How I Manifested a Free Ride in a Tesla Model S

Three days ago, I took a ride in a car powered purely by the sun.

First of all, I had wanted to ride in a Tesla car for years, but I never seriously thought it would happen, at least not this soon.

I didn’t even put it on my vision board, but I had reflected (more than once) that it sure would be great to experience a pure-electric vehicle firsthand.

Well, on Friday, the Universe manifested it. Behold, the car I rode in on:

Tesla Model S on the beach

It all started out predictably enough. I stuck out my thumb as I so often do these days to get up to the nearest grocery store. In a few minutes, I was riding in the back of a covered truck heading northwest toward Pahoa-town.

In case you didn’t know, hitchhiking is quite common in Hawaii, and it just so happens that the part of Hawaii I’m in (Puna) is probably the easiest place to hitchhike in the entire United States. (Mostly this is because of the strong alternative and counterculture contingent that Puna contains.)

Now, I could talk about how my ride into town dropped me off right at the grocery store, or the fact that I was subsequently invited to a concert, or the fact that hitchhiking within the city was absurdly easy. I could talk about all of those experiences, but that isn’t the point. The point is, a failure lead to the manifestation of a desire of mine for some time: to actually ride in a pure-electric, high performance, right-out-of-the-future, TESLA car. (And no, they aren’t paying me to write this. I don’t do sponsored posts, anyway.)

Behold my day: I am standing on the side of the highway, Hawaiian sun beating down on my brow, carrying a backpack of foodstuffs, holding out my thumb, exposing the fact that parts of my arm are still hilariously pale. Although I’ve been told this actually helps me when hitchhiking, no one seemed inclined to stop for me that afternoon, and I began to walk back to main street. Perhaps someone would pick me up and take me to the south of town to a better spot. Perhaps.

And so I stood after a popular intersection, in a place I have many times before, and stuck out my thumb. In faith.

Passed. Passed. Passed.

Hmm. People seemed disinclined today. Perhaps I wasn’t smiling confidently enough? Perhaps my body language wasn’t great? No, that wasn’t it. I just had to be patient. I took a breath and projected a welcoming vibe.

Was that a—no, they wouldn’t be… out here? Yep, it was definitely the stylized T logo of Tesla Motors, Inc.

Wait—no. No way. It’s not. It’s stopping!?

I could hardly believe my eyes when a black Tesla Model S pulled over in front of me and stopped.

I looked down to the door and was immediately flummoxed. Where a handle ought to have been, there was only an inlaid silver bar. There was nothing to grab onto at all… until the bar popped out and became a door handle.

Around this time, I realized that astounding things were happening.

As I sat down, several objects entered my mind at once: the driver, an older and quiet man; the unique curve of the dashboard; and the large screen that dominated it’s center, relaying all manner of data, including a running graph of the car’s efficiency and a projection of milage remaining. The driver soon explained that it was a giant touchscreen and was fully programmable.

At this point, I felt as though I had entered a small pocket of accelerated time. Perhaps the 2050s already existed, if only inside of this car. The driver was gracious enough to answer several of my (several hundred) questions about the car. And as he accelerated from 30mph to 70mph in the space of a few seconds, I began to realize the true power of such a machine. Not to mention the beautiful quietness of the car that the all-electric design allows. The electric motor is even used as a generator during braking to recharge the batteries.

And then the driver dropped the bombshell—at least for me.

“We’re running completely on solar power, you know,” he said to my infinite delight.
“Wow. That’s wonderful. How did you manage that? You own a solar array?”
“Yep,” was his effortless reply. “Powers my house, too.”

I wish I would’ve had time to talk with him more, but the efficiency of the machine had backfired since we had arrived at my destination much faster than I had anticipated. He pulled over to my stop, and I found it difficult to leave. He said he had to go. “Of course,” I said, and thanked him for the ride. It had happened. The Universe had granted my request, and I was still slightly stunned at the experience.

