Day 6 12/31
Once again, as crazy as it sounds in CA, I’m sitting in my office looking out the window at the rain. It is pouring outside, and I’m in here trying to get in an aloha state of mind. However, rain is an appropriate subject for todays post…
Today we head for the volcano and our VRBO house in Volcano, HI. We get an early start, all packed and out the door. We wave goodbye to our condo and head east and up. Up as in over the pass in the saddle between Mauna Kea to the north and Mauna Loa to the south. This pass between tops out at around 6800 ft above sea level. Both of these volcano peaks are above 13500 ft.
The satellite picture clearly shows the the east/west transition from the dry side to the wet, green, side of the island. We could see the clouds in front of us as we approached the top of the pass.
The transition to rain was immediate, and it basically rained for the rest of the day. We followed the road down into Hilo to take a restroom stop and grab various kinds of caffeinated beverages.
Soon we were back on the road heading southwest to the town of Volcano in the rain. The change in vegetation from west to east was extreme. Black rock and brown grass was quickly replaced with lush greenery, trees, giant ferns, and water.
We passed thru the town of Volcano and did a quick check of the resources. You actually have to leave the main highway to find the town. It lies by a the side of a road that was probably the old highway. A couple of restaurants, a grocery store, a hardware store, a laundry, and little more. The town was spare.
On the other side, we rejoined the main highway, and quickly covered the few miles to the national park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was free to enter for all due to the current government shutdown (Tuck Frump thanks the president for his largesse). We parked near to the visitor center in a pretty steady downpour and checked out the exhibits. I found the passport stamp and purchased a sticker for my NP passport.
Although Kilauea had erupted just a few months ago, the caldera was mostly absent any volcanic activity during our visit. I guess this is the first time in decades that it has been this quiet. There was a large part of park closed due to the recent eruptions and the government shutdown.
We decided to take a hike thru the steam vents to the edge of the volcano. The trail went almost due west from the visitor center, through an area with steam vents, crossed the road towards the volcano, and then went along the area called Steaming Bluff below.
The hike went to several lookout points, but the view was mostly obscured by clouds, and steam from the volcano. But there were lots of unique plants to photograph.
We managed to get a group photo using my watch and a small tripod I was carrying. You can see the problem with the visibility behind me.
We also saw offerings to the volcano.
We turned around and headed towards the Volcano House for lunch. The Volcano House is promoted as the “oldest hotel in Hawaii” and has been in it’s present configuration since the 1940’s. And on the same site since the late 1800’s. We were only taking refuge from the rain, and looking for lunch.
The dining room was classic National Park old school; white table cloths, somewhat stuffy, and full of history. I love these places. We all had a nice lunch, and some warm drinks. Gretchen bought a t-shirt to replace her wet one. I bought a trash novel where the hotel is part of the story called “Murder at the Volcano House”, by Chip Hughes. Here goes the worlds shortest review. The main character is the Surfing Detective. I really liked the story and finished the book on the plane ride home the next day.
Fed, warmed up, not yet dry, we packed ourselves into the silver whale, and went to find our rental house. The written instructions, and the address, got us to it without trouble and soon we were turning into the driveway.
You can see that our rental house is in the middle of a rain forest complete with 10 foot tall ferns. We entered the house without any trouble, unloaded the car, and started to settle in. The only heat in the house was provided by a wood-burning stove. It took awhile to get the wet wood started, but eventually, the fire was warming the house.
Literature provided at the rental recommended that we eat at the local Thai restaurant, Thai Thai Bistro and Bar.
The restaurant was not crowded, and we were quickly seated. The service was really friendly and helpful. Our waitress helped us navigate the menu, recommended favorite foods, and helped us with portion sizes.
Soon the food was coming out and we all really enjoyed ourselves. I can give this an unconditional thumbs up if you are in the area.
We goblet down all of the real food and then it was time for dessert. We ordered two. One a brownie and ice cream dish, and the the other was a flaming pile of ice cream, strawberries, and whipped cream. It was good, and I believe both dishes disappeared in about 60 seconds.
Back at the rental, we agreed on the plan to eat breakfast at the Volcano House. A timetable was agreed to. We had a reasonably long drive to the Kona airport tomorrow. So everything settled, most of us found a comfortable position to lounge, and we watched Lilo and Stitch before going to bed.
Thats all for this day. Day 7 was a drive around the southern end of the island to Kona Airport, and the flight from paradise.
Aloha until then.