Dec 26, 2004

Life's a beach, then you dive.

I took all kinds of lovely photographs of valley streams and waterfalls, forests, a hawk, and the ocean skyline today, but my Gateway notebook with the built-in memory card reader is a paperweight, and I forgot to bring my USB cable which allows me to connect the digital camera to my desktop. Oh well. I'll be back there in two days.

I also saw a large pig today with three small baby pigs following behind her single-file. Aww-inspiring. And in the same place, I had a staring contest with a majestic Hawaiian hawk for awhile. The hawk won.

I'm so glad Christmas is over. It was incredibly depressing this year. The whole event was terribly strained. Everyone was clearly trying too hard to act as if they were actually enjoying themselves. The senselessness of it all infuriated me, and I feel fortunate I got through it without nipping anyone's head off (though things could have potentially gotten a little ugly over Christmas dinner). Something about being here depresses me immensely, and it isn't my parents. The utter isolation, maybe, and bitter memories of the worse times of my childhood. Perhaps it's the fact that nothing changes here, which evokes the realisation of how much I have changed, and that the golden days of my childhood have long passed me by. I am never going to get them back. What's it matter, though? I'm still as much of a spoiled rotten bastard as I ever was.

Amongst a bunch of other junk, I got a sharp hatchet, a 4-piece knife set, and a big flashlight.


Dec 25, 2004


you fucks.

Dec 24, 2004

I am truly beginning to loathe this time of year. Everyone can just take their superficial holiday cheer and COOL new material possessions and stuff it. Jesus in a jumpsuit, you fools and your predictable senseless bullshit. It's like everyone is just running around in circles on a track. Aw, little Timmy got a new X-box. Little Timmy's happy. Nothing like showing your love for someone else by going out and buying their affection at a superstore and hiding the receipt. I don't want to open any presents this year. I don't feel like I even deserve any. I don't want anything new. I already have too much junk as it is, and I just want to start getting rid of all this useless crap that ultimately just makes life miserable. Damn all these lamentable traditions I am expected to participate in for the sole reason that I exist. I think I shall be off to make my mark on a few tacky plastic holiday lawn ornaments. Maybe I will run into the Father of Materialistic Greed, aka Santa Claus. I'll be certain to carry a bludgeon with me just in case, as well as a sharp cutting instrument to free the reindeer from their reins. Any of Santa's little minions who happen to be roving around singing repetitive Christmas carols for beer money can scurry back to Wal-Mart headquarters in the north pole and share the tragic news with the district manager so he can quickly hire another fat old shmuck with a beard and a drinking problem to sneak in through people's chimneys in the dead of the night for $6.75 an hour. ...Then have a bite to eat at McDonald's and receive a bunch of awesome little toys to pride around and show off to their friends. Getting stuff is so fucking cool. For them. I don't want any of it anymore. Owning stuff is a most excruciating form of bondage, and I don't feel my spirit can handle such oppression. Eh, I kind of feel like breaking into someone's house tonight, myself. Maybe I'll even wear a santa hat just to show some Christmas spirit. I think I shall be off to do that, actually... it'll be a new experience.

Yup, it's that time again, and I am possessed by something. And it sure isn't holiday spirit. Everyone clear a path. I need all the space I can get to fight this battle, and whoever happens to get in my way, well... tsk, tsk. Poor souls. **Sets out into the night**

Several hours pass

Mmkay! I have returned. I didn't happen to witness anything magical Christmasy, just one car and a slew of obnoxious mutts. I'm not sure how I should feel about domesticated dogs anymore. They are canine, granted, so I feel somewhat related to them and have to respect them to some degree, but on the other paw, they are so utterly guided by human influence and are so submissive to its "owner(s)" that it's disgusting. At least every other residence comes standard with a dog here, and having some nasty mongrel yapping noisily as I pass by quietly greatly disturbs the serenity of everything. Wild canines are probably the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen... domesticated dogs are usually far, far from it.

