As far back as I can remember I've possessed a strange fascination with the inconceivable force and destructive power of volcanoes. Their magnificent potential for mass destruction make the M-80s I used to score from the creepy older kid in my neighborhood seem as powerless as defending against a nuclear attack with an AK-47. Creepy kid's name escapes me, but I'll never forget his sister Sarah who shattered my innocence with arousing childhood games of doctor. After testing the structural integrity of my sister's Barbie dolls among other unmentionables, I soon grew complacent of the lacking destructive abilities of his firecrackers. They no longer generated the intensity I craved like, well, certainly his sister but more importantly my newfound discovery: household chemicals. I would "precisely" blend my concoction (actually just pour a bunch of crap together) into a cup, carefully position it on the sidewalk, light it on fire and bolt from ground zero as if my life depended on it. A tiny flame would flicker from the melting plastic cup as the mystery concoction began to bubble and ooze all over the concrete. More than two decades later, the solidified goop and resin still mark the altered landscape of that sidewalk just as memories of Dr. Sarah are permanently burned into my brain.
Overlooking Strawberry Point,...
Overlooking Strawberry Point, the amazing view of Zion National Park in the background nearly took our breath away.
M-80's and household chemicals were only a gateway to my amateur pyrotechnics career. I eventually graduated to designing bombs out of sparklers, two-liter pop bottles and other incendiaries, but nothing ever satisfied my madness for magma. In my adult life I simply took to things that my editor says he nor our readers really care to hear about for obtaining that explosive effect. Needless to say, something definitely blew when I got a call from Justin Dawes, Kawasaki's Media Relations Coordinator, inviting me to join him and his brother Geoff on an adventure ride through southwestern Utah's Dixie National Forest. This destination would offer all of the stimulation necessary for maintaining my peak excitement levels with postcard views, a host of extremely technical trail systems and, most importantly, an ancient landscape that was transformed when it was consumed by molten lava approximately 2000 years ago. This was my opportunity to not only explore the results of ancient volcanic destruction, but to venture deep into the eerie lava tubes that wind like a maze into the depths of the earth's crust.
Justin and Geoff spent their grade-school days getting lost in Dixie National Forest. "Our parents bought a piece of property up in Swain's Creek when we were kids," Justin explained. "We spent every other weekend there during the summer riding and working on the property." The Dawes brothers promised this ride would be an experience like no other, which was all the assurance I needed to grab an airline ticket and pack my bags.
Chillin' deep in the bowels...
Chillin' deep in the bowels of the earth made us realize just how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of life.