July 17

Halema'uma'u Crater
This was our day to visit the volcano. My dad elected to stay home, so we just had Mom in the car with us. In addition Damon and his family, Bobbie and Ted, Keith and Jen, And Chuck, Julianna, Jai Hui, and Cassandra came.

We told every one to meet us around our condo at 7:00am. Everyone was finally out and off by 7:15, not too bad. We met up at the Coffee Shack for breakfast. This is a beautiful little spot not far down the road on the way to the volcano. The store is perched on the hillside overlooking their coffee farm and the ocean down below. They did a good job of getting our breakfast to us quickly considering we overwhelmed them with our group of 18. Our family had eggs for breakfast, but Damon's family had just cinnamon rolls. They make wonderful cinnamon rolls; the frosting has a hint of orange. We ordered cinnamon rolls to go. Our kids are not getting enough calories for the energy they are using. At night we are all tired and not very hungry after spending long days hiking in the sun. Beth was totally zoned out at the Luau. So Joel and I figured we would get four cinnamon rolls (and they are huge) and make them eat it throughout the next two days. We helped with a few bites but mostly the kids ate them. Usually I try to make them eat healthy food but calories seem more important right now.

Lava tube
It was a long ride to the volcano. Usually I keep up with my journal better, but I had been having trouble since our schedule was so busy. No real sitting on a beach to have time to catch up. But I had most of the ride over to catch up. I ended up only one day behind by the time that we got there.

Our group showed up slowly and we went in to watch the introduction and movie of lava. This would be the most flowing lava we would see for the whole time. The current lava flow was pretty small and a 4-mile hike over broken lava, one-way. It was way too long for even me to want to hike in the heat.

After the movie we started around Crater Rim Drive. We stopped here and there along the road. Sulfur Banks, the steaming vents and cliffs, the Kilauea Overlook, the Jagger Museum (where Mom sat and watched lava movies the whole time) then onto the Halema'uma'u Crater. This crater was a smaller crater within the Kilauea Caldera. It spewed forth sulfur fumes that eventually forced me to leave. My breathing was getting more labored. A sign specifically states no one with heart conditions, respiratory problems or small children should go, but none of us would listen.

So our car went ahead of the group down to Keanakako'i Crater to wait for them. I actually liked the lava rift on the other side of the road than the crater itself. Well by now it as 1:00pm and people were starving. Some of us had brought our lunches and some had not. Some of our group went to the Volcano House Restaurant. This was the only food actually in the park. Those of us who brought food went to the picnic tables near the Visitor's Center. There was a tour group there getting a lecture on the volcano and some of our group listened in while they ate.

After lunch it was off to Thurston Lava Tube. The first part of the tube is lit, but they have more than a 1000' of an unlit section of the tub at the end. The unlit part was much cooler (bring a good flashlight). Very eerie, with occasional blocks of rock fallen from the ceiling. It looked like a big worm had passed through making a fairly even symmetric tunnel. It is not as beautiful as a limestone cave, but much more eerie, knowing that the lava of the still active volcano under our feet had travel though here.

After the tube, we took the cars just a bit farther up the road to desolation trail. The trail follows the border between ciders and lush rain forest. The contrast is quite striking.

A'a and Pohoehoe lava
It was time for everyone else to leave. My mom and our family were staying at the Volcano House, but the others were going though Hilo to Akaka Falls then back to the condos. We thought about checking in and waiting a bit so we could see the lava glow from the end of Chain of Craters Road, way down by the ocean, but since it was four miles in (the flowing lava) we wouldn't see much. And we were already getting tired, so we just took off immediately and we would be able to get back up in sunlight.

Chain of craters road is about 20 miles down to the ocean. There are numerous craters on the top along the way. My favorite one was (I think, there are so many I lost track) Pauahi crater. It had a bottom that looked like boiling lava.

On the way down, we stopped here and there. At the second of the 1969 lava flows, we could see Mauna Ulu in the background. The foreground was the lava flow that came from it and it had strange statue like shapes. Quite striking.

Just above the large hairpin turn we saw where the lava was flowing into the ocean far away. The white cloud of steam was billowing up as the lava hit the ocean. We only wish the lava was flowing closer to the road so that we could hike in, but at 4 miles each way it was too much for the kids and too much for Joel and I. If it were a good trail it would be one thing, but with the cracked and broken lava and no path, we elected to forgo the hike.

Holei Sea Arch
Farther down we stopped at Alanui Kahakai and Holei Pali. The both showed an excellent view of the old lava flow as it oozed off the cliffs. The impression you get of the old lava flow here is quite awesome. It has the lighter shinier black pahoehoe lava on the bottom and the very dark a'a lava on the top in spots. The most striking thing about it is the sheer volume of the lava flow. It is probably the best view of the whole volcano (unless of course you hike to flowing lava).

Then we went down to Pu'u Loa, the field of petroglyphs. We hit here at about 4:30pm, which was perfect for seeing the relief of the petroglyphs. There are not many figures carved in there. Mostly it is circles and holes. The ancient Hawaiians put the umbilical cords of their infants here for good luck. The most interesting thing on the hike was not the petroglyphs at all, but the lava. The pahoehoe lava was twisted in all sorts of alien shapes.

Farther down the road we hit the sea. The action of the waves against the cliffs is quite powerful. Huge plumes would rise into the air, along the sharp lava coastline. In one spot the water is still pounding the Holei Sea Arch. The whole cost line is all quite beautiful, if stark.

The road ends in lava. The road used to go all the way around the Puna coast, but the lava flows have cut it off. We hiked a few yards out to a point in the cliffs to take photos. You could see the steam clouds coming from the ocean where the lava flows in four miles away, but it really wasn't as good of a view as from above.

It was getting late so we headed back up. We weren't going to stop until we got back to the Volcano House, since we had seen all the sights going down. But when we got close to Mauna Ulu, we saw steam coming off its slopes, so we stopped for a few pictures to see this enchanting site.

We checked into the Volcano House. We decided to splurge and get the deluxe crater view rooms. The views from the windows of our rooms were spectacular. We could see Halema'uma'u Crater from the window and also the steaming bluff. Just gorgeous.

We get a reservation for 7:30 at the restaurant. Most of us ordered Ono, a fish which translated from the Hawaiian, means really good. And indeed it was one of the best fishes I've ever had, and very well done. Only Beth ordered a different dish, crab legs. Then we all collapsed in bed. It was a very wonderful, but tiring day. And we wanted to get up early next morning for a hike.

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Text and images © Copyright 2001 Joel and Daphne Gould. If there are any problems or questions email Daphne Gould.