This world, though... what the fuck? Whose idea of a joke is this?

I feel as if the entire room is spinning, and that I am sitting upside down as I type this. I have not had an ounce of liquor, either. My parents had better let me sleep in, because I am a volcano that is just about to blow its top.

Ho ho ho and a helping of genocide!
Today, I overcame my irrational fear of sea crabs.

It was surprisingly easy. A simple walk along the base of the towering sea cliffs was all it took. They are always there, wherever the water wets the rocks. Predictably, they all scurried away into their little hiding places as I approached. I had realised that they belong there and I have no reason to fear them a long time ago, but that never kept me from becoming petrified everytime I came too close to one. For much of my childhood, I felt I would be less frightened having a chance encounter with a hungry shark out at sea than I would be if surrounded by dozens of sea crabs at my feet. Well, I sat on a rock perfectly still for what must have been a good half hour just watching them move up and down the boulders along with the waves. I always feared their creepy sideways movements, and the eerie way their legs hammered up and down as they moved along. The longer I watched it, though, the more natural and sensible it all seemed. I even found a desiccated crab corpse sitting on a rock, and I scooped it up and took a close look at it. Whatever caused me to fear such a creature, be it a childhood experience I could no longer recall but was still part of my sub-conscious, or a bad dream I had one night years ago, I suddenly realised it was quickly fading away. Maybe it already had been fading away somewhat before today, but just a few hours have passed since I finally concluded that I had nothing to fear. I can easily rationalise fearing humans to death, but crabs? No.

Speaking of humans, many people tend to flip out when I tell them I would be more inclined to save a raccoon's life over the life of a random human being I do not know. They seem to think I either must be lying in order to make myself look like a "badass punk" or something along those lines because I demonstrate a complete lack of morals or compassion for "my fellow man," or believe that I must be a terribly disturbed, mentally unstable, perpetually miserable, morally bereft hopeless sinner. Coming from those sorts of people, I cannot help but take it all as compliments. I would, however, like to make a few things clear, in my very own territory where narrow-minded fools cannot attack me from every side with their baseless claptrap (civil, intelligent comments are welcome). I have been over this before, but many people just can't seem to grasp it, so I repeat myself: the value system(s) and moral code(s) you adhere to, whether you have invented one, customised borrowed elements from a few for yourself, or subscribe to one or two universalising systems, do not and should not apply to everyone else. It's such a simple concept that so many people say they comprehend, but their actions demonstrate otherwise. Certainly, I understand why one might get a little exasperated when I assure them that my natural instinct would be to take a bullet for my cat than I would for them. Humans love to think they are vastly superior to all other species, and it's no big mystery why they would be inclined to believe that. They are more evolved; more intelligent; develop this remarkable art and architecture that they alone revere with tremendous sentiment; destroy and ravage the very habitat they depend on more than any other species; spread their filth and contamination all over the world, whose resources they consume excessively and inefficiently; enslave and slaughter billions of innocent creatures for their own entertainment, food, and scientific progression; have a God who of course assumes human form because humans are more worthy of divine precedence than anything else. Imagine worshiping a God that looked like a fish, the horror! Fishing would be internationally banned, for fear of catching God on a hook! Say, if God were a fish, wouldn't he just skim along the surface of the water instead of swim like his school of disciples?

If only more people were more educated and less ignorant enough to realise how dependent they are on the very environment they are altering and decimating for their own luxury.

