Us, July 3 2007: John, Ondine, Leo (nearly 5, in flaming volcano cap), Roy (7)
Aloha from Hawaii! Its hard to believe were going to be leaving soon. As always, no matter how much we do, there is always more to do. Especially doing nothing; we havent done nearly as much nothing as wed (rather hopefully) anticipated.
Still, it has been a Class 1 adventure for us and the boys! We kicked off the week by having our own little side trip to Volcanoes National Park with Grammy. Roy looked forward to seeing Kilauea, the most-active volcano in the United States! We had to get an early start so once again the boys were up at 4:00 a.m. and we tried not to wake the household.
Actually, Rod typically gets up very early, and Daryl was still getting adjusted to the time change so she was up early which meant Patty was up early with her ... so, basically, everyone but the Barnhart kids were up before dawn.
We drove the Kia Sedona minivan from the house to the airport in Honolulu, and we had absolutely no problem finding it. When we pulled into the parking garage, we were delighted to find drive-through check-in for Aloha Air! We offloaded almost everyone and most of the luggage, including the car seats, and John (with his backpack and boarding pass) went off to park the car. The plan was to meet up at the gate.
The plan worked! John parked the Kia on Level 6b, placed mysteriously between Level 5a and 5c - to find it, you look for the sign that says 5c, and thats 6b. Got that? See, thats why John takes notes when he travels!
A short inter-island flight on Aloha Air put us in Hilo, where we picked up our rental car, a light gold Buick Lacrosse. (By the way, this was the first rental vehicle that was almost good enough to want; in fact, it was good enough to want until we had to make a tight U-turn and found the thing had the turning circle of a battleship.)
Volcanoes National Park was about a half-hour drive from Hilo Airport. Its easy - just go straight up the 11 until you start seeing signs for the volcano. Drive-up volcanoes are one of the things for which Hawaii is famous. Wouldnt you know it, Leo fell asleep in his car seat. We arrived at Volcano House, our hotel, at about 11:00, but found that we couldnt check in until 3:00. Volcano House, by the way, was a find from Grammy, the only hotel within the actual National Park proper. Shed wanted to stay there since a trip with her sister Merry, years ago.
Four busloads of Japanese students packed the entry and lined up for the lunch buffet. With time to kill and Leo still snoozing, we decided to drive around Crater Rim Road until Leo woke up. So, Leo missed the first overlook we came to.
John and Roy got out and walked around, then Ondine got out, leaving Grammy
in the car with Leo. This is Halemaumau crater, home of Pele.
This is a look the other direction, toward the road.
The big thing at this particular site was a crack left from a fissure eruption in 1973. The
bottom, where once the very earth boiled red and hot, was now covered in
vegetation, green and moist.
Heres Roy atop one of the huge undulating flows, and a close-up of the ground. The colors are made by various deposits and oxides in the eruption.
They are hard to capture in a photo, particularly the lovely purple iridescence
and the play of light across the shiny surfaces of hardened lava.
After Leo woke up, we went back to Volcano House for lunch. We looked at the price for the lunch buffet, and decided to go for the cafeteria-style sandwiches in the other room. Tour groups ebbed and flowed through the place like well-mannered locusts, waiting patiently in line for sandwiches wrapped in cling film. John was aggressive and grabbed the last salad and fruit salad, which we were very glad to have, because the salads didnt get replenished while we were there.
Heres the view over the ferns toward Halemaumau crater from the back of
Volcano House. The photo of Ondine was taken on Pattys cell phone; we were supposed to send photos to the people back at the house, but once we managed to take the picture we couldnt figure out how to send it. You can see the crater behind Ondine. The next
photo shows us, taken with the camera precariously balanced atop one of those
big 25-cent viewing binoculars (the original pay-per-view). Aww, dont we look relaxed when the kints arent
clinging to us?
