05 January 2013

Last Day in Hawaii, Safe at Home

It rained off an on all day on the day we left Hawaii, so the camera stayed in the bag most of the day.  I got up early to take one last short walk in VNP along Devastation Trail, which shows in dramatic fashion how the eruptions changed the landscape.  At the end of the trail, I reached a lookout over Kilauea Iki, the crater that S and I hiked through a few days ago:

Back at the parking lot, I saw some endangered goose creatures called Nene (chicken-like) birds pecking at the ground:

Then, back to the cottage to clean up and move out.  We said goodbye to Katherine, our host, and headed into Hilo for lunch with one of S's friends from Battleship.  M went to high school on the island, and she's been back visiting her mother. We had a nice lunch and then wandered around Hilo, popping in stores here and there. We went to a great little seafood shop to try Lomi Salmon, which was tasty, but very salty. We picked up some snacks for the plane, took M home, and then headed to Ocean Sushi for another yummy meal.  Then, onto the airport!

The flight home was uneventful.  I was asleep shortly after we took off, and we both slept until just before touchdown. Once on the ground, we collected our bags and our car and were home and back in bed by 6am. We slept late, then got up to begin a day of unpacking, cleaning, de-Christmasing, and reconnecting to socal...

Aloha, Hawaii!  Mahalo for the great times!

04 January 2013

Earth, Water, Air, Fire

It's our last full day on the island. We got a late start, but drove up to Waipio Valley, a spot up on the northeast corner that overlooks a stunning and mostly undeveloped fertile valley.  Without a 4WD vehicle or a lot of human desire, we couldn't go into the valley, but that was alright with us - from what we read, there wasn't much to do down in the valley except ogle at beauty (which we could do nicely from high up on the rim:

After seeing the beautiful valley, we stopped off for fresh stuffed doughnuts to tide us over as we headed towards Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain on the island and home to the famous observatory. Usually, the top of the peak is shrouded in clouds, but the visibility was so clear today that we stopped on the side of the highway to snap a photo of all of the telescopes atop the mountain:

We continued up the mountain, our little 4-cylinder rental working its little butt off, and we got to the visitor center in time to catch the sunset:

Unfortunately, the visitor center was our final destination - without a 4WD vehicle, we couldn't make the trip to the summit.  Still, after sunset, the visitor center set out about 10 high-powered telescopes, and the visitors could look into the heavens.  I saw 50+ stars in the Pleaides, and I saw Jupiter AND four moons.  Wow!  It was cold, so S and I took off after a while to head back to Hilo for some supper. We stopped in a little sushi joint called Ocean Sushi, which is completely unpretentious (no liquor license even!) and excellent.  We had a weird roll that featured pickled plum and fermented soybean - yum!

On the way back to the cottage, S and I wondered if the big plume we had been seeing at Volcano National Park in the Kilauea Caldera glowed at night. We decided to duck into the park to check it out. Sure enough, it glows like a campfire!  Remember, this fire is about 1/4 mile wide:

Now, home, to pack.  We have one more day tomorrow on the island, and then we take a red-eye home.  

03 January 2013

Tuesday: Lava old and new; Wednesday: Hilo and waterfalls

TUESDAY was a big day. After falling asleep Monday night (new years eve) well before midnight, I got up and took a nice run through the neighborhood here in Volcano Village, passing by farms and ranches on my way. S and I got started by visiting Thurston Lava Tube, a tunnel formed by lava cooling from inside itself. The tube is fairly horizontal about 15 in diameter, so you can walk right through it!

Then, we backtracked to the Visitor Center and took a few short hikes up and around the main part of the park. We hiked through a field with steam vents, and another with sulfur vents:

And after we went through the Jaggar Museum (focused on volcanic activity and Hawaiian activity in particular), we got a better look at the churning lava pit in the center of Kiluaea Caldera:

Then, it was off to the city of Hilo on the east coast for lunch and a sojourn.  We had some time to kill, so we took the long way down the coast from Hilo, stopping at a few swimming holes to check them out (note: walking around a swimming hole, fully clothed, carrying a camera makes you look and feel like a creep).  Ultimately, our target was a trailhead that would lead us to some hot lava. We got to the trailhead about an hour before dark to start the 2.5 mile trek across the lava fields. Along the way, we saw this drain shape that had formed about 30 years ago:

The 2.5 mile trek took about 90 minutes, and by the time we arrived, the sky was dark. The lava glowed orange. The air around it was warm (as was the rock in some places). We could hear it popping and sizzling. We had managed to maneuver ourselves very close to the coast, so we could see the lava cascading off of the cliff, hundreds of feet into the sea.  It was beautiful.  Just, wow.

After the lava show, we hiked the 2.5 miles back to the car, aided by flashlights and the stars to find our way. The wind had picked up, and there were few lights on the ground to guide us. Thankfully, S could read the stars.  Back to the car, then to Hilo for a light dinner.

WEDNESDAY started with an early rise to get some field recording done. Unfortunately, between the wind and the choppers buzzing in the park, the rain forest beds I was hoping to get weren't quite so pristine.  They'll require some editing.  

After I got back to the cottage, S and I took off for Hilo. We had a diner breakfast, tooled around the Hilo Farmer's Market, and hit the road up the coast.  We hit a few waterfalls (this one took six composited photographs to make into one image):

Then, we found a beautiful botanical gardens where we killed two hours photographing anything that would fit in the frame:

Up the coast some more stops for snacks (a smoothie to go with the coconut buns and apple bananas we bought in Hilo) and more coast.  Laupahoehoe Beach Park is on the grounds of an old school. In 1946, the island was hit by a tsunami, and 21 students and teachers from the school lost their lives.  The  surf is beautiful, but it's severe.

We watched the day turn to dusk at Laupahoehoe, so it wasn't long before we turned around and headed home to Volcano for the night.  We stopped in Hilo for a light dinner.  Tonight, we'll sleep good.

02 January 2013


Oh boy did we see lava!  It was an early morning and a late night, so I'll post more later. But for now, here's this shot of lava tumbling off the cliff into the sea: