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Monday, December 14, 2015

Volcano and starry fun!

My first day on the big island of Hawaii couldn't have gone better. I got some work on my final paper for writing class done at a lovely cafe in Hilo. Eggs bennies with salmon hit the spot!

It had been on my mind to do an evening volcano hike, so I called a company which looked reputable and they had a spot for 1 person yesterday. It was a small group-just myself and another older couple on the tour.

Our guide, Rich, has lived in Hawaii since the 80's and knew SO much about the volcano history, lava flow history, and a great sense of humor. I could tell right away he would make the tour a fun one!

 We drove to the coast where a lava flow ran over a town in the 90's and wiped out one of the nice white coral beaches. The rapid regrowth on the lava flow is quite something else-how plants can grow in the dense rock.

We drove to Volcano National Park for a dinner overlooking the volcano spewing away (about 3 miles away). Just lovely-the sunset, glow from the volcano. The whole experience was more impressive than I expected. Its one thing to read about seeing an active volcano, but quite another to be so close nearby.

Next stop was  a lava tube~a structure formed as the lava rolled down hill towards the ocean. Tour leader Rich said the lava tube we were in went for 26 miles. Its a cave like feature with water dripping from the ceiling and stalactites in the baby formations.  I'd never before heard of anything such as this!  Was fun and spooky to walk in it and think of it meandering on for 26 miles underground. Nora and Stuey would've loved seeing that!

The evening ended with a visit to the volcano museum and a nighttime glimpse of the fiery action.

The volcano was indeed spectacular but what I found even more spectacular were the stars.

As the moon set completely behind a far peak, the sky was lit up like I've never before seen. Rich pointed out The North Star, Orion, Beatelgeus (new to me…a red star!), galaxies, satellites, shooting stars. I suddenly felt so small and inconsequential looking at all those galaxies.

Rich pointed out the stars in their positions and how they were different from how I would see them in Alaska. I appreciated this perspective. The north star was much lower on the horizon than in Alaska.

Rich and the other couple along encouraged me to go to the Hawaii Observatory Center tonight to look at the stars. It wasn't something I had been initially planning on, but after seeing the night sky yesterday-I'm all over it.


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