Thurston Lava Tube was a must-see. A fellow tourist suggested that we bring flashlights, to explore the second part of the tube, which is unlit. Fortunately, John had thought to pack his reliable (and quite bright) old-school caving flashlight.
The walk down to Thurston Lava Tube wound through a lush Hawaiian rain
forest. The tube itself is spacious and dark, a real adventure for the boys.
Then, we came to the additional section. Ondine and Grammy declined; our adventuring team was John, Roy, and Leo. The boys kept wary little starfish hands on Johns pant legs as they walked down the pitch-black lava passage. John, a caver, loved it! The boys were thrilled but silent in very heightened awareness. We didnt go all the way to the end; the boys nerve wouldnt take them that far.
But, at one point John held the boys close and switched the flashlight off, to enjoy some total darkness. After a moment, Leos voice came out of the dark, thats enough, and Roy, gripping Johns hand tightly, immediately concurred. So John switched the flashlight back on and our three spelunkers turned around and, after a short walk, emerged into the light.
The next day we enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Volcano House. The fresh
papaya was wonderful! We really enjoy the tropical fruits here. After a while,
Grammy took the boys for a walk outside; the second photo shows them looking at
us in the dining room.
Heres Grammy with the boys in front of the Volcano House sign (near the
Visitorís Center). Then, we have a shot of the
front of Volcano House. The main entrance is to the right. That big fireplace has had a fire burning in it
continuously for more than 130 years!
Our room was in the Ohiía Wing, a separate outbuilding down a beautiful
path. And here we all are! Aloha! Leoís Volcano cap, with flames, came from
Volcano House, as did new caps for Roy and John. We also bought a Christmas
ornament and postcards, and Ondine bought some beautiful earrings.
Lava no longer flows to the sea, a change caused just 12 days prior to
our trip, by Event 56. Event 56 was a series of earthquakes caused
by magma forcing its way into new areas. Among its effects was to shut off the
flow of lava down the lava tube that emptied near the ocean. In fact, there was
no surface lava anywhere in the park, a pretty rare event in itself. Among the
recent changes, though, was this steam vent right on the hotel grounds. The boys
were delighted with their discovery!
Here we are at Halemaumau crater. See the steam vents? Theyre everywhere.
Youíd be walking along and suddenly feel someone breathing up your leg. It was
the planet! Leo obviously is enjoying the view.
This series is actually a three-photo panorama of the crater. Yeah, our
digital camera has a panorama mode, but it's easier to shoot three photos and
apply some imagination.
Or, just look at the video (MPEG format, 4.14 MB): Halemu'uma'u Crater.
This is a shot looking back toward Crater
Rim Road and the parking area. See all the
yellow-green stuff? Thatís not lichen, thatís sulphur deposits around steam
vents. When sulphur mixes with water (in the vapor) it forms these
beautiful yellow-green crystals..
We paused at the Jagger Museum because it was rated a must-see by
some guides. Buses had disgorged their loads, so the place was jam-packed. A
quick peek through convinced John that, while it was no doubt educational, it was no place
for small kids. It had lot of reading material on the walls with nice diagrams, but
they were not really readable from a three-foot height. On his dash back to the
car (left running with the AC on), he snapped this view of the crater:
Sulphur Banks featured in a Magic School Bus story. The kids
were thrilled for the opportunity to discover for themselves just how stinky it would be. The trail
to Sulphur Banks winds past several steam vents.
Sulphur Banks was not very
stinky, at least when we were there. Perhaps thatís Event 56 for ya. The bright yellow areas are sulphur
deposits. Leo was most impressed by a sign which had a graphic illustration of a
kid falling into a steam vent. The sign points out a nearby hole which was created by
the kid when he stepped off the boardwalk and crunched through the crust, which
is very thin, into 205-degree steam, getting severely burned. It was a great
sign, and made Leo particularly careful about staying on trail. Here is Roy,
right at the Sulphur Bank, in his new cap from Volcano House.
Here is a short video of Sulphur Banks steaming away (MPEG, 3.91 MB): Sulphur Banks.
