Littoral explosion east of Kupapa‘u Point produces thin sheets of spatter known as “limu o Pele” (Pele’s seaweed) photo by T.J. Takahashi

We saw the volcano!

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.

Jaggar Museum & Hawaiian Volcano Observatory >

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Jaggar Museum - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Jaggar Museum

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.

Puu Puai Volcano Cone, Kilauea Iki and the Devastation Trail >

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.

Thurston Lava Tube >

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.

A line of lights to our right was actually the lava - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

A line of lights to our right was actually the lava

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.

Lava flowing into the sea at night - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea at night

Lava flowing into the sea at night - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea at night

Lava flowing into the sea at night - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea at night

Lava flowing into the sea at night - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea at night

Lava flowing into the sea at night - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea at night

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.

This is very much like what we saw, but further away and the smoke was billowing up because there was less wind. photo by Rennett Stowe - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

This is very much like what we saw, but further away and the smoke was billowing up because there was less wind. photo by Rennett Stowe

Lava flowing into the sea photo by Matt MacGillivray - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea photo by Matt MacGillivray

The photos are nothing like what we saw. We stayed until they made us leave, around 10:00.

Photos of the volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Photos of the volcano

Photos of the volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Photos of the volcano

Photos of the volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Photos of the volcano

Photos of the volcano - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Photos of the volcano

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.”

Littoral explosion east of Kupapa‘u Point produces thin sheets of spatter known as “limu o Pele” (Pele’s seaweed) photo by T.J. Takahashi - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Littoral explosion east of Kupapa‘u Point produces thin sheets of spatter known as “limu o Pele” (Pele’s seaweed) photo by T.J. Takahashi

Lava flowing into the sea photo by Brocken Inaglory - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea photo by Brocken Inaglory

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory - Curiosity Trek - Hawaii

Lava flowing into the sea from a helicopter photo by Brocken Inaglory

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