Five sets of eyes stared at the greenery fickering by as the van headed south along the highway. Only the three front rows of seats had passengers, giving the extta-long commuter van the feeling of chumminess. It was a submarine feeling, sitting close together, shoulders hunched and necks crooked to get a good view. Were all the engineers at Ford so short that the low-set windows weren't a nuisance, or did they never actually sit in their own designs?, she wondered. Patches of black broke through the green blur as the road started to climb through lava fields.
Dave, the driver, who was also the tour guide, half-turned his head as he spoke. It wasn't quite alarming. "Okay, we're getting close to the park now." The van's microphone hung limp on the front bench seat. "You'll really feel the temperature change. It's almost 4,000 feet high in Volcano—"
One of the Germans spoke up. "Will it be cold?"
I wish, she thought. Hawaii so far had been unseasonably hot, enough that she'd spent a good chunk of her discretionary funds to join this guided tour of Volcano National Park. She imagined how satisfying the crunch of Mauna Loa's snow under her sandaled feet would be. Although right now, anything under 80 degrees would be welcome.
Dave had his eyes back on the road, but his little tour group could still catch the edges of his grin. "Oh hell, yeah!" He wiggled the bill of his baseball cap up and down, then settled it back into place over his blond hair. He had on Hawaiian business attire: shorts and a red-and-white aloha shirt. "I came up here one time? It was raining, a cold rain! Man, it was so cold I had to put socks on."
"Socks?" The taller of the two Germans sounded unsure.
"Yeah, I know! Oh, it must've gotten down to 60, 65. Man, I was dying."
The Germans were looking at each other, so she asked. "But you were still wearing shorts, righ?"
"Huh?" Now Dave was confused. "Well, yeah. I was driving up from Hilo. I'm not used to it being that cold." He paused. "My toes were cold."
"You grew up on Maui, you said?"
"Yeah! Volcano's the coldest place I've ever been to."
Wow. "I hope it's cold."
Dave slowed down the van and rolled it into a little parking lot off the highway. He rubbed his arms. "Well, I hope you brought socks, then."