I had my face pressed to the glass for most of the journey to Hilo - can you tell? If it wasn't the wings of the charter plane, it was the pilots a handful of steps away from me, or the tops of clouds, or the shadows of clouds, or clouds anything, or the Honolulu skyline sandwich. Flying through the air in a small metal oval is simply fascinating.
First stop - Rainbow Falls (No. 3) at Wailuku River State Park. The lookout yielded huge trees with vines and large roots that gave General Sherman at Yellowstone a run for its money. The 80 foot falls split up into one main one, with three little ones, like a chorus of backup singers. And the peculiar water color... is it called Rainbow Falls because all the colors mixed together make brown? Seriously, no rainbows were sighted due to the silvery opaque skies, but I'm sure tons appear during other times.
A few neighborhood shots on the drive to Lyman Museum, where students are $5 and regular admission is $10. The official story is, no photography is allowed in the building, which houses a spectacular collection of gems and geological rock formations. So, I may or may not have taken this image of Aquamarine Quartz, toffee disks of Gypsum, and hedgehogs of Mesolite.
To get to the majestic 442 foot Akaka Falls ($5 parking, half-mile hike) (No. 9; end of Akaka Falls Road), one must drive past an adorable little town called Homomu. Wish I had time to stop and savor it a bit more.
My favorite part of the Hilo excursion was, hands-down, Volcanoes National Park (No. 5 + 6; Highway 11). I walked through the Thurston Lava Tube, which is a tunnel made from waves of lava which cooled at opportune moments. I couldn't help but snap these two friends in their glee.
A majority of these lava formations are from the July 1974 lava flow, and are now showing signs of ecological change and the support of life. I love the lightness and sharpness and iridescence of the pebbles, and pocketed about twenty. Later, after the airline losing my luggage and right hard contact breaking into a hundred shards during standard cleaning, I realized that I shouldn't have tested Pele's wrath. The lava rocks were paid in full.
The varying underground temperatures causes patches of "vog," or volcanic fog, and makes the landscape look prehistoric, with puffs of translucent copper and midnight blues.
Up at Jagger Museum is the prime location for viewing the Halema'uma'u Crater. From 1823-1923, this crater held... a lake of lava. What?! Now, it benignly steams, with the reflection of glowing lava visible from the summit vent in the evening and early morning. It's the main star of the national park, as you can tell by my fellow on-lookers.
Though in my opinion, the voggy brilliance of the sunset was equally spectacular. And I thought Californian summer sunsets were unparalleled. During symphonic moments like these, I wish I had more than three color receptors, and instead have sixteen, per the mantis shrimp. Thoroughly savored my mind-blasting trichromatic experience.
After drifting off to sleep to a thousand tropical frogs croaking outside my window, I awoke to this brilliant sunrise coaxing me to my next destination: Honolulu.