There's a new illness in the world lately: it's volcano voyeurism. USAToday.com mentions on its website today that the eruption of the volcano in Iceland I can't spell has brought volcano tourism to the forefront of worldwide tourism.
Per USAToday.com: To ashen travelers stranded across the globe by belching coming from the depths of an unpronounceable Icelandic glacier, the prospect of communing with an active volcano may be as enticing as spending the night on an airport terminal floor. But to legions of thrill seekers, the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull is the latest advertisement for the greatest show on Earth.
I'm not embarrassed to say that I would TOTALLY go see an erupting volcano! I mean, Mom, Howie and I took a helicopter tour over Mauna Loa in Hawaii one year. It was frickin' cool. Especially when the helicopter hovered over an open lava tube, and we could see the orange glow of the lava, and even feel the heat of the inner earth against the window. (OF COURSE, we did not hover right atop the hole. That would be stupid. We were to the side of the tube, but still close enough to FEEL THE HEAT ON THE WINDOW.)
More from the website: "I suppose it's the same feeling we get when we see an enormous waterfall," says lava lover Simon Winchester, whose book Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 recounts a cataclysmic volcanic blast off the coast of Java that killed 40,000 people, altered weather patterns worldwide and sparked long-term scientific and societal aftershocks.
"We like to be, if it's not too great a pun, brought back to Earth — reminded of the puniness of who we are, and of the majesty of the planet."
When a crater close to long-dormant Eyjafjallajokull started shooting off fireworks about 75 miles from the capital of Reykjavik on March 20, the spectacle drew throngs of intrepid sightseers — including about 1,000 North Americans, says Einar Gustavsson of the Iceland Tourist Board in New York.
The party atmosphere (including helicopter tours and "lobster on the lava" dinners) dissipated when Eyjafjallajokull, about 2½ miles away, cranked up on April 14. But the tourist board's website offered swift reassurance that tourists were safe and sound and "Icelanders' daily life is proceeding quite normally."
Indeed, says Gustavsson, in a country the size of Ohio with some 330,000 residents, 10,000 waterfalls and 130 volcanoes, people "come here for the nature — and in Iceland, it has always been untamed."
I want to see how much a ticket to Iceland costs. The Iceland airport was the only European airport open all those days that the ash cloud covered the continent. Doesn't that trip, barring the possibility of anyone getting hurt, sound like fun? Volcanoes rock! HA!!