*** SPECIAL GUEST POST BY ZACK ***
On day 4 of our trip, Rachael and I went to the Volcano National Park in Volcano, HI. The first thing we saw was the Thurston Lava Tube. A lava tube is essentially what is left behind when lava flows and cools on the outside (forming rock) and the inside stays hot and gooey and keeps flowing. What you get is a hollowed-out cave thingy that you can walk through.
Us at the entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube.
Here is a picture of the tube from the inside.
Note that there was a sign (below) that explicitly said - clearly - "Do not go in here under any circumstances. It is dangerous, illegal, and you will die a horrible cave death." Rachael decided to go in anyway.
**Interjection by Rachael: Yeah, I did! Because it's the continuation of the lava tube and at the very back there used to be a PVC pipe with a booklet inside that you could sign if you were brave enough to venture back there and I wanted to know if it was still there.
Anyway, the next part of the day involved a 4 mile loop hike. You basically walk around a mountain down into a crater, walk across the crater, and then walk back up the mountain. Here is what we saw along the way.
Here is a shot of the crater as we start our walk.
Here is another one of those spiral plants, only this one is hella big.
Another shot of the crater.
An 'ahu' is a bunch of stacked rocks. You have to follow the ahu to know where the hell to go because it is a big crater.
Here is Rachael adding to an ahu.
Here is a shot inside the crater. Totes cray cray, omg.
Another shot of the crater. Pretty sure that you could host the next annual Hunger Games here. It's large, circular, and arena-like. Throw a bunch of weapons in here, and you could easily have gladiator death matches with starving teenagers.
This is where they hide the feral dogs that look like fallen tributes.
According to Koa (our guide from the Kalapana lava tour), red flowers like this one are the most common ones on the ohi'a lehua tree. Orange and yellow ones are extremely rare.
What have we here? WE FOUND AN ORANGE ONE!!! UBER-RARE!!!
A steam vent.
This pheasant (and his unseen mate) were circling around the parking lot like vultures trying to nab treats from tourists. This one is pretty much saying 'hello there' and seeing if Rachael will give up a papaya treat. Unfortunately, there is a sign that says that we shouldn't feed them.
A pretty sea arch.
These are petroglyphs. Hundreds of years ago, Hawaiians carved pictures into stone - remember that they didn't have a written language. Some of them carved holes into the rock and buried their umbilical cords as well (they still do this, too).
The different striations of stuff from various lava flows. Lava, grass, older lava, etc.
The crater at sunset. Going...