October 31, 2017
Not sure what is the connection between this date and the volcano environment. The otherworldly appearance of the Kilauea magma reflecting in the night sky is a good tie in to tonight. The thunder has also returned to the night sky. Otherwise, we can just let it go.
We left our coffee plantation B&B this morning around 9am and managed to drive under a hundred miles in three hours. The only through road over the southern part of the island is a two lane road. There were a few stretches of 55 mph but not many. The beginning near Kailua was the worst with mostly 25-35 mph stretches. There were plenty of road side businesses and coffee tasting locations. While the early part was plenty green, you could only see the roadside plants and rarely see the ocean that lies close by. It finally opened up about half way to Volcano.
One thing that you can learn by driving is to discover what makes the economy tick. While tourism is the main economic engine today; it wasn’t always the case. The traditional economy was based upon farming. Coffee and macadamia nuts seem to be important on the big island. These crops don’t seem to be returning large dividends to either the growers or the field hands. Just an observation based upon the modest dwellings and a profusion of junked cars. However, they certainly live in an environment that provides some compensation. The “wealth” seems to be concentrated in beach front urban areas that enjoy proximity to Costco and plenty of traffic on those two lane highways.
After reaching the Volcano National Park, we checked into the historic Volcano House on the edge of the Kilauea Caldera overlooking the magma lake a couple miles away. The hotel has been here since 1844 in one form or another. Mark Twain was here during its Victorian iteration. Many other luminaries like FDR who was here in 1934. The latest hotel dates from 1941 and has been updated. There are but 32 rooms and we are now in one for the evening. A Welcome Mimosa was a nice touch. The Mahi Mahi fish and chips were also good. We soon hit the sights.
We toured the pull out overlooks around the caldera and enjoyed the tropical environment so different from the Kona coast despite being at 4000 feet elevation. We took numerous pictures of the steam rising from the magma lake as you cannot see the actual lake that is well below the rim. We managed to not slip and slide in the jungle covered lava tube and avoided tripping on numerous tendrils and roots hugging the trails.
The Hawaiians and the Park Service does their best to explain traditional myths and creation stories. I kept looking for the Disney version to no success. It was made abundantly clear that Madame Pele lives under/in/below Kilauea. It was also understood that the best time to see her in all her magnitude was after dark. As is clear for our pictures, that is the case.