Monday, October 4, 2010

~ Gary Sleik holds a house party next to where it once was ~

Dubbed a going away party, Gary Sleik invited friends and neighbors to his old picnic site that is perched near his home site. Gary lost his home on July 25th when relentlessly advancing molten lava overtook his home; burning it to the ground and covering the area in over eight feet of new lava but leaving his sheet metal roof partially exposed. The shot above shows the little structure made for the party and also showing the roof remains of Gary's house on the left. Below; the same party shelter and the ocean entry plume nearby. Gary, pictured below, is not permanently leaving the islands, just off to the mainland to visit his daughter and enjoy some time away from the lava fields and the cramped van he now lives in, but he wanted to have a little gathering of friends and neighbors out on the lavascape that once was his beautiful homestead. With the help of his closest neighbor Lava Dave,
Gary salvaged the lava-spared top roof dome of what once was his beautiful gazebo; found in the burned-out ruins nearby, and they built a nice sun & wind-protected shelter for the party goers to sit under. They placed the shelter overtop the picnic table that still sits perched on a higher lava mound near the house site. This is the same picnic table we had carried from Gary’s carport before the lava took it in July, and, where he and Darlene sat in the wee hours of the 25th watching the home they built together go up in flames (see photos of that further down).Darlene and Gary survey what remains of the home.

As his friends slowly arrived for yesterday's party by making the long hike across the raw lava fields from nearby Kalapana Gardens, Gary would take each visitor over to his lava-rubbled house site and give them a tour and tell stories of the good days living there and of the events leading to the homes eventual demise from lava.

Remarkably the lava below the old house site remains quit warm and a little gassy from molten layers hidden eight to twelve feet below.

We teased Gary about the new picnic shelter becoming his new home and that we would help him built a few more floors for a better ocean view. As you can see by the pictures I took of this gathering the ocean entry lava plume is only a short distance to the south from where we gathered. Luckily the winds blew the fumes away from us.

The eclectic group gathered there all had great stories from past encounters with Pele’s wrath, including having been burned completely out by the 1986 or 1990 Kalapana lava flow in which more than 144 homes and an entire community were destroyed right there in the same area.

On those fateful days of July, as molten lava relentlessly progressed through the forests and lands surrounding Gary’s home, many of these same friends and neighbors at yesterdays gathering had also visited Gary to offer their support. As his friends arrived, and lava was approaching, Gary encouraged us all to have fun and food. Fun was playing horseshoes and playing with the molten lava advancing, which by July 24th was coming within eighty feet of his home and thirty feet from his gazebo, the same gazebo that he salvaged the round roof frame off of yesterday to use as our picnic shelter.

Below I will share with you more of the photos I took during those last days-hours on July 24th and the early hours of the 25th as lava entered Gary’s yard and soon after took out his home: The making of lava hand molds in Gary's driveway

Above: lava crossing into Gary's backyard and heading for the gazebo, which is shown below. (The 20-rayed gazbo roof somehow survived the lava and was used to make the party shelter roof for yesterday

Waiting and watching: House stairs above, gazebo below

Gazebo succumbs to lava above and Pele is about to hug the house below.
Not too often we find molten lava in our front yards...

Gary & Darlene sitting on the picnic table watching the inevitable
My original posting of this July 24th to 25th event can be seen here
You can watch my video of this event by opening the following KLTV-7 NEWS page link and then clicking on either of the two featured Video Gallery links on the page.


  1. What a fascinating account of a one of a kind story. To surrender to nature while watching one's own house overtaken by lava must have been painful but yet moving. Thank you for sharing the photots and story.

    Louie C.

  2. That must have been heart-breaking to watch - though, I'm presuming they were able to remove the contents of their house beforehand. It's good that they were able to roll with the punches and throw parties, despite that.

  3. I know how spectacular the home was in 2007, I also know how spectacular Gary and Darlene are, they invited us into there home, not seeing one another for several years they treated us like family. My home is always open to them, you dont need to call first!