Hawaii Day 5 – Hilo

The port we were most looking forward to was our second port – Hilo, on the Big Island aka Hawaii.  Do you know what is near Hilo?  Kilauea.  I would love to post a picture here of an impressive volcanic cone, but that’s not what the Hawaiian volcanoes are.  They are shield volcanoes, which means they have a very gradual slope to the crater and are mostly flat.  They will never have homage paid to them in papier-mache form.

We had two excursions scheduled for the day to give us a comprehensive look at this natural wonder.  After all, we hardly have a volcano in our back yard.  (and we do not want one, either, so don’t get any cute ideas, New Madrid Fault)

First up was a helicopter tour.  Neither one of us had ridden in a helicopter before.  I want to give you a piece of advice that I sadly did not get until our second helicopter tour later in the trip – do not attempt to take pictures focusing intently through the eye piece.  Seriously, use the lcd screen or just don’t take them.  The trip was very cool, but it made me very woozy.  I think the picture-taking was the culprit.  Anyway, enjoy my efforts, minus the urpiness.

Volcano

Volcano 1

It is so alien in nature. You could have very easily believed you were on another planet. I think what was so unusually and beautiful about it was that a non-living force made such organic-looking designs.

volcano landscape

Part of the tour was supposed to be a fly over the last house standing in the Royal Gardens area. See the whitish spot in the middle of this picture?

Jack's house

Um, here’s what’s left.

Jack's House closeup

The lava finally got it two weeks before we arrived. However, others have rebuilt in another area that has also seen destruction by Madame Pele. By the way, there are no utilities out on the lava flow. Definitely ‘roughing it’. Nor can you get lava insurance.

Houses by the volcano

While Kilauea is active, its activity is not generally lava bursting into the sky. It’s more subtle than that. Molten lava generally can only be seen through sky lights in the underground lava tubes.

Volcano 2

Volcano with sky light

volcano with two outbreaks

Volcano with lava sky light

After getting a good view of the volcano, we flew over a bit cooler and refreshing vista.

Waterfalls near Hilo

We even got to see our ship from the air.

POA from the heli

For our second volcano experience, we were going to get up close. No, not with the molten lava. But it was once upon a time.

Lava meets life

We got to hike out on an old lava flow. What was so amazing about this was the stark contrast of iron-rich basalt lava sprinkled with life.

flower in lava

flower tree in lava

ferns in lava

coconut in lava

Here’s something really cool. This is a breadfruit tree.

breadfruit tree

And this is what is left behind when a breadfruit tree meets molten lava. Instant fossil.

tree stump imprint in lava

tree trunk in lava

fruit imprint in lava

At the end of this recent-ish lava flow, there is a dramatic black sand beach.

Waves at black sand beach

You know how I love the splooshy water. To encourage growth (well, until Madame Pele wipes it out again), they seed the area with coconuts. I bet you were wondering how that coconut got there in the picture above.

Coconut in black sand

We made our way back to the van and continued to Mackenzie State Park. This is a sight that has an old lava tube with a collapse in the top that you can see into and an exit to the water. I’m not going to show you that; because while it was neat to see, this was more impressive.

At Mackenzie State Park

Here’s an area our tour guide warned us to stay away from.

Splash zone before

Why? (the water in the background probably gives you a hint.)

splash zone after

And I want you to know, no sooner than those words were out of his mouth and the van stopped, one of our party went right over there, like a moth to a flame. Granted, he was an older gentleman, and English was not his first language, if any of them, but he had family who spoke it very well that were not stopping him. Eeee.

Most of the lava I have shown you is very smooth and looks like the molten lava froze in place. That’s the pahoehoe lava. It is warmer and has a low viscosity. As the lava gets further away from the heat source it cools and increases in viscosity and can turn into a’a lava.

a'a lava

There was also a forest area, now known as Lava Tree State Park, that experienced rapid lava advances and retreats over a short period of time. The result was almost like dipping a candle over and over in wax. This was what was left after the tree burned.

lava tree

As you can probably tell by the picture count in this post alone, I really enjoyed Hilo.  I have lots more pictures of the lava, but I’ll stop.  (Ramblin’s final picture count for the entire trip was over 2000, mine was 1300+ – you’re welcome)

I’m sure the evening was another ‘Aloha Cafe – back to the cabin – bed’ evening.  We had a lot of those.

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Published in: on April 13, 2012 at 11:13 am  Leave a Comment  

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