Well, as many who know me closely or are even somewhat familiar with me are aware, I do value animals over humans. It comes naturally, and it is neither something I gloat about nor am at all ashamed of. I bother to mention it publically only when asked a question on the subject, as I am usually not compelled to say things for the sake of being outright offensive, but I am brutally honest about what I truly believe, think, and feel. I am simply appalled at the fact that so many people cannot seem to accept this about me and hence refuse to treat me with any respect and dignity as a result. As much as I dislike humanity on a general level, I still show respect to people I come in contact with, especially in person. I realise that it's not their fault they're human. I know I am far from alone in my values, and do not feel they make me unique from everyone else. I have a strong feeling several others share the same sentiments but are less inclined to be open about it. I cannot blame them, either. I feel that being accused of having a "horrible mentality" because you would sooner free a dozen foxes from their cages to save them from burning up in a fire and let two old men in lab coats burn up is nothing short of ridiculous, but I was accused of such a thing recently on only a slightly different example. From human perspective, sure, it's "horrible," but fortunately, humans aren't the only thing in this world that matters, nor should anyone bother trying to convince me I am in the wrong for seeing things from an animal's point of view. I sympathise with animals much more. Animals have inspired me in more ways and have shown me more beauty than most humans ever have. If you have trouble dealing with that, maybe you need the therapy.

Now that I have all that out of my head, I am off to enjoy my Christmas Eve. I am rather fond of today's Google logo. **Saves**

To anyone who may be reading this, I shall not part with a horribly clich├ęd and hollow "happy holidays," but rather, something I mean from the heart rather than a phrase I just saw from the latest Wal-Mart commercial or the back of a card on a mass manufactured bouquet of fake flowers. I sincerely wish you all enjoyable and prosperous years ahead, bounteous with beauty, warmth, and love. Even if you sometimes feel you are estranged from the rest of the world, there is never a time we have not something in common.

Dec 20, 2004

I'm sorry. I don't speak monkey.

If I ever need any reminder as to why I have developed the distinguishing characteristics of a recluse, all I must do is take a little trip out to the shopping mall. Crossing over from the parking lot to the movie theatre entrance last night, I was nearly plowed over by a large black GMC blasting The Crystal Method and traveling a good 30 mph in a 5 mph zone. Good music, but no music is particularly enjoyable when you're wedged under someone's super boggers. I would have had more than a few witnesses, certainly, for a dozen or so humans were congregated outside the theater, few of them not chattering noisily. I pushed my way through the mall entrance door, making eye contact with absolutely no one, and made a beeline for the theater box office. I was on a mission to see Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It had been a good many months since I had last been to a movie theatre, primarily because it galls me to shell over $8, and sitting in a theatre where there is -always- by some international standard at least one unsettled baby and a trio or quartet of noisy punkrawk teenagers present is only something I can bear every once in a while. Somehow, my conscience just wouldn't allow me to fork over another $5 for a bag of popcorn. That is why I love you! And criminally over-inflated prices explains why I purchase a bag of Reese's Pieces at 7-11 for 97 cents instead of buying a box of the very same size at the concession stand for $3.

The audience for this particular showing was tolerable. As for the movie, well... the movie was simply fantastic. I shall drop no spoilers, as I urge anyone who has not seen it to please go do so. The previews for the film are worthless, and certainly nothing to judge it by. Jim Carrey is a delight, and the all-encompassing range of his acting talent is vividly expressed in this work. The plot, and so many of the overlying and underlying themes, are fabulously twisted, a la Alice in Wonderland, and the characters wonderfully eccentric in the flavour of the Addams Family. Anything remotely resembling the Addams Family, after all, cannot be all bad. By no means is this a "kid's movie." It's kid-safe, but adults will probably enjoy it at least as much, if not more, than children.

