety's sake, we will not leave the bus. Several persons have disappeared without a trace in the forest in recent years. They may have fallen prey to the legendary giant upland mongoose, which is known to eat anything, even Californians. Or they may have succumbed to man-eating hapu`u ferns. Another hypothesis is that they fell victim to Wild Bores, also known as Park Rangers.

We are now returning to Old Volcano Highway. On your right, you'll see the Kilauea Lodge, famous for its fine continental cuisine and for its fireplace embedded with stones from around the world, coins from around the world, stamps from around the world and fossilized bones of Boy Scouts from around the world. Now we're coming up on the Kilauea General Store, named for diminutive Civil War General Philip Sheridan, renowned for his volcanic temper. General Sheridan is said to have once expressed a desire to visit Hawai`i and plant a monkeypod tree.

This store marks the edge of Historic Downtown Volcano. Now we're leaving Historic Downtown Volcano, and entering Suburban Volcano, which consists of Volcano Village Center, on your left, and Volcano Village Square, just ahead, one of the few squares in the world which is shaped like an 'L'. Volcano General Store, the centerpiece of the L-shaped square, is obviously also named after General Sheridan. The reason that Volcano has two general stores is that each store is the habitat of a rare native creature, the kama'aina. Volcano has only two kama'aina families left, each with its own store preserved strictly in accordance to the Endangered Species Act, even though two competing general stores in one village is a violation of the natural laws of capitalism. We will not, however, stop at either store, as the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism the has strict rules against feeding the kama'aina, which our tour bus company is only too happy to observe.

Behind and beyond Volcano Village Square is an area known locally as "The Warren," which consists of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of miles of narrow, winding roads through thick rainforest, each road exactly as wide as 1.5 Toyota Priuses. Approximately half of all Volcano residents are thought to live in The Warren -- no one knows exactly how many, because (A) no one has ever successfully mapped The Warren's true extent, and (B) it's difficult to ascertain how many people are true Warrenites, and how many are simply visitors who became lost, gave up all hope of return, and built small shacks in order to survive.

We have reached the end of Old Volcano Highway, and are turning right on New Volcano Highway, distinguished by the new volcano which it will skirt on our left (the old volcano cannot be seen, as it was buried during highway construction). Ahead lies Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, distinguished chiefly by its military camp, distinguished chiefly for having no military value whatsoever, except for that secret Pentagon volcano-powered laser thing. Oops. Forget I said that.

Thus we bid a fond farewell to historic, fascinating Volcano Village. Best wishes to all of you, thank you for taking our tour, and warmest aloha, which was named for Al Oha, the father of Hawaiian Bureaucracy. Adieu.


Susan Kay Anderson said...

I will forever be chuckling as I stand around the newly refurbished fiberglass model of the Big Island outside of the visitor's center at Volcano National Park, listening to one of the Wild Bores give one of their talks--although they are never boring--thanks for the term. It is very amusing.

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