Published: February 4th 2012February 1st 2012
The Goddess Pele
Pele is the goddess of fire and volcanoes in Hawaii.
October 12—After a good rest yesterday, it was back to driving and exploring again. Today we went to the Volcanoes National Park—an opportunity to see active volcanoes. Before the Christian missionaries came to the Hawaiian Islands, the people worshiped many gods. Pele is the goddess of fire and hence the goddess of volcanoes. One hears a lot about Pele on the Big Island. She is depicted as a beautiful woman, so I am including a picture of her that was hanging on the wall in the National Park Office.
The two volcanoes of the Park are Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Mauna Loa is considered by scientists to the the most massive volcano on earth. It is also the second highest mountain in Hawaii. It is 13,677 feet high. (Mauna Kea is the highest at 13796.) When measured from the the ocean floor from which they actually rise, however, they are higher than Mt. Everest in the Himalayas. Both peaks get snow on them. I didn't know Hawaii had mountains that high or that snow came to the islands. We never got to see the mountains from the ground, they were covered in clouds constantly while we were there.
Kilahuea Iki Crater
This was the site of an eruption in 1959.
Kilauea is the volcano which is currently active. Much of the area around this area is closed presently to Park visitors due to the high content of sulphur dioxide in the smoke. The Kilauea Iki Crater created by an eruption in 1959 is less active at present, so visitors can drive to the rim overlooks and even hike down into the crater if they want. While the air is much cooler at this altitude, we all decided we didn't care to make the long trek down into the crater. Especially since we heard from some of the returning hikers that their feet got extremely hot on the lava covered “lake” at the bottom of the crater. I did snap pics of people down there by the gassy vents!
We drove down the Chain of Craters Road and saw several craters of older eruptions of this volcano. The road drops over 3000 feet down to the ocean and follows years of lava flows. The last large large lava flow of 2003 covered the highway that used to connect to the Chain road. Now when you drive down the road, you have to turn around and come back the way
A Hot Trek
Yes, that is people you see walking on a lava lake of a still-active volcano!
It is impossible to adequately describe the desolate landscape. It is mile after mile of gray-black ground at various heights. Some have called it “moonscapes”. Having never been to the moon, I can't say if it compares. I can say it is eerie. I find it amazing that life ever comes out of the ground again, but it does. Mother Nature (aka God) is awesome in her power and her tenacity.
While exploring information about volcanoes, I learned that Hawaii volcanoes have two types of lava. Pahoehoe (pronounced pah-ho-ee-ho-ee) looks smooth and ropy and often silvery in appearance. 'A'a is jagged and clumpy looking and darker than Pahoehoe. It looks like a field which has been unevenly plowed. Molten lava tossed into the air can also form droplets, called “Pele's tears” or long glassy filaments called “Pele's hair”. We saw both types of lava flows, but no “tears” or “hair”.
After leaving the Park we immersed ourselves back into a world of vivid color when we stopped at a huge orchid gardens and market. It was gorgeous! I never knew orchids came in so many different colors, sizes and shaped. Each customer
Chain of Craters Road
Mile after mile of lava flow remains. Very desolated feeling in this area.
who came into the store got an orchid to wear in her hair. (Dan gave his to Joyce!) They had blooming plants ready to ship to the mainland. You could also buy tropical flower arrangements and anything else orchid you could think of. Much to Dan's dismay, we women loved the place enough to spend quite a bit of time there! He was very patient, though!
October 13—Yesterday we saw the volcanoes from the ground. Today we see them from the air. We decided a helicopter tour over the area would be interesting. It was!
Before getting on the helicopter, however, we took the time to see some more of Hilo. One of the city parks is dedicated to King Kameamea, the first chieftain to unite and rule all the islands of what we now know as Hawaii. His statue faces the bay of Hilo. We drove around the Banyan Tree Drive where all the big, fancy hotels of Hilo are, along with more banyan trees. This time I got a picture of one with Betty walking by it. Now you can see how big those things are! I also finally managed to get a decent picture
The southern coastlline of the Big Island where the lava flows have been most active.
of the beautiful rainbow shower trees that line one of the streets of Hilo. I've never seen a tree that colorful or pretty! While we were exploring, we saw one of the big cruise ships that had docked at the port.
Finally it was time for our flight. It was less than an hour long and I wish it could have been longer. We took off over Hilo and over the macadamia nut tree farms with what I know as Norfolk Island Pines squaring them off as wind breaks. We learned that neither the macadamia or the Norfolk Pines were native to Hawaii, but were originally brought from Australia. (Aren't you glad you read this blog? You learn so much!!!!)
We progressed upward through the constant clouds, which turned out to be beautiful between and above them. We flew toward the steaming crater of Kilauea. I thought it quite exciting and was even a bit disappointed that there was no current eruption going on so I could get pictures. Selfish, aren't I? Any way we did fly right over the crater and saw the various fissures with erupting gasses. We did see what the pilot called “lava
A Growing Island
The dark area just before the blue of the sea is a part of the many acres added to the Big Island by lava.
windows” These were small areas of hot (red-orange) lava openings in the cooled lava. Except for their color, they appeared quite small and quiet from the air.
We flew over the 2003 lava flow and saw where it had split and left isolated areas of green farmland. One such area was a bed and breakfast place which is still “open” to customers. You either have to helicopter or hike in, however, as the roads to it are now covered with 70 feet of lava. We saw where the lava flow had added hundreds of acres to the coastline of the Big Island. I guess it will continue to do that. We saw rainbows all over from the intermittent rain so prevalent in the area. Coming in for a landing, we flew over the cruise ship. It looked much smaller from above.
I really love the bird's eye view from the air. It helps me to put all the ground sights together and get a sense of the whole. I would gladly do a ride everywhere I visit. I just wish they didn't cost so much!
October 14--Joy and Dan decided to rest today, but Betty and I
wanted to do some more exploring. We took the car and drove down Hwy 173 again. (Remember the 80 mile-ten-mile highway I wrote about earlier?) We stopped at one of the beaches and talked to some of the surfers and paddle surfers. I had never seen paddle surfing before. I took pictures, but could not get anything up close. My camera has decided it doesn't like the continuously damp air in Hawaii and the zoom refused to work. I could take pics of the beautiful water and waves, though. I'm including some of these in this chapter just in case you missed the ones I posted earlier. LOL
We followed the highway all the way to the end where the 2003 lava flow interrupted it. Earlier at the house we had watched a video shot of that eruption the lava as it flowed down the mountainside to the sea. We saw how sometimes it seemed to race and other times seem to crawl, yet the progress was inevitable, regardless of whatever was ahead of it. We saw the people watch their houses burn and be buried.
There was one elderly man and his wife who had run a
Orchid in Orange
I've never seen one in this color before.
restaurant and store for decades. The place had always escaped destruction from previous lava flows, but finally lost to this one. In our exploration, we found that the resilient area residents had rebuilt the “store” where the highway ended. There was also a long walkway to a new black sand beach. The previous one which was famous all over the world had been buried in the flow. It was about a mile down to the beach, but I enjoyed the walk and the various formations the lava had left behind. Seeing the black “sand” was fascinating. I was also moved to see the hundreds of coconut trees the residents have planted in the lava to reclaim their “home”. I walked back with a lump in my throat and a great appreciation for these Hawaiians and for their beautiful, but unpredictable land.
There are more photos below