I didn’t post yesterday because the day began early. At 6:30 we got on the road, Ted and his family in the Jeep, Mary Fran, Michael, and I in the Mustang.We headed out to Volcano National Park. We took the southern route through Captain Cook, Kealekekua, and Punalu’u with a stop at the black sand beach. We passed macadamia orchards and coffee plantations, and, of course, miles and miles of lava fields. The Punalu’u beach wasn’t great for swimming. The water was too rough and the sea floor was too rocky, but there were a lot of turtles to view.
The changes to the volcano since our last visits were interesting. In 2017, we could see the lava lake fountaining in the caldera. Then came the violent eruption in May 2018, which left a huge crater hundreds of feed deep where the lava lake had been. It destroyed the crater rim road and the Jagger observation and education center. We returned to the volcano in October 2019 and stayed at the Volcano House for a couple of nights. At that time, they had been open only two weeks since the eruption eighteen months previously. Service, of course, was very limited. I don’t know how much service they were able to recover, but covid hit in January and in March 2020 they had to shut down again. Hawai’i has only begun reopening in June of this year, so they are still operating with limited service.
Mary Fran, Michael, and I hiked the short trail to the Sulphur Banks and steam vents, and then the short trail to the Thurston lava tube. The sad part of the trip was seeing the dead ohia trees, victim of rapid ohia death (ROD). This disease came into the area in 2018. Nobody knows the origin, but it attacks the ohia trees, which dreate the forest canopy around the volcano. They cannot remove the dear trees because doing so unleashes the spores of the disease. As yet, there is no way to prevent it, but only to contain it.
After leaving the park we stopped for something to eat in nearby Volcano Village. The village is a little country town with a couple of scattered convenience stores and cafes. We stopped at one, Eagles Cafe, which is a small addition to the back of a convenience store. No inside dining. Dining was at picnic tables under a canopy. We had to wash our hands before entering. Inside was a tiny area where customers ordered food from a girl behind a counter. They served sandwiches to order, but thee special of the day was laulau plate, which came with a large laulau, big enough to share, a large scoop of rice, and a cup of bean salad. Laulau, for the unintiated, is pork and butterfish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed. So ono!
Leaving Volcano, we hit rain which stayed with us down to Hilo and then over the saddle road between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The saddle road is a nice, new highway, but still scary in that it drops from 6000 ft to sea level in a space of about 4 miles.
I have taken a sunrise and sunset picture everyday of the trip. Here is yesterday’s sunset. It was gorgeous, with beautiful colors, but a few clouds at the horizon prevented a green flash.
Here is the sunrise pic. Kona is on the west side of the island, so it gets great sunsets. The sun rises over the mountains, which are often shrouded in clouds, so sunrises are not spectacular.