At the End of the Road

IMG_0903This island (ie Hawai’i, or “The Big Island”) has 10 of the world’s 15 climatic zones. We are staying in the rainforest zone, hence the frogs. And ya know what? There really is plenty of rain – torrential rains woke us early in the morning. The nice thing about this island is it isn’t as touristed as the other islands, and in particular this part of the island is much more local.

Right now we are staying at the Hale Moana. Petra is the proprietress and she knows all of the nearby haunts, beaches, tidepools etc. Which place is better? D and I discussed this and have decided that we really like both B&B’s at which we have stayed. They are both well run, with very personal service. I would gladly come back to either one without any qualms.IMG_0852

We left the house in the morning and headed for the Maku’u farmers market. This is somewhat different from the market in Hilo. There really isn’t a flea market, perse. Still, there are a lot of local farmers with their produce – many of the same things we have already seen, as well as a few other choice fruits and vegetables.

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In addition to the fresh veg, there are also numerous food stands here. As a result, although we got here early, after waiting through a few downpours and some relaxed stalking the vendors, lunchtime rolled around and we were ready to pounce.

IMG_1578I started with poke. At $5 this was an absolute bargain for a bowl of fresh ahi in a spicy sauce. While I guess it is conceivable to get poke in Ann Arbor, as we certainly get sushi that doesn’t kill us, the quality of the ingredients here is unparalleled in my experience. There is just no reasonable way to expect to get poke like this in Ann Arbor. Even D, who distinctly doesn’t like fish, didn’t dislike it.

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D had teriyaki grilled pork as well as some smoked pork, the latter of which was too smoky for either of us.

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I also had the green papaya salad. In case you weren’t aware, let me point out that Butterblogger isn’t a huge fan of green salads. Some are pretty darn good, but rarely awesome. This, however, isn’t a green salad – it’s a green papaya salad! It’s made with shredded green papaya (of course!), tomatoes, peanuts, and limes.A little Thai woman places everything in a giant mortar with some mystery dressing. She then mashes it all up using a big wood pestle, her hands moving like the wind. The end result is a finely balanced refreshing salad that I could eat every day of the week. I may try to make this, if only i can find green papaya back in the tundra of Ann Arbor.

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As the noon hour slowly turn toward the afternoon we were again rolling out of Pahoa toward Volcanoes National Park. When I was a kid I remember trying to get my little snotty fingers on just about any piece of reading material I could regarding three things: dinosaurs, earthquakes, and volcanoes. I wanted to go back to the park, because up until this point we hadn’t spent much time there.

First stop was the welcome center where we got an overview of the park. Unfortunately, because of toxic gases and other minor hazards, some of the roads were closed and we wouldn’t be able to get as close to the Kilauea caldera as I would have liked. That’s alright – there are plenty of other things to see. Given that it was still raining heavily we decided to eschew some of the hikes, rather focusing our time on a couple specific things.

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Next stop: the Thurston Lava Tube. Basically when Lava is flowing, it can develop a crust on the outside, while the inside remains hot and viscous. When the flow stops, the lava can drain out, leaving a tube, like an artery in the side of the volcano. I wonder how many of them are this big, however, because it’s got a diameter that goes up to 30 feet in spots. It’s like walking through a major volcanic artery. Very very cool. Very cool!

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From there, we drove down Chain of Craters Road toward the sea. We passed through lava flow after lava flow, and slowly we descended, the rain abating and finally yielding to clouds, and then the clouds yielding to the sun. And we had arrived at the end of the road. Literally.

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This is where the 2003 Kilauea eruption sent lava across the road to the sea. Around is a cumulus cloud of hard black lava. The lava came down with its viscid, fiery power, destroying all in its path and cocooning the earth. But even after only a decade we can see nature fighting her way through, with grasses and plants emerging with temerity from their rocky sarcophagus.

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Here, where we could drive no further, we stood at a high precipice on the edge of the ocean. In the area we saw numerous signs warning people not to stand on the edges of the cliffs because the waves wash over them, despite their height. Unexpectedly enough, I did not ignore the signs. Rather I only stood at the edge of the cliff at a designated viewing area. Others, however, are not so prudent and have been selected against (whenever nature so chooses).

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Finally, we have seen all there is to see, and head back up into the hills, back into the drizzle of rain, stopping periodically to look behind at the view or below at a cold crater. All the while we can’t help but reflect on the fury of nature, the anger of rebirth, and the long, long scale of time

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