Hawaii- the Big Island- from Volcano village

Trip Start Jul 24, 2008
Trip End Aug 25, 2008

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Sugi House, Volcano Village

Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hawaii- the Big Island- from the village of Volcano
The huge volcano this end of Hawaii island is Mauna loa, and it's said to be the most massive mountain on earth, rising 56,000 ft from sea floor. I think measuring from the sea floor is cheating, but it's pretty big, regardless.
It is however known (at least so far) as a relatively safe to live with oozing volcano, rather than an explosive one, which is why the house we have been borrowing for three nights (thanks, Debra and Nelson!) sits in a village called Volcano which is only a couple of miles from the currently erupting Kilauea crater. The two bedroom cottage is a beautiful and restful place to be (see photos) and we felt immediately at home. It is full of the owners lovely little touches, so much so that if it was ours we couldn't bear to have other people using it. It's set in the most delightful fairy tale gardens, full of rain forest trees and ferns, with lots of moss around, due to the massive rainfall in this area. And yes, Nelson and Debra can be persuaded to rent it to you- go to www.sugihouse.com
They may even be persuaded to home exchange with you, as they are planning a trip to New Zealand.
You need a couple of nights at least this end of the big island, as the volcanic activity is so much more spectacular at dusk and at night, and if you stay in Kona area it's a long drive home.
I was talking about the rather worrying Kilauea crater a very short distance away, and this surprised everyone by erupting explosively in March and again in April, and is currently still a bit of a worry, boiling away busily and producing clouds of VOG (volcanic fog- mainly sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and ash mixed with water vapour) which drifts across the main highway, and up the island as far as Kona on some days.     
I have included a couple of pictures of the current action in the crater itself, during the day and at night when it glows dramatically. The photos were taken from the volcanic museum on the crater rim, and standing there we felt a bit scared- far too close for our liking to something which has proved only recently to be able to blow up without warning!
The volcanic activity has proved to be a bit too variable for the authorities as well. This area is designated as a huge volcanic national park so that access of the public to the action is limited and controlled.  However, in recent times the wilful volcano had completely ignored the park boundaries and the lava river has been flowing out of the park boundaries, through a village and across roads before noisily entering the sea.
Just goes to show how pathetic mankind's attempts are to control and bring order to nature!
We drove down to near the end of the current lava river oozing from the outflow Pu'u 'O'o where it had flowed over the seaside town of Kalapana, and parked the car where the road disappeared under a thick black wall of lava and then walked over the lava field down to the ocean to watch the molten lava explode as it poured over a low cliff, gradually but steadily extending this end of the island of Hawaii out into the sea.
As you can see from the photos, the explosions caused by molten rock hitting cold water are much more spectacular when dusk falls! Unfortunately we were not allowed to get close enough to see the river of lava itself, but for much better and closer photos than we have attached go to http://www.volcanoman.com/portfolio/index.html
We also viewed the whole national park with it's many dormant craters, and explored the Thurston lave tube, created where a river of lava solidifies above where exposed to the air and keeps flowing under the crust, often eventually leaving a tube. You can see small ones between Takapuna and Milford along the sea path, but this one was as big as a railway tunnel.
A couple more days back in the Kona area, back to the daily tennis and swimming, and then on to our next Hawaiian adventure on the smaller island of Maui. 
Hope you enjoyed the Big island, and are moved to go and explore it for yourselves!
Richard and Christine
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