Many times have we journeyed to Hilo . . . depending on the route we take, we stop in at the Volcano National Park. As a senior, I have my Lifetime Pass, so it costs me nothing to go in there for a quick look and perhaps to use the . . . ahem . . . facilities after nearly a two-hour drive festooned with snacks and coffee.
These days there is an additional incentive to stopping there . . .
This particular day was October 8th, and the above is the Halema‘uma‘u Crater and the photos were all taken from about a mile away.
The full-size versions of these photos are in THIS SmugMug gallery. You can click on the photos for a larger version.
The first time I saw that particular spot, I was a lot closer . . .
If one looks toward the back of this next photo, one can see the road that passes by this particular spot. Note also the hole from which the smoke rises.
That road is the Crater Rim Drive, and it’s a loop that starts and ends at the visitor center. Or, at least it used to. It’s now closed, but that was not the case back in 1991, the first time I visited the Park. Back then you could park and walk to the edge of the caldera.
That’s me giving the thumb’s up, and that’s my sister trying to push that big chunk of loose rock down the slope of the caldera. I kid, but not a whole lot. By the way, I obviously did not snap that photo.
This next shot gives a glimpse of the bubbling lava just below the visible portion of the depression.
Squint your eyes and you can also see the outline of a face in the smoke. Some sort of Earth Spirit, I’d wager.
Can’t see it? Here, let me help. Stare at the picture below for a few seconds.
In case you want a better look at the face, here’s a freeze frame of it.
We were only there for maybe ten minutes, but I was lucky to get this next shot.
I like lava . . . there is a warmth to it you don’t find in humans. It’s about a 2,000º F warmth.
In 1996 or 1998, we were back in Hawai’i and at that time, one of the lava flows was crossing a road in the southern part of the Island. Unlike right now, where you have a 3 or four miles hike to get to the flowing lava, we just drove up to a barricade, the lava not 20-30 feet beyond. A young ranger was there to keep the tourists from wandering into the lava field.
Melisa had gone back to the car and I was taking a few more photos when an older ranger drove up to relieve the younger one. Not five minutes later, the ranger asked (there were six or seven of us) if we wanted to get closer and we wandered into the lava field.
The above are small photos, scans of the original film prints. Not recent scans. These were scanned in the late 90s. The photos were taken from probably no more than two or three feet from the flowing lava. Slow flowing lava, but flowing.
At one point, I looked down to a crack on the ground between my feet . . . red hot with the lava below it.
“Is this safe?” I asked.
“It’s relatively safe,” the ranger replied. I was relatively reassured in hearing that.
A couple of the above shots had me try my hand at my then fairly new Photoshop Elements . . .
Those are the above shots mirrored and joined to form composite images . . . and if you find that interesting, rotate them 180º and you get these:
Do you get the feeling Lava is evil? And yet, it gives us this . . .
A few weeks later, we were in the neighborhood again and dropped in . . . notice there is no longer a hole. The lava level had risen. Actually, it had spilled over a few days before these shots.
The above shot was in the morning and I only had time for one or two shots before heading to a house showing. Oh, and one video . . . please excuse the movement as it’s hand-held in windy conditions and zoomed in from a mile away.
We came back later in the day and stayed longer. Notice how the surface had changed in just a few hours.
That is lava bubbling through the partially solidified cap. I also shot a few more movies, but they too were hand-held in pretty windy conditions. I shot videos both with the Nikon and with my little Panasonic Point-n-Shoot. I’ll only show a few here, but all of them are gathered in THIS playlist.
The videos below are shot with the Panasonic. Not as good video quality . . . it’s an old camera. This next video shows a nice little splash.
This next one shows some pretty good roiling of the surface of the lava. Sorry for the frame wandering a bit, but you can’t see the dang screen in full daylight so it was difficult keeping it pointed at the pit.
Here are a few more stills capturing some of the action. This is one of those rare times I wished I had one of them there 600mm lenses.
We were hoping for an “event” but, alas, nothing more than what’s shown above.
Heading back to the condo, we decided to take the Southern route and stopped at the Punalu’u Beach Park (Black Sand Beach).
The ocean was a bit rough and presented a couple of opportunities for, you guessed it, wave photos.
. . . and, yes, a video too . . .
I know these scenes of mindless violence will likely upset some readers so let me offer you a few more photos to help soothe your troubled minds.
We occasionally visit Oona Beach . . . not many people go there, hence why I like it. While we sat in our car enjoying the waves and views, I finally got a chance to photograph a few Gray Francolins.
Since I got out of the car, I snapped a few more photos . . . and since I felt like it, I post-processed them a bit differently than usual.
Here’s an interesting piece of lava . . .
. . . and here’s part of the shoreline . . .
. . . and here’s one of the waves.
I hope something in this post has helped at least a few readers find a few moments of escape.
Stay safe, stay strong.
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