Here we are on the trail back to the car. You can see how much Leo likes his
new hat, as Grammy tries to get him to pull it up for the photo! Thatís Royís
new hat, too. John is wearing his old hat. Thatís him all over, old hat.
Wednesday was the Fourth of July! In the morning, Grammy, Andrew, and the boys
enjoyed hunting for shells, crabs, fish, and other treasures at low-tide.
Food Land! John went with Amanda and Andrew to the local grocery store, Food Land. He had imagined a much smaller store; Food Land was the size of a regular grocery store. Amanda had said it was a good place to buy Hawaiian shirts and dresses, so thatís what John was looking for. He bought a shirt for himself, a tank dress and bracelet for Ondine, and sunscreen shirts for Roy and Leo. The checker gave him the cardholder discount, so he saved about $10!
Then we went with the Barnhart kids to Waimea Bay Beach. We followed Amanda and the gang to the parking area, a church parking lot where the youth group was renting parking spaces for $5 donations.
Roy eagerly hopped into
the water with his Boogie Board. Leo was less-sure, and it took a lot of coaxing
from Eric to get him in at all. The second shot shows Eric with Leo, and Roy
paddling on past. Then, you see, roughly from left to right, Ondine, Andrew
(lying in water), Leo being held by Eric, Roy paddling in, and Breanna. Amanda
was lounging on a beach towel. John was snapping the picture. Andrew and Eric
spent a lot of time playing with Roy and Leo.
this is why they call it Sunset Beach. Spectacular! And, of course, all the
cameras come out to capture the moment, each a little different interpretation
of the light and the sand and the surf.
Happy Birthday to Patty! Eric bought a box of fireworks legal in Hawaii and a rare treat for us Californians and he and Andrew put on a spectacular show for us!
It might have been a bit upstaged by the professional fireworks being launched
right next door, but Roy and Leo were absolutely astonished by the sparkling
fountains of fire just a few feet away. Heres a fairly long fireworks video (MPEG format, 9.69
MB) - the voice you hear is mostly Pattys. Then,
Johnís sister Patty celebrated her birthday with a Dreamcake.
Thursday morning, Johnís eldest sister Elaine found a Plumeria lei
on her walk. Leo donned it with a serious expression. Note the Black Dog hoodie.
Itís Royís, but Leo has developed a fashion sense that demands oversized
clothes, in black. He absolutely adores Ericís shirts, black, with
grimacing skulls, bursting flames, and jagged graphics.
We went to Haleiwa. First stop: M. Matsumoto Grocery Store for their world-famous Shave Ice.
Then, the boys scored a second Matsumotoís Shave Ice! The
first you see with Grammy and Ondine. The boys picked the Rainbow. Their
second ice was Ericís special treat. Roy chose strawberry (a perennial favorite) and Leo, urged by Eric,
tried the piŮa colada flavor.
We did some shopping in Haleiwa too, including lots of omiyage. Ondine got a ring and bracelet, plus a sarong and sarong holder from Planet Surf on our way back to the house.
Friday - this is our morning view. Right out the back balcony. The
sound of the crashing surf, the golden sun rising ... ahhh!
We took a morning walk along the beach. You never know what treasure is out
there, waiting to be discovered. Some treasure you find ...
... some treasure you make ...
... and some treasure comes from brief moments of quiet contemplation.
Weíre planning to go back to Waimea Bay Beach for the late afternoon. Then, itíll be time to pack up for the homeward journey, laden with treasures and rich with memories. What a wonderful gift of time together this was!
Speaking of treasures, heres are a couple short videos. The first shows us and the waves (MPEG format, 4.03 MB): Two waves.
The second shows Ondine doing the Hula-Hoop on Hawaii (MPEG format, 6.40 MB): Hawai'i Hula.
Neighborhood gas prices here on the North Shore are about $3.35 per gallon, although we saw gas at around $3.41 near the airport.
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