At night, the caldera glows with the heat of the very essence of earth's beginnings. This is a lousy photo, but the best we could get given the distance and dark and our equipment.
There is also a lava tube (in a very stable area) that one can walk to and through. It's like a cave and the ancient Hawaiians used it as such. This was my least favorite volcano "must-see" because it is so easily accessible, it was very crowded with boorish people. Ah well ...
Heading in -- just like a cave!
Looking to the exit, but trying to give a sense of the inside.
We also saw steam vents and sulfur beds. They look quite similar. These are the sulfur beds. Eerie.
One of my very favorite things about Hawaii was that we were so far from Washington, DC that the "Nanny State" was quite remote. What I mean is that when I'm in Washington, and I visit a museum or natural feature, there's a carefully constructed path I am to follow and the descriptions and words on the exhibit are designed to make me FEEL a certain way. Very manipulative, and if the least bit dangerous, there's a barrier that says I cannot proceed.
Contrast with Hawaii. Out on the lava fields, there is an area of petroglyphs. Carved by native Hawaiians between 400-700 years ago (they've dated the lava flow), this whole area was sacred to them. They carved shallow depressions into the volcanic rock, and placed their child's umbilical cord (they called it "piki") in the depression. This was designed to tie the child to the land of Hawaii. Beautiful, yes?
Well, there's a hike to get there. It's only 3/4 mile each way, but it's over rough terrain and a mostly unimproved trail. The warnings go like this: "Minimal cell phone service, take water, wear a hat, walk carefully, you're on your own -- we're not coming to get you." Then you are left to see that from cairn to cairn, the path is arduous, but doable. I'm afraid that in DC, the exhibit would have been closed due to a) fear for the exhibit and b) fear of lawsuits. At any rate, we did the hike, and were rewarded with amazing carvings. In addition to the piki, the Hawaiians celebrated with drawings/carvings of their world.
And my totally unexpected view in Hawaii is this carving.
Do you think the ancients were secret cyclists?
Thank you for staying with this to the end. There were many more sights we enjoyed, but rather than becoming that annoying uncle or cousin with the 5000 vacation photos, this should give you a taste of why people love Hawaii. Even Mark Twain wrote eloquently about his visit there!