A Funny Thing Happened

- by Lynn Michaels

One of the nicest things I get to do as a published author is travel. Mostly to writers conferences where I get to see my writer friends.

A conference I attended in Boston was just weird. The hotel was very old, and I swear it was haunted. Two nights in a row we had a fire alarm late at night. During the second one I smelled smoke. Or was it sulfur?

I flew to Denver for a conference, but drove home to Kansas City with a friend. An eight-hour, seven-hundred and fifty mile drive across Kansas.

First, it was hotter than blazes. Second, my sinuses went nuts. We were rained on, and I mean rained. I kept looking for Noah and the Ark. Instead I saw a tornado drawing a bead on I-70. Thankfully, it dissipated. The rain ended, we were back in the inferno, it rained again, then we were dumped back into the blast furnace.

Last we drove through a brush fire. By the time we got home I couldn’t breathe or hear. When I told my husband Michael about the trip he said, “No plague or pestilence?”

I’ve had trouble with my sinuses and my right ear ever since. I blame Kansas.

The most fun conference I attended was in Hawaii. On the shuttle bus from the airport I saw Diamond Head. The driver said it was open to the public and you could climb all the way to the top. That’s all I needed to hear. I live in Missouri. When would I ever get another chance to climb a volcano?

My friend and fellow author Linda Randall Wisdom is as nuts as I am. She agreed to go with me. What’s left of the cone in only 761 feet high.  Piece of cake we figured.

Linda and I B.DH -- Before Diamond Head

We went on the bus early one morning, got off at the wrong stop and ended up walking halfway to Diamond Head. When we got there we followed the road that’s cut through the side of the mountain into the crater, which is so huge it looks like another country. That should have been our first clue.

Initially the trek to the top wasn’t bad. The path was nice and wide and paved, but the higher we climbed the narrower the path became, and the iron railing enclosing it kept getting taller. On one of our stops to breathe,we saw a sign warning tourists not to leave the trail. Several had in the past year and perished. That gave us pause, but we were determined. And stupid. Did I mention that?

On we climbed, huffing and puffing, our calf muscles burning. We were almost there, almost to the summit we thought, when we came to The Stairway to Ben-Gay. So steep we couldn’t see the top step.

“We can do this,” Linda said, hooking her arm through mine. “Just pretend there’s a shoe sale up there.”

What a pal. And that’s how we made it. All the way up those God-awful stairs, through the tunnel beyond and up a flight of spiral iron steps to the top of Diamond Head.

I brought home a t-shirt that says on the front: I CLIMBED DIAMOND HEAD AND LIVED.

On the back it says: After 299 Steps, Dark Tunnel, Spiral Staicase (Yes, it’s misspelled) No Lights, No Water, You Better Believe…I EARNED THIS T-SHIRT.

I still have the shirt and I still wear it. I get a lot of comments in the grocery store.


  1. What a wonderful trip, Lynn. I just read a feature by a woman who asks herself if what she wants to do will make a good story once she reaches a nursing home. Your stories will be entertaining forever. I’ve driven across the country several times, but on the southern route where we missed Kansas. I guess it was a good thing.

  2. Thanks, Phoebe. My sinuses agree — missing Kansas is a good thing!

  3. Lynn, my sister told me all about that trek to Diamond Head. Once she was in Hawaii visiting her daughter and son-in-law (he’s a Marine and was stationed on Oahu at the time). She just about died getting all the way to the top. It wasn’t just the climb–she’s kind of claustrophobic and the tunnel nearly did her in. She warned me that I would probably not survive that tunnel (I’m *very* claustrophobic–just the thought makes me shiver).