Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cruise: Hilo: Volcano National Park

Mary had booked a tour of Volcano National Park for our Hilo stop as a treat for me -- visiting a volcano has been a lifelong ambition of mine. She booked the tour through Roberts rather than the more expensive version through the Cruise line. Unfortunately, Roberts loaded about 8 other tour buses first, so our tour left 45 minutes late. Since the driver was still required to have everyone back at the ship on time, our time at each stop was very attenuated -- e.g., only 20 minutes at the Volcano museum which was just long enough to line up for the bathrooms, but not long enough to see any of the actual exhibits. It was extremely frustrating for a museum-loving guy like me. Similarly, the stop en route at the Manua Loa Macadamia nut factory was a bit of a bust because the factory was closed on Sundays, and there was not sufficient time allotted to take the self-tour (windows into the factory with video commentary in 6 languages), just time to shop in the gift shop for ice cream. Another minor annoyance is that during the drive back to the ship the driver decided to sing off-color Don Ho songs -- since half the bus consisted of young kids, I'm not sure the sexual innuendo was the best choice.

But those complaints not withstanding, the highlight of the tour was a walk through a lava tube and the visit to the crater. Pretty damn amazing!

Rain Forest on way to volcano
Mary and the kids walking through a lava tube -- sorry about the blurring, but it was too dark to take a good shot without a tripod.
The volcano landscape looked like we were on another planet
I found the existence of these plants in this very harsh environment a kind of affirmation of the tenacity of life.

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