May 1, 2012 - Kiluea

on Tuesday, the cruise stops at Hilo, the east (and more freshly-volcanic) side of the big island.
We get in a car and head for Kiluea, the most active volcano in the world.
After a few miles on Crater Rim Drive, the road is closed due to the toxic air.

In front of the visitor center, we get our first views of the crater.

Inside, Ella plays with samples of different volcanic rock.

So cute. She wants to hold the big one, which is oddly light and airy due to all the holes it has. It is like lava-nougat.

An old crack caused by hot gasses.

Another. Amazing.

It is rainy and cold - our only nasty day in Hawai'.
The girls bundle up as we walk around Crater Rim Trail.

Another great view of the crater.

We take a break from the volcano for a moment to go walking through the jungle.

Jill gets a great shot of a cool plant.

We make it to the lava tube.
(OK, so it wasn't exactly a break from the volcano after all.)

It is like spelunking - but without the bat guano, rapelling gear, or strenuous-ness.
So, it isn't like spelunking at all. It is more like a casual stroll through a cave.

It is larger and longer than we expect.

On the other side, Ella spots a nene - Hawai'i state bird (a kind of goose).

She finally catches up with it, but we leave it alone.

A little farther down the road, Jill and I brave the rain to check out an area ravaged by an eruption long ago.

Parts of the area are quite beautiful, where flowers play stark contrast to the rocky black ground.

Even farther ahead, the lava is a frozen, ripply ocean, only starting to be colonized by the heartiest of plants.

Still farther ahead, nothing grows on the nasty a-a, the roughest of lava.

Ella isn't sure she likes walking on it.

The drive is very cool, though.

Ella checks out the scenery some, but also enjoys her coloring (and Dora).