This is a bit out of order, reporting on our trip to Volcano National Park on the Big Island in Hawaii. This was before Hurricane Irene, but I am just getting to it now.
We flew from Maui to Kona on Pacific Wings airline, which the kids now call “Best Airplane Ride Ever”. We flew on a 9 passenger Cessna 208B (a Cessna Caravan single engine turboprop). The pilot was also the counter agent, baggage handler, and ground crew. Thinking about it afterwards, it is no wonder that it was a little tricky getting a reservation through Travelocity, our party accounted for 6 of the 9 seats!
We rented a minivan and drove around to the Hilo area, to a rental in Hawaiian Beaches. This is pretty much at the end of the road in nowhere. No ATT cell coverage, and no Verizon either. We looked at local attractions for a day and then went to Volcano National Park to visit the Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting, more or less, since 1983.
The current lava flows are from the Pu’u O’o crater, which is in the east fissure zone, and more or less inaccessible without a several hour hike. Not clear it is a good idea to go there anyway, since the sulphur dioxide concentrations can be lethal within a mile or so if you get downwind.
The main caldera of Kilauea is about 400 feet deep and 2.5 miles across. Towards the southwest side, there is a smaller crater called Halema’uma’u, which is about 250 feet deep. Inside Halema’uma’u there is a vent about 500 feet across, and inside that, there is a lava lake whose height fluctuates with volcanic activity. The day we were there the lake level was about 550 feet below the top of the vent.
Overlooking Halema’uma’u there is the Volcano Observatory, and the Jaggar Museum, from the patio of which you can watch events. Here is a photo I took around 7:15 PM.
Earlier in the day we drove down the chain of craters road until the end:
Across the street there is a sign that is worth reading:
And a short walk to the cliff is worthwhile as well:
Our trip to the volcano was delayed by a couple of hours because the car wouldn’t start. The dashboard merely said, helpfully, “badkey”. The remote controls still worked, but the car wouldn’t recognize the RFID chip or whatever is inside these newfangled Chrysler keys. Alamo rentals was full of warnings not to get the key wet, but we hadn’t. Alamo sent a local towing company to our out of the way house with a new minivan and took away the old one. Probably a replacement key would have been sufficient, but we had rented in Kona which is three hours away, rather than from the Hilo office. Thank you Alamo for taking care of us, but I guess I am old fashioned. I’ve never had a mechanical key break and I don’t understand the attraction of the electronic version.