Saturday, July 24, 2010

Risks at the Volcano

Hello! Eric and I have officially arrived on Maui and all I can say is...bring back the Big Island. I know I've only been here for a few hours, but so far I can't see why this place is so much more popular than BI. I'm remaining 100 percent positive to Eric right now (because he is not so positive haha), but secretly (except I'm telling all of you and Eric will eventually read this) I am missing Big Island. Our hotel there was much more beautiful, people bent over backwards to help us and I had wireless internet in my room so I was not banished to a tiny chair and table in the corner for blogging. Eric and I seem to have a problem where we fall in love with the first hotel we go to and nothing the rest of the vacation can live up. We need to work on that.

Oh well, for now I'll tell you about our last day on the Big Island and then hopefully I'll get more positive about Maui before I blog about that. Who wants to hear someone complain about Hawaii? I mean really.

So the first night we got to Volcano (and yes, that's the town name), we went into Volcano's National Park at night to see the Caldera where you can see lava glowing at night. It was very cool. Pictures don't quite do it justice, but what can you do?


After staying in our Tree House for the night (which by the way, I decided I no longer want to live in- tree houses don't get nearly enough sun for me!), we woke up bright and early for probably the most crazy thing I've ever done in my life... a helicopter ride over the volcano.

Now, I know what you are thinking, a helicopter is the craziest thing you've ever done? Not much of a risk taker? But what if I tell you when we arrived at Hilo airport for our ride they told us they would "upgrade" us for free to a doors off helicopter. Yeah...literally, as in, they take the normal helicopter and simply TAKE OFF the doors. Yeah, I agreed to this. I have no idea why.


That's not true. I do know why I agreed to it. Because I knew Eric would want to do it, and I figured if I am going to get motion sick, might as well have a nice breeze to make it better. Breeze/ easy way to jump out if it gets too terrible.

After a quick safety briefing (in which they told us riding with the door off is slightly more risky, but worth it...GREAT), I found myself seat belted into the back seat of a 5 person helicopter with a pilot, Eric, and another honeymooning couple, slowly floating into the air. According to Eric I looked surprisingly calm which I think speaks to how much practice I've had pretending to be calm when really I am freaking out inside. My internal thought process was more of an intense debate from my "this helicopter could plummet to the earth and kill you right now" side and my "I read the crash reports for the last 10 years in Hawaii, in fact helicopters do not crash nearly as often as people make it seem AND people do not always die in crashes, so the chances are actually quite good that I could make it through this" side.

Once we made it to the actual volcano, I calmed myself down with the irrational thought that if anything went wrong we could easily land on the old lava... gently pushing away the thought that I would then have to get on ANOTHER helicopter to get out of there. I released my death grip on Eric and the overhead handle long enough to take some pictures...



See that tiny red house on the top end of that picture? That's the house of a guy named Jack, who built his house before the lava flowed in the area. Now his house is only accessible by helicopter. However, he still lives there because he had just built the house when it became inaccessible, and insurance does not cover a house that has not yet been hit (even if it's inaccessible) so I don't think he has a lot of options. Apparently his house is actually a Bed and Breakfast now. I thought the tree house was cool, but staying a house that can only be accessed by helicopter? Probably cooler.

The coolest things we got to see included... a tiny speck of flowing lava...


probably about 10 different rainbows, which seem to be the theme to my July...


and Rainbow Falls on the way back to Hilo...


By the time we were at Rainbow Falls, I was almost completely relaxed and had decided that doors off helicopters might be my new favorite mode of travel- I didn't even have one second of motion sickness on this trip and I did not take Dramamine or anything like it. Sweet.



It took us only an hour or two to return to the volcano and recover from our early morning adventure, just in time for adventure #2: hiking into a crater. We hiked into this...


It's impossible to grasp how big this was from a picture alone, and I tried to take a picture of the people walking below but they are so small that you can't even see them in any of my pictures. So that gets the point across right? The whole hike was about 4 miles, a mile down, 2 across and 1 back up.


