Who is Chuck and why does he like to travel?

I was born to be a writer and when I wrote my novel Wild Point Island, Chuck, my orange and white recently rescued feral tabby, got it in his head that he wanted to travel to the island and see the place for himself. Well, of course, Wild Point Island, can only be seen by revenants (you'll have to read the book to find out who they are) and Chuck is no revenant so instead, I concocted a plan to take Chuck with me when I travel around the world, which I do frequently. Not an easy task. First, I have to deflate the poor kid of all air, stuff him in my carry-on bag, remember to bring my portable pump, and when I arrive, I pump him back up. Ouch. But he's used to it by now and given the choice to either stay home in his comfy cat bed or get deflated, he pulls out his passport, ready to travel, every time.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chuck Watches the Lava Flow

I should have known that when Chuck started watching the History Channel, we were all going to be in trouble.

Fast forward. We are in Sicily on the Taormina side, and if you know anything about Sicily, you know that they have an active volcano that seems to be forever erupting--Mt. Etna.

Now, relax, they tell me, because there is no chance of a full-fledged eruption like the one they had back in the 1600’s when the lava flowed down for thirteen years straight, reached all the way to the town of Catania, completely destroying it, and well . . . you can imagine the rest of the story.

These eruptions--which occur practically on a nightly basis--are baby eruptions. And, I have to admit, when we stayed at the Villa Diadora, we would go up to the rooftop at night and gaze over in the direction of Mt. Etna and watch the lava flowing down the mountain. Pretty cool sight.

But Chuckie wasn’t content to watch the lava from afar.

He wanted to see the lava close up.

And, yes, it was possible. But you needed to get to the top of the mountain.

Were we crazy??

First, we boarded a bus which could only take us so far. Then we hopped on a cable car, the kind people board who plan to go skiing, and up we went--higher and higher. Now, at this time, Chuckie had his eyes plastered shut, because if you read my blog faithfully, you know my rascal cat has some trouble with heights--does anyone remember the Eifle Tower incident?
Finally, we climbed into an all terrain vehicle which proceeded even further up the mountain.

When we arrived, we were assaulted by the terrible odor of rotten eggs.

But we weren’t there yet. Oh, no. We had to hike for another 25 minutes across what appeared to be a moon scape. We were hiking across a wind blown, freezing landscape, covered with lava which had hardened.

Finally, we reached the spot. A crack in the earth where we could peer down and see FLOWING LAVA INSIDE THE EARTH.

Now the earth beneath our feet was like black glass.

“Be careful,” they said to us in Italian. “If you fall, you will cut your hands.”

Ha. That was the least of our problems.

The crack in the earth was located on a precipice, which you had to climb to the top of in order to see anything.

When it was my turn to peer over and look down into the hole, there I was, camera in one hand, CAT peering over my shoulder, and one too casual Italian Mt. Etna worker grasping my other hand, as I leaned over and tried to snap a photo.

The heat from the hole was so intense, my make-up melted off my face.

The surface of the earth was like black glass.

The whiskers on Chuckie’s face were singed.

For one horrible moment, I imagined everything going wrong--dropping my camera into the pit, dropping my CAT into the pit, slipping into the pit MYSELF.

As I stumbled away from the cauldron, I slipped, of course, and my hands smacked against the black glass-like ground. Ouch. Blood ooozed out.

But this time I couldn’t blame the Chuckster.

Yeah, he had egged me on to see the flowing lava, but the sight of that red hot liquid mass flowing along, inside the earth, was breathtaking.

As we tramped back to the all terrain vehicle, Chuckie snuggled close to me, and I knew what he was trying to say--this trip had made up for that other one--where I had tried to ply the kid with a bit of culture--you know, the Vincent Van Gogh semi-tour/almost cemetery one.

Oh, yeah and even I had to admit--this was way cooler!

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