Sunday, March 6, 2016

Lava: It's Scientific Fun!

We walked on lava through fern forests down to two calderas. We rested on chunks of lava with steam rising around us.

Our nephews (7 and 8) were in good spirits but they got a little bored towards the end. To distract I demonstrated how to make a whistle by clamping a grass leaf between the thumbs and blowing. That amused for a mile, or so.

We'd walked past Halemaumau Crater with its high plume of volcanic gases. At night we would see that plume glowing red from our lodge, the Volcano House, in Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park.
But it was the pocket money burning a hole in his pocket that reenergized the 8-year-old. He just had to go to the gift shop to buy something. $8 later he returned with "Lava in a Bottle" that would subsequently only deliver a plastic beaker of black, oily liquid. "Scientific FUN!" the box shouted, almost turning the purchase into a duty.
"Can you spell buyer's remorse?" I wanted to ask. I was reliving the high expectations that come with being eight years old. Ultimately, travel as something we consume keeps us unhappy, but that's a lesson this little guy has yet to absorb.

Next day the nephews and their parents left for the other side of the island. Dwight and I stayed one more day, so we could hike more of the park. We drove down from 4,000 feet almost to the ocean, a gradual, continuous slope. The car, a hybrid, reported 220 miles to the gallon.
We hiked on pahoehoe (smooth, billowy, ropy) lava. We could not decide which was more beautiful: the pure black lava, or the metallic, reptilian-patterned lava.
We saw people, exotic creatures, and strange objects hiding in the flow. Mauna Loa formed a gradual backdrop, hard to believe it's almost 14,000 feet high.
It sure beat the gift shop.


  1. A long way from Central Road, Withington...

    1. That was pretty exotic, too, at the time. Please feel free to use the Contact Me widget, bottom right.