Yesterday started out sunny and clear, so we thought we'd take one last shot at Mauna Loa. Off we went, back to Volcano Park and up the Mauna Loa lookout road again. The weather continued to be fine, so we flogged our little rental car up the 3.5 miles of road to the one-lane, 8-mile long, twisty, single-lane road to the lookout. The 11.5 miles took one hour of careful driving. The road wound through varying types of terrain and flora, climbing through a Koa forest, lush grasslands, lava fields and eventually, without encountering too many people going the other way, debouched at the end. This proved to be at the 6,662-foot level and was the beginning of the Hiking Trail (another 14 miles) to the top of Mauna Loa! What we thought would lead us to a view of Mauna Loa was in fact ON Mauna Loa and led to a trail to the top! Darn. Took a few pics, wound back down to Highway 11 and decided to press on to Hilo. Mauna Loa is just so big that you can't get far enough away from it to see it. So I'll cheat and include a photo from athe Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Taken from above Kilaeua, it shows Mauna Loa in the distance on the left and Mauna Kea on the right.
Photo Courtesy HVO.
At Hilo, after enjoying a monthly concert in the gazebo of the ocean-front park and a picnic lunch, we strolled through the Saturday Market, then walked over to the Tsunami Museum. Hilo gets about one tsunami every decade or so. Tsunamis have killed more people in Hawaii than all the volcanoes and monsoons combined. At the first of every month, the islands test their Civil Defense sirens. These aren't quaint reminders of December 7, 1941. They are used to announce Tsunami warnings, to get people to move to high ground. The inside cover of phone books show evacuation routes for every region. Highway signs indicate when you are out of evacuation zones (ie: high enough). In 1946, Hilo was nearly destroyed by a tsunami with half the waterfront homes and businesses being swept away without warning. Since then, they've been very alert indeed.
After that sobering half-hour, we decided to skip the Chinese New Year festivities planned for that day, turned west along the coast and drove to the Botanical Gardens. Located on the water, the 40-acre facility boasts thousands of tropical plants growing outdoors in a steamy, rain-forest-like environment. More exotica than you can shake a stick at. Leaves 6-feet long, plants growing on other plants, orchids galore.
End of the "Lookout Road"
Koa leaves grow from a leafing body, not a twig.
Trail-head to the top of Mauna Loa.
Genuine Mauna Loa lava
Oceanfront park and Banyan tree
Hilo Market. How much do Papayas cost where you live?
Reggie about to make a Tsunami
I know; more flowers.
Some stranger than others
Lobster Claw flowers
Admit it, these are weird
Yet more orchids
The sight alone is refreshing and cooling
Leaf disguised as another leaf. To avoid predators?