Only when I actually exited the theatre did I really experience a problem. Even at 9:30 in the evening, humans were everywhere around me as I walked briskly toward the glass separating me from the outdoors. I almost felt as if they were closing in on me. The echoes of their mindless chatter bounced off the walls and rang into my ears, nearly deafening me and rapidly driving me into a state of infuriation. I could feel someone staring at me, but I did not wish to turn my head to glare at them and make them look away. I needed to keep my eyes on the exit and concentrate on leaving. My heartrate had increased dramatically, I had developed a tight knot at the base of my throat that made it difficult to swallow, and I was beginning to sweat. As soon as I burst through those glass doors and got my first breath of fresh air, having escaped from that confined area of unpleasantly curious human odours and cacophonous noise, I was all right again. Yes, I had experienced the classic sociophobic panic attack. I am not sure what directly triggered it, because I have not had one in quite awhile. As much as I do not care for crowds, I usually do relatively fine in them. Not the case last night. I somewhat suspect it might have something to do with the movie ... perhaps an epileptic aftershock due to all the brilliant, fast-moving images my brain had just absorbed. The only catch is I have never known myself to be epileptic. I then cruised down to one of my favorite spots along the coast, an area reachable only by strolling half a mile through lush rainforest on a lovely path. I'd never seen anyone down there, and the same was true of last night. As I gazed out over the eternal aqueous blackness before me, nothing above my head but the star-ridden sky and not a known human soul within listening distance, I realized I was truly all right again. I know exactly where I belong.

I am not presently feeling too well. Perhaps it's because I just spent what feels like hours dreaming of cramming for huge exams, something I was actually doing just a week ago. Similar to what I did in this world, I glazed over hundreds of pages of text just to absorb as much knowledge as I could, feeling under incredible pressure. The last thing I needed was such a realistic sub-conscious recap of the entire deal, but that is exactly what I went through, and I feel utterly mentally exhausted again. Hopefully, this feeling will just fade away before long. Two of the classes I need to register for next semester are already filled, meaning I have to go through the waiver process again. Delightful. Course registration can never be completely straightforward. No lab or math courses on this go-around, just lots and lots of geography and an english course. I'm thrilled. Two or three more semesters and I should be graduating, depending on how many of my previous credits transfer.

Anyway, the holidays are here, so I am going back home to the country for a week or so to escape from the commotion, and attempt to absorb some of the spirit of Christmas ... maybe. My dingy apartment certainly shows no signs of the annual occasion, but once I'm home and my muzzle catches the aroma of the Christmas tree in the living room and the generous assortment of holiday cookies laid about the expansive kitchen counters, I'll know. I'll hear the snipping of scissors and rustling of wrapping paper, see the bright coloured holiday lights adorning the entire house, and observe hanging from the tree ornaments I have known my entire life; those that have hung from every tree we have had in the past sixteen years or even further back then my memory extends. Any deviation from the routine, the lamentable ordinary, is always welcomed... and I always have been one to embrace every opportunity for a nostalgic moment. -- Not much yet, but I figured a photoblog journal would be a good thing to have lying around.

Dec 15, 2004

We Fly

(spoken) Ask me whether I recall the past
my friend, I do
Ask me for the pain, the sins
brother, I regret nothing.

Like a landscape that you gaze upon from the sky (we fly)
watch the highlights of your life passing by (we fly)
float back into our wonderland, hand and hand (we fly)
catch a dream, let me in (we fly)

We can take this trip together
come along, I'll show you how
We can stay awake all night
we can do it here and now
leave your worries right behind
So in the view we share
rise with me, forget the time
we are everywhere

Like a landscape that you gaze upon from the sky (we fly)
watch the highlights of your life passing by (we fly)
float back into our wonderland, hand and hand (we fly)
catch a dream, let me in (we fly)

(whispering) No regrets, no tears
(spoken) don't feel sorry
(whispering) it's over now, I know
(spoken) don't you worry.

