On National Parks.
There are 5 National Parks on the Big Island, and we went to all of them. The first 4 all either have the same name or close enough that I can’t remember the difference. The 5th is Volcano.
OK, I will try to pronounce the other names. The truth is that I feel a little deficient not being able to easily remember and pronounce Hawaiian names. I mean, they are a native American language and one of the few highly organized civilizations that we didn’t wipe out with small pox (sorry, in this case “we” = “white guys”) so I should at least be able to remember and pronounce some of their big location names. I mean, I remember Yosemite and Multnomah.
|Hawaiian Native Dry Mortar Technic. This has got to be hard to do|
|The Boat House. I would note that though this is supposed to be a|
authentic recreation, the rope is synthetic. In my mind, rope is the hard part
here and needs to be made from natural fibers or you are cheating
The “City of Refuge” is an area out beyond the wall where a fugitive from justice or a loser in ritual battle can run to (or swim to) and seek refuge. If you make it there, no one can kill you. And eventually the priests will perform the rituals to allow you back into society. If you visit the Kona area, ask local people about the City of Refuge, you will get a different and interesting story from each one.
|So romantic. A stroll on the beach with the god you love|
|He is very popular|
I would like to restate the “nice place for a picnic”. If you drive down past the parking lot, down a little lava road, there is a stretch of parking for picnic tables and charcoal grills in the sand and coconut trees right up against the stark lava shoreline. It is beautiful.
|Part of the extensive wall that extends the fish ponds|
|Hawaiian Built wall, sea on the left, fish pond on the right. Pretty Girl in the Middle.|
|Does she have the gear or what?|
It does seem that there are little signs marking ancient burial grounds all over the shore. Which makes sense if the Polynesians lived here for 2000 years before they got wonked by the Europeans (that includes the Americans).
|You find these strange structures in many places out on the lava.|
No one knows what they are.
|There are a few petroglyphs at Kaloko. This is one of a guy standing on his head|
|Our Artist Bungalow. Great Walk in Shower!|
|Little art areas just everywhere in the Garden.|
The garden itself I imagine to be an eclectic collection of all of the art and interests of the various artists that have passed through this way. Much of it is oriental, a lot of little budha sitting around blessing the various parts of the gardens. But there are also a number of areas where an artist just took over and made a statement. Over hanging from a little tree in the distance, along with what appears to be Spanish Moss, are little bird houses made from colorful ceramic tiles. A flock of them of slightly different colors and styles. Behind that is a little faux vegetable plot planted with the pots and ceramic pumpkins. I am sitting at one of a group of round patio tables centered in a large, well tended low grass area. Sort of like a little golf course. A little pound tended by a likely buhda sitting in front of me.
My partner and I have been having a busy last couple of days. Yesterday was spent with some medium intense exploration of the National Park.
The Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is an unexpected treasure. Perhaps I should have thought about it more. The elevation here near the Caldera lip is about 3700 feet. So things are a good deal cooler than down in Kona. The uphill side of the volcano is heavily wooded. Trees about 5-20 inches in diameter rising from undergrowth of tree fern and local blueberry. When you run into bare areas, however, you can usually see steam rising from vents at various locations ahead of you. And then, of course, if you go over close to the Rim, you can see the Caldera.
|Smokes rising from the main Crater.|
The Caldera is formed in steps. The outside rim is that which has been colonized by the trees and birds and we few invasive mammals. That is where the Crater Rim Road and trail are found along with the park headquarters (get your passport stamped here!) and the Volcano House hotel and restaurant (and Gift Shops). A 400 foot (or so) step down from that is the Inner Caldera. This is a several mile diameter circle of medium old lava. I need to research to see when this was last filled with molten rock. Then, off in the south west corner, is the active volcano itself. This is a quarter mile diameter hole of another few hundred feet drop. And in there, in a smaller hole yet, is the current active lake of molten pulsating lava.
