Awesome nature on display
02.09.2009 73 °F
Although you don't go on a cruise to get educated, sometimes it just happens. We took an organized tour of the Volcanoes National Park near Hilo today, and it was just amazing.
We were atop Kiluea Volcano, high enough in elevation to cause the ears to pop. The weather was misty and cool, which, I understand, are standard conditions up there. In fact, it was so shrouded that we couldn't see the top of nearby Mauna Kea, the huge mountain next door. We learned about lava tubes, how volcanism created the islands, and how scientists keep a very sharp eye on these very active geologic fault lines. But the steam fields were REALLY cool. Stand next to one of those babies and the temps immediately rise 50 degrees, your glasses fog over immediately, and any wrinkles in your clothes are gone! We ended the tour at the Kiluea Caldera, a huge crater, two miles across, with a sub-crater inside spewing noxious gases, the mythical home of Pele, goddess of fire. I guess some native Hawaiians who practice the old religion still come up here to offer sacrifices to appease the goddess.
(No, that is not Pele, that's Cindy)
The capper was around 9:45 this evening, as we approached an area of the island where molten lava is flowing into the sea. I couldn't take a photo that did it justice - you had to see it to appreciate it. An orange glow marked the spot where lava and sea met, creating a gigantic steam cloud visible for miles. All passengers were glued to the rail, watching this amazing sight pass by. All ship lights were turned off for awhile to help make the effect more striking. Had the ships engines not been throbbing, I'm sure we could have heard the sizzle!
And we get a full moon to complete the effect. Pretty cool stuff.
A very awe-inspiring day.