3 a.m. wake-up’s are not my favorite. But I made an exception to pile into a jeep and drive an hour to go see the sun rise over an active volcano.
The view spot was located at the top of a single lane road with cliffs on either side of hills that rivaled those of San Francisco. Did I mention the jeep had manual transmission? Every time the driver approached a corner he honked to check for traffic coming the opposite way and my palms tingled from fear the way they always do when I’m contemplating falling to my death.
We went through a toll gate that was being manned by one of Shane’s 11th grade students who would go to school at 7 a.m. after working the toll gates starting sometime earlier than 3 a.m. In 11th grade I whined and threw fit if my mom woke me up 10 minutes earlier than my scheduled time of 15 minutes before the first period bell. This kid was a real hero, working longer and harder at the age of 16 than I hope to ever work.
We arrived to the viewing spot and stood among about 50 other eager and mostly Indonesian tourists. We partook in the popular ritual of taking photos every 30 seconds, sure that the sky changed since half a minute ago. When the sun did rise it was a spectacular display of color painted across the horizon, interrupted by 3 plumes of volcano steam. The kind of view that justifies waking up at any hour in the morning.
Afterwards we went to Mt. Bromo. I sprung and paid to get dragged up the mountain on the back of a mini horse, not much larger than me. (we really bonded during our 10 minutes together) Then I hiked up several hundred steps to the crater. I arrived at the top, legs weak and trembling, building situation in my head that at any moment they could give out and I could still tumble down the crater and die today. The view into the crater was straight out of the pages of the National Geographic. Billows of white smoke constantly poured out of the mouth of the volcano reminding me of the ultimate power of the Earth that is so easy to ignore in city life.