The lava doesn’t usually come up out of this lake into the larger caldera. It generally just comes up high enough to build up pressure in a rift zone farther down the mountain. It makes a hole and goes rushing out down there and so to the sea. Currently (and for the last 33 years) the lava has been coming out of a hole called Pu'u O'o and running down the mountain to the sea at the south east edge of the park. We haven’t seen that yet. But plan to go out to see it tonight. That particular area used to have people living there, so I expect to see roads and yards and houses and such partially engulfed by the lava. Sometimes the lava moves very slowly. Just oozing along like the Slime Monster, but other times it runs like water shooting down a little river at 25 MPH or more.
|A view down into the Caldera|
|Those be large fiddle heads|
Imagine what this would look like by envisioning a model we shall build using water.
Let's pretend were are standing by an empty lake in upstate North Dakota in the middle of winter. It is -36 degrees outside (C or F?, doesn’t matter). We begin to fill the lake from a spout on one side. We fill it with hot water that shoots up from the ground in a 50 foot wide jet spurting up in the air higher than the Empire State Building. Most of the water falls back into the lake bed and begins to fill the lake. But it is so cold that some of the water mist freezes in the air and falls as snow or ice chunks. Over a short period of time the lake fills up. The top of the lake starts to freeze, especially that part touching the banks of the lake. Some of the water splatters up on the shore and freezes there. The water spout is so violent that waves are generated that break on the far shore and freeze there. on the Land side of the spout, the falling frozen water begins to mound up. Not a very strong mound and it often breaks under its own weight to go crashing back down into lake. Eventually the lake gets so deep that it drowns the spout. For our experiment, we will shut the spout off. The top of the lake has frozen into a smooth surface. But the water underneath is till fluid and hot. With the pressure on the spout off, the water goes back down the spout like it was a drain. The weight of the ice on top is too heavy to stand and it all breaks down into large smooth plates with sharp edges sticking up a haphazard angles. The shoreline is littered with especially sharp and chaotic boulders; a ‘bathtub ring’ of ice fragments.
|See the "Bath Tub" ring?|
|The rock has lots of gas bubbles. Makes it light but with sharp edges.|
|A place where the smooth surface broke when the lava underneath drained back out|
The smooth (now rock) lake bed and how it collapsed when the lava underneath drained out is very evident as you hike across this huge expanse. The big cinder cone that was created by the molten rock blowing into the air and then freezing and falling back is still there. Many steam vents and wonderful rock formations out in the caldera. And this just happened in 1959. It could easily happen again and the entire caldera re-fill with molten lava and wipe out the little foot prints that humans have been making.
|The Buckling of the smooth lake surface|
There are a lot of old lava flows that are clearly delineated as you take the road from the Caldera down to the ocean. After driving through rain forest for a while, you suddenly find yourself out on the bleak and bare lava flows. Miles and miles of it. There are some trails going through the flows, they are marked with the occasional Cairn and some scuffed lava from the treads of many boots.
At one spot down close to the ocean, we parked and walked a mile out on the lava to find a little circle of wooden boardwalk that protects and points you at a number of petroglyphs. A sacred place where the Hawaiians would bring the umbilical cord of their babies to bury in a little carved depression in the rock to sanctify the birth. The family histories can be seen by the grouped depressions.
|The little holes are burial sites for Umbilical cords.|
|Some new A'A lava on top of the older lighter flow.|
|Hey, Some coconuts. We ate lunch there|
|Where the Lava meets the Sea|
|Road going out through the lava|
|Reading your Menu by Volcano Light|
After dinner, we drove back around the Caldera to the observatory. We could pretty easily see the bubbling lava from the viewing point (need some magnification, we used our cameras to good effect but a big pair of binoculars would have come in handy).
We could have spent another couple of days exploring the park. In particular, I would have liked to try a hike out across the lava to one of the lesser visited old craters or perhaps down to the ocean. There are some primitive campsites you can access at the beach on the South West side of the park. No roads, just a walk in across the lava with a trail marked by cairn.