Tracking Twain into a Volcano

It’s lunchtime at Volcano House inside Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Sitting in a rocking chair, I gaze out a wall of plate glass windows at Halema`uma`u. Two miles across the rocky landscape, lava erupts from a hole in the ground 4,000-feet above sea level. I have to remind myself of that. That below me an…

Mark Twain’s Lesson on the Literary Sidekick

The smell of the fireplace at historic Volcano House permeated the air, threatening to give me a headache, while a motor roared to life behind us. “I’m just going to do a fast vacuum,” a housekeeper said. “You guys can stay.” My traveling companion—we’ll call her D—and I sat in wicker rocking chairs facing a…

Mark Twain Would Have Loved the Wilderness Act at First Glance

It’s appropriate that I’m in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Not that I planned it, which makes the whole thing even better. I’m here researching and writing about Mark Twain’s visit to Hawaii in 1866. He made the long horseback journey to Kilauea Volcano during that visit. This…