Honolulu to Hilo.  We used Lyft from the Hale Koa to the airport ($24.06).  Franklin was our driver.  He was extremely entertaining and informative, more like a tour guide than driver.  He took us on the Obama route – past the hospital where the prez was born, the apartment building he lived in with his grandparents, and the high school he graduated from.  We also got a load of Hawaiian history and culture.  Franklin was great, highly recommended.

Short flight to Hilo, no problems.  From Hilo to Kilauea we had a rental car (crappy, dirty, overpriced Nissan Versa with 41k miles from Budget).  I get the high prices but at least the car could have been clean.  No recommendation for Budget.  Got to Kilauea Military Camp (KMC) early (check in not until 3:00) so headed to the park visitor center for an orientation and picnic lunch (chicken salad sandwiches from the KMC general store). Hiked the Crater Rim trail from the Steam Vents to Jaggar Museum, 2 miles each way. Chilly and windy but beautiful views of the Kilauea crater. John Owens, ranger-led talk at Jaggar about the area. Very interesting. Two splatters visible from the viewing terrace (80′ high but looked tiny). We were fortunate that the magma level was up and the splatters visible that day since that’s not always the case.  Even though this crater had been famous as the ‘lava lake’ back when Mark Twain and others hung out there, it’s subsided since then.  Now it’s best seen at sunset when the rising steam glows orange.  Got a pizza from the bowling alley on KMC for dinner (ugh).

Our cabin #14 at KMC

KMC is an interesting place, having been an R&R destination for US service members and an internment camp for Japanese American citizens.  Lots of ghosts but can’t beat the location for visiting Volcanoes National Park though food was a challenge.

Wednesday we drove to Hilo for the twice weekly farmers market (Wednesday and Saturday).  Lots of local produce and crafts but nothing we couldn’t live without.  Breakfast at the Surfer Cafe in town (around the corner from the market) wasn’t anything great and pricey but hey, this is Hawaii.  Stopped at TGA grocery on the 40 minute drive back to Kilauea.  Next to TGA we picked up a bento box at Hiro’s for $5 (great place with plate lunches and various hot and cold food items available, right on Hwy 11 on the way out of Hilo. Check it out if you’re looking for something local and inexpensive).  That’ll be lunch or dinner.  We also bought some musubi and a sandwich for lunch, salad and Portuguese bean soup for dinner, and yogurt and malasada for breakfast from TGA (and a six pack of Lavaman beer from Kona).  That should do for the next couple of days.

Back at our cabin, we had visitors – a couple who had occupied #14 before us and couldn’t find one of their passports. They thought it might have fallen out of their bags so they asked if they could search the cabin.  We helped them look in every nook and cranny but no passport.  They’ll have to get a new one issued in Honolulu if they can’t find it.  No doubt losing a passport is a major nightmare for international travelers.  Good luck.

Visited Thurston lava tube and walked through.  Cool place, lit up, some low ceiling.  Prehistoric rain forest foliage all around – huge ferns, other ancient plants, very Jurassic Park. Then drove down to the ocean along the crater drive, stopping at craters and lava flows along the way.  Sea arches at the bottom and John Owens to provide more info about the park and that area.  Possible to walk/hike to an active lava flow (5.5 miles each way over paved road and lava field).  It would probably take 6 or so hours and the right shoes, oh well.  Maybe next time we’ll come properly prepared and the lava will still be flowing.

Back at the cabin, we found a note on our door, stating simply ‘passport found’.  Apparently it was in a secret pocket in one of their bags.  Nothing like putting something somewhere to be safe and secure then forgetting where that was.  Relief all around.

We headed back to Jaggar Museum for another view of Kilauea crater and a stamp in Kathy’s National Park passport book.  No magma splatters at all this time so we were lucky to see them the day before.

Next day we hiked down into Kilauea Iki crater, across the floor, and up the other side.  Very cool.  There was some jagged lava (a’a) along the trail but mostly smooth flows (pahoehoe) that weren’t difficult to walk on.  Later we drove to Punalu’u Black Sand Beach park to see the green sea turtles and pick up some food at the Punalu’u Bakery (recommended by the t-shirt guy).  Great day.

Kilauea Iki crater floor


Punalu’u Black Sand Beach Park – a white sport coat and a pink crustacean?

Checking in for our flight the next day we discovered that the flight time had changed.  We now had less than an hour between our arrival at HNL and departure for Tokyo.  After a bit of scrambling we were able to get Kathy on an earlier flight from Hilo and me on standby on that flight.  Worst case she’d have time with United in HNL to plead for getting me on the Tokyo flight since I could arrive after boarding was closed.  But as it worked out we both got on the earlier flight from Hilo.  It just meant leaving KMC earlier than originally planned.

We headed out around 5:00 am next day for the airport but drove to Jaggar first to get a look at Kilauea glowing in the dark.  It was incredible with the orange glow from the magma lighting up the rising steam.  One of those awesome moments when you stand in wonder.  Kilauea is cold, windy, and rainy (at 4,000 feet elevation) but really worth spending some time to experience up close the unique geology along with visitors from all over the world.  Amazing place.

3 Replies to “Kilauea and Volcanoes”

  1. Had been looking for your post. Glad u made your flight. So I think you should go with us to Argentina in April/ May 2019.

  2. Thanks for the update!! Been singing “Where In The World Are Carl & Kathy Gedmin?” to the Carmen SanDiego tune. LOL

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