Tag Archive | Hawaiʻi

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park History

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park was established on August 1, 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson.  It was the 11th National Park established in the U.S., and the first in a U.S. territory. It contains and protects two active volcanoes: Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s largest shield volcano.  A shield volcano is one built almost entirely of fluid lava flows, and is usually lower to the ground than other types of volcanoes with gentle slopes; it is said to look like a warrior’s shield.

The park today consists of 323,431 acres (505.36 sq mi) of land, with more than 50 percent designated as the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Wilderness area.  In 2004, an additional 115,788 acres of land were purchased through a partnership with the Nature Conservancy and added to the park, making it 56% larger than its original boundaries.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Historically, Kīlauea and the Halemaʻumaʻu caldera with it are considered by the Hawaiian people to be the sacred home of the volcano goddess Pele, and Hawaiians visited the crater to offer gifts to the goddess.  In 1790, a party of Hawaiian warriors (along with women and children) were in the area, and were killed in a violent and fast-moving eruption. Many of the Hawaiians killed and others left footprints in the lava that can still be seen today.

The first western visitors to the site arrived in 1823, and the volcanoes became a tourist attraction in the 1840s.  Several hotels and restaurants were built along the rim of the volcanoes to accommodate the tourists traveling there.  Now, Volcano House is the only hotel within the borders of the national park.

The park has an easily accessible lava tube that was named for the Thurston family, a family that was influential in the designation of the park as a National Park.  It is open and can be walked through, with only a short, paved walk to reach it.

There are also amazing hiking and camping opportunities – how often do you get to hike and camp on lava!  The park ranges in elevation from sea level to the summit of the active volcano Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet.  From ocean views all the way up to stunning and violent lava flows!  The climates in the park range from tropical rain forest, to a desert landscape.  I was consistently surprised by the range of climate and bio-diversity that I saw on my trip to Hawaiʻi.

There are also a couple of scenic drives, giving visitors amazing views of the volcanic craters and the ocean.  The Chain of Craters Road takes you past several craters from historic eruptions to the coast. However, some of the road has now been covered by more recent lava flows.  The landscape here is always changing.

Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park was designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 1987, designations that recognize its beauty and importance in nature.

It was a brief visit, and I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked, but I will share my visit in my next post!

Hawaiʻi 2017: The Painted Church

Day 2, Thursday, May 11, 2017

After the City of Refuge, I visited the Painted Church nearby.  It wasn’t a planned stop; I drove by and saw the sign and decided to check it out.  The Painted Church is officially known at St. Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church.  It was built in 1899 in a simple European Gothic Cathedral style, marked by the pointed arch on the exterior and the vaulted interior ceiling, by Belgian priest Father Velghe.

 

The Painted Church – St. Benedict’s

 

Exterior of the Painted Church

Father Velghe was also a self-taught artist with a lot of talent.  The church has beautiful painted murals that Father Velghe painted, and the intricacy is amazing.  Father Velghe painted sections of the church with trompe l’oeil, which in French means”deceive the eye.” It is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion of three dimensions.  The nave behind the altar of the Painted Church is trompe l’oeil.

The story is that the murals were painted to educate the illiterate Hawaiian people, but there is some debate about this theory, as it is known that Bibles were translated into the Hawaiian language at the time the murals were painted. I am more inclined to believe that it was a way to provide some extra beauty to this little church.

There is a little cemetery outside with some old graves and pretty statuary.  Photos are permitted except during services; it is still an active Roman Catholic parish.  There were some vendors outside selling fruit, nuts and crafts, so bring some cash!

Statuary outside the Painted Church

 

Exterior and cemetery of the Painted Church

After the Painted Church, I was getting really hungry, so I found Da Poke Shack nearby.  They sell poke, both to eat there and to take to go, but they also have a little BBQ joint on site.  I had the pulled pork sandwich with sides.  YUM!

After lunch, I checked out a couple of little antique shops, before it was time to pick up Brent and Rich from the job where they were working.

My ride!

We picked up Brandon from the airport and headed to Costco for supplies.  We had a huge salad for dinner topped with Ahi Poke (a choice of spicy or regular) and loads of veggies.  We also made Mai Tais and went swimming and hot tubbing that night.  What a fun day!

 

Costs and Fees: The Painted Church is free to visit – although donations are much appreciated. 

