Rain Forests & Volcanos

Trip Start Nov 16, 2011
Trip End Nov 27, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Saturday, November 19, 2011

Today was a special treat: a flight to Hawaii, the Big Island, which I'd not visited before and a chance to satisfy an old interest in volcanos!

Our tour guide, John, was a story unto himself.  He spends six months managing tours to his birthplace island, and six months on a 7-man team destroying ordinace wherever in the world he might get deployed.  He got into it because "it fell in my lap."  "The US military treated Hawaii like a munitions testing ground for years -- and they didn't always go off."  So as a teen he began to learn how to find and detonate unexploded ordinance.

Hawaii is a very big island.  We drove 180 miles today, just in the south-east part of the island.  The Hilo side is the wet windward side getting 300" of rainfall a year.  Compare that to the drier Kona side with just 19-20".  We were definately in a rain forest...not only was it thick lush forest but also it poured rain all day!

Hawaii is the newest of the islands.  It sits on a geological hot spot out in the Pacific where there are countless earthquakes and lava activity.  Over the millenia, the islands drifted north and west in a curving chain.  (Kauai is the most northerly & westward of the major islands; it's also the oldest.)  The newest island offshore from Hawaii is erupting all the time.  It's due to break the ocean's surface in a few thousand years as the Big Island drifts off. 

The tour of 23 Auzzies (mostly), Americans & Canadians (about equal in number) travelled from black beaches, to gardens, to lava flows that have 'washed' over the roads (4 of them so far) burping from vents down to the ocean.  We finished the day about 6pm at the Kilauea caldera watching a bubbling lava lake glow red off the hovering mist & steam.  Way cool.

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