Unfortunately we forgot water and the visitor center doesn't sell it (WHAT?!) so that was a bit of a downer on an otherwise amazing hike.


Didn't get us down though, I mean how often do you get to walk through a crater? Hmm..never?


Very cool. We even saw some steam vents along the way. Though you can't actually really see the steam in the pictures haha, what's up with that?


You can also see I faithfully carried my trail guide and read Eric the info about each point.

DSC05242.JPGAfter our hike we headed to lunch (aka WATER) at the same place we ate at the night before. Unfortunately I inhaled my kitchen sandwich before I took a picture of it but it was probably my favorite meal so far on the trip. The chicken was perfect, it was on that amazing baguette that I enjoyed with my soup the night before and it had this awesome red pepper spread on the side that I used and for me to use a condiment is a pretty big thing, ask Eric.

After lunch Eric and I drove down Chain of Craters Road, which leads all the way to the ocean (the town of Volcano is about 4000 feet up). To be totally honest I wasn't sure exactly what the "point" of this road was and Eric was laughing at me because I was like "yup another crater, we already walked through one" but fortunately I just figured Eric knew what he was doing and I was right because it ended up being an awesome drive.


And we got to see what Eric most wanted to see, a place where lava covered a road...ahh!!


Roads were closed all over the place because lava had covered them, once we heard that we were like yeah, can we see that?


Then we had another Cliffs of Moher experience, except this time even more like the ones in Ireland, except black...


Which is similar to...DSC00562.JPG

Haha, Hi Caroline in Ireland!

Let's be honest, I was on a doors off helicopter that morning, unstable cliffs that might break off at any moment can't scare me.

Anyway, this is where the lava flows into the ocean, or should I say where it used to flow into the ocean...





Last stop was at a giant lava cube, which is basically like a cave...


So overall it was quite an adventurous day... and really a pretty adventurous week on the Big Island. Now time to go do some more research so I can make Maui just as fun :) I hope everyone is having an awesome weekend!

Tell me, are you a risk taker? What is the most adventurous thing you've ever done?


  1. I am so not a risk taker, but my husband totally is, so I bet I would be talked into trying something I was afraid of. I remember my grandmother telling me about the doorless helicopter ride in Hawaii that she took (and she was prob in her 60's or 70's at the time! Go Gram!).

    Interesting that the helicopter ride didn't make you motion sick. Maybe the key is to remove doors from traveling vehicles (although boats are out in the open air and they still make you feel yucky!)


  2. wow! what a crazy experience! I definitely would have been freaked out - I'm impressed you stayed pretty calm!

  3. Those pictures from the helicopter ride are just breath-taking! But, wow, so amazed that you did that! It sounds so scary!

  4. What an adventure you're having!!

    We loved Maui, but then, we didn't have another island to compare it to. Make the drive to was beautiful there! We also rode horses into Haleakala.

  5. I've been to both Big Island and Maui and must say that I prefer Maui. But I've stayed at three different places in Maui and some were better than others.

  6. Oooh looks very fun! We hiked Mt. Pompeii when we were in Italy but you can't actually go down into the volcano part. It was kind of cool to climb an actual volcano but also kind of anti-climatic. The helicopter ride sounds super fun though, I'm glad you enjoyed it after all and didn't get sick!!

    I hope you guys enjoy the rest of your time on Maui. Maybe some SURFING lessons are in order or something!!

    Also, I'm surprised to see you in JEANS and a HOODIE. I mean you're in Hawaii in JULY. Isn't it freaking HOT?!

  7. So it's clearly obvious you're having a great time. You both look so happy and relaxed!

    As for a crater - that's on my to-do list for when I go back to El Salvador. You could hike to the bottom of massive volcanoes there. But not during the civil war (which is when I grew up there). The problem was the guerillas used it as their out-post.

    lol There you go! Random Karen story of the day!