Ergo, one of the allures of the Big Island for me, personally, was its snow-capped peaks. You could view two of them from almost any of the places we were at that week. And one of them you can actually access with a vehicle. Or attempt to. Unfortunately, on the day we chose, the top half of the road was closed due to high winds. But even if it had been open, it's not recommend for young children since the high altitude isn't good for their developing lungs. Or something like that.
We discovered this when we arrived at the Visitor's Center halfway up the mountain. And while I walked away a tad dejected that I wouldn't be making a snowball that day, the wind and chill (50-some degrees) at 9000 feet was enough to give my [non] winter blues a bit of a boost. There was a small mountain/hill/slight rise near the visitor center that we decided to hike instead. And after watching the kids get blown about and all of us struggling to catch our breath, it's probably a good thing we never made it to the top of Mauna Kea. But the views were top notch.
The Big Island has a lot of variation. Some parts were almost tundra-esque, like the area around Mauna Kea.
Others were a touch more forested, like our drive as far up Mauna Loa as we could get.
Some areas were quite jungle-y, like when we went on a short hike to explore a lava tube.
Some stretches were farmy and reminded me of our roots back in Central Pennsylvania.
And a very large chunk of the island is desolate and recovering from total volcanic annihilation. We spent half a day exploring that area of Volcanoes National Park, which was basically views upon views upon views of lava rock.
We followed Chain of Craters road all the way down the mountain until it hit the sea. And then we picked our way across the rocks to view this stunning arch made by lava.
|We're on the other side of the lava flow from where we road our bikes.|
|Second from the right, not to be confused with the selfie-taking tourist NOT wearing heels.|
One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Jaggar Museum at night to view the hot lava. Despite being dark and late, the scenic overlook was packed full of people. We could only get a few quick glances in between shoulders and behind bushes. But then the fog rolled in and the people rolled out. We decided to hang tight a bit longer and, sure enough, it cleared back up in a few minutes and we got front row standing plus some really amazing views of hot, spewing lava!
|View of the hot lava from the overlook.|
|View of the hot lava from the restroom entrance.|