-"We Fly" - Seabound

Dec 5, 2004


Something about listening to the euphonious keyboard and synth amalgamation of "Rushing" by Moby blaring out of a Pioneer soundsystem while following a two-lane divided highway straight into what appeared to be a violent freak rainstorm sent shivers down my spine. The clouds appeared so luxuriously white and puffy near their peaks, resembling tall, snow-white castles reaching up into the heavens, while much farther down, they reflected a shade of foreboding deep grey. In no time, I had rushed into the heart of a cloudburst, and the raindrops began falling against my windshield like bullets. So deafening was the impact of huge, heavy raindrops against the glass that it drowned out my music already playing at high volume. I paused my music to listen to nature's beautiful harmonics, switched my wipers on to full speed, and slowed way down, as the road was becoming flash flooded in a matter of moments. Even in the middle of the afternoon, visibility was abysmal. I nearly hydroplaned over a stream traversing the road. The rain did not taper off for a good fifteen minutes, when the road led me into the upper domains of the clouds. I decided to resume my music, and when the current song I had initially paused ended, 'shuffle' brought up "Under the Sun" by Whirlpool. A delightful song, to say the least, but I was positively taken aback when a few sun beams did begin to shine down in almost perfect sync with the opening beat. I adore these sorts of perfectly timed coincidences, if one could call them such. Halfway through the song, the sun became obscured by very low clouds. I could safely stare up at the glowing sphere, which appeared dull and dingy beyond my shades, the tint of the windshield, and the density of the clouds. In fact, it looked remarkably similar to the moon. No overwhelming brilliance, forcing me to shade my eyes or look away. In conjunction with the song still playing, it was rather hypnotic.

I reached my destination, Volcanoes National Park, around 3:30 in the afternoon, having only left my apartment at 2:50, and already feeling as if I had experienced a full day of adventure. If I only had some idea of what was to come. I showed the ranger at the entrance gate my annual pass, made a left turn immediately thereafter onto Crater Rim Drive, and followed the twisting, turning road through the lush rainforest. A couple miles later, I stopped at the tourist-infested parking lot for Thurston Lava Tube. Even with the rain descending regularly, the area was still swarming with tour buses, rental cars, and humans bundled up in rain gear and protected by wimpy umbrellas. I walked out to the trailhead, watching the tourists predictably march down the designated concrete path, one after another. Good grief, I had to break away. Fortunately, just beyond the path leading down to the 'big attraction,' a gravel road led off into the wilderness. It was appropriately named Escape Road, and after two minutes of strolling down it, I had left all the undesirable commotion behind. I soon reached an iron cattle gate, beside which stood a separate chain link pedestrian gate. I let myself through it, and began to lose myself.

Naturally, I was the only one out there... it was as if I had suddenly stumbled into an alternate universe where humans fear to tread. This little one-lane road must have went on for miles through this beautifully lush, damp, cool environment, but I did not even consider once how far I was walking. I was lost in my imagination, while thoroughly enjoying the intermittent showers making contact with my skin, and the light fog enchanting and embracing me from every direction. The soothing sounds of the rainforest surrounded me, and it's nothing like what one would hear on a cheesy "sounds of nature" audio CD. Being out in it is being in an entirely different world. The familiar sense of liberation that quickly overcame my feral spirit was incredibly arousing. It tends to build up consistently and hit one with a sudden rush of power, much like an orgasm.

Encountering another iron cattle gate after awhile interrupted my trance-like state. Only a few metres beyond it, two wild pigs were grazing for food along the road. They seemed not to mind my presence at all, or even notice it. It made me wonder if pig hunting actually required much skill at all. Rather than disturb them, I opted to deviate from the road and follow a path leading perpendicular from the road, along a wire fence apparently erected to keep feral pigs out of the national park. Being an introduced species, they are infamous for completely ravaging rainforests.

The beauty of exploring areas you have never been to before is that one never knows what he may find. Sometimes, I may discover very little of interest at the end of a walk, but find that the journey was still worthwhile for the walk itself. Other times, I may discover something spellbinding; so spectacular that I assure myself I must return someday soon. The latter happened on this particular adventure. After about a mile of following this little trail along the fence, I reached a depression in the ground, at the bottom of which stood a gate boasting a pair of signs.

Admittedly, when I first read "Pig Control Unit," I envisioned an elite group of buff, heavily-trained anthropomorphic pigs dressed up in uniform, brandishing large police rifles, all carefully surveying the rainforest for intruders as they guarded some secret military bunker, inside which Magnus, Anubys, and their inferiors concocted schemes for world domination. And that big red warning sign only encouraged me to seek out a lava tube or cave to have some forbidden fun in. I let myself through the gate, then followed what most appeared to be a trail that ended at a steel ladder descending into a hole obscured with fern undergrowth.

