Puna Glow

Puna is glowing.

Not a good glow when you consider that glow is from a raging river of lava between fissure 8 and the sea at Kapoho. Still it can be pretty under the rising Milky Way. I stayed late at work and took a few photos on the way down the mauna. Click on the image for full scale goodness…

Puna Glow
The glow of lava in the clouds and vog over Puna. Five image panorama with a 14mm lens from the summit of Mauna Kea.

The Wai‘ōpae Tide Pools

One of the most beautiful places on the island is gone.

Hawaiian Damselfish (Dascyllus albisella)
A Hawaiian Damselfish (Dascyllus albisella) in a pool at Wai‘ōpae
The Wai‘ōpae Tide Pools were a place where anyone could see the wonders of a coral reef. The calm and protected pools full of fish and lush coral. You could see damselfish hovering over a coral head or watch small barracuda hunt just under the surface.

And they were popular, on any given day a couple dozen locals and tourists could be seen exploring the pools. You could swim across one or two, then have to climb across a few feet of old pahoehoe lava to drop into the next. The more adventurous were rewarded with even richer coral in the outermost pools where the ocean waves created more challenging swimming conditions.

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Burning Farms

One of the most poignant scenes we witnessed was the many farms destroyed by the lava

Flow Front
The front of the fissure 8 flow approaches Kapoho Bay
We took our helicopter ride Sunday morning, June 3rd. At this point the large flow from fissure 8 had not yet reached the neighborhoods at Kapoho. What the flow was burning through were the many papaya orchards and flower growers found above the bay.

Houses are bad enough, seeing the farms in front of the lava flow was worse. I found myself looking through the telephoto lens at the neat greenhouses, the orchards green in the morning sunlight. The wide flow front was in the process of destroying so many farms, remorselessly moving through the neat rows of papaya trees.

Orchid Plantation Inc.
The greenhouses of Orchid Plantation Inc. disappearing under the lava.
I am aware of how much a farmer puts into the land… Sweat, blood, heart and soul. I look at the photos and I see immaculate operations… Well maintained buildings, no weeds around the structures, the pitiless lava flow advancing. Each scene that appeared in the camera viewfinder was gut-wrenching.

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Confusing Islands

I understand that some of our family can be a bit fuzzy on island geography. We have had a few exchanges with family members over the last couple days where we have had to remind them that we live on the other side of the island from the volcano. Yes, we are just fine and in no danger from the new eruption.

Confusing the Hawaiian islands on Fox News
Apparently some who should know better have similar issues with geography.

Like Fox News.

At least our family members understand the difference between Hawaiʻi Island and Oahu. But a national news network? I guess that to many Oahu is Hawaiʻi, rather in the same way that Los Angeles is California. Shall we just ignore 230 miles of Pacific Ocean and a few other islands in the way.

Yes, Deb felt the earthquakes in Waikoloa, but they were not bad. There was not even a broken glass at the house despite a magnitude 6.9 earthquake at the the other end of the island. We are 65 miles and two very large mountains away from the volcano.

I was at work and experienced the earthquakes at the summit. Mag 6.9 is now my personal record for strongest earthquake felt, I really do not need to feel anything larger.

While we are safely away from the new lava flows, there are many who are not. It is hard to describe my emotions when seeing video of a house burning as the lava pushes through. Nicely kept gardens surrounding the house betray the effort and pride of the home owner. You can feel dimly the shattering loss of a home and everything that goes with it.

61G Flow

61G lava flow this morning, first time I have been out since the shelf collapse, what a difference, it just pours out of the tube. There is a small fragment of the old shelf, it continues to collapse, heard and watched a couple truck sized chunks fall out of it and into the surf.

Did another dawn attack, arriving at the flow about 2am, staying until after sunrise. The new rope line is stupidly far back, so far back no one was honoring it. I stayed about 200-300 yards away, but saw folks on the top of the cliff over the tube where I had seen glowing globs land just half an hour before.

61G Lava Flow
The 61G flow after the shelf collapse on 15 Jan 2017

Pele’s Kitchen

I do prefer a pre-dawn run to see the lava. Beside the many advantages of a morning run, there is a problem. After hiking, boating, or biking all morning you are hungry, and there are not many places available to eat in Puna that are open for breakfast.

Pele's Kitchen
Pele’s Kitchen restaurant in Pahoa
Our usual solution is to drive all the way back into Hilo and have breakfast at Ken’s House of Pancakes. But this takes a fairly long drive, and we are hungry now! Fortunately our tour guide last time out, Andrew of Kalapana Cultural Tours offered another solution. He suggested we try Pele’s Kitchen in Pahoa. Hmmm? Recommended and only fifteen minutes away. Why not?

Pele’s Kitchen is located directly in the middle of Pahoa, along Old Government Road. You need to turn into town from the bypass to find the business district. Parking is found along the main street, not usually much of a problem first thing in the morning.

While Andrew had recommended the mango blintzes I was not feeling like something quite so sweet, ordering a breakfast burrito instead. Just as well as they had sold all of the blintzes for the morning. Also available was a selection of vegan and vegetarian offereings, no surprise in Puna.

The burrito was great, filled with eggs, a couple different types of sausage, and seasoned rice. Deb had the apple french toast, also excellent. Each breakfast was served with a side garnish of fresh tropical fruit. The meals were satisfyingly filling and ran up a tab of about $30 for the two of us.

It seems completely appropriate to eat at a place called Pele’s Kitchen after spending the morning out on the lava flows. It should not have been a surprise that there were other folks eating with us that had been out to the lava. Given the convenience of the location and the quality of the food I may just have to stop here the next time I am returning from visiting Pele in the morning