We rode back to the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, where we had gone after dark last night to see the lava. We all stopped at the visitors center, but the trip further into the park to the observatory was optional. I opted to go, and saw many steam vents along the road. It looks eerie--like a prehistoric landscape. I guess that's appropriate, since the earth here is shifting and changing just like when it came into being as we know it.
As we cycled up to the observatory we also saw Kilauea Military Camp. Not sure how or when it came to be, but it looks up to date and occupied.
When we reached the observatory the plume from Halema'uma'u Crater was billlowing. It looks very different in the daytime, and is much closer than it appeared when we saw it as a glow on the horizon last night. While I was up there several other women from our tour arrived. I spent an hour up there and did not suffer any ill effects from breathing the sulfur gas (we were warned at the entry that it could be dangerous). At the visitors center the chart on the wall stated that today's air quality was "good" but partway up the mountain we saw a sign indicating otherwise.
We started the descent to Hilo as soon as we left the park. It was a glorious descent! We barely pedaled and did not have to temper it with the brakes--a perfect coast downhill for the better part of the next 25 miles! I flew right by the points of interest for today--the Wooden Bowl store and the Macadamia Nut factory. Had to slow down for construction at one point, but that gave me a chance to remove my jacket, since the rain had stopped spitting and the sun came out.
We rode most of the day on route 11, which had a wide shoulder most of the way. When I got to the hotel I did not see any of our riders, so I walked to a nearby restaurant for some lunch. We are on Banyan Street, named for the many large Banyan trees on both sides of the road.
I was given room 628, but it was so noisy from the very close elevator that Dianne even heard it! In the room with the door closed! So I asked for a different room. We went to room 314, far from the elevator, but the smell of mildew nearly knocked me over when I opened the door. Next we went to room 514, which is far from the elevator and smelled OK.... the view from the balcony is great!
Dianne and I walked out for ice cream and then walked to the little island park visible from our balcony. We vanned to dinner, which was superb. What a great day!