By this time, I had truly become consumed by the spirit of adventure. My imagination had the capability to turn this into an action-adventure video game. I descended the ladder, planting my feet on the damp, rocky floor of the depression. Before me rose the wide mouth of a lava tube, closely resembling the mouth of some hungry monster, the pitch black darkness within threatening to swallow me whole. I produced a flashlight and courageously ventured into the primitive cavern, not quite sure what I would find.

As soon as I strayed far enough in to leave the light shining in from the outdoors far enough behind, I could sense the danger of what I was doing. I had only a single flashlight with me, and no replacement batteries. I was not even certain of the age or charge left in the set of batteries currently in my light. I imagined how difficult, hazardous, and time-consuming feeling my way back out in absolute darkness would have been. I would have had the advantage of not being afraid of the dark, even pure darkness, but it still would not have been easy. The technique, as I recall, was to maintain consistent contact with the same wall on either side, so as to avoid accidentally turning around in a circle and heading back deeper into the cavern. Proceeding very slowly was also very important; as escaping alive would be much more difficult with a massive head injury. Oh, and I was supposed to have a "feeler" stick with me in case I would have to resort to feeling my way out, but I lacked one. I suppose this all just heavily contributed to how arousing this entire experience was. It's a dangerous obsession, literally, to be aroused by subjecting myself to danger.

As I trudged into the lava tube, deeper and deeper, it once again became hard to convince myself that this entire formation was created by natural processes. It seemed much too... streamlined... calculated... engineered... to be the work of nature. In areas where fragments of the ceiling had not littered the ground in the form of sharp, angular boulders, the floor was smooth and flat as concrete, and the walking incredibly easy, even for bare feet.

Unlike the unnaturally-lit, paved lava tube all the tourists flock to, however, this one was entirely unmodified, and virtually all of its remarkable geologic features were left intact. Occasionally along the way, the passage would become quite narrow...

...before widening again. Maybe a kilometre into the tube, I reached a fork in the road. At this point, the ceiling stood above me several times my height, and the room seemed large enough to build a cabin in. Ah, spelunking is every bit as unique an experience as flying in the sky, which could perhaps be considered its converse. Naturally, I chose the left fork first. I was pleasantly surprised to see dingly blue daylight filtering down from above through the trees.

As I approached it, I noticed a small opening in the ground above where a large portion of the lava tube had collapsed. I scrambled up the large pile of boulders and exited, back in the rainforest. I saw nowhere to go, however, but right back into the tube. The prize for emerging, however, came in the form of a sign identical to the red one I had seen posted on the gate earlier. It was simply lying on the ground, face-up, begging to be taken home in Arcy's backpack. I complied, of course, by picking it up and stowing it away. I believed it would make an excellent wall hanging just above the light switch by my door. If I'm not allowed to take home precious geological artifacts (which I actually respect), then I can at least do my part to clean up the environment by removing bright red signs obnoxiously disrupting the visual serenity of the forest.

When I re-entered the lava tube, I happened to discover a narrow off-shoot of the main cavern. I had to resort to maneuvering very carefully on my hands and knees, but my incentive for pursuing this endeavor was the suspicion that I would discover something quite spectacular at the end. It turned out that this little passageway winded straight back, dropping right off into the main cavern. However, it was here that I witnessed some fantastic volcanic features:

Realizing I would be in trouble if I spent too much time admiring my surroundings with my light, I scrambled back into the main cavern and made my way back to the fork, this time going the other direction. Only half a kilometre or so later, I arrived at another opening where the ceiling had collapsed. Once again back above ground, I discovered a trail which led me right back to where I had initially started from--the chain link gate. Ah, what a circuit. How gratifying it was to meander off the beaten path and find a lava tube to explore all for myself; one that isn't invaded by countless souls from foreign lands day after day. The experience certainly served as a metaphor for the sorts of treasures one can discover if they have the mind to deviate from the most trodden trail. This area was most certainly never mentioned in any park pamphlets or denoted on any maps.

