Volcanoes and Waterfalls

Trip Start Dec 10, 2007
Trip End Nov 27, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Airport - First Challenge Conquered!
     Today we learned a lesson about arriving late and missing flights. At 3 a.m., we headed from the snowy Colorado mountains to the Denver airport.  Our e-Ticket had two airline names on it, leading us to run, dragging our backpacks, back and forth across the airport. Once we got our tickets sorted out, of course we were randomly selected to go through the enhanced security check. After going through the air-puff machine and getting all of our belongings swiped with a chemical detector, we run to the train. Surprise... the train breaks down (15 minutes left). We wait for 10 minutes until we are released from the train, catch a different train, and run to our gate (5 minutes till the plane flies). The boarding pass-taker tells us that the plane has left, there is nothing he can do. But, after 20 more angry people complain enough, they bring the plane back and let us on. JOY! Our adventure has officially started! We change flights in Honolulu and actually do miss our connecting plane, but that wasn't so bad since it was our own fault and the airport is beautiful with open-air walkways and several gardens with pagodas, arched bridges and Coy fish ponds. It was a relief to finally fly past a stereotypical Hawaiian rainbow to our final destination of Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hilo - Land of Rain and Theo
     There are two things to know about Hilo: (1) Hilo is not very pedestrian, bike, or scooter friendly and (2) it rains a lot here - 300 inches per year... more than any other US city. So as I would ride Theo's scooter in the incessant rain, aggressive drivers (usually grandmas) would try to kill me.
     But it's not all bad. It's a beautiful jungle surrounded by coral reefs and Aaron's parents arrived to celebrate his brother, Theo's graduation from University of Hawaii. Together, we have snorkeled, visited waterfalls, and SCUBA dove. We are staying at a nice bed and breakfast right on the lush coastline. Soon we will drive to Kona, a town known for diving and beaches (and less rain) the other side of The Big Island.

Steaming Craters and Prehistoric Landscapes
     Imagine voyaging from the sea up 4,000 feet to the top of a massive mountain, only to discover that you have arrived at an active volcano. Although you don't see lava oozing out from the Earth's interior, your lungs sting as you walk through a cloud of sulfuric acid steam silently billowing from a crack in the rock. You walk to another peak and see a trail that leads down into the gigantic flat crater in a dormant volcano. This trail leads you steeply down through the jungle until you begin your walk across the flat, desolate basalt of the crater floor. After crossing steam vents that burn your ankles instead of your lungs (water steam rather than sulfuric acid steam), and mounds where the crater floor buckled as it cooled, you steeply climb back up to the other side of the rim. As you approach your starting point, the sun begins to lower behind the mountain on the horizon, illuminating the crater, the steam vents in the crater and in the distance, and the spectacular jungle covered cliff. Suddenly, a dinosaur thunders out from the dense forest, ferociously running straight toward you! Oh, wait, that's just a pheasant. But your imagination can act up with scenery like this... Welcome to Volcanoes National Park.

(Next... Kona, Hawaii.)
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