We saw the volcano! We saw real lava pouring into the sea!
We had lunch in Hilo, then drove up to the volcano.
We stopped first at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Jaggar Museum. It is kind of like a Ranger Station. They told us where you can see lava. It is on private property, but they gave us a map and instructions.
It was already cold up there, so I changed into warm clothes. We saw steam coming up on both sides of the road as we went to the caldera. We visited the volcano’s most recently erupting crater, which had huge clouds of smoke, ash and sulfur coming out of it. The road was closed any further because of sulfuric gas.
We went around the other way to get to the Thurston Lava tube, a huge tunnel left behind when the lava drained away. I had no idea it was so huge.
We had time to get to just one more overlook, to another crater. It still had plumes, too.
Kalapana Lava Viewing Site
We followed the instructions to where you could see lava and, after only turning around once, we got there. We couldn’t go any earlier because the roads are only open to people who live in the neighborhood so they can get home from work. That seems fair.
We drove out an old road that had been destroyed by earth quakes and lava flows.
As we drove up and down over lava in a line of cars, we could see where people were leaving over to the right.
You could see a line of tail lights through the scrub. Then I realized that was not tail lights, we were starting to see the lava.
Wow!!! You could see a line of fire from the edge of the volcano’s flows!
They had us park facing back the way we came. They explained that if the wind changed direction, the smoke could be deadly.
We walked across huge waves and pools of cooled lava flows. They made sure each of us had a flashlight and closed shoes, so the lava wouldn’t cut our feet. The path was marked, but there were still cracks to step over. Steam was coming up through some of the cracks and the ground was warm.
The entire Milky Way was over us. We followed a parade of little flashlights till suddenly we could see where the lava hit the sea.
It was just so much more amazing than you can tell from these pictures.
It flowed over and huge clouds of steam were going up. It was just amazing. There were even shooting stars. We were still seeing the Perseids.
Everyone was nearly silent. Just murmurs and the sound of the waves crashing below us. I can’t even describe it. We just sat there and watched. A few times the lava exploded as it hit the water and threw fireworks into the air. They said the lava moves at 30 miles per hour, but it sure did look like it poured out faster than that.
The photos are nothing like what we saw. We stayed until they made us leave, around 10:00.
People had set up booths selling photos of the volcano. They had some amazing photographs!
We drove back, singing 80’s songs along with a Maui radio station, occasionally just saying “Wow.”