Hawaiʻi 2017: Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau NHP

Day 2, Thursday, May 11, 2017

Brent and Rich were going to work on my first full day in Hawaii, so I was on my own for the day.  I dropped them off and then headed out driving the 1994 Isuzu Rodeo they keep there, with its bouncy shocks and squeaking.  This truck was prime high-riding style at 23 years old!

My first destination was the Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, previously known as the City of Refuge.  It was established in 1955, and was renamed with the correct Hawaiian name and spelling in 2000.  An estimated 421,000 people visited in 2016.  Even now, the name City of Refuge is still used unofficially, even though it was never technically accurate; it was never really a city.  People didn’t live there – there were no permanent residents there.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau NHP Sign

I watched a ranger talk, presented by a native Hawaiian Ranger; he gave the history of the site.  For hundreds of years until the early 19th century, Hawaiians who broke a kapu (one of the ancient laws that was part of a whole series of laws and regulations) received absolution from a priest if they could make it to the place of refuge, or puʻuhonua.  The thing is, you had to swim there, because the puʻuhonua couldn’t be reached by land without crossing the royal grounds, and that was off limits.  But if you could get there by water, you were pardoned, and could stay there to rest and recover before journeying home.

The park also contains a reconstruction of the Hale o Keawe heiau, the Hawaiian version of a mausoleum, which was originally built by a Kona chief named Kanuha in honor of his father King Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku (massive bonus points if you can pronounce that!). After the death of Keaweʻīkekahialiʻiokamoku, his bones were buried in the heiau, and more of the nobility of Kona were buried inside until the end of the kapu system in Hawaii.  A son of Kamehameha I, the founder and first ruler of the Kingdom of Hawaii, was the last person buried here in 1818.  Eventually this heiau was destroyed – the one existing on the site today is a reconstruction.

 

The ranger talk ended with him playing a nose flute – he did a great job too!  It was really cool to watch.  After the presentation, I explored the site.  It has several reconstructed traditional Hawaiian dwellings and structures for visitors to see.  You can watch people making tools and traditional items using historic methods.  There is also a konane board, which is a strategy game similar to checkers.

An artisan working in traditional methods

The City of Refuge is right on the water and I was able to walk across the lava rocks to see the fish and shellfish in the water.  Sadly, I didn’t see any turtles though…  There were several other people there, but it was certainly not crowded.  I enjoyed strolling around at my leisure and checking everything out.  It was so worth the visit!

 

Costs and Fees: $15 per vehicle at Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (free with a National Parks Pass). 

Hawaiʻi 2017!

I got an offer I couldn’t refuse for May, 2017.  A chance to go to Hawaiʻi with friends!  My friend Brent’s father Rich owns a condo and they were going, and I was welcome to tag along!  Even better, our friend Brandon was going to join us! I certainly couldn’t pass that up, so I booked a plane ticket and set about doing a bit of research on what I wanted to do when I was there.  Specifically, I was headed to the big island of Hawaiʻi, and staying in the town of Kailua-Kona (although most people seem to just call it Kona). I had never been to the Big Island, and my last trip to Hawaiʻi was in 1992, to Maui, when I was 16 years old.  It was high time for another visit!

Since I was traveling with friends, I couldn’t plan the whole itinerary – there were going to be joint decisions about what we were going to do.  So I made a commitment that this trip would be more relaxed, more ‘go with the flow’ than my usual fast-paced road trip.  What better place is there than Hawaiʻi to “endure” a bit of forced relaxation?  It didn’t disappoint! Of course, in characteristic style, I did manage to find plenty to keep me occupied during my trip, so I will hope that you enjoy my series of posts.

Day 1, Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My first day was mostly a travel day.  I flew out on an early flight and and met Rich and Brent on my layover, between my first and second flights.  I had booked onto the same flight as they were on, but had no idea where they were seated, and I happened to choose a seat right behind them!  So great snacks! – win for me!

This happy girl is going to Hawaii!

We landed in Kailua-Kona at about 3:30 – we had arrived in paradise!   We were picked up by a family friend and headed out immediately for an early dinner.  At dinner, I had the breaded Ahi Poke (I had no idea it sometimes comes breaded), pickled cucumbers, salted cabbage, corn and other goodies.  We spent a long time at dinner, with Brent and Rich chatting and catching up, and me meeting friends for the first time.  It was dark by the time we got to the condo, so Brent and I spent a little time in the dark exploring the grounds, the sea wall and the lava rocks in the ocean.  We headed to bed about 11:30 pm.

I was ready for the next day’s adventure!