We set up toward Vesuvius, one of the legendary mountains on the planet. As we got to the top, the guides offered us a “special” deal where we would walk around the entire cone of the mountain and then enter the crater (a little bit). Since we had a little bit of extra money at this point, I said sure (after asking the kids). We set off on our tour.
Now, I quickly realized three things:
1) Some of my kids were deathly afraid of heights even though they didn’t say anything. Rob began freaking out almost instantaneously. When we were walking down a cliff he crouched down and grabbed the side because he didn’t want to fall. Travis said, “Man, I can’t believe we’re on this volcano. What are we doing up here?” At that point, though, nothing could be done. They had to tough it out.
2) Many of the kids were afraid the volcano would blow up. Our guide told the kids that Vesuvius is the best studied volcano on Earth and that scientists would have a lot of warning before any eruption would occur. Also, he mentioned the next eruption was not forecast until 2020. Still, someone asked, “What are we going to do if it starts looking like it’s going to explode?”
3) Our guide was crazy. The kids called him “Billy Goat” at the end of the visit. At one point, he stopped in the middle of what he was saying, crouched down and began pawing at the rocks to find one specimen to show us. When we went down into the crater, he was jumping from rock to rock merrily without a care for where he was jumping, etc. The nickname was well-deserved.
Additionally, the weather got really crappy, really quickly. A thick layer of fog rolled in and unfortunately made it so we couldn’t see the view from the mountain. In spite of that, we got to descend into the crater and stick our hands into a hole where steam was escaping from the mountain. Really cool stuff.
We took some sweet group pictures and then began to hike down the mountain. Bajia was not a fan of going down and continually told us (she was walking with Kelly) how she was going to die. Nevertheless, we survived and made it back to base camp. There, the guide had me sample some Vesuvian wine (made from soil enriched with the ash of the mountain) and thanked us. It was a really nice visit.