As the late afternoon descended upon me, I decided to head back to Escape Road. I continue following it farther for awhile, not in search of any particular destination. Only after a certain point did I finally decide to turn back, as the road seemed to go on for eternity. I actually did not desire to reach the end and betray the sweet mystery of it all. Wandering back up, I noticed the late afternoon sun casting its golden light on the highest trees above me, which I found quite euphorically beautiful. The breeze rustling through the leaves and the chirping of birds was about all that could be heard, and things smelled oddly of approaching twilight. The sun had already set by the time I reached the parking lot, which by now, was almost entirely devoid of cars and completely lacking of smelly buses. From a scenic point across a fern-dominated hollow, slightly obscured by fog, I could see the dingy orange glow of the lamps illuminating the lava tube mouth in the distance. It seemed so... delightfully Halloweenish. And it seemed to be beckoning to me. I followed the asphalt path down into the hollow, bathed in the wonderful atmosphere of rainforest at gloaming, and slowly walked along the steel platform leading over a seemingly bottomless pit into the tube.

Immediately, I was reminded of the Caverns level from Goldeneye 007, or the Mystic Caverns zone from Sonic the Hedgehog, or some of the cavernous stages from Donkey Kong Country. Ah, the exciting parallels I can draw between worlds... I had never been inside this tube before in the complete absence of obnoxious humans, and I found the atmosphere incredibly appealing. I found the relatively bright orange light that pervaded the cavern to be strangely entrancing, and the shallow pools of cool water that rested on the smooth concrete floor to be quite sensational against my lava-worn bare feet. All that could be heard, aside from my own breathing, was the constant drip-dropping of water from the ceiling. And the air, it felt so cool. A nice breeze swept through the tunnel, bringing with it a chill that made me shiver occasionally. After awhile, to my unfathomable indignation, I heard voices approaching from the same direction I had come. I opted to keep on moving until I reached the concrete staircase that led up and out of the tube and back to the parking lot. Just to the left of that, though, was a chain link gate wearing a sign that was actually welcoming instead of foreboding.

How could I possibly turn down another opportunity to get lost in a dark cave? I opened up the gate and descended into the tube, noting how smooth the floor was against my feet, and actually welcoming the absence of bright lights to guide my way. I felt much more comfortable being immersed in absolute darkness. At a certain distance, the lava tube simply ended at a cheaply manufactured brick wall. I decided that I would crawl up into a little crannie and rest for a little while with my light shut off, savouring pure darkness for awhile. When provided an entirely blank canvas, in this case one with 100% opacity, the imagination can cook up some rather surreal images. In fact, it wasn't long before my little hallucinations actually began to frighten me. I did, however, hear voices echoing down the tube, so I did not wish to depart just yet. Before long, I saw beams of light sweeping against the wall and ceiling, and annoying laughter. I remained perfectly silent, wondering if they would go as far as the end. They did. I watched a rather touristy couple marvel at their surroundings for awhile, disturbing the tranquility of the place to a dramatic degree with their horseplay. Five minutes later, the guy's floodlight... err, flashlight revealed me huddled up in the crannie, and the poor girl apparently almost had a heart attack. I just smiled and waved, utterly blinded. I bet they weren't expecting to see some scary creature hanging out alone in a dark cave without any bright flash light on to protect him.

"Do you have a light?" he asked, as his girl stared at me like I was some sort of mutant.

"No, I don't smoke" was my reply.

"Oh, I mean... well, just as long as you're okay."

"My respiratory system is healthy as can be. ...Not sure about her, though."

Another classic conclusion to an epic adventure.