Monday, March 7, 2011

Madame Pele puts on a show

The main reason for the visit to the Big Island was the lure of the volcano.  Kileuai has been erupting since 1983, sometimes with flowing lava and other times only with puffs of steam.  We have visited here before only once, six years ago with all the Brocke clan.  Both Katie and our nephew Kayden were infants at the time, so my memories of the tour are reduced to crying babies (mostly ours) in the back of a hot crowded van over windy roads to the drone of a biologist who clearly had no idea how to adapt the tour to the multi-age group in his charge.   The volcano deserved a re-visit.

We set off in the morning through Weimea, the Parker Ranch town, en route to Hilo on the other side of the island. We stopped at a couple of picturesque waterfalls, and the rainy weather was adding to their roaring flow.... no one would be swimming in them today!  Hilo was a really nice town.  Rick got directions from the gas station to B.J.Penn's gym, one of our favorite UFC fighters who is Hawaiian.  The gym was great, welcoming the boys inside for a full tour, and they met B.J.'s brothers who train there as well.  B.J. just got back from a fight in Australia (wish we would have known that when we were there!), so the guys all picked up some great shirts from his Australia tour.  A great stop.

On to see the volcano.  Only twenty minutes up the road from Hilo is Volcanos National Park.  On Crater Rim Road, we stopped at the visitors center for an interpretive movie and an update from the Ranger, and guess what?  Since we arrived on the island, Madame Pele had been putting one quite a show! A new fissure has opened up and lava is spurting up to 100 feet in the air, the crater itself has started a new steam vent, and there have been earthquakes (of course) that normally accompany the active state of the lava eruption.  We were able to tour the crater (on the upwind side) but couldn't go down to the active area as the danger risk was too high. But we may be able to take a boat to where the lava enters the sea, and got to see the live footage and watch the seisographs record the action. Very cool indeed.

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