The best trip I ever took out of school (that's called a "Field Trip") was last year when Mrs. Aswell (my 5th grade teacher) took us to Mount Katchemfire (a volcano) to watch it erupt. It was really neat.
The trip started out really early (about 7:00am!) cause it's a long drive to Mount Katchemfire and we had to ride on the bus. This was fun too cause Mr. Phelpshopchovitzki drove. He's one of my favorite teachers cause he's really fun. Also, cause his name is so hard to say, he lets us call him "Mr. Driver". We also call him "Mr. Driver Dude" and he doesn't mind. We played games and sang all the way. Mr. Driver drove really fast and rocked the bus too (but we're not supposed to say that).
We got to Mount Katchemfire at about 10:30am and were split into pairs. They said an erupting volcano was dangerous and if anything happened, we should have someone to help us. I just think it was cause if anything happened they'd get rid of two kids at once instead of just one. I got paired up with Joseph Neuman, the class geek and my friend Gary Shofeldt got paired up with Katy Lipschitz. We didn't like it, so after complaining to Mr. Driver and Mrs. Aswell, we got switched and were paired together. Then it got really fun.
Mrs. Aswell took us inside the information building near the parking lot and introduced us to the information man who told us to call him "Mr. Ranger". He was really neat cause he was really tall and he had a really cool hat that had a big blue feather in it. Mr. Ranger told us all about Mount Katchemfire from the time it was born. This is important cause mountains don't just appear. They start out as a flat surface where a hole (called a vent) opens up and pours melted rock (called magma) out on to the ground. When the magma cools, it becomes rock. Then, when more magma pours out of the vent, it cools on top of the old magma and the mountain begins to grow. Then he told us about the indians.
The indians who lived near Mount Katchemfire long ago were always scared of the mountain. They called it "Komosumatcha" which means "the big fire blower". Every month they had a ritual where they threw a person (usually the oldest unmarried woman - but actually it was anybody they could catch) into the vent at the top of the mountain. This was supposed to calm the great monster god who lived inside the mountain so he wouldn't destroy them. It didn't do any good though cause the mountain erupted one day and killed all the indians.
Anyway, after showing us around the information building, Mr. Ranger said we were actually going up Mount Katchemfire to watch it erupt. I think this scared Mrs. Aswell a little cause she kept whispering to Mr. Driver and squeezing his hand.
We left the information building, walked for a while, and got on the mountain elevator (called a tram). Mr. Ranger pushed some buttons, and we began to move. It was scary at first cause I'd never been on a tram, but it got fun when Gary and me decided to rock back and forth. We got it going pretty good cause some of our other friends did it too (including fat Harry Donovan who really moved the tram) but were told by Mrs. Aswell not to do it anymore. It was fun though.
The tram took us up 3000 feet to the first peak and there we changed trams. Mr. Ranger told us that we could watch from there, but it was better at the very top. We all wanted to go to the very top. So we got on another tram that took us up another 2000 feet. About half way up, little Kelly Simmons got sick and threw up out a window all over the outside of the tram. It was really gross cause it stuck to the window and we could see it. But it didn't smell cause it was outside and that was good. I don't think Mr. Ranger was too happy about it though.
After leaving the second tram at 5000 feet, we walked for a long time toward a big tower of steam. Mr. Ranger told us that the steam was coming from the vent cause it was about to erupt. We were walking on a rocky path on the edge of the mountain and Mrs. Aswell tripped and hurt her ankle. She said she wouldn't be able to make the rest of the walk. Mr. Driver said he'd stay with her and the rest of us went on.
After about a half hour of walking, we finally got to the place where we could see Mount Katchemfire erupt. It was a small flat area on the top of a peak just across from the vent. It had a railing around it and we all climbed up and sat on it. But when Michael Granger almost fell (we were more than 200 feet up), Mr. Ranger told us to get down.
Looking at the vent was really neat. There was lots of steam and we could see right where it came out. Mr. Ranger told us we were right on time and that the eruption would start soon. Then we heard a loud rumble and the ground shook a little. Mary Schultz started to cry and little Kelly Simmons threw up again (it was probably the bananas), but the rest of us were fine. Fat Harry Donovan was funny though cause when the ground shook, he jiggled. We all laughed at that. He laughed too.
