Big Trip: Part 3 (Hawaii)

Sunday, May 11
9:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time)

I feel silly right now. I’m trying to brew the free package of Kona coffee that came with my hotel room, but I’ve never learned to make coffee so this is just a shot in the dark. I suspect that the machine is not working. Or, I don’t know, maybe it just takes a long time.

I’m not too far from the Halemaumau Crater, where a steam vent has recently opened up and begun to emit toxic gases that cause my friend Justin, who works in Volcanoes National Park, to evacuate the office on a fairly regular basis. Lastnight we drove to the volcano observatory to watch the steam rise into the dark, illuminated by red-hot rocks underneath. I felt like I was on the verge of peering into the inner workings of Earth. The plume looks almost innocuous from a distance, but without a reference scale it’s hard to grasp the size of it. I’m guessing the vent has to be wider than the ten feet I’ve heard it has grown to.

There are copious lava flows on the island right now. From the Chain of Craters road we could see, miles down the coast, a massive steam cloud where lava is entering the ocean. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll get to see any active lava flows in person. It’s pretty incredible just to walk on and be surrounded by these vast fields of lava rock. It’s very quiet and still when the wind isn’t blowing.

I’ll have more to write later, but now I need to get ready for a day in Kona.

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