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Hawaii Circle Cruise, January 2009, Part Eight

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The 2009 Circle Hawaii Cruise - Holland America Zaandam, January 5-21, 2009

Text by Snookums, Pictures by Filbert

Part Eight

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January 15 (Thursday, Day 11, Hilo, Hawaii)

Everyone was up at 6 AM for a light breakfast in Mom and Dadís big cabin in order to see the Kilaueaís lava flows. It was spectacular in the dark. With binoculars you could easily see the volcanic eruption and the lava being ejected into the air. The air smelled of sulfur and the smoke was easily seen. The ship was not in the path of the smoke or else it probably would have been ashy and very stinky. The lava flows were out of sight by around 6:30 AM and everyone went back to bed prior to the 10 AM docking.

Kilauea lava flow pictures:

More after the jump . . .

Sunrise off the Big Island

Hilo under the snow-capped Mauna Kea

Waning moon over Hilo

After we docked Snookums and Filbert got off the ship and took the rental car shuttle to get the minivan. While the rental agent was helping the person in front of us, the electricity went out due to a power surge in Hilo. That meant that the entire process had to be restarted. We got the minivan and bought Dad coffee and went back to the ship to pick everyone up. We were loaded and on the road by 11:15 to start our Hilo excursion. But first, we decided to stop at WalMart to buy picnic fixings. Naturally the Hilo Walmart was not a grocery store, but we managed to get hamburger buns, mustard and Oscar Mayer lunch meat. We acquired napkins from the McDís in the WalMart. We also noted that the Walmart was absolutely packed and we noticed this at other stores during our drive. Hilo isnít much of a tourist town so the shoppers were all local people. It really was packed and we still donít know why other than it was the 15th of the month so maybe payday was the reason.

We drove to Volcanoes National Park (4,000 ft. elevation) and noticed almost immediately that the clouds were coming in. Soon it started to sprinkle and by the time we were done with our 30-mile journey, it was misting quite heavily. We went to the Visitor Center at the park and looked at the exhibit and watched the two videos. One of the videos was an update of the volcanic activity and we learned that in March, 2008 was when it really started to erupt and thatís when the viewing area was closed due to lava. So, Crater Rim Drive is no longer an 11-mile circle around the Kilauea Caldera but instead is a dead-end drive since part of the road is no longer there. We spent about an hour at the Visitor Center and since the rain/mist hadnít let up, we decided to go no further and headed back down towards Hilo.

Rain at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

We were planning on picnicking at the volcano, but due to the gloomy weather we decided to eat at the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens about 20 minutes from the volcano. It was still misting when we got there so we ate in the car. No one managed to get mustard on any clothing or upholstery so lunch was considered a success. We wandered around the orchid store for awhile before getting back in the minivan to continue our journey. We made a quick stop at a drug store to buy non-drowsy Dramamine for Mom (WalMart didnít have any) since she decided she didnít like the prescription patches she wore on the way to Hawaii (they affected her swallowing and her eyesight - both known side effects).

At the Akatsuka Orchid Gardens:

The next stop was the Mauna Loa macadamia nut orchard and factory consisting of 2,400 acres. The factory was on the second floor so we just visited the gift store. Mom bought a few cans of nuts and Dad bought some postcards depicting the destruction of the lava. Filbert was the big spender and bought several bags of sugar free chocolate covered macadamia nuts as well as a case of wasabi teriyaki flavored nuts. He got four free tote bags with his purchase, too!

We continued our drive back to the ship and took a short detour to Banyan Drive. This is a street lined with around 50 Banyan trees that were planted by celebrities, mostly in the 1930s. Amelia Earhart and FDR both planted trees here. Banyan Drive led to Liliuokalani Gardens which is a 30-acre Japanese park. Hilo Bay bordered this and was being used by eight different outrigger canoes and the 10 or so rowers in each. It was a very picturesque ending to our Hilo odyssey.

Snookums and Filbert hit a local liquor store to get some beer and wine for the cabins and then returned the car to the airport. All aboard was at 6:30 PM and they were back on the ship by 5 PM. Even with the rain and the extremely limited visibility at Volcanoes Park, it was a good day.