Volcano Nights

With my folks on island it was time for another volcano run. We executed a plan I have used a few times before… Booking a night or two in Kilauea Military Camp right on the caldera rim. Two nights this time.

A lava lake in Kilauea Caldera
A lava lake in Kilauea Caldera

The drive from Hilo was wet, heavy rain much of the way. The park was much the same as we ran from the car to the visitor center in another downpour.

Photographic conditions were just bad, high winds had a constant blowing mist over the caldera. I never set up the little telescope this time, not wanting to subject it to the damp abuse it stayed safely in the case. Instead I simply used a long telephoto on the camera, something I could tuck into my jacket when the mist swept over.

While the weather was normally miserable, the bungalow we had at the military camp was downright snug and pleasant. Comfortable shelter from the sometimes pouring rain. As a full kitchen was available we had brought a cooler load of food from the house and prepared dinner together as a family and play cribbage after, an all too rare event.

The weather was frustrating, but the volcano was not, it was putting on quite a show. Visible from many of the rim viewpoints the lava lake frothed and seethed. When we arrived two active lava pools sat atop the crust of the larger lake, a third breakout between the two occurred while we were there, spilling small flows atop the crust and doubling the amount of active lava visible.

Carver James Kanani Kaulukukui Jr. talks about his art
Carver James Kanani Kaulukukui Jr. talks about his art

You can only watch the lava for so long in the frigid mist. Instead we explored other park offerings… There was an After Dark in the Park lecture to attend where we learned about the nesting seabirds high on Mauna Loa and the detector dogs used to find the nests.

Volcano Arts Center
Volcano Arts Center

We also attended a demostration from a Hawaiian carver with a practical learning session where we carved a kii into a carrot with a plastic knife, a surprisingly effective exercise.

A visit to the Volcano Arts Center was quite facinating, as much for the historic building as the art. The docent talked about the building history and pointed out old tube and peg wiring in the ceiling, noting the old unsafe wiring was no longer used. My mother noted that there was still some tube and peg wiring in use in their century old Portland house.

A run up the side of Mauna Loa to the lookout where the weather was very pleasant, sunny and warm above the clouds and rain plaguing the caldera. The koa forests along the narrow, one lane road are just beautiful.

Leaving the park it was off along the south coast to Na’alehu and the Punalu’u Bakery, the to the Kahuku unit of the national park for the day.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

One thought on “Volcano Nights”

  1. Hello Andy.

    My sister said she had a great time on their trip to Hawaii. She and your father said I had to check out your blog and see the volcano. I do check your blog once in awhile, but it has been a while. Trust all is well with you.

    Uncle Chuck

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