Ray Wilson is on the trip of a lifetime, as he called it. But right now in Indonesia, it's far more than what he expected.
The 27-year-old Chillicothe resident is within view of Mount Agung, an active volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali. He's been in the Asian country since Nov. 10, part of a solo scuba-diving trip.
Things are calm on the nearby island of Gili Trawangan, where Wilson is staying. He said he isn't in danger, at least for now.
"It's all a very unique and, in a way, cool experience," Wilson, a passionate scuba diver, said Monday morning. "But in a way, it's kind of terrifying."
Things have been more frightful on Bali, which is a major tourist destination.
According to CNN, more than 29,000 people have been evacuated since the mountain began to spew thick ash miles into the air over the weekend. Flights from the main Bali airport were canceled for 24 hours, and about 60,000 passengers were stranded.
When Nick in the Morning spoke with Wilson, the time in Gili Trawangan was about 8:30 p.m., 14 hours ahead of Peoria. Earlier in the day, Wilson was able to glimpse the volcano, which is located about 20 miles across the Lombok Strait from his island.
"You can see this really, really dark ash spewing from it," Wilson said. "It was very distinct compared to the rest of the cloud cover.
"It made things a little more real. I've never so much seen a volcano in my life before I came here, let alone see one erupting."
No evacuations have taken place on Gili Trawangan, according to Wilson. The locals appear to be proceeding as normal. Volcanoes are not unusual in Indonesia, which is part of the Ring of Fire, a belt of seismic activity.
"Back home, we have a lot of tornadoes," Wilson said. "We might get kind of numb to hearing tornado siren after tornado siren. I think that's kind of the same mind-set here. That's not to say they don't take it seriously, but everybody's taking care of each other, which is a good thing."
The scuba diving in that part of the world is first class and has lived up to expectations, Wilson said. He had been planning for a year and taken paid and unpaid leave from his job in Peoria, as a software-support specialist, to experience it.
He also experienced 38 hours of travel, by airplane and speedboat, to get to Gili Trawangan, which has about 1,500 residents. Stops along the way included Chicago; New York; Frankfurt, Germany; and Singapore.
Wilson is scheduled to head home Friday. The local airport was closed for a day recently because of the eruption. Wilson is hoping that scenario doesn't repeat later this week, but if it does, it does.
"I consider it to be part of the experience," said Wilson, who is traveling by himself internationally for the first time. "It's definitely not the most convenient thing, but being able to experience this ... makes me a more well-rounded human being in general.
"It's not a huge inconvenience for me, at least right now."