Before going on our trip to Big Island, the boys and I read several books on volcanoes in general, and Hawaii specifically. It was a great learning opportunity, since Rylan was excited about going to see the real thing, and I wanted to make sure that our time there was a real learning experience for him, and he could appreciate and understand what he was seeing. At the end of the post I have shared our reading selection.
During our week on Big Island, we spent two days in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. On our first day we did the popular Kilauea Iki hike, a 4 mile hike which starts with a steep descent through a fern filled rain forest, then crosses a lava-paved crater floor, then back up through a rain forest again.
This hike was quite amazing. To go from lush green to a solid black volcanic surface that covered a huge expanse of land. You cross large fissures in the lava rock, and go through an area filled with steam vents (where I stopped to get a natural steam facial, of course ;) ).
During our time in the park we also went through the famous Thurston lava tube, drove down the Chain of Craters road, a large section of which has been destroyed by lava flow, and visited the Jagger museum.
In the evening we went down to the area being manned by civil defense (because it is outside of the boundary of the National Park) to see the current surface lava flow.
We walked a mile to the look out area, by which time it was dark and we could see the red, hot glow of the lava as it flowed down towards the ocean (unfortunately, I have no good photos of our lava watching to share, because all I have is a point and shoot camera, and did not think to bring a tripod. In the dark night sky, my camera picked up nothing but blurred images :( ). As the lava flowed past trees and bushes, they would burn, the flames flaring into the dark sky. There was also one poor home (fully vacated already) that was surrounded by lava with its fate uncertain. Some homes in the area have survived, the lava somehow flowed around them, mercifully. It is an odd sight seeing literally miles of black lava rock with the odd home still standing amongst it. Some of the residents still manage to have a sense of humor despite the obvious slump in their property values! :)
That day my Rylan walked 6 miles, on his own two feet over some rough terrain, without complaint. I have to say we were pretty proud of him after that and the park was an experience we will never forget!