I had ridden in a Vehicle of the Future. Truly.

I stepped out and watched a pitch black Tesla Model S zip into the distance with an odd quietness.

In just a blink, this incredible car had entered my life, and now, with another blink of my eyes, it had vanished into the trees.

A Rare Tour of Halema’uma’u Volcanic Crater within Mt. Kilauea’s caldera

Often when travelling, a wave of opportunity will come to you, and if you ride it with confidence, it is truly incredible where you can be washed ashore.

My first weekend in Hawaii was a shining example of this in action, and as we drove southbound on the Mamalahoa highway, I truly had no idea what I was in for. Not only would I see Devil’s Throat, a deceptively-massive pit crater, but I would also get the chance to see the raw, volcanic power of this island in a way that most locals never even get a chance to. I was about to visit Halemau’uma’u Crater, one of the most active volcanic areas on the planet, and all because I was in the right place at the right time (vis-à-vis couchsurfing).

Devil’s Throat

After having a relaxing picnic in a field surrounded by koa trees, we headed off to our first destination, a pit crater which is so young that it lacks a Hawaiian name. Our guide (a friend of my new Couchsurfing friend) had worked for the USGS in the past and led us deep within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

We carefully made our way down gravel paths until a massive hole in the earth appeared ahead. This was Devil’s Throat.

Devil's Throat (young pit crater)

When it was first discovered in the early 1900s, it was so small that riders would often jump the small opening with their horses, never knowing that it was over 30 meters deep and growing wider with depth. Today, the size of Devil’s Throat is much more obvious, and according to the USGS, probably the best example of a collapsed volcanic crater in the world.

We rested there for a while, playing a logic game with rocks and seeing if we could decide which of ten rocks was different by only using an imaginary scale three times. It wasn’t easy, and if anyone is curious how to play, I can outline the rules in greater detail in a future article.

Halema’uma’u Crater: Home of Pélé

We returned to my friend’s cabin to retrieve the 3M gas masks that were required for the trek. In years past, access to the crater required no special protection, but recent activity within Mount Kilauea had been spewing out Sulfur Dioxide gas into the air around the crater. Without filtration, a simple change of the wind could result in us choking and vomiting from the volcanic gas.

We parked at a nondescript parking lot and began the long hike over to the crater. Thankfully, the path was shockingly level, and soon the ominous red glow of the crater was obvious.

Once the rock became rougher, our guide told us to look down to the volcanic glass, known as Pélé’s hair, that covered parts of the ground, arranged in weblike structures of natural glass that felt prickly to the touch. Our guide warned us to be careful as they could be sharp.

Carefully, we were led up to the edge of the crater. Closer and closer. Soon we would see the raw power of the Earth. Soon we would see Halema’uma’u, home to Pélé, the Goddess of Hawaiian Volcanoes. To many living on Hawaii, Pélé’s existence isn’t merely a legend — it’s a reality. For thousands of years, Pélé has been honored by the Hawaiians as a powerful being that is meant to be respected, and as we hobbled over to the edge of the rough path, the sight we beheld clearly illustrated why.

Lava roiling in Halemaumau Crater (from side)

Below us was a football-field-sized lake of terribly magnificent fire. The lava lake roiled in unspeakable patterns which slowly changed as new cracks in the surface formed. We were hundreds of meters away, but even from a distance I could clearly hear the quiet roaring of the lava as it seethed within the crater. Never before had I seen an earthbound phenomena so positively mesmerizing, and in that moment I knew that the spirit of Pélé must be real.


We stood there for some time, marveling at the destructive beauty of one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. Thankfully, the winds were in our favor that evening, and after some coaxing, I removed my gas mask as the others had done earlier. Now, I could feel the faint warmth on my skin, the warmth of distant lava.

It almost felt like the sun.

Someone had brought wine, and in the midst of great gratitude toward my friend and our guide, we toasted to Pélé on the edge of the world.

Lava in Halemaumau Crater (zoom)