Monday, May 15, 2017

Ten Days in Hawaii - Day 6: Volcano National Park

We were up early today and on the road to Volcano National Park by eight as it’s almost a two hour drive.  Once again Heather and Cathy decided to do their own thing as they had been to the park a few years ago.  Val and I had been there in 2010, but we had only a short time to visit as we were on a cruise.

We reached the park by 10:00 and our first stop was the Visitor’s Center.  They were offering a ranger guided 45 minute hike to show the flora and fauna of the park so Doug and Ev decided to go.  Val and I decided we would drive to the Halema'uma'u Crater and visit the Jagger Museum that’s there.  The crater was spewing a lot of smoke, but we couldn’t see any molten lave.  Val and I went back to the Visitor’s Center to pick Doug and Ev since it was getting near lunchtime we drove to the nearby town of Volcano.

The Halema'uma'u Crater.
A lot of smoke, but that would change today.
A painting at the Jagger museum of Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire.
We ate at Eagle’s Lighthouse Café which is a very small sandwich shop in Volcano.  It doesn’t look like much from the outside and there was only room for about three people inside so there was a line outside the door to order and pick up your food.  Despite this, the food was excellent and we had a great lunch.  After lunch we drove back into the park and started the other half of the loop road.  You can’t drive the entire loop road as much of it is closed due to dangerous fumes.  Our first stop was the Thurston Lava Tube where you can actually walk through a tube that was formed naturally by the lava flowing and hardening on the outside leaving a tube that you can walk through.  The walk is probably 100 yards or so and then you climb some stairs to get out.  The tube actually continues, but it is not lit and I don’t believe it is even open to the public right now.

Val walking through the fern forest to the lava tube.

At the point where the loop road is closed there is a road that leads down to the coast where you can see where the lava flow crossed the road cutting off the use of the road.  On the way down we stopped at an observation point where you are in the middle of a vast wasteland covered in nothing but lava.  There are a few small plants starting to grow, but for the most part it is barren.

The lava flow created a vast wasteland.
Doug and Ev.
Vegetation will slowly return as the lava breaks down.
We drove on and parked where the road was closed to vehicles.  You have to hike two miles to the point where the lava crosses the road and then it’s another three miles to get to the point where you can actually see a live lava flow.  Today though you couldn’t even hike to the end of the road as the rangers had closed it.  The winds were blowing the fumes towards the road and were dangerous to breath.  That ended any thoughts of hiking, but there was a trail down to the coastal cliffs where you could see up and down the coast and there was an arch that extended down in the ocean.

This where the ten mile round trip starts to get to the live lava flow, but today you couldn't even get to where the road ends.  You can see the reason in the background as the fumes were blowing in the wrong direction.

We started back up the hill and on our way Val revealed that she had picked up a piece of lava which is supposed to bring bad luck to the person who has it so she was having second thoughts.  When we reached the lava field we stopped and held a ceremony of Val returning the rock to its original resting place; hopefully that will keep bad luck from our door.

Val returns the lava rock to its original location; hopefully she has avoided kept bad luck away.
While we were down on the ocean cliffs we talked to someone who said Halema'uma'u Crater had flared up and you could see molten lava spewing.  It must have started soon after Val and I left this morning so we just missed it.  We drove back to the crater in hopes that it was still going on and when we got there we were in luck.  Although it was small, it was spectacular and we were all thrilled to be able to see it.  After many pictures we decided we’d better hit the road as we had a long drive home.  It would have been great to stay and see it at night, but we didn’t want to drive all the way back in the dark.

 With her long zoom lens, Val got some excellent pictures of the lava.

After an uneventful drive, we arrived home just before six.  Doug and Ev decided to go out to eat, but Val and I opted to just stay home and eat.  Cathy and Heather had decided to go the Black Sand Beach and see the turtles today.  They ate in Na’alehu at the Hana Hou Restaurant where we had eaten yesterday and thought it was just as good as we had said.  The also agreed that the macadamia cream pie was excellent.

We relaxed for a while, but once again we went to bed early.  We’re kind of keeping California time which is three hours ahead of us; even though we end up in bed early, we are ready to go early in the morning so it works out.  Nothing is planned for tomorrow and we just plan on hanging around the house.

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