Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 50, Hawaii, USA

Hawai'i is the newest of the 50 U.S. states, and is the only state made up entirely of islands. The state encompasses nearly the entire volcanic Hawai'ian Island chain, which comprises hundreds of islands spread over 1,500 miles (2,400 km). At the southeastern end of the archipelago, the eight "main islands" are (from the northwest to southeast) Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi.
The last is by far the largest, and is often called the "Big Island" or "Big Isle" to avoid confusion with the state as a whole.

So guys, what are we going to do in Hawaii????
Hmm, everyone is looking at me, because they know its a loaded question.......
I expected them to say that they wanted to go to the beaches.....but they are all silent..........
Geeez, am I so dictatorial??? Don't answer that!!!

OK, sometimes I like to do the unexpected so I have simply got to visit the most unique place in the United States.......
A place where new land is being formed every day, where new life begins, a live volcano alongside a lush tropical rain forest beats going to the beach any day.
A truly magical place...........

Yep, the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is a fascinating world of active volcanism, biological diversity, and Hawaiian culture, past and present.
This site contains two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mauna Loa (4,170 m high) and Kilauea (1,250 m high), both of which tower over the Pacific Ocean. Volcanic eruptions have created a constantly changing landscape, and the lava flows reveal surprising geological formations. Rare birds and endemic species can be found there, as well as forests of giant ferns.

Let's start at the Kilauea Visitor Center. We have just received the latest information on trails, ranger-led activities, road conditions, and safety precautions.

We watched "Born of Fire, Born of the Sea", the featured 25 minute film that is shown in the Kilauea Visitor Center before going to explore Kilauea's summit trails that descends 400 feet through native rain forest into a crater, and across lava flows still steaming from the 1959 eruption!!

Nopi, please STAY ON MARKED TRAILS! The vegetation or cinders may hide deep cracks in the ground.

Prasad is too eager to rush along, adrenaline pumping to see where the lava meets the sea......but please use caution near cliffs, cracks, and steam vents, the edges of these features are unstable and can be slippery.

Thank goodness all of us are wearing STURDY SHOES and LONG LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING PANTS since falling on lava is like falling on broken glass, and can cause severe wounds.

Cough, cough.....what 's wrong? Amit seems to be choking!! The new eruptive vent in Halema`uma`u Crater, Sulphur Banks, and Pu'u 'O'o vent are generating high levels of gasses that are affecting him. He is very sensitive to smells......Luckily none of us have any heart or breathing problems as these volcanic fumes can be very hazardous to our health..... Concentrations of these gasses is often dependent on wind direction. Hawai'i's normal trade wind pattern generally blows gasses, emitted from the two main vents on Kilauea, away from most visitor areas. However, even on a trade wind day, fumes from Pu'u 'O'o and Halema'uma'u may cross a roadway or linger in other areas of the park. Amit has now tied his handkerchief around his mouth and is continuing with the hike;-)

Marti, please be careful, you know that volcanic eruptions can occur at any time and can be extremely hazardous. Even from a distance, gasses and fallout (Pele's hair, pumice, and cinder) can cause lung and eye irritation.
En route the ranger pointed out Sulphur Banks, Steam Vents and hopefully we will be able to view some lava......
Wow! This is quite a spectacle.....

Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, love, peace, compassion and mercy.
Since the middle of the 19th century, it also has come to be used as an English greeting to say goodbye and hello.
It is also the state nickname of Hawaii, the "Aloha State"

So Aloha from the Aloha State......where we were enthralled by its only UNESCO world heritage site....

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