Since we got home and there hasn’t been much that inspired me to write, first with the cold and the post trip catch up and subsequently just getting back into my regular routines. So, it feels like time for a bit of a catch up.
We do try, for the most part, to schedule an ‘away from home’ time in October when the Ironpeople are here, but this year, as well as last, we have been here for the big event. It isn’t my favorite time to be on island by any stretch of the imagination, as the iron-folk move in like a conquering army, many with either a strong sense of entitlement, or so much focus on the race that they check their brains at the airport on the way here. The signs go up from the race supporters reminding all us residents that we have to be extra careful of the ‘Athletes in Training’ and for the last week or two of September and the first week or two of October you can anticipate that zero body fat (yes, you DO hear a little resentment there…) people on bikes will decide suddenly and without warning to change sides of the road, cutting across traffic in both directions with no signal or indication, simply expecting that traffic will stop and allow them to complete this brainless maneuver.
Poor Kona residents get to put up with the run and swim training as well as the bikes, and are also treated to people in speedos showing up everywhere from restaurants to Walmart – this got to be such a local issue a few years back that some people invented the ‘Underpants Run’ as a mockery of the speedo wearers, but it in turn got to be a sort of inside joke and is now a fund raiser and an official part of the annual Ironman festivities.
The only good or interesting thing for me this Iron-season was that when I was in one of the local grocery stores, I saw Gordon Ramsay shopping (all decked out in his Ironman gear and wearing bike shorts and fluorescent sneakers) – he was here for Ironman, raising money for a charity in England, but he didn’t complete the course as it turned out. Did the swim, but got ill on the bike ride and had to drop out.
So, that was finally over on the 10th of October for another year (although it seems like we have some kind of triathlon about every other month now, just not as big) and life is drifting back into normalcy. We had the opportunity to go over to the Hilo side and up to Volcanos National Park this week. Some friends were here on a cruise ship and we made the trek over the Saddle Road to see them and went up to the summit. Unfortunately, no red lava, but lots of steam and smoke visible. We took a side trip down around Pahoa, which is also getting back to normal as the flow that threatened the town remains in abeyance since around Christmas time last year. There is still some activity along the margins and around Pu’u O’o vent but so far Pahoa is okay.
The University of Hawaii has done a study in the area, though, assessing community response and resiliency to both acute and long term stress, since the community was first hit by a hurricane, and then was, and continues to be under threat from the lava flow. Not surprisingly, the community resilience was found to be tied to the reactions and leadership of a few key individuals in the community, but driving around in the area, you would never really know that there was a disaster waiting in the wings to happen.
Other than that, we’re just back to our regular activities, and starting to get serious about our planning for our Spring travels – back again to Europe, but this time to Italy and France.