. After spending some time there, we went on to view some (cold) lava fields. The range of lava types and structures was quite amazing. We then moved on to have a look at the 'step' or Holei Pali the point at which the edge of the volcano, at 800 metres, drops of a cliff to the lava fields at almost sea level. It was truly spectacular. We travelled back from there, viewing Kilauea iki crater and Pauahi crater and walking through the Thurston larva tube. We headed back to the restaurant for tea (again simple but cheap) and chatted with our fellow tour group members - one of whom had been in New York when 'Sandy' had hit the city. With tea out of the way, we then headed back to the caldera of Kilauea, for some viewing at night. As it got darker and darker, the red, orange and yellow glow from the larva in the crater became more and more intense. As we viewed this, it became more and more obvious that we were standing on top of an active (although very quiet) volcano. We spent an hour there - the last site of the tour was a visit to the steam vents, where, according to legend, you heal all ills by breathing the steam. I don't know about that, but it was certainly warming on what was becoming quite a chilly night. Our tour guide Rob, who had kept a constant, entertaining and educational chat going all day, maintained it for the trip back to the airport. An hour and 1/4 wait for our flight saw us back in Honolulu at about 10:45 and back at the hotel, absolutely exhausted, by midnight.
Today we visited the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We had an early start - for some reason we had to be at the airport by 8:15 even though the flight didn't leave until 10:20. We had a brief flight over to the island of Hawaii (the Big Island), where we disembarked and were met by Rob, our guide. The approx. 20 of us boarded the bus and were given a brief tour of Hilo, visiting the Rainbow Falls (which were actually more of a pond, because the water flow to them had been temporarily diverted to another river which was generating hydro power.) While disappointing, the area was still quite beautiful. Next was a visit to a macadamia processing plant, where we had a simple but cheap lunch. A stop at an orchid nursery was next - and at this stage, we were starting to feel like we were being taken more on a shopping trip than a volcanoe tour. Fortunately we then headed into the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We stopped at the caldera of Kilauea, where we could easily see the crater, located within the caldera, and see the gasses being given off