Then the rumbling got louder and smoke started to come out of the vent. It started to stink really bad too, like someone farted (Mr. Ranger told us that was the sulphur) and we held our noses. Mr. Ranger told us to watch through the smoke for the glow of the lava (it's lava when it comes out of a mountain). It was hard to see and Bryan Wurstishire saw it first. Then I saw it. It was super cool. Rocks were coming out of the vent and were thrown in the air. A few landed near us, but none of them hit us (Gary and me thought that would be cool though as long as he or I didn't get hit). Then the lava started to shoot out of the mountain and flow (that's what lava does after it comes out) down the sides. It was really bright orange and very hot. We all could feel the heat from where we were.
Then we heard a really loud boom and the ground shook a lot more. Me and Gary thought it was cool, but Mr. Ranger looked worried and told us all to hold on to the railing. Then we heard another big boom and saw part of the mountain under us blow up. Lava started to come out of the hole and it stank even more. Mr. Ranger began shouting over the noise for us to leave. That was too bad cause things were just getting really cool. We didn't want to leave, but we did.
The ground was shaking a lot and kids kept falling down. I only fell once all the way back, and didn't even hurt myself. When we got back to the place where Mrs. Aswell fell, we found her and Mr. Driver kissing behind a rock. Mr. Ranger told them we had to leave, and to come out right away. Mrs. Aswell came out and was very red (it must've been her ankle).
We made it back to the tram and got in. The ground was really shaking and the sky was very dark. After the tram was moving for a while, it suddenly shook really hard and everyone screamed. I looked up and saw the peak we were watching from blow up. Lava came out of that hole too. When I told Mr. Ranger he told me not to worry and that everything would be fine. Then he leaned out a window and threw up. It missed the tram and we watched it fall all the way to the ground. We couldn't hear it hit though.
The tram finally stopped at the first stop and we all got into the other tram. After we got going, Mr. Ranger picked up a telephone and told somebody to evacuate (it means to leave in a hurry). It was really neat. Too bad Mrs. Aswell couldn't see everything - she was too busy tearing her hair out and screaming.
Then Joseph Neuman yelled that he could see lava coming down the mountain. We all went to one end of the tram to watch, and it leaned way over. We all got crunched against the glass and it was pretty cool except that Mary Schultz kept screaming in my ear. I shoved her and she shut up.
We hit the bottom and a lot of people were there to get us out. We didn't need any help though. Everyone was very excited and a lot of people were screaming. Gary said it was cause they thought it was the end of the world. We both thought it was funny. They made us walk back to the bus without stopping at the information building and that was bad cause I wanted to buy something (my mom gave me 5 dollars before I left).
We got on the bus (we didn't even get to say good-bye to Mr. Ranger) and Mr. Driver drove really fast. Mrs. Aswell didn't seem to mind his fast driving this time though. Gary and I sat in the back and watched as we left. The lava was now covering most of Mount Katchemfire and people were running all over the place. They were like little ants after you kick their hive.
Mr. Driver slowed down after a while and stopped at a 7-11. That was good cause we all had to go to the bathroom real bad. We also stank real bad too. But we couldn't do anything about the stink. I got a cherry slurpee and Gary got some Pop Rocks. (Harry Donovan got a whole box of donuts and didn't even share).
We got back to school at about 5:00pm and all our parents were there. We were late and they had been waiting an hour. They were mad and they got even more mad when they saw how dirty and stinky we were. I got to ride home in the back of the station wagon with our dog Jaques.
None of us ever saw Mrs. Aswell after that day. Mr. Phelpshopchovitzki got promoted to janitor, so now we call him "Mr. Janitor Dude", and he still doesn't mind. We found out later that the information building at Mount Katchemfire burned down and several people got hurt pretty bad. Mr. Ranger was okay, but he moved to Montana.
Maybe the indians were right about having a ritual now and then. But they all got killed too, so maybe not. But it was still the best trip I ever took out of school.
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