Monday, March 9, 2009

Hawaii 2009 - Day Seven - Part One

Mauna Kea with snow - a rare clear day!

We slept in a little bit before jumping in the car and heading down to Volcano National Park for the morning. It's about an hour or so away from Hilo. We decided to take the little tour, but the sulfuric acid was bad so Jeanne and Aidan only came with us part of the way. We got to see a hula hut being built, a hula platform, a monument to pele, and smoke billowing out of the crater. We also walked along fissures in the ground where crystals are being formed. Did I mention that Kilauea is due to blow at any minute? I didn't? Yeah, well. It's not comforting walking on top of a volcano due to erupt. Let's put it that way.
The Hula Hut
Monument to pele - if you click on the picture you can see more detail etched into the rock.

The Hula Platform where hula dancers dance for pele
Ellen and Aidan with the volcano behind them.

We drove over to the crater to get a closer look. There is a visitor center there, which is a bit humorous since I am not sure it will still be there if the volcano erupts. Kilauea is a shield shaped volcano versus the traditional cone shaped volcano like Mauna Kea. That means that it is flat. Kilauea is also the volcano that is currently erupting into the ocean, making the big island bigger constantly.
Ohia-Lehua Tree - These are always found near volcanos and when the gas gets bad they close up their leaves and hold their breath. There is a cool legend that goes along with the tree.
Gasses coming up through the rocks and forming the yellow crystals.
Ellen, Aidan and me with the caldera crater (I think?) in the background.
This was once a lava lake and if you are insane (like Jeanne's family) you can hike down and walk across it. I am not insane.
Apparently watching a volcano erupt is very cool.

Next we headed to the lava tube. It's really dark inside so it's tough to take pictures, but the pictures you get are pretty freaky and cool.


Lisa said...

Yay! The rotten egg smell of sulfur gas is good for you. "Cures what ails ya," my grandfather would say. That visitors center has been there since before I was there in 1983, so I think they picked a good spot. There's also a series of cabins available for rent for military people (Kilauea Military Camp or KMC) that we used to rent for little vacations.

(Now that I write that, it sounds funny. "We're in Hawaii. We need a vacation. Where should we go? I know! Someplace else in Hawaii!")

When there are active eruptions, you can't get within 20 miles of the volcanos. The eruption is just a reddish glow on the horizon. However, the last time I was there, the most recent eruption was over so you could hike around the volcano again, but there was still a "hot spot" crack in the cooled lava where you could look in and see the rock still glowing. It would also melt your flip-flops ("zoris" in the local dialect).

I'm glad you got to see the volcanos. The beaches are awesome, of course, but there are many places you can go to beaches. Active volcanos are harder to come by.

Lisa said...

P.S. There are still locals who are quite serious about appeasing Pele. She has a bad temper. They leave gifts of food, flowers, and money at the edge of the caldera on certain holy days.