We planned on waking up with the sun and starting our day right. I didn't plan on waking up an BEFORE the sun, ha, but it started the day just right. I snuck out onto the patio and started yesterday's blog post around 5:00 and was surprised when J joined me around 6:00. So much for catching up on sleep! We got dressed in appropriate clothes and took a walk on the grounds before stopping for breakfast at the buffet. Miso soup, fried rice, papaya, pineapple, and some juice for me. J went all the way with eggs Benedict, sausage, fried potatoes, fruit, juice, and three little donuts.
We stopped at the concierge on the way back to our room to check on recommendations for helicopter rides. ( Dad was right- the ones by the airport are hundreds of dollars cheaper. They didn't get a mention though, not at this swanky place ;)
We got into our hiking gear and headed out to Kilauea National Park. We did everything we could, and hiked about ten miles! We went through the lava tube, and then got on a road down to the ocean. Totally worth the long drive down!
We went to where the lava had flowed into the sea and made huge black cliffs as it wore away into arches and stacks of rocks. Those were directly in line with the constant sulphur dioxide cloud coming from the crater, and all the metal in the railings and signs is rusted.
We hiked out to ancient petroglyphs in a lava field. It was humbling and amazing.
We hiked out to a viewing point for the large crater.
We hiked down to the caldera in the crater. That was phenomenal. J ended up stumbling a bit on the way down and sat out that hike, and I went on alone. I was the only person there, alone in an enormous crater on the crust of an old lava eruption. It started misting, and steam was billowing out of holes and cracks in the ground. I could see where the crust had buckled and cracked, a little miniature of the tectonic plates we live on.
What an amazing, amazing, amazing day! We left the park around 4:30 and stopped in Hilo to get dinner. I don't know why I chose sushi, but we kept the man behind the counter busy for a long time as he tried to keep up with our appetites. No lunch (just car snacks- don't worry) and ten miles of hiking, we were hungry :)
We stopped at the Mauna Kea visitors center on the way home, around 7:30. There are telescopes set up there (it's at 9,000 feet) and all the lights are red to not mess with night vision. It's also twenty degrees colder up there with a wicked wind. We saw the moon, Venus (in crescent! Did you know it has phases from our shadow just like the moon ?), a nebula....very cool.
We finally got back to the hotel at 8:30, 12 hours after we left, and stumbled into the showers. (This room is crazy big- there is a powder room, a sitting room, a bedroom, two double closets, a desk, a sink area with a tub/shower, and then finally a bathroom with a big marble tiles shower. We were upgraded when we checked in, nice surprise!)
An incredible day- petroglyphs, volcanos, drives across the island, and star viewing at 9,000 feet.
At the caldera
Back at the trailhead of the crater. Steep climb!
(These are just the pictures from my phone)